I've Purchased Bad Cars And I Need To Change My Ways! What Car Should I Buy?

Illustration for article titled Ive Purchased Bad Cars And I Need To Change My Ways! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

Kerry does standup comedy in Los Angeles. What isn’t so funny is his previous ownership of... let’s say questionable cars from Chrysler and Dodge. He needs some help in selecting a ride that won’t let him down. What car should he buy?

(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.)

Here is the scenario:

I want to do better. My last two cars have been a PT Cruiser and then I took over my wife’s car, a 2007 Dodge Caliber when she bought a Challenger. I live and work in LA so I spend a lot of time in my car. Born and raised in Detroit I have an appreciation of cars (not that my last to choices show you that). The last new car I bought that I truly loved was a Nissan Maxima. A used luxury car that isn’t run of the mill appeals to me. I was thinking used Cadillac for a while and then read today’s article on them and am not so sure anymore. I am tired of the nickel and dime repairs of American cars (window switches, wiper motors, latches, lights. etc.).

Ideally, I’d like something that is deceptively fast (doesn’t need to look fast, just be fast). It would be great if it had a comfortable interior with decent tech for waiting in traffic, affordable repairs (no $200 oil changes), good cruising car for those occasional road trips to Vegas. Also, since this is LA there are used BMWs and Mercedes everywhere, I would prefer to have something different. As for budget, I can spend up to $20,000.


Quick Facts :

Budget: up to $20,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: Los Angeles

Wants: Reliable, luxurious, and powerful

Doesn’t want: The same thing everyone else has or a Fiat-Chrysler product.

Expert 1: Tom McParland - Keep Your Eye On The Skyline

Illustration for article titled Ive Purchased Bad Cars And I Need To Change My Ways! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

Kerry, don’t beat yourself up too much about the PT Cruiser and the Dodge Caliber. The Cruiser was kind of a cool car for its time and it’s not like you actually went to a dealership and spent your hard earned money on a Caliber. But I can understand your desire to get something a little faster and higher quality.

As you have found out there is no shortage of used luxury cars in the LA market, and you will find a boatload of them under 20 grand at independent used car dealers all over town. If there is one tip I can give you, watch out for dealers that can’t spell. If you spot a high-end pre-owned car at a place called Hot Ridez, maybe best to move on.


That being said, if you are looking for fast, reliable, comfortable and different, find yourself an Infiniti G37 sedan. It may not look like much, but that’s the beauty of it. Few people would know that car packs over 320 horsepower, from an incredibly durable V6. The G37 was called the Nissan Skyline in Japan and while it’s not quite the same car you find in Gran Turismo, the performance could easily give a BMW 3 Series a run for its money. And because it’s an Infiniti you will get all the luxury features you would expect for a long drive.

Here is one not far from you with reasonable miles well within your budget at a store that knows how to spell.


Expert 2: Erik Shilling - Always Go Volvo

Illustration for article titled Ive Purchased Bad Cars And I Need To Change My Ways! What Car Should I Buy?em/em
Photo: Volvo

Hello Kerry! Your choice of cars over the years is, indeed, fairly boring, as you acknowledge, though as someone who owned a Saturn Ion for years, I don’t have much room to speak.

Anyway. We are here to rectify this situation, which is why I’m suggesting you buy a Volvo S60 T6. Here’s a 2014 model that looks like one decent option, for the price of $19,995.


What do you get with the Volvo S60 T6? You get 300 horsepower from its 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, which is more than enough to make you go quick, should you want to drive quick. It’s also a bit of looker, and has the tech and safety features you would expect from a luxury sedan. It’s also extremely safe, in keeping with Volvo’s reputation.

And, again, 300 horsepower is enough horsepower for fun, in addition to being the correct amount of horsepower. Always go Volvo.


Expert 3: Jason Torchinsky - Stand-Ups Need Interesting Cars

Illustration for article titled Ive Purchased Bad Cars And I Need To Change My Ways! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

Kerry, wake up: what do some of the biggest, most successful names in stand-up comedy have in common? Cars. Interesting cars. Look at Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and, for the sake of this sentence, let’s pretend that Tig Notaro drives a Gordon-Keeble. You need something memorable, cool, and unique. You need this 1992 Mazda Eunos Cosmo.

This car will hit everything you said you want: luxurious (this was Mazda’s flagship touring car, remember), powerful (the three-rotor Wankel engine in these things made about 300 horsepower), and reliable (uh, sure!).


Well, I’m not absolutely sure about how reliable this thing would be, long-term. I’m sure there’ll be apex seal issues at some point, and servicing and parts isn’t going to exactly be a cakewalk, but fuck it! It’s worth it!

Besides, you’re in California, and that’s likely the best place to be to find people to work on this thing. It’s old enough to be registered without too much hassle (there’s other ones of these in Cali) and, hell, look at the damn thing.


This still feels modern and sleek and exotic, 26 years later. You’re not going to see anyone else driving one of these, and, even better, if your comedy career takes you into the spheres of influence of Leno or Seinfeld, you have something to talk to them about that you know they’ll pay attention to.

It’s only $12,900, a solid seven grand under budget! Sock away $5000 for potential repairs, and, hey, spend two grand on you. You’re worth it.


I assume.

Expert 4: Patrick George — The F Stands For ‘Fuck, These Things Got Cheap’

Illustration for article titled Ive Purchased Bad Cars And I Need To Change My Ways! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

One time I was in Los Angeles after I had driven down from Seattle along the PCH in an electric blue BMW M4 convertible. For most of the route it was a flashy, expensive, rare-ish new car, but by the time we reached LA we may as well have been in an Accord Coupe, the M4 was so common. So I feel you there on wanting to stand out while staying on a budget.

You like speed, performance and being a little different, so may I suggest a Lexus IS F? For some reason these things have become hilariously cheap, and while $20,000 is pushing it, you can find some high-mileage examples out there if you’re willing to hunt. And your prize is a delightful naturally aspirated V8 with Lexus reliability.


Here is one for $20,995 with under 90,000 miles. For a Lexus, that isn’t even halfway through its life. And despite being a decade old, I bet it’ll roast a few modern BMWs in LA whenever you need.

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


I know it’s not exactly the most Jalop choice, but the TLX V6 either FWD or SH-AWD from 2015- on is showing up in ads around $22-25k CAD, which should be within range in USD for this fella. 290hp V6, pretty good economy for LA, the tech is okay if you get used to the interface and controls. Most importantly, it flies under the radar while being pretty quick with low ownership costs. If you aren’t a speed freak, the 2.4 FWD TLX with the DCT is really good as well.