By on March 3, 2009

Kevin writes:

I currently own a 2000 A6 Avant, and I’m moving from college to Chicago soon. I do love my car, except when it comes to paying the repair and gas bills.  I’ve given up on anything even pretending to be sporty and I’d rather rent a car for track days.

I’m a consultant so I have to drive regardless of weather conditions, but maintain a sort-of-professional look (I’m afraid an F-150 won’t make it). My budget is less than $15,000 (2nd hand cars), and looking for a safe, reliable vehicle that doesn’t need lots of visits to the mechanic.

Sajeev responds:

I would recommend getting a Japanese or American sedan/CUV for maximum durability, efficiency and ease of finding cheap replacement parts. Steven Lang has mentioned that Toyotas, Hondas and some Detroit models fare well in the used car market.  Which is good for you too: a last-gen Accord and the Ford Fusion have been reliable (in whatever short term evaluations I’ve seen) and are quite fun to drive to boot. One of my friends is a consultant (for one of the big firms) and his Accord EX fits the bill nicely.

Not all family sedans are created equal, so go drive some and see what tickles you. If you want smaller, you might get a kick out of the smaller imports and the Focus ST or Cobalt SS. When you consider the fun-to-drive factor of their aftermarket following, you might really like it. And you’ll have no problem finding a buyer on Craigslist when promotion time comes.  Just service it per owner’s manual recommendations and you’ll be good to go.

One sedan I would definitely take off your list is the Renault Medallion.  Here’s why:

Daniel writes:

I am not so much purchasing as receiving A 1988 Renault Medallion LX. I just have some questions.

1)    It was sold as an Eagle briefly. Does Chrysler still maintain a parts network?
2)    I know the car that preceded it (the Alliance) had a dreadful reputation for reliability. Was this model any better? (I can’t find information on it).
3)    What are the known trouble spots with the Medallion?

It seems to run and drive well (Clutch is good, No abnormal noises, rides well etc.) but I just want to know if I should take it or look for something else. Thank you.

Sajeev responds:

It was also sold as the Dodge Monaco which is the preferred name when the guy at the parts counter asks, “WTF is a Renault Medallion?”

I remembered the Medallion being junk from day one; even MotorWeek ripped it a new one. And AutoZone doesn’t list a 1988 Renault (don’t forget, it’s a Dodge Monaco!) in their online catalog. So I called a Chrysler dealer to verify: they cannot order any parts for the Monaco, nor do they stock them. But RockAuto.com does show signs of life, if you want to take the plunge on a 21-year-old French sedan.

But you should not. Granted, I am all for preserving vintage metal from the “aerodynamic wedge” era of car design, but this one’s better off going to the junkyard the moment it gives you trouble.

I’m sure it’s worth $200 or more in scrap. That pays for a month of gas in another, far superior vehicle, right?

And back to you, the Best and Brightest: what are your thoughts on these two situations?

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49 Comments on “Piston Slap: Avant Time; What’s the Beef About Medallions?...”


  • avatar
    highrpm

    Situation 1 – $15,000 buys you an ’04 Lexus ES330 here near Detroit. Dirt reliable, fancier than the Camry. Quiet and smooth for your commute.

    Situation 2 – Take the Renault and sell it on craigslist while it’s still running. You’ll get probably $1500 for a car like that as long as it isn’t a rustbucket. Use the money to buy something newer and with more readily available parts.

  • avatar
    Jason

    A) Needs: Reliable? All weather? Somewhat modest (professional appearance)?

    All signs point you to a used Subaru Legacy.

    B) Pretend someone is offering you a bucket of spiders. It’s ok to say “no thanks”.

  • avatar
    menno

    Drive the Renault until it dies. It actually is not the same car as the Dodge Monaco of that era; that badge-engineering was done on the larger, Taurus-sized Eagle Premier, which was actually manufactured in Canada and mostly engineered by AMC with some Renault input (including the PRV alloy OHC V6’s which were similar to the ones sold to Delorean, earlier).

    The Medallion replaced the Renault 18i, and was sold as the Renault 21 in the rest of the world and as a Renault Medallion in this country before being rebadged as an Eagle Medallion. Eagle also sold a few even smaller Mitsubishi (Colt) based cars and even micro-van-wagons after the Kenosha, Wisconsin built AMC Renault Alliance (“appliance”) and hatchback version, Encore, were dropped. This happened right after Chrysler bought the company from US stockholders (45% or so) and Renault (55% or so), in 1987.

    As for buying a relatively new car, IF new car money is less expensive than used car money (presuming a loan will be required), and with the upcoming new tax law once again allowing an interest write-off on NEW car loans, and with real new car pricing collapsing by the minute (great for buyers), it may make sense to buy new and cheap, with a long warrantee. As long as TrueDelta and Consumer Reports show the cars as being somewhat reliable or at least average or better.

    I’m talking new Hyundai or Kia, here.

    Local Kia dealer is offering left-over 2008 Rondo mini-wagon type rigs for under $13,000 (these are $19,000 to $21,000 rigs MSRP). I’ve been watching and he had over 120 of them a couple of months ago, down to about 95 vehicles by mid-February. Now that number simply has stopped moving – DESPITE the reduction in prices.

    A friend just sent me an email with aero-photos from all over the world showing literal seas of brand new cars – just sitting, at factories, ports… unsold.

    We’re in the midst of a total economic collapse, which – if you can survive it and buy a new car – might be advisable. You may not have a chance to get a new car again for a decade, because of various possibilities.

    Let’s put it this way; if most car companies in the world “go under” and the backlog of new cars goes away, the cars currently on the road wear out and can’t be replaced fast enough by the few surviving “players” – what happens to car prices?

    Let’s put this another way; the last time megalamaniac messianic figures who were worshiped by the gullable public tried to fix everyone’s problems via government, they put the world into a war which engulfed virtually everyone from 1939 through 1945, and in most of the world auto production ceased from 1939-1945, and even in the US, auto production ceased from very early 1942 through 1945, and supply exceeded demand from 1945 through 1948.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Sajeev: You’ve get the Medallion all wrong. It was a Renault R-21, a smaller model then the Monaco/Premier, which were based on the much larger R-25 platform.

    There will not be any parts interchange with the substantially larger V6 only Monaco.

    Run the Medallion until something breaks! Then forget about it.

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    Man this one’s a no brainer. Straight to the bone yard and take what they offer. With a $15,000 budget this fellow can get the pick of the litter of the 1-2 year old toyondas. Are those oil stains on the ground in the picture?

  • avatar
    menno

    Here’s that link to the photos showing all of those unsold cars. It’s kind of – unesettling.

    http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/01.09/unsoldcars.html

  • avatar

    Sorry, Sajeev, but the Medallion was never sold as the Monaco. The Medallion was 100% Renault. The Monaco was the Dodge version of the larger, Americanized Eagle Premier. The Medallion had a transverse powertrain. The Premier had a longitudinal powertrain and was assembled in Bramalea, Quebec, like the LHs that were later produced there.

    For the first case: 2006 and 2007 Ford Five Hundreds are holding up well in TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey, and offer a lot of car for the dollar.

  • avatar

    I recently bought an ’04 fully-loaded V6 Cadillac CTS with 53k on it for $11k. You can view your own reviews on these vehicles; they’re stellar, both professional reviews & owner reviews. And being a domestic, the parts will be on the cheap.

    menno: that link is impressive & sad.

  • avatar
    MBella

    For Kevin, I would probably recommend a 4 cylinder Mazda, Nissan, or the Fusion as mentioned above. The Accord is a great car, but it holds it’s value better, and therefore it will cost you more. It will be worth more when it comes time to sell, so keep that in mind. A Subaru Legacy could be a good choice too, if you are willing to take a MPG penalty for the AWD. A manual transmission car is also usually going to cost less than an automatic. (Sports Cars excluded)

    As for Daniel, It depends on what you are looking for in a car. For most people the best idea would be to sell the car or scrap it. Someone might like it for what ever reason. I couldn’t find a good online community by searching Google quickly, although with some more patience, you might be more successful. Ultimately, it looks like finding parts and help will be difficult, and French cars aren’t known for their reliability.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    $15K is a healthy budget for a great used car these days. How about a SAAB 9-2x, if the Subaru WRX isn’t upscale enough? Or a Mazdaspeed 6, E46 325 xi (it doesn’t need lots of visits to the mechanic, you can fix it yoruself), or a used Lexus or other Japanese entry lux sedan if you don’t mind vanilla.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Dump the Medallion. And if Kevin really wants to save some money, buy a Gen 4 Taurus, keep about $7,000 in his pocket and then dump it if it ever gives major trouble. Cheap to buy, cheap to insure, decent reliability. If he longs for surprisingly good handling, throw a set of Gen 1 SHO swaybars on it with good tires (all that is less than $1k) and he can embarrass quite the range of expensive machinery.

    If he wants to spend the full $15K, Mazda6 would be my choice, since it sounds like he likes cars that handle well.

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    menno :
    March 3rd, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Here’s that link to the photos showing all of those unsold cars. It’s kind of – unesettling.

    http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/01.09/unsoldcars.html

    I was once creative director at the ad agency which had the IKEA account (hang on, there’s relevance.) Ingvar Kamprad, the owner of IKEA, let us know that his advertising had to work, for the simple reason that he had trains, container ships and trucks headed for his warehouses, with product, and if customers didn’t come to collect at one end, he’d have the world’s biggest pile-up at the other of each of his warehouses.

    The car makers are in that fix now.

    This makes it hard to unload the Renault at anything like a decent price – so should it be driven into the ground and then retired for good? It’s probably a repair sinkhole – somewhat immoral, but make it someone else’s problem and use whatever you get against a newer car. There are good deals to be had now.
    And 15.000 dolares americanos should give Kevin some leverage, at least if he’s smarter than the kid who was buying a Wrangler and thought the dealer was working off the MSR.
    Volvo and Saab should give you some options. How about a used Volvo V50, 2005/2006, with the decent 2.4i engine, and with under 40.000 miles – they built them OK in those years, and you’ll have money to spare.

  • avatar

    One of the benefits of this series is that I get to learn new things too. Lesson learned: wiki car platforms that I am not familiar with. R-21 and R-25, wow!!!

    The B&B is giving great advice to our two readers, so keep it coming.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    If you are coming down off a 2000 A6 and are looking for something with more of an “executive” look and want to stay European you can contemplate a Volvo S80 (2.5T is the most reliable trim line), a Jaguar XJ would actually be in budget, reliability hasn’t been bad for the 2004+ years but repair costs could be high.

    A Toyota Avalon would certainly fit the bill of being reliable and slightly more upmarket compared to the Accord and Camry.

    If reliability and cost of repair are truly important to you, stick with something Japanese or American.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    You are clearly in used Legacy territory. Whether Wagon or Sedan.

    For example – the NADA Guide says that a 2006 Legacy GT Wagon w/ Leather, 5-speed and 60k on the odo has a retail value of $15,150.

    Hell, my GT Spec. B is the same age and mileage and is just getting broken in! The last one I had I sold @ 140k miles.

    Generally, they are extremely reliable and frugal to operate. Yes, the gas mileage suffers a bit from the AWD, but oil changes cost me $22.50 at the dealer. Compare that to a Passat w/4-motion or a Volvo S-anything with one headlight out (they all do that – must be a Swedish thing) and dealer attitude.

    I used to live in the Bucktown area of 606xx. It snows almost as much as it does here in PVD so AWD is the only way to go…and a block heater.

    Good luck.

  • avatar
    Kman

    When I read a requirement being “have to drive everywhere in all weather conditions”, I automatically place a “mandatory” check-mark next to “AWD”.

    So while the Accords, ES300’s et. al. being suggested all fit the bill for reliability and professionalism, that mandatory check-mark is missed.

    So this brings us to the best choice: Subaru Legacy. Reliability and AWD. Or, the AMC Eagle. (Ok, not really that last one)

  • avatar
    bluecon

    @Michael Karesh

    That plant was in Bramalea, Ontario. The same plant where Chrysler now builds the 300, Charger and Challenger.

  • avatar
    wsn

    menno said:

    Let’s put it this way; if most car companies in the world “go under” and the backlog of new cars goes away, the cars currently on the road wear out and can’t be replaced fast enough by the few surviving “players” – what happens to car prices?

    I fail to see why it’s “most”. When the first two go under, the rest would be able to survive.

    What happens to prices? They will be lower, since the first two to go under only account for 30% of the market and the market has shrunk by more than 30%. The supply is still greater than the demand.

    The only way I see this happening is that the US government keeps bailing out GM, making GM cars essentially free, thus driving Toyota/Honda/everyone bankrupt. Then stop the bailout on the day that Toyota declares bankruptcy. That way, “most” car companies goes under.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Kman :

    He’s a consultant, not safari tour guide. I have yet to see an office building in any of the cities I’ve lived in (Toronto, Boston, etc.) that could not be reached in a FWD car (or even a RWD car equipped with proper tires) in any kind of weather.

  • avatar
    Philip Lane

    @ Michael Karesh:

    Only the smaller engined Renault 21’s were equipped with a transverse powertrain.

    The R21 platform was engineered for both longitudinal and transverse mounting. Talk about an assembly nightmare. Renault’s transverse transmissions were not strong enough for the larger motors.

    Every Medallion imported to the land of the free and the home of the brave had a longitudinal 2.2.

  • avatar

    I’m with Jason and dgduris, a used Subaru Legacy is a fantastic, capable, classy car, and the GT is quite nice, I’ve heard. Not the best on gas, and the GT drinks premium, but if you need something that’ll get you around in the worst lake-effect snow and still have a lotta class (as opposed to body cladding and other goofiness) a Legacy might just suit the bill perfectly.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Kman,

    I agree with thetopdog here. This guy does not need a four wheel drive vehicle to get from one office to another. Front wheel drive is perfectly fine. Remember how Audi used to tout its front wheel drive as superior for traction compared to Benz and BMW (before the Quattro era)? This guy is not going hunting in the Great Up North where he has to traverse four foot snow drifts.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I am currently looking for a car myself. However, it seems Canada is always one year slower than the US. The best deal I can find is $2k off MSRP for a Honda Accord. Makes it almost $25k after rebate before tax (175hp, no alloy wheel, no moon roof). BTW $1CND = $0.8USD +- $0.05USD, depending on the day.

    I guess I still need to wait for several more months, before the chill finally reaches Canada.

  • avatar

    thetopdog : He’s a consultant, not safari tour guide. I have yet to see an office building in any of the cities I’ve lived in (Toronto, Boston, etc.) that could not be reached in a FWD car (or even a RWD car equipped with proper tires) in any kind of weather.

    +1. I don’t believe the cost, labor pains and fuel economy penalty of a Subie is worth it if you live in Chicago. Especially with the advent of Bridgestone Blizzaks.

    Remember this guy will move up the corporate ladder and get another Audi type of car in the near future. :)

  • avatar
    Axel

    @menno

    Local Kia dealer is offering left-over 2008 Rondo mini-wagon type rigs for under $13,000

    Professional? Kia Rondo? Surely you jest.

    Speaking of which, as a musician I find it odd that the Sonata is a Hyundai and the Rondo is a Kia. You’d think they’d be more consistent with their branding.

  • avatar
    Ole Stang

    Save some money, go Front Wheel Drive, invest in good winter tires, you save on economy and a couple of grand versus all wheel drive. I am a dealer if you wanna pay more money GO AHEAD. My family drives front wheel drives with winter tires and we live in Canada, snow on the ground since November just melting. All wheel drive is great if you appreciate the extra handling it provides, but not necessary when driving on paved maintained roads. If it is that bad out you drive slower, right? Do some research, test drive the cars mentioned above, drive them again, do not rush it. That is how you make sure you feel like you “win”, by taking your time. Build a relationship and get educated.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    as per Medallion man: When I last went to the junkyard, I saw two Eagle Premiers. (Mostly intact, it looked like they had barely been touched. Gee, I wonder why.) The first thing that I thought was that it was a shame that these things have been damned to the crusher, they should be preserved for their rarity. Then reality hit me: it is hard to maintain these things if you are a non-enthusiast, being they are so obscure. It is different than me maintaining my 1993 Escort, as it was a popular model that Ford built millions of in a 6 year production run. I can still buy parts for it at Ford dealerships, every parts store has just about every part that I can imagine for it, and the junkyard has so many Escorts like mine that they are overflowing over the gates.

    Maybe owning a Premier could be excusable, since it seems to have a small cult following. But there is no way that could own an Eagle Medallion and use it as a daily driver. Nobody has ever heard of it, since it was imported from France (The Premier was designed by AMC and built in Canada, thus why it is possible to buy parts for it) I don’t want to think of the Medallion going to the junkyard though, considering that it is so rare. You should just sell it to a Renault or Euro car enthusiast, then take the money and buy something else. Get some cheap car that is more common and easier to maintain. You can get an Escort just like mine for just under 1K! :D

  • avatar
    Hwanung

    $15k will buy you a used Civic SI, or Cobalt SS. I bet you might be able to find a MKV GTI / Jetta GLI too, having the Vdub being the “classiest.”

    Can’t speak about the reliabilities, but I’m sure there’s decent info on TrueDelta.

  • avatar

    So my correction needed a couple of corrections…

    Bramalea sounds French…but I should have known better.

    Same car with both transverse and longitudinal powertrains…ouch.

  • avatar
    menno

    I agree; I live in northwestern Michigan and have never ever bothered getting four wheel drive aka all wheel drive. I do, however, get a 2nd set of wheels and tires will real snow tires on them.

    Up here, smart folks don’t say “all-season tires” they instead call them by what they really are (for us); “3-season tires”.

    Of course, those three seasons together only make up about 7 months of our year…

    It was -11 degrees F. on the way in to work yesterday. We had a veritable heat-wave this morning, however. All the way up to negative single digits. -9 F.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    For Daniel, who apparently feels an Audi or F-150 is the type of vehicle that he needs for “all-weather”:

    The 2005+ Subaru Legacy/Outback somehow straddles the line that pleases both those who don’t like showiness and frivolity, and those who enjoy the finer things in life.

    If you car about gas mileage and don’t need turbocharged thrills, get a naturally aspirated version with leather. Plenty to be had with 25-50k miles for under 15,000. Heck, you can probably easily find a 2007 w/ leather and navigation and 15,000 miles for $15,000 right now.

    If you want turbocharged goodness, you’ll need to go back to circa 2006 and a solid 30-40k miles on it. Nonetheless, they offer excellence.

    Their steering is fantastic, their body roll is a bit much but can be corrected with a beefier rear sway bar alone. Their braking is good, and gets alot better with new pads and fluid. They are durable (especially the naturally aspirated version) and offer a great driving experience.

    That’s why I bought a 2008 Legacy GT 5-speed. If you like the manual version, try to pony up some extra cash and get your hands on a 2007 Legacy GT Spec.B….once depreciated, they become very worthwhile for the upgraded transmission (6-speed), suspension (aluminum bits, bilstein dampers), alcantara seating, and standard navigation. Just remember that they came stock with 18″ wheels on summer tires.

    Subaru is probably the only car I can think of that offers recent, low mileage examples with AWD that will still be professional, clean and crisp, and not break the bank.

    Joe

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Menno-

    I’ve come to the realization that people who say all-seasons are worthless really don’t why they are actually an ideal solution for a good part of the country.

    I live in PA (if you couldn’t guess). I get about 5 months out of the year where the temperatures are between 20-50 degrees fahrenheit, but the roads are either bone dry or just damp.

    So they are below the summer tire threshold, but don’t really need winter tires.

    Which do you think will brake better in 99% of situations in that temperature range on dry or damp roads? Summer tires – No. Winter tires – No. All-seasons – Ding ding ding.

    I absolutely agree that snow tires are the best solution IN SNOW/ICE. But on dry roads above 20 degrees but below summer tire temperatures….all-seasons will provide you with the best emergency braking/handling.

    When you bring in performance winter tires, things do become iffier, as they’ve made such great advances.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    I’ve been driving a ’99 Accord for almost a decade now over heck of a lot of miles and less problems than any other car I’ve ever owned.

    My advise, go back to an ’02 or older Accord (same gen as mine). You can get ones with under 100k on them for cheap quite cheap. Let’s face it, these days it’s nice to have some $$$ in the bank so don’t let the $15k burn a hole in your pocket.

    My advise is to go for the 4 cyl engine. It’s what Honda does best and is a fuel sipper. The EX-L trim is waaay nicer than that old Medallion has, and with proper maintenance the thing should run you easily for 5+ years.

    To all those that say AWD is necessary for “all conditions” driving I live in MN and have never had any problems on snow or ice that a good set of winter tires hasn’t been able to handle.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Situation 1- look for a clean used 2008 Taurus or Fusion or on Chevys stable a Malibu or Impala. My pick would be a 2LT Impala with less than 20K miles which can be had for less than 15K and sports the 3900 V6, sporty exterior with rear spoiler, dual exhaust, bucket seat interior, ABS and stability control. It is a super solid sedan with low insurance rates, is very reliable, has an 18.6 cu ft trunk and gives you a lot of car for the coin and will last for years. The other 3 cars mentioned would serve well too. The Hyundai Sonota deserves mention also as you can usually land a very clean 2008 for under 15K fully equipped. The Camry and Accord are still selling for high purchase prices at least for better eqipped versions and you can’t usually touch a 2008 for these prices leaving the older model 2006 Accord or the troublesome first year 2007 Camry, which has a very hard time keeping trannys alive, as the alternatives.

    Situation 2- Drive the Medallion until the wheels fall off. It was a clone of the Dodge Monaco and parts are very scarce. You probably can still get oil and air filters for it and Ebay may be a source for a few other things. Even if you drove the car a year and sold it on Craigslist or scrapped it for $200.00 or so you will at least have got a little use out of it.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Wow, it’s deja vu all over again.

    Back in the glory days of the Clinton Era, I was supposed to work with a Washington D.C. thinktank during the summer. Then move onto an IT consulting firm called the Gartner Group.

    Mission Then: Find an executive car that I wouldn’t have to worry about for the next 12 years.

    I bought a Toyota Camry Coupe in red, 4-cylinder, sunroof, automatic. Kept it for 12 years and 239k miles. I enjoyed the quiet, the frugality, and the ease of maintenance. All things considered it was the perfect vehicle for someone like me at that point in time.

    My top choice would be a Solara coupe.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Definitely let the Renault go to a French car enthusiast if you don’t think you can keep up with it. Too many odd cars like that go to waste over deferred maintenance.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    ponchoman49 :

    Do you happen to be a Chevy salesman? Or work for GM’s ad agency? “Sporty exterior with rear spoiler, bucket seat interior and ABS” aren’t exactly making me want to run out and buy an Impala

    I have spent a lot of time in rental Impalas though, and they’re pretty solid cars.

  • avatar
    CAHIBOstep

    @ Kevin

    “I have to drive regardless of weather conditions…”

    Everything is totally flat in Chicago. If you are living in the city proper, you will be fine with FWD. All-season tires have always worked for me, but snow tires can’t hurt.

    Keep the money you would spend on AWD and spend it on car washes. A ridiculous amount of road salt gets spread everywhere at the slightest hint of snow here.

    Roads in the suburbs are well-maintained too. Rather than using three times as much salt as necessary, they merely use enough to do the job. Either way, you’re good.

  • avatar

    Stein X — were you at Crispin Porter?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “Sporty exterior with rear spoiler, bucket seat interior and ABS”

    This perfectly describes a 1996 Chevy Beretta.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Michael Karesh’s recommendation of a lightly used Ford Five Hundred is an excellent one. The Mercury Montego twin would also be a good option, though not many were sold. Comfortable, competent, safe and enjoyable to drive for a car its size. Excellent seats and a big trunk. Great seats are important if you are doing lots of driving. I would, however, stay away from the CVT transmission versions, just in case.

  • avatar
    mkII

    Thank you ladies & gentlemen of TTAC, esp. to Sajeev who’s kind enough to post this thread!

    I am that Kevin guy, and you have no idea how heartwarming it is to see so many brilliant suggestions after doing pro-forma financial restructuring for auto dealers all day.

    I actually work around Illinois as an auditor, and do a ton of driving just getting to clients, from banks to failing autoparts manufacturers. Not trying to rant here but I do pull quite long working hours (7-22), so I usually drive to work when the snowplows are not even out yet, and when I’m half-asleep. Thus something reliable and safe would be nice (in case I hit a tree or omnipresent potholes).

    After reading the posts I’ll probably stick to the Legacy or Accord. Any kind owners out there that would point me to common failing parts (e.g. timebelt/clutch/turbo/etc) to check for a second hand scobbie?

    Again, many many thanks for all the lovely advices.

  • avatar

    Ahhhh, the Chevy Baretta. MMMmmm

    Wait a second… I mean POS.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    All it takes is a look at a tired 80’s model Renault or Peugeot (especially the interior) to remember why French cars aren’t sold here anymore!

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “Not trying to rant here but I do pull quite long working hours (7-22), so I usually drive to work when the snowplows are not even out yet, and when I’m half-asleep. ”

    OK, if this is the case do not, I repeat DO NOT get the Legacy. Their seats are torture chambers for long-term driving.

    The Accord is a good choice. But given that you want excellent seats, safety and reliability, I would definitely opt for a Volvo S60 instead.

    Here’s a loaded 2006 S60, silver, one owner, loaded, only 9,000 miles. It sold for $14,300 on Ebay.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks___ONE-OWNER-SUPER-LOW-MILES-PREMIUM-PKG-WARRANTY-TURBO_W0QQitemZ220366293517QQddnZCarsQ20Q26Q20TrucksQQddiZ2282QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Cars_Trucks?hash=item220366293517&_trksid=p4506.c0.m245&_trkparms=65:13|39:1|240:1318

    The S60 has been made for most of the current decade with only minor modifications. Maintenance is very reasonable, dealer visits are not required, and the engines that power them have been around since the mid-1990’s.

    Do what you want. But if it were my money and I wasn’t an auto auctioneer and car dealer, this would definitely be among my top choices.

    Good luck!

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    My ex-wife had a ’93 Volvo 850 GLT (first year they made them) and after it hit 80k miles, it started getting VERY expensive to repair/maintain. Compared to the 740 Turbo (RWD) she had before it, everything cost at least double or more to repair. The transmission went at 85k and cost $3500 to replace….

    I hope that front wheel drive Volvos (like the S60) are more durable than the 850 was! I’m betting that they still cost a lot more than a Japanese car to repair, though.

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    Kevin, I’ve got an ’06 Altima SE-R sitting in Detroit in storage while I slave away in Shanghai. $15k, all yours, still with warranty balance. The car is bad-a$$, and having driven it 12hrs straight Detroit-Boston, all day is no problem.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Kevin if you’re self employed with sufficient income, and your accountant concurs, consider a Mazda ’08 cx-9. you can get into one for the mid 20’s and since the GVW is 6K+ lbs, you are eligible for a great tax deduction. The tax law allows you to claim the $25,000 Section 179 writeoff plus the “regular” 20% first-year depreciation writeoff.

    As an aside, I was wondering what my first impression would be of a consultant who drove up in a 20 year old Renault Medallion.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    For $15k, you can get a 2006 (or perhaps 2007) Ford Fusion SEL V6 AWD. You might have to do some searching to find one, but they are out there. I just found 35 in metro Atlanta using AutoTrader (limit it to only All Wheel Drive models of the Fusion).

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