Reader Question: Old Lexus vs. Newer Toyota?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Kara asks: I have a 2005 Lexus RX330 that I bought new and I have loved that car. It’s old, but I put $4,000 into it thinking that I would drive it until the wheels fall of or Jesus comes back, whichever comes first. Then, my husband encouraged me to buy a low miles 2017 Toyota Highlander. I’ve been driving it and it is a nice car, but it has some bells and whistles that I don’t like which make me wonder if it is rigged with the electronic junk that can be used to track your car and shut it off – and it lacks the quality of design and features that the Lexus has plus, I like its navigation system better. I will either sell one or the other or both of these cars. What I want is something that has the features of the Lexus (auto speed wipers and things that just make driving more enjoyable that that car has and a car that is old enough to not have the AI and gadgets on it, but which will be reliable. Do you think I should keep the Lexus and sell the Toyota? If I sold them both do you have something you would recommend that you think I should buy? Thank you so much for your opinion. I have the impression that you “get it” and I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

My reply: The RX is a keeper. My mom had a ’99 – and my sister still has it. It is the crossover-equivalent of the first LS sedan, which is the one that established Lexus’ reputation for excellence and durability. It is well worth occasionally putting money into the ’05 as it may last until Jesus does come back. The V6 is largely bulletproof and should go for 250,000 miles with regular oil/filter changes and good treatment. The main issue with it – potentially – is electronic. It being a luxury car, it has more complex systems than a same-era Toyota, say.

However, it is a great deal less complex than almost any new car – including even non-luxury cars. It also hasn’t got the “latest advanced safety assists” – read, Big Brother tech.

If you want to avoid the worst of the new tech, look for a car that was made before about 2010 or so – or one that’s newer  but hasn’t changed much since then. Examples include the current Dodge Charger/300 (both of these haven’t changed much since around 2007) and also some Toyota models like the Tacoma for instance.

Your Highlander is a sound vehicle but it has the Safety Sense equipment, which no doubt you know all about. If you’d rather not have it, sell it and use the proceeds as a rainy day fund for the RX. It’s doubtful that fund will ever run dry – until Jesus does return! You will also spend less money on insurance and general upkeep.

If you need a second vehicle – and don’t need it to be a fairly large crossover – you might consider the most bulletproof modern car on the road, which is a Corolla. Ideally, one from circa early-mid 2000s. These are like the Terminator – they absolutely will not stop, ever. Well, maybe for gas. But otherwise? These little sedans – which are actually quite roomy, especially in the back and trunk – will run almost forever or so long as you keep gas in the tank.

Exciting? Not in the whoppee! sense. But if value turns you on, this is the car to get!

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Not only a Lexus…but one that you’ve owned since new? That’s an heirloom car! Never give it up! Far as I know, there is NO newer equivalent to it, and likely never will be again!


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