What sedan do you recommend for someone who doesn't have a Cadillac budget?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

My question to you is about the purchase of a new car. I've heard you recommend the Cadillac STS as well as the Lexus LS400. But frankly, even though I could afford it, I have trouble paying that kind of money for a car. I'd like to spend less between $25,000 and $30,000. I'd like a four door, with a roomy back seat, not too big (Lincoln Town Car is a boat). I need to be able to park it easily. I want automatic door locks and power seats. I would also like a sunroof, but it's not a requirement. I especially want dependability, because I am a woman, and am concerned about breaking down. I do not care if the car is foreign or American. Which cars do you suggest I look at?

TOM: Well, after considering all your criteria--roomy, reliable, luxurious, less than $30,000--I was going to suggest that you make an offer on my trusty '63 Dodge Dart convertible. But then I remembered that it doesn't have power seats.

RAY: Don't worry, Brenda. I actually have a couple of real suggestions for you. One car that's really worth looking at is the Mazda 929. I always liked the way it drove. But until this year, I thought is was kind of, well...ugly. But it's all new this year, and now it's one of the sharpest looking cars on the road. So definitely drive one of those.

TOM: You might also want to check out the Acura Legend, although that may run you more than $30,000 when all is said, done, dealer prepped, and destination charged. The Legend is a very comfortable, smooth riding car that has a great record for reliability.

RAY: If you want something a little smaller than the 929 or Legend, take a look at the smaller Lexus--the ES300--and the Mitsubishi Diamante, both of which are a little sportier. The Diamante, by the way, which starts at about $23,000 is a particularly good deal.

TOM: The two American cars that come to mind in that range are the Pontiac Bonneville SSEi, and the Buick Park Avenue Ultra. They're both in the high twenties. The Pontiac is definitely sportier and snazzier looking, but the Buick is also a very nice car. And if none of these cars fit the bill, Brenda, write again, and I'll let you make an offer on my Dart. I'd consider selling it if I got an offer in the mid-twenties.

RAY: Yeah. He turned down $15 bucks last week, but I think he'll let it go for $26 or $27 bucks.

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