By on August 3, 2017

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport - Image: FCAThere are a large number of major new vehicle introductions happening in the United States in 2017.

The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry is arriving at dealers as we speak. The all-new 2018 Honda Accord is weeks away. Ford’s 2018 F-150 revamp is a thorough mid-cycle update. The Kia Niro, a unique Toyota Prius alternative, arrived early this year. Mazda brought a new bodystyle to the MX-5 Miata in RF trim. The Subaru Crosstrek, quickly becoming a mainstream compact car option, is new for 2018. The Alfa Romeo rebirth continues with the Giulia, still ramping up, and the arriving-now Stelvio. The all-electric Chevrolet Bolt arrived in late December, as did a new version of America’s historic best-selling utility vehicle, the Honda CR-V. The list goes on: Tesla Model 3, Jeep Compass, Ford Expedition, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus LC, Toyota C-HR, Volkswagen Atlas, Volvo XC60.

And, thank our lucky stars, we can’t forget the early summer arrival of Honda’s fifth-generation Odyssey.

New engines, new transmissions, new wiring harnesses, new technology, new roof-folding mechanisms, new Italians. Is it just too much… new everything? Would you buy any of these vehicles in 2017, or is it best to wait until the second model year?

Perhaps the rewards of early adoption cancel out the risks. For example, the 2018 Honda Odyssey’s 10-speed automatic transmission might be of concern — it’s the first-ever implementation of a 10-speed with front-wheel drive. But the same Odyssey is a leap forward from the 2017 model that’s sitting on the dealer lot without the side-to-side sliding second row, Cabin Watch, and intuitive infotainment.2018 Toyota Camry XSE - Image: ToyotaOr what about the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s Italian flair? Although the consistency with which automotive journalists have suffered breakdowns causes a moment’s pause, you’ll be the first in town with a red Quadrifoglio.

Rather than putting faith in the famously reliable outgoing Camry, the 8 percent of July buyers who opted for a 2018 Camry left their Toyota dealers with a more powerful and more efficient car. The Mazda MX-5 RF’s retractable roof panel certainly carries with it a level of complexity not seen in regular softtop Miatas, but it’s a visually stunning car with greater all-weather appeal.

So, is first-off worst-off? Or in 2017, is it time for all of us to get over the fear of the first model year?

[Image: FCA]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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126 Comments on “QOTD: Would You Buy a Car in Its First Model Year?...”


  • avatar

    I think FYF (First Year Fear) is quite well-founded. Check through TSB listings, historical recalls, or visit somewhere like Consumer Guide Automotive which tracks common issues per model year. All those places reflect more problems the first couple years of new models, until the manufacturer works out the bugs.

    This applies more to cars from certain countries or manufacturers, of course, but I think it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid the first model year if you’re aiming at hassle-free long-term ownership.

    Years 2+ for me.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      It makes me think of the manufacturing plants of origin for GM vehicles that won “Initial Quality Awards.” Generally those vehicles were being built in plants with high numbers of years of experience and had been building the same vehicle for a long time.

      I recall Jack B. and his post in praise of the W-body. People at first bought them because they were cheap, then they bought them because they were generally reliable. Guys on the line could trouble shoot issues in their sleep because of how long they had been doing the job.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      Yep at least Year 3 for me. Let early adopter deal with rattles/weird noises, transmission issues, tsb, etc… By then some of the solutions should have already been implemented, improved and fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      As a rule, it is best not to touch 1st year vehicles. That has been anecdotally correct all of my life and even my father would say the same thing. Recently JD Power released a study saying the same thing.

      I do believe that you tend to have less issues as one approaches the end of a model run.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      More so for the run out models.

      You know that little “OK” stickers you get all over the car ? Well the parts that fail are sent to the workshop and “fixed”. Then when they run the model out, all those parts are brought out from storage and fitted to new vehicles to clear the stores for the new model.

  • avatar
    AndyYS

    Yes, I would. I bought a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, the first model year, and hated it. Traded it in for a 2010 and have been happy ever since. But I intend to buy the 2018 Sonata, another car in its first model year, because it has the features I want. I’m hoping I’m not making another mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The 2018 Sonata is a heavy facelift of the 2015-2017 model, mostly revolving around sheetmetal and options-list changes, as well as some fine tuning. The top-tier 2.0-liter turbo gets a new 8-speed, but other than that, there are no major changes. So I’d buy it in confidence.

      Also, did you hate your 2011 because it gave you issues, or because you just didn’t like the setup of the car? Because I think Tim is talking more about cars that might be unreliable in the first model year, before all of the kinks are worked out.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    While technically not all new, Mustang has a new transmission and new suspension and exhaust and interior instruments and revised engines.

    Yes to Mustang and Camry for first year purchase, everything else let it soak.

  • avatar
    vwgolf420

    I took the ultimate risk. I bought a 2010 VW Golf, which was year one of MKVI. I’ve had Toyota like reliability outta this sucker. I just replaced the front brakes, which I’ve gotten over twice the life out of as my Mazdas, Toyota, Hyundai, and other Volkswagens.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      I bought a first year MKVII Golf in 2015.

      Only issue I have had was an interior fan for the air recirculation system rubbing and making an annoying noise when it was spooling up or down at turn on or turn off (the system itself was working fine). Got the fan replaced (which is a whole other long saga that as nothing to do with being first year car or technically make) and been trouble free since.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      I just sold my 2003 Camry owned since new and I spent maybe $2500 total on maintenance and repairs over 14 years and it would have been a lot less had I not driven it in the rust belt over salty broken roads for a decade of that lol.

      Got $3000 from carmax for it at the end so my total cost of ownership was insanely low, insurance probably doubled the cost.

      I really have to wonder how you broke a Toyota sooner than a golf

  • avatar
    Boff

    I would. I have. 2004 RX-8 (used, mind you). 2012 328i. 2015 Mustang. 2016 BMW X1. Never really bit me in the butt…cars are so much better engineered and assembled in this day and age that, even if 1st year cars have more problems, the number of problems isn’t that great. What you do miss out on are updates that didn’t quite make the launch (e.g. Sync3 on the Stang) or small rolling improvements that are made as the initial reports come in from the field. But again, many of the latter are covered by recalls anyway. Where you miss out big time is getting a good deal once the initial burst of demand subsides…

    • 0 avatar
      HEOJ

      I’m in the same boat my last three cars while used were all the first model year of a new generation, 2000 Taurus(well that was mostly styling nothing major mechanically), 2008 Malibu and 2010 Legacy. Only thing missed out on was folding mirrors on my Legacy, no big loss. I’d do it again.

    • 0 avatar

      I also had a 2004 RX-8 (leased, new), a 2007 Silverado (leased), an FR-S (literally the first one to hit local dealers), and now have an ’08 128i (bought used). All were 1st model year cars. The FR-S was the only one to really give me any problems, but a big part of that was because it was being serviced by Toyota technicians who were not properly trained on Subarus, communication was poor, and I put 25k miles on the car in 8 months – so I was having problems earlier than some others. Most things were pretty minor, except when the dealer bricked the ECU trying to update it.

      There are a lot of documented problems with the N54 engines in BMW’s and I had a 335i, but I had a 2010, which was the later one. I never had any of the HPFP or turbo issues with mine, and I had a tune on it. I really miss that car.

      Most design and manufacturing changes cannot be implemented by the manufacturer on a whim. They must follow product update cycles, which sometimes happen once or twice in the middle of a model year, but model year changes are when the most significant changes will occur. So, if you’re currently afraid to buy a new model year car, you may be well-served to wait till the 2nd model year. The down side is that you don’t get to be the first on the block to have the newest toy. Or, just lease in the first model year and if you still love it at the end of the lease, buy it at that time (if the deals are good).

  • avatar
    ajla

    On “all-new” models I like to wait until a mid-cycle refresh is announced.

    Then I can decide if the improvements are worthwhile or if I would rather go with the older version. As an added bonus, the discounts are usually higher on the unupdated one around this time.

    If I prefer the refreshed version, I’d wait for the second year.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      In my experience auto manufacturers use the mid-cycle refresh to cheapen the product. Desirable attributes become unavailable or optional at extra cost.

      I’m doubt there will ever be a good time to buy an Alfa Romeo.

  • avatar

    It’s all such a hit or miss. If 1% of the parts on a car are defective it is still a lot. If that part is a bit of trim, so what ? – but if it is a sensor or major engine component…..

    BMW deals with this by alternating engines and body styles…they rarely launch both at the same time.

    I got bit on my Acura transmission….and on wheel bearings for the GM car. I’m guessing most problems actually occur when the supplier, either by greed or at the direct order of the OEM, goes a bit cheap on the part in question….and that’s more of an issue than first year production.

    Having said that, I would try, if possible, to buy any car after the mid model run facelift, because like those Recommended Updates to your computer, I’m sure things are being fixed they don’t mention in the notes.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      For the E90 generation, the 325i and 330i lasted all of one model year until the (in my opinion) much more desirable 328i and 335i bowed. That would have frosted me had I bought a 1st year E90…

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        I think the change from 2006 325 to 2007 325 was just the badge on the back. The engine was the same 3.0 I6. For me the 330 though was the sweet spot, more power than a 325/328 with much greater reliability than the twin turbo 335. The first year of the 335s was a disaster by the way reliability wise, problems with the high pressure fuel pump. Don’t see many high mileage 335s.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Same engine, tuned for more power. Which is the same for the 330i as well.

          Plenty of high-mileage 335i’s out there. Just not on the original couple generations of fuel pump. Friend of mine bought an ’07 and had the pump blow up on day 3 of his European Delivery tour. In the mountains of Italy. Fun.

          I won’t buy the first year of a new car or a new engine. And I really much prefer buying the LAST model year of a car. My 2011 328i has been fantastic – last full year of the e91, and they changed not a thing for the 1/2 year of 2012s but the price.

  • avatar
    arach

    i will ONLY buy first model year cars.

    They maximize the value proposition. Vehicles tend to maintain value (both social value and financial value) by generation. therefore the best values tend to be first model years.

    I bought a 2010 Camaro SS in 2009, a 2015 Hyundai Sonata, a 2008 F350 Lariat, 2001 ferrari 360 spider, 2008 Cadillac CTS… SLK, BMW 330i, Corvette, Dodge Ram x 2, RF600R, Suzuki Vstrom 1000, maserati quattroporte, F150, Tahoe Q3, mazda 3, 3000GT.. I could probably go on a lot longer.

    All of those were first model years, and I have zero regrets, which is why I keep doing it. the TSB and “problems” are pretty darn rare in the scheme of things… a lot less than the social value of having current model vehicles and the financial value retained by the generational tier…

    Anything serious is a recall and gets fixed. Most the stuff is minor (some people complain the 08 superduties didn’t get SYNC).

    But waiting more than 1 year into a vehicle’s cycle means your essentially paying full price for outdated technology. Could you imagine buying a 4 year old model phone even if its new? its laughable in that context.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Note though I RARELY buy new, and normally try to get a car 1-2 years after the new model came out CPO or comparable. For example, when I bought my Hyundai Sonata CPO, it had 7000 miles on it, was the “new” body style, but I bought the first year of the new body style for 46% off what it would cost for a new one. Almost 50% off? yes please.

      I did buy the 2010 camaro new in 2009 because it was such a big product release the value proposition would be dead by 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Tell me more about this “social value”.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That’s when you buy a car that everyone else wants because it gives you a feeling of superiority.

        Its quite simple, if you judge your life based on what other people think. Fortunately, most of us have matured beyond such silliness. We buy a car that we like, not something to give us an undeserved sense of higher self-worth.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          Amen

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          Social capital is like any other asset. Just because you recognize what it is and leverage it doesn’t mean you judge your life based on what other people think.

          It would be the branding value achieved from virtually anything- the way they stand up for things they do or do not believe in, a job title, the way someone dresses, the way they speak, the people they know, the cars they drive, or the followers they have.

          I don’t care what other people think in general, but social value is equity, like other types of equity, and I like to leverage equity.

          I drive a hyundai sonata as a DD… OH YEA I FEEL SOOOO SUPERIOR TO ALL THOSE PLEBEIANS IN THEIR BMWS….

          Its not fair to assume just because someone recognizes that social value “exists” that they “judge their life by what other people think”.

          I agree that people who judge their own self-worth on other people’s opinions of themselves are destined to a poor future, but in the same statement your acknowledging that social capital does actually exist. Would you tell your kid to wear a suit to a job interview? Why if image doesn’t matter? Does your daughter ask for name brand clothes? Why if image doesn’t matter? It does matter, and whether that’s good or not is a whole different argument.

          I personally would love to live my life in relative quiet in the middle of nowhere, with jeans and a tshirt and a 1988 fiero (which is one of my favorite cars ever) but unfortunately I have not been able to find a way to live the lifestyle I like without a job or any income streams.

          I have found that leveraging social capital can be incredibly beneficial both financially and in your own life.. but then again I’ve never been particularly good at a traditional job. I’m sure if I loved to work 60 hours a week as an engineer I’d make a fine living.

          For me however, the only way I could have ever become financially free was to leverage every asset I could get my hands on, and that includes social capital. Its frankly amazing (or disturbing) to me how much social capital can be leveraged.

          I buy first model cars, and I rarely lose money on them. typically I’m able to drive a car for about 2 years and resell it for about the same price I pay by gaming the model tiers.

          In addition to that I can extract social capital derived from the vehicles I own. I had a friend who was a lawyer… and a good one at that. He had a 12 year old dented up hyundai. I don’t think less of him for that by any means, but do you think that would command top dollar from a lawyer?

          Of course I always say I wouldn’t go to a doctor that drives a BMW… but I’m not the normal person. The fact of the matter is people draw conclusions about you based on what you drive and how you dress and whatnot. If you take a client out to lunch in a new model quattroporte wearing a suit, and ask for a 1.5 million dollar investment, I’ll tell you with confidence you have a much better chance of closing it- all other components equal- than if you show up in a 15 year old tercel with shorts and a tshirt on.

          You may not LIKE that this is how the world works, but unfortunately it often is, and if I can make an extra $250k because I spent an extra $2500 on a car, I’ll do it.

          You might not. Thats fine, we all value different things. I’m not superior to anyone else, but I will call a cow a cow.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            You aren’t wrong, but you probably could have phrased your initial comment better. “Social value” is real, but it is also situational. Newest, flashiest, and most expensive isn’t always best.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “We buy a car that we like, not something to give us an undeserved sense of higher self-worth.”

          Most will say that out loud but the Psychology and Sociology behind it says different.

          We are social beings and filter all that we do through our emotions which to a great degree are affected by local cultural practices.

          Case in point, BAFO’s inability to comprehend “our” love of big V8 gas powered vehicles, especially pickups.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Lou_BC: I am not BAfO and I tend to agree with him more often than not, though I admit his debating style has suffered over the years.

            I buy what I like because they meet my wants and desires; not because they conform to any societal standard. If my choices mean anything, they mean, “I am different from the ordinary. I like fun but I want my fun to be functional as well.” To me, full-sized pickup trucks are not fun; they’re bloated masses of steel (and sometimes aluminum) that are hard to maneuver and are massively UNDER-utilized by most owners. The mid-sized pickups are better, but they’re still bigger than I want or need and are still over-capable for their intended purpose. That’s just my feelings about the trucks.

            I have similar feelings about most cars. For one, I simply don’t need four full doors in a low-riding, laid-back street cruiser. Two doors is enough, especially if I can fold the back seats and access the load floor through a high-lift hatch instead of a silly square-backed gate that some like to call a hatch. If you’re going for a wagon, then make it a damned long-tail wagon and quit it with these egg-shaped bubbles that can be either-or but not both a people hauler and a load-carrier. I don’t fault the high seating of a crossover but the bobbed nose and tail means they almost all look alike and carry nothing of style with them. It used to be that you could easily tell brand from brand and model from model; with Ford and GM, that tends to be nearly impossible today… especially from a profile view.

            I can tell you now that nearly every car I’ve ever owned was distinctive for its style, even when I hated them. A Ford Torino was very distinctive, though the ’70 Fairlane was obviously a platform sister. Funny thing though, even though the Mustang rode the same platform, you still knew it was a Mustang, not a Fairlane/Torino. The Olds Cutlass for ’75 was easily distinguishable from the LeMans, Monte Carlo, et al from GM as they each were from the others. Even from profile view. That changed as we moved into the ’80s though, as they shared far more body and the grill and headlamps became the differentiators. Still, the ’80s Toronado didn’t exactly look like its Buick or Cadillac counterparts, did it? Even the Camaro was distinctive from the Firebird (though I really wanted that purple Firebird. Dealership refused to come down on the price tag though.) Saturn Vue? Almost nothing like it in ’02, its first year of release. JKU Wrangler? custom-ordered at the cusp of second-year. Fiat 500 Pop and now the Jeep Renegade–all distinctively different and speaking more of fun than “just transportation” or Status. They’ve all basically said, “I don’t care what you think of me; I’m me.”

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        So called “social value” can be annoying as well as satisfying. I bought a first year Corvette C7 (2014) and when you have a new, visually stimulating car that is not all that common, you have a recipe for being stared at and you have to be prepared for folks to come up to you to “talk cars”. Especially a convertible. Initially kind of fun, it gets old fast. Fortunately the C7 is old news now and more commonly seen.

        As for first year purchases, the C7 was a first year car, but I waited until the very end of the production run. I figured that by then most issues would be worked out. I guess I was right as the only repair in three years was squeaking front brakes. I did buy a factory extended warranty just in case, something I normally would not do. But with this level of complexity, mostly new components, and a first year GM, I figured it was cheap insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      I tend to lean this way as well, especially in the current environment where the infotainment systems are making huge leaps whenever a model is new or refreshed.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        thats the reason I picked up the 2015 hyundai… Android Auto is a huge leap forward, as well as some of the (often unpopular here) tech such as AEB and Radar Cruise. There typically isn’t nearly the level of update between years as when the new models came out.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “outdated technology.”

      “Could you imagine buying a 4 year old model phone even if its new?”

      Haha. You are on TTAC. This is the dream for some of us.

      If I could buy a brand new Caprice 350TBI or Park Avenue Ultra or LS400 or ’03 M45, I’d be all over that.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’d even be happy with a final year of production box Caprice sedan with 305 TBI.

        It would likely be the best long distance cruiser I’d ever own.

        • 0 avatar
          packardhell1

          “I’d even be happy with a final year of production box Caprice sedan with 305 TBI. It would likely be the best long distance cruiser I’d ever own.”

          I didn’t have the box – I had the first year bubble. The first car I bought on my own was a 1991 Chevy Caprice with the 305. It had the (I guess you’d call them) side skirts. It had limited slip and leather seats. It was white with really dark window tint. I added dual exhaust with glasspacks and chrome tips out the back.

          I’m actually thinking about a late model box or bubble as my next vehicle. It will fit 3 car seats in the back and had a large trunk. I saw 16-17 mpg in the city around 22-23 on the highway.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @packard, a fairly young family that attends the church I do has a near end of production Fleetwood with the LT1 – very immaculate.

            Unfortunately with baby #4 having just arrived I don’t see how they’re going to be able to continue with that car. The oldest child still being car seat age.

          • 0 avatar
            CaddyDaddy

            B Body Church has started and the choir is singing. Praise be!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ahem, we are the Church of 3800. Though we do consider the B-body to be an apostle of our Lord.

        • 0 avatar
          packardhell1

          “Unfortunately with baby #4 having just arrived I don’t see how they’re going to be able to continue with that car. The oldest child still being car seat age.”

          That is awesome!!! Go forth and multiply…. Time for a Lumina APV or Pontiac Trans-Sport! No, not really. I don’t think those were very safe. If they are looking for good value, used school buses are fantastically cheap. Diesel, dual A/C, pretty safe, and plenty of room to change diapers away from rain/snow/sleet (get one with a wheelchair lift and install a changing table in the back).

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Fair enough… cue the brown wagons.

        haha. Your right. I’m the odd man out liking all my crazy gadgets like Power Windows and AC!

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        I would love a 2006 Q45 new right now.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      On the flip side, I derive little social value from what I drive. Lately I’ve been buying well equipped used vehicles. For me, I like the last year or near it. The technical kinks are worked out, final years usually have more equipment and “special editions” to appeal to those who buy them new. Also, the price spread between a base model and a nice model seems a lot less than when they were new. So I’ve had good luck holding out for a decently equipped model vs. buying the plentiful mid and bottom range trims.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And I’ve had absolutely no luck with used cars of any stripe in over 40 years of driving.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Certainly a valid strategy.

        I like the well equipped used vehicles. When I talk about buying first model years, I often buy them well into their cycle, so for example I bought a 2008 Cadillac CTS in 2012. It was the “current car” and no one would even know its a 5 year old car since the 2012 cts was near identical, but It was fully loaded for only a slight premium over a base. (it was also a stick- gotta love my sticks).

        I traded in my 2005 BMW (first year of E90- and by traded in I mean sold it on craigslist) that I had bought in 2009 (again- bought during current model, fully loaded). I lost maybe $1000 over those 3 years of ownership, and the whole time I was driving a “current model” car (I know there was a facelift).

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I already have and was very pleased with my choice. Of course, other people bought different versions that had issues, but the one I bought had no issues in the 12 years that I owned it.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    For me it really depends on the car and manufacturer.

    New C7 Vette when it came out? No Problem. (if I had the money…)
    New domestic full size pick up? Absolutely.
    New Camry? Sure.

    New Fiat/Alpha? No thank you. But to be fair, I love the look of the new Alpha but based on what I have read I don’t think I would ever be able to pull the trigger.

    So. I will go with, sure I would buy a new model run and have in fact I have once and never really realized I had done it until just now. Weird.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I would agree with 87 morgan. After saying I only buy first model cars, I wouldn’t buy a first model new alpha. I might wait 5 years and then if there’s no problems buy a first model year alpha, but the odds of it being not a disaster are lower than the odds of it being a disaster. On the contrary, there’s too much riding on a new F250 release to worry about it too much.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Yes. Once.

    We bought a first year 1981 Plymouth Reliant base model.

    Serious rust issues along the drip rails and an actual rusted hole(!) appeared on the upper left corner of the rear window. Also some missing screws on the front fenders, but after our Plymouth dealer fixed all the rust and the screws, it was a pretty good car the 7 years we had it and a blast to drive!

    Would I buy a first model year car again? Don’t know. I’m retired now.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Zackman…Your 2012 LTZ is IMHO one of the best cars to roll of the modern version of that assembly line.

      We rolled the last “B” Caprice off the line in late 84..We had run them steady since late 76. I can tell you from first hand experience , the Chev B was a well put together car.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Mikey, I agree with you. My Impala not only looks great but is a fabulous cruiser, which I do a lot of now – finally!

        The car sure seems as solid as rock, much better than my old 2004, and does everything else better except for fuel economy, but I don’t mind feeding the horses, as I only fill up every 10 days.

        I love the car and hope it’ll make it to Curbside Classic status.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My 2015 Golf SportWagen didn’t have any issues (well, except for the glaring one with the TDI emissions, but that was engineered in).

    However, I bought a pre-owned 2011 X5, which was the first year of the facelift for the E70, and included all new engines and running gear, along with many other changes. It was incredibly unreliable, but I think the car itself was cursed, because my experience was atypical of E70 ownership so early on.

  • avatar
    KevinB

    In October 2003 I bought a 2004 Malibu, mainly because it was the only car I could afford at the time with side curtain airbags. It was not the worst car I ever owned as there was absolutely nothing new with the drive train. However, the brand new electric power steering was a nightmare. It was recalled more times than I can count, the steering shaft was replaced twice, and always felt like I was driving a car with worn ball joints and bushings.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    I bought a 2004 Nissan Quest with less than 2000 miles on it in 2004. They were already having issues with it in 2004 and offered a free extended warranty. All of the inside and outside trim was crap, the dome lights all started falling out early, the digital fuel gauge and odometer probably lasted 6 years–the overhead console popped out this year, and the clear coat is gone. BUT, it was relatively inexpensive, the engine has been solid, the transmission still shifts, and the air still blows ice cold without ever adding a drop of freon.
    I consider myself lucky, I would probably try to avoid first year makes in the future.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    For me it depends on the type of vehicle. My experience with my ’88 Grand Prix bought new (first of the W-bodies) was disturbing (paint/transmission mostly) but I noticed that from ’90-on they seemed much improved based on Grand Prix’s owned by a few of my friends. My ’99 SuperDuty (from the 2nd build series July-November ’98) has been bullet proof. Ford jumped through some big hoops to ensure the roll out of a completely different model for ’99 would be correct by addressing turbo issues, air box issues, and others from the first April-June ’98 build series quickly to remedy problems. I noted when snooping around under them that later models from ’00-’03 (I was junkyard searching for a replacement bed) of SuperDuty’s seemed to have been “bean-counted” somewhat when I viewed the differences in materials/manufacturing process from my ’99.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “I noted when snooping around under them that later models from ’00-’03 (I was junkyard searching for a replacement bed) of SuperDuty’s seemed to have been “bean-counted” somewhat when I viewed the differences in materials/manufacturing process from my ’99.”

      That’s the flip side of buying late in a model run: content and quality materials start disappearing versus the launch builds.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Depends on the car brand. For the most part these days, yes. So much in a new car is shared technology and pretty well tested even on first model year cars.

    Now first models on what is basically a brand reintroduction…ya I might hold off a bit.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    “But the same Odyssey is a leap forward from the 2017 model that’s sitting on the dealer lot without the side-to-side sliding second row, Cabin Watch, and intuitive infotainment.”

    That was my wife in 2010 when looking at Sienna. The intention was to get the last model 2010, which was heavily discounted. But looking at them side by side at the dealership, the 2010 looked really old and out of date compared to the re-designed 2011. Ended up with the 2011 and had zero problems.

    And there’s a difference between a redesigned “new” model vs a brand new model. I’d be very hesitant to buy a brand new model 1st year. But a redesign, not really.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I think it is less of an issue this day and age.

    The idea of not buying a new platform and waiting for the next Series is from a bygone era. Computers and the use of existing components make it less of an issue. Look at Toyota, a reknown manufacturer of using decade old components in new platforms.

    I bought my BT50 as a new platform and I can’t really fault it. What is odd is the Getrag from the Mustang was used and it had a known problem. My question would of been, why did a far from perfect component be used?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    We’ll see.

    Much of the experience would depend on the Customer Service regarding the Warranty regardless of what the vehicle is.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I have done so twice new, and a couple other times used, though with higher miles. I can’t say my reliability experience with any of them has been exceptional, one way or another. Ive had two major component failures under warranty with new cars, one was on a car in its first year on sale, the other was on a car in its generation’s eighth year. I just don’t think the “bugs being worked out” hypothesis holds as much water as it used to with the way complex machines are designed and engineered today.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I would take the plunge on a Camry or Accord in the first year, but I don’t think I’d do it with an Alfa, even on a lease, or with the Germans.

    Had good luck with an ’04 Acura TL and an ’11 Odyssey. Both kept over 90K miles with no major issues, though the TL chewed through brakes and needed control arms. A later build date wouldn’t have changed that.

    The higher volume the model the quicker the kinks get worked out as far as I can tell.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Did so with my 2013 Accord, but with the all-new platform, turdo motors, and new transmission, even if I was ready to grab the first 2018 Accord off the truck, because of the tendency for Honda teething problems of late (Civic infotainment, new Odyssey glitches), I’d still wait a year.

      (As I’ve stated, the 2014 Accords got a couple usability tweaks to the infotainment, which is enough of an incentive to hold out.)

  • avatar
    rpol35

    In the case of an Alfa, I wouldn’t buy the last year much less the first! In practice however, I suppose it depends on the manufacturer, some are more adept than others at getting it right out of the gate.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I wouldn’t be too confident in buying one of the early Tesla model 3s, and nothing Italian. Most others are less worrisome – its just too competitive today to launch a half-baked vehicle unless you are a niche player like Tesla or Alfa. The bigger issue is a hot new model is not going to get you any significant discount, so for that reason I think it usually pays to wait until the fervor wears off.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    I have purchased vehicles at the end of the first model year, as by that time I knew what to expect. One was a 2003 4Runner, which I still own. The other a 2009 Ram 1500 which I lost in a divorce. Both were/are problem free.

  • avatar

    Yep.

    Bought the 2011 LEAF.
    Will buy the Model 3 in Q1 next year if they are available per Tesla’s estimated availability.

    The 2011 LEAF battery was an obvious black eye for Nissan and this model year. Outside of that it has been pretty reliable, never found myself on the hard shoulder calling for help. 109,000 miles.

    I anticipate a lot more nit picky problems with the Model 3. Not because its the first MY, but because Tesla are still maturing their production/quality processes.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      It seems to have taken Nissan until 2013~2014 before they perfected the Leaf. Features like an improved battery, the heat pump, and B mode. It was a new platform and new technology, so I’m not surprised. The new 2018 isn’t starting from scratch like the first generation, so I wouldn’t expect many problems. Even the new e-Pedal feature is a slightly evolved version of B mode.

      The Model 3 should be okay, but not perfect. They learned a lot from the S, so it should be much better. In fact, just last month they started using a newly redesigned drivetrain on the S.

      The one big caveat is what is going to happen when they start scaling production. Equipment breaks. People break. That’s never been pretty. Expect lots of drone photos of large numbers of production cars parked outside of the plant awaiting rework.

  • avatar
    No Nickname Required

    I would buy a 2018 F150 if I could convince myself that it makes sense financially. And I would get the updated 5.0 v8 rather than either Ecoboost. As for the rest of the new for 2018 driving appliances, meh…

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      No Nickname Required,
      We have a 5 litre 2017 F150 at work. It lacks the acceleration of a Hemi Ram.

      In all honesty the acceleration is a little lacklustre.

      And like it’s EcoThirst brothers, it likes gasoline!

      • 0 avatar
        No Nickname Required

        BAFO, you just can’t stand that the aluminum F150 has been a smashing success can you? That really must be eating you…

        The reason I prefer the 5.0 is because I own one in a 2011 F150. Maybe it’s not as quick as a Hemi but it’s plenty powerful for my truck needs and it still gets 18-20 mpg. I definitely would buy another.

        • 0 avatar
          nvinen

          I wonder if you could fit a supercharging kit designed for a Mustang on an F-150. If the engines are essentially identical, the only problem might be whether there’s enough space.

          That would be one possible solution if you bought the V8 F-150 and were subsequently unhappy with its performance.

          • 0 avatar
            No Nickname Required

            Yes I believe there are both Roush and Procharger options for supercharging the F150 5.0. But at $6000+ plus install it is pricey.

  • avatar
    alff

    No, I don’t buy new cars. I would, however, be very cautious about purchasing a used car from the first model year. My 2005 Legacy GT Wagon taught me some hard lessons.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I did – 2009 highlander 2.7L. Result: 8 recalls, bad water pump in 14 months. But still runs OK after that repair. In fact 113K on it now and doesn’t feel like a beatup car.
    I would only buy 1st year if there was no other choice

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I did, once

    1994 Honda Accord, compared to later models this one had a one year only cold idle valve thingy, this thingy was a hold over from earlier models sandwiched in the engine bay making it a pita to reach. The rest of the car just didn’t feel up to par quality wise vs 95 or 96 models.

    After that I grabbed a late whale Crown Vic, just a few years off the 2003 revisions. It took Ford a few years to make a Rack and Pinion for that car that didn’t rust up.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      That was also the first year of R-34 A/C refrigerant across the board; IIRC, my first new car, a 1994 Civic EX, had the condenser replaced under a TSB/extended warranty from a pinhole leak.

      There were problems throughout the Honda line that year from the switchover.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I bought a 2006 RAV4 very early. They were so new back then, that the v6 option was not actually available, although declared for the model year. And it was a positive experience, no problem whatsoever, except for deficiencies inherent in the generation (e.g. the stupid programming of the transmission). The biggest downside was dealing with the new size of tyre that RAV4.3 introduced. There were no tires in the size, not even on TireRack. So, I would say that a Toyota or Honda should be safe in the year of introduction, as long as you live close enough to a dealership to be able to acquire new spares and consumables (such as cartridge filters, cabin filters, etc.).

  • avatar
    JMII

    My Z is the 2003 model which was first year of its come back. There were certain problems with this particular model that were fixed later on. For example the tranny’s 3rd and 5th gear syncros will fail (just a matter of time/mileage) and the suspension geometry was revised to lessen tire feathering. Sadly item #1 requires a new tranny to be swapped in, but item #2 is a spec change handled during any alignment. New owners had to fight Nissan on both items to get them fixed under warranty. However on the used market you just need to know and plan accordingly. When my tranny predictably started grinding 3rd gear I searched the junk yards for later revised version as a replacement and did the swap.

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    Check the build date, not the model year. Anything built before the model officially goes on sale will likely have some (many) band-aids strapped on, and anything built more than a couple of months after the vehicle goes on sale is likely fine/stable.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I wonder how true this is. Not denying your statements, but I know when I bought my 2008 Cadillac CTS, it actually had the 2009 stereo, and was built really late in the 2008 production cycle. I never had an issue with it.

      • 0 avatar
        anomaly149

        A year to year change (e.g. 08-09 CTS) is not really a change. It’s 99% marketing and 1% actual tweaks. I’m mostly referring to All-New changes, like 07-08 CTS.

  • avatar

    I did, a 2015 Jeep Renegade. I did however avoid the most trouble-prone component of that particular vehicle by buying one with a manual transmission. I couldn’t be happier with it.

    By contrast, when we were first married my wife had an “all-new” 2006 Civic. I hated that car. They hadn’t gotten the new 5-speed automatic right, it had the worst A-pillar visibility of any car I’ve ever driven, and the eco-friendly paint scratched if you looked at it wrong.

    I notice in subsequent generations they have backed off on the radical slope of the windshield of the ’06 generation, likely due to complaints about those A-pillars.

  • avatar
    vikast

    I have purchased a number of first year cars – the Japanese cars were great, the Germans cars not so great:

    1. 1986 Mazda RX-7 (used) – great until rear seal failed at 100k miles, which was a problem for all model year rotary engines
    2. 1991 Infiniti G20 (new) – not a single repair in over 8 years and over 100k miles
    3. 1998 Porsche 911 (used) – A number of problems, but no major breakdowns
    3. 1999 BMW 328 (new) – Complete and utter disaster – number of major issues (e.g., steering, suspension, exhaust, etc.)
    4. 2003 Infiniti G35 (new) – Great until 100k miles, then ran into transmission issues
    5. 2004 Acura TL (new)- Over 100k miles of problem free ownership
    6. 2008 Infiniti Ex35 (new) – No repairs for over 100k miles, then started to have some electrical issues
    7. 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible (new) – no repairs

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    I suppose so…2015 F150 with the 2.7 so first year truck with a first year motor and no problems so far. I had a 91 Saturn long ago…First year everything about that car including the make and it was a great car. 90 Miata had no issues and it was even a short nose crank car. I guess it just depends.

  • avatar
    sutherland555

    As a general rule no but there are exceptions. It it’s a basically a refresh with a new body but a carryover engine and transmission, yes. If it’s all new, then a hard no.

    I find mid-cycle refreshes to be the sweet spot. Major kinks tend to worked out by then. They tend to put higher trim features into the mid and sometimes the lowest trim to sweeten the pot while usually maintaining the prices. If it’s a mid-cycle refresh of a refresh generation, sometimes they’ll drop in features from the next generation as a test bed (as Mazda did with the refresh of the 2nd gen Mazda3 by putting in the Skyactiv engine and transmission).

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      But sometimes the manufacturers taketh away at the mid-cycle tweaking!

      Classic case is the 2011 refresh of the 8th-Gen Accord, the low point of Accord! They improved a couple of pieces of the interior, but in the process, they took away the glovebox light, and as the ultimate insult, Honda took away a small LED light in the overhead console which provided a little light in the center-stack area at night, but left a dimple in the plastic where that light was placed in 2008-2010!

      That ambient light returned for the 9th-Gen, but the glovebox light is likely gone for good! (Haven’t seen enough pictures of the overhead console of the new ones to determine if the ambient light remains in the new Accords, but since the new Odyssey has it, I think the new Accord will. Sadly, the co$t-cutting is apparent in both vehicles, as the HomeLink buttons are on the mirror, rather than the overhead console, but there’s some telematics buttons up there, instead. If the mirror is even a little loose, as with HundKiaToyoNissans, the mirror will need adjustment every time one opens the garage!)

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ve bought two first model year vehicles in my life.

    I bought an’89 Ford Probe in August of ’88, and I bought an ’02 Chevrolet Avalanche in December ’01.

    Owned both for about 4-1/2 years, put 186K miles on the Ford Probe, put 94K miles on the Chevrolet Avalanche. Neither were problematic.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    It depends on the brand. But I definitely believe there’s truth to the idea of not going in for a first model year.

    But I would wager usually its more of something that’s a nuisance and the car being under warranty means whatever fix comes out the following year will likely be applied to the first model year as well.

    I have seen examples like Lexus with their LS series. They went from probably the most reliable luxury cars money could buy to having all sorts of issues on their 2007 first year model to the point where they were having to do buy a lot of buy backs.

  • avatar
    dmoan

    I would never buy any FCA product in its first year i remember early reliability reviews for Cherokee where even more positive than current reviews for Pacifica and then it turned into complete disaster. As for Alfa, I already saw Stelvio driving around in the parking lot of my grocery store and it was not sounding good was tempted to ask the driver what was wrong with it.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    The only first-year car I ever bought new was a new Honda CRX in 1984. Ten years of essentially problem-free driving. I got a 1965 Mustang convertible in 1974, but I’m not sure it really counts. Pretty reliable, though.

  • avatar
    whisperquiet

    Not again.

  • avatar
    Jeff Zekas

    Never buy a first year car, if it is built by Ford!

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Or even now Honda. The new Civics have been terrible.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        They’ve gotten better, but those problems (and the glitches with the new Odyssey), plus the fact that everything’s new with the Accord, from turbo to tires, is a reason I’m waiting at least a year, likely two, before I pull the trigger again.

        Besides, I literally just scheduled the payoff for my 2013 in the avatar, so I’m going to enjoy “no payments” for a while!

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Did! A 1991 Lumina Z34 with the twin dual cam I had been reading so much about.

    Would not again.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      3400 DOHC HO V6 one of the worst head gasket eaters of all time.

      Where there be Torque but not Reliability there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Agreed that first model year is good to avoid from the standpoint of reliability. On the other hand you get the most current design and your car looks like a new model for more years.

    However.

    The most reliable vehicle I’ve ever owned was a first model year. 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara, bought new. Made in Japan. Yes it did have a few trivial issues (covered by recall), like driver’s seat bolts and a belt pulley.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    done so twice.

    once when i purchased my 1997 boxster and again when i purchased my 2007 cayman.

    still own both cars. never regretted either decision.

  • avatar
    Joebaldheadedgranny

    I did it twice, back when I still believed my vehicle was an important form of self-expression. Once with a 2002 Buick Rendezvous CXL, and later with the 03 (04?)XC90.

    Both cars were fine 7-seaters and performed well.

    The problem is that manufacturers tend to hold gross on new designs, so if/when you end up selling it and evaluate your actual depreciation, it’s kind of a sad story. I always go into a vehicle with plans on keeping it forever, but for some reason I rarely stick to the plan.

  • avatar
    burnbomber

    Going through that right now. My beater died and the most logical thing (for a dedicated couple) is to replace the newer, wifey car. I’ll take over our 1st year of 2nd generation Chevy Equinox, which has been almost flawless. One minor repair fixed under warranty and nothing else.

    To be replaced with a 3 row SUV. Right now, there’s a new generation GMC Acadia being sold alongside the previous version Acadia (both marked as 2017’s), and a new generation Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave are coming in 2018. We’re in a quandary about trying a new Chevy Traverse vs a previous generation Buick Enclave vs a Honda Pilot. The new Traverse has a bigger wheelbase than the other new platform versions, which have a real skimpy 3rd row. But, 1st year reliability may suck. And, the 2018’s are significantly more expensive than last year’s versions. As JoeBaldHeadedGranny said, I doubt there’ll be much incentives on the new platform, either.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    As a general rule, I avoid the first model year, even with reliable brands like Honda. For example, I bought the second year of the 2G Acura TSX, and thus thankfully avoided engine knocking and a steering issue.

    I did, however, buy a first model year Mazda5 microvan in 2006, and it was great. I took that leap because the drivetrain had been on the market for awhile in the Mazda3, and had proven reliable. Technically, it was basically another version of the 3.

    Now, I’m thinking second or third model year for a Civic Si, or maybe even Type-R. I’m hoping Honda adds sensing to these models, as they have with the Fits and Accords with manual transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The low-speed follow on the ACC is one of a couple of reasons why I didn’t run down to my Honda dealer and put $$$ down on a 2017 Accord Touring the day that Honda announced the Accord V6 had been killed by bean-counters and enviro-nazis. (And had been so from the beginning of the design phase.) My other considerations were:

      1. I’d be resetting the payment clock on a car which was almost (and as of Monday, will be) paid-off!
      2. That new car is the end of the model run, so my “new” car will be instantly obsolete. (Dunno if that hastens depreciation — I assume it would.)

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve done it only twice, the first time I got burned, the second time I had a few minor issues, but nothing to get upset about. Oddly, I’ve had more MCE and mid-life cars that were crap than brand new ones.

  • avatar
    manu06

    My wife wanted the first year Juke. Bought it used with 500 miles on the
    odometer. Never left us stranded but had to replace the engine and
    later the timing chain. Thankfully Nissan took care of everything under
    warranty and even provided a loaner each time . Sort of enjoyed the car
    but cut it loose once the warranty expired . No first year models anymore
    but haven’t crossed Nissan off the list due to them stepping up to the plate.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I learned my lesson on first year vehicles a long time ago. Never again…. And maybe no second year vehicles if I’m buying a vehicle with crappy reliability (think Jeep).

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I have three Honda products in the driveway, each purchased in its first model year. All have been essentially trouble free and the newest is a 2012. Would I buy a first model year Honda today? Not unless it had six cylinders and six speeds. Would I buy a first model year Toyota today? Yes. Would I buy anything from a company that routinely builds first year lemons? Nope.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    It can be a crapshoot. But ‘first year’ isn’t always straightforward. My 01 E46 was in its 3rd year but first year on the M54 engine and revised electronics. My F55 Mini was the first year of the bodystyle but the rest of it was year 2 of a model that had a LOT of first-year problems, including a stop-sale or two. Neither had major issues. My parents have the 306th 09 Honda Fit off the production line, and its only non-Takata issue has been a loose ground screw. On the flip side, my 94 Mitsu Galant was a shining turd example of everything wrong with a first-year.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve had several first-year cars, with mixed results. It doesn’t bother me.

    71 Pinto – good (BTW, the *last* year 80 Bobcat was terrible)

    85 LeBaron GTS – good (2.2 non-turbo, stick = that’s why)

    96 Grand Voyager – good (3.3 4-speed auto = that’s why)

    95 Stratus – bad

    02 Passat B5.5 – bad

    05 Odyssey – bad

    18 Model 3 – we’ll see, if and when that happens.

  • avatar
    bhtooefr

    Let’s see what I’ve owned, of first-year cars:

    1985 Volkswagen Jetta (purchased used in 2005)
    1988 Honda Civic (purchased used in 2006)
    1999 Volkswagen Golf (purchased used in 2010)
    2016 Toyota Prius (purchased new in 2016)

    The Jetta had some first-year quirks, but nothing showstopping, and all of the problems I had with it were age-related, not first-year-related.

    The Civic was a complete pile of shit, but it was a $500 beater. All of its problems were age-related as well, and I never encountered first-year quirks.

    The Golf had quite a few first-year quirks… but the worst one was buggy engine firmware (that had actually existed two years prior in the European market Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia TDIs, and weren’t fixed until model year 2000). Most of the problems, though, were again, age-related.

    The Prius… the only actual first-year problem that’s bothered me so far is that the high beams are aimed a bit too low relative to the low beams and Toyota aimed the lights too high from the factory to compensate (early in MY2017, they revised the headlight design to fix that). There’s also an issue with early MY2016s (which mine is), in which the instrumentation is incapable of being changed from mph to km/h (and for Canadian cars, from km/h to mph), even though the manual says it should be… and Toyota is apparently not updating that firmware.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      The 85 Jetta to this day has a special spot in the pantheon of crap vehicles my family owned. By about 40k none of the windows would roll down. Had a 1 year only regulator. All sorts of other issues from water leaks and electrical issues that would make Lucas himself blush.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Were I in the market for a 4 door the Quadrifoglio would be at the top of my list because I like fun to drive sedans. Any issues should be covered under warranty but it might be the first car I would lease.

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