I’ve been writing car buying advice columns for years, and for good reason—most people have absolutely zero idea about how to buy a car. When I say that, I mean that they are completely uninformed about the entire process, starting with the selection of the car, whether to buy new or used, how to negotiate, whether or not to get an extended warranty, etc. Sure, your Uncle Bark can help, and I’m always happy to do so, but more often than not, even people who reach out to me for advice end up missing out on one key piece of the journey, and that one piece can often cause serious financial and time-oriented headaches.
This is why CarMax is so incredibly successful. For reasons that we will absolutely address later in this blog post, CarMax appears to be the only dealership chain in the country that truly understands how much most people loathe everything about buying a car.
Pricing transparency? Got it. Everybody pays the same price. Financing transparency? Also got it. Not sure what car you want? No worries—they’ll find it for you. Worried that your car will break? They’ll give you a free limited warranty and sell you one that covers anything else.
So, yes, CarMax is successful, but if you are one of the few automotive consumers who really does know what he’s doing, dealing with them comes at a somewhat terrible price—namely, you’ll likely pay too much for your car. After all, the reason we do all of that silly negotiating and backslashinforth in the first place is because we want to save money, not because we particularly enjoy it. Having a fixed price relieves the anxiety for most customers because everybody walks away feeling like they got the same deal anybody else in their shoes would have gotten.
It’s a well known fact in the car biz that the customers who get the best deals walk away the angriest. It’s the customers who get absolutely cracked who write great Google reviews and refer all of their friends from church. So it’s no wonder that people love CarMax—everybody gets cracked.
Or do they? I was determined to find out. Why, you may ask?
Well, after eight long years of dedicated and faithful service as the family hauler, my Ford Flex surpassed the 200,000 mile mark earlier this year. And while it has largely been a trouble-free vehicle thus far, I had reason to believe that my luck would run out soon. The Check Engine Light had become permanently illuminated, thanks to a fuel filler neck that I could never seem to get clean enough. The TPMS had failed. There had been a constant whirring sound coming from the dash for several years. The seatbelt on the passenger side in the middle row only retracted sometimes.
Individually, none of these matters were particularly concerning. Collectively, they were annoying. Also, everybody knows that it’s just a matter of time before the water pump dies on the 3.5L V6 D4 cars, which in turn tends to crater the engine. I could prophylactically fix it, sure, but the value of the car was less than the price of doing the water pump. So while I definitely enjoyed the complete lack of car payment for the last three years, and the incredibly low Kentucky vehicle property tax, I had to admit that the time had come to start thinking about a car that would be able to handle the majority of the Flex’s duties—including a 100 mile round trip every day for work.
Again, the value of the Flex was next to nothing, thanks to the mileage and the fact that it had been rear-ended by a government employee a couple of years previous. The damage was cosmetic and had been repaired, but it was a ugly blemish on the CarFax. So rather than take a $1500 trade in valuation, I decided to keep the Flex for weekend soccer chores and find something a little less…CUV-like for the daily grind.
I had paid around $30k for the Flex eight years ago, and I wanted to keep in line with that price for its replacement. Obviously, the price of new cars has gone up significantly over that time, by almost twenty percent. Therefore, in order to get something that had a similar value as my 2013 $30k Ford, I would have to pay $36k for it in MY 2021.
Or, I could just buy a used car.
Those of you who have been somewhat loyal Bark readers over the last eight years know that I always, and I do mean always purchase new. Here is a list of the cars that I’ve owned in my life, along with a New/Used designation:
- 1994 Jetta III GL (New)
- 1996 INFINITI G20 (new)
- 1988 Porsche 944 (used)
- 2000 Hyundai Tiburon (new)
- 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe (new)
- 2001 Hyundai Elantra (new)
- 2004 Mazda RX-8 (new)
- 2005 Scion tC (new)
- 2007 Mazda CX-7 (new)
- 2009 Pontiac G8 GT (new)
- 2011 Chevrolet Equinox (new)
- 2013 Ford Boss 302 (new)
- 2013 Ford Flex (new)
- 1995 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight (used)
- 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon (used)
- 2015 Ford Fiesta ST (new)
- 2016 Ford Focus RS (new)
None of the used cars lasted more than a year after I acquired them. The Porsche met a breakaway light post. The Oldsmobile had unsolvable electrical gremlins. The Subaru just blew up.
But I had a pretty specific set of requirements for my Flex replacement, and unfortunately, $36k wasn’t gonna cut it if I was going to look for all of those features in a brand-new car. I wanted to ensure that my car would have the following features (yay, another list):
- All-Wheel drive, for the ten days a year that it snows in Kentucky
- Comfortable seating for four
- leather seating, lumbar support, heated and cooled seats
- Apple CarPlay
- Premium quality stereo
- modern safety feature suite (a la Honda Sensing)
- Preferably a car instead of a CUV/SUV
- From a luxury brand
I know, I know on that last one. But honestly, I had never owned a luxury brand car, and I felt like it was time—I had dealt with Ford-level interior quality for long enough. Obviously, I wasn’t going to find a new car that fit all of these qualifications, so I begrudgingly began to admit that it was time to go used car shopping.
If you know my personal history (worked for Autotrader for four years, Cars.com affiliate for three years), you know I’m not a huge fan of any of the third-party aggregator sites. They served their purpose at one time, but that time has come and gone. Both Autotrader and Cars need dealers more than dealers need them at this point, a result of a drastic switch in consumer behavior around the years 2014-2017. Customers no longer go to these sites organically—they perform a google search for something like “Used Luxury Car under $35,000 near me) and then they go on a wild goose chase to find the car that they want.
Or, if they’re like me, they realize that Carvana and CarMax have already done the work of aggregating all of that inventory on their own sites, and you can just search for the car you want a hell of a lot more easily that way.
So that’s what I did. I started looking for pre-owned luxury cars that met all or most of my criteria. Here’s what I came up with (one more list for y’all):
- Lincoln MKS
- Lincoln MKT
- Lincoln Continental
- Audi A6
- Mercedes E300/350
- Genesis G80
- Assorted other dumb ideas (Volvo, Jaguar, etc.)
Surprisingly, I never seriously considered a BMW 5 Series of any type, which I think speaks volumes about how far the brand has fallen. The Fiver is just overpriced and blah.
Also surprisingly, the Lincoln MKT and Genesis G80 leapt to the top of almost any comparison that I could come up with. I had loved the idea of an E300 or an A6, but the E300s were a little high on price and the A6 were a little low on power. The MKT just felt comfortable—after all, it’s a Ford Flex in Lincoln clothing. Brother Jack has had a EcoBoost MKT for a couple of years, and it’s a delightful highway cruiser. Good, late model, low mileage examples with nearly every box checked can be found for under $30k all day long.
However, they’re almost always rental cars. MKTs didn’t sell in very high retail volume. I don’t personally mind buying a rental. After all, they are better maintained than almost any car on the road—they’re inspected every two or three days. And with the Kung Flu pandemic hitting these shores in 2020, rental cars have seen very little use in comparison to rentals of the past. So was it a huge deal that every MKT I found was a rental?
Okay, yes. It was. I hated to admit it, especially after having given the advice to literally hundreds of readers in the past that buying a rental is no big deal. But if I could avoid buying a car that dozens of tourist asses had ripped Rally’s farts in, it would be ideal.
So that led me to the Genesis G80. Talk about a car that’s difficult to find in the right color, trim, and package! After some internal deliberation, I decided on the 3.8 HTRAC with Premium and Ultimate package. I decided on the 3.8 over the 5.0 for two reasons—fuel economy and balance. The six second zero-to-sixty time of the 3.8 HTRAC was more than quick enough in comparison to the Ford Flex I’d had for eight years, and it was more important for me to get those extra MPG. Plus, my friends at Hyundai all told me that I’d enjoy the daily driving experience of the 3.8 over the 5.0, that it was better balanced and handled better as a result.
Problem with the G80 is that they really did not sell in any significant volume. So to find the right color and feature combo was a rough one. CarMax had about 80 G80s in stock nationwide, and only 8 had the 3.8 HTRAC with Premium and Ultimate, and most of those were fairly high mileage. However, I did find two 2017 models that were acceptable.
One was a navy exterior with a tan interior, and one was a light gray with black interior. Both were $29,998, with an original MSRP of $54k, and both had around 22k on the clock I opted to have the navy car shipped to my local CarMax for $149, and I was pleased with my decision. After all, if it arrived and I didn’t want it, no big deal—I’d be out $149, but at least I found exactly the color, trim, and package that I wanted. And after 14 days, I received a call that the car had arrived, and I hurriedly went to my local CarMax to check it out.
It was fucked.
Honestly, the car didn’t even come close to resembling the car I had seen on the website. It looked like somebody had taken a rake to both sides of the car, over and over. The parking sensor cover on the driver’s side had fallen off. The interior was dingy. To say I was pissed would have been the understatement of the year—and keep in mind, we’re talking about 2020 here.
However, CarMax stepped up and did the right thing. They refunded my shipping charge to me immediately, and then offered to find me another car and ship it to my local CarMax at no charge. I decided to have the Parisian Gray model sent to the store, and when it arrived, I was glad that I had. The color was delightful in person, with a sort of lavender tint to it. I don’t love black interiors, but I was reminded of what my children had done to the tan interior of my Flex for the last eight years and begrudgingly admitted that it was probably for the best.
I had never actually driven that version of the G80 before settling in behind the wheel of this particular iteration—I had only driven the Hyundai Genesis of years past. Although the difference in the listed features was slight, the 2017 G80 was light years ahead of its predecessor in terms of refinement. The G80 simply glides over imperfections in the pavement as though they didn’t exist. The 17-speaker Lexicon stereo, while not ideal for thumping out hip-hop beats, makes listening to classical music or jazz a truly sublime experience—second in quality only to the ELS systems found in new Acuras.
It took me only 15 minutes or so to know that this was the car for me. I found some slight imperfections in the paint and on the right rear wheel, and they promised to repair them for me before I picked up the car, which they did. I promised to return when the issues were resolved.
When the paint was fixed, I received my call that I could come pick up my new (to me) luxury sedan. The delivery experience was fantastic. CarMax makes a big deal of making sure that the entire process is completely transparent—everything that is on the salesperson’s monitor is also on a monitor that the customer can see. I had my own financing arranged through my bank, but CarMax was able to beat my arranged rate, and presented multiple options to me depending on how much money I wanted to put down. The salesperson simply showed me what was on the screen. There was no F&I box for me to sit in—all of the financing and warranty options were presented to me by my salesperson. Nobody ever asked “what payment are you comfortable with” or “how much can you put down today” or “what will it take to earn your business” or “I need to go ask my manager.”
Simply put, there was no fuckery involved. I wanted the car, they wanted to sell it to me, and that was that.
Most important, the price was correct. I searched long and wide to find a 2017 G80 with similar mileage and options. None were even close to the $29,998 price of my car. Could I have negotiated down to that price with some other dealer? Sure. Would have been worth the hassle? Not even close.
So now I have my dream daily driver for the price of a Camry—and a fairly cheap Camry, at that. And when something went wrong—the button for the heated seats was sticky—CarMax just ordered me a new button and replaced it free of charge.
So should you buy a car from CarMax? Hard to say. Maybe the pricing isn’t as competitive on higher volume models. Maybe they won’t google your name when you have an issue with your delivery and realize that you have the power to blast them in front of tens of thousands of car shoppers. But for me and my car, well…it was perfect.
Wow it’s Bark! Not a frequent commenter but long time reader, nice to see you back.
That’s a nice ride. I had been thinking recently what is the sweet spot of depreciation, both by years and brand. Some of the Luxury cars can be complex so you trade off the servicing costs to be the second owner at a huge discount. That’s what I’ve seen with my buddies anyways. But Genesis seems potentially “undervalued” by the market. At the same time I leased a new Volvo S60 in 2019 and the discounts were fantastic at that time. I still gotta figure if it’s worth buying out at lease end or is there better for my $25k.45k lease and I am at 12k miles halfway through…didn’t see 2020 coming.
You’d be smart to see if your dealer wants to buy you out of that lease. I bet you have mad positive equity.
I’m not sure about that, Volvo resale value and current conditions…
I do really like the car so it may not matter so much if I want to buy it out. But If I thought different, do you mean see about buying it out now or when the lease ends?
I mean selling it right now. I bet you’ll be able to get into a brand new example for the same or less money.
Ahh ok got it. I’ll have to think about it. I got the gas T6 model and sports suspension both of which have been removed in favor of simplifying the lineup with hybrids. It wouldn’t be a straight trade for the same car. But thanks for the tip! I was wondering how I could get the value back when I get a great lease deal and too many miles. Volvo don’t let you transfer.
Nice ride. We went the CARMAX route with my wife’s ES 350 after her ES 300 was totaled. You answered an Ask Bark about ES 300 replacements for her. She didn’t want to hear about any other make and model so her new ES had to be Pearl White with tan interior, a CD player, and seat memory. We ordered one delivered to Nashville from Raleigh and she had stipulated no perfume or other odors. It was nice until I turned on the climate control and we found out that Tobacco Road had been driven every day in that car. No delivery fee charged.
It took a while to find its replacement but CARMAX did come through and she’s been very happy with the car. As I told you in a follow-up email after my hot hatches question was answered by you, I bought a 2018 Focus ST that spent one year as a rental.
Since you have been a bit absent in your writing, which cars from the above list! are still in your stable?
All that remains in the stable is the Flex and the Focus RS. I also bought a 2008 Mercury Milan a couple of months from my brother to put my highway miles on, and it’s been a pretty solid car thus far—it burns oil and has a pesky, undefinable CEL, but otherwise it’s perfect.
Thanks for the update Bark. If you have the time to write I’d like to see your comparison with Zippy the FIST and why you upgraded to FORS.
Here you go!
Thanks Bark! I either forgot that I had read your writeup or missed it and being old the former is more likely.
I was about to mention the Milan – didn’t see it on your list.
As an owner of a 2008 MKZ – I can attest to the water pump on the 3.5L. We caught it early enough; but are now in the market.
Really great to read your article! We’re looking for a replacement to the Lincoln and are have very similar (if not exact) search parameters. ($30k, AWD sedan, Luxury). Actually have a question into Jack on this!
Honestly just starting, but it’s been 10 years since we last bought a new car. Based on your recommendation we’ll be considering the G80 and CarMax. A follow-up article, once you’ve had more time with the car, would be great to read.
Our short list is down to the Continental, MKS, G80 and the Acura TLX.
I like your list. I had been considering the MKS for quite some time—-as in literally years. If my budget had been $20k, it would have been the clear winner. But the MKS, and to some degree the MKT, feel like old tech. Yes, there’s a new G80 out now, but the 2017-2020 G80 still feel new to me. $30k can get you a really good example, as illustrated above.
Hey Bark, my wife loves the Lexus RX 350 (she drove my son’s Lexus) but her main concern is finding a QUIET car (she is 64 years old and going deaf). Any good suggestions for a quiet, reliable, soft riding luxury vehicle? Used, of course. And not BMW or Audi. Price isn’t as important as having a quiet interior (checked the decibel ratings online, but the chart is rather dated). Thanks.
Mercedes-Benz E Class is going to be the quietest car out there that isn’t insanely expensive, but do you know what’s nearly as quiet, less expensive, and has far more standard luxury features?
You guessed it—the Genesis G80!
I love these articles with the lists and the decision trees. I always buy new so I would have gone at 30k with a basic 3.6 RWD 300 touring and given up some features but got back much better highway mileage and better IMO styling in return. But all the lists you offer give so many other roads to mentally travel. With the annual mileage you drive, how much warranty did you buy? I am not sure about Genesis, but I don’t think Hyundai’s long warranty transfers to the second owner.
You’re correct about the warranty—only 5 years and 60,000 miles of the powertrain transfer. I figure that gives me 38,000 miles for something to break for free and after that…it’s still just a Hyundai underneath.
I bought my 2012 Kona Blue Boss 302 from CarMax, and I’ll never sell it… great buying experience, too.
Mark, do you still have your ’13 Boss?
I do not.
The Sad Tale Of Bark’s Boss
I do miss it sometimes. You’re smart to hold on to yours.
Last year my then 21 year old daughter got her first non-beater from Car Max; a 2014 Subaru Forester. She and I picked a couple of likely choices at the local Car Max on-line. Subarus are so ubiquitous here in Colorado there was no need to have anything shipped in. I felt like I needed to go with her to the Car Max to drive and then hopefully purchase her “new” car and trade off the POS she was in at that time, just to make sure she didn’t get swallowed whole by a predatory F&I Guy. While I think she liked having me there, there was no need for my oversight. Very transparent and easy. In and out in about an hour and a half including a test drive. Cute black Forester she promptly named Gump. It was delivered with a giant red bow on top.
Nice G80 Bark. Good choice.
You’re absolutely right about the F&I process. They give you several different options from several different lenders, and allow you to pick the best one for you. The warranties are pretty bulletproof, too—just ask Doug Demuro!
I bought a car from them. Time is worth money, particularly when they gave me a trade in offer on a reasonably popular trade in local dealer laughed at because CarMax threw it on a trailer and hauled it to the coast for a profit unavailable to me without substantial effort. My experience resembled yours, and I’ve generally felt the worst case scenario at CarMax for unsophisticated purchasers is an OK price on a vehicle that won’t explode in 40 miles. The higher transaction price probably is peanuts compared to an aggressive F&I ripoff.
You’re absolutely right about the time=money equation being a huge factor for most people—including me. Once I settled on the G80, in particular, hunting down the right car without them would have been prohibitively expensive.
Bark, congratulations on your “new car” seen your previously published adice on purchasing a car. Did you consult with Jack on Make and Model. Seems I remember he wrote about how the Genesis models are made for the upper crust of South Korean society. And if you have ever flown Korean Air you may have noticed that the upper crust of Korean society can be a pretty demanding lot (watched a Koran lady push Helen out of the way at at airline ticket counter at Dulles and the gate agent appologized for Helen being in the lady’s way). Therefore you have most likely got a well made car.
PS: noticed Cadillac was missing from your list, the CT-6 is an outstanding model even if shortsighted Mary killed it off this year. Maybe next time. Anyway Happy Motoring.
fyi, if the lady was significantly senior to helen in asian culture, helen was supposed to move out of her way. seniors automatically go to the head of the line in korea.
Yossarian, fully understand if the woman in question had been a senior, but she was in her late 20s early 30s, dressed to the tens and once she checked in one of the gate agents took her carry on bags and followed her to the escalators that go down to the tram that takes passangers to the gates at Dulles. She was apparently a VIP….
i guess some people are more equal than others 🙂
I consulted a bit with big brother, as we often do with each other on life choices. Comes with being family 🙂
You’re not wrong about the CT6, although I think it says everything about Cadillac that Genesis is, without question, the more prestigious brand at this time.
How much do you think the Genesis brand name is hurt by previously being a model name for Hyundai. I would think a lot. Remember only 10 years ago GM was slathering the Chevy name on Korean Daewoos worldwide not because a Korean brand name had any cache anywhere even after selling worldwide for several years.
What were the details on these underpowered A6s? I used to drive a 2012 A6 3.0T and a similar A7 that followed it. I don’t recommend ownership to anyone, but they were closer to 5 second 0-60 than 6 second 0-60 cars and would only seem underpowered if you were coming out of a six figure Tesla. They were perfect for California’s idiotic metered freeway entrance ramps, as hitting seventy from a rest in a few hundred feet was like falling off a log.
The 2017 A6s that are available in bulk and in my price range are 2.0T. 252 horsepower. Six second 0-60, 15 second 1/4. Far, far fewer features than the G80 and far, far more expensive to repair.
With your commute, the highway MPG of a 2.0T in combo with big German gas tanks might have been determinative.
I’ve had a positive experience with CarMax in the past. My last purchase was by googling 2017 Genesis G80. December 2018, found an Adriatic blue with beige interior, G80 3.5, premium ultimate package, 16 mos old, 16000 miles and bought it for $31999.00. I love the car, an upgrade from a 2009 Hyundai Azera Ultimate. My issues are that the steering wheel is not heated (they are now), rear seats do not fold down, and the rearview backup camera system does not have the bird’s eye view that my wife’s 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe does. I also don’t like that as I back down the driveway, checking on the display for oncoming traffic which appears near the top of the screen, the sytem decides to send me messages such as A/V system if off, etc. Why, why, why should messages be appearing as I am reversing? Genesis can’t answer that for me.
I will likely buy another. I am waiting for the 2021 model to appear in the showroom so I can see if the annoyances have been fixed. Can’t tell from the reviews.
CarMax has interested me since they built their first store in my area. When I was in the market, I took a couple of test drives, but ended up buying from a “traditional” dealer (was looking for a CRV for Mrs. Scout). Anyone have experience selling a car to them? My brother disposed of a maxed-out, high-mileage F150 Super Crew at CarMax and I think he did pretty well. The hassle free factor is like cat nip to me having done the Craiglist/Autotrader/etc route many times disposing of cars.
What say you, Bark?
At the very least, a CarMax offer is useful to have in negotiations with other dealers. They hit pretty consistently at or above KBB Good. I tried to sell my Boss 302 to them, but they wouldn’t take it because it had the Trackey software installed.
I would say that nowadays dealers are pretty desperate for trades, so I’d definitely go to CarMax first, but then see if a traditional dealer is willing to beat that offer. Again, depends on the amount of time that you’re willing or wanting to invest.
Have not sold to CarMax but got an offer from them, super easy to do. They are the same on buying as selling, they give you a price and it is what it is. The use of that is it allowed me to trade in my WRX at another dealer and know what the “real” price of my trade was. It gives you a better idea of what the dealer is really pricing the new car at, if they are playing games with the trade in.
I sold them my ‘14 BMW 328 wagon as I wanted to dump it a year before my lease was up. Likely got wholesale for it but the car was out of my life with no hassle. To sell it privately I would have had to buy the car out of lease first to get title and then wait and hope it sold fast and deal with Craigslist people. Could done an early return but did not want another BMW or lease. I drove the car there, they inspected and printed an offer. All I had to do was give them the keys and they took care of the paperwork. Easy peasy. I’m sure the car is enjoying a nice life in a BMW service bay somewhere.
Congrats on the acquisition! The condition and options allow forgiveness for foregoing the V8 (I kid, I kid).
I did peruse CarMax for 2019-2020 Mustang GTs in October, Magneride being a non-negotiable option for me. Their gt350 pricing was decent, and tempting (if only there weren’t the directive to get only an automatic…). Unfortunately, CarMax’s website gives out neither detailed options info nor monroney pdf’s. Most Ford dealers’ sites have downloadable window stickers for new & used.
Ultimately, I ended up purchasing new, using AZ Plan pricing stacked with dealer markdown on a 2020 exactly to my desired spec (no boy racer spoiler thankyouverymuch). It didn’t cost unconscionably more than 2019 models at CarMax. That’s where your general advice to buy new proved true (which influenced me, thanks).
Negotiating was drawn out, though, over a couple of weeks, on phone, email and text. This was far less stressful than in-person haranguing. The extra time between messages allowed for much less pressure and more deliberated counter-offers, and avoided F&I shenanigans. I even got 8% more than CarMax’s offer for my ’15 70k+mile trade-in.
Congrats on a great deal on a great car!
Thanks Bark. And it’s great to see you back here on RSG. Hope to read more here from you about dealership chicanery, and assorted political invective.
More of both to come, no doubt!
The Bark Still Bites!
I’ve been consistently disappointed with the cars at Carmax – I’ve found them to be more “worn out” than pictures show, and often dirty in the pictures themselves. Congrats on the good find!
You are not wrong. As mentioned in my story, the first navy blue example was completely trashed, and the gray car had some paint scrapes on the bumper and right rear quarter panel. Luckily, they were willing to fix them at no charge, and the paint work was perfect.
I was talking about CarMax’s photo strategy with one of my clients, and he ruefully pointed out that they have a million dollar photo studio (probably more than one) that makes all the blemishes on cars disappear.
Nice car. I got the V8 version because I wanted something faster than the 3.8L and it’s my only vehicle so I don’t have an Accord race car or Focus RS to scratch any speed itch.
I don’t blame you. There’s a pretty significant 5.0 penalty when shopping pre-owned—and there’s even more of one for the 3.3T Sport, which I find ugly as sin. I would have had to have paid at least $6-8k more for the 5.0, and I just didn’t think it was worth it for me. But like you said, there’s always the FoRS for when I feel the need for speed, yo.
Congrats on the new ride. Glad to hear Hyundai has been making their usual leaps forward with the genesis. I drove a 3.8 as a rental back around 2014 and it was, putting it mildly, incredibly unrefined, at least as far as calibration goes.
The interior of yours also looks world’s better.
Purely out of curiosity, any reason the GS350 didn’t make the list? Off lease examples can definitely be found in the price range you were looking at.
I am not a Toyota fan, in general. Please don’t tell my four Toyota clients that.
Great piece Bark! Enjoyed your insights. When it comes to the CarMax extended warranty, did Demuro kill that for everyone or is there still value in it? As an example, if I was to buy a ’17 Focus RS, is the warranty a buy?
I think on a Focus RS, the warranty is a buy. On that car, there are a lot of powertrain components that are under serious stress…like all the time.
1. I’ll admit it. The Rally’s farts line made me laugh out loud.
2. What did you think of the G20? The deep dive into its engineering found in my copy of “How to Build Performance Nissan Sport Compacts” gives it high marks in nearly everything. It heavily inspired the V6 twist-beam 5/6MT Maximas.
3. “Milan …a pretty solid car…it burns oil and has a pesky, undefinable CEL.” wat. My ’05 6MT G35 is a pretty solid car @ 72K miles. It doesn’t burn oil. It’s never had a CEL. It still easily handles well enough to terrify my passengers. But there’s a resonant vibration around the gauge cluster caused by the single-mass flywheel I put in. And I think a swaybar end link is clunking. You and I have different ideas of “pretty solid” and perfect. 🤨
The G20 was a fantastic car, to be sure. My review of it in 1999 would have gone something like this:
“The Infiniti G20 is a good car. I don’t have to pay for it, which I like. Also, you can drive it for 45,000 miles and not really ever change the oil! The back seat is perfect for storing dirty clothes, saxophones, and more dirty clothes. If you’re on financial aid, don’t park your G20 in front of the School of Music building—you’ll get uncomfortable questions.”
The Milan has 152,000 miles on it. Come at me when your G35 has 152,000 miles—nah, jk by then it will be in a BHPH lot with a sparkle paint job, cut springs, and 24s JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER G35
Bro, that is savage. I’ve never thought about my car’s fate when I eventually retire it, but… but… that’s just mean. 😭
Mark, congrats on a new sedan!
Does it have a heated steering wheel?
Why wasn’t CarPlay available with the Ultimate package?
It does have a heated steering wheel, and it is hot.
It is apparently a hardware limitation of the larger screen that came with the Ultimate package. There are guys on the Genesis forums who have been spending literally years trying to fix this issue—including re-coding the head units themselves—and it’s just a no go. I think it was fixed for 2019.
Wait, is this the same Pavel who came out to the Tesla Roadster test in 2011?
Da. The same one, Jack. The one that you’ve said towers over you like Drago. Good times! I’m glad that you still remember your Russian-Canadian friend.
Thanks for your reply, Mark!
Oh man! I wish we could hang out! Come down to the USA when all this is over and let’s drive at Mid-Ohio.
Have a very similar list of cars on the shopping list for my wife’s next ride to replace her ’12 Camry SE:
C or E class Merc
Chrysler 300… or Challenger?
She’d love to have a sporty (looking) coupe with a nice interior (read: leather, woodgrain, heated seats and steering) for her next car, our constraint is finding something that can shrug off a pothole or two.
Challenger is the only coupe with bad-road durability that comes to my mind, but it falls short on interior. That’s where relenting and including sedans opens up a lot of options, although the Germans generally fall short on suspension and wheel/tire resilience in my mind, short of a E300 Merc with the “Luxury” trim with cushier suspension and fatter tires.
She basically wants a reincarnation of a classic domestic PLC
Edit: she was even considering a lux’d up crew cab, briefly. That’d certainly give us the durability and smooth ride (with a coil sprung Ram in particular which we test drove and both liked), but hardly scratches the sporty/unique itch (forgot to mention, she nixed the Challenger because she thinks they’re too common on our roads).
She sure knows how to flummox a car guy (me).
Lexus LC500(h) yo! No one owns those.
Man I wish lol. I did sort of consider an RC coupe but a) she thinks they’re ugly and b) I’m not sure they’re any better than the euros at the pothole thing.
I have a question which is going to reveal how unlearned I truly am about car buying. On a new car, if there are massive discounts from the word go is it laughable to ask for an even lower price? Say, $10k is off list price to start on a top trim Explorer that is a 2020MY sitting on a dealer lot. I don’t know if their profit has already disappeared and it’s trying to wring more than can be had or if the manufacture is making up the difference somewhere.
Sorry for the late response on this.
It is not.
Most of the massive discounts that are being offered are being offered in the form of direct to dealer rebates—in other words, it’s the OEM that’s eating the discount, not the dealer. The dealer is likely making at least as much money, if not more, than they would normally. I did exactly this about 15 years ago—Mazda was offering $4500 off remaining 2004 RX-8 inventory in May of 2005. I got another $4000 dealer discount on top of that.
Thanks for replying!
A belated Merry Christmas! I hope you and your kids are well.
I was laughing about the Most Unhappy Customers ending up with the best deals, and the “cracked customer” telling all their friends. Car Buying is a weird business for all involved.
I was in the Business for a minute. Had a friend who wanted to buy a used vehicle. Called him up when that vehicle hit the recon lot. He came in. Looked at the car. Seemed to like it. He was a friend, so I gave him the friend price of the vehicle. Refused to buy the damn thing at any price; looking back he wouldn’t have driven that vehicle off for free.
One month later, another sample of the same model arrives in recon. I begrudgingly called back my “friend.” Same process. Seemed to like the vehicle. I’m not making the same mistake with this guy again. I told him the sticker price is $XX,XXX, as a starting point for he negotiations. “Okay, write it up.” I about fell out of my chair. He walked on the good deal, and paid full pop the second time around. I was a shitty salesman, but I kept myself fed and my liver abused for a month off that one sale.
The psychology of car buying is one that has yet to be fully explored by researchers, yet it is entirely fascinating and deserving of a study.
I’m not an auto industry insider, but I bet there is ton of research on the psychology of purchasing a car. I bet also that a lot of it is proprietary and wrapped up in NDAs. Then again, never underestimate the ability of researchers or corporate execs to come to the wrong conclusions.
Excellent article. The Carmax buying experience sounds like it’s far superior to the individual hunt for the best possible car at the lowest possible price. I hope the G8O has performed well for you. I drove a 2015 Genesis 3.8 for years. It remains in the family as reliability has been essentially perfect. I recently added a 2019 3.3t (purchased used) and love it so far.