Should I change my car?

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Should I change my car?

Post by ihavenoidea » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:22 pm

I currently drive a 2011 Hyundai Sonata with 70K miles and am wondering what others would do in my situation.

I drive 200 miles/week, almost all of which is spent in stop and go traffic commuting on the highway. I sometimes use the car to shuttle my 3 small kids, but we have a minivan to do most of the heavy lifting. The Sonata generally rides OK, except my back/bottom occasionally gets sore. I've tried various cushions and pillows, including 2 high-rated ones from Amazon, but have found that not using anything extra and maxing the power lumbar support generally provides the most comfort. At the end of the week like today, after sitting in traffic for more than an hour, my tailbone isn't happy with me. The Sonata has been generally reliable other than 6-7 different recalls on this model. Upcoming maintenance likely will be new tires and replacement of the brakes. The Sonata should presumably be able to be driven for many more miles. Car is worth $4.5K according to Carmax.

I'm wondering if a switch in cars would improve my comfort and make the commute more enjoyable. Besides comfort, other important features would be safety and reliability. I like the various safety features found in new cars - in particular, adaptive cruise control for stop and go traffic sounds awesome, but I have heard that the quality of these systems can vary greatly by manufacturer. Also, a higher riding position would be nice as seeing over the car in front of me would presumably help me better anticipate traffic. Good bluetooth is also important - I do lots of conference calls during my commute. Car badge is unimportant (see my current car), and if anything, I want to avoid expensive maintenance and repairs often associated with certain luxury brands.

Financially, changing cars is not a problem. If I do change cars, I'm willing to look at options between $25K to $55K. I can afford more but am skeptical about the value. I've ridden in $100K+ luxury sedans as a passenger on short rides, which has generally confirmed that I'm a "Car gets you from Point A to Point B, value>performance" type of person. That being said, I would be willing to look at some luxury options in my price range if it truly provides better comfort and safety.

So, BHs, (1) if you were me, would you look to change cars or is there something I should consider to make my current ride more comfortable and (2) if you would change cars, what would you recommend for me?

Thank you!

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by adamthesmythe » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:19 pm

Higher riding position = crossover = worse gas mileage. Might be worth it.

I once drove a rented Rio and it was awful. There's a long ways up from a Hyundai. Consider trying some medium-priced options before going up to luxury.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by sk2101 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:27 pm

Are you in good shape? something tells me you may have health issues that need to be addressed if you are so susceptible to pain on relatively short rides. I would start there.
I'd not then rent cars so you can do long test drives until you figure out what seat works for you. Typically you will find the better seats o n the luxury brands - Lexus, Acura. try the Genesis is you want to stay in a value brand. Good Luck!

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by bottlecap » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:32 pm

Honestly, outside of the pain issues, it sounds like you just want a new vehicle. Which is fine, but you don't need anyone else to justify your decision.

If the vehicle is truly that uncomfortable and you spend a lot of time in it, I guess I'd look for something else. Rent before you buy, however, otherwise you could be buying into the same problem.


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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by fishnskiguy » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:40 pm

The Honda CR-V may be the ride for you. All the reviews I have read name it the best compact crossover out there. The EX-L trim has features found in $50,00 plus Euro cars with better gas mileage and much lower maintenance cost. I'll be getting one in 2019.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by Alexa9 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:48 pm

All new Accord and Camry this year. Big sales on the old ones too. I'd also consider moving closer to work or finding work closer if possible but I'm sure you've considered that.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:52 pm

Volvo XC-60's seem to get great reports about comfortable seats.

We got a CPO (first time ever "used") 2 years ago, a 1 yr old, 10k car, just amazing (and it happened to be a Turbo, which is quite something).

That would be well within your budget.

The new ones have the new model features of the XC-90, and are gorgeous, but probably a new price jump vs. any remaining 2017's (aside from "end of year", IF any are still around).

You might want to test drive one, because what would matter is how YOU feel in those seats.
And try to get a loaner for an extended time (e.g., overnight, or over a Sunday if dealer is closed then, etc.) to give it a fair try like your actual usage.

Full disclosure: We've driven Volvo's since the late '60's, so we are "not unbiased", or whatever. :wink:
But 2 years ago, we test drove a bunch of cars, from Subaru Outback (liked car, HATED the seats - HORRIBLE!) to a Mercedes ML350, and we were quite surprised that we just didn't like that at all.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by knick17 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:08 pm

70k miles is not enough to change a car, at least in my opinion.
with that said, comfort duing ling rides it is a big plus and i understand the need. See how much u could sell ur car for and mayb start a lease or similar for a new car.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by runner3081 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:16 pm

Were you uncomfortable from the beginning? If not, I would just buy a new seat. The foam may be broken down in the original seat. Very cheap alternative to replacing the car if it is otherwise reliable.

Also, you might possibly be able to buy a seat from a newer Sonata with more ergonomics and it may fit.

As someone else mentioned, you really just seem to be crafting a justification to buy something else. Probably a poor financial move, but if you can afford it, it is your money!

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by Watty » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:30 pm

A couple of things I would try before replacing the car.

Have you tried swapping cars for a week or two to see if the other car is better for you? If so would it make sense to swap cars permanently?

That would help you isolate if you have a problem specifically with that car or if you might be having some medical issues.

You might also talk to the dealer, it is possible that there is a problem with your seat and it might not be a design problem. I'm a fairly big guy and I find that by the time my car gets to have that sort of mileage the driver seat is starting to lose its shape some.

I don't know about if you could do it with that model but I have heard of people getting a better seat from a high end trim of the same car so you might be able to do that if there is not a problem with all the electronics and safety equipment. That would be pretty expensive for a new seat but you should be able to get one from a salvage yard for a lot less.

If you do get a different car it would be good to rent a car for a least a week to make sure that it really works better.

You can likely sell the car for a lot more than the CarMax price which would make replacing it an easier choice.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by daveydoo » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:31 pm

Seating position > vehicle. Do you like the "captain's chair" feeling for the van? Big SUVs and minivans seem to have more upright seating, imo. I need to limbo into my older 3-series and ride on the ground. You may be the one person who benefits from a car show -- where you can sit in every car and configuration.

I disagree with some of the others -- if you have chronic back pain and you're repeatedly aggravating it day-in and day-out, then a change may be warranted. Know that you could be setting yourself up for disappointment -- if this is a high-stakes change, I would rent the one you (think you) like for a bit and make sure your suspicions are confirmed. It's a little like changing neighborhoods because of noise -- you'd better be right or you will drive yourself nuts!
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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:51 pm

Get car seat covers and slip in thin to medium shaped lumbar supports beneath them so they stay in place. Add a soft cushion beneath you if needed, gel, or if really bad, a gel wheelchair cushion. You have to experiment. Thank goodness for free returns as long as not 3rd party sellers.
As for the car, 6 way power seats with lumbar support, air adjustable and vertical adjustment even better.
I have never found a stock car seat of any brand or model though haven't tried them all, that works "as is". The extra lumbar and other cushions or shaped pads are what helps a lot.
I have found that car seats and car designs that have more headroom, are more upright like SUV's, are easier to work with than low cars with very sloped front glass and cramped compartments.
I have had a couple spine surgeries and suffer when traveling and have to rent a car because I don't have my custom seat cushions and usually, for bad spines, most cars are marginal at best.
I have yet to find a small car that works for me. Either a mid to large SUV or truck, absolutely loaded with the best seats, has been the best bet for many years.
I hope this helps. IMHO, do whatever it takes to save your spine and minimize pain.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by wander » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:39 am

I would not change car if in your situation. I would try a few more different lumbar supports.

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Re: Should I change my car?

Post by ihavenoidea » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:56 am

Thank you for the many helpful responses.

For those raising the potential health issues, I'm generally very healthy. The back/bottom discomfort started about two years ago. The driver's seat is like-new with no deterioration in foam/padding. If I had to guess, the discomfort comes from the accumulation of 7 years of driving stop+go on the 405, one of the most congested freeways in America, having a desk job for the past decade+, being skinny and having a skinny rear, and aging (I'm pushing 40 and do find myself waking up with random aches and pains these days that I never used to have...). Prior to this, I had lived in large, dense cities where I did not have a car and just walked or took public transit. Now, I do 45-70 minute drives for an 18 mile drive. I recognize that I've made the choice to do this, but moving closer to work is not something that I am willing to do for many reasons.

I very much like the idea of renting / trying out alternatives for a week. It seems obvious now, but I had not thought of this as an option. I will look into this, but I will be curious to see how easy it is to do this through a car rental company. When I've rented cars in the past, the choice is usually for the type/size of car as specific models are not specified.

Sandtrap - thanks for the suggestions. I will check out seat covers as well as the wheelchair cushions. I have tried 3 different types of cushions designed for car seats. After playing around with those cushions and numerous lumbar, seat height, seat distance and seat tilt settings, I still find no-additional cushioning to work best for me in my Sonata, though "best" still isn't good. You may be on to something with the big SUVs/trucks, and your comment reminded me that my friend's Sequoia has seats that feel great in the passenger seat. I wonder if I could get a Sequoia seat in my Sonata...

A few of you mentioned that I'm looking for justification for buying a new car. You might be right, though I am not a car guy, and the thought of researching, testing and buying a new (or used) car just seems so tedious and the opposite of what I want to do with my free time. Financially, I can afford it. Buying a new (or used) car in the $ range I mentioned, or even more, is not material to me from a NW or income standpoint, which I suppose is a perk of my work and having followed BH-type principles since graduating college many moons ago.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.

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