New or Used?: Kiss My Yuppie Ass Edition

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang

Hi Sajeev and Steve,

I’ve always enjoyed this column, and several years ago I took a piece of the advice you provided: I bought a used Ford Taurus for a teen driver.

Anyway, I’m curious for your thoughts on what we should drive now. My wife and I have long commutes as well as 3 children. It’ll be a year before the oldest can sit up front and, at that point, the youngest can go from a massive car seat to a booster.

I log about 18,000 miles per year in an E39 M5. I have little time for it to be down, though I can borrow a relative’s extra car in a pinch. As expected, the car costs a few thousand to maintain per year, plus fuel is about $3,000 per year at today’s prices.

Should I:

  • Keep my car and lease a Mazda6 or Accord?
  • Keep my car and take advantage of terrible resale and 0.9% financing on a used Leaf?
  • Sell my car and buy something sporty yet semi practical?

My current car is awesome, but even the Mazda would just about pay for itself in fuel savings, to say nothing about reduced running cost. Insurance is another story as I married the female Captain Crunch. If I were to sell, I have no idea what manual transmission car out there would hold a candle to the entertainment value and fit and finish of the M without being a depreciation monster. I don’t think my kids would fit in an Infiniti G37.

Footnote: My wife’s car is an Odyssey, it logs about 21,000 miles per year, and all of the family trips are taken in it.

Steve Says:

You have a solution in search of a problem. Enthusiasts often fall into this weird mindset where simple math starts failing them and the fear of owning an older fun car engulfs their usual common sense.

What I want you to do is take a breath and repeat after me.

“I promise to give my M5 the best parts and fluids possible and not nickelshit my way into trouble. I also promise to get this dream car maintained at an independent detail shop to the letter, detail it so that it looks like a million bucks, and avoid the new car dealer’s $100+ hourly labor costs. ”

When you lease a car, any car, you’re lighting a fire to more than just the down payment. Taxes, registration, insurance, and all the other hidden bogus fees the dealer tries to levy on you get sandwiched into a healthy 20- to 40-percent premium depending on the vehicle.

Your wife’s Odyssey can already handle the progeny. I would strongly encourage you to either sell the M5 outright and buy something new, or keep it and invest in that fun car for the long haul.

Sajeev Says:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’re totally screwed and Lang’s got your number. The sheer volume of perfection present in the E39 M5 is impossible to duplicate, though a row-your-own Mazda6 is a decent alternative for the 2015 model year. Sure, it drives the wrong wheels and lacks that V8 punch, but it’s kinda E39 in spirit!

Money is overrated. You only have one life to live, though the Hindu in me says otherwise. Buy another vehicle and use the M5 sparingly. It might even qualify for special interest/classic car insurance to boot! I suggest driving the polar opposite of your ride for maximum diversification. This will make you miss driving the M5 and keep you from neglecting and selling it in the future.

So get a Nissan Leaf and carry on!

Join the conversation
4 of 75 comments
  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Oct 27, 2015

    The right answer is to keep the BMW if you like it and supplement it with a mainstream midsize sedan of the flavor of your choosing. Worried about the fuel cost then a Camry or Fusion Hybrid are both good choices. If power is a bigger priority than fuel economy there are lots of V6 or turbo options out there. Prefer a 5sp or 6sp instead of a slush box there are a couple of good choices there too. If you want something more responsive to drive then just upgrade the tires on those midsize sedans. Stepping up from the Touring tires fitted on most of those cars to a ultra high performance or max performance tire will make a world of difference. Unfortunately many of those tires will cost you MPG vs the Low Rolling Resistance tires that are becoming more and more common as OE.

    • See 1 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Oct 28, 2015

      @pragmatic "The new car will have maintenance as well (oil/filter changes, brakes, tires, etc) its just the high mileage wear items that will be different (plus BMW’s higher costs)." -- Unless the new car is a BEV at which oil changes are nonexistent, brakes can last for the life of the car due to regenerative braking and other operations-critical fluids effectively don't exist. Tires may be your only valid point there and yes, those will likely be the same cost across platforms--but tires typically last for 45K to 60K miles now, giving you two to four years between replacements. And "large mechanical failures" in a BEV tend not to be so large. The battery, at least in a Tesla, is guaranteed for 8 years, unlimited mileage.

  • IHateCars IHateCars on Nov 02, 2015

    "nickelshit" is my new favourite word....thanks Steve!

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂