By on March 31, 2015


Reader Brian writes to us with a question about what car to buy next. Since he’s from the Big Apple, we’ll run this on the eve of the NY Auto Show.


I’m not sure if i’m contacting through the right medium here. I’m a long time avid reader of this blog and thank you for all the content that has been put out. I’ve learned a lot about the automotive industry just from this site alone. Today i’m writing to you all with a question regarding what car i should get with a budget of approximately $15K-$17K (About what my car is worth at the moment). I currently have a 2010 Miata GT, PRHT, 6sp Manual and live in the NYC area. I’ve had it for a few years now and love the way it drives, but its starting to wear me down in terms of comfort and practicality. I just want something that is more comfortable and practical but still learns more towards the sporty side. I’ve been looking at everything from a 2010 G37X, 2011 Mustang V6 Premium, to a Fiesta/Focus ST. What do you guys think? What’s your personal opinions on those cars? Any input would be excellent! Looking forward to your response(s).

Have at it.

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46 Comments on “Question Of The Day: What Car Should I Buy?...”

  • avatar

    Vw Eurovan

  • avatar

    Definitely a Focus ST

  • avatar

    Just get yourself the Mustang GT with the manual. Don’t fark around with anything less.

  • avatar

    Haggle hard on a 08-09 335i Coupe. We had a G37, and it was a good car but, depending on options, the suspension is wound pretty tight for rough roads and it was still somewhat short on trunk (tiny opening) and back seat space.

    • 0 avatar

      He could get the sedan, and those generally sell for less than the equivalent coupes, and will provide the extra doors and trunk space. No stick with AWD though.

      • 0 avatar

        The 335i was available with AWD and a stickshift in both the previous and current versions, e90 and f30. In fact I am pretty sure that the 335i is the ONLY current AWD BMW currently available with a stick in the US.

        However, I can’t see bothering with AWD given he does not list it as a requirement. They cost more, don’t handle as well, get worse fuel economy, and 95% of the time a set of snow tires is much more useful.

    • 0 avatar

      Drove one of these a few months ago, with a 6-speed. I was planning on replacing my DD Mazda3. I preferred to MKVII GTI I drove to the BMW.

  • avatar

    A hot (or even just warm) hatch may be a good option. Way more practicality, a bit more comfort, and still fun.

  • avatar

    New Honda Fit. You can thank me later.

  • avatar

    A 2010-present CTS with the 3.6L and AWD.

    See, everyone and there brother is looking for a BMW/Infiniti/Audi late model used. The prices are going to be high.

    You gotta hit ’em where they ain’t.

  • avatar

    I think it depends on where in the NYC Area you live and between which points you most often drive (and to some extent, your parking situation on either end of those trips).

    More comfortable and practical than an NC Miata but still on the sporty side for $15-17k is kinda like asking if there are any decent, moderately expensive places to eat in Manhattan.

  • avatar

    The newest Legacy GT 6MT you can afford. Or if you can stomach the interior, the newest WRX you can afford.

    Gawd, being a car guy in NYC has to be one of the 7 circles of hell. Barring the Jackie Robinson (do they even call it that anymore?) you are at least an hour away from any decent roads depending on where you are. And then the 6 month winters. My gawd. No. Take that $15K and move

    • 0 avatar

      “newest Legacy GT 6MT you can afford” By afford do you mean including the thousands of dollars of work that these things seem to constantly need? Haven’t owned one personally, but from what I’ve heard they’ve got all the usual Subaru maladies, and then a bunch of other issues unique to the LGT.

  • avatar

    Used MINI Clubman. If you want a car that drives like a Miata (OK, FWD, but still), but is more comfortable and practical (you didn’t say how much more), it’s worth a look.

  • avatar

    You guys are not listening to the one who is asking the question… He has stated that he lives in the NYC area, and the roads in and out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island are AWFUL. He is complaining about the ride quality of the Miata, so let’s see what is appropriately sporty, with compliant suspension, that can be purchased at the price point described in the question…

    The G37X seems to be a good option, but Nissans tend to need suspension work if the streets are crappy after a couple of years. By the way, the seats suck after an hour…

    A Hot Hatch might be the ticket, but with limited suspension travel, it will be worse than the Miata.

    A Smaller CUV seems to be the proper answer, but few come with a Manual (if at all) The ride will be better over these atrocious streets though.

    So, what about a late model Volvo? An S60 has some of the most comfortable seats ever, and you might be able to find a T5 with a stick. Or how about a Volvo C30… Same comfy seats, in a very sporty hatch…

    I usually don’t recommend a VAG Product, but a 2 or 3 years old GTI might be the ticket, though the ride could be harsh (though VW suspensions are more compliant than others). Better yet, a previous generation Jetta Sport Wagon could be your ticket to heaven… if you can get past the Wagon Stigma…

    The Subaru WRX is a rather sporty choice, but a good one will set you back a few sheckels. An older regular Imprezza might do the trick, and some come with a stick.

    Finally, if you like Mazda, the 3 might be the way to go, though go for more of the base model with a more compliant ride.

    • 0 avatar

      “You guys are not listening to the one who is asking the question…”

      Isn’t that the whole point of these things? HE SHOULD GET A MIATA OMG

    • 0 avatar

      You just said what I had in mind, too. A good S60T6 is quick, comfy, very reliable, too. It’s also a stylish “car guy”-choice. The only downside might be all the questions Brian will get along the lines of: “Are you going to be a dad?”…

  • avatar

    If you like your Miata but want more comfort than get the Mustang. Whatever flavor you can afford easily and readily.

  • avatar

    If I commuted into NYC I’d buy some cosmetically ragged by mechanically sound automatic Toyota sedan (think late 90s Camry) or a mid 90s Maxima with some decently fat tires to better survive the potholes, then proceed to play bumper cars and parking by braille with the rest of NYC’s crazy drivers. I think bombing around a big city in an older car is a lot of fun, my brother picked my dad up from JFK last Christmas in my mud covered 4Runner, he said folks gave him quite a wide berth and didn’t cut him off at all:)

  • avatar

    MY12 Lincoln MKZ with <25K otc. You're welcome.

  • avatar

    I’m here in NYC with you:


  • avatar

    what if you keep it Mazda, RWD and fun to drive with an RX-8?
    But whatever you do let us know!

  • avatar

    Miata is hardly an uncomfortable car. What’s so impractical about it? Need to haul more people? More stuff? How about a GTI?

    • 0 avatar

      Not uncomfortable? I just drove one. Tons of wind noise, at 5-11 I almost scrape the roof, narrow footwell, and you’re practically sitting on the ground. Sure, that’s all part of it’s charm, but it is what it is.

      +1 for the GTI.

  • avatar

    17k can get you a 70s Volvo 1800. Comfy, cool, slow enough to enjoy the ride.

  • avatar

    So far he’s gotten suggestions ranging from a Toyota Camry, Lincoln MKZ, VW Eurovan, and Volvo 1800. I can’t think of cars that are more different…

  • avatar

    ” . . . live in the NYC area”

    To be a bit of a contrarian here, you owe it to yourself to try not having a car at all. NYC! If you’re really unsure, park your car for a month and see how it works out.

  • avatar

    F-150 supercrew

  • avatar

    I have great respect if you are running a miata as DD in NYC. As someone who crosses it and descends into it frequently….

    Think tires. Low profiles, no matter the car, are just rim bills waiting to happen. The roads now are so bad I take my SUV into the City, and still play pothole dodgem… On a BMW, I have taken the lovely staggered sport wheels with low profiles and replaced them with a 225/50 section tire. The tiny loss of precision in turns and half mpg less is well worth the ability to survive that hole you don’t see or is full of water at night. Mom bought a 535i, and the tire warranty has become a huge money loss for the dealer/BMW. Three tires and wheels, and counting…those runflats and bent BMW rims get pricey fast. They are designed for the autobahn…and German driving conditions. Having been fortunate enough to drive one side of Germany to the other a few times, I can say there are NO potholes like we see them on any highway or normal secondary road. I don’t know what BMW does for torture testing, but the engineers on their daily commute to work don’t feel the WHAMMMMM we all know and don’t like. Sports-sporty cars assume flat roads, which lots of folks have, just not New York City folks.

    When I lived in Manhattan, you saw two types of cars on the road. The first was the cost no object toy. If you can buy a Maserati sedan, or a new 550i, you can garage it. Festoon it with bumper buddies for the garage dings. The other car is the suggested 90’s beater from other folks. The car is going to get hammered, no matter how great you drive…so get something that has already been dented. I’d go for a base Golf or a used e90 if you want to be enthusiast, just accept the dings, and etc…

    A used Acura RDX (the last generation) might be a good choice if only one car is possible. It has the suspension travel needed for the “off roading” roads of NYC, and enough power to slice and dice. The higher seat position is helpful in NYC traffic. The RDX does not have a manual, but NYC traffic isn’t manual friendly. I defer to my slushbox truck if doing an airport run or going in for dinner/theater

    The problem is that NYC driving is designed to reduce even the stoutest ride to bent bolts. I’ve seen old school Impalas bent by raised manhole covers. The normal parameters for a “good enthusiast car” are not met in the NYC metro area.

  • avatar

    How about a Jeep Wrangler? I know it’s not a sports car, but it can still be a sporty ride. And from the sounds of the horrid road conditions in NY it might be a great way to save the cost of replacing suspension parts.

  • avatar

    I have an ’09 PHRT Touring Manual. Live in DC, and facing many of the same issues you are. Although our roads and weather probably aren’t as bad, the repairs never get done (done well, at least). Plenty of legroom for me, but it does bother my back. I think I’d be a better candidate for a coupe if they made one, I prefer to go top-down at night.

    I’ve been thinking of replacing it with a new muscle car. So far I’ve driven the 1LE Camaro, ’15 Challenger R/T, and ’15 Mustang w/PP. All manuals.

    I find myself leaning towards the Challenger, which I never expected. There are no curves around here anyway.

  • avatar

    …we picked up a mazda 2 when facing a similar situation a couple of years ago, after initially looking at larger hot hatches and being disappointed by the leviathan handling their much-heavier weight brings…after a month or two of frustrated shopping, i test-drove the 2 on a lark and found myself delighted at how its lightweight nimble character felt like home…

    ….in a car that light, given a proper manual gearbox to wring it out, one hundred horsepower is plenty for the streets and it’s a joy to drive every single time…for a family of two, it’s proven wonderfully capacious, versatile, and a welcomed respite from our tiny sports cars: i think it hits the sweet spot of right-sized practicality without sacrificing agility for bulk…

  • avatar

    A lot of people here are recommending an E90 335i/xi. I would have to second that, as my dad owns a 2007 335i coupe 6-speed sport package and I’m a big fan of the way it drives. It has the more compliant and versatile suspension that you’re looking for and definitely is a joy to spend time in and use. For the price, though, and given that at this point a late model E90 might have some mechanical issues pending (at present, in the near or, undoubtedly far, future), a 328i/xi might be the better bet. Non-turbo I6 that is supposedly decently reliable, and while less powerful than the twin and single turbo setups, it’s still got plenty of power, is very smooth and retains all of the handling prowess of the 3.

  • avatar

    I drive a 2011 VW GTI in NYC but during the winter i put on a set of 205 55 16″ mounted snows. I save the 18″ tires for when the roads are better. The GTI has a good ride not soft but firm. I drove into NYC for 45 years before i retired and the highways are bad. I had about 6 routes to take as the roads were being repaired. The worst is the Brooklyn Queens. I have seen cars disappear in some of the pot holes. Years ago everyone used wheel locks and coming home one night with my VW Corrado and my 300 lb passenger i hit a hole on the BQE and blew out my front passenger tire. Got the car off the BQE but could not get the wheel off due to the wheel lock. After trying for what seemed like ages i called a tow truck to get the car home to Queens. The lock company send me overnight a special key to get the wheel off and after a new $175.00 tire i was good to go. Never installed the locks back on the car. Had the car checked by a front end place and nothing was out-of-order. The rim was straight and the alignment was on the nose. I thought something had to be broken. Now that i am retired i take the subway to NYC. It’s cheaper.

  • avatar

    Comfortable, reliable, cheap to service, sporty, good in the snow, and ugly as sin. Just tell yourself that you’re signalling pedestrians to get out of the way on 10th Avenue by threatening to impale them on your beak if they don’t skedaddle fast enough.

  • avatar

    Need to define “comfort and practicality” to get a decent answer. But I’d say that any Mustang is about as practical as your Miata with an extra space in the back to throw stuff and a solid roof. You say you want “sporty” but got to define that, as well. The difference between 5 and 10 seconds 0-60 in that area code you live is, well, non-existent.

    If I were you, I’d stay with the same brand and get a HATCHBACK Mazda3. Feel free to get the 2.5 engine, if you have to..

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Chrysler 300 AWD. Or if you have to have a manual, Subaru Legacy. Bonus points for the wagon.

  • avatar

    One word: Panther.

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