Went for a test drive.

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GA Russell
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Went for a test drive.

Post by GA Russell » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:32 pm

My car is an '87 Toyota Camry bought new, now with 285,000 miles on it. I hope to get some money in a few months, and I thought it would be good to consider looking for a new car.

My Camry isn't perfect, but it doesn't owe me anything! On the other hand, I had a $600 bill a couple of months ago for the exhaust system, and I don't want to put much more into it.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Raleigh, so I went to the Hyundai dealership and test drove a Sonata SE with the sport suspension. I see a number of cars with "sport suspension." Is that the same thing as what they called "handling suspension" thirty years ago? If so, that 's what I want.

The Sonata was a four-cylinder, but it seemed very powerful, and quickly accelerated up to 70 mph. In fact, it seemed nicer than what I need. Its list price was about $24,000.

I also sat in Hyundai's two smaller cars, the Accent and the Elantra. I'm 6'3" with long legs, so I expected difficulty with the smaller cars. I was VERY surprised that the Accent seemed to have as much room for the driver as the Sonata, so I took that out for a test drive as well.

Initially it felt like an old Volkswagen Beetle from the 60s, but after a brief time, my rear end hurt. I felt every bump in the road. The seats provided very little cushion, and I don't think that the suspension was good enough either. From what I can tell, the Accent is not available with better seats or suspension.

The salesman said that my discomfort was due to the car's shorter wheelbase. Is that true? I plan to visit Toyota and Honda dealerships as well. Should I not bother with the Corolla and the Civic because of their shorter wheelbases?

I may also test drive a Kia, but I don't expect to be impressed with them.

By far Hyundai has the best website when it comes to building your car, in terms of explaining the options that are available and how much they cost.

Consumer Reports says that Hyundai's problems-record is a little better than average but worse than Toyota's or Honda's. However, Hyundai offers a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Any thoughts?
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Post by CMur12 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:47 pm

Russ, Honda and Toyota have excellent resale value, while Hyundai and Kia don't. If you buy a Hyundai, plan on keeping it until you wear it out to get your money out of it. Hondas and Toyotas also have exceptional reliability and longevity.

That said, Honda and Toyota still make more refined products than Hyundai, but drive them all and see what you think. What's important to me as a Honda owner may not be as important to you. The brand new Accord is getting very good reviews and it has a top safety rating (ahead of Toyota and Hyundai).

I would go ahead and test the Civic, as you might be pleasantly surprised. It isn't really that small and it has a decent wheelbase. It also has a more sophisticated rear suspension than the Hyundai Elantra or Accent. To answer your question about wheelbase, a shorter wheelbase will magnify the effect of all movement by the wheels, and the vehicle will rock and pitch more. The rear suspension of the Elantra and the Accent is a "twist beam" or "torsion beam," which is a budget, semi-independent suspension. The Civic has a true fully independent rear suspension. This does make a difference.

I believe that the Corolla is due for a redesign soon, so I wouldn't consider the current Corolla, which is clearly dated and generally not considered competitive in its segment. The new Corolla, when it comes out, will probably be a big improvement.

I could go on, but these are the basics and I see them.

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Post by jww » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:24 am

We have owned Hyundai cars exclusively for a good few years. I bought a 2006 Sonata GLS Premium, then a year later my wife picked up a 2007 Accent hatch (in red, btw). Then in 2009, I traded in my Sonata for a Santa Fe Limited AWD. I would say that to be honest, they are the best cars we have ever owned. Our local dealership is outstanding -- they are very customer focused and always find ways of getting work done under warranty, which I like as a customer (the mechanics don't though -- they are on piece-work). Hyundai quality and fit and finish is on-par with other manufacturers --- remember they build in North America now -- just as Toyota, Honda and the US makers do.

I have had nothing but bad experiences in every Honda dealership I have ever gone into. Once they simply told me that no matter how bad I wanted one, they were not willing to look for a Fit with a 5 speed manual, and instead insisted on my having to take a Civic sedan - as good a car as it is. I assured them that I knew what I wanted and a Civic sedan was not in the cards. After I told them we were comparing to the Yaris and Accent, the sales rep actually let out a giggle ---- and said if that's what I was looking at, then the Fit was certainly going to be out of my budget. This was enough for me -- before walking out, I assured the rep that I was making easily 2 to 3 times his salary, had the cash in hand, and would take it elsewhere to someone who was serious about selling me a car. The sales manager tried to follow me out of the showroom and I told him to back off -- they obviously thought they were too good for me. I had similar experiences in 3 other Honda dealers in the area. I get their cars are reliable and higher resale value, etc. and don't have anything against the vehicles at all (really like the current version of the Pilot) but will be very hard pressed before stepping foot into a Honda dealer for a long time to come. I do wish that they sold the Civic EX-GT hatch from the UK over here -- it is a great vehicle. Don't get me going about vehicles not available in North America ...... I'll rant on all day long if you let me.

Anyway -- insofar as Toyota is concerned, their designs simply have never resonated with me. No offense gents, but the Camry has reminded me of a melting bar of soap for the past couple of generations. I also find they drive a bit, well, sloppy to put a word to it. The new Rav-4 is interesting though and I would consider testing that if I were replacing my Santa Fe - which I am not at present.

Personally, my favourite of current vehicles would be either Mercedes C class or GLK. Both are the ideal size for empty-nesters-to-be. To be fair, however, I do struggle with putting out that kind of money on 4 wheels and doors. They are great vehicles, though. I am a fan of Volvo as well, although they can cost an absolute bomb to repair (I had one in the early 90s - a simple brake job was brutal).

Good luck with the testing --- have you tried the Optima yet? It is hailed as the best design in it's class. Fit and finish, like Hyundai is level with Hon-yota and materials quality is high according to auto pundits.
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Post by Sam » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:01 am

Wendell, drive the GLK. My wife had the C class and it was redesigned I think in 11. She test drove the C 300 series, not the 250 or whatever the smaller engine was, and she liked the newer "oomph' it had over her 2006 230 I think it was. However, she wanted a demo or some car that had a few miles on it, as that way, her car is usually no more than the price of a new Honda Accord all dressed out. Salesman said he could get her in a brand new 2011 GLK for less than a C class, same year, with 3000 miles or so on it. She test drove one and now loves it. Gets good mileage on trips, lots and lots of room. Easily one of the roomiest back seats for an entry level model of SUV of any brand. Our local BMW place would not deal on an X3 (and yes, I read Europe has an X1). So we got a great financing (2.9% for 5 years and left money in mutual funds).

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Post by gsgo » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:02 am

We picked up a new car this fall after a seven year run with a Volvo. The mid size sedan category has never been more competitive with good cars from many makers making shopping a little tedious if you intend to do a thorough job to find a car that you will enjoy for many years.

We looked at them all: Nissan, Toyota, Subaru, VW, Kia, Mazda, Ford and decided all things considered the 2013 Honda Accord EX-L was the one for us. It has a great list of standard options, a solid performing 4 cyl. motor, we are getting on average slightly over 30 mpg with mixed use driving and usually around 36-38 on the highway alone, this all comes with a great ride. The dealership we bought it from is close by and the sales process and service so far has been stellar.

My advice to anyone when buying a car, and know what you want, shop around, know your prices and options, the value of your trade, get pre-approved financing. Negotiating when knowing the facts is a pleasure, don't be intimidated or get emotionally attached to a car at a dealership, there are many other dealers who would love to sell you a car. Do the research, it will pay off.

Good luck, have fun, buying a car does not need to be a stressfull event.
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Post by jww » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:07 am

Sam -- thanks for the advise/suggestion. We won't be replacing the Santa Fe for at least a couple of more years.

We have the X1 here in Canada, and it's a fun little vehicle. To be fair, I see the Infinitti EX35/EX37 is every bit as good, and less expensive and has a better all-round level of kit on the base model.
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Post by GA Russell » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:32 pm

Thanks guys! Your input is valued. Interesting to see the differences of opinion!

I'll go car shopping again this weekend if the weather is nice.
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Post by Rufus » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:02 pm

jww wrote:
Personally, my favourite of current vehicles would be either Mercedes C class or GLK. Both are the ideal size for empty-nesters-to-be. To be fair, however, I do struggle with putting out that kind of money on 4 wheels and doors.
I too like the Merc. C class and GLK. My concern with Mercedes in general is their long term reliability and repair/servicing cost. To quote Jeremy Clarkson, "Nice car, too bad it's a Mercedes."

I'm not a big fan of Honda because of the road and engine noise in the cabin. They do, however, handle well and have solid long term reliability records, although my son's 7 year old Civic has had problems with its suspension. My wife and I are fans of Toyota. I agree that their styling can be frumpy and their handling leisurely, but they are quiet, built like tanks and highly reliable. My wife is currently thinking of replacing her 13 year old Lexus RX 300 and in all likelihood it'll be with another Lexus; however, she has mentioned that she might keep her RX 300 for a few more years. I have a 9 year old Lexus IS 300 which I intend to keep for at least 5 more years. Other than Toyota I like Subaru and Hyundai/Kia; in this latter regard, the Kia Rio is a car that interests me.
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Post by brothers » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:06 pm

Russ, I noticed a 2 door Civic today on the drive home. I just happened to admire it, then noticed what make and model, for future reference I suppose. Might be a good one to try out when you hit the Honda dealership if you like that body style.
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Post by gsgo » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:52 pm

Honda has addressed the road noise issue and the 2013 Accord is very noticeably quieter than previous Acords. A neighbor has a 2012 and the comparison is pretty revealing, he is a little jealous.
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Post by Kyle76 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:55 pm

My wife drives a Toyota Avalon, and it's a great car. If I were looking, I'd be giving serious consideration to the Hyundai's.
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Post by GA Russell » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:35 pm

Apropos, Consumer Reports issued their ratings for 2013 model cars today, and ranked the Honda Accord #1 for mid-size sedan.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/maga ... /index.htm
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/honda/accord.htm
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Post by rtaylor61 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:11 pm

I've sold Honda and I've sold Hyundai. I'm impressed with the progress that Hyundai has made, and especially with their tech features. Having said that, after my first test drive selling the Hyundai line, the only thing I could say was "That isn't a Honda". If you like Hyundai, that is great. But with the improvements made to the 2013 Accord, that is where I would spend my money. Or lease.

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Post by GA Russell » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:26 pm

One of the things that I've noticed is that everything I am looking at seems to cost $24,000. I would think that a Toyota and a Honda would sell for more than a Hyundai.

On the other hand, it appears to me that all the Accords have the same suspension, and all the Camrys likewise. I would pay more for handling suspension.
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Post by CMur12 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:00 pm

Russ, I would bet that the Honda Accord with standard suspension would handle at least as well as the Hyundai with the handling suspension.

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Post by jww » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:30 am

Rufus wrote:...
I too like the Merc. C class and GLK. My concern with Mercedes in general is their long term reliability and repair/servicing cost. To quote Jeremy Clarkson, "Nice car, too bad it's a Mercedes." ...
I get a kick out of Jezzer's love-hate relationship with Mercs. He still pines on about how good a car the SLK is - not sure he still owns the one he bought a few years back though. Reliability gaps seem to have narrowed a bit over the last few years. Even Buick is now showing up in reviews with impressive JD Power ratings ---- and who would have thought that only 2 or 3 years ago? Lincoln has quietly been building arguably the best American luxury vehicles for a few years as well ---- the new smiling polar bear grill style is just plain scary to me, though.

Image

The new Avalon is an interesting option --- kind of a front-wheel drive variant on the ES perhaps? The front end grill treatment looks something like a mash-up between a Hyundai Genesis and a Kia Optima. Has imitation-becomes-flattery taken a new turn??

Image

My wife would have the RX in a heartbeat. Admittedly, so would I if I could get my head around the price point.
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Post by Rufus » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:52 am

Wendell, you're right about the price point of the RX. I find it a gut wrencher, but rationalise it on the basis that we'll keep the car for a good long time. I like the looks of the redesigned Rav 4 and will be steering SWMBO in that direction; I think it would last as long as the RX and be just as reliable.
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Post by jww » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:29 am

Rufus wrote:Wendell, you're right about the price point of the RX. I find it a gut wrencher, but rationalise it on the basis that we'll keep the car for a good long time. I like the looks of the redesigned Rav 4 and will be steering SWMBO in that direction; I think it would last as long as the RX and be just as reliable.
I am definitely liking the new Rav4 but I thought that it was the Highlander that was the same platform as the RX?
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Post by rustyblade » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:40 am

Toyota quality isn't what it used to be. I just traded in my '12 Tacoma which had a random hard start issue every 3 weeks or so. It would just crank over and over for 5-10 seconds and finally start. Nobody knows what causes it, it is a somewhat common problem according to Tacoma forums. It doesn't throw a code, dealers don't know and neither do Tacoma owners. My wife's 2012 Venza had a leaking transmission at 7,000km, dealer had it for 3 days while they did a trial and error replacement of every single gasket in the thing. The driver side visor also loosened itself and nearly fell off, stuff that shouldn't happen (but was an easy fix, but still...). It is also a very noisy vehicle, road and wind noise is pretty bad for a $40,000cdn vehicle. Our 2005 Camry was a great vehicle and gave us no trouble...after an early warranty fix for clunking in the steering...

Resale is good though, i'll give them that, but Toyota quality is slipping in my opinion. Their engine technology is falling behind too, especially in the trucks.
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Post by jww » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:03 am

rustyblade wrote:...

Resale is good though, i'll give them that, but Toyota quality is slipping in my opinion. Their engine technology is falling behind too, especially in the trucks.
Interesting take. Not the first time I have heard this lately. Friends of mine have only had Toyotas as long as I have known them and never complained.
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