We Want a Nice Car in a Fun Color With a Heated Steering Wheel! What Should We Buy?

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Image: Mini

Matt’s wife is looking for a new ride for her new job. It needs to be parking garage friendly with a heated steering wheel and no boring colors. They already have a Land Cruiser, so this will be a smaller car to compliment the SUV. What car should they buy?

(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )

Here is the scenario:


Long time Jalopnik reader, and looking for some opinions and advice on an upcoming car purchase! My wife works as a primary care provider, and we’re looking for a fun and sporty car as she moves into a new field. This car will be a daily commuter and needs to able to fit in urban parking garages. We live in Seattle, and with hills in the city, an automatic transmission is a must. I think we are open-minded when it comes to powertrains and drivetrains and are also open to two and four doors as we rarely drive with other people. We are very much leaning away from trucks, SUV’s or other large vehicles for this search, as our 200 series Land Cruiser (The Hippo) checks all of the boxes as our rugged and capable weekend adventure vehicle. Unfortunately for all of us, my wife also tends to shy away from many other wagon style vehicles. There is also one additional specific attribute that any potential vehicle must have, and that is a heated steering wheel. We’re not fixated on a new car for this purchase, but anything used must be extremely well maintained.

This needs to be an automatic and no trucks, SUVs, or other large cars. Our budget is up to $60,000

Bonus points for fun colors! Thumbs down for silver / black…

Quick Facts:

Budget: up to $60,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: Seattle, WA

Wants: Heated steering wheel, fun color, easy to park

Doesn’t want: Something too big

Expert 1: Tom McParland – Fun and Sporty

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Image: Alfa Romeo of Seattle

A new job is an exciting time, and while the market isn’t ideal for a new ride, scoring something with both a heated wheel and good color shouldn’t be too difficult. Since you mentioned fun and sporty with a bit of visual flair, you should check out the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Since you have your indestructible Land Cruiser, you can gamble a little bit with an Italian car, and the current crop of Alfas seem to hold up just as well as anything else from Europe. These are really fun to drive cars that make some great noises as well.

The Giulia is available in some good colors including two reds, a fantastic blue, and a very cool metallic orange — though that last color is fairly rare and will likely require factory order. With the Alfa, you can get a high-spec example with the heated wheel and still fall well within your $60,000 budget. The other big bonus with this brand is that the inventory situation is better than the German competition, and I’ve even seen some deals below MSRP. Here is a nice red one in your metro zone that looks to have all the goodies you want.

Expert 2: Erik Shilling – Class

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Photo: BMW

The answer to your question is quite obviously a BMW 3-Series wagon, but BMW doesn’t sell that in America anymore because we are garbage people. So instead I will simply suggest what remains a classic: the 3-Series sedan, which starts at $42,300, but can be specced up much higher, including the Premium package, which is $1,900 and includes, yes, a heated steering wheel. More options are within your price limit.

The 3 Series is a nice, classy car, that is a BMW without being too obnoxious about it. It also isn’t too big, and comes in more colors than just black, gray, and white. (There is a red and also three shades of blue to choose from.) The 3 Series is not the stingiest on gas, with the all-wheel drive model getting just 28 mpg combined, according to the EPA, but at this price point it doesn’t sound like that is too much of a worry.

Finally, I heard James May say once that when he croaks he would like to be taken out in a BMW 3-Series, and that is as strong an endorsement as they come.

Expert 3: Bob Sorokanich – You Audi Know

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Image: Audi

First off, I want to applaud your decision matrix here. Your desire for a stylish non-SUV in a distinctive color puts you ahead of roughly 90 percent of American car buyers, who seem all too happy to let dealers shepherd them into one bland silver jelly-bean crossover after another. And since we’re not doing wagons or utility vehicles, we’re free to make the absolute best choice: a coupe.

So let’s reward your good taste with some flair, shall we? The Audi S5 seems like the perfect choice for a medical professional who wants something sporty yet comfortable as a daily driver. And Audi has some really fun colors in the 2022 lineup. I’m partial to the Turbo Blue you see here, but Audi also offers this car in a really sharp looking hue called District Green. Or, if you’re feeling especially bespoke, you can get special-order a custom color through Audi Exclusive, a $3,900 option.

But if you just want to stick with standard colors, you can get a Turbo Blue S5 for $55,300, and add the $1,800 Convenience Package to get that all-important heated steering wheel. That’s pretty close to your budget ceiling, but you’ll get a sporty, stylish coupe in a really unique color, and your hands will stay toasty all winter long. Win, win, win.

Expert 4: Steve DaSilva – The M-pirical Choice

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Photo: Volkswagen of Kirkland

So you want something compact. Something fun and sporty. Something that won’t skimp on the luxury accoutrement, and something that comes in bright, out-there colors. Tell me, why look at anything but an M4?

I considered offering up a Lime Rock Edition E92 M3 for your consideration, but those are getting a bit long in the tooth by now. Instead, I’ll suggest its successor — an F82 M4, conveniently located right in Kirkland, WA.

The Ultimate Driving Machine should have all the fun you could ever want, plus the interior quality you’d expect from Bavaria’s best. That includes a heated wheel, according to the dealer’s spec list for this particular Bimmer. Plus, are you going to say no to that color? Come on now.

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