Ivan moved from France to NJ, which I imagine is quite a change for him. He had a lovely Peugeot 406 back home and he wants something similar in the American market. He has a limited budget. What car should he buy?
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
I’m French, I moved to the U.S. I want a substitute to my old-fashioned Peugeot 406. In case you are not familiar with this car, here are the details:
My Peugeot 406 had the following :
average consumption of 5.1 l/100 km
347'000 km mileage
I am looking for a car with the following criteria:
Under 5k USD
Very low consumption
Comfortable like my 406
Don’t matter if manual or automatic
I like doing road trips so this car needs to be good for long drives and won’t leave me stranded somewhere.
Budget: Up to $5,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: New Jersey
Wants: Comfortable, good MPG, reliable
Doesn’t want: Something too stiff
Expert 1: Tom McParland - A Lexus Is The Best-est
Ivan, as a New Jersey resident, let me say welcome to the Garden State. Yes, we do actually have gardens here despite what you have likely seen so far. The secret of NJ is despite the crap the state gets about being the armpit of America there are actually very nice places to live. We also have Wawa.
As for a replacement for your Peugeot, I took your advice on the form and researched the 406 since I was not super familiar with that car. From what I gather it’s a mid-size sedan that is comfortable, a bit upscale, but not too fancy and easy to drive. Now the one thing I wouldn’t suggest you get too hung up on at this price point is fuel economy. Gas is fairly cheap in the U.S. compared to Europe, and while I wouldn’t suggest something with a V8, anything that can achieve around 25 MPG or better shouldn’t hit your wallet too hard.
What you need is a nice used Lexus ES. These are perfect road trip cars, with a plush and comfortable interior. Under the skin, the ES is basically a Toyota Camry, which is one of the most reliable sedans you can buy. These cars are equipped with V6 engines that won’t return the same fuel economy as your 406, but the extra punch will be helpful when trying to merge onto the Garden State Parkway.
Here is a 1998 example in NJ with only 132,000 miles, and while that car has some age on it, unless your name is Raphael Orlove you should be able to get a lot more life out of it if it was well cared for.
Expert 2: David Tracy - Remember, Cadillac Was French
The Cadillac car company got its name from Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, founder of the fine city of Detroit. Therefore, when you buy this 1978 Cadillac Seville, you’ll have no reason to feel ashamed rolling up to your friend’s weekly baguette and miniature Eiffel Tower keychain enthusiast party.
No, this land yacht is not going to be thrifty with its 5.7-liter Oldsmobile V8 and three-speed automatic, but that’s okay because this two owner machine has only 56,000 miles on the clock. But more importantly, look at this interior!:
Yeah, that’s a completely blue interior covered in wide leather seats. Hell, I’d call them couches. Even the door panels look couch-like. Apparently the car has been garage kept for 15 years and is in “excellent driving condition,” which is good, because the $8,950 asking price is a little higher than your budget.
But again, look at that interior. Don’t try to resist that much comfort. It’s futile.
Expert 3: Jason Torchinsky - Stick By Your Old Ami
Yes, welcome to America, Ivan, but don’t think for one second that being here means you have to give up all the things you loved about home! You were a Peugeot man there, right? Well why the hell can’t you still be a Peugeot man here? The answer is you absolutely can, and a great way to do just that is with this lovely 1988 Peugeot 505.
Man, that thing is in pristine shape, non? They’re only asking $4,300 for it, and it’s even already in New Jersey! This feels like it was meant for you.
The 505s were tough cars, popular all over the world, and this one even has the same engine as the DeLorean! I know for most people that PRV V6 engine is considered the Achilles’ heel of the DeLorean, but screw them, right?
This is a comfortable, reasonably efficient car that will let you fly your French Freak Flag high and proud, because, dammit, you’re French and the people of New Jersey need to realize that. Also, it’s way easier than wearing a striped shirt and beret and carrying a baguette around all the time, because that’s offensive.
Be French and proud! Stick with Peugeot!
Expert 4: Andrew Collins - Can’t Spell Acura Without “AC”
Welcome to America! Let me guess, my colleagues came up with random cars they like but don’t actually address the prompt? Don’t worry Ivan, I’m here to help for real. What you want is a third-generation Acura TL. These cars are comfortable, smooth, elegant, reliable and very efficient. The factory fuel economy rating is somewhere in the 20s but I get over 30 mpg in my 2005 on highway trips on the regular.
These cars are somewhat known for having malfunctions with their automatic transmissions, so keep an eye out for that, or just get a manual which you’ll like better anyway. The six-speed you could order on these cars is absolutely divine.
Since you’re in New Jersey, maybe check out this ’04 TL for sale in nearby New York. The gold color is a little unusual, but 140,000 miles is nothing for these cars (mine has almost 230,000) and this one looks clean with that sweet, sweet six-speed and it’s listed for a very reasonable $2,800.