Car buying: the legacy continues.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Brian Harnish, Apr 23, 2004.

  1. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Oh, man...I've been taking a much closer look at other brands (even test driving some of them for a second time). I'm waiting until late June/early July to make my brand-new car purchase to get the best deal. Anyway, I had the privilege of test driving the Toyota Camry Solara and the Toyota Celica for the first time yesterday.

    Well, let's just say that I've scratched the Honda Accord off my list. The Camry Solara and Celica blows the Accord away -- in every respect including style, interior, and exterior design. Not to mention the ride! What smooth handling and cornering! DA-AMN! What really gets me is that for the same price of a Honda Accord EX 4 cylinder, you can get a Solara V6, and the Accord V6 costs several thousand more.

    My only beef is that I'm still undecided between the Solara and Celica. The Celica is blessed with a sweet, sporty interior and exterior design, but is rather small compared to the Solara. The Solara handles and rides much smoother and is like a Lexus in build quality. The thing is? I love the look, performance, and feel of both of them. Argh...how do I decide between two winners? I'm heavily leaning towards the Solara...but then I'm thinking how many more dates with the ladies I might get with the Celica. [​IMG]

    Guys and gals, I'd appreciate some help in making a decision here. How do you decide between two winners like this?
     
  2. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    hmmm comparing a Celica and a Solara? I think you need to examine more what your needs are, these cars aren't in the same class. I'd go for a black or lunar mist V6 Solara between the two since I do a lot of long driving.
     
  3. Eric Alderson

    Eric Alderson Stunt Coordinator

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    If you like the Celica, you might want to check out the Acura RSX. It has more headroom and IMHO, a nicer interior. I'm happy with my RSX Type-S.
     
  4. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Eric- I was seriously considering the Acura RSX on my top four list of cars (Honda Accord, Toyota Camry Solara, Toyota Celica, Acura RSX). However, a friend of mine convinced me not to even consider the Acura because of reliability issues and high cost of maintenance. What do you like about the Acura and why? I, too, really like the styling of the Acura interior.

    Scott: I'm heavily leaning towards the Camry Solara. The ride is sweet, plush, and smooth; not to mention luxurious! Plus, it has three things (in addition to a few others) going for it that Honda doesn't:

    1. Not everyone has one -- every other car you see on the road is either a Honda Accord or a Honda Civic. At least that's the way it is here in Southern California.

    2. A more luxurious and sportier style.

    3. The Solara V6 can be had for around the same price as the Honda Accord 4 Cylinder EX. However, I may opt for the Solara 4 Cylinder just because of gas savings (don't have THAT much extra to spend on gas but I can still afford gas for the Solara 4 cylinder). Plus, I just can't warrant spending the extra cash on the V6 for my daily use (to and from work -- this will begin including college in the fall). But my daily use may change with my new car -- I may be driving all over Southern California just as an excuse to drive it! [​IMG]
     
  5. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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    Why not buy a slightly used (early lease return or something) and save some $$$? I've bought one new car and I don't plan on doing it again.
     
  6. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Brian,

    The Celica is going away soon, to be sorta replaced by a true sports edition of the Corolla (the current Corolla S is just a trim package with no performance or handling improvements over the regular Corolla.)

    I work in the shop at a large Toyota dealership in the Fresno area.

    The Celica is sharp handling car, but noisy and a bit harsh riding in comparison with the Solara, with a somewhat cheaper interior, a bit cramped, and downright poor rear quarter visibility. The current Celica dates back to the 2000 model year and is based on the Corolla chassis with a different rear suspension. All but the GTS share the same 140hp 4 cylinder engine with the Corolla. The GTS has basically the same engine with variable valve lift as well as the variable valve timing of the GT model, rated at 180hp which is very deceptive. The actual power and torque curves of both engines are about identical until you get up to 6500+ rpm. The GTS makes it's 180hp only in a very narrow rpm range at the very high end making the extra power virtually useless in everyday driving.

    The Solara is a newer design, larger, roomier, much quieter and more refined feeling but with very decent handling. I like the new styling and think it's really quite daring for a Toyota.

    For comfort and freeway cruising with still decent handling I like the Solara a lot. The Celica is sportier but the tradeoff in noise and cramped interior isn't worth it to me.

    The 4 in the Solara is actually quite adequate, being a new design introduced on the 02 Camrys. I've actually hopped into the 4 and driven it and thought it was a V6 until I openned the hood. It's definitely easier to work on than the V6 and offers better fuel economy.

    I'll let ya in on a little secret: None of the mechanics in our shop who purchase Camrys choose the V-6 over the 4. Both are equally durable and reliable but at 100k miles when you get a minor valve cover gasket leak you're looking at a 4 hour project on the V6, maybe 20 minutes on the 4. Sparkplug replacement on the rear bank of cylinders on the V6 is also something you don't want to know about. The V6 has timing belt, on which replacement is recommended at about 90k miles, 4s are chain drive with no replacement interval.

    The current Solara's been out for over a year now and in my experience has one of the lowest rates of warranty issues of any car in the Toyota line. Pricing is, as you've already noted, very attractive and the vehicle quality has not been compromised to reach the lower price compared to the previous model. The current Solara is built in the Kentucky plant that also makes the new Sienna and many Camrys, whereas the 1st generation Solara was built in Ontario Canada. Engines and transmissions are also now US built which saves on production costs.

    Another car to consider would be the new Scion Coupe that should debut in June. As you probably know, Scion is the new "youth oriented" division of Toyota.

    Check out Scion.com for a look at the upcoming coupe model. It's comparable in size to a late-90s Accord coupe, comes with lotsa standard stuff including a dual moonroof. Engine is the Camry/Solara 4 cylinder.
    It's a sportier car than the Solara, a size smaller but not cramped like the Celica, and should come in comfortably under $20k. Since you're not planning to purchase until late June or early July this would be worth waiting to see and drive before making a final decision.
     
  7. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Brian,
    Don't let the dark side seduce you... [​IMG]

    If I'd been looking at coupes, the Solara would have been a strong consideration for me as well. The '04 design is very sharp and has a great feature set for the price. I'm surprised it's priced so much better than the Honda Accord. I remember it being priced well. But when I was shopping for sedans, the V6 Camry was pretty much the same price, or perhaps more expensive, than the Honda V6.


    I don't know anything about the Celica, but my emotional response is that the Celica is for kids while the Solara is a more sophisticated automobile. And the Celica seemed very cramped, just sitting in one at the showroom.

    A good friend in CA has a Solara, '01 I think, and she really likes it. It was very comfortable riding around with her as a passenger.

    I say get the Solara over the Celica. But only if you just can't get a Honda [​IMG]
     
  8. AllenD

    AllenD Second Unit

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    Brian,

    If you need help in the negotiation department, let me know. I'm in the car business.
     
  9. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Seth- This will be my first new car. I've owned used cars with varying degrees of success. My first car was a Mercury Sable LS (1988). It was a piece of crap car (I wish I never got it) and couldn't go very far (which limited my choice in colleges around here). My second (current) car is a 1996 Honda Civic LX. Very nice car with low mileage (64,500, roughly). I feel however, it's time for me to get a brand-new car for my next car. Plus, it'll give me ample opportunity to build up my credit score significantly.

    Steve- Thanks for the lengthy explanations on the Solara vs. the Celica. After test-driving both cars I think my decision was (and still is) 98% in favor of the Solara. When I was driving the Celica I kept thinking to myself "What would happen in the unfortunate event that I get into an accident with this car?" Safety is an issue, and I don't think I'd get *that* much safety with the Celica. Plus, IMO, the Solara is so much more fun to drive!

    Dave- Oh, I can get a Honda. However, with the stylish exterior and interior of the Solara (I think it beats Honda in every respect in that department), I'd much rather opt for the Solara. I'm still going to test drive the 2004 Honda again today just to be sure I haven't overlooked anything.

    Allen- I may need some help in the negotiation department as I do have a trade-in. How do I get the dealer not to resort to unscrupulous tactics to reduce the price of my trade-in from Kelley Blue Book's value? I assume I'll have to just walk if they try using any tactics against me, correct?

    I'll be going through the Internet Manager to get the best price but I'd like to know if there's anything they'll do to gouge me on trade-in value. My trade-in (Honda Civic LX 1996) is currently valued at $4040 (fair condition; there's a significant chip in the paint on the hood due to some negligence on my part; and no, I've never hit anything and I've never been involved in an accident with this car).

    Also, one more question for you guys: on the Solara I can't seem to decide between Lunar Mist Metallic (silver) and Cosmic Blue Metallic (light blue metallic look). Both colors look great (at least on the web site) and I'd be happy with either of them. I've seen the silver Solara in person but not the Cosmic Blue. If the blue is as light in person as it is on the web site, though...I may just opt for the blue. Argh! Who would have thought a simple decision as color would be this tough! [​IMG]
     
  10. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Another update: Just test drove the Honda Accord 2004 model again today just to be sure. And sure enough: I'm definitely going for the Toyota Camry Solara. That car is so sweet... *drool*. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    The '03 Honday re-design brought a lot of good changes, but the exterior was a false step. I looked at the '03 Solara and '03 Camry; I preferred the '04 Accord interior. But I think they did further updates for the '04 Solara. The exterior definitely exceeds that of the Honda coupe.

    Have fun with the Solara. What options are you getting?
     
  12. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Dave- Just the spoiler and floor mats (their most basic options model). The Solara already comes fully loaded in the base model (at least with the options I'm concerned about!) so I'm pretty much covered as far as options go.

    The only unfortunate thing I've found with Toyota in Southern Cali. is that they tend to force their option packages on you (you can't get a Solara without the spoiler -- at least at the dealers I've tried so far). No big deal to me, though. I can live with it, however (it's not a deal breaker) -- the spoiler is non-intrusive and it's growing on me.

    I sat in the Solara again today (went to check out the Cosmic Blue color) and man...it's definitely far better than the Accord, IMO. The Accord's interior and exterior seem rather plain compared to the Solara's. I'm gonna be kicking some serious ass at work when I drive this baby in after I get it. [​IMG]

    Oh, and I've finally decided on the color! Going to get the Lunar Mist Metallic (silver) over Cosmic Blue.
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Does the Solara come with a moonroof standard, as with the Accord EX? I can't imagine you'd not get a moonroof in a stylin' new Solara.

    I'm a pretty plain guy, so that's probably why it appealed to me [​IMG] Actually, I really liked the Honda's control layout. I think it's the best I've seen -- except the moonroof controls are in the wrong place [​IMG]

    What engine are you choosing? (V6 or 4-cyl)

    Isn't Toyota running 0% financing currently? Hopefully you can get some good financing or pricing deals.

    Your car will be loads of fun! Enjoy!
     
  14. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    That's why I'm not buying another Civic, I really hate the interior re-design. Very plain, spare, and cheap looking compared to my 7-year old Civic.

    However, I expect to remain in the Honda family with a new CR-V within the next few weeks. [​IMG]
     
  15. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Congrats, the silver is really a great minimal maintenance color that hides dings and stuff well, much better than the darker colors.

    Jay
     
  16. Gwon Chang

    Gwon Chang Stunt Coordinator

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    Go with what you want, but, in my humble opinion, the Solara is a girl's car! [​IMG]
     
  17. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Bought a RAV4 last year, and I'm loving it.

    I went back to our dealers showroom a couple of weeks ago, and sat in a Solara. DAMN, what a fine car! I may just get one when we're done payin' for the RAV. [​IMG]

    Best of luck on your purchase! I would have chosen the same! [​IMG]
     
  18. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    DaveF wrote:


    Yup, the Solara is a fine car indeed. Very attractive inside and out. They certainly have the Honda Accord beat this year in terms of external and internal design -- I'll even go out on a limb and (based on the test drives) say that they even have Honda beat in the performance department.
     
  19. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    WOW i'll be looking at some "V4"s when I can find them:S

    "except the moonroof controls are in the wrong place" I feel the roof controls SHOULD be on the dash. You hand doesn't obstruct the rearview mirror and your left hand is still very close to the steering wheel if a problem arrises.

    Love my 03 Civic,but I'm into the classy/nice looking/well built car thing, I could have gotten a Tiburon if I wanted to be looked at.

    I think the new Solara is a little girly too! Sorry Brian

    Brent
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I can't reach the moonroof controls sitting normally and I can't see them while watching the road. I have to lean forward and look down at them to find them. For me it's distracting and a little dangerous while driving. Also, there is not auto-open or close function, so I have to press and hold. Look at the VW Passat for how to do moonroof controls properly. Easily within reach, right by the moonroof. And you just spin the dial open or closed and the thing movs accordingly. The brief blocking of the rearview mirror is, to me, less distracting than what the Honda requires.
     

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