I Tried To Put Off Buying A Car But Now I Need Two! What Should I Buy?

Needs a family SUV and a nice sedan with a total budget of around $100,000

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Photo: Mazda

Due to the pandemic, Cameron tried to delay his car purchase for as long as possible. However, his commute has changed and his aging 2010 CX9 isn’t going to cut it. HE wants to get both a family car and a sedan for the daily drive. He is working with a solid budget. What cars 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 put off buying a car due to the pandemic, and now I need to buy two of them! I’m suddenly commuting 75 miles a day, and using our 2010 Mazda CX-9 for the task. It’s served us well, and still runs and presents well,. But now that I’m gone all day, we need a family car, and something comfortable for my maddening commute. Thus, we need something roomy to haul the two kids around in first, and then a comfortable sedan to replace the Mazda as my commuter. I’m not dead set on a three-box sedan, but buying two SUVs seems kind of dumb.

For the fam, we want a roomy two-row SUV with a little badge prestige for family use. My new commute came from a big step in my career. (I’ve owned multiple British and Swedish cars, so that’s enough out of Europe for me.) On the sedan, I don’t want anything over-wound- think more “lovable bulldog” than “energetic border collie.” Also, I’m intrigued by stop-and-go cruise control, as that would make my drive a whole lot easier.

In terms of budget, I am thinking max $60k on the SUV and around $50k on the sedan


Quick Facts:

Budget: About $100k for both cars (give or take)

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: Houston, TX

Wants: Roomy, reliable, comfortable

Doesn’t want: Anything European

Expert 1: Tom McParland — Two Ls Are Better Than One

Image for article titled I Tried To Put Off Buying A Car But Now I Need Two! What Should I Buy?
Photo: Stef Schrader

Well, Cameron, you don’t need me to tell you that buying two cars now is not the most ideal situation, but we just have to make the best of what we have to work with. The good news is that if you are targeting a sedan for one of your options, that is a segment that isn’t so bad, and you are more likely to catch a competitive deal.

I’m going to catch some heat in the comments for what might be the most boring recommendation for a two-car household, but you aren’t looking for thrills... you want something nice that works.


For the family, I would shoot for a Lexus RX350 or 450h if you wanted to get better fuel economy. The RX is arguably the most reliable luxury crossover you can buy, it’s not exciting and may not be as flashy as the European offerings, but it’s comfortable and reliable. Inventory looks fairly plentiful and here is a well-equipped example right in your budget zone.

Now if you are going to buy one Lexus you might as well buy two… since you used the dog analogy, the same philosophy applies since, two dogs are usually better than one. This will make it easier to hop from one car to the next and be super familiar with the settings and such. For your commuter car, I would say go for the ES300h. This will maximize your fuel economy while providing an upscale and super comfortable highway cruiser. This Ultra Luxury model is packed with everything and while it’s more than your target budget for the sedan, the lower MSRP on the RX balances everything out.


Expert 2: Mercedes Streeter — Not Something European

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Photo: Zee Motors

I see your desires have thwarted my efforts to offer you some horribly complex machine from Europe. Instead, I’ll offer you something that should meet your needs while also not giving up on fun.


For the SUV, here’s a Toyota FJ Cruiser with just 32,800 miles. That’s barely broken-in for one of these. While it may not be as soft as a luxury SUV, these turn heads. And should you ever see a trail and think “I want to go down there,” the FJ will handle it with ease. The price comes well within budget.

So now that you’ve blown only $35,000 of your large budget, lets get a cool sedan! For this, I’ll suggest a 2022 Subaru Legacy fresh off of the lot if you can find one.

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Photo: Subaru

Get a higher trim level and you get a nice leather interior and a 260 HP 2.4-liter flat four attached to Subaru’s signature all-wheel-drive. I think that hits the spot of a “lovable bulldog.” Oh, and you can get it with some nice leather and they all come standard with Subaru’s adaptive cruise control system. Plus, a new car warranty means no worries for a while.


Expert 3: David Tracy — EV Commuter, Bronco For The Fam

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Image: Tesla

Here’s the thing about long commutes: They generally suck. I remember driving 30 miles one-way from downtown Detroit to my Chrysler job in Auburn Hills; my vehicles of choice? A 1992 Jeep Cherokee and a 1996 Jeep Cherokee — both vehicles that I love.


The commute still sucked. My focus was on getting to and from work, not on enjoying a cruise up and down I-75. All of this is to say that, though I prefer manual ICE-powered vehicles when it comes to Fahrvergnügen, commutes aren’t about joy, they’re more about comfort and fuel economy. Which is why you should consider getting an EV.

I don’t think I myself will be buying an electric car anytime soon, as I don’t find them as fun to drive as certain manual-shift ICE cars, but if I had a long daily commute, I’d absolutely snag an electric car. Mostly for environmental reasons, but also because, like I said, I don’t need “fun to drive” to get to work, necessarily.


So with this in mind, I’ll offer you the perfect two-car solution: A Tesla Model 3 for you to get to and from work, and a Ford Bronco for the fam.

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Image: David Tracy

I’ll admit that the Bronco is doing a bit of compensation, here. Obviously, you don’t the big tires, high ride height, or off-road hardware. You could just get a crossover. But I think the Bronco could be a badass truck for you to take camping and off-roading, while the Model 3 is your more sensible, quiet commuter. It’s a nice balance of two thoroughly badass machines.

Expert 4: Jason Torchinsky — Let Crazy Dave’s Insane Deals Solve This For You

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Photo: David Tracy

Cameron, I have some advice for you: don’t be an idiot. This is the shittiest possible time to buy a new car, let alone two, and I’m not going to sit back and watch you piss away a lot of money. Instead, I’m going to save you over $80,000 and, at the same time, help solve one of our writers’ biggest problems.

How? Easy. You’re going to buy two dirt-cheap cars from our own David Tracy.

Yes, I know for a fact that David is kind of an idiot who currently has slices of pizza laying overturned on his carpet, but the man knows how to make cars run, and both the options I’m going to tell you about are reliable daily runners that you and your family can happily enjoy at least until the world of new car buying comes to its senses again.


For the sedan, I’m suggesting David’s 1965 Plymouth Valiant, a stylish car with an unbreakable Slant-6 engine that’s a steal at $2,500. Sure, it broke down recently because of a clutch release bellcrank, but David fixed it, and it’s better than new!

Plus, it’s fantastic looking, and you will stand out in your strangely stylish classic, surrounded by a sea of gray and black blobby forgettacars in whatever parking lot you roll up in.


Will the manual three-on-the-tree make your commute easier? No. Hell no. Will it make you a better person, somehow, in some ill-defined way? Absolutely.

And, for the SUV, what about David’s Holy Grail Jeep Cherokee ZJ, with a five-speed manual and roll-down windows! Keep your kids from getting too soft in an era of power everything, and let them learn the value of the rewards of hard work! And he only wants, what, $8,500 for it!


You want “badge prestige?” Hell, one of the globe’s most influential automotive journalists called this car the Holy Grail—the very vessel that Jesus himself drank from! How’s that for prestige? Nice Lexus, dipshits, you’re rolling up in the Holy Fucking Grail. Of Jeeps. According to a man who leaves his groceries in his car trunk instead of his fridge.

Look, for a combined $11,000 you’re getting all your car needs met, and saving about $89,000. If anyone in your family complains about these cars, you could give them $2,000 to shut the fuck up about it and still come out ahead!


When the market settles down and supply chain issues get sorted, then you can go and buy something boring and new and not get reamed for it.

Ride out the storm with some of David’s quality machines. It just makes sense.

Expert 5: Elizabeth Blackstock — New, New, New

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Photo: Genesis

Oh Cameron, my Cameron — you’ve given us quite a challenge today! Not just one, but two vehicles. And for the sedan, I like what David Tracy is thinking with the EV. But instead of a fully-electric vehicle, I’m pitching a plug-in hybrid instead: A brand-new Honda Clarity PHEV.

Why the Clarity? Well, at just under $35,000 for the base model, you’ll have plenty of wiggle room to upgrade to the Touring trim, which will give you all the comfort you need for longer drives. You’ll also have about 47 miles of fully-electric range, so if you can charge at work, you shouldn’t have to tap into the gas tank. But if you’re thinking of using it for a road trip, you’re also not going to have to work about charging if you don’t want to.


As for the SUV, I’m going to do it. I’m going to pitch the Genesis GV80. The two-row version comes with plenty of legroom in the rear, and it’s also the cushiest ride you’re going to get in this price range. Is it prestigious? Not really — at least, it’s not one of the classically prestigious SUV nameplates out there. But for just over $60,000, you can nab the 3.5-liter turbo engine. And if you want to use some of your leftover sedan money, you could even splurge for the top-level Prestige trim.

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