I voted for the Avalon because it's the most reliable car on the list that meets your requirements. I think it's also the biggest, which might be something to consider - good or bad.
What are you driving now?
I drive the 3 series (2006) and wouldn't say it has lots of room (at least in the backseats) or that great of a sound system. Still, I cannot deny that it's a great car.
Audi A 4 is nice
I love my BMWx3, but the negative on BMW is the freaking add-ons. It's like a Chinese menu for your upgrades.. the Harmon Kardon sound is phenomenal.
Lexus has great packages for upgrades, definitely love their premium sound, (Stan Levinson?) had one a few years ago.
You didn't list Infiniti, they have great sound system and packages as well. I have an M37, which is an incredible vehicle. Only complaint, it's a little too big.
Don't get a hybrid of any kind, they are seriously underpowered. I have had several as rentals, and they've all been terrible to drive both city/freeway. And I didn't think their gas mileage was anything special either.
I would look at Lexus. I have an IS250 which I love, probably smaller than you would like though. But their larger cars have great styling as well, and reliability. Worth looking at if you are in the market for a new car.
Take a look at the Lincoln.
I voted for the Toyota with the Lexus as a second.
A close family member, who makes the big bucks, owns two Audis (out of four cars). If you do get the Audi, do you have the budget to pay for constant, pricey repairs?
I think the Lincoln MKZ is absolutely gorgeous (certainly moreso than its sister car, the Ford Fusion).
The Avalon is larger and more reliable, but not as much fun to drive as an Audi or a BMW. The Audi, BMW & Lexus are a lot smaller and expensive to maintain. I don't trust American cars, period. Check out the VW CC VR6 -- big and lots of power, fun to drive without the crazy maintenance costs of BMW & Audi.
If you're getting a new car you are not dealing with maintenance for a while.
My BMW is 7 years old, the only thing I've done to it is oil change every 15,000 miles and filters.
[quote]I think the Lincoln MKZ is absolutely gorgeous
What's so gorgeous about it? I'm fascinated.
Buy the smallest car possible.
The Lincoln is a Ford Taurus with a few extra cheaply made shiny bits at a huge price increase. Lincoln build quality is bad these days. You often see loose parts on the showroom floors. Having said that, the Taurus is actually a great car, it is whatever Lincoln does to them, which is terrible.
Buicks and Cadillacs are just 20 year old technology repackaged. GM cars are so far behind the competition, if it wasn't for the taxpayers $50B, GM would never have lasted and likely won't last much longer. They are already shutting down factories again this year.
Lexus is the safe but boring choice.
The Audi is an exceptional car, but expensive to fix. Beware, VW is increasingly sneaking in Chinese parts of questionable quality.
The Lincoln version of the Ford Taurus is the MKS, not the MKZ, for what it's worth.
Also, for what it's worth, my 2010 Ford Focus SEL is the best car I've ever owned. A magnificent vehicle that I've had no problems with. Love it.
OP, think about that new BMW X6. I've seen two of them in the last month and they are sexier than the Infiniti X35.
The Avalon would be my pick. Before I bought anything I would check out the new 2012 Nissan Altima. The automotive press loves it.
Seriously, BUY THE SMALLEST CAR POSSIBLE.
Google "Peak oil" and understand that gas will cost between $6 and $8 a gallon, minimum, for people in the US within the next few years (as it already does across the world).
I won't drone on about how you should consider sharing a car, or using mass transit, or living closer to where you work. But if you must buy a car, don't buy a midsize car.
And if you do, please sign a statement swearing you won't bitch incessantly about high gas prices.
I have narrowed down my choices:
A Buick Encore
A Subaru Forester
A Mazda CX-5
All our compact crossovers.
My folks have two Foresters - love 'em
Sorry, R21 was the OP.
I was quite impressed with the Forester, R22. Very roomy.
Best car to drive....smiling for miles.
I'm the guy who traded in his used BMW 5 series for a new Subaru Legacy. Although the CVT transmission is weird, I think it's going to show up on more and more cars because of the gas mileage. It is a big, dependable car, no frills, but rock solid and the best deal for $20K.
Still, the lease ends this year and I'm thinking of buying a used 2007 Audi A8. I drive to work every day and I realize now that I miss the little luxury touches and the great handling that you get with German engineering.
OP, are you fully funding your retirement?
No, R26. But I will soon.
Is it true that Subaru's have Porsche engines? I need a new car too and was thinking of a gently used Forester myself.
R15 Wouldn't that be a SmartCar?
OP I would go with a Lexus but the person who said look at the IS250 was right - also the Infiniti G37 which has an AWD option if you live up north.
But that said my next car will be both used and something with high MPG rating. Possibly a TDI.
Hyundai elantra touring you pretentious ass wipes!
OP, fund your retirement BEFORE buying a new car.
That is one butt ugly touring, R31. The Elantra is pretty handsome. I know nothing about it's quality.
Audi A3 TDI. If you can find one.
1976 El Camino.
r28, Porsches have horizontally opposed cylinders and so do Subarus - sometimes called boxer engines, I think. These engines are supremely smooth as they are almost perfectly balanced*. The effect is almost no vibration from the engine and a unique sound as well.
OP - of your new choices I recommend the Forrester. It has won accolades from many major auto publications and Subaru was the first auto maker to give equal rights to LGBT workers.
* normal engines consolidate space by positioning the cylinders in a "v" vs. Subaru who place them in a flat position, like this "-."