New Or Used?: No More Employee Leases, No More Saabs Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
new or used no more employee leases no more saabs edition

David Holme writes in:

The GM subsidized gravy train has ended and I no longer have access to employee priced leases so I will be replacing a Saab 97 and a Saab 93, numbers 11 and 12 in a long line of Saabs over the years.

One vehicle needs to tow a 19 foot Zodiac power boat (2,400 lbs all up) and car top, an 8’ Optimist racing dingy (sailboat) during the summer months, a 65 pound pointer and field gear during the fall, skis during the winter. This is primarily a mom mobile and vacation / trip unit.

The other one is my transportation to and from work. I like to mix my own so a manual transmission in preferred, hence the Saab vs anything else GM.

Both endure about 12,000 miles of Michigan weather and lousy roads.

I have been thinking about a 2007 Cadillac SRX all wheel drive for the tow vehicle. The R 350 might be too rich for my budget and the maintenance would probably be too high as well. Another Saab 97 might just be the ticket as it is such an improvement over the Trailbalzer and GMC. I think a Yukon / Suburban would not fit in the garage, (Benz is big too).

As for my daily driver I have a thing for the Volvo C30 but they seem rare. The Mazda 3 is another thought. Needs to be large enough carry hockey equipment.

Sajeev Mehta replies:

Premium tastes are one thing, but you won’t see me recommend a unitized body if frequent towing jobs is in the mix. And forget about any quasi-SUV with the head gasket/bolt eating wonder known as the Northstar V8. Get something truck like, with polish and panache: Lexus GX, Infiniti QX4 or a Lincoln Aviator. I’ve owned one of the 300+hp, independently sprung Lincoln SUVs and let me tell you: they are rip snorting Hot Rods with balanced handling and steering feel that rivals a passenger car. It is stupid fun, with insane depreciation and reasonable cost of ownership. Aside from the 12 city miles per premium gallon. Ack.

So maybe another SAAB Troll-blazer is in your future, because familiarity doesn’t necessarily breed comtempt. Plus, the GM straight-six powertrain under that badge engineered skin is a tow-junkies dream. For your daily commuter, you’re in the right direction with a sporty compact. Stick with small, FWD and cheap in the replacement parts category. That means you should pass on the C30 or anything AWD. The Mazda 3 is the pistonhead’s default choice for most any situation, but maybe you’d prefer a little more power at the expense of polish and quality materials: Dodge Caliber SRT-4 anyone? Nah, even I’m not feelin’ that.

Steve Lang replies:

Hmmm… you will need to tow less than 3000 pounds. Why in God’s name would you spend $30,000+ to achieve this middling task?

I will say one good thing about the Saab 9-7. Actually, I won’t. The features are really pathetic given that your needs can easily be fulfilled with anything from a Grand Marquis to a Volvo SUV. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if what you’re needing for towing can be satisfied with a 15 year old Ford Ranger. But again there is that ‘people’ issue you need to consider.If you must absolutely break the proverbial bank, buy an Audi Q5. Sure you could travel the world for a year or invest heavily in my number one stock holding, Ship Financial Ltd (SFL). But you’re an outdoor fellow with needs. I know it’s hard to stay happy watching a ticker symbol year after year when you could be spending it in the boat of your dreams… with the woman of your dreams… hopefully. But anyway, back to cars.Another one that pops straight into my mind is the Ford Flex. I’ve always liked them and can’t figure out why Ford wouldn’t sell it as a successor to the Volvo 240. It would have been perfect with the classic Volvo front end and the tried and true squarish proportions. A C30 is fine for towing 2000 pounds. Any more and you’ll have to get heavy duty add-on’s and pretend you’re a European. You may want to ask a Eurocentric C30 enthusiast group whether it would be possible to use it for towing all the crap you mentioned. Vehicles sold here tend to be given far smaller tow ratings than those abroad due to America’s litigious nature.

If it were me, I would buy an old Volvo wagon that was kept in a non-rust climate. But I like cheap, comfortable, utilitarian transportation. Other options on the ‘cheap’ scale are the exceptionally unloved Olds Bravada, a Buick Roadmaster Wagon, or just about any SUV or any substantial RWD car of the last 15 years or so. Given your current love for escape, it may not be bad to just opt for a $3000 vehicle and a $30,000 boat. You would be surprised how much $30,000 worth of ‘boat’ can buy you at an auction these days. Or you can just buy 1800 shares of my favorite stock before the next dividend hits.

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2 of 20 comments
  • Gimmeamanual Gimmeamanual on Mar 13, 2010

    Shameless plug: A certain poster (me) has a stick-shift car ('06 Altima SE-R) for sale in your state, with a trunk that could hold multiple hockey bags.

  • Christy Garwood Christy Garwood on Mar 13, 2010

    David, did you lose access to all employee discounts or just the discount on Saab? If it was all discounts, I give Sajeev and Edward N. my permission to give you my email address. I would be happy to work with you to get into a Chevy or Cadillac or GMC or Buick. I recommend the Traverse for the tow, gear, dog transport vehicle. Co-workers that have long commutes here in SE MI like their manual trans Cobalts and Chevy Colorado pickups. I drove the CTS Sports Wagon and it was just as fun as my Saab 9-3 that I commute in. Or buy the 9-3 at the end of the lease.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)