I started looking around at what was available. Historically a GM family, my parents told me they would be open to a Ford product as well, but please no Chrysler. The requirements: a soft riding mid or full sized sedan, less than 24,000 miles, around $15,000. We looked at Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Malibu, Mercury Milan, Ford Five Hundred.
My mom decided she liked the Five Hundred the best, because it had a very high seating position compared to the others. I think she was sick of Buick, also, after the qualify fiasco of her Century. She also was amused at the size of the trunk--"we could go camping in there!"
The Five Hundreds we found depreciated so badly that we got a pretty good deal: a 2006 with 20,000 miles, certified pre-owned, with side airbags, leather, automatic climate control, and adjustable pedals for about $15,000. It is a lot of car for the money.
Things I like about the Ford Five Hundred:
- Huge interior but a moderately sized exterior, huge trunk
- High seating position
- Depreciation means lots of features for not much money
- High safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
- Adjustable pedals
- Good looking 18" wheels
- Good NVH, even over railroad crossing
- Good ride/handling balance, not too firm or too squishy
- Decent fuel economy for such a large car
- Six speed transmission
- Real rear seat headrests
- Smooth sided, understated exterior (but most say much too understated)
- Four wheel disc brakes with traction control
- Good overall quality record so far
- Noticeable body roll when cornering
- Weak sounding radio
- A bit underpowered
- Gear selector only has D and L gear choices
- Bland interior design
- According to Consumer Reports, the brake system is less reliable than average