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Thread: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

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  1. #1
    Daffy Duck RedTeamGo!'s Avatar
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    Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Hi everybody!

    (Hi Doctor Nick...

    My 2005 Malibu Maxx is getting up there in miles (170,000) and is starting to break down. Doesn't start right away about 25% of the time, the A/C is broken, plastic pieces on the interior are starting to fall off randomly, etc. I am planning on purchasing a new vehicle this December (I have been told the very end of the last quarter is the best time to buy a car as they are attempting to get rid of their 2013 inventory). I have never purchased a car as I have driven hand-me-downs from my dad since I was in high school. I graduated from college 3 years ago and have a solid salary now and am able to afford a new car. My wife and I will probably start a family in the next year or two so I was thinking a small SUV with solid MPG (30ish HWY) is the way to go.

    I like the Hyundai Tuscon, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, and Mazda CX-5.

    Even though I have a decent paying job now I would prefer to keep the price around $20,000 with a car payment under $300/month. Does anyone have any advice on the best bang for my buck on a vehicle like this? Does anyone own any of these vehicles or something similar that can advise on the quality of their ride?

    I would also greatly appreciate any wisdom some of the more experienced posters on Redszone can offer on buying a new car.

    Thank you very much!

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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    I cannot comment on any of the SUVs you mentioned, but I've owned a Jeep Patriot for five or six years and really enjoy it. It drives like a car (which I consider a good thing unless you drive on rugged terrain) and gets good gas mileage for that type of vehicle. My wife and I are expecting our first child and she plans to start driving the Patriot once Baby arrives. It might be one for you to consider. I plan on replacing it with another Patriot one day (unless my father-in-law talks us into a Forrester, he works for Subaru).

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    Daffy Duck RedTeamGo!'s Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Would you get an employee discount on the Forrester?

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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    Would you get an employee discount on the Forrester?
    Yes I believe so. That would be a selling point obviously.

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    On the brink wolfboy's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    Hi everybody!

    (Hi Doctor Nick...

    My 2005 Malibu Maxx is getting up there in miles (170,000) and is starting to break down. Doesn't start right away about 25% of the time, the A/C is broken, plastic pieces on the interior are starting to fall off randomly, etc. I am planning on purchasing a new vehicle this December (I have been told the very end of the last quarter is the best time to buy a car as they are attempting to get rid of their 2013 inventory). I have never purchased a car as I have driven hand-me-downs from my dad since I was in high school. I graduated from college 3 years ago and have a solid salary now and am able to afford a new car. My wife and I will probably start a family in the next year or two so I was thinking a small SUV with solid MPG (30ish HWY) is the way to go.

    I like the Hyundai Tuscon, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, and Mazda CX-5.

    Even though I have a decent paying job now I would prefer to keep the price around $20,000 with a car payment under $300/month. Does anyone have any advice on the best bang for my buck on a vehicle like this? Does anyone own any of these vehicles or something similar that can advise on the quality of their ride?

    I would also greatly appreciate any wisdom some of the more experienced posters on Redszone can offer on buying a new car.

    Thank you very much!
    My wife loves her CR-V. She bought it about a month ago. She also checked out the CX-5, but didn't care for it at all. She felt that it had poor handling, an underpowered engine, and that it was generally overpriced. I can't speak to the other ones as they weren't on her radar. My neighbors just bought a Ford Escape and they've been pretty happy with it. I suspect that $20,000 might be a little low for this type of car?
    How do we know he's not Mel Torme?

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    Custodial Engineer Bob Sheed's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    Hi everybody!

    (Hi Doctor Nick...

    My 2005 Malibu Maxx is getting up there in miles (170,000) and is starting to break down. Doesn't start right away about 25% of the time, the A/C is broken, plastic pieces on the interior are starting to fall off randomly, etc. I am planning on purchasing a new vehicle this December (I have been told the very end of the last quarter is the best time to buy a car as they are attempting to get rid of their 2013 inventory). I have never purchased a car as I have driven hand-me-downs from my dad since I was in high school. I graduated from college 3 years ago and have a solid salary now and am able to afford a new car. My wife and I will probably start a family in the next year or two so I was thinking a small SUV with solid MPG (30ish HWY) is the way to go.

    I like the Hyundai Tuscon, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, and Mazda CX-5.

    Even though I have a decent paying job now I would prefer to keep the price around $20,000 with a car payment under $300/month. Does anyone have any advice on the best bang for my buck on a vehicle like this? Does anyone own any of these vehicles or something similar that can advise on the quality of their ride?

    I would also greatly appreciate any wisdom some of the more experienced posters on Redszone can offer on buying a new car.

    Thank you very much!

    Bad. Idea. Car Salesman will love you though. He'll spread those terms out for many years, keeping the payment nice and low so that you think you can afford it.

    Here's my advice. Find something in the 8 or 10 k range. If you can't pay with cash, setup a 3 yr plan and put as much down on it as you can. Then in 3 years, you will own it outright, but you should have more money to work with at that point. And at that point, trade in the vehicle you just bought 3 years ago (if you must) and add in all that money you were able to save for yourself instead of giving it to some bank as interest payments.
    Last edited by Bob Sheed; 07-29-2013 at 12:18 PM.
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    Moderator RedlegJake's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    totally agree with Bob. $300 a month on 20 grand is going to be a six year loan and lots of interest even if you qualify for a low rate, plus you'll be upside down on value until the very end of the loan making it hard to trade. You'll either need to up your payment or lower your sights this time for a good used vehicle and follow the plan Bob laid out.

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    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by RedlegJake View Post
    totally agree with Bob. $300 a month on 20 grand is going to be a six year loan and lots of interest even if you qualify for a low rate, plus you'll be upside down on value until the very end of the loan making it hard to trade. You'll either need to up your payment or lower your sights this time for a good used vehicle and follow the plan Bob laid out.
    If you're going to do a used vehicle, make sure you investigate the warranties offered and consider buying additional warranty coverage on your own. Having a car payment is bad enough, but having a car payment AND a constant stream of repair bills is usually more than most people can stomach.

    Also, FWIW, most people I know who have had bad used car experiences have had their bad experiences with used SUVs. I don't know a single person who bought a lemon used car, but I know several people who have bought SUVs that have ended up taking them to the cleaners with various issues.

    I'll echo another point made here -- I generally think leasing is a bad idea, but if you're in a position where your life is about to change substantially (via kids) in a few years, a short-term (2 year) lease might not be a terrible idea.
    Last edited by Caveat Emperor; 07-30-2013 at 03:14 PM.
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post

    I'll echo another point made here -- I generally think leasing is a bad idea, but if you're in a position where your life is about to change substantially (via kids) in a few years, a short-term (2 year) lease might not be a terrible idea.
    This.

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    Member medford's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    I'll continue on to what was said above.

    You're planning on having kids in another year or two. Have you looked into the cost of daycare? or perhaps you or your wife will quite work for a few years, or have schedules that afford either one or both of you to be at home at all times? If you're going the daycare route (like we did), be prepared for the cost. Depending on where you live, and what kind of daycare you go to, you might be spending $1000 a month. Sure you can save money taking your kid to a "sitter" who watches him at their house if you trust them (we love ours, I've heard several agrevating stories about sitters changing their mind and giving parents a 2 week notice that they need to find another option) and you can definently go a lot higher, but I'd target an even $1000 right now. That will eat a bunch into your wallet, its something not many people think about until they're pregnant and start shopping around.

    After that, I've never driven or owned any of the cars you mentioned, but we had a toyota highlander up until somebody hit me on the highway a few months back and totaled it. Prior to that car, my wife drove a Camry, until somebody turned right in front of me, leaving me no time to stop and totaled the car (funny how people keep wrecking her car while I'm driving it) Prior to that, she had a toyota paseo that she got like 200,000 miles out of. Other than the AC not working, it still ran like a champ, I want to say it was a 93 or something, we got 1st camry in like 2001 to replace that car. I currently drive a camry as well. We've been more than happy with each of our toyotas (which is I guess why we keep going back), so I'd go w/ the Rav4 off of that list if it were me.

    I'd also recommend buying a used car, kids are rough on cars and you're going to eat up a ton in depreciation the second you drive a new car off the lot. You can get a 2010 Rav4, with 40-50000 miles on it for 20k or less. A 3 year loan at 1.9% interest (I think you can get that now, perhaps even better) w/ no money down is like $550+ a month. If you start out at 50,000 miles and drive around 15,000 a year, you might be able to get 10 years of life out of that car (200k total)

    Good luck.

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    I hate the Cubs LoganBuck's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    We paid a little more for a 2012 Chevy Equinox AWD last year, it is my wife's vehicle. She loves it. She sits around 24 MPG. The 2012 GM Equinox, (and also the Terrain) were new takes on that vehicle.

    My in laws all drive CRV's and they are pretty much happy, but a common complaint is that the seats don't have the lumbar support unless you pony up for the luxury model.
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    On the brink wolfboy's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by LoganBuck View Post
    We paid a little more for a 2012 Chevy Equinox AWD last year, it is my wife's vehicle. She loves it. She sits around 24 MPG. The 2012 GM Equinox, (and also the Terrain) were new takes on that vehicle.

    My in laws all drive CRV's and they are pretty much happy, but a common complaint is that the seats don't have the lumbar support unless you pony up for the luxury model.
    My wife's CR-V is loaded and it does not have lumbar support. Power seat on driver's, not on passenger.
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Just my dos centavos, there's rarely a single "right" way to buy a car. One thing I don't think you mentioned is how long you plan on having this vehicle.

    You obviously have some concerns on monthly cash flow, and are starting a family so you may not necessarily want to be forking out a lot of cash upfront for a car and instead keeping those funds liquid and available to you. Now I know some people will scream bloody murder, but a lease could be an option for you. Granted, there are people who get killed on leases because they just don't understand them, and/or leasing wasn't a good option for them to begin with...but if you brush up on things like money factor, cap cost, residual, you can get good deals on a lease, and that's true even on leases that allow up to 12K-15K miles/yr.

    I've done many leases and purchases...new and used. My preference is to buy "newer used" that are still under warranty, but we have leased new before and done very well. It's really just a matter of what works best for us at that particular time.

    And not a lot of people know this, but you can take over someone else's lease, provided of course you qualify with the leasing company, etc. And quite often people really need to get out of the leases, so they offer cash incentives for you to take over, effectively reducing the monthly lease payment. A couple good sites where you can search these deals are Lease Trader and Swap A Lease.

    Finally, I've never owned/driven any of the cars you mentioned, but a great site for user reviews is Edmunds. As for ratings, Consumer Reports is okay, although a site with MUCH better methodology for collecting ratings on reliability, mileage, repairs, etc. is TrueDelta.com.

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    Daffy Duck RedTeamGo!'s Avatar
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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by NorCal Reds Fan View Post
    Just my dos centavos, there's rarely a single "right" way to buy a car. One thing I don't think you mentioned is how long you plan on having this vehicle.

    You obviously have some concerns on monthly cash flow, and are starting a family so you may not necessarily want to be forking out a lot of cash upfront for a car and instead keeping those funds liquid and available to you. Now I know some people will scream bloody murder, but a lease could be an option for you. Granted, there are people who get killed on leases because they just don't understand them, and/or leasing wasn't a good option for them to begin with...but if you brush up on things like money factor, cap cost, residual, you can get good deals on a lease, and that's true even on leases that allow up to 12K-15K miles/yr.

    I've done many leases and purchases...new and used. My preference is to buy "newer used" that are still under warranty, but we have leased new before and done very well. It's really just a matter of what works best for us at that particular time.

    And not a lot of people know this, but you can take over someone else's lease, provided of course you qualify with the leasing company, etc. And quite often people really need to get out of the leases, so they offer cash incentives for you to take over, effectively reducing the monthly lease payment. A couple good sites where you can search these deals are Lease Trader and Swap A Lease.

    Finally, I've never owned/driven any of the cars you mentioned, but a great site for user reviews is Edmunds. As for ratings, Consumer Reports is okay, although a site with MUCH better methodology for collecting ratings on reliability, mileage, repairs, etc. is TrueDelta.com.

    Part of the reason I said around $300 is that I am up for a promotion to outside sales. If I were to get this promotion it would include a program called "runzheimer" which gives $300 a month for a car payment as well as a certain amount of money per mile driven (work related driving only). The catch is it has to be a car that is within 5 years old, has 4 doors, and meets other criteria. Obviously I would be able to go with a $400/month payment and just spend $100 out of my pocket, but in a perfect world I would like no money going out of my pocket. Either way I am getting a new vehicle this winter as my malibu is about to die, hopefully I get the promotion so I don't have to pay for it!

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    Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    Part of the reason I said around $300 is that I am up for a promotion to outside sales. If I were to get this promotion it would include a program called "runzheimer" which gives $300 a month for a car payment as well as a certain amount of money per mile driven (work related driving only). The catch is it has to be a car that is within 5 years old, has 4 doors, and meets other criteria. Obviously I would be able to go with a $400/month payment and just spend $100 out of my pocket, but in a perfect world I would like no money going out of my pocket. Either way I am getting a new vehicle this winter as my malibu is about to die, hopefully I get the promotion so I don't have to pay for it!
    Well, I don't know all your particulars, such as how far is your commute, how much are you willing to put down, etc. So again, just generally speaking for a younger guy in your situation, about to start a family, I might be looking to hold on to as much cash as possible instead of tying it up in a "large" down payment on a car. That's why a 2-3/yr lease putting little to nothing down, on a new car with warranty isn't a crazy idea. Some leases include regularly scheduled maintenance, although that tends to be with vehicles in the $40K+ range. Again, not saying outright purchase wouldn't work for you, just that I would not be quick to rule out leasing. But with employer paying $300/mo, either way you're way ahead of the game...congrats and best of luck.


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