Sunday, June 08, 2008

Elimination: The Path To My First Car, Part 3

When searching to buy a car, the earlier you start to gather information, the better. It’s a MAJOR DECISION and it helps to get all the data you need to make a sensible purchase at the right time. Careful research ought to be put into it so as to come up with the best purchase. We all have different reasons for buying a car. In the end, whichever car we choose to buy is an individual decision.

Ever since I started search for my definitive car, there has been a deluge of facts and opinions for my brain to process. A strike on a searchbox reveals a galaxy of information. A visit to a site opens up to constellations of details and related particulars. A click on a link or tab reveals several other sublinks. My head spins and sputters with all the data fighting for a space in my brain for absorption.

I’m a first-time car buyer and I don’t know much about cars. Being anal-retentive, I feel like reading each and every information there is on any source about cars. Of course that’ll take forever so I’m teaching myself to sift through as I go along. I realize I should’ve started earlier, like maybe a year prior. My target was to have a car by end of May but...Didn’t happen.

Having narrowed my requisite to a gay-friendly sedan, the other factors to consider are price, reliability and value for money. My paper research tools are Consumer Reports magazine and the LA Times. For electronic, I frequent the Kelly Blue Book, NADA Guides and Edmunds web sites, with supplement from the three powerhouse search engines: Google, MSN and Yahoo!.

I decided to shell out only between $25,000 to $30,000 for my first car. With that range Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz are out of the picture.

The A4 3.2 starts at $36,300 and delivers 23 mpg. Although it returned excellent crash test results, the car has only average predicted reliability and owner cost.

The 328i starts at $32,4000, has above average predicted reliability, gives 23 mpg, and returned excellent crash test results. Owner cost, though, is below average, despite the company's offer of zero maintenance cost up to 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The C300 automatic Sport Sedan starts at $35,715 with 21 mpg that can be delivered by either premium fuel or E85 ethanol. This model is new so no safety tests have been conducted and no data is available regarding reliability. But the company’s overall reliability based on several sedan and SUV models has been disappointingly worst. Owner cost is below average.

Impressively and quite aptly living up to its name, Subaru’s 4-door Impreza WRX starts at $24,350 already with keyless entry system, engine immobilizer, antitheft system and Vehicle Dynamics Control. It delivers 25 mpg on premium unleaded gasoline, has above average reliability, and excellent crash protection and owner cost.

Finally, Toyota. The optimized Corolla XRS is $22,654 with fuel economy up to 30mpg and excellent reliability and owner cost. The base Camry LE starts at $21,080, gives 23 mpg and has above average reliability and owner cost. Its hybrid version with similar reliability starts at $29,720 and delivers up to 34 mpg. The Prius gives out the best fuel economy in the industry at 44 mpg. The base edition starts at $23,780. It has excellent reliability, excellent owner cost, and impressive crash test results.

Now this leaves me with only Subaru Impreza and three Toyotas to choose from. Interestingly, Consumer Reports recently released road test videos of 6 sedans, which include the Impreza and Corolla. Click on the link and see for yourself.

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