By on January 3, 2012

 

TTAC Commentator threeer writes:

A recent ”New or Used” got me thinking. I’m facing a (sort of) similar situation regarding an upcoming vehicle purchase…for my 67 year old mother. A brief background…

My mother counts everything these days by the number of years on the calendar, and expects that the next car she buys will be her last ever. She keeps her vehicles for 8-10 years, always buys new and has generally owned Toyotas (1981 Corolla, 1993 Camry, 2003 Corolla…her current vehicle). Mom is ueber-practical when it comes to cars, and hasn’t dared let herself consider anything remotely upscale in her recent automotive purchases. I dread the thought of her going to another Corolla, though potentially, a decked-out Camry SE wouldn’t be the worst thing to spend the next 10 years in. She once longed for an Audi, and has on a few occasions mentioned that for the same cash she put down on her (then) new Corolla, her workmate bought a nicely-equipped used Mercedes…and recently, a close relative of ours also went the used route and bought a CPO E-class, so she is aware of the value of depreciation…I’m just not sure I can convince her of that route. Plus, she is very much a ”drive and forget it” kind of car owner…problematic or reliability-challenged cars would only serve to frustrate her down the road. Me personally, I’d like to see her splurge a little with her last whip and enjoy some of the good life for having worked her tail off and for having given so selflessly of herself to the rest of the family.

So B&B…I ask you…if it were YOUR 67 year old mother, what would you recommend around the $25k mark (push $30k, but that would be a tough sell) that doesn’t scream ”refrigerator on wheels” but is still reliable enough to run 8-10 years and isn’t a land yacht (she is large car adverse and more than likely a tad technologically challenged!). Something with a touch of class and buttoned-down road manners (again, see the ”no land yacht” clause!). New is preferred, but I could maybe, maybe swing her over towards something no more than two years old.

Enough criteria to make your head spin? Over to you all…

Steve Answers:

I’m not sure if I would even bother with a new car purchase.

If memory serves me correct, you are a long-time TTAC reader whose mom has a 2003 Corolla with about 90k and leather seats.

Unless the vehicle has been in some type of severe accident that bent the frame and/or your Mom is simply uncomfortable driving the vehicle, I would just let things be.

Why? Two reasons. These cars tend to be highly reliable and your mom is not an enthusiast. Folks who aren’t into cars shouldn’t waste $25,000 on ‘appliance transportation’. They need to get from A to B in a good, safe, comfort appliance… and Toyota Corollas tend to offer a very long and good life in that regard.

Get the vehicle maintained to the T. Have it detailed, touched up, let her even put in a ‘car scent’ if she is so inclined. Spend $25,000? No way. Wait until the vehicle reaches 15 years or 150k miles…unless your mom lives in a locale where ‘rust’ is a big issue.

Five years from now she may want to consider a Corolla, Matrix or Camry. Today though I think her friends and other influencers may just be creating ‘friction through fiction’.

Keep the car… and let her go on a few ‘practical‘ cruises with her friends… if they still have the money.

Sajeev Answers:

Getting something that’s both nice and cheap is tough. Town Cars and premium GM W-bodies (i.e Buick, Olds, Pontiac) used to fit the mold. Not so much anymore.

The Mehta family went this route exactly 25 years and 2 days ago via Fox Body Lincoln Continental…and we never looked back. Today, much like yesteryear, my Mom drives a CPO Lexus GS430. Your Mom is a perfect candidate for a Lexus ES, certified pre-owned or not. It’s still a Toyota, it’s not a Camry to people outside of the autoblogosphere, and there will be a comfort level for her because of the familial relations. And ladies the age of our mothers will admit they want to own a Lexus.  If you offer it at the right price to make them comfortable.

You can go to a non-Lexus brand and get the same (or more) car for less money, within your 25k budget. The Lincoln Zephyr-MK-Fusion thing is nice enough, especially with heated/cooled seats. Cadillac CTS or a fully loaded, $40,000 when new Taurus Limited? Sure, why not! The perks to every automaker’s fascination with entry level luxury cars is there are plenty of “duds” that don’t touch the 3-series, C-class and even the Lexus ES in terms of resale and popularity. Still, your Mom is the ideal candidate for the ES.

While Steve has a good point, I think buying something nice for your Mom is always the right way to go. She did so much for you, more than likely.  Provided you stay the hell away from out-of-warranty modern European sleds with some of the most fragile and costly components known to man, you can’t possibly go wrong.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to [email protected] , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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62 Comments on “New or Used: Which Last Car?...”


  • avatar
    TEXN3

    When did 67 become so old that they can’t decide for themselves? Or that this will be the “last” ride?

    With that said, I like the Lincoln out of all the FWD luxury sedans. But she has always had smaller sedans (slightly smaller than a modern midsizer), and may not want a larger car with a high beltline. The best fit may be the Lexus hybrid sedan (HS?), which are being sold at deep discounts. A euro Corolla with a a Lexus badge. Or a TSX sedan, which would be preferable to me than a hybrid or a Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      See my story below. My mom basically agreed to what I found and recommended for her. She’s not a car person, and has never even used a computer. She drives very little, and has never bought a car herself before (Dad passed 8 years ago).

      So in my mom’s case, while she’s not helpless, car buying on a small fixed income makes for mild panic.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      67 is way to young to be thinking about a “last” car. If your mom takes care of herself she can be safely driving for a long time. If she has made it for 67 years statistically she should be around well into her 80’s.

      If she is already adopting the “I could be dead any day now” attitude I feel sorry for you (and her). Otherwise, get out and enjoy life and have some fun car shopping.

      Remember, as people get older they can have more egress issues as well as trouble finding a comfortable seat. If she tries a few cars on for size she will be surprised at how much better some cars feel to her than others, and it could be completely different from what you may expect.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        My late father was 58 when he bought his last car. Of course he kept it for 18 years until he gave up driving after a mild stroke. He seemed fine to us and his doctor, but was no longer comfortable with driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      The issue isn’t so much about not being able to make decisions anymore a much as it is not having to make such decisions before and the information overload that comes with the car buying process.

      My mother, the subject of the earlier article and also 67, has never bought her own car. Sure, she had input on things like color and “things she’d like to have in the car” (don’t call them options, since I’m sure she never looked at a brochure and picked out packages), but my father made the final purchase decisions and the actual purchase. The next car my mother buys will be the first one she buys on her own.

  • avatar
    cfisch

    being a new car dealer in Florida I can tell you I have sold 3-5 last cars to the same person! I have customer in their 80’s and even the 90’s!

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …..”customers in their 90’s”……at that age, the best way to avoid driving your “last car” is to trade monthly……..but that might not work either. By the way, at one time, a dealer who sold a lot of “last cars” usually had a tri-shield Buick logo on his building…….but times have changed…. Toyota?, VW?, wonder if there are any statistics on this rather grim subject.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Cruise the estate sale adds to see what is comming up or visit the car dealers in Florida via eBay and see what’s up for sale. You’d be suprised sometimes. Yeah there are many Panthers, W and H bodys, LH and LX cars, ect but there are also a fair number of well cared for very old Corvettes, Mustangs, and Miatas.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        I’ve sold multiple ‘last cars’ to the same customer as well. Half the time when someone comes in and says they are looking for their ‘last car’ I think they are just fishing for a comment about how young they still look and obviously have time enough left for at least another few.

        While Town Cars, used Grand Marquis, and other big sedans are obviously popular with that crowd, I’ve also sold a fair number of Mustangs to little old ladies well into their upper 70s or beyond (almost always V6 automatic convertibles in candy apple red or white).

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        The widow of the gentleman who built up his publishing empire with our local newspaper tools around town in a red V6 Mustang with the white sport stipe package and auto trans. She is about 83 years old and having witnessed her at low speed I am glad she doesn’t leave the city limits.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Well said, Texn3. I’m going to hit the big 6-0 in the next couple of months and I don’t feel old at all. Even though my hair has thinned, no one would call me bald, and most of it is as black as when I was 20.

    • 0 avatar
      dts187

      210delray, your hair looks great in that avatar shot. Almost all of it is black except for that one white spot on your chest. I’d get those eyes checked out though. . . .

      Back on subject:
      Unless there are health problems not mentioned, 67 doesn’t really seem like last car territory. However, it seems like the ideal age to splurge and get something decent. Find her something with comfy leather seats and some fake wood trim.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      210delray,

      I’m 61 (62 in July) and just logged down 5952 miles bicycling for 2011. And that’s 900 miles under my personal best, done three years earlier.

      Now, when you’re talking a 93 year old, you’re talking old. And when she decides she wants a new car, you FIRST listen to her expectations, and do not attempt to work against them. In my mother-in-law case, we were working within the following constraints:

      a. American cars only (and a Ford built in Mexico is American, a Nissan built in Tennessee is Japanese – period, end of discussion, she’s right, you’re wrong so don’t even try arguing it.)

      b. No ‘jellybean cars’. Windows are supposed to be large and easy to see out. From this point of view, her ’90 Jeep Grand Wagoneer was the best car made. As I was the next to the last owner of that car, I couldn’t argue her too much.

      c. Nothing you have to fall into (ladies cannot get out of such cars properly) or climb into (she is 93, a healthy 93, but 93 nontheless).

      d. All wheel drive is necessary. She lives outside of Bangor, ME and doesn’t life her life at the mercy of mother nature. She knows how to drive in a snowstorm – the one’s in Maine are nothing compared to her childhood and early adulthood in the Yukon Territories.

      e. Nothing too big. That Jeep was wonderful, but she was in her 70’s when she was driving it. Something smaller would be nicer.

      f. Oh yeah, NO DAMNED FURRIN CARS. As far as she’s concerned, owning an import should be grounds for arrest for treason. We know what kind of people drive imports . . . . . . . . . .

      She’s happy as all get out with her ’12 Ford Escape Limited.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    When I helped my mother buy a car, I narrowed down the list to three cars that fit her bill, then we went for test drives. Guess what? She knew what was good for her! She picked the one she liked, and still loves it. (you bet I didn’t mention that this might be her last car)

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    the redesigned 2012 camry is pretty sweet, but the articles i read about the current corolla is that it is still basically the same vehicle from 03, so its probably worth avoiding. I like the 2011+ exterior refresh, the 09-10 looked terrible.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Dear Threeer: 90k is just broken in. So is 67.

    As a 68 yo driver who puts over 20k/year on his Nissan Cube, I highly recommend that you stop considering your mom or her car as almost done. Unless Mom is asking for the help, I highly recommend that you consider taking a MYOB approach. I know that if my son decided he was going to tell me that I needed a new car I might approach the situation in a somewhat antagonistic way.

    Thanks for being a good son. Asking the B&B crowd is a good way of getting a diversity of pretty well informed opinions. However, this old guy thinks you are looking at your mom with a young guys eyes and heart. Reconsider that so long as she is healthy or until she asks.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      I in NO way consider her “almost done.” Far from it. But I do know her driving style and automotive preferences…plus, her “normal” buying cycle (see my original article above). In 2013 the Corolla will be 10 years old, and she will be looking. Given that she already is showing signs of not wanting to drive much beyond getting to work and back (and maybe visiting her sister about 2.5 hours away every now and then), she’s also aware that if she wants to do something nice for herself with this next purchase and actually get to enjoy it before she becomes less and less likely to drive, this will be the time to do it. Given that this will be much more expensive than her last several car purchases, she will look to me to help decipher what she wants/needs as it will more than likely at least be well beyond simply plunking down for another Corolla (she has already indicated at least that much, thank goodness). I want her to be able to enjoy the fruits of her labor while I know she is still willing and able to do so…not when she’s in her mid 70’s and winds up missing out on what could be a nice reward for herself. If in the end, the 2003 Corolla holds up, who knows…this might all be off the table for another 5 years…but again, I know that right around the 10-year mark she’ll be starting to think about cashing in the $28k+ she has tucked away and only intends on buying this one last car.

      I’ll now go back to reading the remainder of the comments…:)

  • avatar
    JMII

    My parents of similar age just bought a Sonata. They liked the aggressive styling and didn’t want to go near a Camry, Accord, or other “old person” car (their words not mine).

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      The deacon and his wife at my Catholic church went out and bought a brand new Sonata when the “swoopy” ones came out. Bright white with chrome trim looks mighty nice on that form I must say.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    It is about personality. My mom likes small fast cars, so after her Camaro, she ended up in a Focus SVT. She had it ten years then traded it for a 2012 Focus. We went full boat so she can have all the options and technologies available.

    She just turned 75.

    The reason we went brand new was so that she won’t have any problems that wouldn’t be covered by warranty. We have her new Focus covered for eight years, bumper to bumper, labor included.

    With the MyFord Touch electronics and all the other sport options, the car will be worth more than if we went with a lesser optioned Focus. We figured that in a decade auto buyers would be expecting 2012 electronics or better in 2022.

    The 2012 compared to the 2002 was amazing. So I expect that in 2022 the technological leap would be similar. Buying new in order for the vehicle to last another decade gives that advantage. I wouldn’t be buying used because anything older than 2011 would look stone age electronically by 2020.

    My mom always liked sporty cars. She doesn’t want an old person’s car like her friends. And yes, they are driving Toyotas and Hondas.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    This sort of shows the challenge with stereotyping car choices. My father in law just turned 88 and he leases a new Audi every 3 years (latest is an A8L).

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      Really? Because your FiL leasing (default method of ownership for old money/don’t want to deal with maintenance issues) the premiere vehicle that Audi makes (most of the 7 series shoppers I have interacted with at the dealer are under 65, something about that A8 and S-Class seems to resonate with the almost-geriatrics) and turning it in for a new one every time is one snow-bird vacation home in FL short of the ideal stereotype.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    One of my former bosses told me last year at age 78 he was buying his “last car” which was a Saab.
    Sadly he passed away about a month before the company did.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    FC RX-7. I hear you can pick those up really cheap. They are a sweet ride.

    Or, maybe TTAC can put mom in touch with a guy looking to dump a 2000 Accord V6.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    In early 2009, I helped my then-71-year-old mom find a car (my suggestion), and we settled on a gently-used (70k) 02 Altima 2.5S.

    What a nice car it is – excellent road manners, and the 4-cylinder has plenty of power. She had no doubts about trading her 1990 Taurus after she saw the Nissan. She didn’t even drive it herself before buying it – she’s just not a car person. She wants to turn the key, push the pedals, and have it not break down. But with a very modest fixed income and with only driving about 100 miles a month, she wasn’t about to buy new.

    I replaced the radiator and several fluids, and it’s been fine ever since.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I have to ask; who cares more about the car being a non-appliance, you or your mother? Also, since I’m younger than most of the commentariat here, my grandmother (not mother) is a very sprightly 72 and her big priority when buying her most recent car was having decently sized doors (strike coupes or anything with steeply straked windshields) and ended up with a 4-cyl Aura XE. She couldn’t be happier, after she traded her Intrepid (doors made ingress difficult). She loves the car so much that she bought another after the original was totaled in a car accident. She is also very likely the type that would smite anybody at trying to tell her, or gently push, her at something she didn’t want to buy (I’ve never tried, for I value my life).

    My mom’s requirements for her dream car are: automatic, 2-door, Mustang – in that order. She’s not a brand snob and doesn’t care much about looks or color.

  • avatar
    Guzzi

    I agree with both answers. The ES is the right car for this age bracket, especially CPO. In fact, I use this information every time my wife says, “That Lexus looks cute…” Reply: “Hon, Lexuses are for old ladies like your Mom.” (scores two, fouls, extra point for tre, baby…)

    But, in this economy, even though it’s doing better, if I’m 67 and on a fixed income, I’m still in wait-and-see mode if the Corolla is still good to go. Unless my life expectancy is lower due to chronic illness or other health conditions, in which case I’d go for it. And I’m sure your Mom is fine and just using a bit of self-deprecating/gallows humor.

  • avatar
    slance66

    My folks are close to 70. They mostly drive a Highlander. They’ve had an Odyssey and Lexus GS. Lately they think that sitting in a low to the ground car is unpleasant, and liked the Honda over the Lexus for comfort. They like high seating positions, more “chair like” for long drives. So maybe you could let her try something sitting higher up and see how it suits her? Visibility and safety are key as you get older.

    For the drive it forever crowd, ugly, dated, almond colored Formica counter-tops will last almost forever in your kitchen. But who the hell wants to spend their life looking at it? You only live once, and if you can afford to upgrade your 03 corolla, you sell it.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      My grandparents are in their early 70’s, and they finally traded in a long line of Buicks for a Honda Odyssey. They don’t really drive anyone around, don’t haul stuff (grandpa still has his Ford truck) but like the comfort and convenience.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    Your mother wants an appliance. She’s used her car as an appliance and she’s not going to change now. She’s also accustomed to a small car, so now is definitely not the time to go bigger. The car needs to have excellent visibility out the windows, something harder to find in these days of high belt lines and claustrophobic interiors.

    If she keeps the car 10 years, she’ll be 77. Think of what the quality of her driving will be like in her 70s. As one ages, one’s ability to manage multiple sensory inputs declines. Old people tend to focus on accuracy over speed, which is why they drive slower and make decisions more slowly.

    Teach her to try always to park so that the car can be driven straight out without backing up. Most fender benders happen when backing up, a task older people are not as good at as when they were younger.

    Another consideration is the ergonomics of getting in and out of a car. There are two types of vehicles: those you sit “in” and those you sit “on.” A Corolla is a sit “in” car requiring deep knee bends to get in and out of. As one ages, a car whose seat is high, so that one can simply slide onto it without knee bends, becomes preferable. (But stay away from high center of gravity vehicles.)

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Since my dad (86) and his wife (80) drive an XC-90 and an ES330 respectively, I guess I’m qualified to recommend the Lexus as the right combination of comfort and reliability. Yes, it’s bigger than a Corolla, but not that much bigger.

    The “high seating position” comments are right on point . . . maybe she should look at an RX-330 as well. I would recommend the Volvo, but the reliability isn’t as great. The smaller XC-60 seems about perfect, but it’s probably too new to be available in that price range. Volvo has a pretty good CPO plan.

  • avatar

    My 56yearold mother must have been hypnotized by Cadillac’s advertisements because last year, she desperatly wanted a Cadillac CTS in RED Diamond paint. And she wanted me to find it and buy it.

    I searched high and low but CTSes dried up just about everywhere. I found one in a Manhattan dealer but they were such shitty salesmen I let em keep it.

    I ended up buying from Northbay Cadillac. But, they didn’t have the CTS. They had an STS. Brand new, fully loaded would have cost $59,000 with V6, Nav, heated/cooled leather seats, moonroof, etc.
    While I was walking around at the dealer, I spotted the SAME CAR with ~20,000 miles on it (off lease) for $33,000 (since Cadillacs hold their values so well).

    I test drove the CTS-V Coupe and the SRX which I wanted to get instead, but, she wanted a 4-door. At first she was apprehensive about the STS, but, NOW… she absolutely loves it. She gets complements everywhere she goes. The color is so red and so brilliant it’s striking.

    Personally, I’d have waited for the XTS, but, that might be an option further down the road. Who knows…

    I’m thinking the CTS-V coupe would have been a poor decision for her. Even the regular Coupe because she needed more space.

    I made this video of a silver STS they lent her when I took her car in for oil changes.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    haha, another poster trying to buy a car for a parent that doesnt want a car! Sounds to me like your mom should get another Corolla, and there is nothing wrong with that. For a non-car guy, the Corolla is an excellent choice. The newest Corolla looks like a 7/8ths Camry, it can be had with nice rims and leather and looks great. It will run forever and need nothing but gas and oil. The Camry is too big now, and why would she want a Lexus, when you said she was technology averse?? A Lexus ES is just a Camry with more electronic junk.

  • avatar
    redliner

    No one has mentioned an Acura TSX. (edit: oh, i guess it was mentioned once) Compact, semi-premium, reliable, affordable.

    Also, a Toyota Avalon offers almost everything that the ES does, for less money.

    • 0 avatar

      I second the vote for the Avalon if she isn’t adverse to driving such a large car. Friend’s family own a base 2006 XL with cloth seats. It’s unpretentious, but quiet and comfortable. She’ll appreciate it because it’s a Toyota, and her friends won’t be able to find a fault with it’s comfort.

      That said, I did a craigslist search for them and they’re rather pricy used. Another Toyota alternative would be the Prius. I know autophiles are raising their pitchforks when I say this, but hear me out. The Prius is quiet about town, decent on the freeway, and gets you from A to B hassle-free. It’s not quite the Jetson’s car, but it’s still a modern approach to an automobile. It’ll be familiar to her usability-wise compared to her Corolla (unless she hates the rear sight lines). I’d at least have her test drive it to see if she likes it. Who knows? She might even enjoy it. Best of luck!

  • avatar
    eventualhorizon

    Has your mom thought about a Prius? Extremely reliable, efficient, and a poster child for appliance like cars.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Threeer, as I recall, you’ve brought this up repeatedly. It’s clearly a big deal for you, but it sounds like your mother doesn’t have a problem driving appliance Toyotas, since that’s all she’s driven for 30 years. Believe it or not, some people don’t spend every waking moment fretting over their next automotive purchase (or someone else’s). Of course she’d like a Mercedes-Benz or an Audi – everyone would – but for a lot of people that’s a totally impractical proposition. Your mother’s done just fine driving economical cars for this long and now that she’s at retirement age she’s staring at a fixed income. A Mercedes is expensive to buy, expensive to maintain and probably won’t be reliable long term. Hopefully your mother will remain healthy and active well into her 80s and beyond…why do you want to burden her financially with an extravagance she’s just not that interested in? Somehow I doubt she’ll lose any sleep if she buys another ho hum Toyota in a few years; at least then she’ll actually have money leftover for a replacement in the unlikely event that the car goes Tango Uniform when she’s 80.

    @ Sajeev: “I think buying something nice for your Mom is always the right way to go. She did so much for you, more than likely.” You’re absolutely right. But I don’t think Threeer’s planning on chipping in for her new wheels. If he is, by all means, go crazy. Otherwise, leave her alone.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Sigh…again…I’ll repeat…she buys in 10-year cycles. This was all brought on when she sat down to figure out what she had set back for her “last car.” And those are HER words. She has also indicated that while the Corolla has been dead-reliable (and it has)…she also feels it has been much “less” of a car than she had in her 1993 Camry. So, the conundrum is finding/recommending a car through this year for purchase late 2012/early 2013 that will fulfill her desire to be both reliable but not a tin-box like she feels the Corolla has been (at least compared to her Camry). Her heart says “Mercedes” every time she sees one on the street, but I know that it would be a nightmare 5 years from now when it rolled out of warranty. And I don’t want that for her, either. I’m just trying to get ahead of the curve in order to recommend something a few steps up from a Corolla that still gives her the comfort of what she has become accustomed to…and I think the ES is a perfect solution. As all of her good friends have recently (in the last four months) bought new cars, maybe the itch will hit her a little sooner…

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Then take her to the Lexus dealer, have her drive the ES. If she likes/loves it, make a deal and buy it. BTW bring YOUR check book and contibute $10-15K toward the purchase……after all, she is your MOM.

        If new is too pricey, go CPO.

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    If she is used to old Camrys and new Corollas, then a new Camry or equivalent will feel like a boat to her. I’m 6’2″, but when I needed 4 doors to accommodate my expanding family, I test drove a V6 Accord to replace my Civic hatch, I couldn’t stand the bigness of it and went with a Civic sedan. I’m even used to and comfortable with driving bigger vehicles. I just don’t want to do it as my primary mode of transportation, and she probably won’t either.

  • avatar
    JJ

    I’d say Scion FR-S.

    Price range should be about right in the US, it’s a Toyota, it’s not boring, not too big and if she wans to trick it out the aftermarket will probably already be humongous.

  • avatar
    SV

    The new Camry XLE would probably be just the ticket. For all the flak it’s taken here, the Camry isn’t a bad car, just a boring one, and the new one is actually rather decent.

    The outgoing Ford Fusion (hybrid?) might also be a good choice; it’s quiet, comfy, and has a very strong reliability record.

    If she wants to stick to something smaller I’d also look at the new Subaru Impreza. If the old model is any indication, it’ll have an extremely absorbent and quiet ride. The 2012’s better fuel economy and interior finish is just a bonus.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    your mother wants an appliance, just get a used lexus. It’s still a Toyota(and an appliance), and decent ones can easily be picked up around 25k. They may be a few years older, but they are Toyota’s, taken care of, she won’t need anything else.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    67 is not a “Last Car” age, my grandmother bought a brand new 1986 fox body Ford LTD at age 73 as her last car. Well 12 years later it rusted out and she needed a new car so my father and I bought her a low mileage used 1995 Mercury Sable which she drove until we took it away from her this year at age 98.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Holy Cow! I’m 68 – I bought a Sportage last year; my last car, I guess. OK, I do like it. Anytime you buy a car for your mom you ought to get her what she wants; not what you want. Find out what kind of Lexus or Infinity she wants and buy that, new or CPO.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    My grandmother has purchased her own cars since her husband died in 1978 when the two of them were just 42 years old. My Grandmother is now in her 70s and her last NEW car was an Escort EXP that she didn’t keep very long. Her latest car is a used 2005 Pontiac Aztek (LOADED) which she likes for its large doors and ease of getting into and out of. There have been minor problems with it, all fixed by the dealership using genuine Mr. Goodwrench parts.

    Her mother lived to be 92 so I don’t know if I expect to inherit an Aztek anytime soon.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    My Mom is now 80, just turned 80 last month actually and still drives but the car she has now may WELL be her last, reason being, she’s on a fixed income and likely will last a long time so it may well hold her until she can’t drive, which could be within the next 5-10 years most likely, especially with her physical issues she’s got currently (health overall is fine and dandy for the most part).

    Back in 2005, we went to a used car sale at a new car dealer, just for kicks and not intending to purchase anything. At the time she was driving a 1997 Honda Accord EX with leather but had problems getting into and out of it due to arthritis in her lower back but at the time, we were going to go look at replacing the stock tape deck with a CD player and hit this sale on the way and came out of there with a bright red 2004 Dodge Stratus, because it had decent enough sight lines and has a bit higher seating position and she liked it and thus it’s MUCH easier for her to get into and out of (which became the main reason she went for it). Today, it’s paid off and thus is payment free and still has less than 60K on it and is in good shape and she still likes it.

    But at 80, she doesn’t drive nearly as much as she used to and won’t drive to Seattle anymore due to the excessive traffic and she doesn’t really know Seattle anymore but she does drive to my 3 sisters as they live where traffic isn’t so bad, thus doable even if it means some highway driving and they all live in rural/suburban/island areas while I live in the big city. Plus, she can’t do night time driving as well either due to the reduced capacity to see well at night (common with older folks) and so that limits her driving to just around town if she’s out at night.

    She did have to rent a car last spring while my oldest sister and her husband borrowed her car for a month and drove a silver gray ’10 Hyundai Elantra and actually liked it quite a bit (and it’s a bit smaller than her midsized Stratus). A couple of years ago, had to rent a car, that time, a POS Caliber and hated it.

    I have to admit, the Stratus isn’t a bad car but not an overly exciting one either.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    The Lexus ES is a good advice. Or if she wanted something smaller, the Buick Verona might be a candidate. Quiet and luxurious is the key here, not sharp handling or sharp styling. BTW driving in the US is so easy, the roads are wide and well marked, and people on the road are generally nice and obey traffic laws. I’m sure there are locales where this is not the case, but generally it is so. So even older people can drive with no problem. Though I once saw an a very old lady just exited a parking lot without looking, causing a few cars to swerve wildly (one into the oncoming lane) trying to avoid her. Then she just drove on oblivious to what had happened, and to the much honking that ensued…

    Driving here in Jakarta is a highly stressful activity that demand top notch mental ability! More akin to a competitive sports. So people generally stopped driving at much younger age.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    I’ve had this same conversation with my father who is pushing 60 this year. He recently bought a 2011 Hyundai Sonata from the company I work for.

    He loves it, (depsite me trying to get him into a larger and ‘more’ reliable Accord,) and has never looked back. (And this is a guy who grew up with Ramblers/AMCs/Mopars)

    He swears this is his ‘last’ car.

    Personally, I think he’ll be getting tickets doing burnouts and drifts in a Pentastar Challenger (in Black OR White) in a few years. Maybe THAT will be his last car :)

  • avatar
    werewolf

    2 cents

    Concerns for your mom: safety (accident survival and avoidance), drive and parkability, reliability, comfort and running costs in that order

    Suggestions:
    1) Used Lexus ES330 or ES350
    2) Used Toyota Avalon (last generation, touring)
    3) Used Subaru Legacy if you need or want AWD (last generation)
    4) Used Acura TSX (2006 and on)
    5) Used Acura MDX if she wants a SUV or higher riding position
    6) Used Lexus GS300 circa 2000 to 2003 – very well-made cars

  • avatar
    solracer

    My 83 year-old mother drives a red Miata with a 5-speed which I very much doubt will be her last car given some of the cars she’s owned over the years (a ’56 T-bird, an original Mustang with a 289 and a 4-speed, a couple of Mercedes, an RX-7, Mustang Turbo, Sentra SE-R, Merkur XR4Ti and two other Miatas). Perhaps if the Miata lasts long enough her next car might be it but one way or another I’m sure she’ll be driving way into her ’90s.

    As for threeer’s mother the one reason to consider a new car is safety. Sure a 2003 Corolla isn’t a death trap but small cars have come a long, long way in the last 8 years. Something like a new Focus would be far safer in a collision and will offer the comfort of a warranty should any problems arise.

  • avatar
    nearprairie

    I’m going to come from way out in left field on this one.

    1. Toyota Venza
    2. Suzuki Kizashi
    3. Scion Xb
    4. Infiniti EX35

  • avatar
    geozinger

    My mother bought her “last” car (A Mustang, no less) when she turned 61 in 1981. She bought three more cars after that one. She stopped driving about three years ago.

    The OP doesn’t really say if his mother is retired or still working. I would have to assume that all of her finances are in order and a retirement plan, will and power of attorney issues are prepared also.

    If so, let her spend the money any way she wants; so long as it doesn’t mean poverty when she retires or needs to find a place in a senior care center (which I hope is a long way off).

  • avatar
    DrSandman

    Toyota Matrix. Corolla “reliability”, with SUV-like visibility. It handles well enough to be safe, can be had with AWD, and consistently gets good mileage without resorting to any of that fragile hybrid trickerations. It’s easy to get in and out of. And it’s boxy shape makes it easy to park.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Get the vehicle maintained to the T. Have it detailed, touched up, let her even put in a ‘car scent’ if she is so inclined.

    Replacing the front driver’s seat can really help an older car feel new (ish).

  • avatar
    loguesmith

    Back in 2003, my folks bought their last “new” car. Dad was 68, mom 65. The last “new” car purchase for them was 1973; since then, they had bought used. They were going to get another Toyota – at the time, they were driving a ’91 Camry DX – but dad discovered that he could get a Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 for the same price as a 4-cyl Camry LE.

    So they did. I think the transaction price was around $18K or so. Almost 9 years later I think the car may have 30K on the clock; it looks and runs as if it had just came home from the showroom.

  • avatar

    “even let her put in a car scent”? Yeah, that’s right, finish her off
    with some synthetic chemicals in a closed environment. More of an
    inheritance for you.

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