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Car Corner
Sedans Possibilities

June 1, 2007
By Scott Lewis

I briefly mentioned sedans (can you same Hemi) when I looked at new & used cars I am considering for a fall 2007 purchase. I always look at coupes, even though the coupe market has been on the decline for a long time now. At present my sons are 7 & 10, and more than flexible enough to squeeze into the back of a Pony Car. In 2007 they will be 9 & 12, and the oldest will be on the cusp of becoming a teenager. Yikes!

Maybe it is time to grow up. Did I say that? Well, maybe it is just time to look for a car with a larger back seat. This month I will look at sedans. I will look at new cars, used cars and some crystal ball gazing at future cars.

Hemi

I can't get away from the fact that these cars are a cool choice. Two tons of metal, plastic & glass never looked and performed so good... especially for the price. You will not find another five passenger car out there that has more than 340 Hemi style horsepower for less money. These cars are bargains. I am still waiting to see the Charger in person. I really wish they would have used the concept Charger from the late nineties or at least put the nose of the Magnum RT on the Charger. Oh well.

I really like the idea of these cars. Hemi engines sitting on Mercedes E-Class drive train components wrapped in distinctly American bodywork. I am concerned with performance. What? I have seen wildly varying road test data. I have heard of 300s with the Hemi going from 0-60 anywhere from 5.3 second to 6.3 seconds. A new Mustang with 300 hp and a weight a little more than 3500 pounds can do the 0-60 thing in about 5.0-5.3 seconds. The 300 is a little more than 4000 pounds, but with 40 extra horsepower. It seems that the 300 should be good for mid to low 5 second runs to 60 mph. At over 6 seconds it seems less a bargain. After all, an Acura TL with a manual transmission can hit the big six-oh in about 5.6-5.7 seconds. Surely the Hemi should be faster than that. A test drive should put this to rest.

Because of their new car price I would be giving up on a classic car until this was paid off. However, we might be able to pick one up in the used car marketplace and have some cash left over to start a classic project car.

I will be keeping a close eye out for any of the Hemi cars. I wonder what will be the least expensive SRT-8 car with the 425 hp Hemi.

Note: Four days before posting this article I saw a brand new Dodge Charger RT equipped with the Hemi. It was in a Target parking lot. Surprisingly, two days later I saw a TV commercial saying the new Charger would be available on June. Oops, someone beat that deadline. I was impressed. It was jet black and looked tough. I would need a test drive, but it is a serious contender.

Infiniti G35

Because I like the G35 Coupe so much I really should consider its sedan couterpart. Road & Track even gave it the win in a comparison with a BMW 330i. I find the G35 styling a little plain in sedan form. Well, its the interior where I will be spending my time. The sedan is also cheaper than the coupe. With Lexus getting a new IS 350 ready the G35 may see an increae in power that could make it at least as fast as my Camaro.

Lexus IS 350

The upcoming Lexus IS 350 looks promising. If they get the horsepower and price right this could be a bargain BMW 3 Series competitor. We will have to wait and see.

Acura TL

I like this car... a lot. Why couldn't they make it with rear wheel drive. As it is you can get a 6 speed manual transmission behind a 270 hp engine good for sub 6 second times to 60. This is very close to the speed of my Camaro when it was new, but with front wheel drive and torque steer. I know, I am considering the Accord Coupe and Mini Cooper (see the coupes from last month) and they both have front wheel drive. But those two cars are a bargain compared to this Acura. I would expect the other front drivers to be low enough in price that I could try to buy a classic project car at close to the same time. If I spend over $30,000 on an Acura sedan I will not be able to buy a classic and this will be the only car I will have. For the low 30 grand range I think I would prefer a low optioned 300C or Dodge Charger with a Hemi. Still, the TL is a great car and worth thinking about.

BMW 330i & 540i

Here is were new meets used. I love these cars. Coupe, sedan and even convertible. However, new and almost new models are pricey. The new for 06 330i is close to $40,000. I don't know if I will be able to stretch my budget that far. If I decide I really want a BMW I will probably have to look in the used car market. That means I may have to look at the current generation 3 Series (2001-2005). While I am doing that... and thinking about growing up, I might want to look at the previous generation 540i (1998-2003). I could really see myself driving a 540i Sport with a manual transmission. The big issue would be cost of ownership. If a 330i or 540i was too expensive to maintain I might be putting a huge hurt on getting a classic driver.

Cadillac CTS-V

This is one of those cases where I would be looking in the used car market only. I love the idea of the CTS-V, a Corvette powered luxury sedan. However, at $50,000 there is no way I can afford one new. Maybe by 2007 I can find a nice used one for a reasonable price. I will keep this in mind as it seems like the best performance compromise for someone that needs to "grow up."

Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG

Yes, a Mercedes. The C32 received a good, old fashioned does of American style power in the form of a supercharger to make 354 horsepower available in a relatively small four door sedan. This car is faster than my Camaro. I even saw one locally (in San Antonio) on Autotrader for only $31,000. Too bad it only comes with an automatic.

Others

I could go on for a long time. There are a lot of sedans out there that have decent performance and respectable luxury, especially if I am willing to get around the depreciation and buy a car between two to five years old. BMW is the first one I think of with the 330i, 530i and 540i. Once we open the door to used luxury brand sedans the choices get far too many for this article. Audi A4, S4, A6; Mercedes-Benz C320, C32 AMG, E320, E430, E55 AMG; Cadillac CTS, CTS-V; Infiniti M45; Jaguar S-Type, XJ8, XJR.

In case you think some of the cars listed above are not feasible, they are. I used Autotrader.com to do some quick searches. I was able to find at least one valid example of every model listed above for under $40,000. I used $40K as the limit for two reasons. 1) In two years those cars that are in the high thirties now will be in the low $30K range, and 2) if I bust into the luxury car market I will expect to give up on a classic car for a while. I also restricted my search to cars with under 45K miles and within 300 miles of my zip code. Note: The S4's I found were the earlier Turbo V-6 versions and not the later, preferred V-8s. I did find an 04 V-8 S4 for $42K. Also the Mercedes E55 AMG was the older version and not the power monster that came out in 2003. The point being I could look at a lot of really nice cars, most of which are far out of my budget in the new car marketplace, if I am willing to shop for cars two to five years old.

Time will tell if I am willing to "grow up" and get a really nice sedan.

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