Andy is in the auto salvage business and his fleet of cars is made up of the values he finds in his job. His wife has a 2007 Mazda5 and he wants to buy her something better with some luxury features. However, he still has a modest budget of around $15,000. What car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario:
I am in the auto salvage business and over the years my wife has always driven inexpensive (meaning cheap!) vehicles that I have purchased from tow shops or insurance auctions. She’s finally ready to move on to something newer and better than her current 2007 Mazda5. It’s been great, but I’d feel better with her in something a little safer. I love the little van and have kept my eyes open for an affordable stick shift one with no luck. My 10 year old daughter says “no low cars!” I like cars more than SUVs, but maybe she can talk me into it. However, my wife is much more flexible. I would like the car to be fun to drive and if it was a stick that would really be nice (but not a requirement). My main concern is reliability as I have enough beaters and work trucks. I am forced to work. in. My experience with older German cars makes me shy away from anything without a warranty. I don’t want to spend more than $15,000.
Budget: up to $15,000
Location: Louisville, Colorado
Daily Driver: Yes
Wants: Luxury, somewhat reliable, safe
does not want: anything german
Expert 1: Tom McParland – Sail with class and style
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I am of the opinion that the words cheap, reliable and luxury They don’t really belong in the same sentence, and you throw your preference for three pedals in there and we really are looking for a unicorn. If you remember, Jalopnik once accomplished this feat with a manual Lexus ES300. Okay, this was a $600 car, but it did not turn out as our friend Rafael had planned.
The obvious play here is to stick with a Japanese luxury car, my go-to brand for “cheap luxury” is usually Infiniti as you can avoid the super high miles you’ll find on most Lexus cars in this price range. If you’re aiming for fancy Nissans, look for the ones with the durable and powerful V6.
Here’s a nice FX35, which is one of the first coupe-like SUVs to start that trend, but unlike some more recent offerings from Europe, the styling on these has aged quite well. This example is well equipped and is on the low end of the six figure mileage mark. It has a history of regular service and is being sold by a respected dealer because you really have to beware of cheap luxury in those used car lots on the corners.
Expert 2: Collin Woodard – Sorry, daughter
In a perfect world, you could recommend an RX F with a manual transmission that you could buy on the cheap. you would be happy His wife would be happy. Your daughter would be happy. Unfortunately for everyone involved here, as well as the handful of other people around the world who would have actually bought a performance stick-shift Lexus crossover, that doesn’t exist. So there’s going to have to be some compromises.
Porsche briefly sold the Cayenne with a manual, but other than how rare they are, I have a feeling (based on you saying so explicitly) that a used Porsche isn’t something you’d be interested in. it does check most of your boxes is the Acura TSX Sport Wagon. It’s a reliable and practical family vehicle that should be fun to drive. And no offense to his wife’s current car, but it will probably feel like a Mercedes S-Class compared to the Mazda5.
The only problem here is that your daughter will not be happy. Oh good. Sometimes kids don’t get what they want. Personally, I wanted my parents to keep their ’80s Mercedes, but they traded it in for a Mazda MPV when my little brother arrived. Maybe you could throw in a small lift kit as a compromise? A Safari Sport Wagon would be nice.
And although they are not very common, you are in luck. There is a 2011 Acura TSX Sport Pickup for sale in Denver right now for $13,000. It has just under 100,000 miles on the clock and the AutoCheck report looks clean. But if you’re interested, you’d better move fast. It is the only one currently listed on AutoTrader within a 500 mile radius of you.
Expert 3: Andy Kalmowitz – your daughter will get over it
What’s up Andy? Are you as handsome as I imagine? I’m sure you are, and that’s why you need an attractive car to match. I give you: the Lexus IS250 Handbook. That’s right, for a short time Lexus offered a manual transmission in its IS sports sedan. The good news is that it’s the perfect car for you and your wife.
The IS250 almost give to your family everything you are asking for. It is sporty, it is reliable enough (not 15-year-old car will be perfectly reliable), it’s got that manual transmission you’re after, and it’s quite luxurious. Having said all that, you will have to tell your daughter that it is a pity that the car is low. She’ll get over it, I promise. After all, who needs to take car lawsuits out of a 10-year-ancient?
Now, IS250 manuals aren’t exactly easy to come by. Lexus didn’t make many of them, so you have to be willing to travel a bit for one. I think I found you the perfect example located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Did someone say road trip? Anyway, it’s a 2008 model, black on black, and it only has 110,000 miles on it.. Sounds like you know a thing or two about cars, so it won’t be news to you when I tell you that 110,000 miles on a Lexus means it’s barely settled in. This particular car is actually about $1,000 under your budget as well! andy mDear Andy, buy a manual Lexus IS250. It is exactly the car you need in your life.
Expert 4: José Rodríguez Jr. – Acura’s Legendary Bargain
Andy, a luxury alternative to your wife’s 2007 Mazda5 would be a Mercedes-Benz R-Class, but it would be hard to sell givens country of origin. The R-Class is such a distinctive car that I love to see on the road, but we’ll tick most of your boxes: not German, but still luxurious, reliable and cheap. That makes Japan’s Honda, Nissan and Toyota obvious suspects, which are represented by the top cars from Acura, Infiniti and Lexus. Acura is my pick, but as much as I love wagons, the answer is obviously a former flagship like this one. 2014 Acura RLX.
He acura rlx It’s literally a (Honda) legend, and all these years later I still scoff at the reception the RLX got in the US when it launched. Acura was firing on the Germans with the RLX, but failed to unseat them from their position of luxury. Oh good. That just means there are plenty of used RLX models with low miles and in different configurations, which is the best kept used luxury car secret, as far as I’m concerned.
Tom’s right to lean toward something with a V6, and the Acura’s six-cylinder has been perfected for years. Wrap those six-pistons and lock on a state-of-the-art Acura, and you’ve got yourself a decently fun, opulent car that aged better than German alternatives of its day. The jump from the Mazda5 to the RLX will feel like a huge upgrade that will have you competing with your wife to drive.