By on June 14, 2016

2008 Mazda5, Image: Mazda

Charles writes:

Good morning Bark,

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles hired me about a year ago, which coincided with the first anniversary of a five-year loan on my 2009 Mazda5 Sport. However, I’d really like to get into a company car as a show of support, and because I’m tired of paying five-year loans on cheap used cars.

I owe about $7,000 on the Mazda, which costs me $200/month for the loan and another $125/month for full coverage insurance. The car just rolled over 100,000 miles. It’s due for some suspension work up front (bearings, bushings, brakes) and has a nasty crack in the windshield. Other than that, it’s in good shape. I feel like I could sell it for what I owe, and if I’ve learned anything lately, it’s my feelings should dictate everyone else’s reality.

FCA offers a solid company car program. I can lease at 1.5 to 1.9% over two years with unlimited mileage (depending on the model), and maintenance and insurance is covered by the company. That means I can get a base model car of similar size to the Mazda for dang near break-even against my current payment plus insurance, with the added benefit of no maintenance costs.

The problem is … I really like my Mazda.

There’s nothing on the market that balances utility (I have six kids and a dog) and performance (30 mpg highway, fun in the twisties) the same way as my beloved Tinivan. But it’s hard to justify a monthly cost of $325 on a car that will have at least 150,000 miles by the time I pay it off. I could have a brand new car with no hassles and no worries for about the same cost. My friends say pay off what I have and maintain it until it dies. At least I’ll have a few years with no car payment at the end of the financing tunnel if I do that. But considering the mileage I put on the car, I don’t know if that kind of Dave Ramsey wisdom holds true.

Keep the Mazda (which I have to park in the Competitive Parking lot) and enjoy it (and my mile hike to work) until it turns to dust, or wave goodbye and step in line like a good company man? I’ve mentioned my conundrum in comments before, but now it’s time for professional help.

What to do?

First of all, I’m jealous of your corporate lease deal. I have a friend whose husband works for Daimler, and she gets a brand-new Benz every six months on a low, low lease payment. Every time I see her, she’s got some new baller mobile.

I hate to break it to you, but selling that Mazda5 Sport for $7,000 is going to be a bit of a stretch. In its current state of repair, I think you’d be lucky to get $5,000 out of it in a private sale (unless TTAC creates an actual For Sale forum someday that people really use, as some people here have an irrational love for all things Mazda). And since you’re not really able to do a trade-in, you can’t roll over any negative equity that you have. (With that last sentence, all the Ramsey acolytes just had spontaneous heart attacks and died. Good.)

However, let’s say a miracle were to happen and you found somebody who was willing to pay off your note on the fiver. Should you unload this car that you seem to enjoy, just to take on another car payment?

Of course you should. (And with that, any remaining Ramseyites’ heads simultaneously exploded, like the end of Kingsman: The Secret Service).

Hate to break it to you, but the Mazda5 just isn’t all that special. I know you enjoy the way it drives in the twisties, but despite the mythical brand connotation that goes with the zoom-zoom logo, just about any current FCA product will be just as good. Seriously. The steering wheel won’t be positioned similarly to a school bus’ wheel, either. And if the company is willing to pay for your insurance, too — dude. It’s literally a no-brainer.

Plus, there’s something to be said for being a company man in a large company environment. I’m not saying that driving a Mazda to work every day will hurt your chances of advancement, but it probably won’t help them, either. And if you’re trying to be some sort of “Fight the Power” rebel, is the Mazda5 really the right car to be sticking it to the man? I think not.

All that said, which FCA vehicle should you get?

With six kids, I think the obvious answer is Pacifica, but I don’t know what the company program looks like on one of those. They might be a bit out of your $325/month budget.

Do you have to take all six kids around at the same time? You could look at a lower trim Durango. I think you’d find the Pentastar in the big D is more than enough motor to replace the 2.3 in your Mazda. No, your fuel mileage won’t be as good, but life is all about trade-offs and compromises, right? I mean, as a father of six (wow, six), you get that.

But whatever you do, do not, repeat, do not lease a Journey. The resulting driving experience will be so bad that you’ll pine endlessly for another Mazda5 with a cracked windshield and broken suspension.

So here’s what you should do:

  • Fix your windshield. Nobody will pay you top dollar for a car with a broken windshield.
  • Write the most epic and glorious Craigslist ad ever, with high-quality pics. Mazda buyers are particularly good at using the Internet to find cars, so if your ad is good, they’ll find you.
  • The downside of that? Mazda buyers are also epically good at negotiating price. Go ask any Mazda dealer’s Internet Manager. Mazda customers will drive 500 miles to save $200.
  • Your car isn’t going to depreciate a lot more in the next six months, so if you can pay it down a bit more, you might have a better chance of getting out even up.
  • Finally, work some lease numbers on a Durango and see if your budget works out.

Next thing you know, you’ll be parking in the front row and you’ll be up for a promotion. At least one of those two statements is true.

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116 Comments on “Ask Bark: Should I Be A Company Man?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Six kids and a dog!

    Bless you, my son…

    Pacifica is the obvious answer. Anybody who drives a Mazda van doesn’t give two shakes about what other people think, you might as well get the most practical answer to the question.

    • 0 avatar
      BobinPgh

      Why the blessing? If not for all the kids he would not owe $7000 on an old minivan and knowing that he will be buying minivans for the rest of his life. Or do you, Dan, like overcrowded classrooms? What’s ironic is that without the kids, you could hang on to the van and buy a Challenger, even maybe a hellcat, and have lots of fun with FCA.

      • 0 avatar
        mtmmo

        Hopefully you don’t have any kids and I’m confident I’m not the only one to think that.

        • 0 avatar
          BobinPgh

          Thanks for the compliment! I have avoided much environmental damage not having the kids and is a large number of children anything to brag about, as a number of men on this blog do? I can be the most jet-setting, leather wearing, steak eating and SUV gas guzzling driving playboy and not do that damage I would do if I were a dad.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        It’s time to go back to Jalopnik.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        I get to bring cars home as a consequence of my job. Yes, including the mighty Hellcat.

        So I get to have my cake and eat it too. I have no problem “sacrificing” my personal automotive pleasures for my kids, because a family brings plenty of joy. Not to mention the more kids I have, the more likely one of them won’t be so damaged and jaded by the time I’m an old fart not to take me in and change my diapers in old age.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    My tutor drives a newer Mazda5, how do you fit six children and a dog into it currently? I’m shocked you’re not already in a TC/Caravan or larger commercial van passenger conversion.

  • avatar
    truecarhipsterdouche

    He drives a Mazda5…that’s a car you never see, so to get the same kind of cache and unique snowflake status in a FCA product…go to the nearest Fiat dealer and get you a 500X or 500L. Purchase FCA…the job you save may be your own!!! (sweaters not included!)

  • avatar
    threeer

    Just a question not really related to the Mazda…what is your deep-seated hatred for Dave Ramsey? I’m not saying I’m a 100% convert, but I generally feel that being out of debt is a good thing (that said, I have a way to go to get there).

    And yeah, being a lowly GS doesn’t allow for ultra-cool low-lease plans. It does, however, allow me the opportunity to take extended visits to really neat places…like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia! If given the chance, I’d likely take the offer on a low-lease vehicle if the company I worked for had such a deal. It never hurts to wear the company colors.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      It’s a long way from “out-of-control debt is bad,” which is a totally reasonable observation, to “DEBT IS THE DEVIL AND YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE ANY.” That’s just bad religion and bad financial advice. Why in the heck would I not take out a 0.9% loan when I can earn ~4% (on average) on that money if it sits in my brokerage account? Should I have gotten my law degree from Seattle University instead of Harvard just to avoid taking out student loans? Debt, used carefully and rationally, is a great tool.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “Why in the heck would I not take out a 0.9% loan when I can earn ~4% (on average) on that money if it sits in my brokerage account?”

        The people who benefit from Dave Ramsey are typically not eligible for 0.9% loans, and very likely wouldn’t pay it back even if they were.

        They also don’t have brokerage accounts.

        They’re people who have already wrecked their finances/credit and are trying to prevent an incipient debt disaster, not financial sophisticates looking to optimize their portfolio.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Dal, how/where are you getting 4% yield on cash in that account?

        Is it liquid? Does it have a risk of loss of principal?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          A mix of U.S. and global total equity market index funds. There’s absolutely a risk of loss, and that’s an average return over time, not a return for one year.

          The average return would be much higher if 2008 weren’t included — thus your “risk of loss.”

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            ok, thanks.

            Ignore my same question in other articles (I was seriously interested and had to know the details).

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “Just a question not really related to the Mazda…what is your deep-seated hatred for Dave Ramsey?”

      I don’t know why Bark doesn’t like him, but I find it hard to take a guy seriously when his financial advice is based in biblical absolutes rather than actual financial wisdom. He starts with a conclusion (DEBT IS ALWAYS BAD OMG) and creates a labyrinth of arguments to support the idea that the conclusion is good for people, rather than saying, “How can I help people?” and dispensing financial advice with the aim of advancing that goal.

      Anyone who tells poor people who are one missed workday away from losing their jobs, health insurance, and homes that they should drive an unreliable beater rather than a lease just because DEBT IS ALWAYS BAD OMG needs to get a serious smack in the face.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      Dave Ramsey is wrong.

      That might be why some folks take issue with his topics.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        Does Ramsey target only church-goers? It seems like every Ramsey follower I know is almost never secular. Is he basically Suzi Orman repackaged for the church?

      • 0 avatar
        SomeGuy

        I absolutely disagree with his investment logic. 12% is tossed around so much. I also invested with his “ELP Certified” investment guy. Uh, if you watched John Oliver last night you got a crash course in fees on investment vehicles. I did some research years ago and learned of these fees.

        This guy I was recommended had high fees, so I pulled all of our money out and immediately invested with Vanguard. I quit taking Ramsey seriously after that day.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I’m not a Dave Ramsey fan either, but his advice is genuinely useful to people who cannot responsibly manage debt (or finances generally) without simple ironclad rules.

      It’s like how AA tells alkies that they can’t drink at all, ever. They do this because some people can’t moderate their drinking and one beer at a party rapidly leads to real life problems. So they can’t have any, and benefit from having somebody to tell them very clearly that they can’t.

      There are lots of people who simply can’t manage debt and *will* get in over their heads if they try to – even with access good advice and education. Ramsey gives them big clear lines to stay in, and a supportive community that encourages them to control their problem. That’s the best thing for some folks.

      A lot of his devotees are not choosing between “no debt” or a reasonable loan on a car they can afford. Their choice is between “no debt” or having their sweet new Challenger repossessed 8 months after purchase, because that’s what would happen if they financed a car.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I agree with the AA comparison.

        Ramsey’s stuff is mainly for people that will otherwise roast themselves on credit availability.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          The problem is that then his followers go out and preach The Message to the world who aren’t alcoholics about the evil that is the 2 Miller Lites they’re having while they tend the BBQ Saturday afternoon.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            I agree Ramsey gets a little carried away, and I don’t care for his program’s religious overtones either.

            That said, the statistical reality of today’s America is that the average American – including the average reader of this thread – is probably thousands in debt on their credit cards at this moment. That suggests an imbalance between the cost of a middle American lifestyle and the new middle American income that’s the equivalent of not being able to drink so little red wine that it’s good for your health.

            For those few who are exceptionally sharp in managing their personal finances, OK. Ramsey’s approach will not optimize your dollars, just as Carmax won’t be your best deal. But for everyone else, following his gross generalizations would be a great improvement over the approach they’re using now.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            True, but a Ramsey fan preaching the evils of debt is is much better than telling somebody who is in a tricky spot with car financing to dance with the debt monkey as a way out.

            It is not very different form encouraging a recovering alcoholic to loosen up and just have one drink.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I’ve gone through one of Ramsey’s courses, and I don’t see how you can argue that getting out of debt is a bad thing. He may be a bit too hung up on debt, but given how underwater many folks are these days it’s understandable. He does throw some Bible into his lessons, but it’s more of a trimming than baked-in.

      For what it’s worth, I know someone who met him once, she thought he was kind of a jerk.

      • 0 avatar
        LS1Fan

        He is perhaps the most literal of Bible salesmen.

        His customer isn’t the unemployed or even the poor. His customer base is the affluent two income , six figure household who connect the term “Budget” to a rental car company.

        Folks who owe half a million dollars in consumer debt and make 600,000 a year, but have no idea how much their bills are and no savings.

        Financial strategies for folks like that won’t work for the truly poor. It’s easy to avoid debt and not use a credit score when you’re relatively well off and just suck at impulse control.

        If you/your family grosses $20,000 a year or less, Dave Ramsey is the last dude you should listen to about money.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Just don’t follow Dave Ramsey’s investment advice. He’s not paying front end sales charges like he advises his clients/listeners. He has some exotic $hit in his managed asset portfolio. The average investor is better off in a diversified no-load target fund (Vanguard, T Rowe, etc) until they have enough cash to have a managed asset account. Even then, the the passively managed no load fund may be a better option.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeGuy

        bball is absolutely correct. Do not follow his advice at all for investments.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        bball,

        Spot on. My brother is a hedge fund analyst and recommends the exact same thing, and does it himself. Party of it is because he has insider trading rules about personal investments, but the other part is outside of the small segment of the market he is an expert on for work, he doesn’t have the time to do the analysis and management for his own money.

        Even then, he recommends you should be sitting in indexes with around 50-60% of your money in the first place, even if you know what you’re doing, since not all managers (actually very few) are all that good at producing above market returns.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I read a book in college called “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”. It basically says that if you get a monkey to throw thirty darts at the WSJ stock listings and buy the thirty stocks he hit, you would do almost as well as a professional money manager.

          I still have a number of FINRA licenses, even though I don’t currently use them. Before I even talk product with someone, I talk about contributions. I wish I could just do education seminars for people enrolling in 401ks/403bs. Most people should just be throwing money into lifecyle style funds and contributing more. That’s it.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t care for anyone running a “for-profit ministry”, as Ramsey calls it, because ministries shouldn’t be for-profit. If he wants to call it a business, fine. Do that. Ramsey’s not quite a Creflo Dollar, but he’s not much better.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      Quite a few people are commenting on here who have obviously never taken Dave Ramsey’s course.

      The AA comparisons are spot on. You have to take into account that Dave Ramsey himself was once deep in debt and fought his way out. Of course he’s going to be extremely anti-debt.

      Is he wrong headed? No. I see a lot of articles and comments here encouraging people to take on stupid levels of debt. I’ve borrowed money on cars, but never more than I can pay off in two years.

      We ought not be in a mindset where we think we *need* debt (other than a mortgage, which even Ramsey concedes is sensible). That makes us slaves to the lenders.

      Dave Ramsey’s biblical window-dressing is merely that, but it’s not inaccurate. If you don’t like the religious angle, ignore it and you’ll do just fine.

      Three things stand out to me from the FPU course: Have an emergency fund. Indebtedness without a damned good reason is foolhardy. Work hard and live within your means.

      Finally, remember, Dave Ramsey is a salesman.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The basic Ramsey ideas are not bad ones. I don’t agree with his aversion to auto loans at historically low rates. At 0%-2%, I’d tell someone to finance a car instead of paying cash. Keep that cash in your bank account.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      I personally believe that Dave Ramsey is preaching the correct idea but in the vein of “blame the person, not the system”. Dave is about telling everyone “you did wrong, let’s fix you” versus “the system is wrong, let’s fix the system”.

      I am not arguing about whether borrowing money at 0.9% and investing it at 3% is worthwhile. No its even simpler than that

      I live in Dave Ramsey’s home state of TN (and have even driven by his office building in Brentwood/Franklin near Cool Springs Mall). Dave Ramsey has never ever advocated locally in TN for any legislative changes in the Rent-To-Own, Check-Cash-Advance,Payday-Loan, etc. “fleece the idiots” industries.

      He’ll bounce onto TV telling people about how to get out of debt but never will attack the system. Of course he won’t attack that system because that system provides him with additional book sales, course attendees, media click advertising, etc.

      Correct ballpark but wrong sport is how I consider Ramsey…

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        You haven’t taken your “why-why” analysis far enough. Why are idiots in debt? The root isn’t that they’re victimized by predatory practices such as those you listed.

        The root is that they’re idiots.

        Dave IS tackling the root cause. He’s attempting to educate the pool of idiots. I think that’s a worthy endeavor, even if it’s like swatting mosquitos in a swamp to eliminate malaria.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I say keep the Mazda, pay it down, get it fixed up, and then in 24 months or so use your sweetheart lease deal on a Fiat 124.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    First question: Are you a two-car family? If not, why?
    Second question: Assuming the answer to #1 is ‘Yes’, then what is the second vehicle?

    What you might be able to do is keep the little Mazda and letting the wife drive it while you go company with a smaller vehicle like a Fiat 500 or a Renegade (if you just have to have four doors.) True, you might not be able to pack all six kids in the company car but it would keep your lease payments down and perhaps reduce the mileage you’re putting on the Mazda.

    In other words, your specific needs are critical to the question you’re asking but which you haven’t really informed us.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Dodge Grand Caravan. They are still sellin’ ’em. Wayyy cheaper than the admittedly nice Pacifica.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    6 kids and a Mazda 5??/ What am i missing?

    You can drive away in a new Caravan and break even with what you’re paying now (maintenance and gas included) and will have a MUCH nicer vehicle with a ton more space.

    I don’t see the problem here, the 5 is one of the all time most over rated vehicles ever IMHO. Yeah it drives OK but is small and still drinks nearly as much as a proper van, i don’t geddit, never have.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Forgotten in the calculus is the 1 mile hike from the parking lot and another mile back. Walking 10,000 steps a day will spare you future health bills. Think of it as a free gym membership that shapes you up physically and sharpens you mentally.

    I intentionally park some distance away just to get in a walk. It also protects my Mazda3 from dings. Heh… I just fed the Mazda fanboi stereotype. :)

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Don’t be ashamed of enjoying your car. Just because Bark doesn’t get it doesn’t mean it is real. He says any FCA vehicle would be as good to drive, but then later admits the Journey is bad.

      As for the comments about fitting 6 kids in the 5. I would assume the poster only fits upto 5 and uses his other vehicle for a full family trip. I have a colleague who had 5 kids and a wife – they have a Sienna and a Highlander. Your second vehicle doesn’t need to hold everyone (although that is a good idea).

      • 0 avatar

        I actually said “just about” any FCA vehicle would be as good. The Mazda5 died for a reason, people.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Our sins?

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            +5, Mazda5.

            That made me laugh.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I believe in Mazda5, our Lord.
            It was conceived by the power of the C1 platform and born in Hiroshima.
            Under Mazda USA’s reorganization, it was crucified, died, and was buried.
            It descended to the dead. On the third model year it will rise again.
            It will ascend into heaven and be seated at the right hand of the Mazda MPV.
            It will come again to judge the living and the dead.

            It’s much easier to turn the Apostles Creed into something about the Buick 3800 though…

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @bball40dtw

            I hope when it rises again, it will come with a lot of Easter Eggs.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          Because Americans like neither minivans, nor “sporty” cars, or small cars, and the 5 is all of the above? And also, for unexplained reasons they refused to make the middle row accommodate 3 people?

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            While the Odyssey, Pacifica, and the like are really vans, the Mazda5 was a true “mini-van.” There was no room to make the middle row accommodate 3 people.

            Also, the CX-5 (and the upcoming CX-9) pretty much competes with it, so there’s little need for the it. My Mazda dealer mentioned the Mazda5 was popular with European transplants here in the U.S., but that’s not a sufficient market.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            I don’t know, the Kia Rondo and Chevy Orlando are a similar size, and still manage to fit three people in the 2nd row. While there’s no way it was ever going to compete with the conventional minivans, it’s a bit of a shame you couldn’t have a 5 seater with respectable cargo space, and a vestigial 3rd row, like most of the other smaller 7-seaters on the market.

            Also, north of the border, the 5 seemed to sell rather well – I have two friends who drive them, and there’s plenty of others around.

          • 0 avatar
            NoID

            In Europe and Japan the second row has a middle seat that folds out of the right passenger seat, turning the 5 into a true 7 seater. If only for children and little people.

            In the USA we get a fold out console.

          • 0 avatar

            You’ve clearly never driven a Mazda5. Sporty is the last adjective I’d use to describe one. I took one on a test drive in 2008, and I was so bored driving it that I cut the test drive short. The CX-7 that I drove next might as well have been a McLaren P1 in comparison.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Bark, I’ve driven one on a cone course, back to back with a 3. They’re of the same ilk, the 5 just has to content with a higher CoG and more mass to haul around (but then, Mazda’s pretty content being a little more…leisurely in a straight line). And, to be fair, as many here are quick to point out, sporty is a slur to most buyers (I put it in quotes deliberately), conjuring up thoughts of rough rides and too much noise.

            Also, one of my 5-owning friends is an occasional performance driving instructor – he likes how it drives just fine (especially since it’s more his wife’s), so I’m inclined to trust him.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Wow, Bark, that’s pretty harsh. I highly enjoy the 2012 my family gets around in. It’s certainly not a sports car, but I think that was clear from the exterior. The 2.5 engine could use more power, but once broken in, it does the job quite well. The transmission is almost never in the wrong gear and shift quality is nice. You can “row your own” with the gear selector if you want. Oh, and there are actual gears … not a CVT. The steering feel is very good, and effort is natural. For reference, I would say the steering feel is …hmm, 10 times better than a current BMW, and 90% as good as a current Focus. It drives similar to a C-Max, but a little better handling and much more natural brake feel.

      Yes, in the twisties, it is fun. Not as much fun as a real sports car. But as much or more fun than any vehicle against which it would likely be cross-shopped.

      We cross-shopped the Mazda5 against the Focus, Fusion, Honda Fit, Mazda 3 (2012), and Nissan Versa hatchback.

      We chose the Mazda5 because it handled within a hair of the best of the other cars, rode as well as any of them (and 1 million times better than the Fit), and crushed them all in utility (sliding doors FTW). Once the sales incentives were factored in, it was only a little more expensive than the compacts. Game, set, match.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        Yes. This is why I’d lusted after one for a while, and it is why I purchased one. Even the automatic like mine is fairly responsive to manual gear selections and will allow you to bounce off the rev limiter all day if you so choose. It’s about as sporty a small people-hauler as you can find.

        I have found that it’s horrendous in the snow, I recently purchased some mildly used winter tires and rims on Craigslist to see how much they help. I guess if I go Company Man then they’ll just be another selling point…

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I recommend just fixing the windshield and driving the Mazda out from under the loan. At that point it’s 10 years old, which is still younger than the average car.

    At that point either drive it for another few years (paying yourself all the while) or sell it and do the company lease if you must have something new.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Considering how bad the crash tests are on the Mazda 5. Just ditch the car. Probably some of worst crast test videos in the 20 years. Complete death trap. Steering wheel touching the front seat back.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pbpSX2-8BIA

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Wow, that’s awful. I thought, well, small overlap is tough, but here’s the 2013 XC60:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkjnCl2A5fI

      The driver’s head never touches anything but airbag; in the Mazda it’s bouncing all over the a-pillar. Yikes.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Agreed, the 2009 and later models are complete death traps.

        • 0 avatar
          SP

          There’s no way the 2009 and later models are any less safe than the 2008 and previous models. What did happen was that a new and much tougher test (small overlap) was applied. NHTSA gave the 2008 and 2009 models 4 and 5 star ratings, and didn’t rate the 2012-2015 cars because they are very similar. IIHS didn’t come out with this tougher (and, admittedly, very relevant) test until very late in the product life cycle. IIHS never tested the pre-2012 Mazda 5, and the small overlap test wasn’t done then, so there’s no basis to compare the model years directly.

          Even in the IIHS small overlap test from the scary video you posted (which, admittedly, is relevant), the IIHS said, “Head injury risk from the instrument panel hit is low.” So you shouldn’t think it’s necessarily a fatal crash. The highest risk was to the left leg.

          IIHS said the moderate overlap results (the test the car was designed for) were good. Side impact, marginal. Roof strength, good.

          The negative points you brought up are relevant. But I think you exaggerated the negative without examining the full context.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    This reminds me that someone needs to make a Pacifica Hellcat happen.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Aside from the number of seats, I don’t see how you can compare the 5 to a Durango. It really does drive like a small car. Although this one sounds pretty worn out, with 6 kids I’d look at a killer deal on a Caravan and enjoy the Pentastar power even if it’s not quite as nimble in the twisties

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Finances aside, if you work for FCA it’s sacrilege not to drive an FCA vehicle.

    There are some killer deals out there on new 2016 and leftover 2015 Town and Countries. Fully loaded to the gills with power doors/trunk, leather, nav, sunroof, 8 dvd players, etc for not much over $20k.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    +1 on the find a T&C

    Plenty available and I would bet you will get the best lease deal on one. Or better stated, the employee lease is probably most favorable on what has plenty of stock.

    You should check and see if the 200 has a BOGO or LOGO as the case may be.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    If you want your Mazda5 to disappear and never be seen again, you live in the right metropolitan area. Just make sure your insurance policy has loan payoff coverage.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Since he works for FCA he’s probably in the right metropolitan area in southeast Michigan to easily make that happen although in Detroit probably even car thieves won’t take an import.

  • avatar

    Six kids and a dog? I’d see what kind of lease deal they’ll give you on a Ram Promaster window van.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      When I was shopping for a primary family vehicle to replace our aging minivan that was my first look. But they only sell the ProMaster window van in an extended 15-passenger model with the high roof. That definitely wouldn’t have fit in my garage. I went with a Ford full size van.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    What message does it send if you expect people to buy one the products your company makes, yet you don’t drive one yourself? Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      He had the car before starting at FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      It’s not like he got a job at Nike and refuses to give up his Reeboks. A car is a durable good, and the costs are pretty substantial to switch to a new model. I would say when he’s ready to buy a new car he should go with an FCA one, but that he shouldn’t feel obligated to buy a new car just because he got a new job.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        Hypothetically, if I worked at FCA, I still would not be especially likely to buy an FCA product. I recently purchased a new Ford Mustang. I did not make the decision lightly, and I had very good reasons for buying the Ford and not buying the Dodge. To put it simply, the Dodge didn’t meet my requirements and the Ford did meet them. Who I worked for wasn’t going to change that.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I have friends who are design engineers at FCA.

      They advise me not to buy FCA products, because they are hastily engineered and poorly made.

      They don’t drive the products they make, either, because their employer is a big dumb organization that cares more about short-term profit than building quality vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        if that’s true, have you asked them why they seem happy to their jobs so poorly?

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          I *have* actually asked that question, and their response is that FCA engineers and techs and lower-level management are generally passionate smart people trying to do a good job within an entrenched system that makes it incredibly difficult to get world-class results out the other end.

          An oversimplified example: upper management sets unrealistic cost and time targets and then expects the engineers to get good results within those unrealistic constraints. The tech guys do the best they can, but have been fundamentally set up for failure by their own employer – and they know it.

          An individual design engineer isn’t going to be able to turn around a multinational decades-long Keystone Kops operation.

          Their stories are corroborated by friends who work at suppliers to many OEMS. Their comparison of the reliability and quality requirements of the Toyota/Ford/Etc to FCA is both instructive and hilarious. FCA is invariably the most lenient with the lowest expectations, and that they will happily accept parts that almost any other automaker would reject as crap. Note: None of these guys drive FCA products, either.

          Another reason why they work there? A few years ago FCA went on a drunken hiring binge and was paying technical people wildly above market rate to come work for them, in further display of incompetence.

          Engineers tend to be mercenaries, so plenty of people were willing to chase the paper and go work for FCA. That doesn’t mean that they have any allegiance to the company, or that they want to trade in a car they like for the inferior FCA equivalent.

          • 0 avatar
            BobinPgh

            A lot of engineers I knew of, when they were in college they dated girls who were wanting to have kids and were in school to get their MRS degrees. They would marry the engineer, have a bunch of kids, (they were often active in the church too) and then be stuck as an engineer for a company they don’t like (back then in our area, it was US Steel and Westinghouse) because they can’t leave the job because they have all the kids. No wonder every engineer I knew of growing up was a rude, surly, man. I also noticed that the engineers for Westinghouse had a house full of Kenmore appliances (and if they worked for US Steel, there was a lot of Tupperware!). Looks like this engineer (if he is one) is going to be stuck in a Journey.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            That describes a lot more companies than just FCA.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            “That describes a lot more companies than just FCA.”

            True, but in the context of the auto industry FCA appears to be unique.

            I went to a very automotive focused engineering school and therefore have many friends who work for OEMS, both domestic and import.

            The only ones who advise me not to buy their products work for FCA. Everybody else speaks favorably about the vehicles they build.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You just described most of this nation.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        So I know a few people involved in one way or another in the auto industry. I’m at our annual conference this week and I actually had a conversation with one that worked for an industry supplier and used to call on Ford, GM and pre FCA Chrysler.

        Ford people smart, nice and friendly and thus easy to work with.

        Chrysler people, clueless and jerks

        GM people, clueless and worried.

        I asked him what brand of cars he buys and of course the answer was Ford.

        Another friend has a father who is or was an engineer for Chrysler, through HS he had the killer employee 6month lease deals including cars like a Crossfire because it cost his dad something like $100/month when they were just trying to get rid of them. Now this guy is a big advocate of public transportation, and an avid cyclist but the time came where he just had to have a car for work. So what did he buy a Ford Fiesta.

        Person who I don’t really know but is involved as a volunteer for the same organization as me. He was one of the head engineers on the Dart project and he admitted that the rushed it to market w/o many of the normal durability testing and put that car out the door for much less than they normally would. He stopped short of saying it was crap but it was implied. Now this was back when it was just introduced but he didn’t have high hopes for its success at the time and it obviously has played out that way.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          While all that sounds nice, Scoutdude, I will note that there are fans of all brands so that’s not all that telling. I’ve owned three Fords in my life and two of the three were money pits. I’m waiting to see how my ’97 Ranger will do because I personally knew the previous owner (he became my step-father) and he babied it to less than 20K miles prior to his death last year. Even so, I had to sink $2K into it for an hydraulic clutch rebuild and other work before I could even drive it 800 miles home. Since then she’s been good, however.

          I used to be a GM fan but as they approached their bankruptcy they completely screwed the pooch; trying to reduce costs by killing off two of their more popular brands (albeit destroying them both prior to that) and one brand that had a truly fanatical owner base. GM used to make nice cars. Now they make ’em so generic you can’t really tell ’em apart from imports as evidenced by their own commercials.

          However, I’ve now owned three different Chrysler/FCA models starting with a ’79 Dodge Aspen, an ’08 Wrangler and now a ’14 Fiat 500. I’ll admit I despise their dealerships but I truly love the cars. They’re distinctive, they’re fun and with the exception of the Wrangler (which I’ll blame on Daimler) they’ve been reliable. Daimler very obviously cheaped out on parts, using pot metal for the handbrake ratchet for example and doing a poor job on the front suspension design, which causes excessive wear to tie rods and ball joints. Still, the Jeep has never left me stranded despite that. That’s more than I can say for any of my Fords and no few of my GMs.

          Yes, even the Ranger would have left me stranded as I had booked a one-way flight to my step-father’s funeral, knowing I would be trying to drive the truck home. Had the clutch problem not made itself felt about two days before the return drive, I would have been stranded hundreds of miles from home and needed to book a flight for my wife to get back to work while I waited for the repair.

          I accept that my experience is anecdotal, but so are the ones you’ve described. I accept that Ford is the most popular brand of truck, but they tend to age poorly compared to both GM and RAM where I live.

          However, if any of those companies wanted to reward me for working for them by offering extreme discounts to drive their cars for a year or two each, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? Driving a new car every year or two at a fraction of retail means you can spend the money you save on things you really need for the house and family.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @Vulpine – “I’ve owned three Fords in my life and two of the three were money pits. I’m waiting to see how my ’97 Ranger will do …”

            You’ll probably have better luck with a Ford built in the Mulally era: 2006 – 2014. From what I’ve read, he changed the culture and encouraged people to speak up about problems instead of burying their heads in the sand.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “You’ll probably have better luck with a Ford built in the Mulally era: 2006 – 2014.”

            Except that people I know who have bought the Mustang, Focus and others (but not necessarily their trucks) have all complained of issues within the first year of ownership… every one of them. And I still hear of people complaining about the engines in the trucks which to some extent I have to blame on too small an engine dragging around too much vehicle at over 5000# on average with some barely avoiding 6000#. And now we’re looking at potentially new issues with the 2015/2016 aluminum F-150s. (Potential because there is an easy way to mitigate the problem of a too-soft load bed.)

            Don’t get me wrong, Ford does make popular equipment that in some cases looks decent; their sedans don’t qualify for the ‘good looks’ department(just scaled down versions of the Fusion) and neither do their trucks (bloated noses giving more to the ‘I’m a big rig” look than real efficiency and usability.) GM and Toyota aren’t much better while the Ram at least looks somewhat streamline with a lower hood line but even that not by much. To me the Flex is the best looking of the bunch, though admittedly not all that aerodynamic.

            FCA seems to offer what no other brand in the US does; real individuality with every model; you’re not confronted with every model looking like every other model no matter if you look at Fiat (yes, the different 500 models do look somewhat alike but they’re still different from every other brand’s) through Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler. Even the Alfa Romeo has enough difference between the 4C and 8C to tell them apart. Even Maserati offers enough variance to recognize most models from their siblings. Odds are high that my next new-vehicle purchase will be an FCA product, though one not yet on the market here in the US.

          • 0 avatar

            Never had any complaints with my Mustang, Flex, or Fiesta.

            FCA failing to create any sort of brand image with their cars is a minus, not a plus.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            The Daimler fiasco was the worst thing for Chrysler Motors.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            BLAH BLAH FORD AWESOME BLAH BLAH UBER-RELIABLE BLAH

            Ford is bringing up the back 25% of the pack, consistently, according to CR’s annual reliability index.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @Vulpine, as is common with you, you completely missed the point which is that people with inside knowledge of FCA don’t trust FCA vehicles and won’t purchase them because of that inside knowledge.

            Heck even Mr Sweater knows that many of their vehicles are crap and publicly admits it.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            No, Scoutdude, I didn’t miss the point. However, I choose to ignore it because those reports are third-hand and anecdotal at best. For all you know they were all disgruntled employees whose own ideas were shot down for one reason or another. My own experience with their cars indicate that they are better than popular consensus claims (which considering how many non-owners make up that consensus) and even CR’s reporting, while listing them as “the worst of the worst” also qualifies that with the statement that the vast majority of complaints are NOT mechanical.

            My personal complaint with them is their dealerships, who apparently go out of their way to make owning a Fiat (vs Jeep, Chrysler or just about any other FCA brand) as difficult and expensive as possible even when the vehicle is under factory warranty (or is it because?).

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            No I know these people personally and they are not disgruntled employees. They have inside information and earn or earned their living from Chrysler but know just how messed up the company is and won’t trust the vehicles they build because of it.

            This is not anecdotal evidence on the reliability of the product like your slave cyl replacement. This is people who work for the company that don’t trust the vehicles they sell and that includes the head of the company.

            There is something seriously wrong when the head of the company says their products are the worst, in this case the Dart and 200.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The Dart gets a bye from me because the requirement for Fiat’s purchase of TCG was clearly intended to make them fail. The fact that Fiat succeeded despite the obviously-slanted requirements shows they CAN do the job, though clearly it was also obvious the result would NOT be a popular car because of it. Interestingly, people who own later Dart models actually seem to like them.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I’ve read there was a brief period in Microsoft’s history where they subsidized the Zune player for their employees and that employees were not allowed to bring their Apple iPods to work. That didn’t help sales of the Zune nor did it help with employee morale.

      Agree with @S2k Chris though… when it’s time for a new car, the FCA deal sounds like a good one.

      • 0 avatar
        360joules

        That reminds me of the interview of Bill Gates’ wife when she said she wanted an iPhone but had to use a Windows phone instead. But I still use an old Creative MP3 player because it has an FM tuner and a good random play algorithm to play my oldies.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Carter Pewtershmitt: “Hey, Bill [Gates], can you come over here and help me figure out my Zune? Oh, wait, I have an iPod, like the REST of the world!”

        Lol. I am not an Apple guy, but that’s just too true and too funny.

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    I had a 2006 Mazda5 first year of production and I have no idea how you fit 6 kids and your spouse!? There is barely seating for 6 with close to zero cargo room with the third row in use. I liked my Mazda5 for the one reason you mentioned, cornering ability. I did not get 30 mpg unless on the highway and the suspension, noisy interior, and rusting wheel arches (after two years) scared me away to another brand. I would get into something more comfy, quiet and spacious for your own sanity.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Six kids, and shall I assume a spouse?

    Get a Promaster City and just pile all the rugrats in the back. I bet you could fit 18 kids in the back of one of those!

    Safety be damned.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Howz about putting a ProMaster City minivan on das radar? Would offer more utility for washing-up after 6 kids & pooch.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil200

    they must be little kids.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    I like the idea of the company-car lease here. It’ll get you an RU for a nice low monthly bill. The PHEV version should be pretty hot to drive too.

    Another good reason to lease? With regards to CAFE 2025, they are in the same position as the Polish Army in early 1939. FCA effectively bet the company on a Republican president and Congress rolling back CAFE 2025 and chose to keep their high-feature/high value position in the market.

    That space vanishes soon. CAFE 2025 compliance costs around $4000 per car if engineered in from day 1, $8000 if botched in during a too-conservative redesign (50% PHEV at $15,000/car cost delta for E-segment). Most Americans’ income won’t rise to cover a 20% monthly payment increase. Either loan terms must get longer, along with the warranty, or residuals must rise to keep lease payments down. In neither case is the manufacturer of the last-place cars for reliability and durability going to do anything but take it right in the shorts. They have gambled and lost; and their pants will soon show it on the outside.

    The good news for you is that FCA employees are known for being able to do a decent job under absolutely ridiculous constraints. I got a substantial pay increase from my new employer after being laid-off and most of my friends there are in the same boat.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Another good reason to lease? With regards to CAFE 2025, they are in the same position as the Polish Army in early 1939. FCA effectively bet the company on a Republican president and Congress rolling back CAFE 2025 and chose to keep their high-feature/high value position in the market.”

      It may seem counter-intuitive, but the focus on SUVs and trucks is due to CAFE. It’s easier to make them hit their targets than with small cars, and easier to amortize the cost.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Good point, except that FCA lags te US market in developing competitive SUV/crossovers.

        • 0 avatar
          PenguinBoy

          Seriously??

          SUVs and crossovers seem to be one area where FCA has no trouble competing in the US market, as evidenced by the explosive growth of Jeep.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Really? The Jeeps seem to be doing remarkably well across all platforms and regions while even the new Journey appears off to a good start. Looks to me like they’re doing pretty good with the exception of the Fiat 500L and X.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        Yes, it’s easier to make a CUV CAFE-compliant than a car.

        You still have to do it.

        They aren’t equipped to do so and are barely trying. They have a 500-kg gap on some CUV/SUV lines between where they are and where they need to be and are still thinking they can get away without a complete architecture change.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The bar slides up over time. Most models are where they need to be for the time being, with the tech to get them to the next level under development for the future.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    When I was an undergrad, I had a summer management internship with GM. My car was the only one in the management parking lot that wasn’t a GM vehicle. To make matters worse, my car was Japanese.

    It was politely suggested to me that I would need to drive a GM car if I came on full-time, while I was assured that there were competitive employee lease and financing programs that would help me to do this.

    My experience with GM, as modest as it was, fortunately dissuaded me from turning it into a career job. (For what it’s worth, I held my tongue about my views of the cars and the company, and they invited me to talk to them about coming back after I had graduated. Most of them were nice people.)

    In any case, I would get the company car because you don’t have much choice. You will be judged negatively if you don’t, regardless of the quality of your work. You will be perceived as not being a team player if you drive a car from the competition, so the cost of not playing along will be higher than just a car payment.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Sounds like a loaded up Grand Caravan is in your future. Hard to find more vehicle for the money, plus they’re better in the twisties than they appear.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      How about buying a used FCA vehicle? Anything will do, as long as it can be parked in the “team-player” lot. Craigslist to the rescue.
      You might even be able to find a place to park it a few miles from the workplace. Drive your usual vehicle to the jalopy, park it, and drive the FCA vehicle to the company parking lot.
      Or let your wife drive the Mazda5, and you drive the paid-for-in-cash company car. No new debt, and maybe a promotion in the future.

  • avatar
    MatadorX

    I would *SO* roll an AMC right in the company brand lot. Or better yet try to find an Eagle Premier sedan if one still exists.

    The way Chrysler still fiercely protects their AMC trademark is crazy, they basically shut everyone down making repop engine decals for the 60s/70s cars several years ago, we are talking people who made barely into the hundreds doing so. If they want to take ownership of the company they bought and gutted almost 30 years ago, they should consider them 100% eligible for primo company parking.

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