A couple of days ago, I regaled the tale that I am looking to buy (or finance) a new car. The car in particular I was talking about then was the newest Honda Civic, a car that I feel is quite a looker, inside and out, especially considering its segment. But, since then, I’ve opened up my mind to nine (or rather ten) other possibilities, and compiled a short list of cars I’m considering to buy, whether from my own desire for them, or from other people’s recommendations. Here’s what I’ve come up with in no particular order.
1. 2004-2007 Cadillac CTS-V
As I’ve made painfully obvious in the past, I love Cadillac. I love everything they’ve ever done. But, many don’t know the reason why. Well, the exact reason Cadillac stays so firmly in my heart is because my first car was a fully loaded 2003 CTS in Sable Black over Ebony. It was, and still is, my most favorite car that I have owned.
Ever since the day I brought that car home, its more-powerful sister, the CTS-V, has been long imprinted on my consciousness as a dream car. However, the third-generation CTS-V is too new, and the second-generation is not quite cheap enough for me to justify buying one, so that leaves me with the first-generation of V.
But that’s not much of a thing to complain about, honestly. The first generation of V is one of those cars that ticks all of the right boxes for what a performance sedan should be: it’s front engine, rear-wheel drive, powered by a naturally aspirated V8, and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Luckily they’re not all that expensive either, but I do expect prices to start climbing within a couple of years. It’s very probable that I won’t get one of these, but it would be a fair continuation of my CTS’s legacy.
2. 2013-2014 Cadillac ATS 2.0T
Within the same vein of the CTS-V sits the Cadillac ATS, a car I’ve fawned over as well since its debut. The ATS is a logical spiritual successor to my CTS...it’s the same size, sports the same power, and has the same overall attitude in my opinion. The 2.0T is the one to get in my eyes, as it sports an ideal 270 bhp, a perfect amount for a car this size and with this compact RWD layout, however, I am not opposed to a 3.6 model either.
The prices on these are about the same as the CTS-Vs from before, but it’s definitely a more daily-friendly idea than the harder, performance-oriented V. I’m looking at early models, which are on the lower end of the price range, and feature the more attractive pre-facelift look. It’s a car I’ve really wanted to get my hands on for a long time, and is a strong front-runner in my list.
3. 1997-2003 BMW 530i/535i
The E39 is a car that I’ve talked a lot about, and for good reason: it is my favorite generation of BMW anything, better than any E30, E46, 2002, M1, whatever (bite me). BMW has yet to create a design as beautiful as this, not to mention how perfectly balanced the chassis is. The E39 M5 writes the book on how a performance sedan should be, one of the reasons I like the aforementioned CTS-V.
I’ve always been a little skittish about E39s, but after doing research (and asking you all for your advice), it’s very possible that the problems of an E39 could be problems I can handle. They’re quite cheap as well, with very few even coming close to the 10k mark, but I’m willing to fish out the money for a good one. An M5 would be an ideal one to get, but as their prices go up, I’m left to looking at non-M versions, the 6 cylinder models of which many people have said are the best to get.
Since I was young, my family have always sung the praises of BMW. I feel like it’s my half-German duty to buy a Roundel some day, but is it time to face my heritage? Maybe.
4. 2017-2018 Honda Civic Hatchback
I’ve already spoken once before in an article and before in this post about how I’d like to get a new Civic, so I’ll keep my talking about this one short. I’ve decided that I’d really like a hatchback in either Sport, Touring, or Si trim. These three trims have the best aesthetics in my opinion, with the Sport and Si definitely having more pep for your step, and the Touring being well optioned for the price. It’s still a great looking machine to me, and I could definitely see one in my driveway.
5. 2014-2018 Mazda3 Hatchback
This one was recommended to me by a personal friend who owned a 3 Grand Touring sedan briefly last year. He told me a lot about how great the 3 drives, and I honestly believe him. Plus I really appreciate the fact that you can spec out an otherwise fully loaded trim of the 3 and still get a manual transmission, as my friend did. Plus the styling is jaw-droppingly beautiful...I mean, just look at it.
However...there are a few things that kind of turn me off about the 3, and one of them is the interior. Some might find it to be nice, and it sure is built pretty well, I’m just not really a big fan of the aesthetic, having seen it up close many times before at work. I don’t know if I could live with a car I’m not a fan of the interior of. Sure, the CTS’s interior wasn’t the greatest, but I soon learned to live with it. Maybe after some test driving, I may come around to enjoying it. Who knows?
6. 2015-2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The only modern hatch that really gives the Civic a run for its money in my possible purchases is the current GTI. I’ve always been a rather huge fan of the GTI, and the MkVII is no different. It’s a great looking machine with a comfortable interior and is definitely a classier alternative to the other hatches on the market. I’d prefer an R, but we can’t always get what we want...mostly because I’m not that rich.
There is, of course, the question of VAG reliability, which is a bit of a downside. I would definitely have to invest in some sort of warranty for the long run if these are truly as unreliable as legend suggests. But, compared to some of my other possibilities, I feel like the nannies with this choice kinda pale in comparison. Nevertheless, I like the new GTI and would love to give it a try.
7. 1997-2000 Lexus SC400
The refreshed Z30-chassis Soarer is a car that I’ve said many times over is one of my dream cars, and that statement still stands today. Up until recently, I stood firm that it would be my next car, and it’s still a possibility. The SC has aged ever so gracefully, it’s a timeless design that’s matched with a great chassis and set of engines, but the V8 is the one I yearn for the most. I’ve loved this car since I was a kid, and today, at 23, it’s no different.
8. 2006-2011 Lexus GS
The second of three Lexuses I’m thinking about is the third generation of the GS. While not my most favorite generation of this model, there is definitely something alluring about it. It’s got a very iconic shape, with that fastback roof and epic RWD proportions. The GS430 was apparently the fastest sedan in the world at one point, which is a very, very interesting claim considering the fact that this is a Lexus, for god’s sakes.
Having driven a few GS350s from this era, I can definitely see the draw to them. They’re built very, very well, are comfortable, can get out of their own way very easily, and are extremely reliable. Plus, pricing is just right in my ballpark, so in all actuality, this might be one of the most probable picks on this list. It’s a package almost too nice to pass up.
9. 2001-2006 Lexus LS430
The third and final Lexus on my list is yet another deal too nice to pass up. At the time in the early 2000s, the LS430 was most certainly the best and one of the nicest full-size luxury cars you could buy, with its bulletproof reliability, dead quiet road manners, and well-appointed interior. The sheer amount of features makes it such an alluring machine to me, plus the fact that its got a design which I believe has stood the test of time, still looking $70,000 only 18 years later.
In fact, the 430s are so nice, that like the E39 and SC400, it’s been on my want list for some time. But, before now, they never quite hit the right place in the market, and I never had the money to really justify the purchase. Now that I do have the means, however, the 430 is quite a treat to think about, and one that I’m actually nearly ready to pull the trigger on.
10. 2003-2009 Toyota 4Runner
Controversial opinion incoming: I think this is the best generation of 4Runner. Yes, some of the older models are probably better off-roaders, and the new one is quite a beast, but something about these fourth-generation 4Runners speaks to me. Maybe it’s the oddly pretty styling, maybe it’s the optional V8 powerplant. All I do know is that between the three generations of 4Runners that I’ve driven, this, the one before, and the one after, this one hits me in a perfect way.
An SUV like this may not be the most logical choice for someone like me, but it does have its benefits as someone who lives in a very...rural part of the southeast. Plus it’s got tons of space and towing capacity in case anything needs to be moved from one place to another. And just like the Lexuses, reliability is another huuuuge factor that turns me onto it compared to its counterparts from America or Europe. Basically, I’m ready to be part of the T4R family, but is it ready for me?
And...I think there’s one more car I should throw in that I’ve been considering.
Bear with me here, though...you might think I’m crazy.
Honorable Mention: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia
Look, it’s been well over a year since I sung my praises for this fine Italian machine, and its a car that still has a place in my heart. Say what you will about unreliability and all that, I still want a Giulia...badly.
Prices for the earliest models are coming down decently enough that I might just be able to swing a model...but there is a catch. The cheapest ones I could find in my price range are all base models, which I find to be okay but not quite what I’m looking for. Plus, yes...the elephant in the room about unreliability, but I have my own set of car wizards to help me if I need it. And if I have the paycheck to compensate for it.
But that’s more or less a big old...”What if?”
Anyway, that’s my short list of cars that I might end up buying. There is definitely a chance I might be the first person in the history of forever that cross-shopped most of these models, but hey, I’m weird like that. Anyway, give me your tips, tricks, thoughts, suggestions, and check out my article on Autotrader.com/oversteer for a list of the top ten...you get the joke.