We launched the What Car Should You Buy? series in an effort to give real people car buying advice. One of the most common comments in these posts, other than “This person should just buy a Miata!”, is “So what did they actually buy?”
Well, to be honest, getting folks to follow up and spill the beans took a lot of effort. In fact, we had to threaten a few of them that we would sneak into their garage at night and swap their brand new ride with one of David’s broken Jeeps. Thankfully, a few happy readers did get back to us with some updates.
Here is an update on whether or not people actually listened to the odd mix of a professional car shopper, various bad decision makers, and complete loons.
Andrew was one of our earliest subjects. He’s an Air Force Pilot who was in search for something fun for the weekend.
Of course, being in the Air Force, he’s used to raining down fear from above— so he chose the appropriate weapon to scare everyone at his local car meet.
Here are the cars I test drove (all in stick except the SS):
13 Infiniti G37S
16 Subie WRX STi
16 Subie WRX
15 Chevy SS
12 BMW M3 (for the V8 of course)
15 Ford Mustang GT
14 Challenger SRT-8
The G37 was plasticky and weak. The WRX didn’t have enough power and was a bit chintzy on the inside. The STi had enough power but was all boy-racer and stupid looking inside and out (dat wing).. plus the ride was terrible for non-rally driving. Both Subies were contenders though. The SS was great! A little too electro-nannied and a little too pricey for me; if I could’ve found a stick to try, I may have gotten it. The ATS-V was laughable in its design.. seriously why even have a back seat if I physically can’t get into it with the front seat set to where I drive. The M3 was surprisingly gutless and bland/plasticky on the inside (not to mention cramped). The SRT-8 was fun (seats felt phenomenal) but ultimately it felt too big and bloated for what it was.
I wasn’t expecting to even like the Mustang GT but it checked almost all the boxes. I ended up getting a carseat in there.. facing front. Facing backwards was just too difficult. Thankfully my kid is juuuust big enough to sit in a front facing seat. It’s a base GT.. so no bells or whistles. But it has leather and I plan to get a good set of summer performance tires in a few months. Yes it is way over budget at $28.9k. I used most of my classic Charger savings along with my Lexus trade-in to get it, but it’s worth it. I’m considering saving towards a classic NSX now instead.
Ethan needed a car to outrun a tornado, but he ended up staying in the Pacific Northwest. So he bought a hot hatchback instead.
I ended up buying a red 2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Edition with a stick shift, which my foster kid named Ruby after the character in Steven Universe. It hits all my requirements aside from the now-mooted storm chasing angle: it’s a fun car with a stick shift and a backseat that works beautifully as a daily driver. I kind of miss the Solstice, but truthfully it was a pretty silly and impractical car.
Pastor Ben didn’t want to be a holy roller in some boring ass Toyota. He wanted something ridiculous, luxurious and cheap. Despite some really terribly awesome ideas, he put his faith into a Swedish outcast.
Update: 2011 Saab 9-5. $9200. 80k miles.
Allie’s beloved Beetle was getting a bit too cramped to haul her kids around, but she was determined not to get your typical mom mobile. Even though we all made a strong case for a hot hatchback, she wound up with something a bit less extreme, but still fun.
I wound up with a 2013 Q5 with the smaller engine in deep sea blue. I drove a metric crap ton of cars while searching for a replacement for my cheater Beetle (which broke my heart to sell back to VW), and I have notes on all of them... a Volvo V60 cross country, a Q3, a Tiguan, a GTI, a Golf R SE (which I’d never even listen to the stereo in because the engine sounds so throaty and refuses to be ignored, god that was great)... and others that I don’t even remember right now.
In the end, it came down to a lot fewer cerebral measures than I’d anticipated — because I pretty much fell in love with the Q5 the first time I drove it. The dealer told me to me to just keep it overnight, and even though I drove it to test drive other cars it just felt right from the moment I sat in it. Plus with kids and somewhat regular Ikea runs, the cute ute was a more practical choice than a hot hatch. I drive a lot for work, too, and my family felt safer with me on the road in an SUV (a “grown up car” as my Mom said) — not that I took their opinions into account when making a selection, but it was certainly easier to show this vehicle off to them than, say, that Golf R would have been.
Katy is a Jersey girl who was looking for a luxury car, except she didn’t really care for the usual suspects and wanted something different. It turns out Katy is braver than most of us and plopped down her hard earned money on a lovely Italian sedan.
I ended up checking out several cars based on the WCSYB article and comments to get a good baseline of comparison (Volvo Polestar, Infiniti Q50 Red Sport, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS 350 F Sport, Maserati Ghibli, and Alfa Romeo Giulia). I really liked the XE, but I fell in love with the Alfa Romeo Giulia. The Giulia has the right balance for me between luxury and sport, and it fits my kind of “something different” that I really wanted to find. I love the way it responds and it’s a joy to drive. I ended up choosing a more reasonably priced, AWD Base model that comes with the exterior and interior sports packages. I also decided to go with a 39-month lease since I wasn’t ready for full ownership on this brand new vehicle, but I’m 3 months in and am absolutely thrilled so far. If it still feels even half this great in 3 years I’m definitely buying it!
Brian had a wonderful Miata that sadly wasn’t really the best car for his needs, but at least he kept it in the family!
I ended up buying a 2015 Mazda3 2.5 Grand Touring with the 6spd manual. It’s got a black exterior/interior, and only 32k miles on it. I’ve attached a picture of it. I’m having a ton of trouble selling the old Miata though! I always thought it would be a piece of cake.
Mark is a gentleman on the larger side who needed something big and comfortable for himself and his giant dog. He was aiming for something fuel efficient, but that didn’t work out. At least gas is still cheap.
I got a 2017 Audi Q7, 3.0 Quattro with all the fixings.
I purchased it a few weeks before you answered my letter. I completely forgoed (forgot?) the “fuel efficiency” qualification because... wow, I can get 2 and a half tons of german engineering to 80 mph in like no time, but the clincher was that the seats are comfortable for my long drives (already have 8K miles on it) and the technology is kick-ass. I think most of the comments were pointing towards a Volvo XC and that was a lot closer to what I was looking to then what the staff suggested. Actually two of the three calls from friends who read the post suggested the Volvos also, the third call was the Audi sale’s guy.
Adam is a private detective who needed something comfortable that could blend in with everyone else. Of course, a silver Honda is the ultimate stealth mobile.
With all the great answers including the comments, I went with a 2013 Honda Accord. Hondas are reliable, big enough to fit 2 kids in, and proffesional, but discrete for my line of work.
Mine is silver with tinted windows and rides great.
Claire was in the market for a vehicle like the famous Canyonero from The Simpsons. While we tried our darndest to come close, she decided it was best just to keep her Honda since it frankly just refuses to die.
Surprise, surprise! I bought nothing! Turns out bitching about your Honda on the internet only renews its resolve to outlive its driver. Just rolled over 325,500 miles and I have no excuse to part with her now. I loved all the suggestions people had, they were spot on, but I just found out my working dog has a pre-existing condition and insurance won’t cover her. (A little too on the nose?) Anticipating future expenses, we decided to hold off until a new vehicle is an absolute necessity. And hey, we almost all fit!
After three terrible accidents, Stacy began to hate driving a car, but now that she is behind the wheel of a super safe Subaru she feels much better about cruising around.
Thank you Jalopnik for giving me advice on “what car should I buy”. Even though I am not a car lover like most of the Jalopnik audience, I truly appreciate the advice and input from the article. Because of my history with severe car accidents, I took this advice very seriously and it had a huge impact on my decision. I want to share my car buying experience and let you know how much your input helped me.
After the article was published, here’s what happened:
I started out wanting to buy a Honda Accord sedan because that was the car I was comfortable driving, but not sure it would be the best car for Minnesota winter driving.
After the advice with Jalopnik, I decided to go to the Minneapolis car show (with some encouragement from my husband) to investigate some cars. On the top of my list to visit were Subaru, Mazda and Honda.
After trying out a bunch of different cars, I found out that I did really love the Subarus. I drove the Legacy and it was okay, and then the Outback. The higher clearance and visibility sold me on this as the right Subaru for me. I also noticed the massive amount of Outbacks in the parking lot vs. all other Subarus. Now that I drove one, I know why people like them.
Nic was a lottery winner who got a nice little windfall, but not really an amount where he could splurge on a Lamborghini. He wanted to treat himself to an upgrade, but alsomake a reasonable purchase.
So he ignored all of our suggestions and went looking for a Lexus RC coupe, then when he couldn’t find one, he bought a motorcycle.
After some health issues, Ryan got a reliable heart and now he wanted a reliable car. So he got himself a Subaru.
I ended up getting a 2015 Subaru Forester . A local dealer had a 2015 limited with 13k miles on it that was in mint condition and within my price range. My credit union knocked a quarter of a percentage off if the car you purchased got greater than 30mpg so the Forester checked off that box. It has a HUGE panoramic moon roof, leather seats, and a power liftgate. My only complaint is I think the stock speakers sound a little tin-y?
It’s not as fun as my old jeep but it’s a responsible car for the next couple of years while I’m in grad school. When I’m out I think I’m going to get a Jaguar.
Well, there you have it, folks. Some people really do take our advice as so-called “experts” and some of them get inspired by the comments of you fine readers.
(If you have a cool, interesting or challenging car buying conundrum that you would like some help with - Submit your story on our form!)