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I don’t always write about hurricanes, but when I do, a lot of people get extremely worked up over it and point and sputter for years. For example, from The Nation:

Why Racists (and Liberals!) Keep Writing for Quillette

The online magazine of the “intellectual dark web” is repackaging discredited race science.
By Donna Minkowitz DECEMBER 5, 2019

… While [Claire] Lehmann calls Quillette “independent,” “centrist,” and even “a community of liberal humanists,” the publication showcases racist pseudoscience purporting to show that people of color are intellectually and morally inferior to whites. Many of the writers of its race pieces are proponents of the Human Biodiversity Movement (HBD), a euphemistic name for a campaign to advance scientific racism launched in 1996 by Steve Sailer, a blogger for the white supremacist website VDare. (Sailer famously said that “in contrast to New Orleans, there was only minimal looting after the horrendous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan—because, when you get down to it, Japanese aren’t blacks.”) Quillette contributors Ben Winegard, Bo Winegard, Brian Boutwell, and John Paul Wright have all either said they are part of the HBD movement or used the term to describe their own research. When asked to comment about why she publishes such writers, Lehmann said she rejected the premise of the question and did not elaborate further.

Similarly, a minor iSteve blogpost from 2015 about the impending arrival of record-setting Hurricane Patricia has been National News for a month now. From CNN:

Former Breitbart Editor: Stephen Miller is a white supremacist. I know, I was one too.
By Sara Sidner and Rachel Clarke, CNN

Updated 8:29 PM ET, Fri December 13, 2019

(CNN) She was already a racist when she took a publishing job in Washington, DC. But when she became a reporter for Breitbart News, Katie McHugh says she was taken to new depths of hate with the help of Stephen Miller. …

In October 2015, McHugh asked Miller if he thought a natural disaster in Mexico could drive people to the US border. He replied: “100 percent,” according to emails McHugh gave to the SPLC and then CNN.

He then raised the possibility that those potential migrants could be allowed to stay in the US with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) — the special category given to Haitian survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake among others.

TPS is giving to citizens of countries who are unable to safely return because of an environmental disaster, a war or extraordinary conditions that are temporary.

“Wow. Ok. Is there precedent for this?” McHugh asked, to which Miller responded with a link to an article on an extremist website that promotes the racist “great replacement” theory that white people are facing genocide.

McHugh told CNN: “I do want to emphasize … that those emails are now White House policy.”

Personally, what I find shocking about the Scandal-Plagued Southern Poverty Law Center’s revelation that Stephen Miller forwarded two of my posts is how few that is. I practically worked myself into the hospital in 2015, putting on about 20 pounds in the wake of Merkel’s Mistake. I wrote a ton of great stuff and Miller forwarded only two of them?

That got me wondering: Whatever happened to Hurricane Patricia anyway? It turns out, by good luck, it happened to hit a lightly populated, mountainous part of Mexico and not do anywhere near as much damage as forecasters had expected. From Wikipedia:

Hurricane Patricia was the most intense tropical cyclone on record worldwide in terms of wind speed and the second-most intense on record worldwide in terms of pressure, behind Typhoon Tip in 1979, with a minimum atmospheric pressure of 872 mbar (hPa; 25.75 inHg). … Exceptionally favorable environmental conditions fueled explosive intensification on October 22. A well-defined eye developed within an intense central dense overcast and Patricia grew from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 24 hours—a near-record pace. On October 23, the hurricane achieved its record peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 215 mph (345 km/h). This made it the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Western Hemisphere and the strongest globally in terms of one-minute maximum sustained winds.

But just after I posted on it, things turned toward the better:

Late on October 23, dramatic weakening ensued and Patricia made landfall near Cuixmala, Jalisco, with winds of 150 mph (240 km/h). This made it the strongest landfalling hurricane on record along the Pacific coast of Mexico. Patricia continued to weaken extremely quickly, faster than it had intensified, as it interacted with the mountainous terrain of Mexico. Within 24 hours of moving ashore, Patricia weakened into a tropical depression and dissipated soon thereafter, late on October 24. …

As a tropical cyclone, Patricia’s effects in Mexico were tremendous; however, the affected areas were predominantly rural, mitigating a potential large-scale disaster.

That reminds me that I want to by myself a new car in 2020.

My 1998 Infiniti I30 still runs well, but it now has 264,531 miles on it. The leather upholstery is completely shot, and the driver’s seat is so broke down that it’s severely uncomfortable for more than a 15 minute drive. The airbag warning light has been on for several years now, because who knows whether the airbags would still work in a crash after almost 22 years.

I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride.

I guess the basic decision is between getting a traditional sedan and a 2-row SUV. We hope to keep running our 2001 3-row Honda Odyssey minivan. It’s hugely useful about 3 times per year for hauling massive amounts of stuff, although my wife deserves a nicer car for daily driving too. But the cloth upholstery on the Odyssey is in fine shape after about 120,000 miles, so replacing my Infiniti sedan is the higher priority.

The American public prefers SUVs over sedans these days. I tend to lean toward the old-fashioned sedan, but I’ve trained myself to be a counter-contrarian. If most people think a taller vehicle is better, I take their opinion seriously. What do you think?

Another question is how useful is the 2020 high tech safety equipment? I haven’t been involved in a single fender-bender since the 1970s, but I suspect I’ve been more lucky than talented as a driver. I can think of several situations over the years in which I’ve made a mistake and only the alert driving of other people has averted an accident.

So the idea of robotic sensors that can keep me from making a mistake is appealing in the abstract. On the other hand, an old dog doesn’t learn new tricks all that well, and I wonder whether the new gizmos would be more distracting than helpful. What is your experience with recent cars with their new sensors?

The most expensive option on new cars is typically a heads-up display that projects your speed and GPS directions on the bottom of your windshield. Is this useful or a distraction?

Other questions are whether all wheel drive is worth the additional cost and worse gas mileage. It never snows here in Southern California, gasoline is about 50% more expensive here than nationally, and I’m unlikely to renew my early 20s interest in skiing. On the other hand, I like safety.

Lately, I haven’t been doing any off-roading, although I could imagine getting into driving dirt roads again. (Basically, since 2015 I haven’t done much of anything except blog.)

Leather or cloth upholstery? The Honda Odyssey’s cloth upholstery has been excellent.

Which brands? I actually have a quite good mechanic nearby, but I’d prefer reliability. I want majority American value-added.

What other issues are important in deciding upon a new car?

December is one of the three months of the year (along with April and August) when I hassle you for donations. 

Large or small, I find each to be a personal message of encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing. I more or less figured out the basic logic of the 21st Century, which hasn’t made me popular, but with your support I can keep on keeping on pointing out how the world works.

Here are eight ways for you to contribute to me, iSteve:

First: You can use Paypal (non-tax deductible) by going to the page on my old blog here. Paypal accepts most credit cards. Contributions can be either one-time only, monthly, or annual. (Monthly is nice.)

Second: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to:

Steve Sailer
P.O Box 4142
Valley Village, CA 91617

Third: You can make a tax deductible contribution via VDARE by clicking here.

Please don’t forget to click my name at the VDARE site so the money goes to me:

Screenshot 2017-12-23 15.25.23

VDARE has been kiboshed from use of Paypal for being, I dunno, EVIL. But you can give via credit cards, Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, check, money order, or stock.

Note: the VDARE site goes up and down on its own schedule, so if this link stops working, please let me know.

Fourth: if you have a Wells Fargo bank account, you can transfer money to me (with no fees) via Wells Fargo SurePay/Zelle. Just tell WF SurePay/Zelle to send the money to my ancient AOL email address steveslrAT aol.com — replace the AT with the usual @). (Non-tax deductible.) Please note, there is no 2.9% fee like with Paypal or Google Wallet, so this is good for large contributions.

Fifth: if you have a Chase bank account (or even other bank accounts), you can transfer money to me (with no fees) via Chase QuickPay/Zelle (FAQ). Just tell Chase QuickPay/Zelle to send the money to my ancient AOL email address (steveslrATaol.com — replace the AT with the usual @). If Chase asks for the name on my account, it’s StevenSailer with an n at the end of Steven. (Non-tax deductible.) There is no 2.9% fee like with Paypal or Google Wallet, so this is also good for large contributions.

Sixth: send money via the Paypal-like Google Wallet to my Gmail address (that’s isteveslrATgmail .com — replace the AT with a @). (Non-tax deductible.)

Seventh: [Warning: Does this still work?] You can use Bitcoin using Coinbase. Coinbase payments are not tax deductible. Below are links to two Coinbase pages of mine. This first is if you want to enter a U.S. dollar-denominated amount to pay me.

Pay With Bitcoin (denominated in U.S. Dollars)

This second is if you want to enter a Bitcoin-denominated amount. (Remember one Bitcoin is currently worth many U.S. dollars.)

Pay With Bitcoin (denominated in Bitcoins)

If Coinbase isn’t working, what other Bitcoin intermediaries would you recommend? My goal is to not get audited by the IRS. The SPLC has been out to get me via the IRS for about 15 years, so I am fastidious about paying my taxes. For several years, Coinbase instantly transformed any Bitcoin donations into cash so I didn’t have to worry about the cost basis of capital gains on Bitcoin, but instead just reported income.

Eighth: At one reader’s request, I recently added Square as an 8th fundraising medium, although I’m vague on how it works. If you want to use Square, send me an email telling me how much to send you an invoice for. Or, if you know an easier way for us to use Square, please let me know.

Thanks.

 
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  1. I recently replaced my beloved 10yr-old BMW sedan with a Tesla Model 3 and I have to say it has been delightfully easy and comfortable.

    Elon seems like a weirdo (like Jobs?) but the car is great and I love never having to go to a gas station anymore; I just leave it plugged in at home overnight.

    The driver safety assistance is all pretty intuitive and helpful and the single touchscreen is very straightforward.

    It’s an America car and I believe that in California you’re permitted to drive solo in the HOV lane due to incentives which can save a lot of time.

  2. Many of the writers of its race pieces are proponents of the Human Biodiversity Movement (HBD), a euphemistic name for a campaign to advance scientific racism launched in 1996 by Steve Sailer, a blogger for the white supremacist website VDare

    It’s a bit sad that Steve’s pedigree as Hitler’s Personal Race Theoretician is being overlooked here.

    She was already a racist when she took a publishing job in Washington, DC. But when she became a reporter for Breitbart News, Katie McHugh says she was taken to new depths of hate with the help of Stephen Miller. …

    She was a racist. But then she got irradiated by Miller Rays, she became SUPER-RACIST: Katie McHugh is RAYE ZESTIKAL (after she goes through phone booth).

    McHugh told CNN: “I do want to emphasize … that those emails are now White House policy.”

    As anyone who can look at the Terrible Truth can attest.

    I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride.

    A good plan. The problem is finding a car that is not on the Internet of Things or can be connected to remotely. Apparently these don’t exist anymore. I remember security guru Bruce Schneier (who otherwise sadly seems to get his world overview from the NYT) trying to find a modern car that is “unconnected” and thus potentially riddled with bad future experiences (getting a ransomware infection for your car? phoning home to the FBI and your insurance? think buying a new Windows PC laden with crapware) but he had no success.

    OT: An disquieting message in your Firefox browser “New Tab” page:

    Tired of checking 10 sites a day for something good to read? Pockets serves up fascinating articles from top publications.

    Oh God.

    • Replies: @Charon
    Pocket is woke, too!
    , @Lugash

    OT: An disquieting message in your Firefox browser “New Tab” page:
     
    You should be using Brave, the Official Web Browser of the Alt Right.
    , @Mr McKenna

    a blogger for the white supremacist website VDare
     
    I didn't know that VDARE was a white-supremacist website. I do know that the Establishment has been doing everything in their (considerable) power to get them de-platformed, though.

    It seems to me that VDARE supports the notion of a rational, moderate immigration policy, designed to support the interests of the nation, rather than the interests of migrants themselves to the exclusion of all else. All else but for a tiny minority of tribalists who have brought this once-great nation to the brink of destruction.

    Interesting how everything's being called "white supremacist" nowadays. It's almost as though they're afraid that the epithet 'racist' is losing its sting--through overuse, no doubt. Wonder what they'll come up with next?
  3. I’m a jeep/truck guy myself, as are most of my male friends. Three of my friends have gotten Teslas, and every one of them obsessively loves their car. If nothing else, take a test drive.

    • Replies: @Intelligent Dasein
    Steve, disregard these people and DO NOT buy a Tesla.

    Just get a used Lexus. Someone else already paid for the depreciation and it will still last you forever. It's the best deal around.
  4. Read Eric Peters on what technology you need.

    He also answers questions and his comments section is full of those hate filled bigots who actually have a clue what they talk about, you know, white men.

    https://www.ericpetersautos.com/category/new-car-reviews/

    The marginal climb up into the crossover SUV’s gets to be a little easier than the sideways shuffle into sedans.

    • Replies: @Jack D

    The marginal climb up into the crossover SUV’s gets to be a little easier than the sideways shuffle into sedans.
     
    From experience in getting my 97 year old MIL in and out of a sedan vs a minivan, I would say the opposite. Gravity is against you in climbing up into a higher vehicle. But she is short and so hitting her head on the roof of the sedan is not an issue.

    Unfortunately, many modern sedans have adopted "4 door coupe" styling. Basically this means that the roofline is really low. Not entirely coincidentally, sedan sales have tanked. A low floor in a car is really a good idea (center of gravity and all that). A low roof - not so much.
  5. Leather seats are good as you get older and begin to find getting out of a car difficult. You just swing your bottom around: the low friction is a great help. Or, just train yourself to sit on a plastic bag which is presumably cheaper.

    You can mimic some of the advantages of 4WD by buying a front-wheel drive car and buying tyres suitable for dirt roads; you could also opt for a manual gearbox.

    The last car we bought was 10 years old and so avoided the internet traps.

    • Replies: @Jack D

    You can mimic some of the advantages of 4WD by buying a front-wheel drive car and buying tyres suitable for dirt roads; you could also opt for a manual gearbox.
     
    I don't know where you are but it's somewhere where they spell tires tyres. In the US, you can buy what are called "snow tires" and yes, for driving in snow they are superior in some ways to having AWD and no snow tires. Of course AWD AND snow tires is better still but most people prefer not to have to own two sets of tires and switching back and forth. Steve is in Southern California where it never snow in the lowlands anyway.

    Manual transmissions are almost extinct. They have few advantages nowadays - automatics are so efficient that you actually get mileage with them than with a manual, which didn't used to be the case. One of the few advantages is that car thieves and carjackers don't know how to drive them anymore.
  6. Look at the new Genesis G80. It is the new Lincoln continental. There are 2017 and 2018 models with a few thousand miles on them priced in the mid 30’s. Perfect old man car.. it comes in both RWD for you California guys or AWD for those in cold climates.

  7. Steve, I don’t know what kind of SUVs you mean. Right now, everyone and his soccer wife is getting one of those “crossovers” or small SUVs. If you are going to be an old man, aren’t you worried about getting into those SUVs, which are up kind of high? The crossovers are up ~ 6″ over a sedan but are still lower than the big SUVs and especially the new monster pick-ups where some people need a small step ladder.

    Those crossovers like Toyota Rav4s, Honda CRVs, and Hyundai Tuscon/Santa Fe’s are pretty nice and pretty decent on gas mileage (22 to 25 mpg in the city and > 32 on the highway). None of them have any good view out the rear or anywhere from 3 O’clock to 9 O’clock. Make sure you get one with that back-up camera – it’s necessary now.

    As El Data said, you probably don’t want your car to be one big smart-phone on wheels, so maybe you should go for a 2 y/o one from Car Max or, better yet, someone you know. A mechanic friend says that the Hyundais and Kias have got the quality up to Toyota level, but at a cheaper price, as this is not known yet.

    Heads-up displays are find for airliners in SE Alaska, but they will be a distraction just like all the rest of the electronic crap.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    You should also take any car you want to buy to your mechanic and have him check it over. I was hot to buy a Honda Pilot until my mechanic inspected it and said literally, "Don't buy this car" and then listed the $2700 of work it needed. I passed. Money well spent.
  8. Dear Mr Sailer,

    Yes, it is a good idea to hang on to the minivan for the day when you have to pack up massive amounts of stuff and join the exodus out of California.

    Personally I don’t think it matters which car you buy- just make sure you flee in it before the day when gas is 500% dearer than the rest of the nation and the Mexican drug cartel warlords have forced Malibu to surrender.

  9. Honda, Toyota and Hyundai all make more or less interchangeable small SUVs. They are wholly generic and I love mine. I don’t feel weird pulling up to the valet at various country clubs I wheedle my way onto as a guest. I consider leather mandatory (and heated seats are a must in Chicago). Tesla’s killer app is self driving in rush hour traffic. I quite liked the Nissan Leaf but it looks weird. I don’t think many sedans are made anymore but if you can find a Lexus or Infinity with 80k or so that will last you a while.

  10. Which brands? I actually have a quite good mechanic nearby, but I’d prefer reliability. I want majority American value-added.

    There is a car made in the Commonwealth of Kentucky called the Toyota Avalon hybrid. It is roomy, a smooth ride, and averages more than 40 miles per gallon. Toyota has a good reputation for reliability.

    https://www.toyota.com/avalonhybrid/

    However, as you get older you may find it easier to get in and out of an SUV without having to put a hand on the ground. Also it is easier to load and unload groceries and suitcases.

    • Replies: @Lot
    I also suggest checking out an Avalon.

    I see a wide variety of cars between rentals and Uber. The Avalon had the most plush and comfortable backseat I’ve ever sat in. I’m kind of surprised they aren’t the main replacement for Towncars, because it felt like a more modern version.

    The Camry has been sized up every generation for 30 years so is now also in Old Man Boat-Car territory.

    By the way, when I see an Avalon on the road I instinctively give it wide berth because the modal driver is a confused and erratic 75 year old NE Asian. “Erratic old Asian driver here!!!” isn’t a bad signal for your car to convey on the road.

    As for SUV v Sedan, sedans just drive better.

    I test drove a few leading small entry-lux SUVs (BMW x1, x3, Lexus RX) and they all had greatly inferior handling to cheaper equivalent sedans. While I like the higher driving position and easier entry/exit, those are not worth making driving harder and less fun.
  11. And now, as we do each week here on the iSteve threads, here is our Peak Stupidity long distance dedication. Today we hear about Katie McHugh, spurned by her alt-right lovers at Breitbart. She is on a long road to recovery and has found a new journalistic life in which she spends her time leaking out private emails and pouring out her pain in daily tweets.

    Though he is happily married, Katie cannot help but once in a while mention her unrequited love of one of the soon-to-be-crossover-driving scions of the alt-right, who goes by the name of iSteve. From one of his commenters, far away in fly-over/crossover country, comes this long distance dedication for tonight.

    Katie McHugh, Steve Sailer, and all members in good and bad standing of the alt-right, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

    • LOL: Redneck farmer
    • Replies: @miss marple
    Oh, I thought McHugh was a brunette but she must be a redhead if Sailer had an affair with her.
  12. Agree on referencing Eric Peters. An older friend of mine got the same truck as me only with AWD and lane assist (etc.), he gets a about a quarter less mileage and immediately disabled all the warnings.

  13. Nah, just get the upholstery replaced and the seat replaced. A trip to a good mechanic would take care of the airbag problem too

  14. UFor some bizarre reason I’ve been cursed for most of my adult life with Ford’s….i cant wait to buy a newer model Toyota and then buy a junker like a small pick up like a Ford Ranger as a back up vehicle

    If I had to nail down specific models.. Camry or Corolla….

    • Replies: @JMcG
    I’ve had Fords for 25 years now. They’ve been uniformly reliable. They know how to make a pick up truck for sure. My last one did 205 k in 15 years until the salted roads around here did their work.
    Never gave me a moment’s trouble.
    My wife had a Windstar for nine years. Never could live it, but it was dead reliable, unlike the Chrysler we replaced it with.
    Nothing wrong with Ford, but almost everyone makes a good car these days.
  15. @Just Saying
    I'm a jeep/truck guy myself, as are most of my male friends. Three of my friends have gotten Teslas, and every one of them obsessively loves their car. If nothing else, take a test drive.

    Steve, disregard these people and DO NOT buy a Tesla.

    Just get a used Lexus. Someone else already paid for the depreciation and it will still last you forever. It’s the best deal around.

    • Agree: bigdicknick
    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    One of my cousins has a Lexus from the first year they were made, and drives it every day. He also has a much newer one, just in case. In addition he owns three Bentleys from the 1950s, which he uses on Sundays, as his mood moves him.

    But it's the Lexus he trusts.
    , @bigdicknick
    I second buying a used lexus if you're open to used cars. Just make sure the previous owner hands over documentation about service it has received so you know if they changed the oil and other fluids on the necessary timeline.
  16. My wife has her SUV in a shop and we were given a sedan as a loaner. One drive in that thing and I said,”Never again in my life will I own a sedan.” As you get older,it gets harder and harder to fold yourself into a low slung car.

  17. I practically worked myself into the hospital in 2015, putting on about 20 pounds in the wake of Merkel’s Mistake

    Pizza and potato chips?

  18. I practically worked myself into the hospital in 2015, putting on about 20 pounds in the wake of Merkel’s Mistake

    Pizza and potato chips?

    Car: 2018 or 1019 Ford Taurus. Big, cushy, the AWD is really helpful in managing the weight. I’m a kook, so the SHO is my version, but I suspect I’ll pay for that with the turbochargers and all. Even the non-SHO is still nearly 300HP, necessary for such a big comfy car. The car is discontinued for 2020, but there are 18s and 19s all over, new. Secondary benefit, the thing SCREAMS cop, left-laners move out of the way for miles ahead when they see the thing in their mirror. Get the Blackout trim, get it in Grey or Blue (either shade), install a Ventshade over the front edge of the sunroof (from a distance, it looks like the sexy little low-profile flashing light bar like cops use now.) and it’s a ringer from a distance.

    It’s the last American classic Ford, it’s a great car.

  19. Lightly used (2 or 3 year old) luxury sedans with low mileage (less than 35,000 miles) and maintenance records are a sweet spot because their market value plummets like a stone when their useful life has barely started. Rule out German ones because they are expensive to maintain out of warranty. That leaves Japanese and Korean ones. Genesis has a super long warranty, which is nice although chances are you won’t need it much – since the mfr is paying, it behooves them to make cars that won’t break. Of the Japanese makes, Lexus (Toyota) is the most reliable followed by Acura (Honda).

    If you want a “new” car, leftovers at the end of the model year can also be good deals. The manufacturer sometimes puts “money on the hood” to clear out old inventory so the dealer can sell the car “below cost”. A car that has been used as a demo can still be sold as “new” because it has never been titled but that 1,000 miles on the clock cuts the price substantially.

    • Agree: Desiderius, Coemgen
    • Replies: @Alfa158
    Spot on advice. A well equipped Toyota or Lexus is the best bet, perhaps even one of the SUV or van versions. They can have smooth rides and you can find lease returns and demos that have the latest bells and whistles. Their only downside is looks, Toyota in particular is on a grotesque styling fad, with all sorts of furbelows and weird panel excrescences. Many Lexi now have the entire nose of the car covered with a section of chain link fence. Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.
    We buy German luxury brands because we keep cars at least 10 years and there are two mechanics in our area who are fantastic. They don’t charge luxury prices, do great work and never do anything unnecessary. We have spent less having our cars serviced than some friends spend on their Hondas, but these guys only work on Mercedes and BMW so we are sticking with those brands as long as these guys stay in business.
    I would recommend that Steve uses the websites of the manufacturers and the independent car sales sites to do searches. If he is not in a rush, he can do what we do. Run searches with the parameters set to the exact make, model, equipment, colors, mileage, asking price etc. then just wait until you find an ideal match.
    , @ScarletNumber
    My three rules for buying cars are:

    * Never buy used
    * Never buy American
    * Trust Consumer Reports

    If the car you like is recommended by CR you will be good to go. As for safety features, the backup camera has made my life my better.

    Also, I tend to buy after the new-year models come out. That way the dealers are looking to clear the old inventory. This gives you the price advantage of buying a used car without it ever actually being owned by someone else. I would never do that.
  20. My wife’s car has electronic safety stuff. When I drive it it’s annoying for a while (beep beep beep if you approach the shoulder or the lane line) and the mirror lets you know if there’s someone in your blind spot. And a rear camera for backing up. You eventually find all these things useful, though it causes some skill atrophy (being able to judge how much room you have behind you with your own eyes, for instance.) The proliferation of these devices have made people more reckless in changing lanes, is my daughter’s opinion.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian

    My wife’s car has electronic safety stuff. When I drive it it’s annoying for a while (beep beep beep if you approach the shoulder or the lane line) and the mirror lets you know if there’s someone in your blind spot.
     
    We rented a 19 Subaru sedan last fall, year ago. It had the anti-stray tech, it reads the stripe on the road and doesn't let you cross it. Thing up here is, you dodge potholes inf you value your wheels and front end. On a particularly cratered road on 1A in Hamilton, I crossed the yellow to straddle a pothole and the damned thing jinked me right back in path with and into the pothole. Hell of a smash.
    , @Jack D
    Having all of this electronic assistance is probably not a bad idea as you get older and your reflexes slow down. If you are at the top of your game you don't need a lane warning or automatic braking, etc. but at some point the machine is going to be faster than you are.
  21. My wife’s car is a VW Passat sedan made in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s the American version (as opposed to the one made in Germany) so it is roomier. It’s a great driver, the steering is predicted and the handling is great. We’ve never had a maintenance issue over the 5 years 60,000 miles we’ve owned it.

  22. Lexus if you have the money, Camry if you don’t; mine has lasted 20 years. Of course, they may have stopped making good cars in the last 20 years.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    Those old fashioned Calvinists at Kia do.
    , @Jim Don Bob
    Toyota Avalon is an upscale Camry. Agree that you can get a real nice Lexus SUV for cheap after a few years. Having a good local, non-dealer, mechanic helps too.

    I just bought a 2014 top of the line Honda CRV with 31k miles for $17k. Nice car and roomy enough for me and the dog and most everything I want to haul, which today was a washing machine.
  23. @nglaer
    My wife's car has electronic safety stuff. When I drive it it's annoying for a while (beep beep beep if you approach the shoulder or the lane line) and the mirror lets you know if there's someone in your blind spot. And a rear camera for backing up. You eventually find all these things useful, though it causes some skill atrophy (being able to judge how much room you have behind you with your own eyes, for instance.) The proliferation of these devices have made people more reckless in changing lanes, is my daughter's opinion.

    My wife’s car has electronic safety stuff. When I drive it it’s annoying for a while (beep beep beep if you approach the shoulder or the lane line) and the mirror lets you know if there’s someone in your blind spot.

    We rented a 19 Subaru sedan last fall, year ago. It had the anti-stray tech, it reads the stripe on the road and doesn’t let you cross it. Thing up here is, you dodge potholes inf you value your wheels and front end. On a particularly cratered road on 1A in Hamilton, I crossed the yellow to straddle a pothole and the damned thing jinked me right back in path with and into the pothole. Hell of a smash.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I really don't like the lane assist. If I want to cut corners, I want to be able to.

    Most other things - reversing camera, sensors front and back, traction control, blind spot detection... are great but do cause some skill atrophy as someone else said. You also tend to acclimate to your own vehicle, which can be dangerous e.g. if you have reversing camera without sensors on a rental car. Hands free telephony and being able to play the music on your phone through bluetooth is great. I could take or leave adaptive cruise control.

    Heads up display for speed nice but not essential. As long as there is a digital speed output somewhere so you can set your cruise by (after using a gps speed app on your phone to work out the car's stated speed at the maximum actual speed that will avoid tickets).

    You keep cars a long time, Steve. Either get a hybrid or an EV, it will be the gift that keeps on giving in terms of fuel savings. Also in terms of brake pads and rotors. It saves nearly half the fuel bill of an equivalent vehicle and more if you can do some basic hypermiling.

    It hardly rains in LA and probably never gets icy, so why get AWD? The key advantage of AWD is wet road safety, or rather ability to push the vehicle's capability in the wet and not pay the penalty. Great in snow or ice as well of course.
  24. “I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride.”

    https://www.carfax.com/Used-Pontiac-Bonneville_w558

    It’s the stay cagey car of its generation.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    These cars are already 15 years old. By the time Steve is 75 they will be 30 years old. No matter how well built they are, a 30 year old car is going to have major deterioration - the rubber parts and upholstery start to rot and fade in the California sun, seals will leak, etc. Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with.

    A wild card idea would be for Steve to keep the car that he already owns. Seats are faded? Have them reupholstered. Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it's STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car. But after a while you get sick of driving the same old thing and want something with that new car smell, where all the switches still work and it doesn't creak when you go over a bump.
  25. 2020 Volvo S90 if you have the money. 2020 Kia Sorento if not so much (formerly known as kimchi clunkers, Korean cars are now tops).

  26. Car: Honda Accord sedan, most American % of all cars.
    Due to the trauma of only 2 of your articles being forwarded by Mr. Miller, do you want me to include Little Debbie or Hostess snacks in your care package?

    • LOL: HammerJack
  27. How come coppers in Chicago are getting expensive SUVs in stead of cheaper sedans? Aren’t sedans good enough urban police work? Don’t taxpayers save money buying sufficient sedans instead of “like-to-have” police SUVs?

  28. I used to be a mechanic. I’m not up to date on the latest safety advances/ car models but I can field some of the other stuff.

    TLDR: Almost any new car on the market will be more reliable and probably safer than what you’re driving ever was so don’t fixate on make/model. Go by personal taste & value of a particular deal. Personally, it sounds to me like you want a Cadillac, but have sort of auto-Ameriphobia issue.

    On car makes, people who started driving on used 80s/90s or earlier cars always think that if you don’t drive Japanese you’ll break down. Those were the peak quality disparity years between the world & Japan. Since the 90s all cars are designed on computers and built by robots. Complicated mechanical systems have been replaced by much more reliable computers & electronics. Every maker is now producing competent drivetrains, and the worst new car on the market today will likely be more reliable than the best car from the 90s ever was.

    Having said that, Honda & Subaru have the best build/assembly. They’ve always limited their output to maintain quality. Toyota has slid a little in recent years and Nissan was always a notch below. Ford is good. Cadillac is generally very good. I don’t like Chevy or Chrysler for sedans. Korean cars were crap, but maybe they’ve gotten better since I quit wrenching. Volkwagen is ok, but more expensive for common repairs. BMW/Audi are the same except much more so. All German cars are generally over engineered in some stupid, unnecessary way that will eventually cause pain to the mechanic and owner.

    AWD is great. Maybe not necessary in SoCal but if you can get a deal on a car that has it don’t hesitate.

    Properly maintained and conditioned leather upholstery will last forever or at least a lot longer than the padding in the seat. As long as it’s not ripped or torn you can always bring leather fabric back. Cloth seats stain, smell and wear out. They’re just about a deal breaker for me.

    HUD and driver aids in general are great -as long as they’re working. Be aware that these are the major cause of warranty issues in cars today. Everything else on a standard automobile is a mature system, but makes & models plummet on the JD Power list solely on some malfunction in an electronic doogad that was added to dashboard for the new model year. I wouldn’t think twice about getting used to driver aids though. They’re 2nd nature after a few trips.

    If you have a good, independent mechanic, ask him if he does recommendations.

  29. @Corvinus
    "I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride."

    https://www.carfax.com/Used-Pontiac-Bonneville_w558

    It's the stay cagey car of its generation.

    These cars are already 15 years old. By the time Steve is 75 they will be 30 years old. No matter how well built they are, a 30 year old car is going to have major deterioration – the rubber parts and upholstery start to rot and fade in the California sun, seals will leak, etc. Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with.

    A wild card idea would be for Steve to keep the car that he already owns. Seats are faded? Have them reupholstered. Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it’s STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car. But after a while you get sick of driving the same old thing and want something with that new car smell, where all the switches still work and it doesn’t creak when you go over a bump.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    Awful advice.

    Gently used, care, and keep is the way to go. Once you hit a repair that costs more than replacement value then repeat. Expected cycle time roughly 12 years.
    , @Corvinus
    "These cars are already 15 years old."

    But if it is low mileage, and has been gently used, it's good to go.

    "Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with."

    He has over 250,000 miles on it. His vehicle is on its last legs.

    "Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it’s STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car."

    Not if major repairs add up--$2000 here, a grand there. Today's vehicles are manufactured well, with proper maintenance you can drive it into the ground between 250 to 300k miles.

    Perhaps Mr. Sailer could go green or use Uber. But the Bonneville fits him to a T.
    , @AnotherDad

    Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it’s STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car.
     
    "NEVER"? When it gets to the point where it's a major repairs or a continuous string of repairs, then replacement even makes financial sense. Basically a some point, the piece labor of a repair shop becomes more expensive than "buying in bulk" work that was done in a factory.

    I'm still driving our 1993 Caravan--with it's issues. (Just locally--scout meetings, Home Depot, Costco--i don't take it for road trips or even just up into the mountains.) But if it blew a tranny or needed a major engine repair, it's going to crusher and Nucor can turn it into rebar.

    It never pays to buy a *new* car. But Desiderius advice strikes me as pretty much spot on. The sweet spot is a few years old car that has taken the big depreciation hit but is in good shape then maintaining that car well and running it out until it's ready for the junk yard (or someone who uses their own labor to fix their cars).

    ~~

    But all that said ... if Steve's Infinity is still running well, transmission shifting smoothly/correctly, and able to hold alignment and ride well, then he might want to just keep it and replace the front seats. (Or at least the drivers seat.) 1998 is old enough that finding a seat for an Infinity at a local yard might be a problem. But with the Internet, i think Steve could find one somewhere in LA, replace it and have a comfortable ride again.

    Then he can spend his money on rooftop solar. Or tuck it away off-shore for when the Feds seize his assets for "hate".
    , @Adam Smith
    I love my 30 year old car. All the switches work and it doesn't creak going over bumps. (Admittedly it was rattling a bit until I changed the control arms.) It's shiny and nice. I get compliments all the time. It's also cheap to tag and insure. Ad valorem tax runs about $1.30 each year.

    One Dollar and Thirty Cents.

    https://s1.cdn.autoevolution.com/images/gallery/BMW5Series-E34-Sedan-775_8.jpg

    If Steve lived closer to Nebrska I'd recommend this.

    https://www.autabuy.com/photos/2019/08/09/59732690_523967177266801_Orig.jpg

    2000 Mercedes-Benz S430 1 OWNER 24K MILES

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/2000-MERCEDES-BENZ-S430-1-OWNER-24K-MILES/233339074389?hash=item365417b755:g:hjMAAOSwFxhdeaI3
  30. @nglaer
    My wife's car has electronic safety stuff. When I drive it it's annoying for a while (beep beep beep if you approach the shoulder or the lane line) and the mirror lets you know if there's someone in your blind spot. And a rear camera for backing up. You eventually find all these things useful, though it causes some skill atrophy (being able to judge how much room you have behind you with your own eyes, for instance.) The proliferation of these devices have made people more reckless in changing lanes, is my daughter's opinion.

    Having all of this electronic assistance is probably not a bad idea as you get older and your reflexes slow down. If you are at the top of your game you don’t need a lane warning or automatic braking, etc. but at some point the machine is going to be faster than you are.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    That's when you move to South Florida. They are used to those kind of drivers down there - big sidewalks with parking meters to stop the cars, etc. The written test says you only have to be able to see from 50 ft. to 100 ft. ahead of you. Less than 50 ft. is behind the big hood as you sit low in the plush corinthian leather seats, and over 100 ft. is beyond the resolution of your eyesight - you're only required to be able to make out the big E on that test. Don't ask me about the road test.
  31. @Bill Jones
    Read Eric Peters on what technology you need.

    He also answers questions and his comments section is full of those hate filled bigots who actually have a clue what they talk about, you know, white men.

    https://www.ericpetersautos.com/category/new-car-reviews/

    The marginal climb up into the crossover SUV's gets to be a little easier than the sideways shuffle into sedans.

    The marginal climb up into the crossover SUV’s gets to be a little easier than the sideways shuffle into sedans.

    From experience in getting my 97 year old MIL in and out of a sedan vs a minivan, I would say the opposite. Gravity is against you in climbing up into a higher vehicle. But she is short and so hitting her head on the roof of the sedan is not an issue.

    Unfortunately, many modern sedans have adopted “4 door coupe” styling. Basically this means that the roofline is really low. Not entirely coincidentally, sedan sales have tanked. A low floor in a car is really a good idea (center of gravity and all that). A low roof – not so much.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    From experience in getting my 97 year old MIL in and out of a sedan vs a minivan, I would say the opposite. Gravity is against you in climbing up into a higher vehicle.
     
    But with the other, gravity is against you in climbing out of the lower vehicle.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    A low floor in a car is really a good idea (center of gravity and all that).
     
    Ask any Chicano in East LA-- but do it soon:

    SMILE NOW, CRY LATER: AFTER 42 YEARS, LOWRIDER MAGAZINE WILL CEASE TO PRINT

    The life and death of Lowrider: How the Chicano car magazine shaped California

    Low and Slow: The Lowriders of East LA


    https://www.lataco.com/wp-content/uploads/IMG_5151-1.jpg
    , @kaganovitch
    I keep a really small folding step stool in my SUV to get my mid nineties mom in and out. Works like a charm and a lot easier on the back than twisting & hauling up from a sedan seat.
  32. I’ve had Honda Accord, Toyota Camry. Fine, relatively inexpensive cars.

  33. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75.

    Look for a super low miles Japanese or German car from about 1990. Something like a 1990 Lexus LS400, 1989 Acura Legend or maybe a 1990 BMW 525i. I drive the latter and love it. It’s a 5 speed and gets 33 mpg on the highway. I do all my own maintenance which helps keep it super affordable. I bought it 10 years ago for $3,000 and have put about 60,000 miles on it. It currently has 130,000 on the odometer. Everything works. The leather is like butter. She is very reliable. With a little luck I can drive this car for the next 40 years or until they outlaw gas motors.

    Another question is how useful is the 2020 high tech safety equipment?

    What is your experience with recent cars with their new sensors?

    I don’t want a car that puts me back in my lane when I swerve to avoid a possum, deer, bicyclist, pedestrian or tree limb in the road. I’m also not too thrilled with the idea of a car that is “fly by wire” and therefore hackable. I don’t want a black spy box or a car that is hooked to the cellphone network.

    I actually have a quite good mechanic nearby, but I’d prefer reliability

    Since you have a good mechanic, an older car could be a good choice. New cars cost too much and have way too many sensors that can break or otherwise make your car run like a dog. I’ve seen too many new(ish) cars that run great until they get a software update or a sensor go bad and then they run like shit or leave the driver stranded. You can probably buy a good old car with super low miles for less than a down payment on a new car and you won’t have 84 monthly payments. I have a neighbor who buys a new car every 3 years or so. Turns out that after about 3 years he owes more on the car note than the car is worth, so he “upgrades” into a new car with a higher payment. Rinse and repeat. I knew another guy who bought a Ford F150 for about $55,000 dollars. He had a $900 monthly truck payment. Same thing happened to him… The car wasn’t worth the payment. So he “upgraded” to a new truck with a bigger payment.

    Since you’re in southern California…

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1990-Acura-Legend-LUXURIOUS/153757614196?hash=item23ccab0074:g:oHMAAOSw5Y1dfZer

    P.S. If you buy this Acura you have to fix the drain tubes for the sunroof. Honda, for some reason, put these little nipple like things on the bottom of the sunroof drains where they exit the vehicle into the fenders. After a bunch of years the little nipple things fill up with debris and then water will not drain from the tubes anymore. Water will collect and backup into the roof liner and the floor boards after a good rain. Simply remove the little rubber nipples from the bottom and get some new tubing that will reach to the bottom of the car so the water has an easy exit point. It’s a very easy and inexpensive repair.

    Remember, the lower the miles the better. Sometimes you can find a nice old car with less than 20,000 mile on it. In 1995 I bought a 1986 Z28 that had 6,000 miles on it. It had been garaged it’s whole life. It was like having a brand new car without the new car price. You may have to replace some shocks, tires and vacuum lines, but the car is otherwise still like new.

  34. @Jack D
    Having all of this electronic assistance is probably not a bad idea as you get older and your reflexes slow down. If you are at the top of your game you don't need a lane warning or automatic braking, etc. but at some point the machine is going to be faster than you are.

    That’s when you move to South Florida. They are used to those kind of drivers down there – big sidewalks with parking meters to stop the cars, etc. The written test says you only have to be able to see from 50 ft. to 100 ft. ahead of you. Less than 50 ft. is behind the big hood as you sit low in the plush corinthian leather seats, and over 100 ft. is beyond the resolution of your eyesight – you’re only required to be able to make out the big E on that test. Don’t ask me about the road test.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    That's hurricane country....a no go zone for @ isteve lest he start spouting intemperate racial slurs.
  35. @SFG
    Lexus if you have the money, Camry if you don't; mine has lasted 20 years. Of course, they may have stopped making good cars in the last 20 years.

    Those old fashioned Calvinists at Kia do.

  36. Anonymous[337] • Disclaimer says:

    Personally, what I find shocking about the Scandal-Plagued Southern Poverty Law Center’s revelation that Stephen Miller forwarded two of my posts is how few that is. I practically worked myself into the hospital in 2015, putting on about 20 pounds in the wake of Merkel’s Mistake. I wrote a ton of great stuff and Miller forwarded only two of them?

    Were the two articles posted on VDare or on isteve?

  37. @El Dato

    Many of the writers of its race pieces are proponents of the Human Biodiversity Movement (HBD), a euphemistic name for a campaign to advance scientific racism launched in 1996 by Steve Sailer, a blogger for the white supremacist website VDare
     
    It's a bit sad that Steve's pedigree as Hitler's Personal Race Theoretician is being overlooked here.

    She was already a racist when she took a publishing job in Washington, DC. But when she became a reporter for Breitbart News, Katie McHugh says she was taken to new depths of hate with the help of Stephen Miller. …
     
    She was a racist. But then she got irradiated by Miller Rays, she became SUPER-RACIST: Katie McHugh is RAYE ZESTIKAL (after she goes through phone booth).

    McHugh told CNN: “I do want to emphasize … that those emails are now White House policy.”
     
    As anyone who can look at the Terrible Truth can attest.

    I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride.
     
    A good plan. The problem is finding a car that is not on the Internet of Things or can be connected to remotely. Apparently these don't exist anymore. I remember security guru Bruce Schneier (who otherwise sadly seems to get his world overview from the NYT) trying to find a modern car that is "unconnected" and thus potentially riddled with bad future experiences (getting a ransomware infection for your car? phoning home to the FBI and your insurance? think buying a new Windows PC laden with crapware) but he had no success.

    OT: An disquieting message in your Firefox browser "New Tab" page:

    Tired of checking 10 sites a day for something good to read? Pockets serves up fascinating articles from top publications.
     
    Oh God.

    Pocket is woke, too!

  38. @Jack D
    These cars are already 15 years old. By the time Steve is 75 they will be 30 years old. No matter how well built they are, a 30 year old car is going to have major deterioration - the rubber parts and upholstery start to rot and fade in the California sun, seals will leak, etc. Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with.

    A wild card idea would be for Steve to keep the car that he already owns. Seats are faded? Have them reupholstered. Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it's STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car. But after a while you get sick of driving the same old thing and want something with that new car smell, where all the switches still work and it doesn't creak when you go over a bump.

    Awful advice.

    Gently used, care, and keep is the way to go. Once you hit a repair that costs more than replacement value then repeat. Expected cycle time roughly 12 years.

  39. @Jack D

    The marginal climb up into the crossover SUV’s gets to be a little easier than the sideways shuffle into sedans.
     
    From experience in getting my 97 year old MIL in and out of a sedan vs a minivan, I would say the opposite. Gravity is against you in climbing up into a higher vehicle. But she is short and so hitting her head on the roof of the sedan is not an issue.

    Unfortunately, many modern sedans have adopted "4 door coupe" styling. Basically this means that the roofline is really low. Not entirely coincidentally, sedan sales have tanked. A low floor in a car is really a good idea (center of gravity and all that). A low roof - not so much.

    From experience in getting my 97 year old MIL in and out of a sedan vs a minivan, I would say the opposite. Gravity is against you in climbing up into a higher vehicle.

    But with the other, gravity is against you in climbing out of the lower vehicle.

  40. I know a racist pseudoscience purporting to show that people of color are different from whites — it’s called “diversity theory”!

  41. @Jack D
    Lightly used (2 or 3 year old) luxury sedans with low mileage (less than 35,000 miles) and maintenance records are a sweet spot because their market value plummets like a stone when their useful life has barely started. Rule out German ones because they are expensive to maintain out of warranty. That leaves Japanese and Korean ones. Genesis has a super long warranty, which is nice although chances are you won't need it much - since the mfr is paying, it behooves them to make cars that won't break. Of the Japanese makes, Lexus (Toyota) is the most reliable followed by Acura (Honda).

    If you want a "new" car, leftovers at the end of the model year can also be good deals. The manufacturer sometimes puts "money on the hood" to clear out old inventory so the dealer can sell the car "below cost". A car that has been used as a demo can still be sold as "new" because it has never been titled but that 1,000 miles on the clock cuts the price substantially.

    Spot on advice. A well equipped Toyota or Lexus is the best bet, perhaps even one of the SUV or van versions. They can have smooth rides and you can find lease returns and demos that have the latest bells and whistles. Their only downside is looks, Toyota in particular is on a grotesque styling fad, with all sorts of furbelows and weird panel excrescences. Many Lexi now have the entire nose of the car covered with a section of chain link fence. Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.
    We buy German luxury brands because we keep cars at least 10 years and there are two mechanics in our area who are fantastic. They don’t charge luxury prices, do great work and never do anything unnecessary. We have spent less having our cars serviced than some friends spend on their Hondas, but these guys only work on Mercedes and BMW so we are sticking with those brands as long as these guys stay in business.
    I would recommend that Steve uses the websites of the manufacturers and the independent car sales sites to do searches. If he is not in a rush, he can do what we do. Run searches with the parameters set to the exact make, model, equipment, colors, mileage, asking price etc. then just wait until you find an ideal match.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    I had an Audi and an old school VW mechanic to go with it (an old German who went back to the Beetle days and now his American born sons were running the shop). The good thing about Audis is that a lot of the parts are the same as VW parts AND VW and Audi have extensive manufacturing in China so that cheap Chinese aftermarket parts are available. The bad news is that Audi puts these same cheap Chinese parts in the cars when they are new. Even if the parts say Mann or Bosch, they have factories in China now too.

    Also, German car engineers don't believe in KISS. They have a propensity to come up with Rube Goldbergian solutions which are really good when they are new but are not necessarily durable and definitely not easy to fix later on - really complex (but high performing) suspension geometries with all sorts of control arms and bushings that will wear out later, etc. By contrast, the rear suspension on my Chrysler van looks like something that came off of a Conestoga wagon - a beam axle and 2 leaf springs and call it done. This doesn't perform great but it will never break either.

    The downfall of my Audi (and I later found out many Audis and VWs) was one of those Rube Goldbergian devices, in this case it was the "cam chain tensioner" , the business end of which was made out of the kind of plastic that you find in Happy Meal toys. When the bit of plastic failed, the valves hit the pistons and it was goodbye to my engine. VW/Audi has sent millions of cars to the junk yard with this bit of brilliant engineering. I'm sure that was completely unintentional and not a time bomb intended to send you back to the dealer for a new one.
    , @AnotherDad

    Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.
     
    Spot on. I don't have any of this stuff on any of our cars, but have had it on lots of rentals and am looking forward to having it in our next car.

    It's obviously good stuff and ridiculous not to have--especially for older folks. The simple backup camera can prevent a lot of unnecessary parking lot dings ... and keep you from running over your grandkids.
  42. My wife’s 2010 Buick LaCrosse always strikes me as a good car for older gents. Very smooth and quiet. Roomy and big. Not many annoying modern safety features except for proximity sensors on the bumper that only activate when the car is in reverse. Those have proven very useful and a little hard to live without. It also has a HUD that primarily functions as speedometer but does display warnings and radio stations. The HUD I find incredibly useful as it allows me to check my speed without my eye straying too far from the road.

    I wouldn’t want leather seats in a warmer, sunnier climate just out of the added wear and heat that adds if the car sits out in the sun, but that’s a preference. The LaCrosse has a cooling function on its seats in addition to a warmer, so that negative may cancel out.

    I’m still a sedan man and sorry to hear that Buick is offing its last sedan lines as of 2020.

  43. @Jonathan Mason

    Which brands? I actually have a quite good mechanic nearby, but I’d prefer reliability. I want majority American value-added.
     
    There is a car made in the Commonwealth of Kentucky called the Toyota Avalon hybrid. It is roomy, a smooth ride, and averages more than 40 miles per gallon. Toyota has a good reputation for reliability.

    https://www.toyota.com/avalonhybrid/

    However, as you get older you may find it easier to get in and out of an SUV without having to put a hand on the ground. Also it is easier to load and unload groceries and suitcases.

    I also suggest checking out an Avalon.

    I see a wide variety of cars between rentals and Uber. The Avalon had the most plush and comfortable backseat I’ve ever sat in. I’m kind of surprised they aren’t the main replacement for Towncars, because it felt like a more modern version.

    The Camry has been sized up every generation for 30 years so is now also in Old Man Boat-Car territory.

    By the way, when I see an Avalon on the road I instinctively give it wide berth because the modal driver is a confused and erratic 75 year old NE Asian. “Erratic old Asian driver here!!!” isn’t a bad signal for your car to convey on the road.

    As for SUV v Sedan, sedans just drive better.

    I test drove a few leading small entry-lux SUVs (BMW x1, x3, Lexus RX) and they all had greatly inferior handling to cheaper equivalent sedans. While I like the higher driving position and easier entry/exit, those are not worth making driving harder and less fun.

    • Replies: @Lot
    Here’s that plush Avalon backseat from its 2013-2018 generation. Look like the recent refresh didn’t change the back much:

    https://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/5/2013/02/2013-Toyota-Avalon-Limited-backseat.jpg

    https://cdn-ds.com/media/websites/2142/content/2018-Toyota-Avalon-B7_o.jpg?s=63233
  44. @Lot
    I also suggest checking out an Avalon.

    I see a wide variety of cars between rentals and Uber. The Avalon had the most plush and comfortable backseat I’ve ever sat in. I’m kind of surprised they aren’t the main replacement for Towncars, because it felt like a more modern version.

    The Camry has been sized up every generation for 30 years so is now also in Old Man Boat-Car territory.

    By the way, when I see an Avalon on the road I instinctively give it wide berth because the modal driver is a confused and erratic 75 year old NE Asian. “Erratic old Asian driver here!!!” isn’t a bad signal for your car to convey on the road.

    As for SUV v Sedan, sedans just drive better.

    I test drove a few leading small entry-lux SUVs (BMW x1, x3, Lexus RX) and they all had greatly inferior handling to cheaper equivalent sedans. While I like the higher driving position and easier entry/exit, those are not worth making driving harder and less fun.

    Here’s that plush Avalon backseat from its 2013-2018 generation. Look like the recent refresh didn’t change the back much:

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    Lot, that back seat looks really comfy. But i think Steve is keeping his wife.
    , @MEH 0910
    Roxy Music - Avalon (Official Video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpA_5a0miWk
  45. American-assembled? VIN starting with 1

    Anything Honda/Acura made at Marysville.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marysville_Auto_Plant

    • Replies: @dvorak
    Looks like the Avalon is made in the USA, so there's your old-man car par excellence.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Motor_Manufacturing_Kentucky#Vehicles
  46. @Jack D
    These cars are already 15 years old. By the time Steve is 75 they will be 30 years old. No matter how well built they are, a 30 year old car is going to have major deterioration - the rubber parts and upholstery start to rot and fade in the California sun, seals will leak, etc. Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with.

    A wild card idea would be for Steve to keep the car that he already owns. Seats are faded? Have them reupholstered. Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it's STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car. But after a while you get sick of driving the same old thing and want something with that new car smell, where all the switches still work and it doesn't creak when you go over a bump.

    “These cars are already 15 years old.”

    But if it is low mileage, and has been gently used, it’s good to go.

    “Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with.”

    He has over 250,000 miles on it. His vehicle is on its last legs.

    “Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it’s STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car.”

    Not if major repairs add up–$2000 here, a grand there. Today’s vehicles are manufactured well, with proper maintenance you can drive it into the ground between 250 to 300k miles.

    Perhaps Mr. Sailer could go green or use Uber. But the Bonneville fits him to a T.

    • Replies: @anon

    Perhaps Mr. Sailer could go green or use Uber. But the Bonneville fits him to a T.
     
    I think you mean to a D.

    As in "Deathtrap."

    If you get broadsided in an old Bonneville, the ambulance guys will extract you with a sump pump.
  47. You’ve done well with the Odessey. We have Honda CVR’s since 2000. The new one is a gem. The gas (no big battery to carry around) engine is a turbo 4 cyl. Very responsive.

    The electronics are not intrusive.

    Carl

  48. We just bought my wife a Ford Escape. It’s probably a bit small for a man your size though. We got a 19 leftover, zero miles, Titanium (Highest) trim level for 27 and change, not including tax.

    My kids are reaching driving age one by one now. I won’t even consider a car that doesn’t have at least a full suite of airbags anymore. I deal with a fair amount of severe accident scenes and you wouldn’t believe the wrecks that are survivable these days.
    I sent a contribution in August, but I’ll be sending another this month.
    There’s no one else like you around Steve, truly the indispensable man.

    • Agree: Couch scientist
  49. My great uncle in his late 80s has a 2009 Buick LaCrosse. It looks classy and modern on the outside, while the interior is conservative with buttons rather than a big tablet to control things. Being skinny and old, the dual climate zones is very useful as he likes it warm and his younger relatives don’t.

    I was both the driver and passenger since he likes to drive but doesn’t do so at night. Adjusting the driver seat and mirrors because I am taller was quick.

    His 09 has 28,000 miles and looks brand new. If you can find something similar I think you’d get an easy 10 more years out of it.

  50. @El Dato

    Many of the writers of its race pieces are proponents of the Human Biodiversity Movement (HBD), a euphemistic name for a campaign to advance scientific racism launched in 1996 by Steve Sailer, a blogger for the white supremacist website VDare
     
    It's a bit sad that Steve's pedigree as Hitler's Personal Race Theoretician is being overlooked here.

    She was already a racist when she took a publishing job in Washington, DC. But when she became a reporter for Breitbart News, Katie McHugh says she was taken to new depths of hate with the help of Stephen Miller. …
     
    She was a racist. But then she got irradiated by Miller Rays, she became SUPER-RACIST: Katie McHugh is RAYE ZESTIKAL (after she goes through phone booth).

    McHugh told CNN: “I do want to emphasize … that those emails are now White House policy.”
     
    As anyone who can look at the Terrible Truth can attest.

    I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride.
     
    A good plan. The problem is finding a car that is not on the Internet of Things or can be connected to remotely. Apparently these don't exist anymore. I remember security guru Bruce Schneier (who otherwise sadly seems to get his world overview from the NYT) trying to find a modern car that is "unconnected" and thus potentially riddled with bad future experiences (getting a ransomware infection for your car? phoning home to the FBI and your insurance? think buying a new Windows PC laden with crapware) but he had no success.

    OT: An disquieting message in your Firefox browser "New Tab" page:

    Tired of checking 10 sites a day for something good to read? Pockets serves up fascinating articles from top publications.
     
    Oh God.

    OT: An disquieting message in your Firefox browser “New Tab” page:

    You should be using Brave, the Official Web Browser of the Alt Right.

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna

    Brave, the Official Web Browser of the Alt Right.
     
    Whoa, way to put the Brave Browser in an early grave! Keep it quiet!

    (Steve:)


    I like a smooth ride.
     
    Ah, I know what you're looking for, then! It's not a car, it's a country. A country called called Denmark, Germany, or Switzerland.

    My own city has stopped paving its roads because funds are needed for more pressing social programs. And it's a well-known fact that only suburban right-wingers care about smooth roads.

    But seriously! Aren't people a wiser investment than asphalt?? Build bridges slush funds not walls! As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.

    And...America's increasingly decrepit roadways are yet another reason people have migrated to SUVs. Though if they have low-profile tires it sort of defeats the purpose.

  51. @El Dato

    Many of the writers of its race pieces are proponents of the Human Biodiversity Movement (HBD), a euphemistic name for a campaign to advance scientific racism launched in 1996 by Steve Sailer, a blogger for the white supremacist website VDare
     
    It's a bit sad that Steve's pedigree as Hitler's Personal Race Theoretician is being overlooked here.

    She was already a racist when she took a publishing job in Washington, DC. But when she became a reporter for Breitbart News, Katie McHugh says she was taken to new depths of hate with the help of Stephen Miller. …
     
    She was a racist. But then she got irradiated by Miller Rays, she became SUPER-RACIST: Katie McHugh is RAYE ZESTIKAL (after she goes through phone booth).

    McHugh told CNN: “I do want to emphasize … that those emails are now White House policy.”
     
    As anyone who can look at the Terrible Truth can attest.

    I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride.
     
    A good plan. The problem is finding a car that is not on the Internet of Things or can be connected to remotely. Apparently these don't exist anymore. I remember security guru Bruce Schneier (who otherwise sadly seems to get his world overview from the NYT) trying to find a modern car that is "unconnected" and thus potentially riddled with bad future experiences (getting a ransomware infection for your car? phoning home to the FBI and your insurance? think buying a new Windows PC laden with crapware) but he had no success.

    OT: An disquieting message in your Firefox browser "New Tab" page:

    Tired of checking 10 sites a day for something good to read? Pockets serves up fascinating articles from top publications.
     
    Oh God.

    a blogger for the white supremacist website VDare

    I didn’t know that VDARE was a white-supremacist website. I do know that the Establishment has been doing everything in their (considerable) power to get them de-platformed, though.

    It seems to me that VDARE supports the notion of a rational, moderate immigration policy, designed to support the interests of the nation, rather than the interests of migrants themselves to the exclusion of all else. All else but for a tiny minority of tribalists who have brought this once-great nation to the brink of destruction.

    Interesting how everything’s being called “white supremacist” nowadays. It’s almost as though they’re afraid that the epithet ‘racist’ is losing its sting–through overuse, no doubt. Wonder what they’ll come up with next?

    • Agree: Lurker
  52. Steve, i’d say one thing to get a handle on upfront is whether you have “hit the road” plans for your “golden years”?

    Since we got our retirement home, the wife and i have been planning to get to where we do some cross-country jaunts–see our family and friends and America. Our “new” cars are a 2005 Town+Country here in Florida and 2002 back in Seattle–that we did our “see America” road-tripping with when the kids were kids. It’s hard to beat minivans in the cost/space/mileage/safety matrix. So i’ve been thinking about getting a late model Pacifica to make the XC trip more reliably. I’ll build sleeping platform that some camping boxes will fit under, so we can nap while on the road and also do “steel tent” camping. But that’s us.

    You have to figure out whether you and your bride are going to hit the road and “see America”. Or whether it’s just touring around in California–your “big” jaunts just up to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe? And is this the car you’ll do it in? Or is your car just going to drive around LA?

    If this is just your “town car”, i think the guys mentioning the Tesla have a point–especially if it gets you some special HOV access. Everything in LA area is in range and California gas prices are high. Go electric and then your next pitch can be for rooftop solar!

    But if you and your bride are going to tour around, then you want something that can gas up. (Ideally “methanol up” as well, but unfortunately we’re not there yet.) As folks are mentioning, some old folks find the SUVs easier to get in and out of. My daughter has a Jeep Cherokee that she really likes–but she’s a foot shorter than you. A neighbor has a Ford Edge i’ve driven a bit–comfy. Hertz had it in my aisle when we flew back from Thanksgiving so we picked it. It seemed like it had enough space for a big guy.

    If i were you, i’d try driving–and spend extra time doing multiple entry/exits–everything in your ballpark, sedans and SUVs. Then when you narrow it down to two or three, rent them and drive them for a week and see which ones really work for a tall man.

    • Replies: @Lot
    “ especially if it gets you some special HOV access.”

    Great reason for certain commuters, but:

    1. Steve can time his trips for off peak traffic

    2. His longer trips likely often feature family

    3. Some LA HOV lanes let solos pay to drive. It actually is so low it seems odd there aren’t more users. For example, the peak charge to go from Long Beach to Downtown on the 110 is about $12, and transforms an hour of bad traffic to 20 minutes of cruising at 50mph. With the gas savings included, you’d have to value your time near the local minimum wage not to do it.

    They raise the price to the level that allows traffic to cleanly flow on the HOV lane to not defeat the point of encouraging carpoolers and electric cars.

    In any case, I don’t think Tesla has ever met its goal of selling its 3 for $30,000, and currently is only selling optioned out ones for 40k+.

    Electric car drivers I know do love them. Don’t know anyone with a Tesla 3, but Tesla S, Leaf, and Chevy Volt owners are all really happy.

    In a pinch, there’s also the Larry David method to hire a hooker to carpool lane with you.

    http://images.tvfanatic.com/iu/t_full_l/v1371212928/car-pool-lane-picture.png
  53. Katie McHugh is Exhibit 265478 in the case that White women are the eternal and natural enemy of the White man.

    VW Passat Undervalued. Don’t get any car with a cvt transmission. Terrible. And many 8 or higher track auto trans have major isdues. Manual transmission. Harder to carjack.

    • Replies: @Lockean Proviso

    Manual transmission. Harder to carjack
     
    However, a low-impulse control carjacker frustrated by not having the skills to shift a manual might shoot the driver for disrespeckin' them by driving something that they can't.

    On the other hand, manual transmission vehicles are stolen significantly less often. I drive one and have for years. Part of the appeal is having the skill to do it for myself unlike many, part is being in control of shifts. In stop and go traffic an automatic definitely has appeal though.
  54. @Lugash

    OT: An disquieting message in your Firefox browser “New Tab” page:
     
    You should be using Brave, the Official Web Browser of the Alt Right.

    Brave, the Official Web Browser of the Alt Right.

    Whoa, way to put the Brave Browser in an early grave! Keep it quiet!

    (Steve:)

    I like a smooth ride.

    Ah, I know what you’re looking for, then! It’s not a car, it’s a country. A country called called Denmark, Germany, or Switzerland.

    My own city has stopped paving its roads because funds are needed for more pressing social programs. And it’s a well-known fact that only suburban right-wingers care about smooth roads.

    But seriously! Aren’t people a wiser investment than asphalt?? Build bridges slush funds not walls! As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.

    And…America’s increasingly decrepit roadways are yet another reason people have migrated to SUVs. Though if they have low-profile tires it sort of defeats the purpose.

    • Replies: @GoRedWings!

    As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.
     
    I would take that bet.
    Road maintenance is a highly profitable business that creates a considerable number of well-paid blue-collar jobs. Northern-European politicians are all Keynesianists in multi-party democracies with well-informed and fickle voters. All three countries you mentioned are transit countries, massive investments in infrastructure are good politics and good policy. Also, European cars are built for well-maintained roads and could not withstand American conditions (hence the high maintenance costs for esp German cars in the US?), which means there's pressure both from angry car-owners and car-makers to keep the roads up to standards.
    , @The Wild Geese Howard

    As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.
     
    Correct.

    In Africa they typically bring in the Chinese, Japanese, or Koreans to (attempt to) build their new national highways.

    I said attempt because there are no less than two documentaries detailing how difficult it is to build a road in sub-Saharan Africa:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_China_Met_Africa

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2148945/
  55. @Lot
    Here’s that plush Avalon backseat from its 2013-2018 generation. Look like the recent refresh didn’t change the back much:

    https://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/5/2013/02/2013-Toyota-Avalon-Limited-backseat.jpg

    https://cdn-ds.com/media/websites/2142/content/2018-Toyota-Avalon-B7_o.jpg?s=63233

    Lot, that back seat looks really comfy. But i think Steve is keeping his wife.

    • LOL: Redneck farmer
    • Replies: @Lot
    Hey! That’s his polite, respectful, and fashionable future daughter-in-law.

    May auto show ladies resist fattie-power-feminism for another 50 years!

    I can’t just pick 2 photos, so here’s a 1960-1970 Chicago auto show gallery:

    https://www.vintag.es/2012/07/photos-of-chicago-car-shows-from-1960.html?m=1

    Here’s one from Detroit 2013 that is fairly free of ads.

    http://www.beyond.ca/2013-naias-booth-professionals/23348.html
  56. The other question, what to do with your old car? 1. Trade it in? 2. Sell it privately? Or
    3. Go full coverage with insurance, Trump sticker it up bigly, park it in Berkeley.

    • LOL: JMcG
  57. @Alfa158
    Spot on advice. A well equipped Toyota or Lexus is the best bet, perhaps even one of the SUV or van versions. They can have smooth rides and you can find lease returns and demos that have the latest bells and whistles. Their only downside is looks, Toyota in particular is on a grotesque styling fad, with all sorts of furbelows and weird panel excrescences. Many Lexi now have the entire nose of the car covered with a section of chain link fence. Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.
    We buy German luxury brands because we keep cars at least 10 years and there are two mechanics in our area who are fantastic. They don’t charge luxury prices, do great work and never do anything unnecessary. We have spent less having our cars serviced than some friends spend on their Hondas, but these guys only work on Mercedes and BMW so we are sticking with those brands as long as these guys stay in business.
    I would recommend that Steve uses the websites of the manufacturers and the independent car sales sites to do searches. If he is not in a rush, he can do what we do. Run searches with the parameters set to the exact make, model, equipment, colors, mileage, asking price etc. then just wait until you find an ideal match.

    I had an Audi and an old school VW mechanic to go with it (an old German who went back to the Beetle days and now his American born sons were running the shop). The good thing about Audis is that a lot of the parts are the same as VW parts AND VW and Audi have extensive manufacturing in China so that cheap Chinese aftermarket parts are available. The bad news is that Audi puts these same cheap Chinese parts in the cars when they are new. Even if the parts say Mann or Bosch, they have factories in China now too.

    Also, German car engineers don’t believe in KISS. They have a propensity to come up with Rube Goldbergian solutions which are really good when they are new but are not necessarily durable and definitely not easy to fix later on – really complex (but high performing) suspension geometries with all sorts of control arms and bushings that will wear out later, etc. By contrast, the rear suspension on my Chrysler van looks like something that came off of a Conestoga wagon – a beam axle and 2 leaf springs and call it done. This doesn’t perform great but it will never break either.

    The downfall of my Audi (and I later found out many Audis and VWs) was one of those Rube Goldbergian devices, in this case it was the “cam chain tensioner” , the business end of which was made out of the kind of plastic that you find in Happy Meal toys. When the bit of plastic failed, the valves hit the pistons and it was goodbye to my engine. VW/Audi has sent millions of cars to the junk yard with this bit of brilliant engineering. I’m sure that was completely unintentional and not a time bomb intended to send you back to the dealer for a new one.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
    Or maybe it's like AC Delco with Henco en Mexico starters; after a few years they finally get made as good as ones made in the original country?
  58. ‘I’d appreciate your advice on what kind of vehicle to buy. Basically, I want a Dignified Old Man’s Car that I can drive until I’m, say, 75. I like a smooth ride.’

    Toyota. Your definition of ‘dignified’ may be more exacting than mine, but I tend to go for those small station wagon types. Great mileage, hauls whatever you want, never requires repairs…ever.

    If you want value, go with Mazda. They tend to be underpriced. On the other hand, Subarus are overpriced — and I haven’t been unduly impressed with their longevity.

    Cars are not something I spend money on.

  59. No recommendations on a new vehicle, but our purchase of a new minivan years ago revealed to me that at least some tall vehicles handle as well as lower profile vehicles nowadays (unless you’re road racing, of course.) I don’t know what the resale on an Infinity is, but my policy (if I have enough room) is to hang on to old high mileage cars that run well rather than get rid of them for far less than what they’re worth in a practical sense. Here’s an upholstery repair video I found recently while researching leather refurbishment for my ’65 T-Bird. I think the video is Australian, so I’m not sure if the products are available in the US, but the results he gets are pretty good.

    OTOH, since we were talking about natural disasters, instead of keeping the Infinity you could trade it off for something with ignition points in case there’s a massive solar flare. A prepper mag I came across years ago suggested a late ’60’s to early ’70’s Dodge Dart with a 6 cylinder because it’s affordable, economical and reliable with many parts still available from auto parts stores.

    https://barnfinds.com/?attachment_id=163581

  60. “She was already a racist when she took a publishing job in Washington, DC. But when she became a reporter for Breitbart News, Katie McHugh says she was taken to new depths of hate with the help of Stephen Miller. …”

    LOL! Stephen Miller owes Steve Sailer a new car!

  61. @Jack D
    I had an Audi and an old school VW mechanic to go with it (an old German who went back to the Beetle days and now his American born sons were running the shop). The good thing about Audis is that a lot of the parts are the same as VW parts AND VW and Audi have extensive manufacturing in China so that cheap Chinese aftermarket parts are available. The bad news is that Audi puts these same cheap Chinese parts in the cars when they are new. Even if the parts say Mann or Bosch, they have factories in China now too.

    Also, German car engineers don't believe in KISS. They have a propensity to come up with Rube Goldbergian solutions which are really good when they are new but are not necessarily durable and definitely not easy to fix later on - really complex (but high performing) suspension geometries with all sorts of control arms and bushings that will wear out later, etc. By contrast, the rear suspension on my Chrysler van looks like something that came off of a Conestoga wagon - a beam axle and 2 leaf springs and call it done. This doesn't perform great but it will never break either.

    The downfall of my Audi (and I later found out many Audis and VWs) was one of those Rube Goldbergian devices, in this case it was the "cam chain tensioner" , the business end of which was made out of the kind of plastic that you find in Happy Meal toys. When the bit of plastic failed, the valves hit the pistons and it was goodbye to my engine. VW/Audi has sent millions of cars to the junk yard with this bit of brilliant engineering. I'm sure that was completely unintentional and not a time bomb intended to send you back to the dealer for a new one.

    Or maybe it’s like AC Delco with Henco en Mexico starters; after a few years they finally get made as good as ones made in the original country?

  62. On the car, there are several ways you can go… first, I recommend Eric Peter’s blog… his reviews are excellent and he’s been doing them for years.

    As for all of the gizmos… I say avoid if possible the vast majority of them… the “lane keeping” feature is perhaps the most egregious one of all…the last thing I want is for my car to try and swing me back into my lane as I’m trying to pass on a two lane road in the countryside; however, that might not be an issue for you in SoCal. The back-up camera is often cited as being a good feature, but I’ve noticed that people get lazy and then back into things in the blind spots the cameras don’t see.

    As for a sedan that get’s great mileage, is the “older man’s” smooth riding mobile, I think the Lincoln MKZ (especially the hybrid) might be a good choice. Fairly large, American with 31 MPG on the highway for the non-hybrid it’ll have the smooth ride you’re looking for.

  63. @Jack D
    These cars are already 15 years old. By the time Steve is 75 they will be 30 years old. No matter how well built they are, a 30 year old car is going to have major deterioration - the rubber parts and upholstery start to rot and fade in the California sun, seals will leak, etc. Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with.

    A wild card idea would be for Steve to keep the car that he already owns. Seats are faded? Have them reupholstered. Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it's STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car. But after a while you get sick of driving the same old thing and want something with that new car smell, where all the switches still work and it doesn't creak when you go over a bump.

    Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it’s STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car.

    “NEVER”? When it gets to the point where it’s a major repairs or a continuous string of repairs, then replacement even makes financial sense. Basically a some point, the piece labor of a repair shop becomes more expensive than “buying in bulk” work that was done in a factory.

    I’m still driving our 1993 Caravan–with it’s issues. (Just locally–scout meetings, Home Depot, Costco–i don’t take it for road trips or even just up into the mountains.) But if it blew a tranny or needed a major engine repair, it’s going to crusher and Nucor can turn it into rebar.

    It never pays to buy a *new* car. But Desiderius advice strikes me as pretty much spot on. The sweet spot is a few years old car that has taken the big depreciation hit but is in good shape then maintaining that car well and running it out until it’s ready for the junk yard (or someone who uses their own labor to fix their cars).

    ~~

    But all that said … if Steve’s Infinity is still running well, transmission shifting smoothly/correctly, and able to hold alignment and ride well, then he might want to just keep it and replace the front seats. (Or at least the drivers seat.) 1998 is old enough that finding a seat for an Infinity at a local yard might be a problem. But with the Internet, i think Steve could find one somewhere in LA, replace it and have a comfortable ride again.

    Then he can spend his money on rooftop solar. Or tuck it away off-shore for when the Feds seize his assets for “hate”.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Personally, I agree with you and Desiderius about this. My breaking point, as Mr. D said, is where the cost of the repair would exceed the value of the vehicle. Also, once a car is maybe 15 years old, it is probably going to be lacking in the latest safety features. There is also the whole rattle trappy aspect - the worn out seat springs that make it uncomfortable to sit, the fact that everyone else still driving your car is either a high school student or lives in the ghetto, etc. The fact that you no longer trust it for long trips, and so on. The old joke was that GM cars would keep running badly long after other cars were no longer running at all, but now that's true of most cars - the thing will keep running and you only WISH it would die, because the radio (with cassette player!) crackles, the A/C is weak, some of the power windows don't go down anymore, etc. But, with electronic ignition and fuel injection, your old rattletrap still roars to life ever single time. Nevertheless, I generally don't give up on a car until there's that big repair needed - I will keep muddling thru until the car forces the issue on me. A muffler or a starter, new tires - sure, put them in. But a new engine or transmission - no.

    BUT, the Click and Clack guys used to say that as a matter of pure economics, it NEVER paid (unless perhaps the car was structurally unsound due to rust - even then you can weld in steel). A new car costs circa $30k nowadays. $30K will buy you a lot of junkyard or crate engines, transmissions, etc. The fact that you are about to spend $3K fixing a car that is only worth $2K doesn't change the fact that the alternative is to spend $30K on a new one.

    Seats can be reupholstred, BTW.

  64. @AnotherDad
    Lot, that back seat looks really comfy. But i think Steve is keeping his wife.

    Hey! That’s his polite, respectful, and fashionable future daughter-in-law.

    May auto show ladies resist fattie-power-feminism for another 50 years!

    I can’t just pick 2 photos, so here’s a 1960-1970 Chicago auto show gallery:

    https://www.vintag.es/2012/07/photos-of-chicago-car-shows-from-1960.html?m=1

    Here’s one from Detroit 2013 that is fairly free of ads.

    http://www.beyond.ca/2013-naias-booth-professionals/23348.html

  65. @Alfa158
    Spot on advice. A well equipped Toyota or Lexus is the best bet, perhaps even one of the SUV or van versions. They can have smooth rides and you can find lease returns and demos that have the latest bells and whistles. Their only downside is looks, Toyota in particular is on a grotesque styling fad, with all sorts of furbelows and weird panel excrescences. Many Lexi now have the entire nose of the car covered with a section of chain link fence. Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.
    We buy German luxury brands because we keep cars at least 10 years and there are two mechanics in our area who are fantastic. They don’t charge luxury prices, do great work and never do anything unnecessary. We have spent less having our cars serviced than some friends spend on their Hondas, but these guys only work on Mercedes and BMW so we are sticking with those brands as long as these guys stay in business.
    I would recommend that Steve uses the websites of the manufacturers and the independent car sales sites to do searches. If he is not in a rush, he can do what we do. Run searches with the parameters set to the exact make, model, equipment, colors, mileage, asking price etc. then just wait until you find an ideal match.

    Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.

    Spot on. I don’t have any of this stuff on any of our cars, but have had it on lots of rentals and am looking forward to having it in our next car.

    It’s obviously good stuff and ridiculous not to have–especially for older folks. The simple backup camera can prevent a lot of unnecessary parking lot dings … and keep you from running over your grandkids.

    • Agree: Alice
    • Replies: @Jack D
    BTW, some of this stuff (e.g. backup cams) can be added to older cars aftermarket. There is Chinese stuff that is incredibly cheap on ebay and Amazon (as in under $10 - for $40 you could get a wireless backup cam system that is easier to install than running wires all over your car). Before they made backup cameras mandatory, the car manufacturers would put them in as $1,000 options - the markup on this stuff is incredible. Maybe the Chinese cams systems are not the greatest in the world and will break after a year or 2 but for $40 a pop you could put one in every few months and still be ahead of the game.

    https://www.amazon.com/LeeKooLuu-Installation-Waterproof-Continuous-Adjustable/dp/B06XKPQ6YZ


    It helps to have basic electrical skills. Car electric is 12 volts so you can never kill yourself - usually the worst that happens is that you blow a few fuses while trying to figure things out. Buy yourself a Christmas present.
    , @Anonymous
    Those features are nice, but I feel like they've made me a worse and more careless driver. You get out of the habit of turning your head and looking and being more cautious.

    And there aren't any blind spots if you adjust your side mirrors correctly:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkQX2gkwJoE
  66. *ouch* you are going to ‘by’ a new car ? ? ?
    just shows how useless spel czech is…
    .
    get thee high to eric peters and absorb some of his car guy wisdom; you are not a car guy, but his wisdom will still help, if just to steer you away from the worst of the worst…
    .
    besides bullshit status and looks, i don’t know why anyone/everyone doesn’t have one of the new 4 door pickemups… the only problem is, i only need a ‘small’ pickup, but they don’t make them anymore, there is regular size, extra large, and monster truck size, no small pickups… toyota are still the benchmark of trucks, sorry, roundeyes…
    .
    don’t be that guy at the dump i see hauling his trash in a new corvette…

  67. My Honda Odyssey has 120,000 miles on it, but it’s only 7 years old. It still seems reasonably newish to me and really nice.

  68. @AnotherDad

    Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it’s STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car.
     
    "NEVER"? When it gets to the point where it's a major repairs or a continuous string of repairs, then replacement even makes financial sense. Basically a some point, the piece labor of a repair shop becomes more expensive than "buying in bulk" work that was done in a factory.

    I'm still driving our 1993 Caravan--with it's issues. (Just locally--scout meetings, Home Depot, Costco--i don't take it for road trips or even just up into the mountains.) But if it blew a tranny or needed a major engine repair, it's going to crusher and Nucor can turn it into rebar.

    It never pays to buy a *new* car. But Desiderius advice strikes me as pretty much spot on. The sweet spot is a few years old car that has taken the big depreciation hit but is in good shape then maintaining that car well and running it out until it's ready for the junk yard (or someone who uses their own labor to fix their cars).

    ~~

    But all that said ... if Steve's Infinity is still running well, transmission shifting smoothly/correctly, and able to hold alignment and ride well, then he might want to just keep it and replace the front seats. (Or at least the drivers seat.) 1998 is old enough that finding a seat for an Infinity at a local yard might be a problem. But with the Internet, i think Steve could find one somewhere in LA, replace it and have a comfortable ride again.

    Then he can spend his money on rooftop solar. Or tuck it away off-shore for when the Feds seize his assets for "hate".

    Personally, I agree with you and Desiderius about this. My breaking point, as Mr. D said, is where the cost of the repair would exceed the value of the vehicle. Also, once a car is maybe 15 years old, it is probably going to be lacking in the latest safety features. There is also the whole rattle trappy aspect – the worn out seat springs that make it uncomfortable to sit, the fact that everyone else still driving your car is either a high school student or lives in the ghetto, etc. The fact that you no longer trust it for long trips, and so on. The old joke was that GM cars would keep running badly long after other cars were no longer running at all, but now that’s true of most cars – the thing will keep running and you only WISH it would die, because the radio (with cassette player!) crackles, the A/C is weak, some of the power windows don’t go down anymore, etc. But, with electronic ignition and fuel injection, your old rattletrap still roars to life ever single time. Nevertheless, I generally don’t give up on a car until there’s that big repair needed – I will keep muddling thru until the car forces the issue on me. A muffler or a starter, new tires – sure, put them in. But a new engine or transmission – no.

    BUT, the Click and Clack guys used to say that as a matter of pure economics, it NEVER paid (unless perhaps the car was structurally unsound due to rust – even then you can weld in steel). A new car costs circa $30k nowadays. $30K will buy you a lot of junkyard or crate engines, transmissions, etc. The fact that you are about to spend $3K fixing a car that is only worth $2K doesn’t change the fact that the alternative is to spend $30K on a new one.

    Seats can be reupholstred, BTW.

  69. @AnotherDad

    Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.
     
    Spot on. I don't have any of this stuff on any of our cars, but have had it on lots of rentals and am looking forward to having it in our next car.

    It's obviously good stuff and ridiculous not to have--especially for older folks. The simple backup camera can prevent a lot of unnecessary parking lot dings ... and keep you from running over your grandkids.

    BTW, some of this stuff (e.g. backup cams) can be added to older cars aftermarket. There is Chinese stuff that is incredibly cheap on ebay and Amazon (as in under $10 – for $40 you could get a wireless backup cam system that is easier to install than running wires all over your car). Before they made backup cameras mandatory, the car manufacturers would put them in as $1,000 options – the markup on this stuff is incredible. Maybe the Chinese cams systems are not the greatest in the world and will break after a year or 2 but for $40 a pop you could put one in every few months and still be ahead of the game.

    https://www.amazon.com/LeeKooLuu-Installation-Waterproof-Continuous-Adjustable/dp/B06XKPQ6YZ

    It helps to have basic electrical skills. Car electric is 12 volts so you can never kill yourself – usually the worst that happens is that you blow a few fuses while trying to figure things out. Buy yourself a Christmas present.

  70. Honda Accord. Luxury car quality at a high-middle price.

    Check out the used car repair record in the Consumer Reports annual buying guide if you are interested in a used car.

  71. I guess you made your car last another four years from when you last asked this question back in 2015. I dug up my old answer and it’s still the same – I recommend a Subaru, specifically the Outback (but I know wagons aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. The new Forrester revamp is very popular, too.). I live in Orange County and deal with the same traffic you do and really like their safety feature implementation.

    To answer your questions:

    1 – SUV (or CUV) or Sedan – SUV/CUV, but a mid-size or compact one that drives like a car. All our cars (all SUV/CUVs) have about 9″ clearance off the ground and I really appreciate how easy they are to get into or out of. I neither have to step up or down, just slide sideways and I am in. That would be a bit different for you since you are so tall but your wife would probably appreciate it. It’s especially nice now that I am in my mid-50s with bad knees. The extra road clearance is nice for when there is debris in the road, which occurs often enough on California freeways, and the extra height is good for seeing ahead on the road. I am all about versatility and really like the extra storage space of SUVs/CUVs when you need it and can fully understand the death of sedans in America. Their time has passed.

    2 – Safety equipment worth it – YES!, but it is very dependent on implementation. SoCal freeways and streets are only getting more crowded and challenging to drive so I prefer to have every advantage I can. We are big fans of the Subaru Eyesight pre-collision/lane keeping system. We’ve now bought four Subarus with the system. The lane keeping is rather unobtrusive, it beeps (and you can turn the volume way down on it) when you wander over the lines but you have to turn on the active lane-centering system that will direct the wheel for you. (Full confession, my husband is a lane wanderer and seems to have a genetic inability inherited from his father to turn his head to check his blindspot so I made him get a car with the lane keeping.) Other manufacturers have different (and usually worse, imo) systems. My husband recently returned from a business trip complaining about his rental Corolla that would beep for almost random reasons, and we rented a Nissan Armada that also had a very intrusive system. The pre-collision alerting has alerted me to a couple of quick stops on the freeway and from rear ending someone at a stoplight when I wasn’t paying enough attention. It also comes with adaptive cruise control that my husband absolutely loves.

    As for blindspot detection, I really like it. We bought our most recent Subarus just to get the feature. With our six, eight, ten lane freeways I find it hard to tell from a quick glance sometimes when someone is the next lane over or over one more so the additional confirmation of the blind spot detector is great. My husband likes it on his commute for maniacs that pass him on the right at ninety miles an hour. Moreover, it alerts you to hidden cross traffic when backing out of parking spots.

    As for heads up display, I don’t have it but don’t find it a compelling safety feature I would upgrade a car for.

    3 – Leather or cloth – leather. So much easier to keep clean than cloth.

    3- AWD – our Subarus are AWD and I like the confidence it gives me on rainy days here in SoCal, where a lot of the surface streets tend to flood. We also travel out of state to snowier areas and I haven’t ruled out bugging out to a more white-people area like Idaho or Colorado.

    4 – Extra niceties – push button, keyless access. I LOVE not having to dig in my purse for the key but I doubt men will appreciate the feature as much.

    LED headlights – love, Love, LOVE. I’ve had my husband change out the bulbs in our older cars to the brighter LED bulbs. We also have steering responsive headlights which are nice.

    Reverse auto breaking – nice to have so you don’t back into something, though people with steeply sloping driveways says it kicks in on them. We don’t have that issue so I can’t comment on it.

    Auto-dimming mirrors – very nice to have.

    One feature we don’t have but have encountered on rental cars and like is the rear view mirror is not a mirror but uses the image from the backup camera so that tall rear passengers don’t block your view. I had my husband retrofit our 2007 Toyota SUV with a rear backup camera and the display clips over the old mirror.

    Other features our current cars don’t have but I like are front cameras/parking sonar. My old Sienna had front sonar that was handy when parking and we’ve rented cars that either have front cameras or “overhead” views to help you pull into parking spots.

    Subaru recently revamped the Outback for 2020 but if you can get a 2019 3.6R (the bigger engine) (Touring trim) that is the one I’d recommend. You can’t go wrong with a Subaru or Toyota, or Honda, or their luxury equivalents. My priority is safety and reasonable service costs over prestige but I know in SoCal it’s easy to get sucked into getting a status brand.

    BTW, do NOT get a Tesla. Check out TESLAQ on twitter for all that is wrong with the brand now – terrible build quality, terrible service, can’t get parts, not enough charging stations for when you want to travel.

    • Replies: @Arclight
    Got my first Subaru this past spring (an Ascent) and love it - it's zippy, has responsive handling and lots of room. The touch screen is large and easy to read and the backup camera/rear motion detector are great as well.

    I also checked out the Pilot (OK, but not fun to drive in any way, basically a minivan), the Highlander (hated it), and the CX-9 (too small for my needs but great otherwise). Had to drive an Explorer as a rental and it was pretty decent but it's a gas guzzler, so I never really considered it.

    If something in the class of those SUVs is too large, I think an Outback or Forester would be a good choice. The CX-9 is considered a 3 row but really it's just a big 2 row SUV and it a lot of fun to drive, plus it's basically a luxury car at a non-luxury price.
  72. TPS is giving to citizens of countries who are unable to safely return because of an environmental disaster, a war or extraordinary conditions that are temporary.

    “TPS is giving to citizens of countries who are un[willing] to safely return because of an environmental disaster, a war or extraordinary conditions that are temporary.”

    There, fixed it. TPS = Toilet Paper Shitizenship.

    I guess the basic decision is between getting a traditional sedan and a 2-row SUV. We hope to keep running our 2001 3-row Honda Odyssey minivan. It’s hugely useful about 3 times per year for hauling massive amounts of stuff, although my wife deserves a nicer car for daily driving too.

    We bought our Odyssey when it was just over 200,000 and got it to just under 300,000. Hondas and Toyotas of the ’90s were the most stolen cars because few made it to the junkyard. In our St Paul neighborhood, ours was one of four of the same half-decade and color. ( “Type Q”.) I was always putting my key in the wrong car’s door. ( One of those at least had a mismatched fender. When I traded my five-minute bus commute for a 75-mile drive, I noticed that same vehicle next to mine in the lot at work.)

    BTW, the 2001s were built and put on the market in 2000, so they’re officially the last vehicles of the 20th century.

    Odysseys were finally being built in the US at the time. In Lincoln, Alabama– named for Benjamin, not Abraham. Ours was built in Japan.

  73. anon[166] • Disclaimer says:

    So the idea of robotic sensors that can keep me from making a mistake is appealing in the abstract. On the other hand, an old dog doesn’t learn new tricks all that well, and I wonder whether the new gizmos would be more distracting than helpful. What is your experience with recent cars with their new sensors?

    Depends on the person. People who can’t really drive, who just sort of herd their car in some general direction and expect everything to turn out right – they might benefit from those gizmos.

    Two rentals in the current year have had lane sensors consisting of a yellow LED in the external mirror. Driving on a rural 2-lane road with some narrow bridges the little lights kept coming on, taking my attention off of the road until I deliberately ignored them as irrelevant. I’m pretty sure the lane sensors were picking up vegetation, road signs, etc. I’m not the target market, and if it was my car I might put black tape over the LED’s to stop the distraction.

    Backup cameras are not as great IMO as people claim. The lens isn’t that good often, with a little fisheye, depth perception is poor. So now car manufacturers include green / yellow / red lines or grids in the display – which makes using the backup camera a bit more annoying. My depth perception looking out the back window works fine, except in one crossover that had so much junk (back seat headrests, etc.) as to make the rear window almost obscured. Great design, dudes, to force the driver to use your toy camera.

    tl;dr
    Any newish upscale car you get will have this stuff as a feature, you’ll have to deal with it as you see fit. The newest vehicles all turn off the engine at a full stop, it’s an attempt to push the mileage up to meet Bush / Obama CAFE requirements. It’s retarded and I expect reliability issues will show up.

    I got no model advice, because everyone else has already done that. But I did find a Tesla charging station map. There are a lot, a whole lot more than I expected. Looks like freckles.

    https://www.tesla.com/findus?bounds=59.733125297803745%2C-46.356446500000004%2C12.423661901234725%2C-152.176759&zoom=4&filters=store%2Cservice%2Csupercharger%2Cdestination%20charger

    And I found a crowdsourced map also.

    https://www.teslarati.com/map/

    “Tesla road trip” is not an oxymoron.

  74. Apparently your Infiniti is from the last generation when Nissan and Infiniti had very high quality cars. In 1999, Nissan merged with Renault and the company’s focus shifted away from engineering/manufacturing, and they say quality declined significantly:

  75. Katie McWho? At least Brock had some legitimately famous clips on his c.v. before he turned

  76. Those late ’90s Japanese cars will turn out to be the high water mark of automotive reliability, up there with W124 Mercedes. Soon after, the bean counters decided that these cars were TOO good and could be “decontented”. What is the point of making your car twice as durable as any other car on the market instead of only 50% more reliable. You won’t get any extra credit for it in the market and you can save money by making the car less good.

    When my wife’s stepfather died a few years ago, his wife (my MIL) gave his car, a late ’90s Lexus ES300 to one of his grandsons. That thing was bulletproof – it would have gone a million miles. I think up to that point it had never needed a major repair. I don’t think it even needed a MINOR repair, just routine filter changes and such. Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one – they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke

    Those late ’90s Japanese cars will turn out to be the high water mark of automotive reliability, up there with W124 Mercedes. Soon after, the bean counters decided that these cars were TOO good and could be “decontented”. What is the point of making your car twice as durable as any other car on the market instead of only 50% more reliable. You won’t get any extra credit for it in the market and you can save money by making the car less good.
     
    It's more a matter of the skyrocketing yen killing Japanese carmaker profits. It went from 250 yen to the dollar in the 80's to 100. As a result, to stay afloat, they had to radically skimp on many things. Unfortunately, this eventually extended to transmissions for some of their models. Still, reliability-wise, they remain ahead of the competition, if not by the margins they did before.
    , @Johann Ricke

    Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one – they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.
     
    Sounds like he deliberately crashed it in the expectation that his parents would buy him a replacement.
    , @Lurker
    I know a guy who works at a Lexus dealership, a mechanic. He said the only time you would see a Lexus being towed would be as a result of a flat battery.
    , @Dave Pinsen
    I had a ‘95 ES 300. Great car.
  77. Unz.com needs to have one of those public radio ads on his web page for converting old cars to support for Steve Sailer.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-extra/2013/11/14/244829934/turn-your-car-even-a-lemon-into-the-public-radio-programs-you-love

  78. @Jack D
    Lightly used (2 or 3 year old) luxury sedans with low mileage (less than 35,000 miles) and maintenance records are a sweet spot because their market value plummets like a stone when their useful life has barely started. Rule out German ones because they are expensive to maintain out of warranty. That leaves Japanese and Korean ones. Genesis has a super long warranty, which is nice although chances are you won't need it much - since the mfr is paying, it behooves them to make cars that won't break. Of the Japanese makes, Lexus (Toyota) is the most reliable followed by Acura (Honda).

    If you want a "new" car, leftovers at the end of the model year can also be good deals. The manufacturer sometimes puts "money on the hood" to clear out old inventory so the dealer can sell the car "below cost". A car that has been used as a demo can still be sold as "new" because it has never been titled but that 1,000 miles on the clock cuts the price substantially.

    My three rules for buying cars are:

    * Never buy used
    * Never buy American
    * Trust Consumer Reports

    If the car you like is recommended by CR you will be good to go. As for safety features, the backup camera has made my life my better.

    Also, I tend to buy after the new-year models come out. That way the dealers are looking to clear the old inventory. This gives you the price advantage of buying a used car without it ever actually being owned by someone else. I would never do that.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Sure, in the old days it was always a risk to buy used unless it was from someone you knew. You didn't know who had owned it, whether it had been maintained, whether it was in an accident, whether the mileage had been rolled back, etc.

    However, we live in the age of the Permanent Record. Not only humans but cars nowadays have Permanent Records. You can find online (Carfax) how many people have owned this car, in what city it was registered and serviced, whether it has been in any accidents, when its oil was changed, how many miles it was driven from year to year, etc. You can't roll the clock back to 30K miles if the car had 80k miles at its last oil change. So the risk of buying used is much lower than in the old days. The risk of buying a one owner off lease, Certified Pre-Owned car with an extended warranty from a dealer is probably LOWER than that of a brand new car. Any lemons have been weeded out, the bugs have been worked out.

  79. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @AnotherDad

    Some of the features like back up cameras, GPS, blind spot warnings, brake assist smart phone interfaces etc that might seem like overkill quickly become indispensable features after you use them.
     
    Spot on. I don't have any of this stuff on any of our cars, but have had it on lots of rentals and am looking forward to having it in our next car.

    It's obviously good stuff and ridiculous not to have--especially for older folks. The simple backup camera can prevent a lot of unnecessary parking lot dings ... and keep you from running over your grandkids.

    Those features are nice, but I feel like they’ve made me a worse and more careless driver. You get out of the habit of turning your head and looking and being more cautious.

    And there aren’t any blind spots if you adjust your side mirrors correctly:

  80. Steve,

    Other folks have already gotten to it, but let me add myself to the Avalon chorus.

    It makes a very nice dignified old man’s car while remaining extremely reliable and practical. It’s luxurious but not ostentatious, and is likely to be significantly less expensive to maintain than one of the 2.0t pleather sedans from most luxury marques.

    It also ranks very high (14th I believe) on Frank Dubois/AU’s American made auto index.

    There are some very good deals to be found as they come off-lease. For example, I picked up a 2015 model last year – the lessee had put only 12k miles on it in three years. The original sticker on the car was a hair shy of $40k and I picked it up for ~$22k. Have since put nearly 30k miles on it and only getting happier with the purchase.

    Favorite things:

    The V6 is smooth and very torquey and my wife has commented on several occasions that the car’s acceleration scares her if she mashes the peddle for, e.g. a high speed merge. Contrast this to the horrible, whiney, fake-mpg 2.0ts found in practically every car and cuv these days

    The transmission is an old school 6 speed and is similarly smooth. Contrast this to the CVTs found in so many other new cars. My belief is that half the reason for these is the meager low end torque of the turbo’d engines, and as such you are constantly driving at 2500-3k rpm. Noisy, rough, rubber band-esque acceleration, say I.

    Rear seats are, as Lot said, the best I’ve seen in any car. Four 6’3” men can ride comfortably, really! Two couples extremely comfortably – as in, full leg stretch for ladies in the back. My wife and I were upgraded by Sixt in Munich last year to a 7 series. We did a couple thousand euro-miles over two weeks, and at the end she and our traveling companions said the backseat in the Avalon was more comfortable (!).

    Incredibly quiet on the highway. They must be using some serious seals and low STC glass. People regularly notice and comment.

    City MPG (driving aggressively) is 23. Highway is 31 at 80 mph, can sneak it up to 35 if driving gently.

    My car missed it, but I believe in 2016 Toyota introduced across its entire line something called STAR safety, a suite of features including collision avoidance/braking. I think the Avalon also got radar cruise control and lane departure. These are neat but in my experience (e.g. the beemer above) they just beep at you endlessly and you turn them off.

    One gripe is that my car happened to be a limited trim, which does very little for you (heated rear seats, and you’re in SoCal) but comes with 19” wheels. This reduces the tire walls and roughens the ride. I’d stick with the XLE and enjoy the smoother city ride.

    Lastly, I discovered Jack Baruth through you several years ago – he is great and I am now a loyal reader. His last two posts on his personal riverside green site – re: the Peloton brouhaha and Greta – were particularly incisive.

    Merry Christmas Steve. I will get around to topping up the new car fund.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    Can confirm. Elderly relative has one. Roomy, quiet, powerful acceleration, pillowy ride. And despite being a sedan, it somehow stands you pretty high above the road.

    Only other advice re new hitech gizmos is TEST DRIVE AT NIGHT. As I've complained here before, for some reason manufacturers have lately become addicted to absurdly bright, difficult to dim, blue-white spectrum dashboards, central consoles and touch screens. These things are night vision killers! Especially if you're already getting old man eyesight. It is absurd how the interior of the car is now more illuminated than the road ahead. Old folks can't see over the interior glare and young folks are too distracted/self-absorbed to care what's beyond their bluetooth playlist.

    Find a car from which you can still see the road in the dark.

    OTOH if LA is brightly streetlit and you never plan to leave, then may be you'll enjoy having a glittering entertainment center in front of you while driving. I don't, though. I like to see the road. Call me old fashioned.

    , @JMcG
    Couldn’t agree more about Jack Baruth.
  81. @Jack D

    The marginal climb up into the crossover SUV’s gets to be a little easier than the sideways shuffle into sedans.
     
    From experience in getting my 97 year old MIL in and out of a sedan vs a minivan, I would say the opposite. Gravity is against you in climbing up into a higher vehicle. But she is short and so hitting her head on the roof of the sedan is not an issue.

    Unfortunately, many modern sedans have adopted "4 door coupe" styling. Basically this means that the roofline is really low. Not entirely coincidentally, sedan sales have tanked. A low floor in a car is really a good idea (center of gravity and all that). A low roof - not so much.
  82. @ScarletNumber
    My three rules for buying cars are:

    * Never buy used
    * Never buy American
    * Trust Consumer Reports

    If the car you like is recommended by CR you will be good to go. As for safety features, the backup camera has made my life my better.

    Also, I tend to buy after the new-year models come out. That way the dealers are looking to clear the old inventory. This gives you the price advantage of buying a used car without it ever actually being owned by someone else. I would never do that.

    Sure, in the old days it was always a risk to buy used unless it was from someone you knew. You didn’t know who had owned it, whether it had been maintained, whether it was in an accident, whether the mileage had been rolled back, etc.

    However, we live in the age of the Permanent Record. Not only humans but cars nowadays have Permanent Records. You can find online (Carfax) how many people have owned this car, in what city it was registered and serviced, whether it has been in any accidents, when its oil was changed, how many miles it was driven from year to year, etc. You can’t roll the clock back to 30K miles if the car had 80k miles at its last oil change. So the risk of buying used is much lower than in the old days. The risk of buying a one owner off lease, Certified Pre-Owned car with an extended warranty from a dealer is probably LOWER than that of a brand new car. Any lemons have been weeded out, the bugs have been worked out.

  83. You can drive yourself crazy buying a car, so I recommend the following matrix to simplify things:

    1. Toyota or Lexus only. They are the most reliable cars period. Parts are cheap and easy to find.

    2. Only look at hybrids. This reduces your choices to a workable handful of cars to test, and you will enjoy better gas mileage in LA traffic.

    3. Cross off the Corolla and the Prius; they are probably too small for you.

    4. You are left with:

    Avalon hybrid (land yacht)
    Camry hybrid (arguably the best mass market sedan ever made)
    RAV 4 hybrid (smaller SUV)
    Highlander hybrid (larger SUV)

    5. Go to any Toyota dealer in your part of the Valley, make sure your body fits comfortably inside each car with enough headroom, and take a test drive or two.

    6. If you want to spend more on bells and whistles, every Toyota hybrid has a flash Lexus sibling:

    the Lexus ES is a fancy Camry
    the Lexus LS is a very fancy Avalon
    the Lexus UX is a fancy RAV4
    the Lexus NX and RX are fancy Highlanders

    7. Enjoy your car.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Prius V is good. My 6'3" massively built uncle, who is 75 or so now, swears by his.
  84. Speaking of Odysseys… It seems that the faster an object is, the longer and slower it takes to design, build and market. The Chicago marketer Milind Lele, in Monopoly Rules, describes his minivan shopping at the turn of the century. The Toyota rep was so proud of how easy it was to unscrew and remove the rear seat to haul goods.

    But why bother? The Honda’s simply folded down. He bought the Odyssey instead.

    Honda had a five-year monopoly on this, though hardly a patent.. It takes a long time to retool an assembly line, it seems.

    Whatever happened to Hurricane Patricia anyway? It turns out, by good luck, it happened to hit a lightly populated, mountainous part of Mexico and not do anywhere near as much damage as forecasters had expected.

    Mountains do a wonderful job of shattering and dispersing hurricanes. Once in a while, they do get through. Remember Mississauga’s colorful mayoress “Hurricane Hazel” McCallion, still kicking at 98? She got her nickname from the real Hurricane Hazel, which made it to Lake Ontario in 1954, Appalachians be damned.

  85. I practically worked myself into the hospital in 2015 . . . in the wake of Merkel’s Mistake.

    I think it just came to me . . . the correct term for this 2015 event should be “Merkel’s Mishegas.”

    For those unfamiliar with the Yiddish:

    Mishegas
    crazy; crazyness
    This can be spelled “meshugas” as well and comes directly from the Hebrew word “meshuga”, which also means crazy.
    http://www.yiddishslangdictionary.com/word/281/mishegas

    I think this it. It’s alliterative. It’s descriptive (and accurate). And it’s always fun to use Yiddish, which is a dialect of German anyway.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
    Why not "Merkel's Meshuga" then? Trips off the tongue. Does it need the s on the end?
  86. I just bought a 2019 Volkswagen Passat and I like it. It was technically used it was the dealerships loaner car so it has 10,000 miles on it. You can get a great deal on sedans now because the sedan Market has collapsed because everyone wants an SUV and you can also get great deals on any luxury car coming off lease because all the people that can afford luxury cars want Tesla’s now. Really you can get fantastic deals but think about how much it cost to repair them. That’s all my advice. Good luck

  87. @Achmed E. Newman
    That's when you move to South Florida. They are used to those kind of drivers down there - big sidewalks with parking meters to stop the cars, etc. The written test says you only have to be able to see from 50 ft. to 100 ft. ahead of you. Less than 50 ft. is behind the big hood as you sit low in the plush corinthian leather seats, and over 100 ft. is beyond the resolution of your eyesight - you're only required to be able to make out the big E on that test. Don't ask me about the road test.

    That’s hurricane country….a no go zone for @ isteve lest he start spouting intemperate racial slurs.

  88. Solid advice from Jack D, especially as to 3-4 years old (usually a 50% discount from new), and thumbs up for the Korean brands.

    The Korean brands are now what the Japanese were in the 80s and 90s — the upstarts that are building their long-term market share and branding by putting their lower production costs into making a higher quality product for much less money.

    Or, throw caution to the wind. One advantage of reaching a certain age is that you no longer have to worry about seeming like you’re having a mid-life crisis. So you can go all out with something fun. How about a vintage Barracuda

    https://www.ebay.com/i/264566117985?rt=nc&_trkparms=aid%3D1110001%26algo%3DSPLICE.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D40741%26meid%3Da796d2db59d74333bc6cfa5a1e6f0c4c%26pid%3D100694%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D30%26sd%3D223774472987%26itm%3D264566117985%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2386202

  89. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:

    I guess the basic decision is between getting a traditional sedan and a 2-row SUV.

    One problem today is that because of the popularity of SUVs and “crossover” SUVs, they don’t make a lot of traditional sedans anymore. Most sedans now are very expensive luxury sedans. So you don’t have a lot of options in that segment.

  90. I’ve been driving a 2020 Subaru Legacy loaner car for a couple of weeks that has all the new safety gizmos and I’d definitely recommend you drive a car with them for a few days before deciding to buy one. The side proximity alert can be helpful, but all the alerts together might be too busy and distracting for you.

    As for cloth or leather, the synthetic materials are higher quality today, so you’ll probably be fine with cloth. Plus, leather will be hot in the sun, unless you spring for air conditioned seats.

    Regarding all wheel drive, in addition to being useful in snow, it helps you accelerate into traffic in a pinch. But you may not need that if highway merges tend to be orderly there.

    • Replies: @Jack D

    Regarding all wheel drive, in addition to being useful in snow, it helps you accelerate into traffic in a pinch.
     
    Completely false. If anything it slows you down because of the added weight.

    As for usefulness in snow, a set of snow tires is better. And remember that AWD does nothing for braking in the snow.

    For California, AWD is a complete waste unless maybe if you go skiing a lot.
  91. My 84 yr old Dad drives a Ford Fusion. He got it when it was three years old for half the price of a new model. In four years time a new battery is the only repair/replacement besides annual maintenance.

    Since you don’t need a vehicle for working or commuting I think buying new is a big waste of money when there are plenty of late model used for far less than new.

  92. @Jack D
    These cars are already 15 years old. By the time Steve is 75 they will be 30 years old. No matter how well built they are, a 30 year old car is going to have major deterioration - the rubber parts and upholstery start to rot and fade in the California sun, seals will leak, etc. Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with.

    A wild card idea would be for Steve to keep the car that he already owns. Seats are faded? Have them reupholstered. Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it's STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car. But after a while you get sick of driving the same old thing and want something with that new car smell, where all the switches still work and it doesn't creak when you go over a bump.

    I love my 30 year old car. All the switches work and it doesn’t creak going over bumps. (Admittedly it was rattling a bit until I changed the control arms.) It’s shiny and nice. I get compliments all the time. It’s also cheap to tag and insure. Ad valorem tax runs about $1.30 each year.

    One Dollar and Thirty Cents.

    If Steve lived closer to Nebrska I’d recommend this.

    2000 Mercedes-Benz S430 1 OWNER 24K MILES

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/2000-MERCEDES-BENZ-S430-1-OWNER-24K-MILES/233339074389?hash=item365417b755:g:hjMAAOSwFxhdeaI3

    • Replies: @Jack D
    I don't care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage. A 20 year old car that is not a collector car, even an S class Mercedes, is worth $3 or 4K. The market doesn't car what a cream puff this car is. The used car dealer is delusional if he thinks anyone (other than a big sucker) is going to pay him $15k for a 20 year old car. He probably paid the previous owner $2,000 for it, which is its trade-in value.
  93. Anonymous[316] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Christian

    My wife’s car has electronic safety stuff. When I drive it it’s annoying for a while (beep beep beep if you approach the shoulder or the lane line) and the mirror lets you know if there’s someone in your blind spot.
     
    We rented a 19 Subaru sedan last fall, year ago. It had the anti-stray tech, it reads the stripe on the road and doesn't let you cross it. Thing up here is, you dodge potholes inf you value your wheels and front end. On a particularly cratered road on 1A in Hamilton, I crossed the yellow to straddle a pothole and the damned thing jinked me right back in path with and into the pothole. Hell of a smash.

    I really don’t like the lane assist. If I want to cut corners, I want to be able to.

    Most other things – reversing camera, sensors front and back, traction control, blind spot detection… are great but do cause some skill atrophy as someone else said. You also tend to acclimate to your own vehicle, which can be dangerous e.g. if you have reversing camera without sensors on a rental car. Hands free telephony and being able to play the music on your phone through bluetooth is great. I could take or leave adaptive cruise control.

    Heads up display for speed nice but not essential. As long as there is a digital speed output somewhere so you can set your cruise by (after using a gps speed app on your phone to work out the car’s stated speed at the maximum actual speed that will avoid tickets).

    You keep cars a long time, Steve. Either get a hybrid or an EV, it will be the gift that keeps on giving in terms of fuel savings. Also in terms of brake pads and rotors. It saves nearly half the fuel bill of an equivalent vehicle and more if you can do some basic hypermiling.

    It hardly rains in LA and probably never gets icy, so why get AWD? The key advantage of AWD is wet road safety, or rather ability to push the vehicle’s capability in the wet and not pay the penalty. Great in snow or ice as well of course.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian

    I really don’t like the lane assist. If I want to cut corners, I want to be able to.
     
    Yeah, but it's more complicated than we know. When I mentioned it last fall, Achmed filled in the algos and methods on the whole thing, the damned thing is quite complex, insanely so for a lousy passenger car. I have all stability controls turned off in my car, the AWD and backup cam and bluetooth for my phone is quite enough. I even use my own Garmin Nuvi up on the dash, mostly as a mileage counter and speed limit indicator instead of the in-dash GPS in the car. I go up and down the East Coast between NH and Chesapeake a couple times a year, no GPS needed for navigating. Agree about the atrophy of skills of course, it isn't as if the Yewts that have grown up with this stuff have that anyway. I keep a 2004 Outback wagon with a 5 speed manual for the ugly weather and driving around here and I hear not many folks much under my age have a clue what to do with a clutch, heh.. My kid learned to drive on my 5 Speed Toyotas, got her license in mine. She says none of her friends know clutches. Her hubby is a Mustang guy, his is a 6-manual with a clutch.

    I must admit, the automatic is sweet however, especially when I have to drive through the traffic-infested, Third-World shithole that is Fairfax County, Northern Virginia.

  94. On the cars: For longevity and reliability, it’s hard to beat the Japanese. Something like a Honda Pilot might be a good SUV (however I see it has slightly below average reliability, oddly enough).

    FYI, I’ve seen Ford trucks and Chevy Tahoes get 250,000 miles. A full truck may be a pain parking in the big city; the Tahoe not so much.

    I’d definitely check out the safety ratings. New cars really are a lot safer and as we get older, that extra protection means a lot.

    The good news is most recent cars have great features and technology. Things like forward collision and rear camera are common even on downscale cars, and yes they do help. So, be sure and drive a few before deciding. It’s been 20 years, and you may be overwhelmed by new tech on cars. Don’t fall in love with the first one!

  95. @Justice Duvall
    You can drive yourself crazy buying a car, so I recommend the following matrix to simplify things:

    1. Toyota or Lexus only. They are the most reliable cars period. Parts are cheap and easy to find.

    2. Only look at hybrids. This reduces your choices to a workable handful of cars to test, and you will enjoy better gas mileage in LA traffic.

    3. Cross off the Corolla and the Prius; they are probably too small for you.

    4. You are left with:

    Avalon hybrid (land yacht)
    Camry hybrid (arguably the best mass market sedan ever made)
    RAV 4 hybrid (smaller SUV)
    Highlander hybrid (larger SUV)

    5. Go to any Toyota dealer in your part of the Valley, make sure your body fits comfortably inside each car with enough headroom, and take a test drive or two.

    6. If you want to spend more on bells and whistles, every Toyota hybrid has a flash Lexus sibling:

    the Lexus ES is a fancy Camry
    the Lexus LS is a very fancy Avalon
    the Lexus UX is a fancy RAV4
    the Lexus NX and RX are fancy Highlanders

    7. Enjoy your car.

    Prius V is good. My 6’3″ massively built uncle, who is 75 or so now, swears by his.

    • Replies: @Lot
    Prius V (last model year was 2017 btw) is roomy and space-efficient, but the interior is low-rent for its price and the acceleration is just sad.

    Seems like a high percentage are taxis and Ubers.

    An 80-something driver I know loves his and told me it had the best safety features in its price range, including one that autopilots you if you drift out of your lane. The back hatch is a good size for a small dog and easily cleaned.
  96. @Hypnotoad666

    I practically worked myself into the hospital in 2015 . . . in the wake of Merkel's Mistake.
     
    I think it just came to me . . . the correct term for this 2015 event should be "Merkel's Mishegas."

    For those unfamiliar with the Yiddish:

    Mishegas
    crazy; crazyness
    This can be spelled "meshugas" as well and comes directly from the Hebrew word "meshuga", which also means crazy.
    http://www.yiddishslangdictionary.com/word/281/mishegas

    I think this it. It's alliterative. It's descriptive (and accurate). And it's always fun to use Yiddish, which is a dialect of German anyway.

    Why not “Merkel’s Meshuga” then? Trips off the tongue. Does it need the s on the end?

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    Mishegas is the noun form, meshuga the adj. form. Merkel's Nuts =Merkel's meshuga. Merkel's Nuttiness = Merkel's Mishegas.
  97. Go to the Burbank carmax and buy a 2018 fwd Chevy equinox

  98. The greatest car is a truck. High is comfortable. High is powerful. High has superior visibility. Big and powerful to speed up instantly and with famtastic torque. Nowadays they stop on a dime. you have no idea how wonderful trucks are until you sit in a modern Ram truck. It’s not a Dodge Ram, nope, it’s a Ram.

    The modern car safety features are so great that you can be an old man with bad reflexes and no one will care because the car will stop for you, speed up for you, keep you in the lane, etc.

    Go on and try the modern Ram. I bet you never knew what was missing from your life was a manly truck.

    • Replies: @Lot
    I’ve got to agree my T levels go up 10% when I drive a full size pickup. Maybe 5% in the small old Ford Ranger and cargo vans.

    Had a Tacoma for 6 months when I was renovating and a friend let me informally rent it during that time. I had to park on the street quite often and it isn’t even full size.

    Steve’s in an old inner suburb however, and parking a full size is a hassle. Lots of strip malls have cramped parking lots where you’d need to take 2 spaces, assuming you could find two open ones next to each other.

    Most of LA, aside from the outer suburbs, was built before 1965 and just designed around smaller cars. A lot of “2 car” garages couldn’t fit one F-150.
  99. @SFG
    Lexus if you have the money, Camry if you don't; mine has lasted 20 years. Of course, they may have stopped making good cars in the last 20 years.

    Toyota Avalon is an upscale Camry. Agree that you can get a real nice Lexus SUV for cheap after a few years. Having a good local, non-dealer, mechanic helps too.

    I just bought a 2014 top of the line Honda CRV with 31k miles for $17k. Nice car and roomy enough for me and the dog and most everything I want to haul, which today was a washing machine.

  100. @Dave Pinsen
    I’ve been driving a 2020 Subaru Legacy loaner car for a couple of weeks that has all the new safety gizmos and I’d definitely recommend you drive a car with them for a few days before deciding to buy one. The side proximity alert can be helpful, but all the alerts together might be too busy and distracting for you.

    As for cloth or leather, the synthetic materials are higher quality today, so you’ll probably be fine with cloth. Plus, leather will be hot in the sun, unless you spring for air conditioned seats.

    Regarding all wheel drive, in addition to being useful in snow, it helps you accelerate into traffic in a pinch. But you may not need that if highway merges tend to be orderly there.

    Regarding all wheel drive, in addition to being useful in snow, it helps you accelerate into traffic in a pinch.

    Completely false. If anything it slows you down because of the added weight.

    As for usefulness in snow, a set of snow tires is better. And remember that AWD does nothing for braking in the snow.

    For California, AWD is a complete waste unless maybe if you go skiing a lot.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    Before getting an all wheel drive Subaru, I test drove a two wheel drive Lexus. The dealership was on a busy highway (NJ-17), and I gunned the engine to merge and felt the drive wheels spin before getting traction. No snow when that happened. That never happened with my Subaru.

    What may be confusing you is the Subaru Legacy base models have relatively small engines, which don’t have a lot of acceleration. But I got the 3.6L H-6.
    , @Jenner Ickham Errican

    As for usefulness in snow, a set of snow tires is better.
     
    Wrong. Modern AWD systems send more power to any of the wheels with surface grip. Ever back out of a slippery driveway with a small bank of snowplow snow at the end? The rear wheels can actively grip the plowed road surface and pull the car into the street. Much better than relying on only the front wheels to push and steer the car.

    For California, AWD is a complete waste
     
    Wrong. Driving through a downpour is safer with intelligent AWD. A puddle may cover half a lane, but either both port or starboard wheels will still have traction.

    “experts” say you get more benefit from snow tires than you do from AWD
     
    Ahh, the quotes are appropriate.
  101. @Jack D
    Those late '90s Japanese cars will turn out to be the high water mark of automotive reliability, up there with W124 Mercedes. Soon after, the bean counters decided that these cars were TOO good and could be "decontented". What is the point of making your car twice as durable as any other car on the market instead of only 50% more reliable. You won't get any extra credit for it in the market and you can save money by making the car less good.

    When my wife's stepfather died a few years ago, his wife (my MIL) gave his car, a late '90s Lexus ES300 to one of his grandsons. That thing was bulletproof - it would have gone a million miles. I think up to that point it had never needed a major repair. I don't think it even needed a MINOR repair, just routine filter changes and such. Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one - they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.

    Those late ’90s Japanese cars will turn out to be the high water mark of automotive reliability, up there with W124 Mercedes. Soon after, the bean counters decided that these cars were TOO good and could be “decontented”. What is the point of making your car twice as durable as any other car on the market instead of only 50% more reliable. You won’t get any extra credit for it in the market and you can save money by making the car less good.

    It’s more a matter of the skyrocketing yen killing Japanese carmaker profits. It went from 250 yen to the dollar in the 80’s to 100. As a result, to stay afloat, they had to radically skimp on many things. Unfortunately, this eventually extended to transmissions for some of their models. Still, reliability-wise, they remain ahead of the competition, if not by the margins they did before.

  102. @AnotherDad
    Steve, i'd say one thing to get a handle on upfront is whether you have "hit the road" plans for your "golden years"?

    Since we got our retirement home, the wife and i have been planning to get to where we do some cross-country jaunts--see our family and friends and America. Our "new" cars are a 2005 Town+Country here in Florida and 2002 back in Seattle--that we did our "see America" road-tripping with when the kids were kids. It's hard to beat minivans in the cost/space/mileage/safety matrix. So i've been thinking about getting a late model Pacifica to make the XC trip more reliably. I'll build sleeping platform that some camping boxes will fit under, so we can nap while on the road and also do "steel tent" camping. But that's us.

    You have to figure out whether you and your bride are going to hit the road and "see America". Or whether it's just touring around in California--your "big" jaunts just up to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe? And is this the car you'll do it in? Or is your car just going to drive around LA?

    If this is just your "town car", i think the guys mentioning the Tesla have a point--especially if it gets you some special HOV access. Everything in LA area is in range and California gas prices are high. Go electric and then your next pitch can be for rooftop solar!

    But if you and your bride are going to tour around, then you want something that can gas up. (Ideally "methanol up" as well, but unfortunately we're not there yet.) As folks are mentioning, some old folks find the SUVs easier to get in and out of. My daughter has a Jeep Cherokee that she really likes--but she's a foot shorter than you. A neighbor has a Ford Edge i've driven a bit--comfy. Hertz had it in my aisle when we flew back from Thanksgiving so we picked it. It seemed like it had enough space for a big guy.

    If i were you, i'd try driving--and spend extra time doing multiple entry/exits--everything in your ballpark, sedans and SUVs. Then when you narrow it down to two or three, rent them and drive them for a week and see which ones really work for a tall man.

    “ especially if it gets you some special HOV access.”

    Great reason for certain commuters, but:

    1. Steve can time his trips for off peak traffic

    2. His longer trips likely often feature family

    3. Some LA HOV lanes let solos pay to drive. It actually is so low it seems odd there aren’t more users. For example, the peak charge to go from Long Beach to Downtown on the 110 is about $12, and transforms an hour of bad traffic to 20 minutes of cruising at 50mph. With the gas savings included, you’d have to value your time near the local minimum wage not to do it.

    They raise the price to the level that allows traffic to cleanly flow on the HOV lane to not defeat the point of encouraging carpoolers and electric cars.

    In any case, I don’t think Tesla has ever met its goal of selling its 3 for $30,000, and currently is only selling optioned out ones for 40k+.

    Electric car drivers I know do love them. Don’t know anyone with a Tesla 3, but Tesla S, Leaf, and Chevy Volt owners are all really happy.

    In a pinch, there’s also the Larry David method to hire a hooker to carpool lane with you.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    Years ago here in the Imperial Capital some guy got busted for being in the HOV-2 lane. Turns out traffic stopped for some reason and a cop next to him noticed that his passenger was a dummy. I think he got life with no parole.
  103. @Jack D
    Those late '90s Japanese cars will turn out to be the high water mark of automotive reliability, up there with W124 Mercedes. Soon after, the bean counters decided that these cars were TOO good and could be "decontented". What is the point of making your car twice as durable as any other car on the market instead of only 50% more reliable. You won't get any extra credit for it in the market and you can save money by making the car less good.

    When my wife's stepfather died a few years ago, his wife (my MIL) gave his car, a late '90s Lexus ES300 to one of his grandsons. That thing was bulletproof - it would have gone a million miles. I think up to that point it had never needed a major repair. I don't think it even needed a MINOR repair, just routine filter changes and such. Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one - they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.

    Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one – they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.

    Sounds like he deliberately crashed it in the expectation that his parents would buy him a replacement.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    I doubt this. His parents were in no position to buy him a car. It was one of those from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generations thing. Grandpa was a real self made man who took himself from ghetto poverty to corporate executive by way of engineering school but while he was in the process of making himself he didn't have a lot of time for his kids. If his parents had $ then my MIL wouldn't have given the kid the car in the 1st place.

    My guess is that it was the usual combination of speed plus alcohol or drugs. He wasn't hurt so thank God for that. I doubt that he was carrying collision insurance on the car but maybe he was. I'm not close to the family so I don't know the details. My MIL has heard from her stepson only once since the funeral, when his son's baby mama had a baby. The sad thing is that this trash is the closest that my MIL has gotten to being a great grandmother. All of her blood grandchildren with the fancy law degrees and PhDs and such have forgotten to reproduce.

  104. I drove a 97 Mazda Miata stick shift for years. I recently bought a Subaru Outback. I quickly became accustomed to all it’s bells and whistles. I drive a lot, and at 81, I find that I need them. A good choice for me.

  105. @dearieme
    Leather seats are good as you get older and begin to find getting out of a car difficult. You just swing your bottom around: the low friction is a great help. Or, just train yourself to sit on a plastic bag which is presumably cheaper.

    You can mimic some of the advantages of 4WD by buying a front-wheel drive car and buying tyres suitable for dirt roads; you could also opt for a manual gearbox.

    The last car we bought was 10 years old and so avoided the internet traps.

    You can mimic some of the advantages of 4WD by buying a front-wheel drive car and buying tyres suitable for dirt roads; you could also opt for a manual gearbox.

    I don’t know where you are but it’s somewhere where they spell tires tyres. In the US, you can buy what are called “snow tires” and yes, for driving in snow they are superior in some ways to having AWD and no snow tires. Of course AWD AND snow tires is better still but most people prefer not to have to own two sets of tires and switching back and forth. Steve is in Southern California where it never snow in the lowlands anyway.

    Manual transmissions are almost extinct. They have few advantages nowadays – automatics are so efficient that you actually get mileage with them than with a manual, which didn’t used to be the case. One of the few advantages is that car thieves and carjackers don’t know how to drive them anymore.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Manual is probably a pain in the ass to drive in LA traffic though.
  106. 1998 Infiniti I-30. Very cool. Those 90’s Infinitis were great bulletproof cars. The Infiniti factory in Oppama, Japan was one of the best auto manufacturing plants in those days, on par with any in the world.

    I had a 1999 Infiniti G20. First “unused” car I ever bought, and the best car I’ve owned to this day. Inside the glove compartment was a card signed by the supervising engineer (in English, no less). I loved that car so much I considered mailing a check back to the factory to get that guy and his crew a sake on me. Stupidly sold it after about six years due to a silly hankering for something new.

    My current vehicle is a Lincoln MKZ. Just leased 3 months ago. Probably my second favorite since the Infiniti. Nice ride, good handling, all the safety features you would probably want. Parks itself if you want. Electronically adjustable suspension. Excellent audio. Heated, cooled and massaging seats (my passengers love them). No available HUD though, and gas mileage has been a little disappointing for a turbo 4-banger.

    You can get a good deal on a certified one if you don’t want to shell out the cash for new. Lincolns depreciate fast.

    Audi A4 was a nice ride-just liked the seats better in the Lincoln, which actually drives surprisingly similar to the Audi.

    Infiniti Q50 is a sportier RWD option-more fun to drive than the Audi or Lincoln, while still riding nice-but the seats in the Lincoln were the clincher for me.

    Heads-up display? I’ve never driven a car that had one-but I used to have a Saab that had an LED display mounted on top of the dash that told you your speed, etc. It was not distracting-quite the contrary-you could keep your eyes on the road while you checked your speed, etc.

    One thing that is distracting are the infotainment/nav systems in these cars. Especially the ones with touch screens. I’ve learned to use voice activation to pick out music and handle the nav. Works pretty good, so I can keep my eyes on the road and still enjoy the amenities of the car. Thankfully, most of the actual vehicle controls in my car are old-fashioned buttons.

    AWD? As long as you’re not off-roading, the main advantage of AWD is going uphill in snow. If you don’t have to do that there’s not much advantage over FWD or RWD unless you get some kind of torque vectoring setup, which will help cornering a bit. I live on top of a hill in upstate NY, so I’ve got AWD-but if I lived in SoCal I’d probably skip it.

    SUV vs. sedan. SUVs have more utility for a lot of people and are what you want (obviously) for off-roading. Just don’t expect them to handle like a car on the streets. Even the best of them don’t come close. Physics-you can’t overcome a high center of gravity. The ones that even try end up having a rough ride because the suspension has to be stiffened so much to overcome that high center of gravity. And they still don’t handle as well as the average workaday family sedan.

    Leather vs. Cloth? I prefer the feel of cloth seats, but leather is a lot easier to clean. Most of the cars I looked at had leather or else “pleather”-no cloth option, anyway.

    Reliability? I’m of the belief that all these cars are reliable anymore in terms of engine, transmission, chassis electrical, braking, steering, etc., compared to 20, 30, 40 years ago. Where problems usually arise are with the electronics and aforementioned infotainment systems that are prone to failure-my last car (an Acura) had the audio head unit and hard drive replaced three times over a six month period. All done under warranty-but if I had to pay it would have been rather expensive.

    The complexity of these cars is why I lease anymore. Back in the day I used to do my own maintenance and a lot of the repairs. Those days are gone.

    Safety equipment? I would say most of it is useful, and in most of these cars it is configurable. Of course if you shut it off then you’re paying for something you don’t use. The only one I shut off is the “Lane Keeping Assist” because I noticed it changes the feel of the steering in normal driving. Not sure why it does that. Otherwise it works well and it is a good idea and I would keep it on, but I don’t like the way the steering feels with it on.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    That was my impression: the Japanese by the late 1990s had the world's best automotive assembly line workers. So the Japanese strategy after the Reagan protectionist quotas became to set up final assembly plants for mainstream brands like Nissan in the US while luxury brands like Infiniti were built in Japan. A pretty decent system, I figured.

    Is the distinction still so clear cut? Have the American plants gotten better so they can build luxury brands here, or have they just cheapened their luxury brands?

  107. @Alice
    The greatest car is a truck. High is comfortable. High is powerful. High has superior visibility. Big and powerful to speed up instantly and with famtastic torque. Nowadays they stop on a dime. you have no idea how wonderful trucks are until you sit in a modern Ram truck. It's not a Dodge Ram, nope, it's a Ram.

    The modern car safety features are so great that you can be an old man with bad reflexes and no one will care because the car will stop for you, speed up for you, keep you in the lane, etc.

    Go on and try the modern Ram. I bet you never knew what was missing from your life was a manly truck.

    I’ve got to agree my T levels go up 10% when I drive a full size pickup. Maybe 5% in the small old Ford Ranger and cargo vans.

    Had a Tacoma for 6 months when I was renovating and a friend let me informally rent it during that time. I had to park on the street quite often and it isn’t even full size.

    Steve’s in an old inner suburb however, and parking a full size is a hassle. Lots of strip malls have cramped parking lots where you’d need to take 2 spaces, assuming you could find two open ones next to each other.

    Most of LA, aside from the outer suburbs, was built before 1965 and just designed around smaller cars. A lot of “2 car” garages couldn’t fit one F-150.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    It's a shame you can't really get mid size and compact pickups in the US anymore. The Tacoma, Ranger, etc are the closest things, and they're a lot bigger now than they used to be in the 90s.

    Full size pickups are great and fun but hard to justify as daily drivers, and full size is pretty much all you can get these days. You see lots of people in the suburbs use them as daily commuting and errand cars, but I don't know how they afford them. They start at $30K+, and of course gas costs for them are high.
  108. @Adam Smith
    I love my 30 year old car. All the switches work and it doesn't creak going over bumps. (Admittedly it was rattling a bit until I changed the control arms.) It's shiny and nice. I get compliments all the time. It's also cheap to tag and insure. Ad valorem tax runs about $1.30 each year.

    One Dollar and Thirty Cents.

    https://s1.cdn.autoevolution.com/images/gallery/BMW5Series-E34-Sedan-775_8.jpg

    If Steve lived closer to Nebrska I'd recommend this.

    https://www.autabuy.com/photos/2019/08/09/59732690_523967177266801_Orig.jpg

    2000 Mercedes-Benz S430 1 OWNER 24K MILES

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/2000-MERCEDES-BENZ-S430-1-OWNER-24K-MILES/233339074389?hash=item365417b755:g:hjMAAOSwFxhdeaI3

    I don’t care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage. A 20 year old car that is not a collector car, even an S class Mercedes, is worth $3 or 4K. The market doesn’t car what a cream puff this car is. The used car dealer is delusional if he thinks anyone (other than a big sucker) is going to pay him $15k for a 20 year old car. He probably paid the previous owner $2,000 for it, which is its trade-in value.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

    I don’t care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage.
     
    Correct.

    Every hose, gasket, and seal on that vehicle is suspect purely due to age. God knows what kind of detritus has collected in the bottom of the radiator, master brake cylinder, and power steering reservoir.
    , @Adam Smith

    The used car dealer is delusional
     
    Aren't they all?

    Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage.
     
    True. Rubber dries out. Seals start leaking. Hoses are cracked. Struts need replacing. Control arm bushings are probably shot, or will be in the next 5 or 10,000 miles. It all depends how it was stored and maintained. Many of these older Mercedes have spent most their life in some retiree's garage, were previously loved and only driven in the sunshine. It will definitely need all the fluids changed. A/C probably needs a new expansion valve, receiver drier and a few o-rings. I'd take a wire brush to all the electrical connections, especially the ground straps, and the fuses. The head liner might even need replacing. All these things are worth doing on a car with 24,000 miles. Probably cost 2500 dollars over the next year or so to shake out all the bugs. On a 1998 with almost 270,000 miles... different story.

    $15k is asking for the moon... $5,000 is more realistic.

    In May of 2019, the average price of a new car purchased in the U.S. was $36,718.

    That 2000 Benz MSRP'd for 70k.

    It was made in Germany. (Not Alabama, Georgia or South Carolina.)

  109. @Dnought
    1998 Infiniti I-30. Very cool. Those 90's Infinitis were great bulletproof cars. The Infiniti factory in Oppama, Japan was one of the best auto manufacturing plants in those days, on par with any in the world.

    I had a 1999 Infiniti G20. First "unused" car I ever bought, and the best car I've owned to this day. Inside the glove compartment was a card signed by the supervising engineer (in English, no less). I loved that car so much I considered mailing a check back to the factory to get that guy and his crew a sake on me. Stupidly sold it after about six years due to a silly hankering for something new.

    My current vehicle is a Lincoln MKZ. Just leased 3 months ago. Probably my second favorite since the Infiniti. Nice ride, good handling, all the safety features you would probably want. Parks itself if you want. Electronically adjustable suspension. Excellent audio. Heated, cooled and massaging seats (my passengers love them). No available HUD though, and gas mileage has been a little disappointing for a turbo 4-banger.

    You can get a good deal on a certified one if you don't want to shell out the cash for new. Lincolns depreciate fast.

    Audi A4 was a nice ride-just liked the seats better in the Lincoln, which actually drives surprisingly similar to the Audi.

    Infiniti Q50 is a sportier RWD option-more fun to drive than the Audi or Lincoln, while still riding nice-but the seats in the Lincoln were the clincher for me.

    Heads-up display? I've never driven a car that had one-but I used to have a Saab that had an LED display mounted on top of the dash that told you your speed, etc. It was not distracting-quite the contrary-you could keep your eyes on the road while you checked your speed, etc.

    One thing that is distracting are the infotainment/nav systems in these cars. Especially the ones with touch screens. I’ve learned to use voice activation to pick out music and handle the nav. Works pretty good, so I can keep my eyes on the road and still enjoy the amenities of the car. Thankfully, most of the actual vehicle controls in my car are old-fashioned buttons.

    AWD? As long as you’re not off-roading, the main advantage of AWD is going uphill in snow. If you don’t have to do that there’s not much advantage over FWD or RWD unless you get some kind of torque vectoring setup, which will help cornering a bit. I live on top of a hill in upstate NY, so I’ve got AWD-but if I lived in SoCal I’d probably skip it.

    SUV vs. sedan. SUVs have more utility for a lot of people and are what you want (obviously) for off-roading. Just don’t expect them to handle like a car on the streets. Even the best of them don’t come close. Physics-you can’t overcome a high center of gravity. The ones that even try end up having a rough ride because the suspension has to be stiffened so much to overcome that high center of gravity. And they still don’t handle as well as the average workaday family sedan.

    Leather vs. Cloth? I prefer the feel of cloth seats, but leather is a lot easier to clean. Most of the cars I looked at had leather or else “pleather”-no cloth option, anyway.

    Reliability? I’m of the belief that all these cars are reliable anymore in terms of engine, transmission, chassis electrical, braking, steering, etc., compared to 20, 30, 40 years ago. Where problems usually arise are with the electronics and aforementioned infotainment systems that are prone to failure-my last car (an Acura) had the audio head unit and hard drive replaced three times over a six month period. All done under warranty-but if I had to pay it would have been rather expensive.

    The complexity of these cars is why I lease anymore. Back in the day I used to do my own maintenance and a lot of the repairs. Those days are gone.

    Safety equipment? I would say most of it is useful, and in most of these cars it is configurable. Of course if you shut it off then you’re paying for something you don’t use. The only one I shut off is the “Lane Keeping Assist” because I noticed it changes the feel of the steering in normal driving. Not sure why it does that. Otherwise it works well and it is a good idea and I would keep it on, but I don’t like the way the steering feels with it on.

    That was my impression: the Japanese by the late 1990s had the world’s best automotive assembly line workers. So the Japanese strategy after the Reagan protectionist quotas became to set up final assembly plants for mainstream brands like Nissan in the US while luxury brands like Infiniti were built in Japan. A pretty decent system, I figured.

    Is the distinction still so clear cut? Have the American plants gotten better so they can build luxury brands here, or have they just cheapened their luxury brands?

    • Replies: @Dnought
    I'd still give the Japanese the edge. That was the big advantage to owning an Infiniti in the 90's-the I-30 was basically a Maxima, the G-20 was a Euro market Nissan Primera-but you got the excellent quality control and precision of the Oppama plant instead of a relatively indifferently assembled US or British made Nissan. Well worth the premium over a Nissan in my opinion. Your 21 years of ownership testify to that. I doubt that's changed.

    The only fly in the ointment are the advanced electronic tech in these cars which is still problematic for all manufacturers and thus an equalizing factor across brands when you look at reliability stats. Newer Infinitis have some problems in those areas, too.

    And of course sometimes the US farms out a decent amount of its manufacturing to Mexico-that's where my Lincoln is assembled-but early on Ford noticed problems with the Mexican-made cars so then Ford started a process where they bring the MKZ back to do quality control at a US Ford plant. So far I'd say they do a good job-but it makes me wonder where the cost saving is. Is avoiding US UAW wages for the initial assembly lucrative enough to use such a circuitous manufacturing method?
    , @Lot
    That’s still basically the case.

    What’s changed are SUVs, which greatly outsell large cars now. Lexus is sticking to Japanese plants for its top end GX and LX models and makes the RX crossover in both Japan and Canada.

    Japanese brand made-in-America cars are plenty good enough for worldwide export. Two examples: the Acura RDX crossover and NSX $160,000 supercar are both made in Ohio.

    Here’s a pack of NSXs in Le Mons, France for a meeting of the European NSX club.

    https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2805/9497303082_72f5cc1c40_b.jpg
  110. @Anonymous
    Prius V is good. My 6'3" massively built uncle, who is 75 or so now, swears by his.

    Prius V (last model year was 2017 btw) is roomy and space-efficient, but the interior is low-rent for its price and the acceleration is just sad.

    Seems like a high percentage are taxis and Ubers.

    An 80-something driver I know loves his and told me it had the best safety features in its price range, including one that autopilots you if you drift out of your lane. The back hatch is a good size for a small dog and easily cleaned.

  111. @Intelligent Dasein
    Steve, disregard these people and DO NOT buy a Tesla.

    Just get a used Lexus. Someone else already paid for the depreciation and it will still last you forever. It's the best deal around.

    One of my cousins has a Lexus from the first year they were made, and drives it every day. He also has a much newer one, just in case. In addition he owns three Bentleys from the 1950s, which he uses on Sundays, as his mood moves him.

    But it’s the Lexus he trusts.

  112. @S. Dangerfield
    Steve,

    Other folks have already gotten to it, but let me add myself to the Avalon chorus.

    It makes a very nice dignified old man’s car while remaining extremely reliable and practical. It’s luxurious but not ostentatious, and is likely to be significantly less expensive to maintain than one of the 2.0t pleather sedans from most luxury marques.

    It also ranks very high (14th I believe) on Frank Dubois/AU’s American made auto index.

    There are some very good deals to be found as they come off-lease. For example, I picked up a 2015 model last year - the lessee had put only 12k miles on it in three years. The original sticker on the car was a hair shy of $40k and I picked it up for ~$22k. Have since put nearly 30k miles on it and only getting happier with the purchase.

    Favorite things:

    The V6 is smooth and very torquey and my wife has commented on several occasions that the car’s acceleration scares her if she mashes the peddle for, e.g. a high speed merge. Contrast this to the horrible, whiney, fake-mpg 2.0ts found in practically every car and cuv these days

    The transmission is an old school 6 speed and is similarly smooth. Contrast this to the CVTs found in so many other new cars. My belief is that half the reason for these is the meager low end torque of the turbo’d engines, and as such you are constantly driving at 2500-3k rpm. Noisy, rough, rubber band-esque acceleration, say I.

    Rear seats are, as Lot said, the best I’ve seen in any car. Four 6’3” men can ride comfortably, really! Two couples extremely comfortably - as in, full leg stretch for ladies in the back. My wife and I were upgraded by Sixt in Munich last year to a 7 series. We did a couple thousand euro-miles over two weeks, and at the end she and our traveling companions said the backseat in the Avalon was more comfortable (!).

    Incredibly quiet on the highway. They must be using some serious seals and low STC glass. People regularly notice and comment.

    City MPG (driving aggressively) is 23. Highway is 31 at 80 mph, can sneak it up to 35 if driving gently.

    My car missed it, but I believe in 2016 Toyota introduced across its entire line something called STAR safety, a suite of features including collision avoidance/braking. I think the Avalon also got radar cruise control and lane departure. These are neat but in my experience (e.g. the beemer above) they just beep at you endlessly and you turn them off.

    One gripe is that my car happened to be a limited trim, which does very little for you (heated rear seats, and you’re in SoCal) but comes with 19” wheels. This reduces the tire walls and roughens the ride. I’d stick with the XLE and enjoy the smoother city ride.

    Lastly, I discovered Jack Baruth through you several years ago - he is great and I am now a loyal reader. His last two posts on his personal riverside green site - re: the Peloton brouhaha and Greta - were particularly incisive.

    Merry Christmas Steve. I will get around to topping up the new car fund.

    Can confirm. Elderly relative has one. Roomy, quiet, powerful acceleration, pillowy ride. And despite being a sedan, it somehow stands you pretty high above the road.

    Only other advice re new hitech gizmos is TEST DRIVE AT NIGHT. As I’ve complained here before, for some reason manufacturers have lately become addicted to absurdly bright, difficult to dim, blue-white spectrum dashboards, central consoles and touch screens. These things are night vision killers! Especially if you’re already getting old man eyesight. It is absurd how the interior of the car is now more illuminated than the road ahead. Old folks can’t see over the interior glare and young folks are too distracted/self-absorbed to care what’s beyond their bluetooth playlist.

    Find a car from which you can still see the road in the dark.

    OTOH if LA is brightly streetlit and you never plan to leave, then may be you’ll enjoy having a glittering entertainment center in front of you while driving. I don’t, though. I like to see the road. Call me old fashioned.

  113. Get yourself a Dodge Charger, the more expensive the version you get, the better.

    Let all the accountants on this thread say what they want about cars designed by and for foreigners, the modern Chargers will help your testosterone level, and they are safe to drive, and those are good things.

  114. @Jack D

    You can mimic some of the advantages of 4WD by buying a front-wheel drive car and buying tyres suitable for dirt roads; you could also opt for a manual gearbox.
     
    I don't know where you are but it's somewhere where they spell tires tyres. In the US, you can buy what are called "snow tires" and yes, for driving in snow they are superior in some ways to having AWD and no snow tires. Of course AWD AND snow tires is better still but most people prefer not to have to own two sets of tires and switching back and forth. Steve is in Southern California where it never snow in the lowlands anyway.

    Manual transmissions are almost extinct. They have few advantages nowadays - automatics are so efficient that you actually get mileage with them than with a manual, which didn't used to be the case. One of the few advantages is that car thieves and carjackers don't know how to drive them anymore.

    Manual is probably a pain in the ass to drive in LA traffic though.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I drove stick shifts until I was 40, but I'm an automatic man now.
  115. Wow…there’s a lot to comment on here, but I haven’t got the time.

    With regard to AWD, most modern AWD systems are designed to route 70 to 90% of the engine power to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions. There’s no reason to shy away from the extra assurance AWD will provide in bad weather and snow unless you are on a really, really tight budget.

    As for engines, for a variety of reasons, I would stay away from anything that has a four-cylinder engine hopped up by a turbo. The manufacturers are trying to give people big engine grunt when they mash the pedal and fuel economy when cruising on the highway.

    They split this difference by keeping the turbo spooled up at low RPMs and hitting huge peak boost numbers (17-18 psi on a stock engine…that was considered extreme in the tuning world 20 years ago). This is just a ton of extra stress on the engine’s cooling system, oil system, head gasket, and several other key components. Not a recipe for long term reliability. It is a recipe for oil changes every 3-5k miles, despite the 10k numbers published by the manufacturers now.

    Anyway, I’ll recommend the Chrylser 300C in Pentastar V6 + AWD trim or the 5.7L V8 HEMI. The 300C is a large, spacious sedan with a good sized trunk. I believe that the rear seats fold down for extra capacity. The Chrysler infotainment system (uConnect, I think?) has been praised by many folks for its ease of use. The seats are good and so are the sound systems. The V8 is probably the better highway cruiser. The V8 also has the ability to cruise on four cylinders to save a little gas. Nothing like loafing along at 70 mph while the engine is only turning 1500 RPM. Build quality is quite good, they’re putting almost as much effort into these as they do with the RAM trucks.

    Alternative recommendation – if you want a sporty CUV I can’t recommend the Ford Edge Sport enough. It drives the way I’d expect a BMW X3 to drive. The 2.7L twin-turbo V6 is a gem of an engine they should drop in the Mustang. The ride is very quiet and comfortable despite the vehicle’s performance pretensions. The infotainment system is pretty good, as is the Sony stereo.

  116. @Steve Sailer
    That was my impression: the Japanese by the late 1990s had the world's best automotive assembly line workers. So the Japanese strategy after the Reagan protectionist quotas became to set up final assembly plants for mainstream brands like Nissan in the US while luxury brands like Infiniti were built in Japan. A pretty decent system, I figured.

    Is the distinction still so clear cut? Have the American plants gotten better so they can build luxury brands here, or have they just cheapened their luxury brands?

    I’d still give the Japanese the edge. That was the big advantage to owning an Infiniti in the 90’s-the I-30 was basically a Maxima, the G-20 was a Euro market Nissan Primera-but you got the excellent quality control and precision of the Oppama plant instead of a relatively indifferently assembled US or British made Nissan. Well worth the premium over a Nissan in my opinion. Your 21 years of ownership testify to that. I doubt that’s changed.

    The only fly in the ointment are the advanced electronic tech in these cars which is still problematic for all manufacturers and thus an equalizing factor across brands when you look at reliability stats. Newer Infinitis have some problems in those areas, too.

    And of course sometimes the US farms out a decent amount of its manufacturing to Mexico-that’s where my Lincoln is assembled-but early on Ford noticed problems with the Mexican-made cars so then Ford started a process where they bring the MKZ back to do quality control at a US Ford plant. So far I’d say they do a good job-but it makes me wonder where the cost saving is. Is avoiding US UAW wages for the initial assembly lucrative enough to use such a circuitous manufacturing method?

  117. @Jack D
    I don't care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage. A 20 year old car that is not a collector car, even an S class Mercedes, is worth $3 or 4K. The market doesn't car what a cream puff this car is. The used car dealer is delusional if he thinks anyone (other than a big sucker) is going to pay him $15k for a 20 year old car. He probably paid the previous owner $2,000 for it, which is its trade-in value.

    I don’t care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage.

    Correct.

    Every hose, gasket, and seal on that vehicle is suspect purely due to age. God knows what kind of detritus has collected in the bottom of the radiator, master brake cylinder, and power steering reservoir.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I let my mechanics talk me into fixing all the leaks in the 1998 I30 about 6 months ago, as a reward for the good work they'd been doing. But it wound up being way too ambitious for a car that isn't worth much on the used market because its upholstery is totally shot. They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.

    , @Adam Smith

    God knows what kind of detritus has collected in the bottom of the radiator, master brake cylinder, and power steering reservoir.
     
    If only there were some way to change those fluids. Too bad it's impossible.
  118. @Anonymous
    Manual is probably a pain in the ass to drive in LA traffic though.

    I drove stick shifts until I was 40, but I’m an automatic man now.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian

    I drove stick shifts until I was 40, but I’m an automatic man now.
     
    As a former stick-driver, you're gonna hate the CVTs, Steve. The damned things are always searching, rowing, looking for the fuel-economy sweet spot. Annoying as hell.
  119. AWD and the low CG in Subarus make them fun to take corners fast, the Crosstrek even more so than the Outback, but if Steve is looking for an old man car I guess that isn’t the primary point in its favor. I like to think having it will give me an edge when the big one hits or I have to bug out in case of fire but the reality is I’ll likely be stuck in traffic with everyone else. AWD and good clearance did come in handy for me last spring on the 101 near Avila Beach when traffic came to a standstill. I followed a fellow Subaru driver through a field to a parallel road and was able to avoid waiting for the blockage to be cleared.

  120. Oops, forgot to provide some good reviews on the Pentastar V6, even the Jeep guys who love to beat on stuff seem to like it:

    https://www.wranglerforum.com/f714/reliability-of-3-6l-pentastar-2343779.html
    https://www.jlwranglerforums.com/forum/threads/how-reliable-is-the-new-3-6l-is-it-straight-out-of-the-gc.2908/

    Ward’s Auto named it a 10-Best engine in 2018:
    https://www.capecoralchryslerdodgejeepram.com/fca-pentastar-v6-named-best-engine-wardsauto/

    Here’s a pretty good review of the 2015 Dodge Charger in Pentastar V6 + AWD trim:
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-dodge-charger-v6-awd-review-four-door-pony-car/

    I also want to give a shout out to 8-speed transmissions. I had a BMW X1 with an I4 + 8-speed and went to a BMW X1 with an I6 + 6-speed and I can tell you the I6 really, really needs those extra two overdrive gears on the highway.

  121. @Lot
    Here’s that plush Avalon backseat from its 2013-2018 generation. Look like the recent refresh didn’t change the back much:

    https://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/5/2013/02/2013-Toyota-Avalon-Limited-backseat.jpg

    https://cdn-ds.com/media/websites/2142/content/2018-Toyota-Avalon-B7_o.jpg?s=63233

    Roxy Music – Avalon (Official Video)

  122. strongly agree with Toyo Avalon calls.

    first & foremost, it’ll start – and run, and run well @ 30MPG – forever. second, IIRC, you’re a normal-sized man: in the neighborhood of 6’3″. (normal-sized where I come from, anyway) The Avalon has massive legroom. Also a trunk you can stow several large carcasses in, should the need arise.

    I’d say it really depends on what you wanna spend.

    New Avalon – $45K + out the door
    4-yr-old Lexus (another fine choice) about the same
    New Honda Accord …. now they’re interesting. The new ones have actually more legroom than the Avalons – in the front, anyway. (but as we say in Texas, if the people in the back seat were really important, they’d be in the front seat, right?) Accord build quality & reliability & durability = at least as good as the Avalon. But if you time it right – Dec 31 into Jan 1 is the single best day to buy a car all year: end of month; end of quarter; end of year – and bargain well, you can be out the door for about ten bucks under $30K.

    My view is it’s about 97% the car the Avalon is, for one-third less.

    You buy any of those 3, you’re pretty much set for life.

    Best wishes and good luck.

  123. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Lot
    I’ve got to agree my T levels go up 10% when I drive a full size pickup. Maybe 5% in the small old Ford Ranger and cargo vans.

    Had a Tacoma for 6 months when I was renovating and a friend let me informally rent it during that time. I had to park on the street quite often and it isn’t even full size.

    Steve’s in an old inner suburb however, and parking a full size is a hassle. Lots of strip malls have cramped parking lots where you’d need to take 2 spaces, assuming you could find two open ones next to each other.

    Most of LA, aside from the outer suburbs, was built before 1965 and just designed around smaller cars. A lot of “2 car” garages couldn’t fit one F-150.

    It’s a shame you can’t really get mid size and compact pickups in the US anymore. The Tacoma, Ranger, etc are the closest things, and they’re a lot bigger now than they used to be in the 90s.

    Full size pickups are great and fun but hard to justify as daily drivers, and full size is pretty much all you can get these days. You see lots of people in the suburbs use them as daily commuting and errand cars, but I don’t know how they afford them. They start at $30K+, and of course gas costs for them are high.

  124. I too have been thinking of buying a used car…to supplement my 1977 Ranchero.

    I have decided that when I do, I will try to get the odds in my favor to get a well-maintained vehicle, and not a lemon or something on the edge of falling apart.

    1) It can be either a sedan, van, SUV or truck. 2) It must be stick shift (higher probability pre-owned by a man, and one who cared about maintenance). 3) Living in N.W, must be 4-wheel/all wheel drive.

  125. @Anonymous
    I really don't like the lane assist. If I want to cut corners, I want to be able to.

    Most other things - reversing camera, sensors front and back, traction control, blind spot detection... are great but do cause some skill atrophy as someone else said. You also tend to acclimate to your own vehicle, which can be dangerous e.g. if you have reversing camera without sensors on a rental car. Hands free telephony and being able to play the music on your phone through bluetooth is great. I could take or leave adaptive cruise control.

    Heads up display for speed nice but not essential. As long as there is a digital speed output somewhere so you can set your cruise by (after using a gps speed app on your phone to work out the car's stated speed at the maximum actual speed that will avoid tickets).

    You keep cars a long time, Steve. Either get a hybrid or an EV, it will be the gift that keeps on giving in terms of fuel savings. Also in terms of brake pads and rotors. It saves nearly half the fuel bill of an equivalent vehicle and more if you can do some basic hypermiling.

    It hardly rains in LA and probably never gets icy, so why get AWD? The key advantage of AWD is wet road safety, or rather ability to push the vehicle's capability in the wet and not pay the penalty. Great in snow or ice as well of course.

    I really don’t like the lane assist. If I want to cut corners, I want to be able to.

    Yeah, but it’s more complicated than we know. When I mentioned it last fall, Achmed filled in the algos and methods on the whole thing, the damned thing is quite complex, insanely so for a lousy passenger car. I have all stability controls turned off in my car, the AWD and backup cam and bluetooth for my phone is quite enough. I even use my own Garmin Nuvi up on the dash, mostly as a mileage counter and speed limit indicator instead of the in-dash GPS in the car. I go up and down the East Coast between NH and Chesapeake a couple times a year, no GPS needed for navigating. Agree about the atrophy of skills of course, it isn’t as if the Yewts that have grown up with this stuff have that anyway. I keep a 2004 Outback wagon with a 5 speed manual for the ugly weather and driving around here and I hear not many folks much under my age have a clue what to do with a clutch, heh.. My kid learned to drive on my 5 Speed Toyotas, got her license in mine. She says none of her friends know clutches. Her hubby is a Mustang guy, his is a 6-manual with a clutch.

    I must admit, the automatic is sweet however, especially when I have to drive through the traffic-infested, Third-World shithole that is Fairfax County, Northern Virginia.

  126. @Jack D

    Regarding all wheel drive, in addition to being useful in snow, it helps you accelerate into traffic in a pinch.
     
    Completely false. If anything it slows you down because of the added weight.

    As for usefulness in snow, a set of snow tires is better. And remember that AWD does nothing for braking in the snow.

    For California, AWD is a complete waste unless maybe if you go skiing a lot.

    Before getting an all wheel drive Subaru, I test drove a two wheel drive Lexus. The dealership was on a busy highway (NJ-17), and I gunned the engine to merge and felt the drive wheels spin before getting traction. No snow when that happened. That never happened with my Subaru.

    What may be confusing you is the Subaru Legacy base models have relatively small engines, which don’t have a lot of acceleration. But I got the 3.6L H-6.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    They have killed the H-6 in favor of a turbo H-4 in the new 2020 Legacy. The reviewers have panned it in general.

    Personally I like AWD and have it (my wife absolutely insisted) but "experts" say you get more benefit from snow tire than you do from AWD. I test drove the H-6 Legacy and I didn't DISlike it but it was kind of bland. I had the chance to buy an AWD Genesis G80 "demo" with 1,000 miles on it, end of model year for the same $ as a new Legacy and I jumped at it - there was no comparison in the level of sound damping, the quality of the interior, etc. (which makes sense because the G80 is over $10K more on the sticker). When I go into a pothole I hear the tire thump but don't actually feel it in the car.
  127. @The Wild Geese Howard

    I don’t care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage.
     
    Correct.

    Every hose, gasket, and seal on that vehicle is suspect purely due to age. God knows what kind of detritus has collected in the bottom of the radiator, master brake cylinder, and power steering reservoir.

    I let my mechanics talk me into fixing all the leaks in the 1998 I30 about 6 months ago, as a reward for the good work they’d been doing. But it wound up being way too ambitious for a car that isn’t worth much on the used market because its upholstery is totally shot. They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
    No worries Steve, my father is in similar straits with his 2005 Chevy Colorado.

    He doesn't want a full-sized truck, but his current vehicle is a money pit. I'm trying to convince him to get a late model Nissan Frontier, which is the last actual mid-sized pickup sold in the US.

    As for me, I'm blessed enough to drive an orange BMW. When behind the wheel it's literally impossible to stop smiling.

    Mercedes thinks highly enough of the Pentastar V6 to base the GLC300/GL43 AMG engine on it:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5qCWJcWLo8&t
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pbv1a7cyIyw&t=3s

    As for the sedans outhandle SUV crowd, they'd be surprised what automotive engineers can achieve these days:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RVr8XkeuKA&t

    The Macan Turbo was only 0.4s behind a purpose built BMW M2 sports coupe with room for all of my women. I'd say those Porsche engineers deserve a huge bonus.
    , @Jenner Ickham Errican

    They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.
     
    Enough uncertainty, it’s not principled. Make like Heisenberg:

    https://youtu.be/-NxsyC4kVPM?t=13
    , @Desiderius
    The 2020 Genesis G90 is the Luxury Sedan for Eisenhower Voters

    https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a30222857/2020-genesis-g90-drive/

    , @donvonburg
    Resale is the wrong metric. A good shop can fix the seats or you can get a fresher pair from a wrecking yard and have them swapped out. The car could go another fifty to a hundred thousand miles, though Infiniti's are not as known as Lexuses for high reliability with a lot of miles on them.

    I don't want the new driver assistance tech because I know I'll start relying on it and then one time it won't work and I'm going to have a wreck. ABS and traction control are bad enough.

    The only significance resale value should play is that you do not want to spend vastly more than the car is "worth" because if the car is stolen or totaled the insurance will significantly underpay what you have invested. Other than that, keeping the old car going is usually the financially best option unless there is serious collision damage or rust or the car is a real lemon designwise. That's especially true of Japanese cars since a bad engine or trans can be cheaply replaced with a low mileage JDM unit in many cases.

    Depreciation is the single biggest expense most car owners will deal with and why I will never buy a new car unless tax deductions make it financially super attractive (which will never apply to me: you'd have to be on a 1099 in a job where driving is central to the job and earning a lot of money from it at that). Plus which, I actually hate new car smell, unless it's a Roller or Ferrari with all leather interior. Regular new car smell (which you can actually buy in an aerosol can, by the way) is plastics outgassing toxic aldehydes and aromatics. Sales taxes and registration is another thing I don't like about new cars, either. They are high. And they go for nonsense in most cases. I don't mind paying for the upkeep of roads, but I do mind much of the other city and county nonsense these taxes go to.
  128. @Jack D

    The marginal climb up into the crossover SUV’s gets to be a little easier than the sideways shuffle into sedans.
     
    From experience in getting my 97 year old MIL in and out of a sedan vs a minivan, I would say the opposite. Gravity is against you in climbing up into a higher vehicle. But she is short and so hitting her head on the roof of the sedan is not an issue.

    Unfortunately, many modern sedans have adopted "4 door coupe" styling. Basically this means that the roofline is really low. Not entirely coincidentally, sedan sales have tanked. A low floor in a car is really a good idea (center of gravity and all that). A low roof - not so much.

    I keep a really small folding step stool in my SUV to get my mid nineties mom in and out. Works like a charm and a lot easier on the back than twisting & hauling up from a sedan seat.

  129. @Johann Ricke

    Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one – they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.
     
    Sounds like he deliberately crashed it in the expectation that his parents would buy him a replacement.

    I doubt this. His parents were in no position to buy him a car. It was one of those from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generations thing. Grandpa was a real self made man who took himself from ghetto poverty to corporate executive by way of engineering school but while he was in the process of making himself he didn’t have a lot of time for his kids. If his parents had $ then my MIL wouldn’t have given the kid the car in the 1st place.

    My guess is that it was the usual combination of speed plus alcohol or drugs. He wasn’t hurt so thank God for that. I doubt that he was carrying collision insurance on the car but maybe he was. I’m not close to the family so I don’t know the details. My MIL has heard from her stepson only once since the funeral, when his son’s baby mama had a baby. The sad thing is that this trash is the closest that my MIL has gotten to being a great grandmother. All of her blood grandchildren with the fancy law degrees and PhDs and such have forgotten to reproduce.

  130. @Dave Pinsen
    Before getting an all wheel drive Subaru, I test drove a two wheel drive Lexus. The dealership was on a busy highway (NJ-17), and I gunned the engine to merge and felt the drive wheels spin before getting traction. No snow when that happened. That never happened with my Subaru.

    What may be confusing you is the Subaru Legacy base models have relatively small engines, which don’t have a lot of acceleration. But I got the 3.6L H-6.

    They have killed the H-6 in favor of a turbo H-4 in the new 2020 Legacy. The reviewers have panned it in general.

    Personally I like AWD and have it (my wife absolutely insisted) but “experts” say you get more benefit from snow tire than you do from AWD. I test drove the H-6 Legacy and I didn’t DISlike it but it was kind of bland. I had the chance to buy an AWD Genesis G80 “demo” with 1,000 miles on it, end of model year for the same $ as a new Legacy and I jumped at it – there was no comparison in the level of sound damping, the quality of the interior, etc. (which makes sense because the G80 is over $10K more on the sticker). When I go into a pothole I hear the tire thump but don’t actually feel it in the car.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    AWD gives you more traction snow or not. That’s why the old supercar the Porsche 959 had it, not because it was meant for ski trips. I remember by auto teacher in high school raving about how it could transfer power to the wheels that grip and now it’s a common feature.

    AWD versus snow tires is a false dichotomy: you could do both, but I don’t think snow tires are common in this area.

    I currently have a 2010 Legacy H-6, which was hard to find even when I got it in 2012. It was almost all H-4s, and I don’t recall any being turbo then. It’s been a good car, but it seems like nearly every oil change at the dealer ends up costing $1k+.
  131. @YetAnotherAnon
    Why not "Merkel's Meshuga" then? Trips off the tongue. Does it need the s on the end?

    Mishegas is the noun form, meshuga the adj. form. Merkel’s Nuts =Merkel’s meshuga. Merkel’s Nuttiness = Merkel’s Mishegas.

  132. @Steve Sailer
    I let my mechanics talk me into fixing all the leaks in the 1998 I30 about 6 months ago, as a reward for the good work they'd been doing. But it wound up being way too ambitious for a car that isn't worth much on the used market because its upholstery is totally shot. They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.

    No worries Steve, my father is in similar straits with his 2005 Chevy Colorado.

    He doesn’t want a full-sized truck, but his current vehicle is a money pit. I’m trying to convince him to get a late model Nissan Frontier, which is the last actual mid-sized pickup sold in the US.

    As for me, I’m blessed enough to drive an orange BMW. When behind the wheel it’s literally impossible to stop smiling.

    Mercedes thinks highly enough of the Pentastar V6 to base the GLC300/GL43 AMG engine on it:

    As for the sedans outhandle SUV crowd, they’d be surprised what automotive engineers can achieve these days:

    The Macan Turbo was only 0.4s behind a purpose built BMW M2 sports coupe with room for all of my women. I’d say those Porsche engineers deserve a huge bonus.

  133. @Neoconned
    UFor some bizarre reason I've been cursed for most of my adult life with Ford's....i cant wait to buy a newer model Toyota and then buy a junker like a small pick up like a Ford Ranger as a back up vehicle

    If I had to nail down specific models.. Camry or Corolla....

    I’ve had Fords for 25 years now. They’ve been uniformly reliable. They know how to make a pick up truck for sure. My last one did 205 k in 15 years until the salted roads around here did their work.
    Never gave me a moment’s trouble.
    My wife had a Windstar for nine years. Never could live it, but it was dead reliable, unlike the Chrysler we replaced it with.
    Nothing wrong with Ford, but almost everyone makes a good car these days.

  134. @S. Dangerfield
    Steve,

    Other folks have already gotten to it, but let me add myself to the Avalon chorus.

    It makes a very nice dignified old man’s car while remaining extremely reliable and practical. It’s luxurious but not ostentatious, and is likely to be significantly less expensive to maintain than one of the 2.0t pleather sedans from most luxury marques.

    It also ranks very high (14th I believe) on Frank Dubois/AU’s American made auto index.

    There are some very good deals to be found as they come off-lease. For example, I picked up a 2015 model last year - the lessee had put only 12k miles on it in three years. The original sticker on the car was a hair shy of $40k and I picked it up for ~$22k. Have since put nearly 30k miles on it and only getting happier with the purchase.

    Favorite things:

    The V6 is smooth and very torquey and my wife has commented on several occasions that the car’s acceleration scares her if she mashes the peddle for, e.g. a high speed merge. Contrast this to the horrible, whiney, fake-mpg 2.0ts found in practically every car and cuv these days

    The transmission is an old school 6 speed and is similarly smooth. Contrast this to the CVTs found in so many other new cars. My belief is that half the reason for these is the meager low end torque of the turbo’d engines, and as such you are constantly driving at 2500-3k rpm. Noisy, rough, rubber band-esque acceleration, say I.

    Rear seats are, as Lot said, the best I’ve seen in any car. Four 6’3” men can ride comfortably, really! Two couples extremely comfortably - as in, full leg stretch for ladies in the back. My wife and I were upgraded by Sixt in Munich last year to a 7 series. We did a couple thousand euro-miles over two weeks, and at the end she and our traveling companions said the backseat in the Avalon was more comfortable (!).

    Incredibly quiet on the highway. They must be using some serious seals and low STC glass. People regularly notice and comment.

    City MPG (driving aggressively) is 23. Highway is 31 at 80 mph, can sneak it up to 35 if driving gently.

    My car missed it, but I believe in 2016 Toyota introduced across its entire line something called STAR safety, a suite of features including collision avoidance/braking. I think the Avalon also got radar cruise control and lane departure. These are neat but in my experience (e.g. the beemer above) they just beep at you endlessly and you turn them off.

    One gripe is that my car happened to be a limited trim, which does very little for you (heated rear seats, and you’re in SoCal) but comes with 19” wheels. This reduces the tire walls and roughens the ride. I’d stick with the XLE and enjoy the smoother city ride.

    Lastly, I discovered Jack Baruth through you several years ago - he is great and I am now a loyal reader. His last two posts on his personal riverside green site - re: the Peloton brouhaha and Greta - were particularly incisive.

    Merry Christmas Steve. I will get around to topping up the new car fund.

    Couldn’t agree more about Jack Baruth.

  135. @Achmed E. Newman
    Steve, I don't know what kind of SUVs you mean. Right now, everyone and his soccer wife is getting one of those "crossovers" or small SUVs. If you are going to be an old man, aren't you worried about getting into those SUVs, which are up kind of high? The crossovers are up ~ 6" over a sedan but are still lower than the big SUVs and especially the new monster pick-ups where some people need a small step ladder.

    Those crossovers like Toyota Rav4s, Honda CRVs, and Hyundai Tuscon/Santa Fe's are pretty nice and pretty decent on gas mileage (22 to 25 mpg in the city and > 32 on the highway). None of them have any good view out the rear or anywhere from 3 O'clock to 9 O'clock. Make sure you get one with that back-up camera - it's necessary now.

    As El Data said, you probably don't want your car to be one big smart-phone on wheels, so maybe you should go for a 2 y/o one from Car Max or, better yet, someone you know. A mechanic friend says that the Hyundais and Kias have got the quality up to Toyota level, but at a cheaper price, as this is not known yet.

    Heads-up displays are find for airliners in SE Alaska, but they will be a distraction just like all the rest of the electronic crap.

    You should also take any car you want to buy to your mechanic and have him check it over. I was hot to buy a Honda Pilot until my mechanic inspected it and said literally, “Don’t buy this car” and then listed the $2700 of work it needed. I passed. Money well spent.

    • Agree: Achmed E. Newman
  136. @Lot
    “ especially if it gets you some special HOV access.”

    Great reason for certain commuters, but:

    1. Steve can time his trips for off peak traffic

    2. His longer trips likely often feature family

    3. Some LA HOV lanes let solos pay to drive. It actually is so low it seems odd there aren’t more users. For example, the peak charge to go from Long Beach to Downtown on the 110 is about $12, and transforms an hour of bad traffic to 20 minutes of cruising at 50mph. With the gas savings included, you’d have to value your time near the local minimum wage not to do it.

    They raise the price to the level that allows traffic to cleanly flow on the HOV lane to not defeat the point of encouraging carpoolers and electric cars.

    In any case, I don’t think Tesla has ever met its goal of selling its 3 for $30,000, and currently is only selling optioned out ones for 40k+.

    Electric car drivers I know do love them. Don’t know anyone with a Tesla 3, but Tesla S, Leaf, and Chevy Volt owners are all really happy.

    In a pinch, there’s also the Larry David method to hire a hooker to carpool lane with you.

    http://images.tvfanatic.com/iu/t_full_l/v1371212928/car-pool-lane-picture.png

    Years ago here in the Imperial Capital some guy got busted for being in the HOV-2 lane. Turns out traffic stopped for some reason and a cop next to him noticed that his passenger was a dummy. I think he got life with no parole.

  137. Since no one else has mentioned it, I would like to recall the disturbing Buzzfeed article in which Katie McHugh first began to testify against her former colleagues at Breitbart. As many people noticed, in the picture she has fake eyebrows on. Her hair was literally falling out due to illness or stress.

    The CNN article makes a small nod to this reality at the end: “She has diabetes, alopecia and other medical issues. She has no permanent home right now and only a part-time job…”

    So I would suggest that she is now an economic hostage to her media handlers.

  138. @Jack D

    Regarding all wheel drive, in addition to being useful in snow, it helps you accelerate into traffic in a pinch.
     
    Completely false. If anything it slows you down because of the added weight.

    As for usefulness in snow, a set of snow tires is better. And remember that AWD does nothing for braking in the snow.

    For California, AWD is a complete waste unless maybe if you go skiing a lot.

    As for usefulness in snow, a set of snow tires is better.

    Wrong. Modern AWD systems send more power to any of the wheels with surface grip. Ever back out of a slippery driveway with a small bank of snowplow snow at the end? The rear wheels can actively grip the plowed road surface and pull the car into the street. Much better than relying on only the front wheels to push and steer the car.

    For California, AWD is a complete waste

    Wrong. Driving through a downpour is safer with intelligent AWD. A puddle may cover half a lane, but either both port or starboard wheels will still have traction.

    “experts” say you get more benefit from snow tires than you do from AWD

    Ahh, the quotes are appropriate.

  139. @Jack D
    They have killed the H-6 in favor of a turbo H-4 in the new 2020 Legacy. The reviewers have panned it in general.

    Personally I like AWD and have it (my wife absolutely insisted) but "experts" say you get more benefit from snow tire than you do from AWD. I test drove the H-6 Legacy and I didn't DISlike it but it was kind of bland. I had the chance to buy an AWD Genesis G80 "demo" with 1,000 miles on it, end of model year for the same $ as a new Legacy and I jumped at it - there was no comparison in the level of sound damping, the quality of the interior, etc. (which makes sense because the G80 is over $10K more on the sticker). When I go into a pothole I hear the tire thump but don't actually feel it in the car.

    AWD gives you more traction snow or not. That’s why the old supercar the Porsche 959 had it, not because it was meant for ski trips. I remember by auto teacher in high school raving about how it could transfer power to the wheels that grip and now it’s a common feature.

    AWD versus snow tires is a false dichotomy: you could do both, but I don’t think snow tires are common in this area.

    I currently have a 2010 Legacy H-6, which was hard to find even when I got it in 2012. It was almost all H-4s, and I don’t recall any being turbo then. It’s been a good car, but it seems like nearly every oil change at the dealer ends up costing $1k+.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Then don't take it to the dealer. The tire places will change the oil for $20.

    Look closely at the maintenance schedule in the owners manual. The things that say Replace you should absolutely do - things like filter changes. Those that say inspect ( other than fluids) you can mostly skip unless there are symptoms. Usually they will check your fluids for free.
    , @Jack D
    Turbos were not available in the Legacy until this year. The H6 was the upgrade engine, otherwise a nonturbo H4. Turbo 4s are all over the place now. The Germans put them in $70k cars. They have great power and low end torque but I question their long term durability.
  140. @Steve Sailer
    I drove stick shifts until I was 40, but I'm an automatic man now.

    I drove stick shifts until I was 40, but I’m an automatic man now.

    As a former stick-driver, you’re gonna hate the CVTs, Steve. The damned things are always searching, rowing, looking for the fuel-economy sweet spot. Annoying as hell.

  141. @Steve Sailer
    I let my mechanics talk me into fixing all the leaks in the 1998 I30 about 6 months ago, as a reward for the good work they'd been doing. But it wound up being way too ambitious for a car that isn't worth much on the used market because its upholstery is totally shot. They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.

    They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.

    Enough uncertainty, it’s not principled. Make like Heisenberg:

  142. @Jack D
    Those late '90s Japanese cars will turn out to be the high water mark of automotive reliability, up there with W124 Mercedes. Soon after, the bean counters decided that these cars were TOO good and could be "decontented". What is the point of making your car twice as durable as any other car on the market instead of only 50% more reliable. You won't get any extra credit for it in the market and you can save money by making the car less good.

    When my wife's stepfather died a few years ago, his wife (my MIL) gave his car, a late '90s Lexus ES300 to one of his grandsons. That thing was bulletproof - it would have gone a million miles. I think up to that point it had never needed a major repair. I don't think it even needed a MINOR repair, just routine filter changes and such. Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one - they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.

    I know a guy who works at a Lexus dealership, a mechanic. He said the only time you would see a Lexus being towed would be as a result of a flat battery.

    • Replies: @Ali Choudhury
    Or when a tyre blows out as happened to me.
  143. @Achmed E. Newman
    And now, as we do each week here on the iSteve threads, here is our Peak Stupidity long distance dedication. Today we hear about Katie McHugh, spurned by her alt-right lovers at Breitbart. She is on a long road to recovery and has found a new journalistic life in which she spends her time leaking out private emails and pouring out her pain in daily tweets.

    Though he is happily married, Katie cannot help but once in a while mention her unrequited love of one of the soon-to-be-crossover-driving scions of the alt-right, who goes by the name of iSteve. From one of his commenters, far away in fly-over/crossover country, comes this long distance dedication for tonight.

    Katie McHugh, Steve Sailer, and all members in good and bad standing of the alt-right, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDyTcDqW7kU

    Oh, I thought McHugh was a brunette but she must be a redhead if Sailer had an affair with her.

  144. @Steve Sailer
    That was my impression: the Japanese by the late 1990s had the world's best automotive assembly line workers. So the Japanese strategy after the Reagan protectionist quotas became to set up final assembly plants for mainstream brands like Nissan in the US while luxury brands like Infiniti were built in Japan. A pretty decent system, I figured.

    Is the distinction still so clear cut? Have the American plants gotten better so they can build luxury brands here, or have they just cheapened their luxury brands?

    That’s still basically the case.

    What’s changed are SUVs, which greatly outsell large cars now. Lexus is sticking to Japanese plants for its top end GX and LX models and makes the RX crossover in both Japan and Canada.

    Japanese brand made-in-America cars are plenty good enough for worldwide export. Two examples: the Acura RDX crossover and NSX $160,000 supercar are both made in Ohio.

    Here’s a pack of NSXs in Le Mons, France for a meeting of the European NSX club.

  145. @Dave Pinsen
    AWD gives you more traction snow or not. That’s why the old supercar the Porsche 959 had it, not because it was meant for ski trips. I remember by auto teacher in high school raving about how it could transfer power to the wheels that grip and now it’s a common feature.

    AWD versus snow tires is a false dichotomy: you could do both, but I don’t think snow tires are common in this area.

    I currently have a 2010 Legacy H-6, which was hard to find even when I got it in 2012. It was almost all H-4s, and I don’t recall any being turbo then. It’s been a good car, but it seems like nearly every oil change at the dealer ends up costing $1k+.

    Then don’t take it to the dealer. The tire places will change the oil for $20.

    Look closely at the maintenance schedule in the owners manual. The things that say Replace you should absolutely do – things like filter changes. Those that say inspect ( other than fluids) you can mostly skip unless there are symptoms. Usually they will check your fluids for free.

  146. @Dave Pinsen
    AWD gives you more traction snow or not. That’s why the old supercar the Porsche 959 had it, not because it was meant for ski trips. I remember by auto teacher in high school raving about how it could transfer power to the wheels that grip and now it’s a common feature.

    AWD versus snow tires is a false dichotomy: you could do both, but I don’t think snow tires are common in this area.

    I currently have a 2010 Legacy H-6, which was hard to find even when I got it in 2012. It was almost all H-4s, and I don’t recall any being turbo then. It’s been a good car, but it seems like nearly every oil change at the dealer ends up costing $1k+.

    Turbos were not available in the Legacy until this year. The H6 was the upgrade engine, otherwise a nonturbo H4. Turbo 4s are all over the place now. The Germans put them in $70k cars. They have great power and low end torque but I question their long term durability.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Turbochargers are like spark plugs, a life limited item, just more expensive. Plan on a replacement once or twice in the car's lifetime.
  147. My company has company cars and due to the massive amounts of miles we drive, we cycle through them pretty aggressively. I recently got a Chevy Malibu, which at first seemed frustratingly bland. HOWEVER, it had lane assist (ie would “track” the white Lines on highway) and proximity assist (you could set for close, mid and far and if something veered into your lane it automatically slowed for you). At first I thought it was a nifty feature, like a fun but ultimately frivolous quirk. They replaced my Malibu with a Ford Escape lacking those two features and it’s MONUMENTAL.
    At first they are vaguely annoying but then you quickyp grow to adore them. Proximity control is a must if you drive in stop-and-go

  148. 1. test drive the 2018 or later Toyota’s–they all have Toyota Safety Sense, and it is a game changer. The Kia Honda etc version may be even better, but I think that you will need to buy 2018 or later regardless of the brands. (Not all makers made their safety sense standard as early as 2018, so beware.)

    2. 2018 Camrys have a lower profile–low enough that some sixty somethings decided to buy SUV’s.

    3. An Avalon with TSS would suit you but it would be expensive.

    4. Evaluate if the evolution of Safety Sense will be substantive enough that you might need , say, the 2022 version. Maybe you just buy a transition car, but I think you are going to love 2018 Toyota Safety Sense

  149. @Jack D
    Those late '90s Japanese cars will turn out to be the high water mark of automotive reliability, up there with W124 Mercedes. Soon after, the bean counters decided that these cars were TOO good and could be "decontented". What is the point of making your car twice as durable as any other car on the market instead of only 50% more reliable. You won't get any extra credit for it in the market and you can save money by making the car less good.

    When my wife's stepfather died a few years ago, his wife (my MIL) gave his car, a late '90s Lexus ES300 to one of his grandsons. That thing was bulletproof - it would have gone a million miles. I think up to that point it had never needed a major repair. I don't think it even needed a MINOR repair, just routine filter changes and such. Even things that normally break on lesser cars, water pumps and wheel bearings and such, never broke on this one - they had specced the highest quality Japanese parts available, no scrimping. About a month later, I heard that he had flipped it and totalled it.

    I had a ‘95 ES 300. Great car.

  150. anon[169] • Disclaimer says:

    A lot to consider… It’s likely going to be the last car you’ll buy for yourself, if not due to old age, then due to emerging self-driving technology. Considering where gas prices/taxes could be headed in California and the unpredictablility of building out of charging stations, I suggest your family have at least one hybrid, but more preferably, a plug-in hybrid. Good luck

  151. @Steve Sailer
    I let my mechanics talk me into fixing all the leaks in the 1998 I30 about 6 months ago, as a reward for the good work they'd been doing. But it wound up being way too ambitious for a car that isn't worth much on the used market because its upholstery is totally shot. They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.

    The 2020 Genesis G90 is the Luxury Sedan for Eisenhower Voters

    https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a30222857/2020-genesis-g90-drive/

    • Replies: @Jack D
    The G90 is a big car, corresponding to the BMW 7 series or an Audi A8 or a Mercedes S class. This is really more car than Steve needs (or probably wants to pay for). A G80 is plenty big enough (roomier than a BMW 5 series) and even a G70 (3 series size) is big enough if you don't make frequent use of the back seat.

    In Korea, people who are given executive and top executive class sedans by their companies are also often given drivers so both the G80 and G90 have particularly nice back seats and HVAC that the rear passenger can independently control. The German makers figure that the owner is going to be driving himself so they don't pay much attention to rear seat room and comfort until you get to the S Class/7 series level.

  152. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    If you can afford the Tesla and if an electric car fits your driving pattern, I’d get one, but keep in mind that depreciation and battery life cycle costs will negate the fuel savings even in high fuel priced Hitlerfornia. If you only charge it offpeak, you are voting for nuclear power with your wallet, because ultimately that’s what electric cars will mean.

    Lowest cost option is, as others have said, a clean ten year old Lexus. It will go another ten to fifteen with no trouble. Mid-90s to mid-00s was the golden age of reliability for Hondas and Toyotas, according to Scotty, the YouTube maven on such things. Infiniti/Nissans are not so reliable, neither are Subarus.

    Then again, you’re at the age that you might as well just get whatever you want. Personally I don’t like all that high tech crap and would rather have an updated old car and a small Honda or Toyota as a backup, (especially in a market where snow, road salt, etc are not considerations-and if it’s pre-whatever-year you get no smog checks!) but that’s not you. It’s your money, spend it how it makes you happy.

    But if you lose a fortune to depreciation you’ll feel like a schmuck in the morning….trust me;-) …

  153. @Jack D
    Turbos were not available in the Legacy until this year. The H6 was the upgrade engine, otherwise a nonturbo H4. Turbo 4s are all over the place now. The Germans put them in $70k cars. They have great power and low end torque but I question their long term durability.

    Turbochargers are like spark plugs, a life limited item, just more expensive. Plan on a replacement once or twice in the car’s lifetime.

  154. Merkel’s Mistake

    So “Merkel’s Boner” has been completely memory-holed?
    Sad.
    I always liked the penetrating imagery of Merkel grabbing her strap-on and shouting, “BOHICA, Germany!” Rammed home the understanding of what she was doing to her country quite forcefully.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Merkelamity

    Merkellapse
  155. @Jack D
    I don't care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage. A 20 year old car that is not a collector car, even an S class Mercedes, is worth $3 or 4K. The market doesn't car what a cream puff this car is. The used car dealer is delusional if he thinks anyone (other than a big sucker) is going to pay him $15k for a 20 year old car. He probably paid the previous owner $2,000 for it, which is its trade-in value.

    The used car dealer is delusional

    Aren’t they all?

    Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage.

    True. Rubber dries out. Seals start leaking. Hoses are cracked. Struts need replacing. Control arm bushings are probably shot, or will be in the next 5 or 10,000 miles. It all depends how it was stored and maintained. Many of these older Mercedes have spent most their life in some retiree’s garage, were previously loved and only driven in the sunshine. It will definitely need all the fluids changed. A/C probably needs a new expansion valve, receiver drier and a few o-rings. I’d take a wire brush to all the electrical connections, especially the ground straps, and the fuses. The head liner might even need replacing. All these things are worth doing on a car with 24,000 miles. Probably cost 2500 dollars over the next year or so to shake out all the bugs. On a 1998 with almost 270,000 miles… different story.

    $15k is asking for the moon… $5,000 is more realistic.

    In May of 2019, the average price of a new car purchased in the U.S. was $36,718.

    That 2000 Benz MSRP’d for 70k.

    It was made in Germany. (Not Alabama, Georgia or South Carolina.)

  156. @Corvinus
    "These cars are already 15 years old."

    But if it is low mileage, and has been gently used, it's good to go.

    "Steve already has a 15 year old car that is better than the one you are suggesting he replace it with."

    He has over 250,000 miles on it. His vehicle is on its last legs.

    "Generally speaking, it NEVER pays to replace your car. Even if it needs major work, it’s STILL cheaper than buying a whole new car."

    Not if major repairs add up--$2000 here, a grand there. Today's vehicles are manufactured well, with proper maintenance you can drive it into the ground between 250 to 300k miles.

    Perhaps Mr. Sailer could go green or use Uber. But the Bonneville fits him to a T.

    Perhaps Mr. Sailer could go green or use Uber. But the Bonneville fits him to a T.

    I think you mean to a D.

    As in “Deathtrap.”

    If you get broadsided in an old Bonneville, the ambulance guys will extract you with a sump pump.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "I think you mean to a D. As in “Deathtrap. If you get broadsided in an old Bonneville, the ambulance guys will extract you with a sump pump."

    Sources?
  157. @Steve Sailer
    I let my mechanics talk me into fixing all the leaks in the 1998 I30 about 6 months ago, as a reward for the good work they'd been doing. But it wound up being way too ambitious for a car that isn't worth much on the used market because its upholstery is totally shot. They wound up doing about $1500 worth of work, but only charged me $850.

    So, the car drives very nicely at present. But I should have sold it instead of investing in it.

    Resale is the wrong metric. A good shop can fix the seats or you can get a fresher pair from a wrecking yard and have them swapped out. The car could go another fifty to a hundred thousand miles, though Infiniti’s are not as known as Lexuses for high reliability with a lot of miles on them.

    I don’t want the new driver assistance tech because I know I’ll start relying on it and then one time it won’t work and I’m going to have a wreck. ABS and traction control are bad enough.

    The only significance resale value should play is that you do not want to spend vastly more than the car is “worth” because if the car is stolen or totaled the insurance will significantly underpay what you have invested. Other than that, keeping the old car going is usually the financially best option unless there is serious collision damage or rust or the car is a real lemon designwise. That’s especially true of Japanese cars since a bad engine or trans can be cheaply replaced with a low mileage JDM unit in many cases.

    Depreciation is the single biggest expense most car owners will deal with and why I will never buy a new car unless tax deductions make it financially super attractive (which will never apply to me: you’d have to be on a 1099 in a job where driving is central to the job and earning a lot of money from it at that). Plus which, I actually hate new car smell, unless it’s a Roller or Ferrari with all leather interior. Regular new car smell (which you can actually buy in an aerosol can, by the way) is plastics outgassing toxic aldehydes and aromatics. Sales taxes and registration is another thing I don’t like about new cars, either. They are high. And they go for nonsense in most cases. I don’t mind paying for the upkeep of roads, but I do mind much of the other city and county nonsense these taxes go to.

    • Agree: houston 1992
    • Replies: @Jack D

    Infiniti’s are not as known as Lexuses for high reliability with a lot of miles on them.
     
    As someone pointed out above, the turning point was when Renault and Ghosn took over. Steve's might be old enough that it is not affected.

    I don’t want the new driver assistance tech because I know I’ll start relying on it and then one time it won’t work and I’m going to have a wreck. ABS and traction control are bad enough.
     
    I think you are wrong about this. Statistically, this tech is proven to save lives. Everyone thinks that THEY are an above average driver and don't need help, but half of them must be wrong. You should continue to drive pretty much the way that you always have driven and if you get to the brake pedal before the stop assist system then it won't even kick in.

    It sounds to me like Steve's main problem with the car right now is the seats so he should fix/replace the seats. California cars don't get a lot of rust but the sun is brutal on interiors. Garage kept cars from the Northeast and Midwest are often full of rust due to road salt but the upholstery looks good, so maybe he could get seats shipped from further east. As you point out, just the sales tax on a new car is going to be more than the cost of replacement seats.
  158. @Anonymous

    Merkel’s Mistake
     
    So "Merkel's Boner" has been completely memory-holed?
    Sad.
    I always liked the penetrating imagery of Merkel grabbing her strap-on and shouting, "BOHICA, Germany!" Rammed home the understanding of what she was doing to her country quite forcefully.

    Merkelamity

    Merkellapse

  159. Don’t test drive a Tesla, particularly the Model S. It drives like nothing you’ve ever tried before. It’s their secret killer feature.

    If you do test drive one, you’ll end up buying one, like I did. Who wants a barely legal computer-controlled rocket car from the future? Actually, if you asked the question of who bought one in a forum a couple of years ago, about one-third of the people who responded were Air Force pilots. Do you really want a car that would satisfy their need for speed?

    If you feel yourself wavering, listen to all the FUD published by the Big automakers. Here at iSteve, we always fall under the spell of propaganda, and we never think for ourselves. No reason to start now.

    Anyway, for God’s sake don’t take a test drive.

  160. cheaply replaced with a low mileage JDM unit

    This warrants further explanation for those not familiar. Japan is a small crowded country so cars tend not to pile up a lot of mileage. A lot of people commute by train and don’t use their cars every day.

    Japan has very rigorous vehicle inspection requirements (ostensibly for “safety”, actually to drive new car sales) so after a few years it costs more to have the car inspected and everything restored to like new condition as required by the inspection laws than the car is worth.

    At that point either the car is exported to a poorer country (for a while that was the Russian Far East until they decided that they wanted to promote their own auto industry) or else it is junked. In the latter case, the engines and transmissions are removed – some of these are exported to America as “crate engines”. If your Japanese car is in need of serious engine work, given American labor costs, it may be cheaper just to replace the whole engine with a low mileage JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) one. There are importers who specialize in selling such engines – they have an inventory of engines for virtually any Japanese car.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    This is similar to the British expedient of sentencing a criminal to transportation for stealing a loaf of bread. It wasn't because they were heartless bastards, it was because TPTB wanted their colonies populated.
  161. @The Wild Geese Howard

    I don’t care how few miles that car has. Some things deteriorate by age, not mileage.
     
    Correct.

    Every hose, gasket, and seal on that vehicle is suspect purely due to age. God knows what kind of detritus has collected in the bottom of the radiator, master brake cylinder, and power steering reservoir.

    God knows what kind of detritus has collected in the bottom of the radiator, master brake cylinder, and power steering reservoir.

    If only there were some way to change those fluids. Too bad it’s impossible.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

    If only there were some way to change those fluids. Too bad it’s impossible.
     
    My implication was that are significant costs and time penalties for performing that work whether one goes DIY or to a shop.

    DIY has become even less fun because these days DIYers need locate places that will dispose of the waste properly. No more chucking everything in the town dump Saturday morning.

    In most cases one can plan on needing to schedule an appointment and paying additional fees for the privilege of having your automotive waste disposed of properly.
  162. @Mr McKenna

    Brave, the Official Web Browser of the Alt Right.
     
    Whoa, way to put the Brave Browser in an early grave! Keep it quiet!

    (Steve:)


    I like a smooth ride.
     
    Ah, I know what you're looking for, then! It's not a car, it's a country. A country called called Denmark, Germany, or Switzerland.

    My own city has stopped paving its roads because funds are needed for more pressing social programs. And it's a well-known fact that only suburban right-wingers care about smooth roads.

    But seriously! Aren't people a wiser investment than asphalt?? Build bridges slush funds not walls! As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.

    And...America's increasingly decrepit roadways are yet another reason people have migrated to SUVs. Though if they have low-profile tires it sort of defeats the purpose.

    As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.

    I would take that bet.
    Road maintenance is a highly profitable business that creates a considerable number of well-paid blue-collar jobs. Northern-European politicians are all Keynesianists in multi-party democracies with well-informed and fickle voters. All three countries you mentioned are transit countries, massive investments in infrastructure are good politics and good policy. Also, European cars are built for well-maintained roads and could not withstand American conditions (hence the high maintenance costs for esp German cars in the US?), which means there’s pressure both from angry car-owners and car-makers to keep the roads up to standards.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    German cars are made for German drivers, German roads, and importantly, German maintenance.

    Car mechanics in America, despite all the folderol, are basically pretty proletarian. In Germany, many of the sort of people who would be liberal arts bachelor's degree holders here go to the German version of vo-tech, often a four or five year apprentice/certificate program starting with basic mechanical and metalworking skills (which US car mechanics are generally deficient at) and getting very in depth usually with a particular manufacturer's product line. Auto maintenance is a much more middle class career over there and a good mechanic will very often retire out of the same business at which he started: rarely will one work at more than a few shops over the course of a career.

    So complex mechanical systems that baffle US shops are routine for the Germans. I get tool catalogs from Euro-car tool suppliers (I'm an occasional buyer of Hazet and Stahlwille tools and tool carts, a shout out to Baum, Assenmacher, and over here, KC Tool in Olathe, KS) and am continually astounded at the price for the needed bits to work on late model Benz, BMW, Porsche/Audi stuff. We're talking specialized tools in price categories you associate with EMD or Pratt and Whitney.

    Also, US spec cars often differ considerably from Euro spec ones, and as one might sneakingly suspect, the US spec cars are never the better engineered of the two. Whereas in Japan, they use the JDM cars to shake down new designs and US spec cars are sometimes the better ones.
  163. The big thing, for me, with new cars is ACC, adaptive cruise control. That means the car slows down when you come up behind a car going slower than you are. In our Subaru Forester, the car will slow down to a stop behind a slower car. It is amazing. In our Honda Fit, the ACC quits at 20 mph with a long beep: Sayonara, pal; pay more for you next car.

  164. @Desiderius
    The 2020 Genesis G90 is the Luxury Sedan for Eisenhower Voters

    https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a30222857/2020-genesis-g90-drive/

    The G90 is a big car, corresponding to the BMW 7 series or an Audi A8 or a Mercedes S class. This is really more car than Steve needs (or probably wants to pay for). A G80 is plenty big enough (roomier than a BMW 5 series) and even a G70 (3 series size) is big enough if you don’t make frequent use of the back seat.

    In Korea, people who are given executive and top executive class sedans by their companies are also often given drivers so both the G80 and G90 have particularly nice back seats and HVAC that the rear passenger can independently control. The German makers figure that the owner is going to be driving himself so they don’t pay much attention to rear seat room and comfort until you get to the S Class/7 series level.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    That’s the joke. Steve’s not really an Eisenhower man. A low mileage ‘17 Cadenza should be about right.

    We like our ‘15 Sorrento. I’d like to update my ‘08 Optima because the newer ones look so much better but it runs too well.

    My uncles started out selling Corvinus’ Bonnevilles (his first comment that dared an original thought, and not far off base if dated) but sometime around the Aztek (the AWFL marketing team GM sent us were pathetic beyond belief) started thinking about exclusively Kia*. They beat GM to the punch by a couple years and they and their customers have never been happier.

    * - I was working there at the time and tried to convince him to pick up Hyundai too but the Koreans hadn’t quite gotten the quality right yet. He now regrets that decision.

  165. @donvonburg
    Resale is the wrong metric. A good shop can fix the seats or you can get a fresher pair from a wrecking yard and have them swapped out. The car could go another fifty to a hundred thousand miles, though Infiniti's are not as known as Lexuses for high reliability with a lot of miles on them.

    I don't want the new driver assistance tech because I know I'll start relying on it and then one time it won't work and I'm going to have a wreck. ABS and traction control are bad enough.

    The only significance resale value should play is that you do not want to spend vastly more than the car is "worth" because if the car is stolen or totaled the insurance will significantly underpay what you have invested. Other than that, keeping the old car going is usually the financially best option unless there is serious collision damage or rust or the car is a real lemon designwise. That's especially true of Japanese cars since a bad engine or trans can be cheaply replaced with a low mileage JDM unit in many cases.

    Depreciation is the single biggest expense most car owners will deal with and why I will never buy a new car unless tax deductions make it financially super attractive (which will never apply to me: you'd have to be on a 1099 in a job where driving is central to the job and earning a lot of money from it at that). Plus which, I actually hate new car smell, unless it's a Roller or Ferrari with all leather interior. Regular new car smell (which you can actually buy in an aerosol can, by the way) is plastics outgassing toxic aldehydes and aromatics. Sales taxes and registration is another thing I don't like about new cars, either. They are high. And they go for nonsense in most cases. I don't mind paying for the upkeep of roads, but I do mind much of the other city and county nonsense these taxes go to.

    Infiniti’s are not as known as Lexuses for high reliability with a lot of miles on them.

    As someone pointed out above, the turning point was when Renault and Ghosn took over. Steve’s might be old enough that it is not affected.

    I don’t want the new driver assistance tech because I know I’ll start relying on it and then one time it won’t work and I’m going to have a wreck. ABS and traction control are bad enough.

    I think you are wrong about this. Statistically, this tech is proven to save lives. Everyone thinks that THEY are an above average driver and don’t need help, but half of them must be wrong. You should continue to drive pretty much the way that you always have driven and if you get to the brake pedal before the stop assist system then it won’t even kick in.

    It sounds to me like Steve’s main problem with the car right now is the seats so he should fix/replace the seats. California cars don’t get a lot of rust but the sun is brutal on interiors. Garage kept cars from the Northeast and Midwest are often full of rust due to road salt but the upholstery looks good, so maybe he could get seats shipped from further east. As you point out, just the sales tax on a new car is going to be more than the cost of replacement seats.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    A good set of neoprene seat covers is worth installing in your car the moment you buy it. They look nice, clean up really easily especially for liquid spills, are quite soft and comfortable and are pretty rugged. The seats look like new when you take the covers off (applies to any cover really).

    As others say, best financial decision is usually to buy a 2-5yo car, then you have a fairly new and safe vehicle, which is also a set of practically new parts. Get rid of it at 15yo or so, before the set of 15 year old parts start dying and your vehicle starts becoming a Theseus car.

    Unless you have moral reasons and financial capacity to buy a hybrid or an electric car to put into the used market. It is people who buy new cars who determine the composition of the vehicle fleet especially if they churn them.
  166. @Jack D

    cheaply replaced with a low mileage JDM unit
     
    This warrants further explanation for those not familiar. Japan is a small crowded country so cars tend not to pile up a lot of mileage. A lot of people commute by train and don't use their cars every day.

    Japan has very rigorous vehicle inspection requirements (ostensibly for "safety", actually to drive new car sales) so after a few years it costs more to have the car inspected and everything restored to like new condition as required by the inspection laws than the car is worth.

    At that point either the car is exported to a poorer country (for a while that was the Russian Far East until they decided that they wanted to promote their own auto industry) or else it is junked. In the latter case, the engines and transmissions are removed - some of these are exported to America as "crate engines". If your Japanese car is in need of serious engine work, given American labor costs, it may be cheaper just to replace the whole engine with a low mileage JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) one. There are importers who specialize in selling such engines - they have an inventory of engines for virtually any Japanese car.

    This is similar to the British expedient of sentencing a criminal to transportation for stealing a loaf of bread. It wasn’t because they were heartless bastards, it was because TPTB wanted their colonies populated.

  167. @Lurker
    I know a guy who works at a Lexus dealership, a mechanic. He said the only time you would see a Lexus being towed would be as a result of a flat battery.

    Or when a tyre blows out as happened to me.

    • Replies: @Lurker
    True. The one thing you can really do nothing about.
  168. Anonymous[316] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    Infiniti’s are not as known as Lexuses for high reliability with a lot of miles on them.
     
    As someone pointed out above, the turning point was when Renault and Ghosn took over. Steve's might be old enough that it is not affected.

    I don’t want the new driver assistance tech because I know I’ll start relying on it and then one time it won’t work and I’m going to have a wreck. ABS and traction control are bad enough.
     
    I think you are wrong about this. Statistically, this tech is proven to save lives. Everyone thinks that THEY are an above average driver and don't need help, but half of them must be wrong. You should continue to drive pretty much the way that you always have driven and if you get to the brake pedal before the stop assist system then it won't even kick in.

    It sounds to me like Steve's main problem with the car right now is the seats so he should fix/replace the seats. California cars don't get a lot of rust but the sun is brutal on interiors. Garage kept cars from the Northeast and Midwest are often full of rust due to road salt but the upholstery looks good, so maybe he could get seats shipped from further east. As you point out, just the sales tax on a new car is going to be more than the cost of replacement seats.

    A good set of neoprene seat covers is worth installing in your car the moment you buy it. They look nice, clean up really easily especially for liquid spills, are quite soft and comfortable and are pretty rugged. The seats look like new when you take the covers off (applies to any cover really).

    As others say, best financial decision is usually to buy a 2-5yo car, then you have a fairly new and safe vehicle, which is also a set of practically new parts. Get rid of it at 15yo or so, before the set of 15 year old parts start dying and your vehicle starts becoming a Theseus car.

    Unless you have moral reasons and financial capacity to buy a hybrid or an electric car to put into the used market. It is people who buy new cars who determine the composition of the vehicle fleet especially if they churn them.

  169. @Jack D
    The G90 is a big car, corresponding to the BMW 7 series or an Audi A8 or a Mercedes S class. This is really more car than Steve needs (or probably wants to pay for). A G80 is plenty big enough (roomier than a BMW 5 series) and even a G70 (3 series size) is big enough if you don't make frequent use of the back seat.

    In Korea, people who are given executive and top executive class sedans by their companies are also often given drivers so both the G80 and G90 have particularly nice back seats and HVAC that the rear passenger can independently control. The German makers figure that the owner is going to be driving himself so they don't pay much attention to rear seat room and comfort until you get to the S Class/7 series level.

    That’s the joke. Steve’s not really an Eisenhower man. A low mileage ‘17 Cadenza should be about right.

    We like our ‘15 Sorrento. I’d like to update my ‘08 Optima because the newer ones look so much better but it runs too well.

    My uncles started out selling Corvinus’ Bonnevilles (his first comment that dared an original thought, and not far off base if dated) but sometime around the Aztek (the AWFL marketing team GM sent us were pathetic beyond belief) started thinking about exclusively Kia*. They beat GM to the punch by a couple years and they and their customers have never been happier.

    * – I was working there at the time and tried to convince him to pick up Hyundai too but the Koreans hadn’t quite gotten the quality right yet. He now regrets that decision.

    • Replies: @houston 1992
    did 2017 Kia Cadenzas have the "safety sense" feature as upgrade--it was not standard even on the 2018 as I recall
  170. At that point was the quality of Hyundai vs Kia different? At this point, they share most platforms and AFAIK the quality is about the same.

    Hyundai came out gangbusters because the 1st car that they imported (the Excel) sold for $4,995, which was cheap even then (then being 1985). But there were real quality problems. In order to show that they stood behind their product, they began to offer a very generous warranty which was far beyond what other manufacturers were then offering. His engineers and beancounters told Chairman Chung, “if we have to warrant these cars for 10 years based on current defect rates we’ll go broke having to pay for all those repairs.” Chairman Chung told them that was right so they had better move their asses and improve quality or they wouldn’t have jobs after the factory closed. So not only was this brilliant marketing it was also great business because it aligned the financial interests of management in favor of producing a quality product (vs say Pontiac where the factory didn’t give a shit if your car fell apart 5 minutes after the 12 month warranty was up). And the rest was history

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    ‘89 Excel was first (and only) new car purchase. Engine caught on fire in’91. Kia was never ahead of Hyundai, but our quality problems with early Kia* scared him off of Hyundai, which he could have had for a song at the time.

    * - I talked myself into selling mid90s Sportages, but probably shouldn’t have.

  171. @Jack D
    At that point was the quality of Hyundai vs Kia different? At this point, they share most platforms and AFAIK the quality is about the same.

    Hyundai came out gangbusters because the 1st car that they imported (the Excel) sold for $4,995, which was cheap even then (then being 1985). But there were real quality problems. In order to show that they stood behind their product, they began to offer a very generous warranty which was far beyond what other manufacturers were then offering. His engineers and beancounters told Chairman Chung, "if we have to warrant these cars for 10 years based on current defect rates we'll go broke having to pay for all those repairs." Chairman Chung told them that was right so they had better move their asses and improve quality or they wouldn't have jobs after the factory closed. So not only was this brilliant marketing it was also great business because it aligned the financial interests of management in favor of producing a quality product (vs say Pontiac where the factory didn't give a shit if your car fell apart 5 minutes after the 12 month warranty was up). And the rest was history

    ‘89 Excel was first (and only) new car purchase. Engine caught on fire in’91. Kia was never ahead of Hyundai, but our quality problems with early Kia* scared him off of Hyundai, which he could have had for a song at the time.

    * – I talked myself into selling mid90s Sportages, but probably shouldn’t have.

  172. @Whiskey
    Katie McHugh is Exhibit 265478 in the case that White women are the eternal and natural enemy of the White man.

    VW Passat Undervalued. Don't get any car with a cvt transmission. Terrible. And many 8 or higher track auto trans have major isdues. Manual transmission. Harder to carjack.

    Manual transmission. Harder to carjack

    However, a low-impulse control carjacker frustrated by not having the skills to shift a manual might shoot the driver for disrespeckin’ them by driving something that they can’t.

    On the other hand, manual transmission vehicles are stolen significantly less often. I drive one and have for years. Part of the appeal is having the skill to do it for myself unlike many, part is being in control of shifts. In stop and go traffic an automatic definitely has appeal though.

  173. @Adam Smith

    God knows what kind of detritus has collected in the bottom of the radiator, master brake cylinder, and power steering reservoir.
     
    If only there were some way to change those fluids. Too bad it's impossible.

    If only there were some way to change those fluids. Too bad it’s impossible.

    My implication was that are significant costs and time penalties for performing that work whether one goes DIY or to a shop.

    DIY has become even less fun because these days DIYers need locate places that will dispose of the waste properly. No more chucking everything in the town dump Saturday morning.

    In most cases one can plan on needing to schedule an appointment and paying additional fees for the privilege of having your automotive waste disposed of properly.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Waste oil will be taken for free by most parts places, they get paid money for it as it's rerefined.
    I just dump glycol down the drain, the wastewater system handles it fine.
    , @Adam Smith
    I'm one of those weirdo's who changes oil every 3,000 miles and all the other fluids once a year.

    I flush the cooling system with distilled water. I also mix my antifreeze with distilled water.

    I rinse the crankcase with diesel when I change the oil.

    I recycle the engine oil, transmission oil, differential oil and steering oil.

    Ethylene glycol is easy enough to dispose of.

    Brake fluid is the most difficult to deal with. I take plastic jugs, fill them with cheap cat litter and then pour in the brake fluid. Then I chuck it in the town dump on Saturday morning.

    No appointment necessary.
  174. @Mr McKenna

    Brave, the Official Web Browser of the Alt Right.
     
    Whoa, way to put the Brave Browser in an early grave! Keep it quiet!

    (Steve:)


    I like a smooth ride.
     
    Ah, I know what you're looking for, then! It's not a car, it's a country. A country called called Denmark, Germany, or Switzerland.

    My own city has stopped paving its roads because funds are needed for more pressing social programs. And it's a well-known fact that only suburban right-wingers care about smooth roads.

    But seriously! Aren't people a wiser investment than asphalt?? Build bridges slush funds not walls! As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.

    And...America's increasingly decrepit roadways are yet another reason people have migrated to SUVs. Though if they have low-profile tires it sort of defeats the purpose.

    As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.

    Correct.

    In Africa they typically bring in the Chinese, Japanese, or Koreans to (attempt to) build their new national highways.

    I said attempt because there are no less than two documentaries detailing how difficult it is to build a road in sub-Saharan Africa:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_China_Met_Africa

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2148945/

  175. @The Wild Geese Howard

    If only there were some way to change those fluids. Too bad it’s impossible.
     
    My implication was that are significant costs and time penalties for performing that work whether one goes DIY or to a shop.

    DIY has become even less fun because these days DIYers need locate places that will dispose of the waste properly. No more chucking everything in the town dump Saturday morning.

    In most cases one can plan on needing to schedule an appointment and paying additional fees for the privilege of having your automotive waste disposed of properly.

    Waste oil will be taken for free by most parts places, they get paid money for it as it’s rerefined.
    I just dump glycol down the drain, the wastewater system handles it fine.

  176. @dvorak
    American-assembled? VIN starting with 1

    Anything Honda/Acura made at Marysville.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marysville_Auto_Plant

    Looks like the Avalon is made in the USA, so there’s your old-man car par excellence.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Motor_Manufacturing_Kentucky#Vehicles

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    The Ford Panther platform was the last real old man car. I think eventually they will have some collectibility. You can still occasionally find minty low mileage ones and they do drive much more like a modern car than ones old enough for antique tags. They have air bags, ABS, and the excellent Ford modular overhead cam V8.

    Old men out here now all drive Honda’s as daily’s and will often have a collector car from their youth or a beater pickup or Jeep they can let their friends drive down at the lake and just pay liability insurance on it. The collector car is usually something not genuinely valuable- my neighbor has a ‘65 Bonneville with an LS and all the tronics our of a junked Renzenberger van and tuck and roll vinyl interior-but they act like it’s a 300SL Gullwing.

    If they were farm kids, they eschew old hobby cars for a tractor. Then their daily is a late model dually diesel truck with a gooseneck bar across the bed. I see eighty year olds driving these and give them a wide space away on the road.
  177. Don’t take this the wrong way, but what do you do that requires you to drive so much?

  178. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @GoRedWings!

    As Europe becomes more vibrantized, their roads will deteriorate, though. Count on it.
     
    I would take that bet.
    Road maintenance is a highly profitable business that creates a considerable number of well-paid blue-collar jobs. Northern-European politicians are all Keynesianists in multi-party democracies with well-informed and fickle voters. All three countries you mentioned are transit countries, massive investments in infrastructure are good politics and good policy. Also, European cars are built for well-maintained roads and could not withstand American conditions (hence the high maintenance costs for esp German cars in the US?), which means there's pressure both from angry car-owners and car-makers to keep the roads up to standards.

    German cars are made for German drivers, German roads, and importantly, German maintenance.

    Car mechanics in America, despite all the folderol, are basically pretty proletarian. In Germany, many of the sort of people who would be liberal arts bachelor’s degree holders here go to the German version of vo-tech, often a four or five year apprentice/certificate program starting with basic mechanical and metalworking skills (which US car mechanics are generally deficient at) and getting very in depth usually with a particular manufacturer’s product line. Auto maintenance is a much more middle class career over there and a good mechanic will very often retire out of the same business at which he started: rarely will one work at more than a few shops over the course of a career.

    So complex mechanical systems that baffle US shops are routine for the Germans. I get tool catalogs from Euro-car tool suppliers (I’m an occasional buyer of Hazet and Stahlwille tools and tool carts, a shout out to Baum, Assenmacher, and over here, KC Tool in Olathe, KS) and am continually astounded at the price for the needed bits to work on late model Benz, BMW, Porsche/Audi stuff. We’re talking specialized tools in price categories you associate with EMD or Pratt and Whitney.

    Also, US spec cars often differ considerably from Euro spec ones, and as one might sneakingly suspect, the US spec cars are never the better engineered of the two. Whereas in Japan, they use the JDM cars to shake down new designs and US spec cars are sometimes the better ones.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Okay, here’s the iSteve angle. Jon Ward, a former child actor, not prole, runs a company called ICON 4x4 right there in LA.

    They take various old cars and Jeep like vehicles and for $150 to $300 thousand each make them into super cars with all the modern stuff that drive and hold up better than new factory cars.

    Who buys them and why? He’s making serious money doing this.

    My suggestion, get in your Infiniti and go see the guy. There’s a book here that needs to be written by a NON gearhead. It will make you enough money you can buy an Icon and it will be the only new car you need ever buy.

    I’m as confident of this as I am of, well, anything.
    , @Jack D

    Also, US spec cars often differ considerably from Euro spec ones, and as one might sneakingly suspect, the US spec cars are never the better engineered of the two.

     

    Nowadays the auto market is quite global and there is very little difference between Euro spec and US spec cars. The main difference is that in Europe, due to high gas costs and tax laws, you can get a range of engines smaller than the smallest one offered in the US on the same model. Also, at least until recently, most models were available with diesel engines (same reason) while diesels don't sell in America. There are some minor differences in lighting and emissions control again caused by different laws but the mfrs have been trying to unify global standards. Otherwise, not much.

    I know what you are saying about German auto shops. They look more like hospitals than the grease soaked pits of America, with guys running around in lab coats wearing stethoscopes. But all of this high tech cleanliness has gotta cost a lot of Euros. It's expensive enough to keep a German car on the road in America - how do they do it in Germany where you have to take your car to the car doctor with prices to match? Or do the older models get exported to eastern Europe where mechanics are cheaper?
  179. Anonymous[253] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous
    German cars are made for German drivers, German roads, and importantly, German maintenance.

    Car mechanics in America, despite all the folderol, are basically pretty proletarian. In Germany, many of the sort of people who would be liberal arts bachelor's degree holders here go to the German version of vo-tech, often a four or five year apprentice/certificate program starting with basic mechanical and metalworking skills (which US car mechanics are generally deficient at) and getting very in depth usually with a particular manufacturer's product line. Auto maintenance is a much more middle class career over there and a good mechanic will very often retire out of the same business at which he started: rarely will one work at more than a few shops over the course of a career.

    So complex mechanical systems that baffle US shops are routine for the Germans. I get tool catalogs from Euro-car tool suppliers (I'm an occasional buyer of Hazet and Stahlwille tools and tool carts, a shout out to Baum, Assenmacher, and over here, KC Tool in Olathe, KS) and am continually astounded at the price for the needed bits to work on late model Benz, BMW, Porsche/Audi stuff. We're talking specialized tools in price categories you associate with EMD or Pratt and Whitney.

    Also, US spec cars often differ considerably from Euro spec ones, and as one might sneakingly suspect, the US spec cars are never the better engineered of the two. Whereas in Japan, they use the JDM cars to shake down new designs and US spec cars are sometimes the better ones.

    Okay, here’s the iSteve angle. Jon Ward, a former child actor, not prole, runs a company called ICON 4×4 right there in LA.

    They take various old cars and Jeep like vehicles and for $150 to $300 thousand each make them into super cars with all the modern stuff that drive and hold up better than new factory cars.

    Who buys them and why? He’s making serious money doing this.

    My suggestion, get in your Infiniti and go see the guy. There’s a book here that needs to be written by a NON gearhead. It will make you enough money you can buy an Icon and it will be the only new car you need ever buy.

    I’m as confident of this as I am of, well, anything.

  180. @Anonymous
    German cars are made for German drivers, German roads, and importantly, German maintenance.

    Car mechanics in America, despite all the folderol, are basically pretty proletarian. In Germany, many of the sort of people who would be liberal arts bachelor's degree holders here go to the German version of vo-tech, often a four or five year apprentice/certificate program starting with basic mechanical and metalworking skills (which US car mechanics are generally deficient at) and getting very in depth usually with a particular manufacturer's product line. Auto maintenance is a much more middle class career over there and a good mechanic will very often retire out of the same business at which he started: rarely will one work at more than a few shops over the course of a career.

    So complex mechanical systems that baffle US shops are routine for the Germans. I get tool catalogs from Euro-car tool suppliers (I'm an occasional buyer of Hazet and Stahlwille tools and tool carts, a shout out to Baum, Assenmacher, and over here, KC Tool in Olathe, KS) and am continually astounded at the price for the needed bits to work on late model Benz, BMW, Porsche/Audi stuff. We're talking specialized tools in price categories you associate with EMD or Pratt and Whitney.

    Also, US spec cars often differ considerably from Euro spec ones, and as one might sneakingly suspect, the US spec cars are never the better engineered of the two. Whereas in Japan, they use the JDM cars to shake down new designs and US spec cars are sometimes the better ones.

    Also, US spec cars often differ considerably from Euro spec ones, and as one might sneakingly suspect, the US spec cars are never the better engineered of the two.

    Nowadays the auto market is quite global and there is very little difference between Euro spec and US spec cars. The main difference is that in Europe, due to high gas costs and tax laws, you can get a range of engines smaller than the smallest one offered in the US on the same model. Also, at least until recently, most models were available with diesel engines (same reason) while diesels don’t sell in America. There are some minor differences in lighting and emissions control again caused by different laws but the mfrs have been trying to unify global standards. Otherwise, not much.

    I know what you are saying about German auto shops. They look more like hospitals than the grease soaked pits of America, with guys running around in lab coats wearing stethoscopes. But all of this high tech cleanliness has gotta cost a lot of Euros. It’s expensive enough to keep a German car on the road in America – how do they do it in Germany where you have to take your car to the car doctor with prices to match? Or do the older models get exported to eastern Europe where mechanics are cheaper?

    • Replies: @donvonburg
    Running a clean shop does not cost more. It actually saves money in the long run.

    I don't know how current German shop rates stack up to the rates that independent brand specific German car repair places in the US charge, I have not been in Europe in a considerable time. I do recall that diesels were more common there by far but were generally not imported into the US because of emissions issues, and also diesel was considerably cheaper over there than petrol. Over here gasoline is cheaper now, at least in the Midwest.

    I know that you have to have amber turn signals in Europe, (which we should do here as well) and that for a long time Euro cars had much better headlights, but now, I don't think the headlights differ. I also know that one big difference was that in the US, you must have a laminated shatterproof windshield that will not easily pop out whereas at least in Germany you could not have that, you had to have a tempered windshield specifically designed to shatter into small nonsharp pieces (like the other glass in the car) and it was specifically designed to come out fairly easily. The actual rails the windshield mounted in were different and you couldn't just swap the glass, it was major metalworking surgery to convert them.

    Buying Euro headlights and converting them over on US cars was technically illegal but a popular mod in states that did not have inspections or did not care that much in the 70s and 80s. I had a friend who bought a bunch of Euro BMW parts to convert his coupe over to more Euro spec in the eighties. It was a thing of beauty with BBS modular wheels and the entire Euro spec top end on the engine. When he moved to California he had to sell it because there was no way it was going to pass smog. The car is still on the road and I see it every so often.

    I doubt that shops in eastern Europe can cope with the current generation of high end German cars, but who knows? Perhaps someone reading this lives there now or has been there recently.
  181. @Ali Choudhury
    Or when a tyre blows out as happened to me.

    True. The one thing you can really do nothing about.

  182. Anonymous[253] • Disclaimer says:
    @dvorak
    Looks like the Avalon is made in the USA, so there's your old-man car par excellence.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Motor_Manufacturing_Kentucky#Vehicles

    The Ford Panther platform was the last real old man car. I think eventually they will have some collectibility. You can still occasionally find minty low mileage ones and they do drive much more like a modern car than ones old enough for antique tags. They have air bags, ABS, and the excellent Ford modular overhead cam V8.

    Old men out here now all drive Honda’s as daily’s and will often have a collector car from their youth or a beater pickup or Jeep they can let their friends drive down at the lake and just pay liability insurance on it. The collector car is usually something not genuinely valuable- my neighbor has a ‘65 Bonneville with an LS and all the tronics our of a junked Renzenberger van and tuck and roll vinyl interior-but they act like it’s a 300SL Gullwing.

    If they were farm kids, they eschew old hobby cars for a tractor. Then their daily is a late model dually diesel truck with a gooseneck bar across the bed. I see eighty year olds driving these and give them a wide space away on the road.

  183. @anon

    Perhaps Mr. Sailer could go green or use Uber. But the Bonneville fits him to a T.
     
    I think you mean to a D.

    As in "Deathtrap."

    If you get broadsided in an old Bonneville, the ambulance guys will extract you with a sump pump.

    “I think you mean to a D. As in “Deathtrap. If you get broadsided in an old Bonneville, the ambulance guys will extract you with a sump pump.”

    Sources?

  184. Th Avalon is a good choice, but if you are going used, might I suggest the Lexus ES, which is based on the same platform? I drive a 2013 ES300h (the hybrid version), and it is the best car I have ever owned. Smooth, reliable, and gets 40 MPG! The latest ones have gone a little crazy in the styleing department, but the 2013s are very nice looking.

  185. @Jack D

    Also, US spec cars often differ considerably from Euro spec ones, and as one might sneakingly suspect, the US spec cars are never the better engineered of the two.

     

    Nowadays the auto market is quite global and there is very little difference between Euro spec and US spec cars. The main difference is that in Europe, due to high gas costs and tax laws, you can get a range of engines smaller than the smallest one offered in the US on the same model. Also, at least until recently, most models were available with diesel engines (same reason) while diesels don't sell in America. There are some minor differences in lighting and emissions control again caused by different laws but the mfrs have been trying to unify global standards. Otherwise, not much.

    I know what you are saying about German auto shops. They look more like hospitals than the grease soaked pits of America, with guys running around in lab coats wearing stethoscopes. But all of this high tech cleanliness has gotta cost a lot of Euros. It's expensive enough to keep a German car on the road in America - how do they do it in Germany where you have to take your car to the car doctor with prices to match? Or do the older models get exported to eastern Europe where mechanics are cheaper?

    Running a clean shop does not cost more. It actually saves money in the long run.

    I don’t know how current German shop rates stack up to the rates that independent brand specific German car repair places in the US charge, I have not been in Europe in a considerable time. I do recall that diesels were more common there by far but were generally not imported into the US because of emissions issues, and also diesel was considerably cheaper over there than petrol. Over here gasoline is cheaper now, at least in the Midwest.

    I know that you have to have amber turn signals in Europe, (which we should do here as well) and that for a long time Euro cars had much better headlights, but now, I don’t think the headlights differ. I also know that one big difference was that in the US, you must have a laminated shatterproof windshield that will not easily pop out whereas at least in Germany you could not have that, you had to have a tempered windshield specifically designed to shatter into small nonsharp pieces (like the other glass in the car) and it was specifically designed to come out fairly easily. The actual rails the windshield mounted in were different and you couldn’t just swap the glass, it was major metalworking surgery to convert them.

    Buying Euro headlights and converting them over on US cars was technically illegal but a popular mod in states that did not have inspections or did not care that much in the 70s and 80s. I had a friend who bought a bunch of Euro BMW parts to convert his coupe over to more Euro spec in the eighties. It was a thing of beauty with BBS modular wheels and the entire Euro spec top end on the engine. When he moved to California he had to sell it because there was no way it was going to pass smog. The car is still on the road and I see it every so often.

    I doubt that shops in eastern Europe can cope with the current generation of high end German cars, but who knows? Perhaps someone reading this lives there now or has been there recently.

  186. Regarding a new car:

    1. Honda and Toyota are the most reliable (that includes Acura and Lexus).

    2. Mazda’s quality is now very good.

    3. Nissan’s quality, including Infiniti, is now compromised, especially since the merger with Renault.

    4. Forget about Korean or the other Japanese make cars if you want to keep your vehicle for a long time.

    5. Don’t get a German car if you don’t want to sell it by 70,000 miles at a huge loss, or keep it longer and pay huge repair bills.

    6. SUVs are more expensive to buy, more expensive to drive, and more expensive to repair. They’re also less stable because of the high center of gravity. Don’t bother with them unless you really want one.

    7. Similarly, all-wheel-drive is more expensive to buy, drive and repair, and doesn’t really give you any safety dividends. It’s good for not getting stuck, but not to keep you from skidding on slippery surfaces, despite what people seem to think.

    You sound like the kind of guy who would be really happy with a Lexus sedan, or perhaps a Toyota Avalon. Lexuses (Lexi?) are comfortable, with a lot of bells and whistles, and ride really nicely. And they last.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Not sure I agree w. your point #4 - your point #1 is correct, but that doesn't make the others bad, just not as good as Toyota and Honda. And Korean cars have 10 yr powertrain warranties so you won't be paying for that head gasket in year 6, which is more than you can say about Subaru.

    The only downside to Lexus (and now Toyota too) is their controversial front end styling with the unspeakably ugly "spindle grill".
  187. @Bizarro World Observer
    Regarding a new car:

    1. Honda and Toyota are the most reliable (that includes Acura and Lexus).

    2. Mazda's quality is now very good.

    3. Nissan's quality, including Infiniti, is now compromised, especially since the merger with Renault.

    4. Forget about Korean or the other Japanese make cars if you want to keep your vehicle for a long time.

    5. Don't get a German car if you don't want to sell it by 70,000 miles at a huge loss, or keep it longer and pay huge repair bills.

    6. SUVs are more expensive to buy, more expensive to drive, and more expensive to repair. They're also less stable because of the high center of gravity. Don't bother with them unless you really want one.

    7. Similarly, all-wheel-drive is more expensive to buy, drive and repair, and doesn't really give you any safety dividends. It's good for not getting stuck, but not to keep you from skidding on slippery surfaces, despite what people seem to think.

    You sound like the kind of guy who would be really happy with a Lexus sedan, or perhaps a Toyota Avalon. Lexuses (Lexi?) are comfortable, with a lot of bells and whistles, and ride really nicely. And they last.

    Not sure I agree w. your point #4 – your point #1 is correct, but that doesn’t make the others bad, just not as good as Toyota and Honda. And Korean cars have 10 yr powertrain warranties so you won’t be paying for that head gasket in year 6, which is more than you can say about Subaru.

    The only downside to Lexus (and now Toyota too) is their controversial front end styling with the unspeakably ugly “spindle grill”.

  188. @AnonAnon
    I guess you made your car last another four years from when you last asked this question back in 2015. I dug up my old answer and it's still the same - I recommend a Subaru, specifically the Outback (but I know wagons aren't everyone's cup of tea. The new Forrester revamp is very popular, too.). I live in Orange County and deal with the same traffic you do and really like their safety feature implementation.

    To answer your questions:

    1 - SUV (or CUV) or Sedan - SUV/CUV, but a mid-size or compact one that drives like a car. All our cars (all SUV/CUVs) have about 9" clearance off the ground and I really appreciate how easy they are to get into or out of. I neither have to step up or down, just slide sideways and I am in. That would be a bit different for you since you are so tall but your wife would probably appreciate it. It's especially nice now that I am in my mid-50s with bad knees. The extra road clearance is nice for when there is debris in the road, which occurs often enough on California freeways, and the extra height is good for seeing ahead on the road. I am all about versatility and really like the extra storage space of SUVs/CUVs when you need it and can fully understand the death of sedans in America. Their time has passed.

    2 - Safety equipment worth it - YES!, but it is very dependent on implementation. SoCal freeways and streets are only getting more crowded and challenging to drive so I prefer to have every advantage I can. We are big fans of the Subaru Eyesight pre-collision/lane keeping system. We've now bought four Subarus with the system. The lane keeping is rather unobtrusive, it beeps (and you can turn the volume way down on it) when you wander over the lines but you have to turn on the active lane-centering system that will direct the wheel for you. (Full confession, my husband is a lane wanderer and seems to have a genetic inability inherited from his father to turn his head to check his blindspot so I made him get a car with the lane keeping.) Other manufacturers have different (and usually worse, imo) systems. My husband recently returned from a business trip complaining about his rental Corolla that would beep for almost random reasons, and we rented a Nissan Armada that also had a very intrusive system. The pre-collision alerting has alerted me to a couple of quick stops on the freeway and from rear ending someone at a stoplight when I wasn't paying enough attention. It also comes with adaptive cruise control that my husband absolutely loves.

    As for blindspot detection, I really like it. We bought our most recent Subarus just to get the feature. With our six, eight, ten lane freeways I find it hard to tell from a quick glance sometimes when someone is the next lane over or over one more so the additional confirmation of the blind spot detector is great. My husband likes it on his commute for maniacs that pass him on the right at ninety miles an hour. Moreover, it alerts you to hidden cross traffic when backing out of parking spots.

    As for heads up display, I don't have it but don't find it a compelling safety feature I would upgrade a car for.

    3 - Leather or cloth - leather. So much easier to keep clean than cloth.

    3- AWD - our Subarus are AWD and I like the confidence it gives me on rainy days here in SoCal, where a lot of the surface streets tend to flood. We also travel out of state to snowier areas and I haven't ruled out bugging out to a more white-people area like Idaho or Colorado.

    4 - Extra niceties - push button, keyless access. I LOVE not having to dig in my purse for the key but I doubt men will appreciate the feature as much.

    LED headlights - love, Love, LOVE. I've had my husband change out the bulbs in our older cars to the brighter LED bulbs. We also have steering responsive headlights which are nice.

    Reverse auto breaking - nice to have so you don't back into something, though people with steeply sloping driveways says it kicks in on them. We don't have that issue so I can't comment on it.

    Auto-dimming mirrors - very nice to have.

    One feature we don't have but have encountered on rental cars and like is the rear view mirror is not a mirror but uses the image from the backup camera so that tall rear passengers don't block your view. I had my husband retrofit our 2007 Toyota SUV with a rear backup camera and the display clips over the old mirror.

    Other features our current cars don't have but I like are front cameras/parking sonar. My old Sienna had front sonar that was handy when parking and we've rented cars that either have front cameras or "overhead" views to help you pull into parking spots.

    Subaru recently revamped the Outback for 2020 but if you can get a 2019 3.6R (the bigger engine) (Touring trim) that is the one I'd recommend. You can't go wrong with a Subaru or Toyota, or Honda, or their luxury equivalents. My priority is safety and reasonable service costs over prestige but I know in SoCal it's easy to get sucked into getting a status brand.

    BTW, do NOT get a Tesla. Check out TESLAQ on twitter for all that is wrong with the brand now - terrible build quality, terrible service, can't get parts, not enough charging stations for when you want to travel.

    Got my first Subaru this past spring (an Ascent) and love it – it’s zippy, has responsive handling and lots of room. The touch screen is large and easy to read and the backup camera/rear motion detector are great as well.

    I also checked out the Pilot (OK, but not fun to drive in any way, basically a minivan), the Highlander (hated it), and the CX-9 (too small for my needs but great otherwise). Had to drive an Explorer as a rental and it was pretty decent but it’s a gas guzzler, so I never really considered it.

    If something in the class of those SUVs is too large, I think an Outback or Forester would be a good choice. The CX-9 is considered a 3 row but really it’s just a big 2 row SUV and it a lot of fun to drive, plus it’s basically a luxury car at a non-luxury price.

  189. @The Wild Geese Howard

    If only there were some way to change those fluids. Too bad it’s impossible.
     
    My implication was that are significant costs and time penalties for performing that work whether one goes DIY or to a shop.

    DIY has become even less fun because these days DIYers need locate places that will dispose of the waste properly. No more chucking everything in the town dump Saturday morning.

    In most cases one can plan on needing to schedule an appointment and paying additional fees for the privilege of having your automotive waste disposed of properly.

    I’m one of those weirdo’s who changes oil every 3,000 miles and all the other fluids once a year.

    I flush the cooling system with distilled water. I also mix my antifreeze with distilled water.

    I rinse the crankcase with diesel when I change the oil.

    I recycle the engine oil, transmission oil, differential oil and steering oil.

    Ethylene glycol is easy enough to dispose of.

    Brake fluid is the most difficult to deal with. I take plastic jugs, fill them with cheap cat litter and then pour in the brake fluid. Then I chuck it in the town dump on Saturday morning.

    No appointment necessary.

  190. Sailer famously said that “in contrast to New Orleans, there was only minimal looting after the horrendous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan—because, when you get down to it, Japanese aren’t blacks.”

    This is a great example of a journalist pretending to be offended by something they know is true. There is nothing controversial about blacks behaving differently than japanese people. The only controversy is why they behave differently which you did not speculate on in that passage.

  191. @Intelligent Dasein
    Steve, disregard these people and DO NOT buy a Tesla.

    Just get a used Lexus. Someone else already paid for the depreciation and it will still last you forever. It's the best deal around.

    I second buying a used lexus if you’re open to used cars. Just make sure the previous owner hands over documentation about service it has received so you know if they changed the oil and other fluids on the necessary timeline.

  192. @Desiderius
    That’s the joke. Steve’s not really an Eisenhower man. A low mileage ‘17 Cadenza should be about right.

    We like our ‘15 Sorrento. I’d like to update my ‘08 Optima because the newer ones look so much better but it runs too well.

    My uncles started out selling Corvinus’ Bonnevilles (his first comment that dared an original thought, and not far off base if dated) but sometime around the Aztek (the AWFL marketing team GM sent us were pathetic beyond belief) started thinking about exclusively Kia*. They beat GM to the punch by a couple years and they and their customers have never been happier.

    * - I was working there at the time and tried to convince him to pick up Hyundai too but the Koreans hadn’t quite gotten the quality right yet. He now regrets that decision.

    did 2017 Kia Cadenzas have the “safety sense” feature as upgrade–it was not standard even on the 2018 as I recall

  193. You there, Katie McHugh…may you live forever

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