This car has some major flaws, but can be a good choice under modest driving conditions.
First and foremost, this car burns oil. A lot of oil. This is due to deterioration in the valve stem seals. Replacing them is costly in labor, and one mechanic told me that the seals are inferior, lasting only a matter of months before deteriorating appreciably. This is consistent with our experience.
You can get around this by moving to 10W-30 instead of the recommended 5W-30, but give the car a little more warm-up time in winter if you go this route.
Secondly, we have had transmission problems too numerous to mention. Other posters have described transmission troubles; suffice it to say that all of them were familiar to me.
Because of the oil-burning problem as well as exhaust problems, we regularly add an anti-smoke product to avoid choking to death at stoplights. Three very good mechanics have been unable to fix this problem.
The handling on the car is poor. A hard (but not unreasonably hard) turn causes the engine to sputter and occasionally die. In my rural area, with lots of potholes, curvy highways, and dirt roads, it is quick to get out of alignment. You may not have these problems if roads are well-maintained in your area, but if you are rural, this is one to avoid.
The heating system has never worked properly in the entire life of the car (this car has been in my family since it was new). The heater blows cold air unless set at 85 degrees, at which point it blows very hot air. We have to cycle it on and off to be reasonably comfortable. More recently, the panel vents stopped working, although the floor and defrost functions still work (but only when set at 85).
Two doors no longer have exterior trim, as it fell off. It is practically impossible to reattach.
The interior details fall off easily. We have reattached the veneer on the doors several times. The headliner has been re-glued twice by professionals, but will not stay up.
Our power locking system still works, but the rear passenger door lock sticks badly, and the latch is also stubborn.
This car was a gift to my husband from his grandparents. They lived in the suburbs and took long highway trips every year, and liked this car very much. If you want a vehicle with a lot of pickup that will perform well on the highway or in the well-maintained suburbs, this is a fine car (except for the transmission and the valve stem seals).
It's also very comfortable (except for the heating problem). The seats are fabulous. When this car eventually dies, I may keep them as lounge chairs.
However, it is poorly suited to my family's needs in a snowy rural area, so I can't recommend it highly. Its handling is not suitable for narrow roads with sharp turns, and the car does not stand up well to snow, ice, or potholes. As an older luxury vehicle can be very expensive to repair, it's not a good car for young people with limited finances.
The gas mileage is reasonable for a car of this size. We are still getting 23 or more MPG, and it used to be much better. Between 55 and 60, it used to get as high as 29 MPG on the highway.
This car has the easiest-to-replace headlights I have ever seen. They practically snap off and on. Accessibility for battery- and oil-changing are similarly good; there's plenty of room under the hood to do whatever you need to do.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 7th January, 2006