Your best bet for a decent used car for under $8000
Well we always talk about cars on the high end, new cars, etc. Lets talk about some affordable but not total ****box used cars.
For me, in the used car arena, one thing I always look for is an older owner who meticulously maintained their car. This sometimes means you are buying a dead person's car, that was the case with my 1991 Cadillac Brougham and my 1995 Cadillac Fleetwood. Just because they are old peoples cars doesn't mean they are stodgy, uncool, etc.
Also I will give you a tip about buying cheap Cadillacs. Stick to the old RWD sleds with a good maintenance history, avoid ANYTHING FWD with the Northstar V8. The newer CTS, STS, XLR, Escalade, SRX, are much more reliable than the 90's/early 00's FWD Northstar cars.
As for products in the Toyota family that are under $8000 used, I highly recommend the 2000-2004 Avalon, if you want a cushy commuter car that is decent on gas, 22 in town, 30 on the highway. What I really like about that gen Avalon is that it has more space than the older LS400, gets better gas mileage, rides just as nice, is just as quiet, has a bigger trunk, ie its really practical for a big sedan.
Our family has a 2000 Avalon with 250k on the clock, original springs, shocks, engine, transmission, paint, interior, etc. That car drives really nice, rides great, interior looks absolutely mint, engine/transmission shift/run like a new car, everything electric on that car works. Exterior wise the paint still looks great until you realize how many rock chips it has and the paint has completely faded off the mirrors, but other than the dings/scratches you see from that many years of use, it still looks like a car you would feel proud to pull up into the valet lane at a fancy restaurant.
Some good advice, Aron. Those cars you listed, especially the big Cadillacs, also represent something that is increasingly difficult to find nowadays...really cushy ride comfort over bumps, as most vehicles have gone to low-profile tires and/or stiffer underpinnings. Only some non-AMG E and S-class Mercedes sedans, Lexus LS460, Chevrolet Impala/Buick Lacrosse, the Hyundai Equus and second-generation Genesis, and Kia K900 still have what I would consider a truly comfortable ride today over bumps....even with lower-profile tires.
Ride comfort, today, though often neglected, IMO, is even more important than it was years ago, simply from the ever-deteriorating condition of our roads. For instance, my part of the country used to have excellent roads, but recent cold snowy winters and neglect have turned many of them into cratered Swiss-Cheese strips that loo like something out of the Snow Belt.
Keep in mind, though, that while there are some cream puffs, those old Cadillacs, in general, were rather unreliable, somewhat poorly-built, and tended to be plagued with rattles and squeaks.
I'd go for a rust free older Land Cruiser or LX 450.
How old would you have to go to find one under $8k? The prices for used ones are pretty ridiculous!
In regards to the OP, I have fond and some not so fond memories of those big Caddys. The ride was indeed cushy, I'd say too much so, but everything else was far from satisfactory. My father was constantly wrenching on those cars every weekend. Something was always broken. A far cry from the reliability of current Toyota/Lexus vehicles. I would also reccomend older BMW and MB cars from the 90s, before they had too much electronic doo-hickies to go wrong. Fun to wrench on and drive with out looking too stodgy. And of course, older Lexus models. If I had to buy a car for that price, I'd try to buy as much SC3/4 as I could...
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