Being a car dealership and car finding service, I frequently get asked "advice" on which car might be best suited for someone. The conversation normally goes something like this:
- Customer: "I want something reliable, sporty, comfortable, luxurious, prestigious and inexpensive that gets 50 MPG or better."
- Me: "I would recommend a Lexus or Acura [insert relevant model here]".
These are my go-to vanilla recommendations as they're very safe to recommend to about anyone. Furthermore, people are most upset when their used vehicles requires an expensive fix or servicing, so these cars tend to keep folks happy for years down the road, even at resale time. They are the hyper-rational choice for luxury car buyers.
- Customer: "What about the 2007 BMW 760Li V12 with 187k miles..."
Which is why I've come to conclude that, for the most part recommendations are useless. Most of the time, customers are just asking for social proof or permission to buy something they hope won't be hopelessly unreliable or bad. Furthermore, buying most cars is completely irrational. We don't buy newer cars because we need them - we buy them because we want them. And unfortunately, no amount of practically is going to make you want a Acura TSX more than that G63 AMG you've been lusting after.
Which is why I've now gone with a completely different strategy for recommendations. I always recommend a 2003-2006 Dodge Viper (Gen III).
- Is it reliable? Actually yes. There's nothing that even can break.
- Sporty? Absolutely - it has 500 bhp
- Comfortable? Most of the time. The headroom on the convertible is fantastic.
- Prestigious? Absolutely - a Viper is near exotic. You'd need to be in Porsche or Ferrari territory to do better.
- Inexpensive? Compared to other contemporary cars its a downright bargain. Just 35-45k gets you a great example.
- 50 MPG or better? Some of the time (downhill)
After this quick exchange we're now onto a meaningful conversation. If you have specific concerns about a car, I'm happy to provide information - but ultimately buy whatever you really want knowing what you're getting into. Buying cars is an emotional decision - make sure the car fits your needs, but after that just buy what you like most.
As a sidenote - here's a 2005 Viper we just sold to a customer based on my crazy recommendation. He loves the car, but does admit it leaves a little to desire when it comes to fuel economy.