In 2004 I paid $3300 for my 1997 Sable with 67k miles on it. Adjusted for inflation, that dollar figure is equivalent to $4400 today. In terms of feature content, age, and size, these two Asian mid-size sedans are basically the contemporary models of what I bought over 15 years ago. With one major exception: they’re both sitting at about 170k each. Is that such a bad thing though?
First up: The 2014 Hyundai Sonata GLS. This is the sedan that heralded the end of the “three box” design employed by basically every automaker for decades. And it signaled Korea’s intent to be taken more seriously. Unfortunately, the sophisticated exterior wrote checks that the chassis couldn’t cash. Publications weren’t enamored with the Sonata’s driving dynamics, but generally liked the feature content and value Hyundai offered. The redesigned 2020 Sonata is clearly trying to play the same game as its predecessor, except this time it might actually be fun to drive.
As for the Sonata in question, it’s a GLS trimmed example. Surprisingly, the 2014 Sonata’s base 2.4 liter four cylinder was rated at 190 horsepower, at least according to this brochure. That figure is still pretty decent by contemporary standards. Power is transmitted through the wheels by Hyundai’s six speed “Shiftronic” automatic. Judging by the pictures, the Sonata looks very clean.
Inside, the cabin looks like it’s held up very well. Features include six airbags, Bluetooth audio, a USB input, active head restraints, and driver selectable steering modes.
Here’s the seller’s description:
“2014 Hyundai Sonata GLS 1 Owner
Auto with 170,000 miles, all Highway miles,
Runs and drives excellent, 4 cylinders,
clean inside and out, all powers,
Am/fm CD player, Aux port, USB port,
Bluetooth, Heat and a/c work great,
serious buyers only. Asking $5,500 obo”
All powers? Does that include x-ray vision or flight? Maybe the Sonata can read people’s thoughts! Anyway, this car has a decent amount of miles on the odometer, but it looks solid and has only had one owner. If this car was purchased new in 2013, it’s been driven an average of about 25k per year. That’s well over the average figure, but it backs up the seller’s highway miles claim. This Hyundai was most likely used to commute from Poughkeepsie to NYC.
Unfortunately, Hyundai’s 2.4 liter received a major recall and this 2014 is no exception. Based on their data, buyers might want to stay away from the car.
By contrast, the 2013 Nissan Altima was the first year for the fifth generation model. It didn’t look too much different than its predecessor, but overall the design was a bit uninspired. Critics seemed to come away pleased with it. They found the Zero-gravity seats to be extremely comfortable and liked the handling, although Good Car Bad Car wasn’t thrilled with the steering. The Nissan also underwent a bit of a diet with the new model. That enabled the Altima to return good fuel economy numbers and earn a 38 mpg EPA highway rating. The CVT’s behavior didn’t seem to be an issue for reviewers. The 2.5 liter four cylinder boasted 182 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque, which was in line with the competition.
That badge on the lower right is Nissan’s “Pure Drive” moniker. They slapped it on cars that earned higher than average CAFE numbers. It seems they abandoned that initiative shortly after it began.
Feature content is comparable to the Sonata. Notable differences include a power driver’s seat, wheel covers instead of alloy wheels, and a Bluetooth phone and audio enabled audio system that did not include a USB port. Both sedans came standard with six airbags.
Here’s the seller’s description:
“2013 Nissan Altima 2.5S, 2 owner,
Automatic with 167,000 miles,
Am/fm CD player, aux port,
Ac and heat work great,
All powers, clean in and out,
Runs and drives excellent,
Serious buyers only, $ 5900 obo”
Like the Hyundai, the Altima seems to be primarily used for commuting purposes. That being said, it looks just as clean as the Sonata, although it did have an extra owner.
The Altima didn’t score much better than the Sonata in CR’s reliability ratings. While the Hyundai got dinged for its troublesome engine, it seems the CVT is an issue for the Nissan.
Is this a situation where buyers would need to pick their poison? If these sedans are actually in the condition they’re claimed to be in, perhaps not. I’d have to imagine the less reliable examples would have been junked at this point. Then again, both of these vehicles seem to have decent resale value. It’s possible the Sonata had engine work in the past and the Altima got a rebuilt transmission at some point. Or not. To that end, I’m honestly not sure which one I’d pick. I think these are very good cars for new drivers, much like my Sable was essentially my first car after my very brief time with my 1989 Taurus wagon. Ultimately, I think I’d go with the Altima. I have to imagine the CVT issues are more easily rectified than the Hyundai’s engine woes. That just a hunch. I wouldn’t pay over $5,000 for it though. That seems like a decent number for a 7 or 8 year old sedan.
2013 Nissan Altima, Hudson Valley NY craigslist
2014 Hyundai Sonata, HV NY craigslist