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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I'm going to be getting a new/slightly used car in about 6 months and I'm not sure what to get. :shrug: There are alot of good cars out there, so finding a fun to drive car that's not a gas hog is getting really easy but there are so many choices. What I want is primarily something that's fun to drive, gets decent/good gas mileage(no V8's), decent on insurance and keeps it's value somewhat decent. My price range is going to be anywhere up to $25k and I want nothing older than '03 and not out of warranty(if I go used I want to get an extended warranty if I can get a factory backed one). So, in that price range you have the following:

Entry level luxury cars:
  • Audi A4
  • BMW 3xx
  • Acura RSX/TSX/TL
  • etc
Sports cars:
  • Mini Cooper S
  • Subaru Imprezza WRX STI
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8
  • Mazda RX8
  • etc
Cheaper sporty-econo cars:
  • Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V(almost bought a new 03, liked it alot)
  • Hundai Tiberon(new ones, not the older ugly ones)
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse('06)
  • Scion TC
  • Dodge Neon SRT-4(though I would never buy one new, depreciation is too bad)
  • etc.
There are even more cars than this out there that I'm sure I would like, so you can see my dilemma. Not only do I have different brands, but different types of cars(sporty-luxury, sport, econo-sports, etc) that I like. My fiance wants me to get a 4 door, but I told her that she can have the practical car and that I want a car that I really enjoy driving. I promised that I wouldn't get a two seater though!

If you want a little info on me to get a perspective of where I am and what I want, here you go. I'm 24, working for the local public school system repairing technology stuff(PC's, laptops, Mac's, printers, A/V equipment, overheads, projectors, laminators, etc), make a little over $30k, have very little debt(most of which will be gone in the next 6 months anyway) and am about to get married. I've never owned a new car, in fact besides the bike I've never owned anything made after 1994. I'm finally in a place financially(and physically for those of you that remember all my health problems) that I can afford to get something nice for myself. My fiance and I will be starting out pretty well since neither of us has any large amount of debt and we're pretty good at budgeting. The few grand of debt I have won't take long to get rid of now that I'm making a decent salary, and I'm planning on saving at least $3-5k to put down on the car, maybe more if I decide to sell the bike(I want a 636, so I won't have this bike too long anyway). So that's kinda where I am.

Anyway, give me your opinions guys. I am not brand loyal in any way, and I always love trying new cars. I doubt I'll ever own two of the same thing ever, just because there are so many cool cars I want to try them all. Anyone that owns one of the cars listed, or has any experience with them, let me know. If there's a car you think I should consider that's not listed, post it up!

And feel free to let me know if I should get a sporty luxury car, pure sports car or an econo-sports car! So far I've had a sports car('94 Z28) and a bunch of crappy econo cars('87 Civic, '93 Cutlass Ciera, '93 Honda Accord) so I would kinda like to try a luxury car. But I'm still very undecided.

Oh yeah, it has to be a manual or at the very least a tiptronic type tranny, if I can't shift it myself I don't want it!

:)
 

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300 series BMW ALL THE WAY MAN. It's a drivers car to boot, Actually has good reliability( not that an Acura/Honda doesn't), one of the best in terms of depreciation, can be easily modified if ur into that thing, gets good gas mileage. An 03 for $25k is probably right about what it would cost. And at 24 and soon to be married, insurance shouldn't be too bad, but i don't know ur driving record.Plus the beemer looks good as a 4door too. After all compromse is an important part of marriage :) .

Best 2nd choice is the STi. :banana

To get everything u stated u want, these are the only way to go in my opinion.

The Alter Ego kicks ass by the way, thanx for ur input a while back! :cheers
 

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go mini man, mini coopers are soo sweet!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm glad I could help out Travis! The ALter Ego is indeed a great jacket, I love mine.

This is going to be a hard decision. Fortunately I have a few months before I'll actually be buying, because it'll take me at least that long to make up my mind! There are just so many cool cars out there that are a blast to drive, it's hard!
 

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SMFCPACFP said:
Buy an inexpensive, reliable car, and put the extra money in a ROTH IRA or your 403(b) SRA plan at work.

In about 40 years you will be quite happy you took my advice. Most people tend to comsume too much and never have anything in reserve.
Good advice. You say you have zero debt or will be debt free in a few months. Why not stay debt free and save up and pay for a slightly less expensive car with cash? Use the 3-4K you already have for the car or a Roth.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That is good advise. The thing is I've always had $3-5k cars and I'm tired of always having to work on them. I love working on cars, but only when I'm upgrading something, fixing broken stuff isn't fun. I want something with a warranty that I won't have to worry about for a long time. I'm purposely not spending a bunch on a car so that I'm not over my head in payments and will still have plenty to save. Plus, once I get a few more years of experience at the job I have I'll be able to move back into the private sector and make twice as much.

The point is, I'm not like most people who live beyond their means no matter what they make. I have several friends like that, they make almost 3 times as much as me but are always broke. My fiance and I are both very good at budgeting and once we're pulling a decent amount we'll be saving the majority of our income. I will be setting up an IRA in the next year or so also, on top of planning on getting into investing and possibly real estate.
 

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Out of your list Acura TL. Two not included that should be are the Nissan Maxima and Altima especially the SE-R.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The Altima is definetly on the list, Maxima is a bit too much $$$. I'm still torn between getting more of a luxury car vs something like the Evo 8/Cooper S. It's hard to decide, because I'd like a nice comfy car, but I want to be able to have fun driving it too. I guess I need the Audi and the Evo 8! :cheers
 

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Gee, there are so many different cars - apples and oranges.

Tell us what exactly you want in a car - luxury? acceleration? handling? gas mileage? nice interior? passenger space? Will you need back seats?

There are just so many great cars in your price range that it's kinda hard to narrow the list down without knowing what it is you are looking for in your next vehicle.

My favorite do-it-all sporty cars at this moment are the G35 coupe and Subaru sti. Both have 4 usuable seats and enough performance to keep my enthusiast side happy.

I've driven many different cars and can give an in depth review of any car listed above if you're interested. Just name a couple that are at the top of your list.
 

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I'd go with the Audi, a buddy of mine owns one and I have driven it a few times and I love it. The interior is excellent, some people have claimed some electrical problems but they Audi warranty I believe goes 5 years 50K miles if I'm not mistaken and that includes all required maintenance like oil changes etc. He has never had a problem with his Audi and has 24K miles now.
 

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KH, Rest In Peace Brother
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Corporal79 said:
I'd go with the Audi, a buddy of mine owns one and I have driven it a few times and I love it. The interior is excellent, some people have claimed some electrical problems but they Audi warranty I believe goes 5 years 50K miles if I'm not mistaken and that includes all required maintenance like oil changes etc. He has never had a problem with his Audi and has 24K miles now.

Holy shit Corp!!... Now that's an avatar!!
 

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get the Bimmer! I have had a couple different 325's over the last few years. Love 'em!
If you get a warranty covered one you'll be golden. So much fun to drive and comfy as hell. Definitely get the sport package. World of difference in feel.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Mucho Gonzales, no, I'm not really even considering any American cars, I'm not really sure why I even put it on the list. The fact is that there are no American cars in my price range that are worth the money. Anything under $30k from an American manufacturer is going to have shoddy interior and if it's got a 4 cylinder, not very reliable(especially compared to a 4 cyl coming from just about any other country). If American auto makers were making something worth buying, I'd be all over it, but there aren't.

Pwang, the top cars on my list, in order of which I like the best at the moment: Audi A4 3.0V6 6spd/S4(if I could get my hands on a good one/non ragged out for under $25k), Mitsu Lancer Evo 8 6spd, Mini Cooper S 6spd, Acura TL(whatever manual they come with, not sure if it's a 5 or 6) and either a BMW 32x or a slightly older M3. If you could write a short pro/con of each of those you are familiar with that'd be great. I'm really leaning heavily towards the Audi, though the Evo would be a badass fun car to have. The biggest reason the Biimer is at the end of the list is because I hate their dash layouts, especially the A/C. I've driven several BMW's from my dad's 740iL to my soon to be father-in-law's 328i to a friend's M3 and I always hate the dash and control layout. Other than that I love driving them.

It's a good thing this decision is a few months off, it's going to take that long to make up my damn mind!
 

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Camride said:
Mucho Gonzales, no, I'm not really even considering any American cars, I'm not really sure why I even put it on the list. The fact is that there are no American cars in my price range that are worth the money. Anything under $30k from an American manufacturer is going to have shoddy interior and if it's got a 4 cylinder, not very reliable(especially compared to a 4 cyl coming from just about any other country). If American auto makers were making something worth buying, I'd be all over it, but there aren't.

Pwang, the top cars on my list, in order of which I like the best at the moment: Audi A4 3.0V6 6spd/S4(if I could get my hands on a good one/non ragged out for under $25k), Mitsu Lancer Evo 8 6spd, Mini Cooper S 6spd, Acura TL(whatever manual they come with, not sure if it's a 5 or 6) and either a BMW 32x or a slightly older M3. If you could write a short pro/con of each of those you are familiar with that'd be great. I'm really leaning heavily towards the Audi, though the Evo would be a badass fun car to have. The biggest reason the Biimer is at the end of the list is because I hate their dash layouts, especially the A/C. I've driven several BMW's from my dad's 740iL to my soon to be father-in-law's 328i to a friend's M3 and I always hate the dash and control layout. Other than that I love driving them.

It's a good thing this decision is a few months off, it's going to take that long to make up my damn mind!
Sure man.

Audi A4

Nice interior. Is interior design very important to you? Consider the Audi more seriously if it is 'cuz the A4 and the Acura TL have the best ones of the cars mentioned in your post. Since the late '90s Audi has, in my opinion, been pushing the industry's design envelope in regards to interior design. As far as I know, they were the first manufacturer to introduce indirect lighting and recessed lighting with the A8. Good ideas catch on and I've noticed these design elements have trickled down to Acura sedans and into one of the A8's corporate cousins, the Toureg.

Interior seams across the Audi line also appear to be the tightest in the car world. Sit in an A4. Take a closer look at the various buttons and panel gaps on the center console. Audi must have invested a great deal in the tooling that manufactures these various parts because thier fit and finish is almost unmatched in the industry. Here's a linkie from a late model illustrating my point.

6 spd. Like most other Audis/VWs the manual in the A4 is a real sweet heart. Some critics more accustomed to the 3 series might say that the clutch action is too light and the shifter doesn't offer quite enough mechanical resistance or feed back. I like it anyway. Much like any current Acura or Honda, the gear selector moves very easily and preciesely thru its pattern. Still, I hold the BMW and Acura manuals as the car world's current best manual shfiters.

Motor. I really cannot comment much about the 3.0 in the A4. Power is adequate and it is smooth enough to be acceptable competition for the other entry-level sporty sedans. Still, it lacks the burbling exhaust note and all-around power of the G35 or the torque steer inducing get-up-and-go of the TL. I forget the hp rating for the A4's V6 but I gauruntee that the G35 and TL will kick the car's ass in a drag race. The Infiniti and Acura may be worth considering more seriously if straight line performance is important to you. Also, if you can justify the cost savings, you may consider the 4 cylinder turbo option. The 1.8-2.0t are fun motors even if they aren't quite that fast. Floor the car in first gear and, due to the short gearing and peaky turbo, it'll swing its tach needle so fast to redline that the car feels fast even though it isn't. In sum, the V6 is adequate but lacks any charisma.

Handling. I've never really pushed an A4 too hard so I can't really comment. However, like its competitors, you should expect a nice compromise between sporty handling and ride quality.

Can you afford an S4? Either the older V6TT or current V8 are a hoot and a holler of fun to drive. LOL

Evo 8.

I'd look into the transmission failure issues surrounding this car before I make any decisons of ownership. Supposedly, many of their trannys have self destructed after only a short period of ownership. I want to like this car but I'd probably steer toward the excellent sti and avoid this car's two major demons: transmission woes and the prospect that Mitsubushi's flagging financial performance of late may force it to pull up anchor and bid the US market farewell.

Otherwise, just like the sti, it is the best performing car you can buy for roughly $30K. Consider the sti? The last time I drove one, I giggled like a school girl. It it just as quick and fun to drive as all the hype says it is.

Mini Cooper S. I've driven the standard Mini but I can't recall driving the S. I can't say that I am all too impressed with this car overall. I like the cheeky styling inside and out but I just feel that its price range includes more worthy competitors. For the same stack of bucks or just a bit more you can buy cars with more interior space and better performace. Mies is wrong in this case - Less is not always more.

Acura TL. Ahh, this is another car that stands out among its peers. Aside from its one glaring flaw - which I'll describe later - it is a very good car that I can whole heartedly recommend.

Interior. Where the A4 is well-executed and somewhat restrained, the TL is more cutting edge and eye-catching. As alluded to above, two tiny recessed blue LED lamps camoflauged in the ceiling liner cast a mellow glow on the center dash. This seemingly insignificant feature is one of my favorite features of the car. LOL I clearly remember that I spent a good 5 minutes trying to locate the source of that inexplicable blue glow when I first drove a TL at night. The rest of the interior illumination is lit up with the same tasteful hue of blue too. Aluminum colored panels and dials dress up the rest of the interior in keeping with the latest automotive fad of metal-look interior design. The plastics used on the dash are, as expected of Acura, expensive looking and soft to the touch - all in keeping with the high standards of this market segment.

I'm no stereophile but Car and Driver claims it is the best in its class - which is already populated with cars that possess pretty damn good car stereos. I've cranked it up and it sounded good enough to me - but I'm hardly an expert in these matters so you may wish to research this yourself rather than take my world for it.

Gearbox. Hey, its an Acura so I expect it to have one sweet shifting manual. The effort is very light, lighter than a BMW's, but it also contains just enough resistance to let you know exactly where the gear selector is in the shift pattern. Furthermore, as the shifter approaches the end of its travel, the resistance seems to slacken just a smidgen and the stick will almost guide itself toward the intended gear due to this calculated decrease in resistance. Sometimes, I think those clever poindexters at Honda have hidden powerful rare earth magnets at the terminus of each shift pattern because it is so slick and precise. This is car engineering at its very best. Pay attention GM.

Motor. I have a soft spot for VTEC motors. Perhaps it is because a Honda Prelude first introduced me into the wonderful world of variable valve timing or maybe it could be my infatuation for the S2000 and its screaming 9000 rpm VTECH motor. shrug. Beats me. All I know is I like 'em. Admittedly, you must admire the technological innovation and the fact that Honda originally spear-headed this technology in F1 racing decades ago. Its another good idea that has spread like wild fire to other competitors - vvti, variocam, VANOS, are all other manufacturer's version of Honda's basic theme of variable valve timing. Much like the VQ series V6 that powers the G35, the TL's engine has good all around power and feels more like a larger displacement V8. Added to this, it has a great top end, especially when the higher lift cam profile takes over and you get that slight turbo boost kick toward red line. However, its great motor delivers us to the car's major flaw. Cue segue.

All that juicy horsepower from the TL's lovely motor is transmitted to the wrong wheels. Mash the gas in any of the lower gears and the car will try to steer itself. Accelerating out of a tight corner will involve alot of arm wrestling with the steering wheel as you try to man handle the car to go in the direction where you wish to go. Its a major flaw but it is only apparent when driving the car near its limits and at full throttle. Slow the pace down to 7/10s and the torque steer almost completely dissapears. I, for one, could probably learn to live with the torque steer. It would likely be unnoticeable in your average daily commute unless your route to work transits a race track. Otherwise, the car's rock solid unibody and well-chosen suspension rates lends the car a refined and sporty ride.
 
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