By on June 11, 2018

According to several sources, the average price of a new car in America currently hovers around $36,000. This is being consistently dragged upward by folks who just gotta have that Denali or deploy a GL65 AMG to tool around the streets of Beverly Hills.

Using that yardstick, lets play a game. Imagine you have to go out and buy a new car — right now — with today’s average price as your upper limit. But there’s a catch — it’ll be your only car for the next 10 years.

Why 10 years? Pundits argue that’s roughly the average age of cars on the road in America, although you wouldn’t know it from a quick survey of the parking lots at most malls and country clubs. Having said that, our daily whip is aged six years and we just ditched a decade-old truck in favor of a 2018 model. Perhaps the 10-year estimate isn’t that far off the mark.

Anyway, never mind. We’re here to play the game. In this fictional scenario, I’d be trying to find something that would carry three people and life’s detritus without breaking the bank on running costs. Yes, I live in a part of the world where what falls from the sky is not to be believed, but I do not think all-wheel drive is a must. It is my fervent belief that good winter tires trump traction to four corners if those four corners have rubber on them with the same traction as baloney skins.

All hands know I’m a fan of the five-passenger Tahoe Custom, but at around $44,500 it’s 10 grand too expensive. Same thing with any F-150 with a decent engine that’s not equipped like a penalty box. This speaks to the massive profits in trucks, by the way. I’d like to mention the Volvo V60 wagon is juuust outside my self-imposed fictional financial limit. Blast.

Perhaps strangely, I find myself landing at Dodge, where a rear-drive Durango SXT can be had for around $30,000. Equipped with a more than adequate level of kit, a five-passenger Durango would be more than large enough for all of our flotsam and jetsam while not looking like every other crossover on the freeway. The Pentastar V6 and ZF eight-speed are a proven team. It retains external styling cues like foglights and is available in that annoying shade of red I like.

Still, an SUV? Jeez. At least it’s rear-drive. Maybe Steph was on to something.

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237 Comments on “QOTD: The $36,000 Question...”


  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I can just sneak in a base-y BMW 228i in there, and even get a manual (I think). It’s fast enough for me, and is (supposedly) about the closest one can get to the “feel” of the BMW’s of yore.

    It’s also a real coupe, and a small car – so an anti-CUV statement.

    Who knows how it will last over ten years – extended warranty time!

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Kia now competes with BMW. So why not just buy a Rio
      Reliability means it will last a million years and go a billion miles

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        When a Kia Rio is RWD based, has a near 50/50 weight split, and can 0-60 in 5 seconds flat, let me know.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          As if the average BMW buyer knows what RWD is.

          But lets say you are right, just buy a Kia Stinger.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            Stinger would be my choice. Four doors, rwd, hatch, Only disappointment is no manual transmission. RWD with the 2.0T comes in at 32,800. This allows for four rims and four snow tires.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            @TwoBelugas

            No, if you’re going to pay BMW prices just get a real BMW. KIA Rio is 1/3 of the price, plus you still get the Kia logo in front and back.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            @TwoBelugas

            No, if you’re going to pay BMW prices just get a real BMW. KIA Rio is 1/3 of the price, plus you still get the Kia logo in front and back.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Does the Durango with ZF have that 1970s TV tuner shift knob?

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    I’ll get a nice sedan or hatchback, which will be cheaper to buy and run, and will be more comfortable and safer than an SUV, and will fit all the carrying needs 99.5% of the time. When I need to haul something, I’ll just rent a truck or van from Zipcar.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    If a black-and-no-options Model 3 doesn’t count, because it won’t be delivered tomorrow, then I think a Chevrolet Camaro would probably come closest to what I want.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Since they don’t make H bodies anymore, why not go for something that will live for 20 years and get a Toyota 4Runner.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    A Toyota four door appliance. Which engine doesn’t really matter, all of the choices are powerful and economical enough.

    The thing about Denalis, Beverly Hills, and keeping up with the Joneses made me remember that it’s hard to say just how some things never change and it’s hard to find any strength to draw the line…

  • avatar
    RSF

    An F150 2wd XLT crew can be had for 36k easily with the 3.5 eco or 5.0 and decent equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      earthwateruser

      That’s an excellent choice too. I’d get the 5.0 because of its simplicity vs. the 3.5 turbo.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        If the rules are only one vehicle with a ten year life span then that means a pickup since nothing else is as versatile. 36k is a USA price therefore I looked at configurations from the USA. In my part of the world, 4×4 is a must so that means I have to settle for a lower trim 2018 model:
        – F150 XL extended cab V6 4×4 6.5 box, trailer package is 35,710
        – Ram Tradesmen V8 4×4 quad cab 6.4 box is 36,340
        – I can’t configure an extended cab Chevy 4×4 for under 36k
        – Colorado crew 4×4 V6 long box $36,890

        If one wants a V8 then Ram is the way to go. I’d buy the Colorado.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Right now a Ram 1500 Big Horn 4×4 Diesel runs 36k

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    One new vehicle w/ $35k at my disposal and I have to drive it for 10 years and I don’t get to keep the change? One Toyota Sienna please. Easy peezy because you never know what life is gonna throw at you over the course of a decade.

    Now try to do that same exercise with a more realistic budget of $25K… Hmmm, that’s QUITE a bit more difficult.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      “a more realistic budget of $25K” that would be a Buick Encore! get a base model for $25K plus they’re knocking off $5K so you come under budget at $20K plus tax title! we have a 2016 that I chose to lease for a reasonable payment but may wind up buying it.7 year powertrain warranty thru manufacturer, lifetime powertrain thru the dealer. you paying sticker price for that Toyota?

    • 0 avatar
      Malforus

      Big fan of the Minivan long bet. 10 years is a long time and modern vans all come with rear cameras and enough storage to live out the apocalypse.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    2017 BMW 330 x-drive wagon with however many miles it takes to drop it’s price to thirtysix. I reckon no more than 15 thousand miles. Not exactly brand new, but very nearly brand new – here’s to hoping you are not as strict with the rules as Corey. The 2 liter turbo B48 is fuel efficient and powerful while not as clattery as the N20 it replaced, and the car is roomy with good handling. The only scenarios it might fall short in the hypothetical decade is if we had two children or moved to dense downtown urban area with no dedicated parking.

    • 0 avatar
      earthwateruser

      Yes, a used BMW is definitely the way to go!

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        there’s joy to be found in driving anything, but a Sienna for ten years? you are a saint.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          There’s joy in not walking too.

          A used BMW to drive for ten years is like a day old salad to eat all week.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            I’ve got an 07 328 wagon with a manual. I’m pondering options mostly because I’d like a bit more passenger space. As much as I hate to admit this, 2 very appealing options are the SQ5 and Stelvio.

            I’ve driven the SQ5 and liked the firm ride and strong engine, but still want to try the Stelvio.

            Having said that, the 328 is still a lot of fun. Having a 10 year old BMW is a-okay, as long as it’s not complicated… like an X5.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ll channel Corey and say that your choice is against the rules.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      No <$36K BMW wagon for you!

      I'd have to revisit the seats that I disliked so much from a 2014 328i, but if those checked out I think a new 320i RWD manual would be a nice car to drive for a decade.

      Opting for a color outside the grey scale and heated seats puts it right about $36K. Then I look at what VW gives you in a GTI for less than 30 and close out the 3-series build & price window.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        You need to have the vehicle last 10 years. Is a BMW going to be relatively trouble free for 10 years?

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Dunno. I’d have my worries.

          But I have two durable, long-lived vehicles in the driveway right now, so I’m answering this QOTD in the vein of what I actually want to climb in and drive everyday.

          How long until these dang kids leave the house so I can daily drive a 228i or Mustang GT?

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @30-mile fetch – I am keeping the SuperCrew until my sons go to college or trades. I did just buy myself a new bike so in that respect, I’m not waiting until they are gone.

        • 0 avatar

          I can’t imagine anything is. My Honda had catalysts replaced recently…..ow. 190k and 10 years old, almost 11.

        • 0 avatar
          EAM3

          I’ve got a 12 year old 330Ci and a 10 year old 335i. Granted, mileage is low for the 335i (36K miles) and average for the 330Ci (118K miles) but so far, knock on wood, neither has come close to breaking the bank. I’m happy enough that I have not even remotely thought of getting rid of either one. Having said that, I have heard plenty of horror stories of BMWs nickle and dime’ing people to death.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        30-mile, sport seats are a MUST in any F30, and frankly, it’s my biggest regret not having them in my E90. interestingly enough, in the E90 generation the sport package did not come with the stiffer transmission in x-drive models, so I should have really held out for it. oh well.

        have you seen the green color in the new GTI? It’s the one I’d get.

        Lou_BC – no way in hell it would be trouble free. I’d budget a grand a year the moment the warranty ended.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Dang it Nick, I don’t want to be thinking about GTIs anymore. I’ve got a budget and Nissan’s sh*t CVT forced us into a practical decision for fiscal reasons and that did not involve a new GTI.

          That’s a nice green. Green has been missing from the automotive color palette for too long.

          And why are the base seats in the F30 so terrible? I found them rock hard, flat, and without any bolstering. So they don’t do comfort, they don’t do sporty. They just suck. And the leatherette is nasty. The GTI and Lexus IS have very nice base seats.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    VW GTI S with $3k for a 7/120 warranty and another $4k for the last three years’ worth of service costs. What do I win (other than ten years of fun, practical driving)?

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I think you’re onto something here…

      This or a Civic Hatchback Sport Touring.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Another great choice. Maybe with the Honda you could put aside less for the maintenance (though I admit I have no firsthand knowledge of the long-term costs of Honda’s performance models).

        • 0 avatar
          notapreppie

          The new 1.5L turbo engine is something of an unknown. Also, pairing a turbo with a CVT may not be a good plan. That said, a decked out Civic Hatch Sport Touring is $29k so there’s room in the budget for an extended warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I got to drive the 1.5T+CVT combo in my friends civic EXT sedan for the first time this weekend. It’s a highly competent drivetrain in terms of mpg and it does indeed build speed deceptively quickly, but there is just no joy in this engine+transmission combo. Sounds mildly unpleasant as well. I’d gladly take my departed 2012 Civic with its plain-jane but super smooth 140hp R18 and slick shifter over this objectively superior 1.5T+CVT combo. I was happy to then sample the old school 305 in his 1998 K1500 step side right afterwards. I liked the interior in the Chevy a lot better as well, better quality cloth upholstery and no stupid touch screen.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      Contemplating buying a VW to own for a 10-year period entitles you to the Eternal Optimism award. As for the long-term warranty, the dealer will most-likely say virtually any problem resulted from “abuse.”

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Well….? The limit of $36K certainly expands my options but most of those options are cars I’d never consider anyway. Almost nothing Ford or GM makes is appealing because they don’t come close to what I WANT, though they each have one model that almost meets my needs. The German cars don’t come close while the Italians have a number of intriguing models (some of the most intriguing not available to the US market.) Asia? Again almost nothing there of interest–at least as far as US availability is concerned.

    So… It seems to me that even with upping the limit to $36K, my actual choices remain unchanged. Only the trim level on it.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Dodge Caravan. Lots of room and if need be I can tow a small trailer for stuff that doesn’t fit inside.

    • 0 avatar
      KevinB

      My choice as well. If I had to stick with one vehicle for 10 years this would be it. It’s a fairly comfortable cruiser and I can transport humans, animals building materials, and everything in between.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Add me in for the Grand Caravan fan club. For some reason I thought the Pacifica Hybrid started at 36K, it starts at 39K, so no go there.

      But I think that gasoline will be available for the next 10 years.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    If $36,000 is the average, what’s the median?

    $36k should net me a plug-in Prius and a utility trailer.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Great question. I think there’s a fair few folks buying/leasing $50k+ new cars that are skewing the numbers. But then the sticker on my last car was also about $36k as well, so…

  • avatar
    loner

    Assuming we must buy new – Miata and a set of snow tires. My wife can drive the SUV.

    If the used market is an option, then the choice gets a lot harder.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I have sufficient income but $36K + ttl and dest is tough indeed.

    Stagflation’s a real b!tch.

    Roll back the past fifteen years of dumb.

    Make ATP cheap again.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Agreed. The car-buying public doesn’t seem to have netted much from the auto industry bailout. Anything other than beige basic transportation is blocked by a poverty-inducing paywall. Perhaps the average American will fall for this ruse . . .

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I would need something capable of at least moderate family duty. Fairly rare that all 5 of us would be in my car vs my wife’s family hauler, but as kids get older our chauffer duties seem to be rapidly expanding. So a minimum of a 4 door family sedan, maximum of a 3 row crossover at the top. I think I would go Toyota V6 Camry (loaded at $36K I believe), I might prefer a CX-9 Grand Touring but even with incentives, I would be pressed to get price below $36K. So loaded V6 Camry or CX-9 touring.

  • avatar
    make_light

    2018 Subaru Legacy 3.6R. It will be fast enough, comfy enough, reliable enough, roomy enough, capable enough, and just do what it needs to do. Less ubiquitous than an Accord, less chintzy than a Camry, and not a crossover.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Challenger R/T with manual.

    That was easy.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Ford EcoSport Eddie Bauer Edition.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    You could get a very nice, almost new Accord EX-L V6 for this kind of money. I bet it will last ten years without much trouble.

  • avatar
    Darkdowgow

    Well internet pricing says an i230 from bmw is possible. https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/735407414/overview/

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Because I’m an idiot and because Alfa Giulias are being discounted down to $32k, I’d probably have that along with however much extended warranty the difference would get me.

  • avatar
    junkandfrunk

    For just under that ($35,375) I would buy a 2018 Impala LT. Full sized sedan with a 3.6L V6, in blue velvet metallic with dark titanium cloth seats (I dislike leather). Comes with the Entertainment package, convenience package, sunroof, and spoiler. That would be plenty enough to get me to work, move around, and take road trips around the country for the next decade.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’m of the opinion that it’d be real nice if the transaction numbers were reported as a median, not an average, and excluded fleet sales.

    You can screw up the stats an awful lot with leased $50-60k luxo-barges, powerful pickups meant for commercial use, (and, in the other direction, a flotilla of penalty boxes destined for rental car and govt. motor-pool duty.)

    In a world where the top-trim CR-V only MSRP’s for $35k, clearly there’s something wrong with just going with the assumption that people are truly spending $37k on the average family-hauler.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Consider, though, that the top three sellers are consistently full-sized pickups, which in a pretty typical daily driver/family hauler spec (4X4, crew cab/short box, XLT/SLT sort of mid level trim, V8/turbo 6) sticker for about $40k.

      Extrapolating a vague sense of “typical spec” (mid-level trim, AWD on crossovers) to the top 15 best sellers last year and calculating a weighed average comes out to about $32k (and this is including discounts where the manufacturer’s website applies them automatically).

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I know this is kind of the safe, boring choice, but I’d buy a loaded 2018 Accord EX-L with the 2.0T.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Accord is the right answer for this hypothetical exercise, though I’d go with the Sport 2.0T with 6-sp manual over the EX-L.

      But in the real world, make me spend $36K on vehicles and I’ll come back with a nice CPO Odyssey or Sienna, fresh off lease, and the best Miata I could find for $5K. Why try to make one car do it all?

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I just played this game for real this past year. Purchased a 4Runner.

    • 0 avatar
      jpruden

      I did too… bought a CPO Audi S3 with the 8/120K bumper to bumper.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      That would be one of my choices – Id want 4wd, ability to tow at least 3000lbs, not a pickup truck, and not a jellybean looking blob like every other CUV or whatever they are called. That pretty much puts me in:
      – A new JL Wrangler optioned up to 35999.00
      – 4Runner
      – Durango Limited with very few features
      – GC Limited with very few features
      … and thats really about it.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Toyota Avalon , 2018 XLE with current offer of $5K on the hood.
    That should make it 10 very comfortable years…the last one did!

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    Civic Type R for the question as asked.

    Coincidentally, $36k is exactly what we spent on two cars combined in 2017: a new Chrysler Pacifica LX and a used Porsche Boxster base (987). That still seems like a better deal for the money to me.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    My 3 top brand new choices could all be had with $$ to spare, and I didn’t even have to compromise. I did a quick B&P on all 3, after incentives there’s $$ left for some mods :

    —Dodge Challenger R/T 6 spd Super Track Pack

    —Ram 1500 Express 4×4 single cab Hemi

    —Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2-door.

    Im not into techy gadgets or expensive factoy tire/wheel packages. Ill go aftermarket. What I opted for is the most engine, and the most performance/off-road hardware the $36K allows. The trouble would be choosing. Arguably for my needs, the Jeep would be the most versatile with 4×4, a good backseat and tow package ($33K allows me to snag a 4×8 trailer) but it’s the only non-Hemi option. I’ve owned every one of these vehicles in an older configuration as my only ride at some point and that’s why they’re here again as choices. And also why pulling the trigger on just one would be so difficult.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The outgoing Ram Express 4×4 crew cab with the Hemi starts at $38k. Anyone with even the slightest clue about car buying should be able to take that home for well under $36k. That’s a lot of truck for the money. If the $36k sticker is a hard cap, I guess I’m getting the Pentastar

    If I didn’t need to tow or plow my driveway, a minivan makes more sense for a single vehicle. But if I’m forced to drive and own only one for the next decade, I don’t see how it’s anything besides a crew cab truck.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I had to make this choice four years ago, and I bought a Fusion with the plug in hybrid drivetrain in the Titanium trim level. Now, in some regards, it is a $36,000 car, since that’s what I paid for it, but I got a $4000 tax credit, and in the first four years of ownership I’ve saved $3500 in fuel costs compared to a conventional drivetrain Fusion, so in that regard, it’s more like a $28,000 car, and getting cheaper.

    I kept my last two cars for 12 and 10 years, and my experience with this car gives me every reason to believe I’ll have this one for 10 or 11 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Good Lord, how many miles do you drive that you’ve already saved $3,500 in fuel costs? I’m not questioning your choice, as that’s the Fusion I’d get too if I were keeping it for a decade. I’m just shocked at the quick return on investment.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I’m betting like most people with plug-in hybrids that is how much he saved on fuel but is not including the cost of the electricity for the first ~20 miles. I do know that the standard Fusion Hybrid was rated as having the shortest pay back period of any hybrid a few years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        So far, I’ve driven just short of 55,000 miles. Of that, about 10,000 of those miles have been in hybrid mode, while the other 45,000 have been in electric. These are slow miles with lots of stoplights, average speed in the low 20 mph range. The average price of gasoline around her over the period I’ve owned the car is about $2.30 per gallon. (It’s about $2.80 now). Over the course of a year, I pay about 9 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, and go 3.1 miles per kwh, for a cost of 2.9 cents per mile. The EPA city rating on the gasoline Fusion Titanium is 21 mpg, and in the slow traffic I drive in, that’s about all I could expect. At $2.30 per gallon, that’s close to 11 cents per mile, and 8 cents per mile for 45,000 miles is $3600.

        Those hybrid miles are mostly on the highway, where cost difference is much less. I average 36 mpg with the cruise set at 75, but some of the hybrid driving is in town, where I get more like 41, I’ll figure it at 37 mpg. 10,000 miles at 37 mpg cost about $625. EPA highway on the gasoline Titanium is 31 mpg, which would be about $740, which is another $115 in savings.

        What makes the fueling cost so low is that we have a very low overnight rate for electricity here, and that I can charge at work. I’m doing the calculation as if I were paying for all the electricity, but I’m getting about 20 kwh from my employer per week free of charge. Also, the oil change interval is 20,000 miles and the brakes have a very slow rate of wear since 90 percent of my braking is regenerative.

        When I bought this car, I wasn’t sure I would have been willing to pay that much for it if there hadn’t been a tax rebate. Having driven it four years now, I would, it’s so much nicer around town than a conventional drivetrain that I’m pretty certain my next car will have some sort of EV driving, and by that time there will be no more tax incentives.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I tow a 25 foot travel trailer so I would go for a Nissan Armada. I think my company’s Nissan discount would get a base model down to this price, but it would probably be pushing it.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    Surprisingly, pretty easy choice: Accord Sport 2.0T with 6MT. That’s the closest thing to my 2010 TSX (6MT), which has been darned near perfect for almost nine years and 115k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      This. Make mine a Touring. Way nicer than the TSX I bought in 2011 and have been driving ever since, for about the average new car price back then. No you may not open my garage and confirm there’s an S2000 hidden in there. Okay it’s my wife’s. I promise not to drive it (fingers crossed)

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    GTI for me. Plenty of money left over for coilovers/tires/wheels/pads. Stinger GT is just out of reach ($38K) but that would be my pick.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Have you driven it (Stinger)? I test drove one when I was shopping last winter, and was disappointed with it coming out of a GTI. Felt giant on the outside (which I expected) but not terribly large on the inside (which I didn’t), and flat-footed.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I have not but I’ve been impressed with the performance and dynamics of my Optima. It is definitely low on the footprint space efficiency scale though. Did you drive the 2.0T or the 3.3TT? My car saddled with another 300-400lb would not be worthy of the “sport sedan” qualification.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          2.0T. Can’t stomach the thought of the 3.3’s fuel economy hit. But my problem wasn’t straight-ahead go, it was dead steering feel and side-to-side weight shifting, and I can’t imagine the 3.3 would improve on those.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I would not bother with the 2.0T in such a large car. It’s well matched to the ~3500lb Optima; it’s a waste in the Stinger. Steering feel is steering feel but there are solutions for the floatiness…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Base GTI (make mine Tornado Red, please), which goes for around 24 in these parts, and spend the remaining twelve on a used medium or small pickup for when it’s crummy outside.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      What are your thoughts on the green color GTI introduced for 2018?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’m meh on it, but then again, a red GTI, combined with my…ahem…enthusiastic driving style would probably make me a prime cop magnet, so maybe a meh color might be a smart move.

        That “white silver” color is also new for this year, and it looks terrific in person. Check it out if you haven’t already.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          IMO red is one of the “meh” colors these days as after various shades of grey, black, and white I think it’s one of the more common ones. A nice forest/emerald green always catches my eye. GM and Toyota both do a very nice green, but it’s a hard color to find on a lot new or used.

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      A hundred percent with you on the base GTI in red. A GTI with zero options truly is the best GTI. Lots of money left over.

      An Accord Sport 2.0 6 speed is my runner up.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Here’s a variation on that question: What would you buy for that $36,000 for daily driver and track use, that looks like it could be driven by a grownup, preferably as a four door sedan? Nothing with big garish spoilers, please.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      The answer to this is a Chevy SS.

      If it must be new, that’s harder with the styling choices most manufacturers seem to be making lately.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      There were a lot of SS’s at the track day I did in May.

      I feel like anything with decently sized brakes should do fine at a track day though. Issue for me is most sedans under $36K would be dog food on long track straights.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        The only one I could think of was the Jetta GLI, which will be back in 2019, but then I’d be dealing with VW issues. Audi A3, same deal.

        I did a track night at Atlanta Motorsports Park in a four cylinder Mustang, which has plenty of twist, but is a little on the large side, and isn’t particularly grown up looking. The Civic SI is too boy racerish for my tastes, and if I came home with one my wife would refuse to be seen in it.

        Does anyone know how well the Acura ILX or Nissan Maxima drive?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The keeping it 10 years makes it tough, if it was just until the note is paid off that would be easy because just about anything is going to make it through that.

    If we go for the 3rd kid: Durango SXT plus, AWD, V6, & towing package.

    Go fast with (or without) class: 300S HEMI or Charger R/T with a few options (one dealer has a leftover 2017 Daytona (NOT 392) listing under the cutoff but its only a leftover because it is SubLime.)

    Dare to be different: Mazda 6 Grand Touring (base) for a cheap way to get the 2.5T OR Buick Regal TourX (BECAUSE WAGON!) but I’d worry about factory support for the next 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      What do you do to your cars that makes them not last 10 years?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        You can’t think of any vehicles whose reliability you would question over a 10 year period?

        How about keeping a VW 10 years? If you lived in an area where the roads get heavily salted – how about a Mazda for 10 years? How about a Fiat or Alfa for 10 years? Do you trust Nissan’s CVT enough to take one on for 10 years? (There are some in the B&B who will mock me for choosing any Fiatsler product.)

        I’d like 10 years and roughly 200,000 miles with very little major repair if I was going to do this challenge in real life.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I’d worry about a Fiat, Alfa or Land Rover, and I think any VW product could potentially be expensive to maintain over that period.

          I have no problem with the current Nissan CVT. We do have a Patriot in our family fleet, so far so good.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “I have no problem with the current Nissan CVT”

            Don’t get me started. Ten years is a long time to be crossing fingers, straining to hear any unusual noises.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I was gonna say, we’re not out of the woods with Nissan CVTs. I do think the newer 4cyl models (“pure drive”) are probably better than the “gen 1” design but that is purely a guess. I want to think that Nissan engineers have studied enough cores like the one my brother sent back to see the serious root cause (hint: it’s not the belt). But it sounds like as of 2013ish the higher torque higher weight applications were still having issues (Pathfinder). I wonder too how the CVT in Subaru’s new heavy and high torque Ascent will do.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @gtem, I think it is concerning that Nissan has limited their new turbo 4 in the upcoming Altima to FWD only because they don’t feel that they have a CVT AWD combo that can handle the output.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    I was even able to spec out a Charger R/T plus super track pack at under $36K. A Chrysler 300S Hemi would be $36,295 after incentives. Pretty sure I could hammer it down to that $36K flat.

  • avatar
    micko4472

    For $36k, I would buy a Chevy Impala or Buick Lacrosse if I wanted a
    sedan, a Subaru Outback Premium or Ford Edge with 3.6L engine if I wanted
    an SUV/CUV for on road and mild off road use, a Nissan Frontier 4wd if
    I wanted a truck (and spend the remainder on upgrades/toys for it).

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Dodge Challenger GT AWD It’s practical for daily use with decent passenger space and a cavernous trunk. A great alternative to a pedestrian CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      How big a trunk are we talking? Big trunk like family camping trip or really big trunk like Henry Hill’s car?

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        It’s large enough for groceries and a golf or duffle bag plus the rear seats fold so you can carry skis and other long items. Practical enough for most people who don’t need a CUV.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          This gets me thinking. If we expand the question rules to include how far $36,000 will go at a car dealer that is really a money laundering operation with mob connections, then one could afford a really, really, really big trunk!

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Hmm the Town Car is gone which in its day came in around $36k however there is the 300/Charger. Avalon, Lacrosse with deep discounts. The final Taurus and Impalas. Enough for several crime families with cash to spare. Though thankfully many members have died off, are in jail or wandering around in their pajamas and can’t drive.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Taurus and Impala are the only ones on your list with big trunks, the 300 in particular is quite “truncated” in the trunk department. I really wish FCA made a stretched LX platform car with more rear legroom and a massive long decklid. Call it an Imperial and make a V8 standard.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            FCA building a stretched LX platform car with more rear legroom and a massive long decklid would be a boon for the livery industry. Years ago I saw a few 2005-08 300c’s that had the rear slightly stretched. I think they were called 300L, not to be confused with the 1960’s letter series.

    • 0 avatar
      Wodehouse

      That’s my #1 selection. Dodge Challenger GT

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I’d take a 2018 Chevy Cruze Manual Diesel Hatchback. It’s just south of $30k without leather (my wife hates it). I’d take mine in blue instead of brown, although that is an option. Maybe buy some proper summer/winter tires with the leftover cash?

  • avatar
    gtem

    If I was tasked with providing wheels that would cover the family’s needs, I’d say a discounted basic grand caravan value package and whatever lot poison stick shift Chevy sonic to stay under the $36k limit. If it’s just one vehicle then I’d try to swing a 4Runner 4wd trail, although I might have to settle for an SR5.

    I do wonder what the median looks like versus the mean. It blows my mind that so many Americans would take such a plunge on such a rapidly depreciating asset with such a huge portion of their annual income, especially with the scary stats on how little most have in savings. I know I have a hard time stomaching the thought of tying up even $20k in a new car. I’ll stick with my 1990s vehicles that serve me very reliably (caveat: I do all my own wrenching). For the winter I’m scoping out something comfy and fwd in the $2-3k bracket, might finally try out a 3800 powered Buick, pre 97 to get one with a quality interior.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Years ago, I switched from old to new vehicles. Why? Because accident data showed your odds of surviving a car accident in a new vehicle was much better. Life is too valuable … especially your wife and kids. So, base model new is all I ever buy.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Right you are jimmyy, once we have a little one I suspect my approach will change dramatically, will probably buy and hold Toyotas, or do a 5-7 year cycle on Subarus. Koreans seem solid these days as well, as Toyota continues to decline (IMO).

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Last year, I got popped in the driver’s door pretty hard in a freeway accident. The guard beam and airbag did their jobs and I walked away with nothing more that some temporary hearing loss.

        Compare that with Jack Baruth’s experience with his Town Car accident.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “I’ll stick with my 1990s vehicles that serve me very reliably (caveat: I do all my own wrenching).”

      Here, here. Not that I wouldn’t buy anything before or after the 1990s, but the era just seems to be a happy medium between Malaise and today’s increasingly complex vehicles.

      I do appreciate new cars, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that everyone go find themselves a 1990s car, lol.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Agreed John. I was messing with the front brakes on my ranger yesterday, PO had replaced the pads and rotors but didn’t use anti rattle clips causing a horrible clanging sound over bumps. Took them apart, installed clips, greased everything, easy and fun job, parts cost $2.97. Also topped off the AC with a can from Walmart for $5 and did a quick oil change (easy access, wal mart carries made in USA motorcraft filters). It’s a pleasure to do these small jobs. Now I’ve got a quiet front end and a colder cab, I get a lot of satisfaction out of it.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Very nice. Last week, I installed my aluminum valve covers, cleaned the intake and MAF sensor, and I’m about to go put in new plugs here in a little bit. I had changed them at 181k (ish) when I bought the car, but it just rolled over 241k yesterday.

          I enjoy working on my own stuff. It makes one more proud of their vehicle, like you have more of a connection with it once you’ve wrenched on it.

          With all I’ve done to it recently, some one has made the comment that it’ll all be wasted once the trans or engine fails. They just don’t get it. If they fail, they’ll be rebuilt or replaced. No, this is not an “investment” in the sense that I expect to make money, that would indeed be foolish. The only thing I’m investing in is having reliable transportation that doesn’t cost me much, and in preserving a vehicle I very much like and enjoy driving.

          I imagine its much the same with you and your 4Runner. A 4Runner isn’t my choice and a Taurus probably isn’t yours, lol, but hey, we are happy with our choices, and that’s all that matters.

    • 0 avatar
      packardhell1

      I had a 1997 (maybe it was a 1997.5?) Regal GS. It had a heavy (and supercharged) 3800 V6 up-front and traction control. It did pretty well in snow and ice here in Illinois. The fit/finish was terrible, but the seats were comfy and it always started. It was reasonably quick with the supercharger and it made quick work of merging on an interstate. I see a few on Craigslist – some beaten on and some taken care of, but $2k-3k would buy a nice one.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yeah I’ve looked at GSes and Grand Prix GTPs a bit, most seem to end up in the hands of people that drive them hard and shorten the life of transmissions significantly. And you’re right the interiors leave a lot to be desired in terms of quality. I find the Lesabres and park aves from 92-96 have better quality interiors with the most real metal and chrome and old school dash design that doesn’t warp or look as plasticky. I have a silly desire for a column shift as well :p

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Base model CrV or base model Highlander. The 36K is much more than needed. I would peek at the brand new Traverse.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    If was just me, a new modestly optioned Golf GTI 6-speed.

    If I have to share the car, and it MUST be an automatic, I’d look for a leftover new 2017 Opel Insignia Turbo (aka Buick Regal), or a used one. They have excellent seats, excellent ride and handling, fast, not thirsty. I’d be under $30, maybe a lot under.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I don’t know why sharing the car or an automatic would force you off the GTI. The DSG is a (very little) bit jumpy at low speeds but as much fun as an auto can be when pushing it, and it’s as well-packaged a car as has ever been made.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I already did this when I bought an SR5 4Runner.

    But let’s remove the really restrictive off-pavement ability and go with the remaining criteria of:

    -Daily livability for 4 passengers and doable on a road trip.
    -Ski vehicle: can’t be RWD only
    -Manual transmission
    -At least as exciting on a curving road as that Honda Odyssey temptress that has so much of the auto press so hot and bothered.

    I keep coming back to a GTI with a roof rack system. Accord Sport 2.0T is a unique and laudable offering as well, [email protected] wheels and mutated styling excluded. Civic Si may work as well. And that’s about it, and I’m nowhere near $36K.

    Automatic transmission and/or RWD would open up a lot of desirable options.

  • avatar
    docoski

    Kind of did this last year when my 10 year experiment was failing somewhat spectacularly. An Acura MDX at year 9.5 was looking at loads of repairs of all kinds – regularly warped brake rotors, occasional AWD service, electric and HVAC gremlins became obstreperous. Not longer having any dogs (boxer and Great Dane made use of the MDX generous trunk) but still in need of decent back seat space for two growing kids I bought a GTI. Too bad it was the wrong model year: I’ll put 36K mi on it by the end of summer and out of warranty with still 1.5 yrs to pay the loan. No such thing as a VW extended warranty. I’m hoping it lasts well to 5 years then will look around, don’t know I want a new teen driver to learn on a somewhat hot hatch, but, manual: really hard to text between first and third gear.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Got to keep it for 10 years?

    Accord Sport 2.0T with 6 speed manual is the correct answer.

    I trust a relatively new design Honda turbo over any of the VWs and Chryslers mentioned in here.

    A GTI with warranty coverage for 10 years sounds cool, but I’m a worry wart and driving around in a 4+ year old VW and wondering when it was going to break isn’t for me, warranty or not. VWs horrible track record would always be in the back of my mind.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I already did last year – ’17 GTI Sport, with about $12K leftover out of that $36K. If I had to do it NOW, I would get a GTI SE, and suffer with the #@[email protected]#$#@@ sunroof to get the rest of the goodies that my Sport has, and still be about $8K under the limit. I have a trailer hitch and roof bars, it can do absolutely anything I could ever need it to do. And for anything it can’t, I have a bottomless well of Hertz points.

    Would not surprise me at all if I still have this car in 10 years, I’m only putting ~6K a year on it. I’ve had my 328! wagon almost 8 years now – it’s up to 43K, gaining <3K per year. As each year goes by, there is less and less in the way of new cars that interests me. About the only thing left is a Cayman, and I don't think I can get past the price. I think I would rather have another GTV-6 for 1/3rd as much and keep the GTI.

  • avatar
    HahnZahn

    I’d go for the Kia Niro. Good reviews and reliability projections, and great mileage that’ll likely keep up with any upward trends over the next decade.

    I kinda wish I’d gone for it over my 2017 Impreza, but it wasn’t quite out yet when I needed to buy.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Well, lets see, I can’t choose a FORD or DW will go on another hate-filled homophobic rant, putting words in my mouth and making up facts about how its impossible for any Ford to last 10 months, let alone 10 years, so I guess a new Civic Si coupe 6MT. That’s about $24k. I guess I could add some accessories to get it closer to the $36k, but there isn’t much I’d want that isn’t standard. Certainly not the optional black wheels and so on.

    If this were last year, it’d be an Accord LX coupe 6MT, easy choice.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The last two cars I had were Fords, an Aerostar and a Focus. I kept the Aerostar for 10 and a half year and the Focus for 12. Neither needed anything serious while I owned them.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        My current Ford is around 24 years old (built in late 1994 as a 1995 model) and I trust it. I’m not foolish enough to think it will never break, I mean its well past its expected service life at this point, but its holding up just fine. I have done nothing to the engine and trans except change normal wear items like plugs/wires/cap/rotor, fluids/filters, valve cover gaskets and the pan gasket on the trans when I serviced it.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        My brother took over ownership of a ‘96 Mystique (Zetec, 5spd) at 240k miles (got it for a song from a customer) and is about to hit 250k with it. It did need a clutch and oil pan gasket when he bought it (both original), and a pair of struts and springs and a control arm, but the original owner took care of it with timely oil changes, washing it, etc and it shows. Drives great, and I think the interior is better made than most new cars (soft touch vinyl, nice seat fabric, nice little touches throughout). He just did some front end work on a ‘01 Escort zx2 with 190k that’s treated the owner very well. There was also a Saturn sw2 with 292k miles that’s still running strong, burns a ton of oil but the owner knows to keep it topped off. Take care of your car and it will take care of you!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “Take care of your car and it will take care of you!”

          You’ve taken me back to the day…

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I think the US is a wealthy enough country that we don’t feel the need to reallly squeeze the juices out of our cars, easier to trade in and move on. Seeing my relatives run cars with 400k km, 500k km, 800k km (with lots of repairs and rebuilds) as well as a legacy of Soviet car ownership experience of older relatives that didn’t have the luxury of so much as auto parts stores to say nothing of repair shops shapes my own mentality I suppose. Wrecked cars were picked clean, valve tappets ground from T72 tank tread pins, etc. my dad has stories for days. Driving an older car here in the States is playing on easy mode.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Driving an older car here in the States is playing on easy mode.”

            ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            ^^^ START

            :)

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I shall sing you the song of my people (fun starts at 6:04)
            youtu.be/Hfcf2oqg0Wo

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I had to come back and say my second choice, again without including a Ford product, would be a Toyota 86 with a manual. I haven’t driven one, but assuming it didn’t kill my back or something, its a contender.

      I like the Civic’s styling…except for the rear. When looking up a new Si on Honda’s website to see what one would cost, I liked everything except the rear styling. The front looks good, the profile is nice, the interior is great, just don’t care for Honda’s recent tail lights or the rear bumper of the Civic in particular.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I’ve been driving a WRX for fourteen years. I guess I could go buy another one.

  • avatar
    HuskyHawk

    Tough call. Options: Acura RDX base, Honda Ridgeline RTL, Pilot EX-L, 4Runner SR5? Tacomas are strippers at that price.

    I’d get a Ridgeline. Utility, but drives like a car. Room for 5. Reliable.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    May I have a Toyota Corolla iM PLUS a Yaris iA?

    I’d get bored driving a single car for 10 years, and this pair comes in under $36k *combined*

  • avatar
    ajla

    Screw it. Fire up the Joe Diffie.

    Silverado WT double cab 2WD 4.3L. Havana brown, vinyl seats, chrome bumpers, trailering package, convenience package, spray in bedliner, floor carpeting, all weather mats, satellite radio, and driver’s side assist handle.

    $35,740.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You could set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill and I still wouldn’t trade it for a Coupe de Ville…

      So nice of you to stick to MSRP. I’ll bet in the real world you could get an LT with 5.3 V8 for $36K, or buy another LX platform V8.

  • avatar
    random1

    Can’t argue with the GTI if it’s big enough. We have one, but it couldn’t be my only car. With a couple of dogs, I need a little more in the back to be my only driver for 10 years.
    So, not having driven it yet, I’d put in a vote for the Buick TourX. I wish it was a “regular” wagon, I can do without the lift and plastic trim, but I can also overlook those. Hope to check it out in the next week or two, it’s currently the first choice for my parents, pending test drive. It looks like 36k will be easy to do for a nicely equipped version.

    Hard to argue with the minivan buyers above. 10 years ago, that’d have been my choice, but with 2 of 3 kids in college, I don’t imagine ever needing the people hauling capability of the minivan.

  • avatar
    Pantherlove

    Cars.com tells me I can get a Golf R for just under $36k new so I am going with that. I like to live dangerously.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Actually, I changed my mind from the Accord.

    Genesis G70 manual transmission. BOOM!!!

    5 year / 60K bumper to bumper, 10 year 100K powertrain for the decisive win.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Interesting, nels. Very interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I wonder how crappy it will be for 37k.

      I say that because my Sonata stickered for 37k.

      The G80 in base trim is actually pretty well apportioned. I think if I bought today I’d be tempted to spend the 3-4k more for the G80.

      What I wonder is how the G70 will compare to like a sonata. A Premium package g80 is $5k and matches the features of the sonata… so if the g70 is 33k, and the premium package is 5k, will it match the sonata for the same price? (37k/38k?)

      If so that would be the bargain of the century, but I just don’t see it happening.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        Why would it be crappy for $37K?

        They start at $32K, very well equipped.

        And it will be infinitely less crappy than any Sonata because you can get THREE PEDALS. RWD is icing on the cake.

        Availability of a manual trans is one of the reasons why I have an Elantra Sport and not a Sonata.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          Can it be better than the Hyundais for a lower price?

          Thats what I mean. If Lexuses were cheaper than toyotas, who would buy a toyota?

          Why would they sell Hyundais for more than they sell genesis?

          That doesn’t seem to pass the test logic. Thats why I ask the question.

          Again, a Sonata fully loaded was 37k. How can you get a better genesis for less?

          I love MTs, but I cant settle for a car that my family can’t fit in as a DD!

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Good call! I agree in concept, because a (presumably) reliable RWD sport sedan with 6MT hits the sweet spot. But two things keep me leaning Accord Sport (2.0T, 6MT) for the time being. (Leaving aside the problem that we can’t buy the G70 yet.)

      First, if it’s my only car, I presume it’s also my wife’s car, and I’m not sure about RWD for both of us year-round in Philly. Second, I’m still not sure how well Hyundai has sorted its suspension tuning and steering feel (see Stinger), but C&D liked what they felt driving a pre-production model, which is very encouraging.

      Maybe I should revise my pick to Civic Type R. What the heck.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the G70 will be better than the Accord in terms of suspension tuning and steering feel for these reasons:

        1. Albert Biermann

        2. It’s going up against A4s and 3 series, not Camrys.

        3. My Elantra Sport is well sorted.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Honda Accord EX 2018. $25K and change in local market plus tax, title, and fees.

    Need AWD? Subaru Outback.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport with 3-piece hard top and limited slip. This combo comes out to $34,130, or $36,130 with the auto (hey, I am getting older, and traffic sux).

    My previous two Wranglers are the two cars I most regret parting with. I would really miss the ability to drive quickly and efficiently over pavement, the Jeep could do it all without resorting to the massive blandness of the best vehicle I ever had (based on capability/cost/reliability) the Honda Odyssey.

    As has been said above quite well, there is value in not being bored.

  • avatar
    nelio2k

    Assuming $36k means $36k out the door:

    I’d take a 2018 Accord Sport 2.0T Manual, with MSRP around $30k… plus options. With tax and fees, it’ll be <$36k out the door.

    It'll be a fun car to drive… and I'll be supporting Manual options out there for the manufacturers. I won't have to deal with Honda's infamous automatic transmission issues. Maintenance will be a breeze, with nothing much else to worry about. It'll be a good family hauler with a powerful enough engine to pull 0-60 under 6 seconds when no one else is in the car. The options will increase the lasting appeal and the luxury feel when compared to some other entry-level luxury badges.

    Oh, and not to mention the above average resale value after 10 years.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Well, my Audi TT lasted ten years without any major issues, and my 2008 Audi A5 is doing fine in its tenth year, so I suppose I would go with an A3, given the price point. I would really prefer an S3, but that does not look doable at that price point.

    A Subaru WRX, like my wife used to have for ten years, would probably be a better value for the money, though.

  • avatar
    wooootles

    I bought a loaded WRX Limited (with no ‘dealer installed options’) 2 years ago and intended to do just this. I believe I paid $34k for it inc. taxes. I have just past 40k miles on it. Since I still like this car, then yes, I believe I still would buy another WRX.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    $36k? €30k and change. Not too shabby. That would probably buy a nice little non-sporty convertible something. Or so I thought before googling to find that there are hardly any available anymore. Peugeot 308? VW Eos? Ford Focus? Gone. VW Golf? Opel Cascada? Meh. Two-seater? Not for me. Audi? BMW? Mercedes? Too expensive.

    Okay. No convertible then. No sedan either, at least I want cargo space if I have to have a roof. Wagon? Minivan? Nah, I don’t need the seating capacity. SUV? Me? No way.

    I think I’d go the sensible route (for me), get me a midsize panel van, and use the remaining four-figure sum to have it kitted out as a rather spartan weekend camper/cargo van hybrid. I don’t need plushness, and being able to sleep in the vehicle is a luxury that counts more than leather and a 28-speaker sound system.

    Trouble is, a Citroen Jumpy would have to be *really* spartan to fit within the price limit. A VW Caddy, with long wheelbase only slightly smaller, fits more nicely. Configuring one with the 2.0 TSI and double-clutch auto plus a couple of sensible options left me with a 33k€ list price, some 3k above the limit; I didn’t feel like starting over, but I’m sure I could manage to configure and/or negotiate something fitting. The weekend camper bit would have to be DIY’ed, obviously. Cars sure have gotten expensive since I stopped caring about new ones, some 20 years ago. :-)

    So there. Something that looks like a basic workman’s van, complete with steel wheels and no rear side windows (which means stealth mode in traffic), but which will do 130 mph, has enough cargo space for a ton of luggage *and* a place to sleep, and comes with double-clutch auto and distance control for stressless driving in traffic and on empty Autobahns alike: my pick for the price of a slightly-above-average Golf.

    I once had a 1972 VW Type 2 panel van. For what I want from a car, that was the most practical vehicle I’ve ever driven. Having to buy new, and wanting the power and goodies to compensate for the loss of looks and character, I think it’s hard to come any closer.

    Of course, if I may buy used instead, I’d buy me a Type 2 again. Ideally a half-panel though (middle side windows but no rear ones), but a panel van would suffice. Possibly older than 1972, too.

  • avatar
    packardhell1

    Gosh….I feel so boring. The first vehicle I thought of was a Ford Transit (big one, not the Connect). I already have a 5×8 utility trailer that dumps, so I don’t need a pickup bed. I do need something to carry people and tow things…

    I priced this at $34,664. Here is what I am getting:

    -2018 Ford Transit-150 XL Passenger
    – 3.7 V6 w/ 6sp auto
    – Towing package
    – Trailer brake controller
    – Cruise control
    – Base stereo (Using diff between $36k and $34k for better audio system). $1336 buys a lot
    – 3.73 axle, limited slip
    – HD alternator + dual HD batteries (again, good for banging stereo)
    – Heated power folding mirrors (good for towing in the winter)

    I think this would be the perfect vehicle for my ~$36k and I feel it would hold up for 10+ years easily. It’s not nearly as exciting as other options on here, but it’s my money!

    The Transit-350 with a DuraTorq diesel was above $36k, or I’d go with that one.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      That’s interesting. Ford Germany doesn’t have a commercial vehicle conigurator, but they list the basic fullsize Transit passenger van (probably an inline four Diesel) for more then €30k, above the limit already. Are they so much cheaper in the US, or are you talking Transit Custom (which is the size between the Connect and the no-second-name fullsize Transit)?

      • 0 avatar
        packardhell1

        I always use Cars Direct when I’m “building” a new vehicle just for fun. It defaulted to a Chicago zip code (60601) based on my ISP.

        The site did show a rebate – either $3000 or $3,500 – so that amount is with the rebate/discount applied. To get the diesel, I think I have to go up in option package or go with the 250/350.

        I would prefer the diesel, but I also wanted the extras that I put in my post and still be at the $36k.

        • 0 avatar
          Ermel

          Ah, with rebate it makes more sense. Can’t compare though, because neither the petrol V6 nor the big Diesel are available in Europe, it’s 2.2 inline-four Diesels all the way here, starting at €25k or thereabouts with rebate.

          Thanks for the clarification.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    For me it will be a 2018 Toyota Avalon hybrid. There should be discounts on them since the 2019 are now readily available.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    A Tesla Model 3, of course the mandatory 10 year period will be over by the time you actually take delivery.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Sorry, I can’t consider the concept. I spent $23,000 on a new Honda Gold Wing last June, and it’ll be paid off by this October. And that is $8000 more than I’ve ever spent on a car.

    The new car market moved beyond me at least a decade ago. I’m not willing to do 5-7 years of payments, anything I buy that isn’t cash must be paid off in 24 months, maximum.

    • 0 avatar
      packardhell1

      Nobody cares about the purchase price. We can’t even blame it on the four-square. Folks just don’t care how much things cost. If they can afford it monthly (either a set loan payment or a credit card), they go for it.

      I used to be one of those people until I started listening to Dave Ramsey. We are digging our way out of that mess and only paying cash for vehicles now.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      So, you dropped $23,000 on a motorcycle but a $36,000 car makes no sense?

      From my perspective, the exact opposite is true.

      But we all have our priorities.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        My last NEW motorcycle. I normally keep 3-5 in the garage, and there’s a lot of 80’s/90’s/00’s I have yet to own that I can pick up in the $2000 range.

        That Wing is expected to last me until I can’t keep two wheels up anymore, then I add a sidecar and keep going.

  • avatar
    John R

    I can squeeze into a 2018 Dodge Charger R/T 392 for that. Just need make sure to be disciplined and get a set of winter tires.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    CR-V, obviously. But fortunately, nobody is made to play this game in real life.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Since my wife has been asking for something smaller than her 12-pass van for daily family hauling, I’d go for a Dodge Durango SXT Plus with 7-pass seating, running boards, popular equipment group, and In-Violet paint. Build & Price tool brings it to $35,475 net, I’m sure I could shave off more in negotiation but we’ll just go with that as a worst case.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Correction, add about $3k for AWD. I’m still certain I could get it under $36k, since there are loaded GT AWDs (one trim level up) listed locally for ~$36k on AutoTrader.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    A Sienna configured good enough to spend all that $36k. Good enough for pickup and SUV duty.

  • avatar
    arach

    Easy-

    Fully Loaded Hyundai Sonata 2.0T

    Reason:
    1. They are really nice.
    2. Fully loaded they are 36k
    3. You said you can only have one CAR, so I can still buy a fun bike or slingshot or something
    4. 10 year warranty? bazinga.
    5. They actually drive pretty well for a sedan
    6. They are big enough for a family, get great fuel economy.

    Conveniently, thats exactly what I bought (Sticker was 37,900 but that included things like the bumper applique, locking lug nuts, emergency kit, etc. I bought it CPO though, because I wouldn’t buy those add-ons), and I love my Sonata. Sure I have my play cars as well, but if I could only buy ONE car, I find it the ultimate budget-luxury + Practical car imaginable.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Saw a 2.0 Sport not too long ago for $26,000 – everything but leather. Nice metallic red as well.

      Nice looking ride.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I like them!

        Unfortunately if it didn’t have leather, there’s a lot it was also missing… the Sport (unless you get the limited) doesn’t come with Smart cruise, electronic parking brake, sunshades, heated steering wheel, autodimming rear mirrors, power passenger seat, memory system for seat and mirror, ventilated seats, dual climate control, rear vents, 8″ Touch screen, wireless charging, LED headlights, LED Taillights, rear park sensors, AWB, Lane departure warning, lane keep assist, dynamic bending light, automatic high beam assist.

        Still not a bad car, but personally I’d pay a bit more for some of those features. (The limited 2.0T is only 33k now, although they got rid of the full size sunroof)

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      On point #3.

      I’d wager a Genesis G70 with a manual is more fun than a FWD midsize with a torque converter.

      Just get the G70, it also has a 10 year warranty but satisfies the one car requirement and will likely be fun.

      I have faith in Biermann.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        The problem with your suggestion is the G70 doesn’t actually exist yet…

        The only pricing information I can get about the manual is that its more pricey on a sport trim with the M6. Maybe I’m missing something though ;)

        The rear seat is also unusably small. Thats the problem I had with the stinger. An adult (or my kids) couldn’t sit behind me :(

        It’ll be here soon, and once it shows up, maybe I’ll change my mind!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ll toss another option out –

    1) Hyundai Elantra Sport. ATP around here is +/- $19,500.
    2) Buy $16,500 in Apple stock.

  • avatar
    Dan

    My 2016 F-150 XLT was 37 out the door then. Not even two years of allegedly <2.0% inflation later it'd be a hair under 40 today. Giving up every option except 301A and the 2.7 might, barely, meet budget. The base 4" radio would embarrass in a $15,000 Kia and the half sized base gas tank would make me angry at every single fill up but all of the other fundamentals would be there.

    If you don't do the outdoorsy stuff then giving up 4WD saves $3,500, which would put the most important options back on and get you a set of snow tires besides.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’d probably go with the car I should have bought over my Golf, which was a GTI SE with leather (I like the plaid seats, I like leather more). The Autobahn puts it right at 36k and having driven that car, I’m not sure the complexity of the adaptive suspension is entirely worth it over the long haul.

    My Golf is fine, fun and versatile, the GTI would add a bit more of an edge. The aftermarket can help GTI-ify my Golf if I so desire but I’m not big on that stuff.

    Runner-up is a Dodge Charger R/T. I like these cars, but I generally cannot justify something this large and thirsty since we have a minivan for family duty. But if I gotta drive it for a decade (something I’ve only done with our recently departed Mazda 5) it might as well be interesting.

    ( I was going to go with an Alfa Giulia, but they are at 38k starting now)

  • avatar
    jkross22

    36k is the average price, but it’s not the average transaction price. Add in tax, title and license and if we use the 36k number, the average transaction price to buy a new car is over $40k.

    That doesn’t make sense to me.

    That would make a 72 month car loan around $570. Are people doing this?

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Just about. Experian’s Q4 ’17 numbers:

      Average new car loan, $31,099 with a $515 payment.

      Average used car, $19,589 with a $371 payment.

    • 0 avatar
      ozzypriest

      Then add 10 years of fuel and insurance, and repairs. say, SUV mileage, 22 mpg overall, 15k/year, 681 gallons x 3.00 /g is $2045.00 in gas per year x 10 is a little over 20k. 2400 /year insurance is 24k, and lets assume ~5k the life of the car maintenance and repairs, so 40k + 20k + 24k + 5k, and that 36,000.00 car just cost you 89,000 for 10 years.

      We all know the hidden costs, but they are so easy to ignore while you wonder where your money went at the end of the month.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Wrangler Rubicon 2-door
    Tacoma TRD offroad
    Frontier Pro-4x
    Mustang GT (base trim)
    Challenger R/T
    WRX
    Civic Si
    370Z

  • avatar
    ozzypriest

    Man, you may be on to something, CR loves the Dodge. Head of testing department owns one, and loves it, the V6.

  • avatar
    ozzypriest

    I feel the answer is GTI autobahn. 7 year bumper to bumper, they are reliable now, and that new EA888 engine can take a monster tune and still remain reliable – the 2015s with tunes seem fine at this point. Get a roof rack, and you are set. And you can read about the fun on the internets.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      “They are reliable now”

      I really want to believe that, but I’m old enough to remember the SAME EXACT THING being said in 2001 when I was looking to buy a Jetta 1.8T for my first brand new car.

      We all know now that wasn’t true in 2001.

      Maybe JD power and CR need to catch up, or maybe some things never change?

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Because VW won’t sell us a GTI wagon (and VW’s basically all that’s left for affordable station wagons), a regular Golf wagon and reserve funds should do just fine (at least as long as I live within biking range from work).

  • avatar
    &quot;scarey&quot;

    GTI wagen- that’s what LOTSA people would want. I would like a “sportwagon” also, but could maybe go for a Chrysler Pacifica. Or a stripped-down Jeep 4-door Unlimited. Or the closest thing to a Suburban that can be had for $36,000. I guess that would be a Tahoe.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    GTI wagen- that’s what LOTSA people would want. I would like a “sportwagon” also, but could maybe go for a Chrysler Pacifica. Or a stripped-down Jeep 4-door Unlimited. Or the closest thing to a Suburban that can be had for $36,000., whatever that would be.

  • avatar
    ernest

    10 yrs is the kicker. I’ll take a new Camry SE for just under $25K, and use the remaining $10K to rent any SUV/PU I might need for the next ten years. Think life is too short to drive a boring car? I think life is too short to deal with the inevitable service grief that an interesting, higher end brand carries along as baggage.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I would buy an Izuzu Dmax LS-T, dual cab, 3 litre diesel, 4×4. They can tow 7800lbs and carry

    They are very reliable and will go the distance, plus some. They have versatility and return around 33-34mpg on the highway. Not bad for a pickup, even a midsizer.

    https://www.caradvice.com.au/641079/2018-isuzu-d-max-review/

  • avatar
    rhduff

    Honda Accord Sport 2.0 6mt in Still Night Pearl. It’ll EASILT last 10 years, and the powertrain ensures the car can’t be used as a soporific. The $30,310 msrp means you’ll still have lots of $$ left over to do with as you see fit.

  • avatar
    john coccio

    $36k would get you a Chevy Equinox diesel premier. That’s a boring, but practical choice. AWD, top of the line, diesel to hedge bets against $5/ gal fuel. 3 people, and gear should be comfortable.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Easy answer. Over 10 years the average person will experience a number of changes in their lifestyle, and needs.

    Raising children, children moving out, retirement, changing residence, taking car of parents, travels, etc.

    So you will need a vehicle that is reliable, versatile, relatively inexpensive to maintain/run, and can accommodate all of your changing needs.

    Toyota Sienna, ticks all of the boxes.

    And its inexpensive maintenance will help you to save up for the Miata that you really want.

  • avatar
    fIEtser

    Can we consider tax credits to arrive at the $36k figure? If so, potentially a Pacifica Hybrid. Otherwise, a new LEAF if the elusive Hyundai IONIQ Electric stays out of reach. A Clarity PHEV is also a really strong contender.

  • avatar

    Whatever Charger that fits the price point would work for me.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    If I can take advantage of incentives and/or find one hanging around on a dealer lot, I could just squeeze in a Jaguar XE AWD with the 2.0 diesel.

    I rented one in the UK a few years ago and averaged almost 60 mpg, I figure that should insulate against future fuel cost increases.

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