Buying a new car….

Husband’s current car is a 10yr old Nissan Sentra.  He got it because prior to this car he and several of his family members had owned Nissan’s and liked them quite a bit.

This car broke that record.  Its been nothing but a massive PIA.  There’s a screwed up sensor that apparently Nissan either can’t or won’t fix.  Every year in order to get his car inspected he has to have them re-set the sensor.  He used to replace the sensor every year, but there was no point.  It would still fail within the year.  And to top it off he’s had to replace bearings on it 5 times.  Now its doing this random, start-never mind not going to start, thing that appears to be related to the sensor again.  Its left him stranded a couple times with a car that won’t start, and replacing the sensor only temporarily fixes it (battery, alternator, fuel pump have all been checked, repeatedly).

In addition the Sentra just isn’t big enough.  Its not big enough to haul Apollo around (he doesn’t fit on the rear bench seat).  Its not big enough to haul materials for projects around the house.  Its just not big enough.

My car is a Dodge Caliber.  Like it quite a bit, though I’d not go so far as to say I love it.  It has some issues.  But in general its almost big enough for what we need.  I can haul Apollo, and even Apollo AND Arty in it as long as I fold down the entire back seat.  I can fit 8′ lengths of lumber in it (though not while the dogs are in it).  I can fit 2 other adults in the back seat comfortably (though not while Apollo is in it).

We made the decision that if we were going to replace the Sentra we wanted something just a bit bigger than the Caliber.  Something we could haul Apollo in, AND at the same time haul a 3rd adult or a small amount of cargo.  In addition we want AWD or 4WD as there have been multiple occasions where Husband has been nearly blown off the road on his way home from work in the winter.

And thats where we got stuck.  We don’t want to go for a full-sized SUV, but Apollo is such a big boy…..he’s 27+” at the shoulder, and if he’s sitting the top of his head hits 36″.  So either there has to be room enough for him to stretch out, with no more than half the rear seat folded down, or the roof has to be high enough to reasonably accommodate him while he’s sitting.

Since Husband is going to be the one doing 90% of the driving of this new car I let him do the initial narrow down of choices without my input.  And then we went down to the big name multi brand dealership in Syracuse to test drive as many as possible.

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 was an awesome car, I’d have bought it in a heartbeat if we were looking for something comparable to the Caliber, but it just wasn’t big enough for what we wanted.  Not enough room for Apollo to sit in the cargo space, and when we folded down the larger half of the back seat the remaining seat was very cramped even for me.

The 2016 Jeep Cherokee was even shorter on space than the CX-5.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee (V6) didn’t quite have the gas mileage rating we’d been hoping for and was pushing the upper end of what we were willing to spend, but omg the space!  Husband fell in love on the test drive.

2016 GMC Traverse was borderline on space, and we both disliked it on the test drive.

2016 Kia Sorento had the space, and we took the V4 on a test drive.  Not bad.  Didn’t love it the way we both loved the Grand Cherokee, but not bad.  We might have to go back and test drive the V6.  It’s also quite a bit cheaper than the Grand Cherokee for similar options.

2016 Honda Pilot (the CRV not having enough space) had plenty of space, but we ran out of time to do a test drive.  We’ll be going back to do a test drive this week though.  Pushing back onto the upper end of the budget again.  Especially with the options we’d probably pick.

Choices choices……we have to go back for a test drive on the Honda.  Jeep has a rep for needing constant work.  My SIL is a perfect example of several Jeep owners I’ve talked to who said that they LOVED their Cherokee, but wouldn’t recommend them due to constantly needing work.  I’ve never been a huge Kia fan, though supposedly they’ve been improving over the last 10yrs or so.  Honda of course has an awesome rep, and I’m partial to Hondas having grown up with them.  But the 2016 Pilot is the first year of the new re-design, which means that its more likely to have problems.


6 thoughts on “Buying a new car….”

  1. I do not envy you. Car shopping is toward the top of my dislike list. But I have to laugh about the Apollo consideration because I’m right there with you. lol.

    The Pilot was recently added to our need-to-check-out-when-we’re-ready-to-buy list when we got the new-to-us CRV. However, after talking with our mechanic, Jeep is completely off and he’d prefer Kia was too, but we have friends that love their Soul.

    • I think we confused a couple of sales guys in our insistance that the dog fit! The Kia guy in particular kept going on about the 3rd row seating and I finally turned to him and said “no kids, the 3rd row is only cool cause it means more cargo space for the dog”. He shut up after that…..

      The new CRVs are smaller too. The SIL who had the Jeep currently has a CRV. Apollo doesn’t fit to badly in hers, but its a few years old!

  2. If you are interested in buying used, test drive a Honda Element, providing any are available. They usually disappear from the used car lots around here after about a week. Honda dropped it from their lineup after 2012 for no good reason, except that they probably wanted to sell more Pilots. It does have lots of head room, on demand 4WD, and no carpeting. Our 2004 is still going strong.

    There were a few problems. One problem we have had was defective rear differential fluid. Ours is a manual. Honda never really did fess up to that one, and our mechanic finally hunted around for the solution and fixed it by replacing the fluid. The other problem was it needed to have a harmonic vibration dampener replaced. It has been replaced, but the rubber coating that was on the other suspension parts near it was knocked loose when the first dampener died. With that and the lack of carpeting, it can sound a bit clunky over bumps at slow speeds. Oh, and we need to get the airbags replaced because it falls under the recall. We have been dragging our feet, because we are less than thrilled about the dealership ripping apart the dashboard just to change something that probably isn’t broken.

    • My other SIL has the Element. Husband HATES the look of it. But they fit their 175lb Boerboel in it plus tween daughter and accessories in it, so if itvwas still on the market I’d consider it!

      Not really looking for used. It’d have to be THE right car I think.

      I’m still peeved they dropped the hatchback Civic. Not that it would have the space we’re wanting now, but I LOVED my ’91!

  3. I gotta agree with your Nissan – I bought an Xterra new in 2004 and by 2009 (after a lot of $$ as well as warrantee work) it needed over 6k in work. This is after I had just put in a $500 starter because it left me stranded the day before Christmas and they didn’t know the 4WD was FUBAR’d (I can’t imagine how much that would have cost).

    My Patriot was okay and cheap to maintain, but lost it’s tranny before 110k miles. Also had a lot of front end work done during that time.

    The only thing I would recommend without hesitation is a Toyota – but you would need 2 kids to give them along with a house payment – even for used.

    Good luck, I hope you find something you like and treats you well!

    • Nice to know we’re not the only ones with Nissan problems. It seems like most folks we talked to loved theirs. And since I don’t work for AAA any more I miss out on the “not quite first hand” experience of helping people with them!

      We test drove the Honda, fell in love, cringed at the price, and bought it. I keep forgetting to take a picture of it so I can post.

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