What Kind Of Car Should The Mass Affluent Buy?

Moose - A Land Rover Discover II Getting Fixed
Moose On The Operating Table

Are you part of the mass affluent class and wondering what type of car to buy? Look no further as Financial Samurai speaks directly to the mass affluent crowd.

We previously described the mass affluent class by income, wealth, and investable assets. Mass affluent is essentially a subset of the middle class that's well educated and upwardly mobile due to their education and optimism.

Given you're reading a personal finance site for fun and education and I'm writing personal finance articles, let's all consider ourselves mass affluent with upside potential! Hooray!

My Desire To Purchase A New Car

After 10 years of owning the same car, I’ve decided to finally buy something new within the next six months. There are a number of problems with Moose, a 2000 Land Rover Discover II, including:

• Warning lights on for the traction control, hill decent, and ABS.
• Check engine light is permanently on.
• Sunroof doesn't open or close.
• Heated seats don't work.
• No Bluetooth.
• CD changer doesn't work.
• Front passenger seat no longer adjusts due to broken motor.
• Cigarette charger doesn’t work, which means I can’t charge my mobile devices on long road trips.
• Brakes are mushy even after changing them two years ago.
• Not sure if the airbags work since they haven't had their 10 year service.
• Gears don't connect once every 50 starts for some reason. Have to turn him off, wait for 10 seconds, and turn back on to reengage the gears.
• Two balding tires that cost $200 to replace each.

Other than these 12 problems I can think of, Moose runs like a champ! Ha!

Over the past three years I’ve spent about $1,100 buying him a new alternator, a new serpentine belt, a tune up, and fixing a massively leaking fuel pump. If there is one more problem that costs over $500, I'm sad to say that I've got to let him go. It’s hard to do because he's been so good to me. Moose has never broken down, not even in the worst Tahoe snow storm. If I’m ever in an accident, I feel safe that Moose will hold up better as well.

I’m starting to fear that I’ll one day get stranded somewhere when Moose experiences some transmission glitch. I know all I have to do is call roadside assistance and wait 45 minutes for a boost or a tow, but that's not ideal if I'm rushing somewhere. If you have an older car, getting roadside assistance for several bucks a month is the best thing ever. I did leave my lights on several times before and roadside assistance came quickly to give me a jump.

I’d love to finally find a new vehicle that has all the creature comforts that many people for the past five years have taken for granted. You know, like being able to plug in your mobile phone to listen to some tunes. I’ve come up with a list of vehicles I’m considering for myself and for the mass affluent. Let me know which particular car or category you’d choose and why. 

The Econo Practical Ride

Honda Fit Economy Car

Honda recently came out with its latest Fit model and I think it’s a great choice for a mostly city driver. The car is only about 160 inches long, which makes it ideal for parking in tight spaces. Moose is 184 inches long in comparison. I’ve lost out on many open parking spaces as a result.

The Honda Fit’s fuel economy is around 28-35, more than double Moose’s fuel economy. Instead of costing $70 to drive to Tahoe 210 miles away, I’ll only have to spend $30.

The Honda Fit LX version with alloy wheels (not hubcaps) costs about $19,000 before tax, and $21,500 out the door in California. One thing to note is that the latest Honda Fits are no longer made in Japan, but made in Mexico to reduce costs for Honda. Who knows for sure whether the Mexican made Hondas will be as high quality as the Japanese made Hondas. Only time will tell.

Being frugal and green is a very San Francisco thing to do. Even though Moose guzzles a lot of gas, at least I've held on to him for 10 years, and didn't add pollution by buying another car. If you don’t completely destroy your old car, you are still adding more pollution if you buy a new one.

The Honda Fit is a great way to practice Stealth Wealth. but it's also a great way to get zero attention from all the lovely ladies looking to meet blogger studs. The car enthusiast in me will probably long for a faster, beefer, and more fun car to drive. I’m used to sitting up high, which is very helpful during traffic. Sitting down low feels a little claustrophobic.

With the money saved buying a compact car, I’ll have at least $20,000 more to invest that will hopefully grow in the long run. The problem is that 2014-2015 models are on back order due to too much demand.

Babe magnet rating: 1/10

Stealth Wealth rating: 10/10

Thrill rating: 2/10

Alternative compact cars under consideration:

  • Nissan Sentra for $18,500. Lots of space, good price, decent looks.
  • Nissan Versa Note for $17,000 – $19,000. New version that looks better, has great space, and costs $19,000 or less.
  • Toyota Yaris hatchback for $17,000-$18,000.

The New Mini Moose

Range Rover Evoque Black Limited

The Land Rover Evoque came out in 2010 and has won numerous awards, including Motortrends Car Of The Year, and World SUV Of The Year. It has a 240 hp engine, which is 55% more powerful than Moose’s engine. It sits up higher than a regular car, but is lower than Moose.

The Evoque is about 171 inches long, which is 13 inches shorter than Moose and is much better for parking. The only downside is that the rear seats are pretty cramped, and there’s not much luggage space compared to Moose. I would say luggage space is 40% less. Good thing I don’t lug much stuff around.

The Evoque is probably much safer than a Honda Fit if I were to get into a head on, rear, or side accident. It has 10 airbags, is much heavier than a Fit, and has much thicker doors. If I am to have a family, having a heavier, thicker, safer car is important. I don’t know if I could live with myself if my child got injured or died because I decided to go with a compact car. If you could afford a car that was built like a tank to transport your kids, wouldn’t you be willing to pony up if you could afford it?

The big downside with the Evoque is the sticker price. The base model runs for $44,500, and the Limited Edition version (pic) goes for around $60,000. The price violates my 1/10th rule for car buying, but does not violate my net worth rule for car buying. I will either pay cash or have my business buy this car. See: Tax Rules For Buying A SUV Or Truck To Deduct As A Business Expense

I know I’ll really love driving around a Limited Edition Evoque. It looks great with its black 20” rims. The Evoque will make driving fun again, especially on the 3 hour drive to Lake Tahoe during summers and winters. It’ll feel good knowing that I’ve got a more compact car that’s safer and with more horse power. The MPG is not bad at 21-28 either.

The Evoque is a car I could easily own for 5-10 years. The Honda Fit is a car that I could own for 2-3 years and probably get bored as I start thinking to myself what’s the point of saving and making all this money if I don’t live it up a little.

Babe magnet rating: 8/10

Stealth Wealth rating: 4/10

Thrill rating: 8/10

Other car considerations:

  • BMW X3. This is BMW’s mid-size SUV (between X1 and X5). Looks OK, and has more rear space. Cost is around $52,000 for the 3.0 litre engine which is larger and faster than the Evoque’s.
  • Audi Q5. Been around for at least four years now and a new model will be coming out in 2015 or 2016. Good looking car if you get the S-Line version, which also costs about $52,000.
  • Porsche Macan. Porsche just came out with a smaller version of the Cayenne and it looks sweet! There are two models: S and Turbo. The S looks good enough and comes in at about $54,000 with mid-level trim. I'm going to have to take a look.
  • Range Rover Sport. I'm a big fan of the latest aluminum body Range Rover Sport. The downsides are that it's very wide at 80″, is a gas guzzler, and costs about $80,000 out the door.

The Electric Car

BMW Electric Car i3

I finally drove an electric car for the first time and loved it! BMW has come out with the new i3, which is a compact four door. It looks good, and it’s fast! They say the new i3 has the fastest 0-30 time of BMW’s entire fleet.

The i3 costs about $45,000 – $52,000 and has a standard range of about 80 miles on one full charge. You can get a range extender or hybrid motor, but that costs another $10,000 more, making the price hard to digest.

Given the technology is always improving and the battery fades over time, it’s a much better idea to lease an electric vehicle vs. purchasing one. I wrote a pretty extensive article on things to consider when buying an electric vehicle if you’re interested in knowing more.

The biggest problem I have with the BMW i3 is the range. I cannot get to Tahoe on one charge, and it takes anywhere from two hours for a quick charge to eight hours or so for a standard charge. The EV charging stations aren’t fully built out yet.

One solution I’ve thought about is driving for 75 miles up to Tahoe and charging the vehicle while I get lunch or dinner. But even with another 75-80 mile charge up, I will still be 50 miles short of my place! It looks like I will have to either rent a gas vehicle to go up to Tahoe, or use the i3 as my second car, which is not ideal since I only have space for one car in my garage.

Babe magnet rating: 6.5/10

Stealth Wealth rating: 5/10

Thrill rating: 8/10

Other considerations:

  • Nissan Leaf. Excellent alternative to the i3 at $32,000. Also won World Car Of The Year when it first came out several years ago.
  • Tesla Model S. The P85+ Tesla has a range of 250 miles, and would therefore solve my Tahoe problem. It’s a sweet car that has a lot of space, but it costs about $110,000-$120,000 for this version. I can get a regular version for about $70,000, but it won’t get me to Tahoe. Perhaps it’s best to wait for their more mass market $45,000 version in 2015.


2014 Range Rover Sport
2015 Range Rover Sport. Too expensive at $80K

I’m assuming many of you will say, “none of the above” given there are so many choices and so many different tastes. But humor me a bit and choose one a category (Econo, Mini SUV, Electric) and then the specific vehicle.

I know I should probably just get a Honda Fit given it’s the perfect city car and has everything I need (except for 4WD to Tahoe). It jut doesn’t have the horsepower or desirability. I really dislike driving due to traffic and bad drivers. But I think I’d enjoy driving a little more if I once again had a luxury car like the Limited Edition Evoque. If I’m going to hold on to the car for another 10 years, the price hit doesn’t feel as bad. Furthermore, there was a time for many years where the Evoque clearly fit under my 1/10th rule for car buying.

The other alternative is to once again do nothing and keep Moose until it finally breaks down on me. I love Moose because I can leave him parked outside and not care too much if he gets bumped, scratched, or even stolen. If someone wants to rage with me on the highway, I have no problem playing bumper cars. If I was driving a brand new car, I’d be more stressed about wrecking it.

The final consideration I have is the cost of maintenance. The first three years of maintenance are all included for the Honda and the BMW has a 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty. But I’ve got to pay for brakes and new tires with the Evoque if they wear out in the first three years.

According to an Allstate quote on the Honda Civic, it’ll only cost me around $25 a month. The i3 and the Evoque will cost me around $50-70 a month. Not that big of a deal, but still a difference nonetheless. I haven’t gotten a ticket or been in an accident for over seven years, so my driving record is very clean. I'd check out AllState for the lowest auto insurance rates possible.

I decided in 2019 to live it up by buying a Range Rover Sport. I love the vehicle and it is also important to protect my baby boy. I can be the safest driver in the world, but someone can hit us out of nowhere. I drove a Honda Fit for 3 years and it was great, but I'd feel terrible if something were to happen in an accident.

The safest car to survive a crash by Financial Samurai
New mid-life crisis car for safety. Range Rover V6 HSE

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124 thoughts on “What Kind Of Car Should The Mass Affluent Buy?”

  1. Pingback: Deciding On Leasing Or Purchasing A New Car | Financial Samurai

  2. I originally wrote out an epic post, with prose that would make James Joyce swoon but alas my Apple Juice went dry and now it’s gone forever more.

    So here’s the crux: a car is a depreciating asset, nothing more. A bicycle is an appreciating asset that matures the dividend within yourself. The money you save will allow you to rent a car when you need to go to Tahoe, take a cab when it pours.

    You live in San Francisco: one of the best cities on America for cycling of less than 47 square miles so you can get anywhere actually easier than with a car.

    Once you embrace the bike you’ll never want to waste time in a car ever again.

  3. So I have one point to make… I am like you and I LOATHE driving. I hate it. I thought that if I got a fancy luxury car that’s fun to drive it would make me hate driving just a bit less. I got a fully loaded Ford Edge (at the time, where I worked, I drove clients around and so I couldn’t quite go for the true luxury car… would have looked like I wasn’t spending their money well. ;) )

    So my car has 5 LCD screens, tons of toys, panoramic sunroof, DVD players, seat heaters, etc, and while those things are nice, they still haven’t solved the “I hate driving” problem. So just from personal experience, a nice car probably won’t solve that.

  4. Practical Patty

    my vote is the honda fit and/or waiting if you can & getting a used range rover if that is most practical for your needs.. So…what kind of babe are you looking to attract? A practical babe like myself won’t go for the flash of a more expensive car. A practical babe like me thinks retiring in your 30’s is hot.

  5. Easy answer: range rover sport.

    How long have you been talking about driving moose until you run him into the ground? I know the RR has been on your mind for a while. Although it defies your 1/10 rule, it will most likely qualify under your net worth rule.

    C’mon Sam, you’ve done very well for yourself and should enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you can’t bring yourself to paying $80k, find a used one that’s 1 or 2 years old and let someone else take the hit upfront on depreciation.

    When you become FI, you should treat yourself to something you want. What good is having money if you can’t spend it on something you’ll enjoy for many years to come?

    Besides, it’ll be a nice write off for the biz….and will score you some points with the ladies for sure.

  6. I’m a sports car guy, nissan GTR as my weekend fun car, BMW335 as my daily commute car and GL450 as my family car.

    I totally broke your 1/10 car buying rule :)

  7. Hi Sam! I’m back, I was busy….buying a house! So thank you for all of the advice on work and personal finance…probably wouldn’t have been able to buy a house before 30 without it. And about work… well I still haven’t gotten the promotion or salary, but they gave me the employees and override, which equals the pay I wanted, but I’m still full commish and no title. I have everything I wanted but no title or salary. But I want to move into a salaried management position for security and upward mobility. My dad tells me to screw the title and take the money (and it seems that this is what everyone who I talk to have to say about it), but I don’t want to be this for the rest of mylife…there has to be some kind of progression to my career. I also worry that I’ll never have an exit strategy elsewhere if I don’t come out of here without a title. And the longer I stay in a full commish position, the longer I pigeonhole myself into someone who can only bring value to company as a salesperson. Do you think this is intentional so I have no other options so I stay where I am and keep making the company money? I struggle with this all the time now. What are your thoughts?

    Now to be relevant to your post… what about buying a nice used car that satisfies both your practicality and your taste for nice cars? I have an old accord. But I’ve always wanted a Maserati. But I won’t let myself until I’m within the 1/10 rule. So here’s the deal…I’m on track to make $300K this year and next year the model I want will probably be available for $30K cash (it’s going for $40K now). Would I get the 1/10 seal of approval for something like that? Also, maybe I missed this, but is there a rule about having more than one car? Can I keep the accord and buy the Maserati? Or do I have to sell the accord to buy the Maserati? I still wanted to keep my accord as my daily driver for gas efficiency and stealth wealth and just use the Maserati on weekends with my family.

    1. Take the money indeed. If you want to be the CEO, just do what I did and start your own company and make yourself Chairman & CEO!

      Not sure why you’d ever want to have two cars for one driver. But if the two cars are combined to be 1/10th or less, have fun!

  8. I drive an old car and have made incremental repairs that in aggregate exceed KBB. It’s the sunk cost treadmill. I am single and “older” and have been told by many that I really should upgrade my auto because my car is “getto”. Despite having nice paint, relatively low miles, and proper maintenance.. Theoretically one could date the lovely ladies with little else than social savvy.. Most need some degree of peacocking. Some folks are all hat and no cattle. Some are all cattle and no hat, etc. A lot depends on your social situation and what your goals are.

  9. Moose looks like it will need a $3-3.5k of repairs. $1k for the ABS/ brakes, $1k for the engine, starter problem, and the rest for misc. The most frugal approach would be to just fix Moose, and drive until there is something major, such as engine, transmission, or an auto accident.

    You could buy a new “used” car that is 3-5 years old, but it will have unknown issues and you could easily sink an additional $2k into one of those. This is still a frugal option and gets you a late model vehicle with much more life in the engine and transmission. Along with shiny paint, safety features, etc.

    In either case, the savings over a new luxury car can be deployed into real-estate or the stock market, or both.

  10. Not sure if you’ve considered it, but I bought a VW Jetta Turbo-Diesel back in February. It runs like a champ, handles really well, and I’m getting 42 MPG overall. I drive a lot for my business (1700+ miles a month), and the savings on fuel over my last vehicle is tremendous.

  11. Sam, if you’re going to go the Honda Fit direction, hold out for another couple months for the all-new 2015 Fit. In so many ways, it’s a significant improvement on the current Fit, according to every review I’ve read so far.

    Just found your website this evening, and am enjoying it very much. Wish I’d found it 20 years or so ago!

    Thanks for your efforts here to help others.

  12. I take a different approach to buying cars, always used and a high quality car that is older with more miles.

    I just replaced a 2000 528i with 214k miles on her with a 2005 E500 that has 90k for $13k, 9 years ago, it was a $71k car. Someone else can eat the depreciation! Bought the BMW off Ebay 8 years ago and just took good care of her and she of me. I’m hopeful the strategy will be the same with the Mercedes at the end of this run, time will tell.

    I say buy an older, nicer vehicle that is well cared for and ‘broken in’. Find a gem that was pampered and you’ll be in better shape in the long run I think. It definitely takes longer, because you need to run across the right car, but I think it’s worth the time invested.

    1. I’m with you, Donald. I bought a gently used ’02 Lexus ES300 (consistently one of the best-ranked cars for reliability many years running in Consumer Reports) in ’07 for about $14,500. Sure, she had 68,000 miles on her when I bought her, but she’s been absolutely trouble-free and running strong, at 139,000 miles now (knock on wood). Original MSRP when she was new? $35,400.

  13. What is the cost profile of repairing/replacing the 12 items to get Moose back up to snuff? I’ve got a 14 year old Toyota Tacoma with 100k miles and just dropped $4k on repair/replacement parts and didn’t bat an eye..because I know it will keep me driving another 5 years plus and I know the “previous owner” as opposed to going and buying something used from somebody else. Plus consider the cost of new in regards to insurance and yearly taxes as well as depreciation. Comes down to what you value…some people value the utility of a new car while others value the lower cost utility of something used with a little TLC..

  14. Hi Sam,

    I read all your posts and I am not a frequent commenter but couldn’t stand by on this one. I think you need to go with the Limited Evoque option. Make sure you get the wheels! It is obviously the one you’d be most happy with after reading all your previous posts on cars. The only thing I’d look into is maybe finding one maybe 2-3 years old to feel better about the price.

    One thing I’m going to call you out on is to stop trying to rationalize/justify it. The problems you listed with your current car are so minor half are not even worth mentioning! Also, spending $1100 over 3 years is nothing compared to the cost of a new car. The clear choice FINANCIALLY is to just keep your car until it breaks down. But you love cars (as do I), and it will bring you some joy. I think you’ve waited long enough and it’s finally time to enjoy the fruits of your labor (stop feeling guilty). It will hardly make a dent in your financial situation. And I don’t care if it violates your damn 1/10 income rule. Hell, I think you made up the new net worth rule back a years ago just so you could justify buying a new car after you quit your job! You don’t need to rationalize, just realize that you’re dropping a significant amount of cash (for most people) on a car that you like and no financial harm is going to be done to you or anyone else by you driving it.

  15. For save and fairly good gas milage suggest you look at the new 2015 Volvo xc60. The 4 wheel drive doesn’t have the new 4 cyl. w/turbo yet but is a very safe car and can be packaged with the newest active and passive safety features and currently be offered with 50,000 miles of maintenance and service.

  16. I’m in a similar situation. Although not a Range Rover, I have a 10-year-old Ford escape. It only has 88,000 miles, but I’m getting tired of it. Maintenance wise, it’s been okay. But I did just replaced the two back tires, because the wires were coming through.

    I looked at BMW X.3’s a few weeks ago. I’m surprised you even consider buying new. Especially when you can typically get nice cars off of the lease that are just 2-3 years old, with low miles.

    1. I’m definitely considering buying a CPO, or a 3-5 year old car. I may pick up one of these cars in my post in 2-3 years if Moose can last that long. The Honda Fit in the picture is the older model, as the new 2015 is on backlog.

      I think it’s b/c I have so much going on right now in my life with the move to a new house that I want to simplify and get a car w/ a warranty, and not have to go to the DMV etc. Maybe in a month I will slap my head silly thinking new. But at $20,000 for a new car… it’s pretty good value and worth never having to worry about problems at this stage in my life.

  17. Sam,

    Going through the same issues as you. Looked at a RRS and once the price hit 60k “out the door” they almost had to call an ambulance I was hyper ventilating so much. How can people throw down that kind of cash and not even care? I mean I see these every where. I can only assume that they must not have a high net worth because people that do know the real value of money. But I digress…

    My picks:
    Nissan Xterra about 30k new. Not super luxury but practical, stealth wealth and 4wd. Decent power and rugged. Old tech even in the new models. Can climb mountains though.

    Lexus NX 200t. Lease (good rates) or buy. I haven’t been a big fan of Lexus either but I like the more aggressive look. Can get awd and has all the bells and whistles you would want like heated and cooled seats. Probably buy for a little over 40k. Disclaimer: not out yet. Due fall this year.

    2015 Ford Edge Sport. Ford? Ehhh LEASE. The new one looks more aggressive and they are going more luxury now. Thicker glass, less noise and plenty of bells and whistles. The sport is 300hp and fun. Watch though like Porsche the options get pricy quick.

    2005-2007 Audi S4. AWD, looks good and luxury but can be had under 20k or there about.

    The one I’m leaning towards to but you won’t like is the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. I like the thought of driving around with some power. Gas mileage? Don’t ask. But ranks up there on the man scale. Climbs mountains with ease.

    1. I was actually thinking about the 2014-2015 JEep Grand Cherokee Limited for about $38,000-$40,000. Those are sweet and much cheaper than the Evoques and Sports.

      I used to have a Nissan Pathfinder from 1997. I loved the boxy look. Good luck on your purchase!

  18. Since I drive a Toyota Prius C, I prefer the electric/hybrid, but on the cheaper side. I love the look of a Tesla, but it is way too expensive. I think a small inconspicuous car is best for the city. You can always rent a bigger car when you need one for those few times. Any woman who is turned off to a small inexpensive car is superficial anyway.

  19. have you considered a Subaru? Their hatchbacks are pretty spacious for going on trips up to Tahoe and they have all wheel drive. I know they are not great on gas millage but I would rather go with one of these than the SUV’s you mentioned or a small eco car. They fit the mold for a lot of scenarios. Good luck!

    (PS before you buy a new car run your old one into the ground!)

    1. After highlighting my 12 problems, I’m surprised nobody has yet commented that I’m close to running moose into the ground with potential safety issues.

      That said, I’ve only got 130,000 miles on him.

  20. 2 more ideas:
    -Audi S4 (AWD, good looks, fun to drive)
    -BMW 328d wagon (AWD, 45 mpg, practical, looks good and still fun to drive).

  21. FS, you just bought your ‘forever’ home that is perfect for a ‘family of three’. Buy your vehicle accordingly.

    “Why do people park a $50,000 car in their driveway, and keep $500 worth of ‘stuff’ in their garage?” – George Carlin

      1. Couldn’t agree more with you Sam. I can’t picture you as a member of Modern Family. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” :)

  22. Sam,

    I’m not sure you will happy trying to climb San Francisco hills in a Honda Fit. But it is a very practical vehicle.

    Since reliability is a concern, I would go with Toyota or Honda. Maybe one of their mid-size sedans or perhaps a crossover.

    But…. It’s your money. Buy whatever makes you happy!

      1. Actually….. I did mention Honda as reliable. I also like their luxury division: Acura. Showing up in an Acura might impress the ladies!

        Anyway…. I’m pretty indifferent to automobiles in general. I just want a reliable appliance which transports me from point A to point B.

        You might wish to run some numbers. Perhaps $3000 in repairs is a relatively good deal compared to car payments or the rapid depreciation of new car value (this is a personal finance site).

        I do think the Honda Fit is a very practical city car. Cheap on gas and very easy to park!

  23. Go with a compromise: something practical, relatively inexpensive, AWD, and fun to drive: Subaru WRX (or STi if you want to go all out).

  24. You obviously want the Land Rover Evoque from the way you wrote this article. You’ve been very responsible with your money and drove Moose for a long time. Take your next three month contract with PC in cash and sprinkle in some passive income and buy the Evoque.

    Bonus points if you get a slightly used one, I bet you’ll save $10k.

    Have fun and enjoy it.

    1. You’re right… it is obvious I do want the Black Limited Edition, and I’m hoping I’ll get swayed some common sense b/c $65,000 out the door is ridiculously expensive.

  25. Used, certified Prius. If you really want to be a ninja, get a used/salvaged with a pre-buyer’s inspection. They’re great cars, surprisingly roomy, comfortable, smooth, you can park them anywhere, convenient hatchback and get 46-48 mpg (imagine going weeks between fillips). If the hybrid battery goes out, not to worry, you’re in California and they’re easy to get replaced (1600$), with a warranty. We love ours (paid 9500$ for a 2007 used/salvaged), Toyota makes a great vehicle.

    *Be yourself and cultivate a genuine approach with women and you’ll still get laid, regardless of what you drive. You don’t wanna be with a chick thats hangs around because you have money and a flashy car.

    1. For some reason, the Prius has never grown on me. Maybe it’s just the design. I should look into Hybrids though.

      The Babe Magnet reference is just for fun. I had to throw it in there b/c guys automatically have “will this impress the ladies” baked into their decision calculation variable when buying a car, whether they admit it or not.

  26. I voted for the mini SUV for the general class of vehicle that you should be looking for rather than the specific models that you listed. I Cash-for-Clunker’ed my Isuzu Rodeo for a Subaru Forester and love it. If you want something more sporty, check out the XV Crosstrek. Not as flashy as the Evoque, but a great car that will last forever at a much more reasonable price. Don’t spend on the big wheels and low profile tires. They look cool, but they are dumb. Main reason (from wikipedia): A modern radial tire may not be visibly distorted even with dangerously low inflation pressure. (This is especially true of tires with a low aspect ratio, sometimes known as “low profile” tires.)
    Granted most newer cars have sensors for this, but a higher profile tire gives you more volume to leak out before you are rolling on the rim.

    1. I agree with this. There are some excellent options in the crossover class right now that balance the traits you are looking for. Take a hard look at the Ford Edge – including the new one coming out in Q1 2015.

  27. I think the Fit is fine, but I would caution about Mexican-made cars. Had a friend who was constantly doing work on his Mexican-made VW Golf.

    Perhaps look for a used Japanese-made Fit in excellent condition? My Japanese-made Corolla has been operating like a champ so far (knock on wood it stays that way).

    1. I just wonder whether made in MExico or Japan really makes a difference…. since it’s the same company with same process? If the quality is really bad out of the Mexico plants, then the company’s rep will get hurt quickly.

      1. Agreed, Sam. The Camrys and Accords that have been built now for many, many years in Kentucky and Ohio (respectively) are, by every quality measure, the equal of those made in Japan. There’s no logical reason why that would be different for Mexico-built Toyotas and Hondas.

        1. There’s a difference between “major mechanical issues” and a lot of little things that add up. And of course there’s a logical reason why it would be different, but it isn’t very politic one. You generally don’t see problems right off the bat, but when you start getting in to a car’s middle to later years. It’s less of a “your car is going to fall apart within the first two years” and more that parts/noises/etc all happen faster and/or with more frequency. It’s also not purely just Mexican-made cars, but hearing my buddy compare his Jetta versus his sister’s Golf was pretty startling.

          It’s very possible others have had a different experience, but given that what I’ve observed and heard come from being around folks who are much more sensitive to cars because they do mechanic work regularly (it’s not just my buddy with his Mexican-made car, but also others with American-made cars [the latter is just a lesser degree]) I trust their word over the general populace.

  28. Sam,
    I don’t think I saw you mentioned the option of a pre-owned vehicle. While it may not work on the I3 as they are not old enough to really have a pre-owned inventory, if you bought a 2 year old BMW, for example, you could still get 2 years of maintenance coverage and BMW extends the warranty to $100K or 6 years. I would sell Moose as I have been in this situation before – at some point, you won’t want to keep pouring money into Moose as it becomes the law of diminishing returns. I am not one who desires to own a luxury car for the status. However, I do very much enjoy the driving experience of a sports sedan. Therefore, I enjoy having a BMW 3 series for that reason. I don’t spend on the bells and whistles for these cars (navigation, etc.) as I don’t care – I am buying it for the love of driving, not the status symbol. I tend to only buy pre-owned – I kept my last BMW 325i for 8 years (it was 12 years old) and I loved to drive that car.
    I have had one or two cars that some would consider luxury/status that I totally hated to drive because the driving experience was lousy (like driving my couch). If you enjoy the driving experience (not the ride), then you should go with a vehicle that you will be thrilled to drive every time you get in it. If you don’t care, just go for the most econo ride you can find. Personally, I would go with the BMW X3 as I know, from owning BMWs, that it will have a great driving experience. If you really like the driving experience of the Range Rover, go for that one.


    1. Haha… I have a saggy old couch too.

      I like the X3, but gosh.. it is kinda boring.

      Used is a great option that I will look into. Funny I didn’t write used as an option. It must be my desire to simplify life now that I’m older. Also, the FIT at $19,000 pre-tax is such great value and low hassle, I think it supplanted my desire to look for used.

  29. Stewart jones

    Hi Sam,

    I hope you enjoyed your trip to London. Wimbledon was good this year! I’m interested to know your readers views – is the new Mustang EcoBoost cool?

  30. New is nice but so is a one or two year old car. You loose some value as soon as you drive a new car out of the dealer, so whatever you buy, do consider a used one.

    1. Why buy a one or two year old used car? Based on what I usually see, you can get the new brand for a few thousand more (or about 10% more)? I suspect most low mileage used cars have defects – otherwise why would the person get rid of them (just a guideline – i realize there are some legitimate reasons). I’d rather have the new car where I know the owner and pay a little extra for it.

    2. I’ve read 5 years is the best time to buy used since the most money is lost by then. Depreciation doesn’t happen as fast years 5-10. And a 5 year old car still isn’t old…

  31. What about a Jeep Wrangler pretty cheap and has 4wd plus its a convertible for the summer and if you get the 2 door version pretty easy to park. Can also take the doors off and carpets out. Also the mid and upper trim levels have creature comforts.

    1. Wranglers also hold their value REALLY well, which feels like it should be a criteria for a wealth accumulator when buying a car. We just sold our 2002 Wrangler and were pleasantly surprised by how much value it had retained despite being 12 years old and having 126K miles on the odometer.

  32. Ray [35 year old SUV]

    Why not lovingly restore and fix all those problems in Moose – for less than 10k. I reckon if you go into a good mechanics shop and ask them to price fixing everything you’ll be surprised. Our 35 year old Toyota Landcruiser even has bluetooth handsfree on our $65 radio refit, not to mention charging two phones at once! Oh, and babe magnet 11/10.

  33. Wade @ DestinationFinancialWisdom.com

    Our car purchasing rules have changed as our investments grew and our debt was paid off.

    We went through a long “no new cars” period of 12 years. We also tried to keep our cars for 6 years and buy them used.

    We are now debt free and have a goo threshold of investments and savings. Dave Ramsey says no new cars until you have at least a million dollars saved. That is a good threshold.

    This spring we bought a 2014 Ford Explorer. It is very nice. Cheap? Nope. We wanted an “8 to 10 year car”. My wife drives it and loves it. I drive our 2007 Ford Edge. Hopefully we can get 8-10 years from the Explorer and 2-3 more years on the Edge.

    1. What? Why only 10 years? 15k/yr = 225,000 (avg for America). And thats still only 225k. You might get another 3-4 years even past 15.

  34. VW GTI…

    Babe Magnet: 8/10
    Stealth Wealth Factor: Mark Zuckerberg’s daily driver
    Trill Rating: 8-10/10 depending on driver expectation
    Economical: Check
    Fun to drive: DOUBLE CHECK
    Cost: $25-30K
    Cargo: It’s a hatchback…get ready to be surprised
    Tahoe capable: Check

  35. Fit, Evoque, and Model S. One I’d actually buy – the Fit. One I’d buy if I were spending someone else’s money – the Model S. The standard 85kw version should only cost around $80k and has the same range as the performance version. Right now though I don’t know if I see myself ever buying anything newer than 5 years old, though the Tesla Model III might be tempting.

  36. I personally don’t like the current Range Rover model, I’d go with an Audi Q5 or one of the Stationwagon models (I love Audis). I checked AutoTrader and cars under 30k miles are selling around $30k.

    After saving up over a million dollars with over $100,000 a year of passive income coming in I’d like to be able to buy a car I really enjoy driving.

    I don’t understand why you buy new when the cars devalue themselves as soon as you drive off the lot.

    Re: Electric – Have you thought about a Prius?

    I’d like to see a price breakdown per year of some of your better choices – buy price, insurance, gas, maintenance, registration. The sticker price is only an indication of how much you would pay in the long run.

    1. Because new cars are more fun and you typically have less problems because it isn’t under warranty and people generally don’t get rid of low mileage cars unless they have problems. I’ve never understood why so many people are eager to buy low mileage used cars. From what I see, you can get a new one for a few thousand more. I’d much rather do that and then keep the car for a long time. Now if you are going to buy a high mileage car, then I understand buying used.

  37. k@Masters Of Our Own Dollars

    I drive a Forte hatchback, which is basically Kia’s version of the Fit, so that’s what I had to vote for. It has plenty of power to make for a fun drive, as you mentioned it’s great for city parking yet the cargo area can hold quite a bit more than a sedan, and I’ve driven it through all sorts of snow conditions including icy mountain passes so unless you’re actually four wheeling in Tahoe I don’t think you’ll miss the 4WD. I plan to keep mine for at least 150,000 miles, maybe even 200,000.

  38. Even Steven

    Based off your article and you came across on your like and dislikes on some of the vehicles, I would go with the Land Rover Evoque. I think you would struggle with a switch to a car, I would add a cavieat to this vehicle with the 60K price tag, I would try to get a used LRE closer to your 10% rule as possible and pay all cash of course.

  39. Definately the Land Rover Evoque. That black on black looks great and it sounds like thats the car that you really want. This will be a smooth transition going from your previous Land Rover to a newer model.

    I don’t think you can discount the convienience of having this car to drive to Tahoe and having no worries driving in the snow. And if you’re worried about fuel efficiency just try to make up the difference by utilizing public transportation or biking more around the city.

    Remember – you say you’re a “car guy” so this purchase has a higher priority in your life then it may for others. If you get the Fit you’ll just spend your time thinking about your next car. Its a no brainer (since it doesn’t violate your net worth rule) – go with the Evoque!

    1. A voice of reason (b/c it is encouraging me to buy what I want!) haha. Seems like a smooth transition and no brainer… especially if I hold the car for another 10 years. The gas mileage is 21-28 so it’s much better than Moose now.

      I will be thinking about other cars if I get a Fit. But gosh, I love a good value and $60K is terrible value for an Evoque.

  40. Audi Q5…great little suv. This spring when my fun car was in for some warranty work, they gave me a Q5 that I ended up having for almost 2 weeks. It was a blast to drive, great quality and not too big. If I were buying new that is what I’d suggest for you. But my recommendation would be for you to go the 2-3 year old gently used market. Then you can get a higher end type vehicle and be o.k. with spending a little more because you know you’ll drive the wheels off of it and get all of the value out of it. You like cars, don’t completely hold back & just live a little!

  41. You’ve got it all wrong!

    Since you’re into the long-term outlook, I think you have to look at something approaching or exceeding 30mpg+ combined. Forget the small SUVs. You could easily pick up a lightly used VW Golf TDI or GTI for under $20k. I own a ’11 TDI and while it really shines on the highway (usually 43-55 depending on speed), it will still return 30+ in the city all day long. Plus, you’ll have all the practicality of a small SUV without the added fuel cost.

  42. I love my Lexus RX 350. You can get a great deal on a used one. I’ve owned mine for 6 years and have never had any problem with it. I purchased it used and it now has over 120,000 miles and it is still going strong and looking good. It’s small enough to drive nice in the city, but it still does really well in the snow for ski trips and even off road on biking/camping trips. And they treat you very nicely at the Lexus dealership whenever you bring it in for routine maintenance.

  43. Have you considered a Subaru? It’s still stealth wealth, gets good mileage, AWD, can depending on the model is pretty fun to drive. The Legacy GT or WRX are both pretty solid moves, and they don’t have the same maintenance costs of the BMW/Audit/Range Rover.

    1. Thumbs up for subaru. Last month I had to replace my beloved 13 year old Ford Escape that got me to both coasts and many places in between. Replaced her with a Touring model Forester because I like having an SUV and need the space for hauling gear/dogs. It’s not flashy, but it still has most of the luxury upgrades you can get in Audi/BMW.

      Sam, sounds like you’re also a fan of SUVs, and if you want some extra power, the forester comes in a turbo version. If I could have a car I’d go with a WRX in a heartbeat though.

      1. Agree on the subaru, best cars in snow and bad weather, much more stable than most SUVs, particularly the Impreza WRX hatchback, and the older Subaru Outbacks.

        Should address Tahoe, Parking size, and fun to drive.

        I would have to question how much a car is actually a babe magnet particularly SUVs though.

    2. +1 for Subaru.

      I drove an Audi sedan for many years – comfortable, fun to drive, reasonably performant, and a beautiful car, not to mention manual transmission and all wheel drive.

      But in the end, the maintenance costs ate me alive (never, ever buy an Audi!), and I switched to a Subaru Legacy sedan. Good looking car, great gas mileage, all wheel drive, and very reliable. Plus there are so many options you can truly get the car you want – leather, sunroof, heated seats, etc.

      I’m looking forward to many many years of satisfaction with my new (to me) Subaru…

  44. I’d suggest the Fit, but it doesn’t meet your Tahoe or long-haul needs (nor is it a babe magnet), so what exactly do you save for?

    I think you’ll tire of it and get annoyed that it doesn’t meet your travel needs, nor is it very enjoyable, and dispose of it in a few years. Then again, it’s only $22k, so no big deal if you dispose in 5 years for $10k and move up. The annual cost will still be less than most other options.

    Since you get enjoyment from the car, and obviously are willing to hang onto it as long as it serves your needs, why not go for a new Evoque? It’s a bit more reasonable in both price and operating costs (i.e. gas and probably ins/tax), and will give you most of the enjoyment you’d get from a Range Rover (albeit $30k cheaper). Technology will no doubt advance autos in the next 10 years, but given you were satisfied with Moose this long, I don’t see new-car-envy being an issue for you.

    1. The Tesla could work for Tahoe trips. They are building out the SuperCharger network, and their site says a charger is coming to the Tahoe area soon. There is already a SuperCharging option in Folsom.

      You could get a loaded S60, or a base S85, for under $85k after federal and state incentives.

      Also, in 2015 they plan to start delivery of the Model X SUV, which should be in a similar price range of the Model S sedan.

      The lower-cost Model III is rumored to be ‘revealed’ in 2015, but production is likely in late 2016 or early 2017. I think the high-volume Model III needs the new battery factory built first.

      1. Model X SUV by Tesla really does sound promising, but is at least three years away given the Model III.

        I think in 5 years, EVs will be the huge way to go. Will be exciting to watch Elon and others create more supply and better technology.

        1. the Oatmeal, my favourite, next to Blecker the rechargeable dog, comic does a great review of Telsa


          regarding cars we just traded our Peugeot in for a Ford C-Max Diesel (yeah live in Europe so probably not an option for you) and it’s a perfect, roomy SUV style, small enough to park here and an insane 40 plus MPG

          It was also a out 8 grand cheaper than the RAV4 the first car on our list, and I bought slightly used.

    2. Cool, thanks for your input. The Babe Magnet part is totally a joke, but I thought it would be fun to put in.

      The Porsche Macan looks good!

      I do love the Fit though. Decisions, indecisions.

  45. Well I went with the chick magnet 12/10 on my last purchase with the Lambo, but I am married so that really wasn’t a consideration.

    I’ve always been more or a car person than an SUV person, but I like the looks of the Audi SUVs. My wife used to have the same Discovery as you and she called it the Christmas Tree, because all the dash warning lights were always on. That car had so many problems including constant over heating.

    The Teslas are super cool and I think that would be my vote, especially if you want to fit in in Cali.

      1. Haha, no not stealthy at all. It’s a 1999 Diablo with 20k miles. Monterey Blue Alpine edition. It’s freaking awesome.

        I think diablos are at their low point in value right now. They only made 2500 or so over 10 years. Big v-12, first production car to go 200. Countach’s are it’s predecessor and have increased in value 300 percent the last five years.

    1. Hey man. Did you get a lambo? I keep forgetting. I’m sure you’ll remind us at the next post!

      Sorry, I’m just teasing. I’ve read some of your stuff on biggerpockets and even listened to your podcast. You’re a good guy and I appreciate your work but it’d be nice not to hear about your 11th rental, your RE strategy, and your lambo every week in these comments!

  46. Ever consider buying 2 cars? One to impress the ladies and one for practicality? My friend bought an old mustang convertible that is pretty sweet and claims he didn’t pay all that much for it maybe $10k. He had to do some work to it as well though. He has another car for general driving around town that’s nothing fancy. In total probably cost him the same as a new generic sedan and he could prob sell the convertible for roughly as much as he paid for it.

    1. Now that is a GREAT call! I looked up a video review by USA Today and it looks sweet! $54,000 for the S, mid-range trim. Cheaper and more powerful than the Evoque. I’ll have to take a look. Added it to the post.

      1. Edu Castrillon

        Just take into consideration that German cars (Porsche, Audi, BMW and Mercedes) start at a normal price, but there are zillions of extras, some of them really cool/useful that add up $15-20K more for a car like the Macan

        Cheers from Luxembourg!

  47. I lean towards the lightly used but fun to drive sedan or SUV or XUV that’s very reliable.

    I finally had to replace my vehicle of 9 years. Never spend more than a few hundred dollars on it just in routine maintenance for years and it started getting electrical problems which resulted in multiple $500 – $1000 repairs.

    Ended up getting a low mileage Infiniti G35 Sport sedan. Came in at under $20K with around 30K miles on it. Has a manual transmission which was a requirement for me and is a blast to drive. If I still lived in Colorado I would have purchased the AWD version, but just a great car. There’s a ton in this category from Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, BMW, that are all very reliable and fall into the same price range for lightly used vehicles.

    In the SUV category, Acura RDX, Nissan Xterra or Murano, Infiniti FX or QX, BMW X3 or X5, Subaru Tribeca, Toyota Highlander to name a few.

    I’ll tell you right now from renting several this past year, you couldn’t pay me to take the versa or sentra. Also have a close relative that has a sentra. I love the nissan/infiniti brand but these cars are garbage. After a few thousand miles everything starts making noise, suspension sucks, gutless and cheap. Used inifiniti g25, g35, or g37 for the same price, absolutely no comparison. Even an altima, which the 2014 version gets ~40 mpg hwy, is a substantial improvement in every category.

    The past 2 vehicles we’ve purchased were lightly used. One from carmax and another from a well reputed dealer nearby. Both were purchased almost entirely online. I will never car shop at a dealership again. I have no problem telling a salesman no, but I’m just not willing to subject myself to endless sales and psychological tactics such as the 3 hour waiting room sit anymore. Pretty much hash out the deal online and test drive and get an inspection before purchasing and out the door in an hour.

    1. Interesting feedback on the Nissans! That’s too bad b/c they are cheaper than Hondas and Toyotas and seem like really good value. There’s a dealer not too far away from me.

      I LOVE going to dealerships and getting harassed by salesmen and women for a test drive. “Ok, sure let’s go for a spin!” I always say. A dealership to me is like FAO Schwartz to a kid. I’ve probably been 200 X in the past 9 years and never bought a vehicle.

  48. Sam consider hanging on to moose for 18-24 more months, saving up, and then buying one of the more expensive babe magnet cars…or the 2015 tesla. Other than the brakes on moose, most of those issues sound minor, or are easy and inexpensive to fix yourself. If you want to listen to music off your phone, spend two hundred bucks on a auxiliary input for your radio…install it yourself and you’ll spend half that.

    1. I’m thinking about it, but I would have to pony up at least $200 for one new tire which is totally balding.

      The engine not catching due to wonky transmission every 50 starts is getting to be a concern though!

      I forgot to mention, Moose is a babe magnet car already.

  49. The Wayfarer

    Good article, Sam. I like the realism with which you explained the pros and cons of each class of car you’re considering.

    I opted for a Toyota Yaris a year ago. I’m much earlier in the wealth accumulation process, so my version of the ‘extravagant’ options were cars in the high 20k and low 30k category rather than the 50k-80k range you’re considering. I was even looking at some pick-up trucks for the coolness factor!

    I feel good about my ultimate decision though. When I was doing my original analysis, I was amazed by the difference in insurance/excise tax/fuel costs per month between the high cost and low cost options. I’m also happy I went with the cheaper option because someone scratched my bumper in the parking lot not long after the purchase, and I can only imagine how much more pissed I would be if I had a nicer car!

    All the best,

    1. Cool Mike. I really like the new Yaris four doors with sloped back. They look good, are economical, and have low insurance.

      SF loves economical cars, and so do I. Definitely on my short list. I just think about safety more now if I were to have a family.

  50. Just a Canadian

    I am from Canada, and from what I understand, small cars are more the norm here. Though I voted for a small car in your survey, based on what you wrote, I’d suggest you buy the SUV. You need to love the car you are going to buy, and you can afford it.

    One thing I may suggest is that you consider second hand. All frugal sites suggest this, and the book ‘millionaire next door’ provides a convincing argument to go that way.

    I sense you really want the new SUV though, and you won’t break the bank if you do.

    1. Yeah, thanks for the reminder. I really should look for second hand 4-5 years old to get past the depreciation. I’m getting to an age where time is getting more precious and I want less hassle that’s why I’ve been thinking new.

      So maybe I’ll look at these cars 2-3 years from now if Moose can last that long.

  51. I love my Honda Fit, great car for the money. I live just north of Boston and had no issue with the snow. I understand your concerns about it as they are all true. The Fit does not attract the babes but it is very economical.

  52. I voted for the little one, definitely! It’s just a car, dude! Unless you live in it, less is more. I have a Mazda 2 (5 speed) – great on gas, easy to park. Admittedly the manual transmission is not great for traffic or city driving, but I don’t do a lot. There’s lots to love about a more luxurious ride, but for the cost, it is not worth it, IMHO. Good luck with your decision. I won’t berate you if you go with your luxury car. I bet you feel nostalgic about Moose though. I get really sad when my old cars go to pasture. They’ve been such a part of my life. But then again, they are just cars.

    1. I was sad to see the Mazda2 left off of the list for consideration. I went shopping for an economy car last year, and that’s the one I chose (over the Fit, Versa, etc.). It’s a pretty fun car to drive… heck I have friends who race theirs (one in rallycross the other in Spec B road racing) and do very well with them. Zoom-zoom.

    2. I have a feeling a car is more than just a car for many guys, at least it is with me.

      Ever since I was a kid I wanted a nice car and I had a couple. It’s fun to dream.

  53. Are you including collision with those insurance rates? Both rates sound super cheap to me.

    This is a tough one. I’m assuming most of your commuting is done through public transportation and the rest is driving (probably 20-30% of your travels?)

    I’m sure you could go up to $100k and still be fine since that still wouldn’t break one of your rules. But do you need to spend a ton on something you won’t use terribly often? Not sure.

    I’d argue all of those cars or any car under $60k is stealth wealth material. After all, most Americans buy cars they can’t afford right?

    None of those cars except the mini Land Rover are babe magnets to me. No compact car will ever be a woman acctractor. Few mini SUVs. I’m not even sure many will be that thrilling.

    I’m all for the Tesla. Even at the price. It’s everything but stealthy.

    1. Interesting you think any car under $60,000 is steal wealth material. My over/under line is probably closer to $35,000 – $40,000, because that equals $350,000 – $400,000 a year in income in my default mind. (Yes, I believe everybody is rational and is much wealthier than reality)

      I don’t commute much at all actually… 6,000-8,000 miles a year. I probably would more if I had a nicer car!

      Insurance is cheap b/c I’ve had a clean record for like 8 years now (no ticket since).

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