New or Used: The $32,000 Question

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used the 32 000 question

Ian writes:

My wife drives a 2007 Lincoln MKX in need of shrewd replacement. The good lady finds the Mark Ten a chore to use around DC: clumsy, hard to see from, and very thirsty for all the enjoyment she gets from it. It also lacks exactly the features that she prizes: a sunroof, and up-to-date bluetooth – iDrive – voice/nav goodies. After a 16-month test drive of this very kind gift, it’s time to trade it towards something more suitable.

To narrow the field: We prefer wagons to crossovers, but are open to persuasion on the latter category — especially if better maneuverability and fussy electronics are on tap. No hybrids, definitely open to diesel. Big fans of used/CPO vehicles, inclined to buy and hold.The budget’s around $32k total. Every idea from new Focus ST to 4-yr-old Cayenne has crossed our kitchen table, so there’s barely a box to think outside of, and here’s the trick:

The puppy’s car-trained and our first baby en route. So this is the last car we’ll buy for years where gearhead intangibles might factor in the selection process. This car also is likely to become mine in 3-5 years (replacing my 08 CPO 535xi at 99,999 miles, and staying a Long Time), so I’m willing to go an extra mile on behalf of dumb stuff like steering feel, all-day seats, real durability and such.

If you had to sell a new Beltway mom a car today, that will become your war horse in 2016, what car would it be?

Steve Says:

This is the hard part. My wife’s tastes are probably a complete 180 to the two of you. Her idea would be to buy a reasonably kept older car in the $6k to $10k range and spend the rest on travel.

So the first thing I naturally think of when I hear a $30,000+ family car for what amounts to family errands is…“Really? You want to spend that much?”No offense. But when I deal with someone who is already dissatisfied with a loaded luxury vehicle after less than a year and a half, I get concerned about steep depreciation curves and fickle fashions.So I would do it this way.Have her do the shopping list first. Find six vehicles that really could do the trick for the two of you. Three new and three used. Throw in one or two vehicles as well that are on the cheaper side of $25k (you may be surprised) and test drive all of them.Take notes, discuss it together, read up on what current owners have to decide, and then make your choice.Good luck!Sajeev Says:Mark Ten? You stole my bit! So anyway, making a recommendation with such vague requirements (yes, really) is more than a little difficult. Go test drive stuff!Why am I saying this? The MKX is a pretty decent vehicle for your needs, and yet you’re ready to dump it and find another vehicle that you’ll hate in a matter of months. Get a new smart phone instead and keep this Lincoln, mission accomplished. Or buy something absolutely silly (Cayenne) fully understanding that you’re foolish or get a 4cyl CUV for the ultimate in long term value.I have no clue what’s gonna make you happy. Go test drive stuff, or you’ll regret it.
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2 of 123 comments
  • Acuraandy Acuraandy on Aug 13, 2012

    A bit biased, but, i'd recommend a TSX Wagon (albeit being absent of AWD or manual) or neo-RDX. Both can be had NEW for around $30k. Or, if CPO, 2009-present MDX. They are built like a brick shithouse, and can be had for between $25-30k. P.S. We get in a LOT of BMWs on trade, the biggest complaint is the reliability and function of iDrive. By comparison, Acura's infotainment system is immensely better/simpler/more reliable.

  • Sudden1 Sudden1 on Aug 15, 2012

    jdowmiller, thank you. Yes, children are wonderful. As are families. Especially a house full at Thanksgiving. I don't understand the vitriol...maybe the lady doth protest too much..I don't know. There seems to be no escape. This is a car site. Reasonable, fun question and almost gets jacked. Your choice is perfect.

  • Azfelix From certain angles the bonnet appears oversized with respect to the rest of the car - like a skinny teenager wearing a bulky sweater nicked from her older sister's wardrobe.
  • Tassos This is way too god damned OLD, 21 years old to have all the necessary options you need TODAY. You need a 10 year old or less car. AND if you give us THIS POS, a 21 year old model, that is not even a LUXURY car, whoever pays $10k for a Golf, And I Do NOT care what anniversary it is (they are all UTTERLY INSIGNIFICANT) deserves to get this MOST UNRELIABLE AND COSTLY TO REPAIR OF ALL LOUSY ECONOBOXES< EVEN THE DOMESTICS AND THE KOREANS.
  • Tassos As you say, Toyota confirmed this on TUESDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. Why is everything on TTAC held back one or more days before you tell us the NEWS when it is NO MORE THE NEWS?
  • MRF 95 T-Bird You can find a decent and far more stylish Audi TT or an S4 of a similar vintage for under $10k.
  • RHD "In all situations, the grip of the tires (225/40R18 front, 225/35R18 rear) brings with it road noise."Are the rear tires actually smaller than the fronts??!! Adding just a bit of sidewall would take care of the bumps and rough ride. I'm not a fan of BMWs, personally, but this is a very enjoyable car. There are times when driving a convertible is pure bliss, and with a bit of power it's fun as well. (And certainly a better drive than a gussied-up, overpriced German taxicab!)