Car Corner
Annual - Cars Worth Waiting For

September 1, 2011
By Scott Lewis

Each year (this is the 3rd) I look at the new cars on the market and try to decide which cars are worth waiting for. The idea for this annual list is to select cars that cost significantly more than $20K but I will still want to own when they drop below $20,000 on the used car marketplace.

This year I am doing something new. I am going to find examples on Autotrader's web site. Granted, you may be able to find lower prices on eBay or Craigslist, but Autotrader's site is easy enough to use that it makes a great resource to gauge the going prices for used cars.

Premium Coupes - Another change this year is that I am listing a couple of categories. The Premium Coupe category includes the Cadillac CTS, Audi A5, BMW 328i & Mercedes Benz E350. This category is where I really want to put my money. However, my sons are getting bigger, and the need for a larger back seat means that I can only lust after these cars. Having a sedan is infinity more practical. So until I can afford more than one car these won't be in my parking space anytime soon. I am not going to list these cars individually below, but know that they are on this list in spirit... always.

Sports Cars - Yes... for the same reason as the Premium Coupes... I am lumping Sports Cars into a category because I absolutely cannot not get a sports car until I can afford two cars. I don't see that happening anytime soon... and even if it did it is likely the second car would be a classic. If I did look at Sports Cars I would have to include my favorite, the Corvette. Next up would be a Miata. They are so affordable. It is much more likely that I will be able to afford a Miata as a second car before a Vette. The Mercedes SLK350 is all new... and better than before, so it would be a nice Sports Car contender. Of course, Porsche's Boxster goes into this category as well as the Nissan 370Z. Finally I am leaving the possibility of the Pontiac Solstice on the table. The Solstice is affordable already. And if you keep one for 20-30 years they will be really cool at car shows. I think these will appreciate in value more than the Miata will. Oh, and yes... I believe the Miata will eventually go up in value. Imagine all the people that bought one when they were in their early, single years and had to give them up when they started a family. Nostalgia will kick in on those people and they will want to recapture that youth with a well kept or restored Miata in 30 years... Count on it.

Let's get on with the actual list.

Cadillac CTS (2008+) - This car has moved up to the top of my list. Why? Because it has arrived. When I talk about the CTS I mean the refreshed model that came out in 2008. I love this car. I would like to have a CTS Coupe, as noted above, but practicality and the need for a larger car to replace my Mini Cooper will have me looking at the sedan. As an added bonus these are just now falling to prices under $20K. I will not be buying a car this fall, but I will definitely be looking at the CTS in the summer of 2012. The CTS comes with a 4/50 warranty. I have seen examples on Autotrader that are still under warranty. This is what I would shoot for... a car that is still under warranty, even if it is just for few months.

Example: 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6, 49,000 miles - $19,495. I found this Caddy in an instant with a search on Autotrader. I would want to confirm that this is a 3.6 direct injection engine, and I might prefer one of the shades of red, but this shows that this car has fallen into the my price range for this list. I just need to be ready to buy. Hopefully next year.

MUSTANG - That's right... I put that in all upper case letters. I am growing more and more fond of the Mustang. This is very unsettling for a Camaro fan (I have owned two Camaros). Last year I said the Mustang getting the 400+ hp 5.0 motor saved it from being eliminated from my list. After reading about the Mustang over the past year I have decided that any version of the 2011 or newer Mustangs is more than good enough. The base Mustang now has a 300+ hp V-6 that gets 31 mpg on the highway. Road tests put this Mustang in the low 5 second range for 0-60. That's the same performance the 2005 Mustang GT got with its 300 hp V-8. More importantly, that's faster than my 1993 Camaro Z-28 was with its V-8. And it is this low 5 second 0-60 performance that is at least as fast as a Challenger R/T with its V-8. No wonder the Challenger is not on this list anymore... and selling poorly. I know from getting enough speeding tickets that I don't need 400+ hp for daily driving. Oh yea, but I want it. All that being said... I really want a Boss 302 Mustang. A V-6 Mustang is fast enough for a daily driver, and the GT is more than enough. But I want overkill... and that's the Boss 302. Which ever version (V-6, GT, Boss) I would love to park one of these in the driveway next to a classic 60's Mustang. When I can afford that...

Example: 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT, 43,444 miles - $22,897. You will notice that I am showing you a Shelby GT Edition Mustang. I thought this would be a good representation of a special edition Mustang to use for comparison. We are almost to the point where the "mild" Shelby is in my price range. How long would it take for a $40K Boss 302 to get below $20,000? Probably about 5 years. 2017... I will be waiting.

Camaro - I am a Camaro fan. I think I always will be. The new Camaro looks very cool. I like the interior more than the Mustang and the Challenger... up to a point. That point is the stereo. It is completely integrated into the dash... and it is not that good. So it will be a huge compromise to have... or try to upgrade. I lived with the stock stereo in my 93 Camaro for the same reason. It would look bad to replace a non-standard shape with a standard shaped aftermarket unit. So even though the CD player stopped working in my 93, I kept the original stereo and added a CD changer. The Camaro is also a big car... pushing 4,000 pounds... and back seat room is terrible for how big the car is overall. Yes, you don't buy a Camaro for the back seat. And that is why it is still here on this list. If I could have two cars, and one was a practical sedan I would still think hard about the Camaro vs. Mustang. At the moment the Mustang is in the lead here. Also, notice the Challenger is no longer on this list. It is even heavier than the Camaro... and it has a parts bin interior that doesn't go with the car. Considering you are inside the car most of the time the interior should be more exciting than what's available in the Challenger. At least it should match the style on the outside.

Example: 2002 Camaro SS, 6,895 miles - $19,900. I found a 2010 Camaro with a V-8 and manual transmission for $24,995. That's only $5K away from this list. To try and give a good example though, I looked for a pristine 2002 Camaro... just to have something to show. This one has under 7000 miles and it's blue... my favorite color. I would not pay this much for this car... but it looks good in the picture for this article.

Audi S4 - I really like the new S4. Granted, this means I should consider the 335i (been there, done that). This is probably my second favorite entry level luxury/sport sedan. It costs more, so it will be a longer wait before it gets under $20K. But if I want sport with my luxury and can't afford or find a CTS-V then this is what I will look for in its place.

Example: 2006 Audi S4 Sedan Quattro, 91,000 miles - $18,500. We are just getting into the price range here. Granted, this car is high in mileage. I saw some with mileage in the 70K range, but they were just a tick over $20K. I thought it would be cool to show a version of the S4 that was already within my price cap.

Ford Focus ST - This is supposed to be the hot hatch version of the Focus. The good one that has been available for years in Europe. I can't wait to read about this car when it arrives. We'll see if it can peak my interest until next year's list comes out. One reason for this car being here is Ford Sync. I really like this technology. Since there is nothing to compare this too... we have no example.

VW GTI or GLI - This car is getting old. I know... the 2010 model is only a year old. But this car is here because it can be had as a four door, and I need more room than my Mini Cooper has. In the end I think I would rather get a CTS sedan than the GTI. But checking out the back seat of a four door GTI with the paddle shifted DSG transmission might be enough to sway me. Plus the engines are super easy to "chip up" to get an addition 50+ horsepower. Along with the GTI, I would also consider the GLI. The GLI is the Jetta sedan with all the GTI goodies. Again, I would need to check out the back seat room on these.

Example: 2008 Volkswagen GLI 2.0T, 28,219 miles - $18,992. Here it is. If there is enough back seat room in this car it is perfect. I can carve up the Texas Hill Country Twisted Sisters with that DSG transmission, and drive it to work everyday.

Dodge Charger - WHAT?!? I just pulled the Challenger off this list. How did the Charger manage to get on it. Well... my oldest son is of driving age (but does not yet have his license). He really likes the Charger. The new for 11 or 12 (or whatever) Charger has a better interior and some of the updated styling is not lost on me. I could consider a Charger as a car I might share with my son. This would mean I would get the Charger and let him drive it when I did not need four doors. In this case I would keep my Mini Cooper.

Example: 2006 Dodge Charger R/T, 58,092 miles - $14,995. The Charger with a V-8 is already in my price range. Although I would end up fighting with my son for driving rights. In this case I would need another car for the times when my son is driving this. Of course, insurance could be a big issue. Technically, this could work. I would still need another car... everything above assumes I would trade in my Mini Cooper. Since I can only afford one car payment, to get a Charger for my son I would have to have some kind of cheap transportation for myself. Maybe I could get a cheap Miata... Hmmm...

Buick Regal GS - This car is coming real soon now. It is a hot rod version of the Regal that is built off of the Opel Insignia. It will have a 270 hp (295 lb-ft) 2.0 liter turbo four with a manual transmission, Brembo brakes, beefed up suspension with adjustable shocks, etc., etc., etc. I have high hopes for this car. I really want the American car companies to succeed. But to do that right they need exciting cars. This car is going to be the most exciting thing at Buick. And I hope they do a good job of it. Read Motor Trend's preview of the car here.

Honorable Mentions:

BMW 1-Series M Coupe - I like this car. It may not be the best BMW, but it appeals to me. The turbocharged 6 is more appealing to me than the V-8 in the M3. That's what BMW's are know for... their silky smooth inline six cylinder engines. But, this car is a bit pricey for what you get, and it is smaller than the cars listed in the Premium Coupe category above. So it gets an honorable mention, but is not something I will be tracking on AutoTrader.

Infiniti G25 - This is a maybe. Depending on the gas mileage of this car I see it as an attractive alternative to a BMW 328i. At a base price new of $31K, this should drop down to $20K in the used market while it is still under warrantee. I say depending on the gas mileage... if this does not do mileage significantly better than a 328i then I see little point in keeping it on the list. I am not hopeful this car will graduate to the list above next year.


That's it for this year. It is very likely that I will be driving a different car next year. So next year's edition of the Annual Worth Waiting For could be telling what I buy.