By on December 9, 2011


Mark V. writes:

I was wrong, I thought I could drive a 370z touring on a daily basis to work, a 75m round trip on the highway mostly, but I can’t.  Its to loud and its becoming unpleasant to drive.  I don’t want to get a beater for a 2nd car because spending almost 2 hours a day in it would be a major quality of life loss and probably not any more pleasant then my 370z.

I need a commuting yin to my 370’s sporty yang, but I don’t think I can afford the expensive of a 2nd car, technically 3rd if you count the wife’s car.

So I think I’m going to be forced to compromise and get a sports sedan.   Which leads to the question, Should I compromise and if so which sports sedan will hold up to my ~18,000m a year commute, make sitting in the car for 2 hours passable, sporty enough to not make me nervous while hooning, and will cost me around 75k to own and operate for the first 5 years?

Sajeev answers:

I have no clue what is sporty enough for you.  Owning a German sedan sounds great, and kinda like yesterday’s installment of New or Used,who knows how much of a money pit it will be after the warranty runs out. And that’s assuming you can buy a new one, and not give in to the temptation of a heavily depreciated 7-er, 5-er, Audi A6 or A8. Your mileage will probably require an extended warranty too. Maybe a Lexus IS will work.  Maybe a used Infiniti M or G. (M’s depreciate like mad and seem like decent machines) Maybe a Caddy CTS.

I have no idea. Or maybe you should get a Mercury Marauder. Yeah, actually that will work just fine for me. But seriously, start test driving before you get snow’d in!

Steve answers:

The number of the cars that will fit these requirements numbers well into the double figures.

Audi A4. BMW 3-Series. Lexus IS350. Infiniti G37. Anyone here can throw in a long list of good potential fits.

Since your budget is a bit more generous than many, I would consider upsizing a bit. My brother just got the new Audi A6 (really) and considers it to be the ultimate elixir for his PITA Long Island commute. Then there are the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class which have pretty much dominated the mid-level luxury market for eons on end.

You have a lot of options out there. So just take your time. Drive a few… and enjoy your next car.

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45 Comments on “New or Used: Commuter Ying, Sporty Yang...”

  • avatar

    My first vote would be G37, especially if you like the feel of the VQ.

    • 0 avatar

      I test drove the G37 on my way to buying my current Maxima, and it seems to me the only real advantage of the G is the rear wheel drive, while being much more expensive. The current G feels really heavy on the handling to me. If you want your VQ packaged for daily-driver practicality, Maxima is the way to go. Especially if you ever plan to put someone in the back seat.

  • avatar

    Its a no brainer, G37

    Though honestly a beater is not the end of the world. I’d rather have a Civic and an NSX than a TL SH AWD. Dude def has the budget to have his cake and eat it too

  • avatar

    There are tons of options out there, I’d look at a TL, G, M, or CTS. Comfortable interior, nice electronics, smooth yet “sporty” suspension. Snow an issue? Check the AWD versions or even a Legacy 3.6R or 2.5GT.

    • 0 avatar

      `Nix the Legacy unless you go back to 09′, 08′ or 07′. The latest versions are slower and less responsive than the those from a few years back. The proof is in the pricing. Low mileage versions of the years I mention sell in the low 20s on a car that invoiced for 28k new.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Ms have done well in the car mag tests and are greatly under-appreciated. Although I never seem to be able to find very many for sale on eBay motors or AutoTrader, although I know some of that has to do with low production numbers.

  • avatar

    Had successive A6’s from 2000 to 2007 and found them to be really comfortable. The first was a 2.8 V6, the second the 2.7T with sport suspension, etc. Even the second one was very, very comfortable to spend time in, although I never commuted the distances Mark V is talking about.

    And, as has been noted by many, the interiors — which you spend a lot of time looking at — are pleasing to the eye, touch, ear and backside. And though the maintenance costs are said to be stunning, the A6 2.7T had a bumper-to-bumper warranty and provided no difficulties in its three years with me.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed on the A6. Mainly because the OP seems to value comfort and the serene cabin. It is the most serene cabin there is IMO, same cabin as the oh-so-seductive A7. And reviews indicate the supercharged 6 is a delight for the sporty side. Plus terrific MPGs for the long commute.

  • avatar

    Long commutes and sporty should not really go hand in hand without a 47 visit chiropractor pack.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. For a commute like that, I would keep the Z and pick up a year old Ford Crown Victoria or Mercury Grand Marquis. Long wheel base, bullet proof drive train, and lots of comfort.

  • avatar

    I have a similar sporting-jones and commute length and require the 4 doors. I have all but given up on looking around and am only really considering a 335 or 535. I’ve looked at later model S60, G35, G37, A4, A6 and on and on. The thing I keep coming back to is the balance of features, sportiness and gas mileage (yeah mileage) and the BMWs win in most match-ups.

  • avatar

    The commute in my Z is only 30 miles round trip, with a bit of dynamat sound proofing plus a better stereo I’m good (so far). If you got a Z moving over to G37 Sedan seems a natural fit since its the same engine.

  • avatar

    335i: powerful, decent gas mileage, very quiet inside, well deserved of its enthusiast reputation, and versatile enough to take the family to the opera or just hoon by yourself around the countryside. The sports pack gives a pretty stiff ride, although it will seem like a Lincoln compared to your 370Z.

  • avatar

    Acura TL with 6M and AWD.

  • avatar

    “New or Used” where the OP has such a high budget to play with is almost pointless. For $75k in ownership and operating costs over five years, you can get a G37 with room to spare. According to Edmunds, a new 528 would even make the cut. With new cars in that class on the table, there are almost endless combinations of new/used solutions to this problem. It just depends on how much of that budget you really want to spend.

    If I had that kind of a budget and the parking space, I think I would lean in the direction of multiple used cars. You can buy more purpose-built machines that way, and not have to find one compromised car to do it all.

    As for a commuter car, something like a 10-year-old camry wouldn’t be that bad. Cheap to buy and run. Would cover the highway miles quietly and comfortably. It’s older, but as an extra car it doesn’t have to be perfectly reliable.

    For the sporty car you could keep the Z, or check out the FR-S/BRZ twins when they become available. Also S2000, MX-5, etc etc.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 on the multiple used cars solution. Although I was looking at all used, I could have afforded an M3 when I got my 330i, but asked myself, what would I rather have, only the M3 or in 5 years the 330i plus something really fun (S2000, Mustang, Z, NSX, etc). An e46 330i (with the ZHP performance package) is a good option if you’re a DIY, or the G37 if you’re not. I tested M’s and while they were impressive, they didn’t offer a sufficient increase in luxury over the G’s to suit me, but then again I only looked at sport package ones.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Excellent idea. Instead of the Camry, get its Lexus clone — ES300/350. What you really want in a tedious commute is quiet, a comfortable seat, a good sound system and an automatic.

  • avatar

    Looking at a $2500/annual fuel bill with most of those listed above just picking 25 mpg. I drive the same two hours but 1/3 farther to work and it costs me $500 less annually. That’s with two turbo-4 and a motorcycle to make things more exciting for less than $20,000.

  • avatar

    Those cars look like they are doing something that will be made illegal under a Perry administration.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Not trying to start a political dispute, but Gov. Perry doesn’t seem to spend much time thinking “there aught to be a law against that”. Instead, he’s more known for vetoing bills, 82 in the 2001 “Father’s Day Massacre” and 23 this year. He’s more Western than Southern. Here’s an article about the veto of the ban on texting while driving bill.

  • avatar

    BMW 335d? Nobody has suggested this?

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …….why not save 50 grand and fit some (quieter) muflers….. have them engineered if they don’t exist in the aftermarket. Or are there other issues with the “Z”. No shame in admitting you’re just bored with it. That’s the real reason lots of people trade. Mind you, if you’re finding a 370Z boring, you’ll probably fall asleep at the wheel in some of the Beige-ier “sport” sedans.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’d replace the Nissan 370Z with an Infiniti G37 sedan, Journey trim level. The Sport trim G37 ride can be somewhat harsh on broken pavement.

  • avatar

    Rent a Jeep Wrangler and commute in it for a week. Then go back to the 370Z and all your complaints will be gone. When it starts getting to you again, repeat.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …..”rent a Wrangler”….excellent suggestion, although you’ve probably just turned off a few potential Jeep customers…..I always recommend friends with the hots for some questionable car purchase to rent one first….in some cases it turns out to be the best $200 they ever spent…..always amazes me how some people end up buying a car totally at odds with the one they originally had their eyes on ……..sometimes it’s a case of sober second thought, other times they’ve simply run into a good salesperson (but few will admit that).

  • avatar

    18K a year is major mileage and if fuel costs are at all important why not have a look at the new Passat TDI? Big and comfy, kinda sporty and 40+ mpg (almost 800 miles between fill-ups). If the Jetta TDI is any indication, depreciation may be lower than other entry-luxury iron out there which should be a consideration if you’re tacking on 90K every 5 years.

  • avatar

    Supercharged Jaguar.

  • avatar

    Just do what Sajeev said and get a Marauder or, if you want more plush ride follow JB’s lead and get a Town Car.

  • avatar

    With the amount of miles you drive and your budget, 2 cars makes perfect sense. I recommend a 2002-3 Lexus LS and a 2004 911. I have a similar commute and if you’re like me, you may find a Lexus or something like it actually makes your commute seem longer because it’s boring, unless it’s stop and go, that’s different. Only prob with a BMW is your annual mileage. Still, take a close look at 335d.

  • avatar

    listen to dvp cars. Go to Sears. Buy a muffler. Keep the Z.

  • avatar

    Perhaps this is heresy on a car blog, but my vote is to buy a condo close to work, bike or walk to work, and have fun with the Z on weekends. Assuming a 100K with 20% down condo would be around $1000-$1500/month depending on taxes, insurance, association fees, utilities, etc.

    Compared to the monthly cost of depreciating a 50K car
    $500-$800 payment assuming you don’t pay cash
    $200 gas
    $100 insurance
    Priceless 10 wasted hours/week (520/year) – assigning a value of $50/hr for your time we can give a value of $500/week or $2000/month! Probably more given your car budget.

    Otherwise just buy a comfortable beater.

    • 0 avatar

      Good advice if you can do it. I suck up a near 100 mile round trip every day into NYC (I feel your brother’s pain, Steve) and my car’s seat is very uncomfortable after a 2 hour stint in the rain. Still, my employer provides the car and all related expenses as part of compensation, but I long for the train again…If I could buy my own car for this…well the Altima I use handles well, has killer brakes (something that should be on the top of anybody’s list as your #1 friend for bumper to bumper commuting) and is pretty quiet, but the seat sucks. I think a 3 series would fill the bill best, provided it would be reliable enough to take the pounding. If your commute is highway but not heavy traffic, even better.

    • 0 avatar

      I like your idea of solving this my reducing/eliminating the commute, but I think these assumptions are a stretch.

      What part of the country are you in that you can find any sort of property for $100k? My guess is these properties are not available near Mark V. If they are available, that suggests a rather undeveloped, low cost-of-living area where he probably woudn’t have to commute that far in the first place. Along the same lines, $50/hr is a pretty strong rate for an area that allegedly has $100k condos.

      Another factor is time away from family/significant other while staying at the condo. You also assume the time he spends commuting would otherwise be spent working. I assume the whole point of this condo is to free up the commuting time for friends, family, and recreation.

      I like the outside the box thinking, but that strategy doesn’t seem realistic the way you outlined it.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m in the Seattle metro and the condo market is in the dumps. There are plenty of decent formerly 300K condos to be had for around 100K, and there are many decent tech jobs that pay $50/hr. I would argue that it is realistic here, but agree that the numbers would not work in areas like NYC or SFBay. In those areas a rental or public transit are viable alternatives.

        I really hate to put a money value on one’s personal time, and only did that for illustrative purposes.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m also in the Seattle metro area, but as bad as the housing market has become, I’m not sure there’s anything close to viable in the under $200K range.

        Sure, there’s always the 400 sqft studios with no parking in Belltown, but otherwise you’ll still be stuck in places far from work.

        I love the idea of living closer to work to cut down on commute and environmental impact, among other benefits, but it won’t be an inexpensive choice. (Hence our terrible sprawl in the Puget Sound region)

      • 0 avatar

        There are many variables, which could make this idea viable or not. I was specifically thinking of Bellevue, which currently has a lot of condos for sale in the low 100s, and is a PITA as far as commuting goes.

        My point is that commuting is a waste of life, and a waste of a nice car.

  • avatar

    With your budget you have the “sport sedan world” is your oyster. Many people have given great advice so allow me to add mine.

    The 335i, A4/A6, G37 are all great cars but why not go for something a bit cheaper and gentler on your wallet come fill-up time.

    How ’bout a Jetta, Golf or Passat TDI. They’re reasonably sporty, sip gas, and aren’t nearly as expensive as the other options listed.

    As a bonus, with the money you save you can take flying lessons. If you love hooning on the ground, think about how much fun you’ll have doing it in the air!

  • avatar

    If I were in your position, I’d try and make the Z more comfortable. Probably add more sound deadening, upgrade the stereo, replacing the catback with a slightly quiter one, and maybe even downsizing the wheels to 18″.
    If you don’t have the patience for any of that and really want to replace it, I think a BMW 135i would be a good choice.

  • avatar

    I’d vote for a 335i sedan with the Sport package. It’s just as fast as the 370Z (faster with turbo tweaks), handles just as well, but won’t beat you into submission. NVH is is dramatically lower and the interior is two leagues above. Oh, and it has a back seat you can put things in. Like people.

    The platform has been around since 2006. There’s no overwhelming reason to opt for a new one, but do buy an extended warranty. Fuel pump replacements are unfortunately common. Anyway, there’s a reason the car has been the perennial top choice among sporty non-toys.

  • avatar

    Just get some really good ear plugs

  • avatar

    I thought of this thread this morning. The guy who does car reviews for the Wall Street Journal (Dan Neil?) on Saturday wrote up the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8. As I recall, the Jeep did the Nuehremburg track in about the same time as a Viper in 2003 or so. Blindingly fast and surprisingly good handling. And comfortable. He described it as being like an Audi that likes knife fights and Toby Keith.

  • avatar

    Man up, stop moaning, and get a Porsche 911. I did a 40 mile commute for over a year in one, and loved every bit of it!

    If not able to MTFU, then, Audi A4/A6, BMW 3/5-series. Manual only.

  • avatar

    Wow! Talk about timing. I found myself in the same situation and finally pulled the trigger after obsessing about “sports sedans” for 6 months. The major difference is I drive 700-800 miles a week and put a premium on reliability. I drove 07s with less than 45k miles- G35x, TL Type-S, 335i non-sport and sport, and an IS350. The 335i without the sport package is the best car in my opinion. Although most of my driving is on the highway, I felt the sport package would become tedious very quickly around town (in MA where most roads suck) and it eats tires. I came real close buying a low milage one in September, but got cold feet due to cost of maintainence and reliability. I’ll keep the car past 100k and the German cars scare me a bit. The TL turned me off very quickly. I just didn’t do anything for me. I liked the GS a little more, but it’s weight (G35Xs), gas milage, heavy steering feel, and how poorly the car held up with 42k gave me pause. I drove an IS350 and instantly feel in love with it. The instant power and fit and finish are definate pluses. Most importantly for me, I won’t be too nervous driving 35k/yr. I’ve had the IS since October and have not seen another 350 in my travels, although IS250 AWD are everywhere. I still lust for a BMW- probably a 535i next time.

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