By on January 6, 2010
A lost species? (
Maeve writes:
Hi Sajeev and Steve, I’m looking to buy a new car in the next year or two.  I have a 2006 Toyota Corolla CE with 35k on the clock.  It’s a manual transmission, which is the only thing that’s kept me from going insane.  When I bought it, I didn’t have much choice in the matter (time crunch) and the price and gas mileage (something like 41 mpg hwy, though I regularly get 35 mpg in stop and go traffic).  It has been servicable, reliable (mostly), cheapish, and gas efficient.  There is nothing wrong with it, other than it’s just kind of boring.

I’m looking for something a little more fun.  I want something that is fun to drive, not just a machine to get from point A to point B.  I used to have a fabulous 1991 Nissan 240SX SE Fastback (again, manual) that I loved.  However, I moved to Phoenix and didn’t have the funds (because of the move) to take care of the things that it needed.  I still regret selling it. So now I’m looking for:

Manual transmission
Coupe (preferably, or a small sedan)
2 + 2 seating, Hatchback would be nice
At least an average of 25 mpg
Zipppy enough to be competitive on the freeway (not like my old ’76 VW Bug that had to get a running start to pass someone on the freeway… unless it was downhill)
Stable enough to take turns fast
Under $30,000

Should not be horribly expensive to fix

I seem to think that there are some potential gems coming out soon, maybe in 2010.  I’m keeping an eye on the FT-86.  I know there is more out there, but past looking at all the existing cars (of which there are a dearth of good coupes, especially RWD), I don’t quite know where to start.  I’ve got a bunch of car blogs on my RSS, so I try to keep up with the latest, but I’m sure you’ve got most of what I’m looking for in your head.  Or at least readily accessible.

I won’t have much for a downpayment, but would be trading in my Corolla (which is in pretty damned good shape – regular maintenance, everything still runs fine) but I can wait as long as I need to to get the Right Car.  And yes, I plan on being picky.
The car doesn’t have to be new, but as I live in Phoenix, I don’t want to have to constantly worry about the car breaking down (okay, at least until I learn how to fix it) in 110+ degree temperatures.  I’m flexible on most of those things to a degree, but it absolutely must be a manual transmission.
Sajeev Mehta:  Oh yeah, who isn’t foaming at the mouth to get the keys to Toyota’s FT-86? Since your needs are specific (kudos on that, btw) and the market doesn’t cater to your style, wait for the Toyota’s next hot compact. Or get a V6 Mustang. The EPA says it gets 21MPG in mixed use, which isn’t half bad.  The motor is crude but ballsy and the suspension and brakes don’t totally suck, but a few hundred dollars in the (disturbingly cheap and plentiful) Mustang aftermarket for a spring/shock/swaybar package and better brake pads fixes that quickly. If you don’t like the Mustang as-is on a test drive, that is. Coming from a Toyota Corolla, the V6 ‘stang might as well be a Corvette.
And V6 Mustangs are cheap. Which, even though I’m the New Car proponent in this series, makes a great case for used Mustangs as the best bang for the buck in the efficient RWD coupe market. Then again, the 2011 model with a 300+hp Duratec six-shooter under the hood sounds like a serious threat to the FT-86: if they get the suspension sorted, sans aftermarket help.  So wait another 12 months.  Your Corolla is just peachy until then.
Steve Lang: There is an absolutely insane number of used sports cars out there with a depreciation curve that is far more worthy of your wallet. Start with a BMW M3 or even a low mileage and older M5 model. As much as folks gripe about Car & Driver always granting BMW’s the #1 slot in their comparos, there’s a reason for it. They are the absolute gold standard when it comes to fun, sporty and luxurious vehicles.
If you must stay in the Japanese fold, a very low mileage 2008 Infiniti G37 Sport would definitely hit both sides of the fun and luxury equation. These models have performance levels that are neck and neck with many of the Germans for about two-thirds of the price. However if you must go for the nasty and brutish cars I do have one interesting alternative that is off the beaten path… and still a Toyota. Kinda. Sorta.  A low mileage Lotus Elise. These models offer a Toyota engine along with a ride that simply blows the doors off of 99+% of the vehicles out there. Chances are you would be far better off with the Infiniti and BMW if most of your driving is commuting related. But with smooth roads and a frequent jaunt down a long and winding road may make the Lotus a real consideration.
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55 Comments on “New Or Used?: Saving Silvia Edition...”

  • avatar

    Sounds like Maeve is asking for a RWD GTI :)

  • avatar

    This is a simple one to answer – BMW 330i – its a 2+2 RWD coupe with great handling and plenty of power to pass on the freeway, it returns 30+ mpg in highway driving (20 in the city), and it has the luxury features you want.
    Even better, you can get a nice E46 330i for around $10,000 these days.

  • avatar

    I’d also recommend a used Infiniti G coupe. They will be under your budget, probably even if you get them new. They are fast, fun, and available with manuals.

  • avatar

    Do you really need RWD? If fun is what you want I’d suggest going with a 3rd gen Honda Prelude SI (maybe with 4WS if you can find one). I had an 88 SI 4WS 5 SPEED back in 03, it was the most fun car I’ve ever driven BAR-NONE, way more fun than my friends 1990 240sx. When it came out in 88 it out-handled ALL cars on the market of the time bone stock, including the vette, lamborghinis, and ferraris.

    I mean look at that 240sx,,, all nissans designers did was decide to take a 88 perlude, make it curvey around the edges, make it a hatch and flip the tail light assembly! TOTAL LUDE-KNOCKOFF! 

  • avatar

    Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-spec.  Look it up. It matches 100% of your criteria.

    Or, just wait for the FT-86.

    • 0 avatar

      +1, first thing that came to my mind. 

      If you’re handy with a wrench and don’t mind a lightly used car, there are a lot of other possibilities.

      I would also submit that if a person is in a financial condition such that they are “forced” to sell a car to pay moving expenses, perhaps things are a little too tight to be looking at a new $30k car. That’s just my finance background talking, though.

    • 0 avatar

      +2 Nothing fits this request better than the Genesis Coupe 2.0 turbo with the 6-speed manual.  I wouldn’t spend the money for R-spec, but it is within Maeve’s budget.  The FT-86 will not have a weaker engine, will have an inferior chasis (a nose heavy awd Impreza bastardized into a RWD coupe), and will probably cost more – the Hoondai can be had for under $23K.

      If you really need the hatch or want to spend less up front the Mercedes C230 Kompressor coupe with the 6-speed manual is worth considering.

    • 0 avatar

      A late +3 for the Genesis coupe.

  • avatar

    Porche 911.  It won’t be new, or even close to new.  In fact it will probably be at least 10 years old.  But that will only make it better.

  • avatar

    I would wait for the 2011 Mustang which will probably be available in April with the new V6 engine offering or a Camaro. Unless you want expensive maintenance/repair bills I wouldn’t consider a used BMW. Very nice cars but as anyone that has owned an older one will tell you, very expensive to maintain. I wouldn’t consider the Lotus as a primary driver either, only as a second recreational sports car.
    Since either a new Mustang or Camaro easily fits your budget and fulfills your criteria why consider a used vehicle?

    • 0 avatar

      +1 Buy new and enjoy the warranty.  A CPO BMW might fit the bill, but will you have any money to fix it when the warranty runs out?  BTW I don’t consider a Lotus a daily driver either.

  • avatar

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that someone with a $30k budget isn’t made of money. And cannot afford the repair bills of a non-CPO German car, stealership service department or not.

    Long term costs in mind, I’d recommend getting stabbed in the neck with a fork before I’d recommend a (non-CPO) used BMW M-series in this price range. 

  • avatar

    For $30k you’ve got plenty of choices.

    2011 Ford Mustang – the GT will probably be scraping 30 grand without any options, so the V6 is your best bet. And with the new 3.7 it will hardly be a secretary’s car anymore…315hp + RWD? Heck yes! If you’re worried about handling I believe the well-regarded Track Pack will be available with the new V6. 25mpg average could be difficult to achieve unless you do alot of highway driving.

    Hyundai Genesis – closest in spirit to the Silvia and also a great choice, though I hear it’s a bit rough around the edges.

    Chevy Camaro – pretty much the same as the Mustang, though it’s a porker and has a horribly cheap interior.

    VW GTI – I personally love this car, it’s classy, fun to drive and very practical. You should be able to get one for $25k or less and the mileage should be good; the only problem is reliability down the road.

    If we’re talking used I bet you’d be very happy with a CPO 350Z or 370Z, as they fit all of your criteria (well, maybe not with respect to the gas mileage)

    • 0 avatar

      The Mustang GT doesn’t need any options it comes standard with full power equipment (I just leased one with no options). Basically the same for the V6 model. The reason I suggested the V6 instead of the GT was the gas mileage.

  • avatar

    I think one of the criteria was “Should not be horribly expensive to fix”. That said BMW and Porsche are out. Besides with the 2+2 and hatchback I think He’s looking for something with a usable backseat.
    I’ll go for the G-coupe but it’s going to have to be used. Genesis might fit the bill. But he also stated small sedan/hatchback. It’s not RWD, but it is AWD and that’s better. My vote is for the Subie WRX the top of line goes slightly over the 30K, but you can get them for less.

  • avatar

    I’d second Sajeev’s sentiments re: used M cars. A decent condition E46 M3 without tons of miles runs in the mid $20s right now, and maintenance on an M is going to eat up the rest of the 30k budget pretty cheap.

    What I would recommend, as cretinx does, is a non-M E46 coupe. You can find a late model (e.g. 2005) E46 coupe with the performance package for not much money – maybe $20 – $22k for one in good condition with low miles? Lots of fun to drive, and the money you save can be used for any maintenance items that come up for a few years.

  • avatar

    A regular old 3 series would be plenty of fun.  You can get a CPO 330i with 2 year maintenance plan for 25g or less.  An M series in the twenties would be getting a bit long in the tooth, and frankly a bit much for a daily driver. 

    Otherwise, the Genesis coupe was a very fun car with a crazy warranty.

  • avatar

    Mazda RX-8.

    A cousin has one and they are a blast to drive.  Long term reliability may be an issue with the rotary, but man is it fun to rev.  The gas milage isn’t great, but not many sports cars really are, and you can probably get a decent deal on one as they aren’t fast movers for dealers.  The website shows $5000 off right now, and the top trim is $32k, so under $30k for the top of the line.  Used Mustang is a cheap option though.  You can get a low milage used GT for well under $30k.

  • avatar

    I vote for a $20,000 – $25,000 used car (last gen G35 coupe, Genesis coupe, Mustang among others) and save the reminder for future repairs/upgrades/pay down other debt.

    If you’re on a “$30,000 budget,” IMHO that in reality means you should be looking at cars that cost no more than $25,000 cars once you consider operating costs/depreciation/insurance/buying top tier 19-inch tires, etc.

    just trying to be practical.

  • avatar

    Kudos on a good spec list.
    If you can stomach the idea of front wheel drive, I recommend test driving a MINI Cooper S.

  • avatar

    If you don’t have kids, get a used S2000 or Nissan 350z.  The Honda should be dead-reliable and no one here has mentioned it so far.  If you care about rear-seat passengers, get a used Mazda RX-8.  Stay away from the Euro brands unless you don’t mind the hefty repair bills.
    I also like the idea people here have been throwing around of a V6 stang with 300 hp and a cheap aftermarket for suspension upgrades.  You should also be able to get a smokin’ deal on any Pontiac G8s right now as well.

  • avatar

    For new, if I was in your shoes, I’ either go with the Genesis Coupe, wait for the 2011 v6 Mustang, or see what come from the Ft-86.  (I’d lean toward the Toyota, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they disappoint us all yet again.)  In the hatch category, there’s always the MazdaSpeed3…

    Used, I’ve always been partial to the Acura RSX.  And the Mustang is still in play as a used car – you could use the savings to make some upgrades.

  • avatar

    I imagine this scenario for myself: wanting to know how good is the FT-86, falling in love on the test drive, and agonizing over buying the first model year FT-86, knowing waiting for the second MY would be less risky (but, then, it IS a Toyota, right?). I regret not being able to afford a used RWD Corolla GT-S.

  • avatar

    if you’re dead set on RWD and new, then wait for the ’11 V6 Mustang, or check out the V6 Camaro if you can stomach the horrible interior.  I’s stay away from the Genesis coupe.  A friend just got rid of his V6 model after only 6 months.  Nothing but problems, and i hear the 4 cyl turbos are dogs. The FT-86 fits your list perfectly, but don’t expect to see it here any time before Spring of next year.

  • avatar

    First, I have to say that I just LOVE the 240SX hatch… that was one of the best looking cars around.
    I am going to have to say that I would consider a used 350/370Z, Infiniti G35/37. or an E46 330i.
    If new warranty is a good thing for you, then go with the Genesis coupe… it seems to be a good looking, well made car, and it has an outstanding warranty.  Cannot argue with that!

    • 0 avatar

      I owned a 91 240sx se myself, and it is a sharp looking car but far from sporty.  Compared to a Corolla sure, but compared to a “pony” car or any number of sports coupes it was sorely lacking in power and handling.  The question is what dou you value more, handling or straightline speed?  The Rx-8 while a great handling car doesn’t fit your other criteria (poor gas mileage and iffy reliability for a used one that may not have been treated as a rotory needs to be treated).  The Mustang’s power will blow you away – even in V6 – compared to the Corolla or the 240sx, but the handling, eh not so much so.  The imaginary rear set will remind you of your 240sx.  A used 350Z handles well (though not like an RX-8) and accelerates nicely (better than the V6 Mustang).  However, no backseat and very poorly designed interior in general.  The German cars will be expensive to repair, which really doesn’t fit your criteria.  Just my opinions on some of the cars that you might consider.

  • avatar

    Hot damn, what a happy surprise.

    I’m going to try to cover a few replies in one comment, rather than filling up the comment section with individual replies.  :)

    I test drove a manual Mustang in ’05 and discovered that my legs are too short for the damned car.  I had the seat all the way up and could barely get the clutch pedal fully engaged.   So unless they’ve changed the layout of the wheel well, that’s out for me. 

    Said test drive was just prior to our moving to Phoenix later in ’05.  Since then, we have acquired better jobs and more stable finances.   We now own a house, my husband’s car is paid off, and the credit cards are being whittled down as quickly as possible.  I didn’t need to sell my Nissan to pay for the move, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford the care it needed at that point, especially with a drive from northern Nevada to Phoenix at the end of summer, and all the requisite crap I’d have to do to make it survive the weather in Phoenix. 

    I made the mistake of looking up my car (via the email address of the guy I sold it to) and damn that car was beautiful, and according to him, didn’t have a thing wrong with it.  It _did_ have some problems, though. 

    RWD isn’t a _requirement_, but I’ve preferred the cars I’ve had with it, as opposed to my Corolla beater. 

    I’m not horribly handy with a wrench, but am happy to learn, actually.  Just don’t want to learn the hard way (on the side of the road, in August, when it’s 120 outside, and I’m in business casual clothes on the way home from work).

    I rented a newer 350Z a few months ago, and I’m hoping I didn’t like it because it was a base model, beat up rental.  And an automatic.  I really wanted to like it.  But all it had going for it was being zippy.  It was a -little- small (that’s why I was thinking a 2+2, at least room for groceries), but what got me the most was the relatively bad visibility (from inside the car).  For something that moves that quick, I’d prefer a little more windshield.  Granted, though, both my Nissan and Corolla had/have big windshields and smaller/narrower A-pillars, so it could just be the comparison.

    On my current list of things to go out and test drive are- Subaru WRX, Mazda Speed3, Mazda RX-8, VW something (GTI, Eos, not sure what else), and a Mitsubishi Evo.  Based on feedback so far, I’ll be adding the Genesis and maaaaaybe a Mini.  And of course waiting with baited breath for the FT-86. 

    Thanks everyone for your input so far.  Looks like I’ve got some test-driving to fill up my days off. ;)

  • avatar

    Since rear wheel drive is merely a nice-to-have, you should check out a Cobalt SS Supercharged or the new Turbocharged edition. I just sold my ’96 Camaro Z28 SS and bought a Cobalt SS Supercharged, and hand over my heart, I have more fun in this car than in the Camaro. The Cobalt is also the fastest front drive vehicle around the Nurburgring (ever, I believe), and the new ones have the no-lift shift option, which I’m told works fabulously well. This car surprised the hell out of me, it is flat-out fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!!! And before anyone tells me different, go drive one.

  • avatar

    I’d suggest the Chundai too.

    The V6 Mustang, new version. Someone will swap the N/A mill and put an insanityboost in there.

    And… a Dodge Challenger R/T.

  • avatar

    Lexus IS300.  No, no the current one, but the last generation with the Supra-derived inline six.  It handles as well as (and is arguably more fun than) the 3-Series of the same vintage and it’s likely more reliable.

  • avatar

    One thing to keep in mind is that recent engines (say 2007 or newer) are much more fuel efficient compared to the generation before. I am thinking of the e90 bmw 328i vs the e46 330i.
    A real-world highway 30 mpg I think would be hard to achieve with some of the older models

  • avatar

    I, too, recommend the RX-8. They can be purchased new for surprisingly low prices and if you go used they’re even better deals.  Don’t go as far back as 2004 – those engines have 1st-year bugs that can get expensive. 

    It’s not particularly powerful, especially by the high standards set by very recent releases.  But you’re looking at older cars anyway.  The back seats are very comfortable, at the cost of an awkward-looking roofline.  That’s what you give up for real headroom.  The only problem is that you can expect 18mpg.

    And try a Miata.  You don’t have to buy it, but try one (an older one, unless you find a new one with the Bilstein shocks).  Think of it as a way to benchmark steering feel and feedback, and that weird word “tossability.”

  • avatar

    IMHO you don’t need a new car.  Buying a used one will save you much more money in the long run.  Just do your research and don’t buy something on impulse without properly checking it out.  My daily driver is the favorite car I’ve ever owned…’89 Civic Hatchback with the venerable b16a in it.  It’s very fuel efficient (high 30’s); very reliable (with proper maintenance – done by myself); roomy with hatchback door that can load in large items; it’s very fast and handles/stops very well (I track the car with local road race groups and use it as my instructors cars); and the best thing is that I have a $0 car payment.  Look for what excites you and won’t require a loan to buy.  That even means getting it fixed up over time.
    There’s 100’s of cars that fit this criteria (and don’t limit only to RWD b/c modern FWD cars can be a blast to drive too – and get you better mpg as they have less parasitic drivetrain loss).  Looking at your current and previous ride, it seems you like lightweight cars and not so much concerned with raw power.  As a racer light weight makes the car so much better to drive in all aspects (rather than simply acceleration) – it also means parts are usually cheaper (Euro cars are the exception here).

  • avatar
    jeremy cohn

    since i’ve thrown so many thousands of dollars out various windows owning some of the cars discussed here, i’d like to share my experiences.. and i’m also going to say that if you want RWD, don’t settle for FWD.  you can have amazing handling and a great car with FWD, but it will never FEEL like rwd.  i’ve had both, and i just prefer RWD.
    current car is an 06 mustang gt, 5spd manual.  the power and the way that motor sounds.. those are 8 of the 10 reasons i bought it.  i ordered it new, the most basic GT available.  deluxe model with cloth seats and base radio.  it is big on the outside, small on the inside, and the plastic is as bad as everyone says.  but i love every minute of it.  it will seat 4, but the back seat isn’t great for any sort of distance.  definitely usable for transporting people if need be, otherwise they fold for a decent amount of cargo room.  i’ve had it on a track and i love it there, too.  it’s decently quiet on the highway, and while it’s a bit heavy, that weight makes it actually pretty stable.  i’ve seen 27mpg on the highway, but expect 18 in mixed driving.. 13 if you drive around listening to the 8 cylinders of noise.  also, the quality has been top shelf.  better than i expected.  50K miles and i’m still happy.  runs on 87 with no problem.
    honda S2000:  it’s a 4 wheel motorcycle.  it is fantastically reliable (it’s a honda), but really it’s a terrible car if you need it for a daily driver in a 4 season climate.  plus you said 2+2..
    impreza wrx/sti:  this, i think, should be the top of your list.  i know i love the mustang, but the impreza has the same kind of speed, better handling, and far better everyday utility.  slightly better mileage, though i often saw around 16 (on pricey premium) when pushing it around a bit.  they’ve been around for 10 years now, so you can pretty much take your pick, depending on how new you want to go.  i had the sedan, but i’d go 5dr, since you lose nothing to the sedan but gain a ton of useful space.  the 04 STis are in your price range, and with that adjustable DCCD center diff, you can go up to 35/65% rwd bias.
    i don’t think you need to completely ignore the German cars.. but really plan to have a good backup stash in your account to take care of repairs.  german cars can be finicky and pricey to maintain, but the reward can be a long service life if you pay attention to it.

  • avatar

    Forget the RWD fetish.

    Buy a Civic SI.

    You’ll not only have a car that’s as easy to maintain as your Corolla, but just as reliable.

    And, if you’re like most people, you may find that a Civic EX will satify most of the same critieria, you might just save a bit by going that route.

    Either way, you win.

    • 0 avatar

      I hate to say this..

      Current Civic SI is a snore.

      The Civic (not SI) in current form is better.. and without the nav option (looks like they just shoved the unit in there.. no panel to cover it FORD STYLE.)

      They blew the budget on the interior on the info behind the wheel.. the rest is poorly laid out plastic. My 00 Accord has a better setup with more color and organization..

      Heck.. The Mazda 3 hatch is better on the Civic SI.
      More power –2.5
      With a HATCH
      Better interior
      Can be ordered with out the nav unit and a better dash.. with more features.. for less money.
      NTM.. ya can buy a Speed3 HATCH version.. that would wipe the floor with the Civic SI.

      And this is coming from a guy.. who was nutso for Hondas (Accord/ Civic.)

  • avatar

    Give some thought to purchasing a car off of a returned lease. Opens your horizon to a wider number of choices within your price range.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    If your “budget” is 30k, and you have “no down payment” then you are a payment buyer.  Nothing wrong with that.  Most people are.  But, B&B, if you spend 25k on a BMW 3 series, you don’t “save” $5k for repairs.  You save $100 a month on your note.  Since you have credit card debt, hopefully you put that “savings” on to that credit card debt.  And then go in to debt again when something breaks.

    My advice:  pay off your credit cards %100 before you buy anything.  Pay them off at a rate of $600/month, or whatever note you are comfortable with.  Then put that amount in savings for 12 months after you pay them off.  By then the ‘Stang and the Toyota will have been on the market for a while and you won’t pay a premium for them.  You will have a nicer car and pay banks less for the privilege of driving it. 

    Suze says, “You can’t afford it!”  Plus 2 cool cars aren’t even out yet. 

  • avatar

    Get something fun like a 1st generation Rx-7 and keep the Corolla for the daily slog.

  • avatar

    A used M3? A 10yo 911???        Hello McFly……

    Hey OP, just get a 80’s 328GTS then you can at least look like friggen Magnum while your car sucks your paycheck dry.
    Ever hear about the the rear suspension mounts falling out of the M3? Maybe $600 valve adjustments, or $100+ oil changes …can’t buy that required 10w-60 at Wally world, hmmm???
    How about 911’s rear main seal, clogged radiators, failed intermediate shaft, swiss cheese coolant tank…I don’t think so.
    My check book can personally attest to the above facts.

    Sure they are fun to drive, but you have to PAY.  Either through depreciation, or massive repairs/maintenance requirements. There is no free ride. When these cars are used, you might as well pull the pin on the  grenade located in your bank account.

    The only car(s) worthy of used purchase for those looking for minimum cost and frequency maintenance are Toyonda’s. Did I get that right?

  • avatar

    I have the 350z roadster and I think its a great car, but not a car to use as your daily driver.  Its quick and handles great.  The manual is awesome in the Z.  The interior is not the best.  It also doesn’t have lots of storage.  It carries just enough for a weekend trip.  Tires could also get expensive if you drive a lot. 

    My girlfriend has the mini cooper S and that car is awesome.  Go-kart handling and comfortable interior.  If you need a backseat and will settle for FWD, then I would recommend test driving one of these.  The MPG are not that that great when thinking of a car this size, but the supercharger and gearbox in this car make it a blast.  Also the moonroof is pretty cool.

  • avatar

    I would also wait for the 2011 V-6 Mustang. That should fit the listed requirements exactly. I have driven the current one with the 4.0 truck engine and thats what it feels like. Why did it take so long for Ford to decide to put a modern V-6 in there?
    Having done the used BMW thing myself, I would never do it again, at least for my daily driver. The car performed beyond my expectations, but broke down a lot. Even with my wrenching skills, that made costs reasonable, there was way too much downtime.

  • avatar

    Another vote here for the next Mustang.  The new V6 is supposed to be really good, and gets 30mpg hwy (in auto).  Supposed to have a 6 speed manual as well.

  • avatar

    I am loving all of this input.  Thank you.
    I owe about $10k on my current Corolla and already have a decent payment out to that every month (about $400, due to refinancing and pulling out a couple thousand to pay off my husband’s car).  When I get a new (to me) car, I basically need it to be at $400/mo or less.  I figure that $30k is the top of what I can look at right now, but will happily take something less expensive. 
    Handling is definitely more important to me, rather than straightaway speed.  I pegged out my Nissan once, but damn I was completely nervewracked, between potential law enforcement and hoping my car would hold together.  It did, everything was fine, but I’d rather have superior cornering than top speed.  Admittedly, I do want the ability to get up to speed at a decent rate, but with a stick, half of that is my own coordination, which is up to par.  Usually.  ;)
    To be clear, I don’t _need_ a new (as opposed to used) car.  I just need something reliable.  I had been thinking about just keeping what we’ve got and getting something like another 240SX as a project/fun car, but we don’t really have anywhere to keep it right now, unless we keep it in the garage and keep our daily cars in the driveway.  Only gets to really be a problem in summer, when a garage is far preferable to 120+ temps in the car.
    I’ll keep my mind open, as far as Mustangs go.  So many of you say fab things about them, might as well drive one and see.  Hopefully my feet reach the pedals this time (seriously, I’m 5’3″). 
    I honestly don’t give a crap about cup holders, heated seats, or rear view mirrors with little wipers on them.  As far as that stuff goes, at best, all I’d really like are power windows (did I mention I’ve got the base model Corolla with manual windows?), comfy bucket seats (I swear, my 240SX had the best seats), and a stereo that plays MP3s.  GPS, iPod interaction, sixteen cupholders and self-defrosting moonroofs are useless to me. 
    The car needs to be tight – well put together, doesn’t rattle, feels like everything’s moving together the right way.  I don’t know how better to put it.  The 350Z I rented felt like it had been rattled over too many speed bumps and didn’t feel cohesive… it didn’t feel tight.  My Corolla, for all its boring-ness, is tight and has pretty good steering and cornering (okay, compared to my husband’s sad ’04 Neon).
    Basically, we’re at a point where I can choose a car I like, rather than only have a car because that’s what I could afford, between a rock and a hard place.
    Damn, but my test drive list keeps getting longer. 

  • avatar

    $30,000 at 5.9% for 60 months is $580/month.
    $30,000 at 1.9% for 60 months is $525/month.

    You’re going to need a significant down payment, like $7000+, to get those down to ~$400.  So really your limit is like $25,000 or less with a moderate down payment if you want to stay around $400/month and not have something outrageous like a 72-month term.  Right now your focus should be paying off credit cards and not being underwater on the Corolla.  Sorry to sound like Debbie Downer.

    • 0 avatar

      I won’t be getting a car that is over $400 a month.  I picked $30k as the top of my range, because I figured I might be able to find something that is normally a $30k car for $25k. 

      Also, I’m not burning to get a new car, I’m mainly trying to collate my research so I can figure out what I want _before_ I get into the meat of buying a new car. 

      We have been paying off credit cards… for a long time, sadly.  We’ve been making good progress on them, too.  If I can manage to keep my car payments the same, without a ton of out of pocket cost for a down payment, my money in and out for the month remains the same, which is the only reason I’ve been thinking about getting a car sooner rather that later.

      All that being said, my Corolla is a decent car with many years left on it.  I don’t need a new car.  Doesn’t stop me from wanting one, though, or doing proper and thorough research. :)

      I appreciate your input, but I’m well aware of how much I can spend.  Also, to boot, I realized after I’d sent this query into to TTAC (sometime in October) that I can’t actually afford $30k and mostly revised my research accordingly.  But hell, money might be better in a year or two and I will be able to afford a $30k car. :)

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