questionswhat kind of car should i get?

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Forgot to add. The budget is about $13-14K.... Hard to say, I am actually dealing with pretty much wholesale prices, so $10K wholesale is the actual budget.

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Funny you mentioned the Fusion, because after reading through your comments that's what I was going to suggest. I have a 2006 Fusion and love it; would definitely recommend. The new ones have turbo 4-cylinders, but the 06-10 models (more in your price range) had V6 AWD versions which won't be quite as fuel efficient. And the 2013 model looks so dang good.

For me, the Japanese cars look cool when they first come out, but since everyone and their brother has one they start to look pretty bland.

Whatever you buy, I've learned to ask a few questions first: How expensive are tires, how do you replace the bulbs (and how much does the bulb cost), and how easy is it to change your oil? (For what it's worth, my Fusion has mostly favorable answers to all of those questions.)

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I personally love the Ford Fusion. I know it is a little out of your price range but if you can get it, do it! I Have rented several of them and they are very well built cars. Ford did a great job integrating Bluetooth, satelite radio and GPS into this car. If I was in the market for a car, this would be in my top 3.

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Thanks for the replies. Keep em coming (and maybe upvote too ;)

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Upvoted. Sorry about your car being a lemon!

We're a Subaru family now. My wife drives a Forester, I drive an Impreza. I recently traded in my '09 Impreza WRX for a 2012 Impreza 2.0i, because I grew out of the turbo, and premium gasoline and 3,000 mile oil changes weren't my thing. It was a fun car & I loved it, do not get me wrong.

We like Subaru for the AWD mostly, it's unbeatable and living in WI it comes in handy from November thru April (although not as much in recent years.) The new Impreza combines utility, AWD, and fuel efficiency all in one. I get over 35MPG, if I power-mile I'm up close to 38MPG in a car with all-wheel drive. That is unheard of in any other manufacturer. While the 2.0 liter boxer engine only puts out about 150HP, equipped with a manual transmission it is still enough to get you in and out of traffic.

I recommend an Impreza it if you're looking for a dependable car with AWD and fuel-efficiency. And don't forget everything else Subaru has to offer.

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I was going to suggest a Subaru, but eraten has made the suggestion much better than I could have.

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Thanks @eraten and @90mcg112 Subaru was also on my shortlist, although 3000 mile oil changes doesn't sound stellar, not sure if its a dealbreaker yet.

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@countdown: That was only for the turbo WRX, since turbos are oil-cooled with the engine oil, you want to make sure there's nothing dirty impeding the flow of oil. My Forester and Impreza (non-turbos) are both 7500 miles (with synthetic) I believe.

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They haven't fixed all the Audi reliability problems, but they are much better than they were in the 70s and 80s, particularly their standard-bearer sedan--the A4.

Have you taken a look at Acura? They have a couple different sedans that fit into your criteria. The Acura TL is one of the cars that depreciate the least, so you'll get good quality and decent value. Plus if you just hate it, you can re-sell it and not take too big of a hit in the pocket. They have FWD and AWD models and all have V6 engines that fit your power needs.

Were you looking to pick up a certified pre-owned or a private seller?

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@curtisuxor: Thanks for the reply. The TL is also on the short list already. In fact I turned down a TL for this lemon I now have :(. Not making that mistake again. I hear its power was underwhelming, but I am willing to take a hit in power for a more reliable car.

As for where I am getting it, that all depends on where my "guy" finds it. I believe he looks at both brand name dealers and more private dealers. So there is a chance it will be certified or something, but not a big chance. (if something disasterous is wrong with it, my guy will take it back, which is what he is doing with this car)

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@eraten: thanks for the update. good to know. I like turbos, but if the non-turbo is fast enough, that might be the way to go.

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@countdown: Well unless you're taking it to a track or racing it around town, the WRX turbo is probably overkill anyway. It puts out 265HP and supposedly gets to 60 in under 5 seconds. MotorTrend claimed 4.7 seconds, but that's after a redline clutch drop. Not bad for a car that costs around $25k. Compare that to your VW that was tested at 0-60 in 7.9 seconds. Most naturally aspirated engines will be as quick, if not quicker than the VW turbo, so don't think you need a turbo to be quick these days. Just another thing to consider.

When you go on a test-drive of any car, make sure your dealer lets you take it to the freeway or highway and open up the throttle so you can see if it meets your standards.

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I bought my Toyota 4-runner new in 2003. My son has a 2007 Camary (sport edition). We do the recommended service and neither car has ever had a problem. Things have to be replaced now and then but when your car is 10 years old, you expect things to wear out. I do know that Ford has improved greatly in the last 10 years (my brother is in the automotive industry). Good luck. Oh, one more thing to offer, try to avoid Car-max. I only know 2 people who bought a car from them but it was not a good experience for either.

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@countdown: Like most modern cars, it gets bogged down in electronic "smoothing" of the ride experience. Which means they limit throttle response and soften gear changes because it is a "luxury" vehicle. Switch it over to sport and use the paddle shifters when you need to :). My aunt and uncle have a TL Type-S which had the FF drivetrain. I cannot comment on how the AWD version feels, though.

I hope you can take a test drive before you buy it, though.

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How did you find the person who is helping you look for the vehicle? A friend, or a professional, or both? I wouldn't mind having such a guy to call when needed.

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Hyundai Sonata 2.0 turbo! It might actually surprise you...

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@loubriccant: Thanks for the suggestion. I had an old elantra years ago. It was manual and I liked the performance for a fairly old car. Interior and comfort left a little to be desired. Also, fun story, one day a fan belt snapped which simultaneously drove the power steering pump, fan, coolant pump and alternator. Talk about single point of failure.

@f00l: He is a family friend and a professional car wholesaler, so he usually buys in bulk for other dealerships i think and just does this for friends. That being said, the dealership he got my current (bad) car from advertised performing a similar service of hunting down cars for near wholesale prices, so apparently there are people out there if you know where to look... hope that helps. I would give you the dealership info, but I am hesitant to recommend them after this (Plus they are a tiny shop in IL).

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Subaru if you want an all wheel drive care. If you want reliability then go with a Toyota or Honda.