We bought a car yesterday! After doing some test driving this week, we narrowed it down to one car that we thought would be worth making an offer on. At the last minute we decided to make our starting offer lower than what we had planned and in the end we ended up paying about $250 less than what we expected to pay if the dealership was willing to work with us.
The car we bought is a 2005 Nissan Altima 3.5S. I have to say that it is not exactly what I expected to end up getting, but we are hoping that it will be a good, long lasting, reliable car. Last week I drove an Altima, a Malibu, a Sonata, an Equinox and a Mazda 6. After that, I decided that the Altima, Malibu and Sonata were worth a second look. The Sonata was ruled out when we found out it had been in an accident, and on second look there were a lot more body dings than we realized at first, plus my father-in-law spotted some oil leaks which caused a definite end to our interest in that car. I have to say that I did really like the Malibu. I really like the look of the car, and the interior was really nice, and it had some fun options. However, it would have needed new tires within a year, had some pretty noticeable dings on the body as well as some 'bubbling' on the rims that looked like rust that had been painted over (though I am not sure why aluminum rims would be rusting....), so in the end we had to say no to that car.
The Altima that we ended up buying has the 3.5L V6 engine that you don't see much in these cars. I think you might see them more in the sporty Altima coupes that you see on occasion, but most of the sedans are 2.5 4cyl which I read were definitely powerful enough, but I have never driven a car with power like this Altima. It has a few pretty minor body dings, the interior is in beautiful shape and the tires should last at least a couple more years. The only two down sides to the car, that are fairly minor in the scheme of things, are the colour (a light metallic green and a tan interior) and the lack of fun options. It has the basic air/tilt/cruise, power windows/locks but beyond that, there is not much to speak of. However, I have to say I am happy that it has auto headlights. My last two cars have had that, and I REALLY appreciate not having to think about turning my headlights on or off, and you don't have to worry about leaving them on by accident.
Since I feel a little bit like it looks like an old lady's car, we might try to dress it up with a bit of window tint and some inexpensive aluminum wheels. But we'll see! :)