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jikelly New Reader
7/6/09 12:16 p.m.

Our wonderful 99 Camry is doing weird things now. When the AC stopped working and forced my wife to drive my no AC 73 mustang one day she is seriously looking to buy a new car.

She had her heart set on a Mini Clubman, but talk of starting a family with our friends has her thinking a Mini Clubman is too small. BLAGH!!!

I wasn't totally sold on the Clubman, but at least it had really nice performance. Nice enough that my wife was looking forward to autoxing one. I also wouldn't mind driving a car like that.

Since the talk with our friends my dreams have turned to nightmares of being stuck behind the wheel of a minivan/suv type vehicle that drives like Godzilla is sitting on it.

Looking around at 4 door cars on the internet is just overwhelming. And I am a car guy who is very up to date on cars. It seems like they all look the same, but looks are not important. What I care about is if a car is fun to drive or not. Second to that would be is the car better than the Camry on gas so we can afford for it to take the reins as the daily driver.

What do you guys suggest we start off our search with?

jrw1621 HalfDork
7/6/09 12:28 p.m.

To replace a '99 Camry I recommend a 2006 Ford Fusion/ Mercury Milan w/ 4cyl and 5 speed.

These are good cars that are depreciating fast due to big numbers of rental cars being dumped onto the market. Pick a 5 speed to ensure that you do not get a former rental car. Listed for less than $11k (and purchased for even less) you can find a '06 or '07 Fusion/Milan with less than 40k miles. This will get you a nice sized car (not too big, not too small) that shares its engine and chassis with the Mazda 6.

True, there are more exciting cars to buy but this is my current recommendation for a compromise of price/age/economy/fun.

The size and feel should similar to your '99 Camry (if you want something similar.)

JFX001 Dork
7/6/09 12:31 p.m.

^^^ That, or possibly a 4 door Civic Si or 5 door Focus SVT.

*EDIT....maybe a Suzuki SX4 sedan.

The_Jed New Reader
7/6/09 12:31 p.m.

Whereas the normal answer to every "what car" thread on this forum is Miata,the answer in my household is SUBARU.

If you have the funds to buy the Clubman I would seriously consider the STI.

amg_rx7 Reader
7/6/09 12:34 p.m.

Mazda 6 - current model or previous Mazdaspeed6 - previous model

Mazda 3, Mazdaspeed3

Honda Civic

VW Jetta or upcoming Golf w/ the turbo diesel

Subaru Legacy GT - 2.5L Turbo

G35 sedan or Maxima

JThw8 SuperDork
7/6/09 12:40 p.m.

Seeing as how the wife just bought one this weekend (and I stole it for my commute today) I'd say give a look at the new Kia Soul.

I was a bit skeptical at first but its really quite a nice car for little money, rather surprising.

griffin729 New Reader
7/6/09 12:43 p.m.

In reply to The_Jed:

Nah, Forester then swap in all STi goodies. 95% the performance more space. Gas milage will hurt though.

Buzz Killington
Buzz Killington Reader
7/6/09 12:52 p.m.

very few cars that can fit a family and are fun to drive are going to get better gas mileage than your camry.

that said, all of the above are good choices. although it's not a sedan, i'll put in a plug for the Mazda CX-7. we've had ours for over two years, and from behind the wheel, it drives like a car, and better than most. handling and braking are far superior to something like a camry, but not up to MINI levels. it's basically a tall AWD automatic MS3. plenty of space along w/ plenty of go, turn, and stop. gas mileage (real-world 17/22) is the only downside, but at least the newer ones take regular.

i think both the Soul and the Cube are pretty sweet little boxes...much more appealing than the Scions.

walterj Dork
7/6/09 12:58 p.m.

BMW E46 325XiT (wagon). Fits my 2 boys, dog, luggage. Claws thru snow like a subaru but handles like a BMW. I paid less than $15k for an '05 with 43k on it and the balance of the factory warranty (with all maintenance).

The only issue I've had is that you have to make sure everything is strapped down in the back before the twisties or the dog can be hurt by flying items.

Oh... it gets 29mpg hwy too

JThw8 SuperDork
7/6/09 1:02 p.m.
Buzz Killington wrote: i think both the Soul and the Cube are pretty sweet little boxes...much more appealing than the Scions.

We drove them back to back when deciding, the Kia ended up being more car for about 4k less when similarly equipped. I was pushing the Cube since Nissan has always been a better brand in my book but after spending time with them both and the extensive warranty on the Kia I just couldnt keep up the argument anymore.

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/6/09 1:06 p.m.

Legacy GT wagon, though the fuel mileage may be a little lower.

Junkyard_Dog Reader
7/6/09 1:20 p.m.

Volvo V70R. Not sure on the mileage tho.

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
7/6/09 1:28 p.m.

My wife and I were thinking Mini and ended up buying a Volvo S40. As it turns out, the Volvo is a near-perfect family car. Fairly entertaining to drive, extremely comfortable, well-built and safe. Cons: depreciation and mediocre gas mileage.

4cylndrfury Dork
7/6/09 1:43 p.m.

may '07 article 0 Family Haulers ...Cant remember all the details, but IIRC had several different sport sedans i.e. WRX, Charger, cant remember all the rest, and sent them tossing about the cones, a skidpad maybe...was a decent article .

Anyway, My .02:

  • a - WRX
  • 2 - Pontiac G8
  • c -Cobalt SS Sedan
  • 4 - Legacy war wagon
  • 5 - Three series beemer
  • 7 - Spec-V Sentra

not necessarily in that order

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
7/6/09 1:49 p.m.


(corrected link)

mw Reader
7/6/09 1:57 p.m.

We just replaced my wife's 98 camry with a 5 speed protege 5. I would recomend something else as I don't really like it. I'd say go to a big used car dealer and drive as many cars as you can.

Bobzilla HalfDork
7/6/09 2:03 p.m.

Sonata V6. 06-up, great car, great mileage lots of room tons of warranty.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
7/6/09 2:04 p.m.

New(er) Camry?

AC is out. ZOMG, and, like, THE ASHTRAYS ARE FULL!!! Time for a new car, certainly. LS400.

RossD Reader
7/6/09 2:11 p.m.

The 2010 Fusion now has the 2.5 I4 Duratec 175hp with an available 6 speed manual transmission (FWD).

Rusty_Rabbit84 HalfDork
7/6/09 2:19 p.m.

i have to throw in my biast view and say VW jetta because of my job, but i really say a E46 is a real good choice IMO..

MiatarPowar GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/6/09 2:31 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: New(er) Camry? AC is out. ZOMG, and, like, THE ASHTRAYS ARE FULL!!! Time for a new car, certainly. LS400.


Fix the A/C and enjoy the money that you aren't spending on car payments.

Just my opinion, of course.

Buzz Killington
Buzz Killington Reader
7/6/09 2:57 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: New(er) Camry? AC is out. ZOMG, and, like, THE ASHTRAYS ARE FULL!!! Time for a new car, certainly. LS400.

well, you're no fun.

scardeal New Reader
7/6/09 3:06 p.m.

I'd say Fit Sport...

jikelly New Reader
7/6/09 3:11 p.m.

AC could be as much as 1600 to fix. Our poor little Camry has been beat up in parking lots and is probably not worth more than 3000 with 160 some thousand miles on the odometer. I figure she will last us two more relatively trouble free years. Course I don't know how long the AC will last though.

Looking for a sedan is hard. Thank you guys for all the suggestions thus far though.

I was just reading about the Cobalt SS. It's got the direct injection engine but looks like GM skimped on the interior.

ddavidv SuperDork
7/6/09 4:26 p.m.

Boring but safe choice: Hyundai Sonata. Fun but not cheap: BMW 3 or 5 series (even used). Under the radar: Mazda 6 "I fear not depreciation": Ford Fusion Fire sale choice: Pontiac G8 What my wife would pick (and I trained her): Subaru

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