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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been looking at used sedans in the $5000-7500 neighborhood that meet a few important points of criteria, including general style, modernity, (bluetooth/audio) utility, (no compacts!) cost of maintenance, cost of fuel, (target of <$.14 per mile) and most importantly, cooled/ventilated seats. My current finalists include the 2008-2009 Lincoln MKZ and 2007-2009 Lexus ES 350. I'm 24, free of debt, out of college, and employed full-time.

While the STS seems to check most of the boxes, I'm slightly concerned by the fact that most cars with an MSRP of the STS's caliber are usually a bit finicky to maintain. The general consensus among the pundits and user communities is that the ES and MKZ, being based on more plebian platforms, (the Ford Fusion and Camry/Avalon, respectively) are relatively simple in this regard and well-liked by their owners. I understand that the STS is a "nicer" product overall, and while I don't mind making slight accommodations, (winter tires, for example, to help in the... winter) I'd rather go with one of the more boring FWD options than to have to deal with something that's going to bankrupt me. Reading through the reflection threads on the forum, people seem to have mixed opinions on the STS, so I thought we'd get it all out in one place.

Is the 2008+ STS (specifically the RWD V6 model) a good buy used, or would I be better off to stick with the more conservative (ES350 and MKZ) choices? I know this is the Cadillac board, but I trust that folks will be honest with their recommendations :).
 

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Best I can say is drive them all. I think you will find that an FE3 STS drives circles around either of the FWD-based cars you mentioned. If you don't notice or care, then you will be MUCH better served with a FWD-based appliance.

I wouldn't avoid the AWD unless you are in a warm climate. Or maybe you are just trying to keep the weight and complexity down, and performance and fuel economy a little higher.

I think the Northstar goes best with these cars but you aren't really going to like the fuel economy.
 

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I've been looking at used sedans in the $5000-7500 neighborhood that meet a few important points of criteria, including general style, modernity, (bluetooth/audio) utility, (no compacts!) cost of maintenance, cost of fuel, (target of <$.14 per mile) and most importantly, cooled/ventilated seats. My current finalists include the 2008-2009 Lincoln MKZ and 2007-2009 Lexus ES 350. I'm 24, free of debt, out of college, and employed full-time.

While the STS seems to check most of the boxes, I'm slightly concerned by the fact that most cars with an MSRP of the STS's caliber are usually a bit finicky to maintain. The general consensus among the pundits and user communities is that the ES and MKZ, being based on more plebian platforms, (the Ford Fusion and Camry/Avalon, respectively) are relatively simple in this regard and well-liked by their owners. I understand that the STS is a "nicer" product overall, and while I don't mind making slight accommodations, (winter tires, for example, to help in the... winter) I'd rather go with one of the more boring FWD options than to have to deal with something that's going to bankrupt me. Reading through the reflection threads on the forum, people seem to have mixed opinions on the STS, so I thought we'd get it all out in one place.

Is the 2008+ STS (specifically the RWD V6 model) a good buy used, or would I be better off to stick with the more conservative (ES350 and MKZ) choices? I know this is the Cadillac board, but I trust that folks will be honest with their recommendations :).
my recommendation is keep doing what you're doing. If you're 24, finished college, employed with no debt, then don't jump out and buy a $60-80k car which you could probably afford. Shiny wheels are nice, but no debt is better. Propers to you, sir.
 

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Ventilated seats do almost nothing, at least in Cadillacs. If this is one of your main criteria, I recommend trying to borrow a buddy's car with them so you can see how worthless they are. It's really a marketing thing more than anything useful.

I guess what I'm saying is by the time the slight cooling sensation becomes noticeable, the regular AC will already be freezing you out and you'll want to turn it off.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Responses to responses

Best I can say is drive them all. I think you will find that an FE3 STS drives circles around either of the FWD-based cars you mentioned. If you don't notice or care, then you will be MUCH better served with a FWD-based appliance.
I fully intend to as the opportunity presents itself at local dealerships. If nothing else, it's an educational experience that costs me nothing more than a bit of time.

Or maybe you are just trying to keep the weight and complexity down, and performance and fuel economy a little higher.
This 100%. My family has never owned any AWD cars before. I've always suspected that AWD is a scam. On paper, the only differences between AWD cars and their FWD or RWD counterparts is that (as you've pointed out) they're heavier, slower, and get worse gas mileage. Complexity is a factor too. I fail to see the point in subjecting myself to any of those limitations for the 1, or fewer, times per year that I might actually get stuck.

my recommendation is keep doing what you're doing. If you're 24, finished college, employed with no debt, then don't jump out and buy a $60-80k car which you could probably afford. Shiny wheels are nice, but no debt is better. Propers to you, sir.
Fair point! Not upgrading at all (at least for the time being) is also receiving consideration.

Ventilated seats do almost nothing, at least in Cadillacs. If this is one of your main criteria, I recommend trying to borrow a buddy's car with them so you can see how worthless they are. It's really a marketing thing more than anything useful.

I guess what I'm saying is by the time the slight cooling sensation becomes noticeable, the regular AC will already be freezing you out and you'll want to turn it off.
I'll withhold judgement until after a test drive. I hear a lot of people say "I can't feel it" about ventilated seats and I shake my head because that's not the point. After the first couple of minutes, you shouldn't be able to feel it, but you'll sure feel better after a long drive on ventilated seats than you would if you didn't have the feature. I bought a $50 ventilated seat cushion for my current vehicle last year and it changed my life. It was such a difference that I simply can no longer justify consideration of any car that doesn't have this functionality built in. The add-on product throws the seating angle off a bit, which is not optimal for someone my height, (6' 2") so it needs to be factory-stock.
 

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As one who's been driving a 2006 RWD in WI, if it's going to be your only car, it'll probably limit you in winter. If you have snow and potholes you will probably be kicking yourself for buying it. Love the size and ride of the STS, but I seriously misjudged how much I'd miss the front wheel drive, higher ground clearance and it's large tires vs the low-profile tires on aluminum wheels. I'd look for something in FWD or AWD if being able to go anywhere on a moment's notice is important in all but the worst blizzards. Yes, luxury cars will always have the probability of more expensive upkeep, but that goes across all brand names. Does it have the magnetic ride suspension? If so, see when or if it's been serviced (replaced) and if it's due. It's a bit pricey compared to bolting a new set of air shocks into "your father's" Cadillac.
 

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I have a 2011 RWD STS and I live in Michigan.

I use it as my winter car with no issues, as in never been stuck or had ground clearance issues.

Keep good tires on it. With good winter-capable all seasons on it or winter-specific snow tires you won't even know its snowing.
 

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Most cars are on the verge of needing expensive repairs after ten years in the rust belt, they might look shiny on the outside but underneath is where the parts are worn out from potholes or rusted through from salt exposure. Consider places that don't use road salt such as Indiana, these days it's easy to shop online for the exact car you want and check it's history. Also, the STS V8 is more reliable than the V6.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
On rust and engines

As one who's been driving a 2006 RWD in WI, if it's going to be your only car, it'll probably limit you in winter. If you have snow and potholes you will probably be kicking yourself for buying it. Love the size and ride of the STS, but I seriously misjudged how much I'd miss the front wheel drive, higher ground clearance and it's large tires vs the low-profile tires on aluminum wheels. I'd look for something in FWD or AWD if being able to go anywhere on a moment's notice is important in all but the worst blizzards. Yes, luxury cars will always have the probability of more expensive upkeep, but that goes across all brand names. Does it have the magnetic ride suspension? If so, see when or if it's been serviced (replaced) and if it's due. It's a bit pricey compared to bolting a new set of air shocks into "your father's" Cadillac.
I have a 2011 RWD STS and I live in Michigan.

I use it as my winter car with no issues, as in never been stuck or had ground clearance issues.

Keep good tires on it. With good winter-capable all seasons on it or winter-specific snow tires you won't even know its snowing.
I figured that would probably be a stipulation. My family has usually gotten away with "all season" touring tires on our FWD regulars during winter, but more seasonally-appropriate equipment definitely deserves consideration. I'm willing to make small compromises, like winter tires, as long as the rest of the car won't bring me to financial ruin at a significantly greater rate than the other finalists.

Most cars are on the verge of needing expensive repairs after ten years in the rust belt, they might look shiny on the outside but underneath is where the parts are worn out from potholes or rusted through from salt exposure. Consider places that don't use road salt such as Indiana, these days it's easy to shop online for the exact car you want and check it's history. Also, the STS V8 is more reliable than the V6.
That's fair. Most our our family's fleet is 10-20 years old, and while these vehicles look okay on top, there's no questioning what region they're from based on their condition underneath. Could you clarify on the V8 being "more reliable" than the V6? I know that the pre-2008 3.6 doesn't have the greatest reputation, but I was under the impression that they had improved things with the direct-injected engine.
 

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Re: On rust and engines

Could you clarify on the V8 being "more reliable" than the V6? I know that the pre-2008 3.6 doesn't have the greatest reputation, but I was under the impression that they had improved things with the direct-injected engine.
The pre-2008 VS was a loser on many levels. The 2008 DI is a much improved, solid engine. I had one for 10 years and 84000 miles with no issues.
 

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LY7 (1st gen 3.6) and LLT (2nd gen 3.6) both suffer from the same fate; oil consumption and timing chain failure. Sure, there's good examples out there that may never develop the problem but I wouldn't trust a used one with my money that's for sure.
 
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Curtc has a good point. I went through a chain failure and ended up having to buy new cylinder heads.
If I knew better I would have done a timing kit right away. Cloyes sells an upgraded chain and gear kit on rock auto for $300.
Unless you have a receipt for the timing job or the car has super low miles it may be a good idea to do the kit right away upon purchase.

Also I just ordered front and rear shocks and front shock mounts (UCA, mount, and perch is all one part) and it came to $1000 in parts.
If you can't do your own work or can't afford to pay a good shop to do it get a used economy car until you save up some more cash.

If you really feel financially secure enough for than the STS (my choice) or Lexus ES is your best bet. The MKZ's sub-par ride, handling, and build quality can't touch the other two.
 

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Having owned an STS with ventilated seats and a Lincoln LS with COOLED seats, the ventilated seats are fkng useless.

My big question here is why are you looking at a Lexus ES and not a GS?

I also would not touch the 3.6 with a ten foot pole regardless of generation. The Northstar is a million times better and gets a whopping 1 less mpg.
 

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Re: On rust and engines

True enough, but 84k is not a benchmark any more, like in the 50's when one almost got a plaque for getting a car to go 100k miles. With regular maint. I'd be upset if I had a KIA that wouldn't still be running fine with 84K. I expect better from Cadillac, they misplaced a lot of loyalty IMHO. I have a 3.6 with 136kmiles where I just had to replace the original PS pump, but that doesn't negate the number of other owners who racked up the sad data on the engine. GM didn't care much about the older 3.8 Buick engines, either, as they slowly used cost reduction to turn a bullet-proof engine into one that nickel & dimed people with repairs on cheapened items.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ventilated seats, engines, and fuel costs

Curtc has a good point. I went through a chain failure and ended up having to buy new cylinder heads.
If I knew better I would have done a timing kit right away. Cloyes sells an upgraded chain and gear kit on rock auto for $300.
Unless you have a receipt for the timing job or the car has super low miles it may be a good idea to do the kit right away upon purchase.
Good to know on the timing chain. I was under the impression that it was usually just the belts that one had to worry about.

If you really feel financially secure enough for than the STS (my choice) or Lexus ES is your best bet. The MKZ's sub-par ride, handling, and build quality can't touch the other two.
I know the build quality on the Z isn't the best, (although it does look pretty nice, inside and out, when it's in good condition) but I'd be surprised if they are that different in terms of ride and handling. Do you have firsthand experience with those models?

Having owned an STS with ventilated seats and a Lincoln LS with COOLED seats, the ventilated seats are fkng useless.
I'm aware of the difference between ventilated and cooled. I personally don't care as long as they're effective. I bought a ventilated seat cushion for my current car last summer and it was easily the best $50 I've ever spent on a vehicle. It does its job perfectly all year round. The point is that I'm far more concerned about efficacy than I am about "coldness" or if I can "feel" it. That said, your report is the second I've read from someone who was displeased with the seat ventilation on the STS, so this will need to be carefully considered during a test drive.

My big question here is why are you looking at a Lexus ES and not a GS?
Numerous reasons, including higher costs for higher-mileage vehicles, higher cost-per-mile, and lower cargo space. For all of those disadvantages, the performance is only really superior for the 2007+ models.

I also would not touch the 3.6 with a ten foot pole regardless of generation. The Northstar is a million times better and gets a whopping 1 less mpg.
Citation is definitely needed on the 1MPG figure. The government estimates at least a 2MPG difference for the RWD models, and folks on Fuelly cite something closer to 3MPG (albeit with RWD and AWD mixed). That said, it's the premium fuel octane recommendation that really kills the fuel costs. In my region, it's the equivalent of taking a solid 3-4MPG hit, which turns your "1MPG" difference into something closer to a 7MPG difference, which is not insignificant.
 

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Northstar DOES NOT REQUIRE premium. It is suggested for optimum performance, but I, and many others, run regular most of the time. The 05-07 non-DI V6 is EPA rated EXACTLY the same as the N*. The 08+ DI is indeed rated 2mpg better. YMMV

If you're that worried about costs, you probably should not even be considering a Cadillac or Lincoln. Stick with Lexus or Infiniti.
 

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Best I can say is drive them all. I think you will find that an FE3 STS drives circles around either of the FWD-based cars you mentioned. If you don't notice or care, then you will be MUCH better served with a FWD-based appliance.
I fully intend to as the opportunity presents itself at local dealerships. If nothing else, it's an educational experience that costs me nothing more than a bit of time.

Or maybe you are just trying to keep the weight and complexity down, and performance and fuel economy a little higher.
This 100%. My family has never owned any AWD cars before. I've always suspected that AWD is a scam. On paper, the only differences between AWD cars and their FWD or RWD counterparts is that (as you've pointed out) they're heavier, slower, and get worse gas mileage. Complexity is a factor too. I fail to see the point in subjecting myself to any of those limitations for the 1, or fewer, times per year that I might actually get stuck.

my recommendation is keep doing what you're doing. If you're 24, finished college, employed with no debt, then don't jump out and buy a $60-80k car which you could probably afford. Shiny wheels are nice, but no debt is better. Propers to you, sir.
Fair point! Not upgrading at all (at least for the time being) is also receiving consideration.

Ventilated seats do almost nothing, at least in Cadillacs. If this is one of your main criteria, I recommend trying to borrow a buddy's car with them so you can see how worthless they are. It's really a marketing thing more than anything useful.

I guess what I'm saying is by the time the slight cooling sensation becomes noticeable, the regular AC will already be freezing you out and you'll want to turn it off.
I'll withhold judgement until after a test drive. I hear a lot of people say "I can't feel it" about ventilated seats and I shake my head because that's not the point. After the first couple of minutes, you shouldn't be able to feel it, but you'll sure feel better after a long drive on ventilated seats than you would if you didn't have the feature. I bought a $50 ventilated seat cushion for my current vehicle last year and it changed my life. It was such a difference that I simply can no longer justify consideration of any car that doesn't have this functionality built in. The add-on product throws the seating angle off a bit, which is not optimal for someone my height, (6' 2") so it needs to be factory-stock.
AWD is a scam??? You've never driven an Audi Quattro in bad winter weather. ? It's amazing. My STS is AWD too; however, it's not driven in the winter.
 

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Agreed, AWD is awesome, but like most good things, it will cost you. i.e. no something for nothing. Generally, the cost is in gas mileage and increased cost of maintenance because of it's complexity. I think of it like comparing a std vs auto transmission. when it comes to repair costs, though most folks actually get better overall gas mileage with an automatic transmission now. If I lived in FL for example, AWD would be great in heavy rain, but probably not enough to offset the additional cost. In the snowbelt, oh hell yeah. Love me a plate of AWD!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
On engines and drive layout

Northstar DOES NOT REQUIRE premium. It is suggested for optimum performance, but I, and many others, run regular most of the time.
I stand corrected. The operations manual does say that 87 is acceptable, although it does recommend the higher octane. I based my figures off of whatever they published on fueleconomy.gov, but this appears to cite premium whether it is "required" or just "recommended." That does change the math significantly.

AWD is a scam??? You've never driven an Audi Quattro in bad winter weather.
You're not wrong.

Agreed, AWD is awesome, but like most good things, it will cost you. i.e. no something for nothing. Generally, the cost is in gas mileage and increased cost of maintenance because of it's complexity. I think of it like comparing a std vs auto transmission. when it comes to repair costs, though most folks actually get better overall gas mileage with an automatic transmission now. If I lived in FL for example, AWD would be great in heavy rain, but probably not enough to offset the additional cost. In the snowbelt, oh hell yeah. Love me a plate of AWD!
Fair enough! FWD has never let me down, as long as it is used sensibly. And for the 1-2 days per year when it might be useful for speeding up the process of getting un-stuck, I don't think that it's worth the added expense of making a car slower, heavier, thirstier, and more costly to maintain for the other 363.
 

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Re: On engines and drive layout

Not sure why you're mentioning FWD has never let you down (me neither) when enquiring about a RWD car? If the STS was FWD I'd be all set and happy as could be, wouldn't mind it not being AWD.
 
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