I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who posted in this thread. With your advice, I was able to find and buy a very nice 2008 Charger with 16k miles and a bunch of additional safely features like brake assist (this has already triggered once and it's cool as hell), electronic stability program, traction control, etc etc. Hopefully all that technological crap will help me learn to drive RWD in Chicago in the coming months, lol.
I got a good deal from the dealership too, and last but certainly not least, I absolutely love the car. My dad likes it too =)
So, I never really needed a car before. Ok, wait, that's total crap.
So, I never really could afford a car before. I suppose I could have gotten a junker, but public transit worked just fine for me. But now I've just turned 27 and a few months ago my job asked me to get my license so I could drive to the corporate headquarters for a meet and greet, and I did. Now I've got my license and about a month's worth of driving experience (my parent's car, my girlfriend's, the rental, etc) and I'm looking to buy my own car.
I pretty much have it narrowed down to two choices. My girlfriend drives a 2002 Taurus which I find comfortable. I recently test drove a 2k3 Taurus and it's basically the same thing. The newer models (2007 I think) feel a lot smaller and weren't comfortable. The older model works for me since it'll be cheaper anyway.
The other choice is what I wound up renting, which is a Dodge Charger. It's roomy on the inside (I'm 6'2" and stocky), comfortable, and super awesome. I am aware of a certain sense of teenage puppy dog love over this car, and aware that it's nowhere near as practical as a Taurus would be. I also live in Chicago, it's just starting to get all snowy and wet, and recognize that a rear wheel drive car might not be the best idea in such conditions. But I love it so much!
I can certainly afford the payments on either car. My credit is good, I would be able to secure a (to me) low interest loan of 6.5% or so over five years on either car from my bank. The payments, even on the Charger, would be 1/8th my net monthly salary, which certainly seems reasonable. So I'm not worried about affording either car itself.
My question is this. Can those of you with more car ownership experience with me (which should be just about everyone) tell me what the real expenses are dealing with car ownership? My most baffling query is about insurance. I have no idea how much insurance payments would cost me on either car, and I don't know about the levels of what sorts of coverage I'd ideally want to have. I also don't want to buy a Charger if I have to replace the $1000 flux capacitor every three months, you know what I mean?