Recently was looking for a Japanese passenger car to buy. I was down to a 2004-2005 Acura TL, 2005-2008 Toyota Avalon, and a 2006-2010 Honda Accord.
I have had good luck at my local Honda dealership in town. I have bought 5 cars from him over the years. The last being a Toyota RAV4 with a 142,000 miles on it, which is still running good. But after watching his ads and website for about 3 weeks, I realized that he is not having any luck getting any high mileage Japanese cars in, and the ones he had were going for too much money.
My criteria for buying a car is that it be a one owner car, have a clean Carfax with no accidents or salvage problems, and no out of state cars. It should have at least 6 visits for service or maintenance (which would be on the Carfax), be under $10,000 dollars, and he should have the ability to finance me with very little down.
I started looking at ads and websites for other dealerships in other cities. The nearest city was about 30 miles away. I test drove some TLs and Toyota Avalons... very nice cars, but most were two or three owners, poor condition or out of state cars.
I was ready to buy a 2008 Toyota Avalon with about 108,000 miles on it, from an Acura dealership. It was a nice riding car with incredible power off the line; faster than my RAV4 V-6 and much more control than my RAV4... definitely the hot rod of the group. The price was 9999.00, plus about 12% in fees and taxes. They didn't want to finance me, so I asked for a day to get financing. When I called in the next day to tell them that I had got the financing, they said they sold it already.
Disappointed but not out, I went back to the drawing board. The next week I found a 2009 Honda Accord for about 11,500 dollars plus fees and taxes, which comes out to about 12% more, at Honda dealership about 45 miles away from me. They had a good website, that gave good pictures of the vehicle. Carfax online, mileage and price. The Carfax said it was a one owner car, it had 100,543 miles on it, and it had 18 service records, and the color was silver, which is a plus since so many cars are dark colors up there in the high desert, where it's 100 degrees plus in the summer.
Went down to do a test drive. It drove very well; the engine was smooth, but compared to the Toyota 3.5 V-6, the power was weaker with less torque... but still robust. But just like the other cars in this group, these cars are reluctant to downshift when they get up to freeway speeds. But from a stop light, they all move out very quickly, especially the Toyota 3.5 engine in the Toyota Avalon.
We settled on a price of 12018.00 OTD, paying about 10600.00 before tax and fees... more than I wanted to pay, but since it was harder than I thought to find a clean Japanese passenger car with records, and one owner Carfax... I decided to grab it.
Nice tight handling.
Good solid car.
Folding rear seats.
Good steering feel.
Ice cold air conditioning system.
Quiet V-6 engine.
Nice exterior design.
Good fit and finish.
Great around the town car.
Good but not great power off the line.
6 CD unit.
Brakes seem a little soft.
Leather seats and leather on steering wheel seem slippery.
Seats take a while to get used to, because they lack support, and because the leather is a lower grade, they are a little too hard to sit on.
Cheaper grade of leather compared to my Limited RAV4 and the Acura TLs I drove.
Road noise (freeway driving).
Tire noise (freeway driving).
Too much wind noise around the side mirrors (freeway driving).
Silly VCM mode (it reduces the cylinders to 3 to 4 at any given time).
Radio has some type of volume control... it seems to raise and lower at will; another silly idea. Will have to find a way to disconnect this. I don't like the idea of something controlling my radio.
Doesn't like downshifting more than one gear when it's in top gear, making it harder to pass cars rapidly.
In conclusion, this is a great basic car for someone like me... a retired senior who mainly drives it around town and for shorter distances in our little valley area. It has good power from the stop light, nice tight handling with a sporty ride, and it's a solidly built car and very lively around town with that smooth V-6 engine. What it lacks in torque it makes up with smoothness.
Freeway driving is another story. On the freeway you notice too much wind/road and tire noise, and the VCM system is constantly going on and off. Also, because freeways in California are so bad now, the tight suspension on this car doesn't seem to happy with their method of throwing cement or tar patches over the non-maintained pot holes.