rob_lewis SuperDork
10/12/15 10:19 a.m.

If the dealer ends up buying back my wife's Fiat 500L, I think we're going to just walk away from a car payment. That would leave us with a single cab truck and a Fiat 500. Not much room for the wife and I and a teenager. So, I'm looking for a cash sedan to use when we need something bigger and more comfortable.

On the list are the sedan "answer" (P71, which has been covered pretty well), a Maxima (we had a 1996 SE we really liked) or an early Lexus.

I know the Lexus engine is supposedly bulletproof and overall, they are well engineered cars. Plus, it's likely they've been taken care of better than most cars of that era. The question is, what years are better than others? I'd like to keep it under $3000. Do I buy the best at that price or the best at a lower price and keep some money set aside for maintenance? Are the first gen's (1990 for example) as well built as the later ones? Are there specific LS things that go bad to look for (or knock a price down for)?

Learn me the ins and outs of Japanese luxury car ownership.


Harvey Dork
10/12/15 10:29 a.m.

All you need to know is right here...


ebonyandivory UltraDork
10/12/15 10:31 a.m.

This seems like it could be another "answer" with all the positive feedback they get. Stay tuned as the guys chime in!

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
10/12/15 10:33 a.m.

I am sure lots of LS400 answers will be coming your way; I have none. But as for the Maxima...also consider the Infiniti i30/i35 which is the same car as the Maxima with some thicker leather and deeper carpet but also very much overlooked and therefore undervalued bargains are out there. This Infiniti could bridge the gap of giving you Lexus like niceties at cheap prices.

Additional tip: if searching for Infiniti on CL be sure to also search Infinity since about 30% of the cars are listed with the wrong spelling.

Tom_Spangler UltraDork
10/12/15 10:37 a.m.

My cousin had one for a while, and I drove it once. Big and floaty, like a Japanese Buick. I thought it was pretty boring.

1988RedT2 PowerDork
10/12/15 10:41 a.m.
Tom_Spangler wrote: My cousin had one for a while, and I drove it once. Big and floaty, like a Japanese Buick. I thought it was pretty boring.

This sums it up perfectly. Even so, a comfortable, competent, and reliable car. If you were leaning in that direction, I would offer nothing to dissuade you.

rob_lewis SuperDork
10/12/15 10:45 a.m.
ebonyandivory wrote: This seems like it could be another "answer" with all the positive feedback they get. Stay tuned as the guys chime in!

I've thought the same thing. Probably wouldn't have ever considered one if it wasn't for GRM. I know they're boring, but with a sporty car (500t) and a truck, it slots right into what we'd need it for.

And the "willrunifchased" project Lexus has made me want one even more!


DuctTape&Bondo Dork
10/12/15 12:55 p.m.

I bought a later revision 1st gen for my dad; 93-94 has differences from 90-92. Passenger airbag, different brakes, different ECU, climate control, speedometer, seat belts, keyfob ECU, etc...

General failure points would be front seat belts not retracting, power steering pump and rack leakage, door lock actuators, climate control LCD, ECU capacitor failure (weird drivability issues) and speedometer capacitor + needle failure (dim needles, incorrect gas level displayed). Also, wires that run along driver hinge in trunk will break with age and cause some weird lights or behavior as well. These issues aren't too bad for the DIY crowd. I've done all these on my dad's. 89-94 are non-interference, starters are a pain in the butt to do. City gas mileage is terrible. Japanese leather isn't great so most front seats, shifters and steering wheels I've seen are cracked.

95+ are dropping in price, where there really isn't any reason to get the 1st gens. I believe these are interference engines and VVTI was introduced later on so gas mileage is better. These are generally going to be better maintained than the 1st gens as most of those have gotten into their 3rd or 4th owners by now. No 1st hand experience with ownership, but have been thinking about selling my dad's and updating him.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
10/12/15 2:45 p.m.

I have a 98 and a 99. I get 26 MPG highway in either with the AC on at 79 MPH, 24 combined city/highway. The 99 is faster, even though they are both supposed to be the same. I suspect updated ecu throttle code or fuel mapping. In your case, I suggest you save up a couple large more and go for a 98-00.

Yeah, rides as smooth as a 74 Buick Electra, but handles a lot better and is faster. Oh, and gets double the gas mileage.

pimpm3 Dork
10/12/15 3:11 p.m.

Have you considered a GS Lexus. I have really enjoyed mine and they are a bit sportier. We shall find out how sporty compared to the LS at the challenge in a few days.

rob_lewis SuperDork
10/12/15 3:32 p.m.

Just started kicking the idea around. IF they end up fixing my wife's car, then I won't be getting one, but wanted to start some research and fantasy buying at the moment.

I know the LS was an all new platform and the ES was/is a glorified Camry. Was the GS based on anything or is it unique like the LS?

Dr. Hess, I knew you owned at least one, so you're insight was important. It really would be more of a third car, so to speak, so keeping the entry cost lower is appealing. Other than nicer and newer, any reason to just look at the 98 and above ones?


pimpm3 Dork
10/12/15 3:38 p.m.

The GS is RWD as well. You can get a 400 with the LS400 engine or a 300 with a inline 6 shared with the Supra.

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