Tony is an attorney from Philadelphia who has been slogging around in his 2003 Accord with 140,000 miles so he can get his student loans in check. Now it’s time for an upgrade. He needs a good “lawyer” car, but not something too expensive or over the top. What car should he buy?
I guess TV and movie stereotypes made everyone expect an attorney to drive a fancy BMW or Mercedes, and there are plenty of lawyers who do just that. However, I’ve worked with dozens of clients who practice law and almost all of them requested something nice, but not terribly expensive.
Tony graduated law school not that long ago and he looking to trade up his Accord for something that “looks the part” but won’t break the bank.
Here is the scenario:
I am a 26-year old attorney freshly laden with student loans. And the only thing worse than a student loan is a car loan, so I am looking at something in the $20-25K range to keep it reasonable. Being from the Philly area with some pretty bad winters/salt and the occasional trip to central-PA, I am looking for something with 4x4 (not a must), or AWD, or traction control. Gas mileage isn’t an issue given my commute.
I currently drive 2003 bland, silver Honda Accord (yet reliable) clunker with 140K miles with some body damage...and the right-side mirror being strung together with duct tape. You’ve probably seen her and her countless thousands of cousins transversing I-95 and the northeast.So a new ride sans duct tape would be a plus!
I would prefer a V6, although open to a good horsepower four-cylinder. I just want more umph than my four-cylinder, thirteen-year-old Honda puts out when it comes to merging on the infamous Schuylkill Expressway (I-76).
I am looking for a sleek, classy (no weird or bright colors), dependable car that ultimately looks like a car a lawyer would drive (just not something Matthew McConaughey would drive in “Lincoln Lawyer” or any of those hideous new Lincolns in those commercials for that matter) to the firm, country club, or client meeting. Primarily looking at used or CPO. Possibly ready to meet my ultimate fate and cross into the luxury car realm but am open to all possibilities.
Budget: $20,000 - $25,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Average Miles Per-Week: 100-200 miles
Expected Ownership Time: More than seven years
Wants: Sleek, classy, with a little bit of power
Doesn’t want: A Lincoln or something unreliable
Expert #1: Tom McParland - Almost Went To Law School
Tony, so the Accord treated you well for a while, but it doesn’t quite have the image that you need it to as an attorney. You need something that projects a bit of status, but without having the price tag and the maintenance baggage that typically comes with luxury cars.
What you need is an Infiniti, specifically an M37x. The M-series (now called the Q70) was Infiniti’s answer to the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class, but got ignored in the marketplace primarily due to a lack of snob appeal. But these are really underrated cars. They are incredibly comfortable, very well equipped, and definitely look like a luxury car that you spent way more than twenty-five large on.
You can get the M-series with a V6 or a V8, the latter being overkill for you, especially when M37 comes with Nissan’s excellent VQ-series 3.7-liter V6 that pumps out 330 horsepower. You will want to get the M37x that has the all-wheel-drive. Here is a CPO 2013 M37x with less than 50k miles right within your budget. It’s a classy car that’s great for sitting in traffic or taking clients for a ride.
Expert #2: Kristen Lee - FOR SWEDEN!
Hey there Tony! See that distinguished-looking man in that photo? Know why he’s looking so distinguished? Because he’s driving a Volvo S60 R. This is the car you want.
You mentioned being open to having either a V6 or a four-cylinder. Well, this Volvo has five cylinders that make some of the most beautiful music of any modern car. It has 300 horsepower, all-wheel-drive, big Brembo brakes (!!) and a fancy adjustable suspension system that lets you tweak your ride between Comfort, Sport and Advanced modes. Each will make the car behave a little differently and will keep the driving experience fresh.
Besides that, this is probably one of the most understated 300-HP cars ever. Almost nobody who looks at this car would expect it to be able to move with any kind of gumption, but holy hell it can. That makes this the perfect sleeper, the perfect secret weapon. You’ll be able to thrash it around on some backroads and then head around the bend to the main drag, appearing to the world as just another rule-following Swedish sedan.
Luckily, S60 Rs are actually below your budget. Here’s one with 62,715 miles for just $12,995. I hope you can drive stick!
Expert #3: Patrick George - Knows What An Attorney Should Drive Because He’s Constantly Hiring Them
My colleagues here are on the right track and so are you, Tony. You want something nice, something that projects confidence, competence and success, but won’t make it look like you’re out to take prospective clients to the cleaners. (Any more than you actually are, of course.) This rules out overly expensive models, flashy sports cars, weird vintage shit and/or something nice but clearly costly to maintain, like a Phaeton or a used Bentley Continental.
The way I see it you’ve had good results with Hondas so far, so it’s time to upgrade. How about an Acura TSX SportWagon? They don’t make them anymore but there’s a ton in your $25,000-ish price range. Auto and front-wheel drive only, but that’s why God invented snow tires. They’re fun to drive, well-built, quite nice in and under-the-radar sort of way, reliable as clockwork, and will immediately announce your enthusiast cred without being flashy. A solid pick that should serve you well for years to come.
Expert #4: Jason Torchinsky - Upholding The Law Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Get To Break Rules
Sure, everyone had great suggestions up there. Fantastic choices, every one Unless, of course, you don’t want to fade into a taupe-colored cloud of boredom every time you drive.
That’s why you need to forget all that bullshit up there and accept that there’s only one car that makes sense for you: this 1987 Zimmer Quicksilver.
Even if you’re think you’re too beaten down by the massive Boring Lobby that controls 97 percent of car purchases in America, you just need to look at your own wants to understand that this little Fiero-based, mid-engined V6 velvet firecraker is the car you need:
Sleek, classy, with a little bit of power
This Zimmer hits every one of those points with the power and precision of a Swiss craftsman on Adderall. Sleek? Fuck yes. Look at those proportions! Classy? Shit, man, this thing gives you almost a lethal dose of class every time you touch it! A little bit of power? At 140 HP, that’s exactly what that 2.8-liter V6 puts out. It’s only $18,995! A steal!
And, remember, this is a mid-engined car! It’s going to be engaging to drive, parts are easy to get, and, best of all, when you pull up to pick up a client, they’ll know they picked the right lawyer. Because a loser does not drive a Zimmer.
Don’t be a chump. This is your car.