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Narrowing the Auto Search

I've been reading and talking to friends as I narrow my search for a new car. The least helpful suggestion so far was to buy a golf cart and stick a pirate flag on it.

I've got a better idea of what I want, now:

  • My base price range is $25,000-$30,000. After getting carried away with optional equipment, my absolute price ceiling is $35,000.
  • I want a boring 4-door sedan with a comfortable back seat for hauling around friends (and some day, I hope, children).
  • Safety is a priority. I want all-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and driver, passenger, and side airbags. I've never been in a car accident, but I've almost been in several. If I'm finally caught off-guard, I intend to survive.
  • Another safety feature I require is OnStar (or a similar competing service) because it can alert emergency services even if I'm incapacitated in an accident.
  • I'm a twenty-something American male, so I want something decently sporty. At least 200hp and 200ft-lb, and it needs to feel good during the test drive. Unfortunately, I can't quantify "feel good" so it won't help me narrow the field before test drives.
  • Heated seats. Even though it never gets all that cold in Oregon, I've fallen in love with butt warmers during my trips back to Iowa.
  • The car must be quiet. The main road to Portland from here, Hwy 26, is an extremely loud road. I want to be able to carry on a conversation without shouting, or listen to music without cranking it up. (Yeah I'll probably crank it up anyway, but I want to know I don't have to.)

These features would be very nice to have, but not deal-breakers:

Things I'm not interested in:

  • Great gas mileage. I only drive ~3200mi/yr, so I don't care.
  • Dashboard navigation system.
  • Sunroof/moonroof.
  • Towing.

I hope these things narrow the field substantially. Now I'll go wading through the options…

Tiny Island