What Car to Buy After Your First Promotion

Did you just receive a promotion and are ready to upgrade your ride? Our writers found a mix of vehicles that can help celebrate your new status.

Treating Yourself to a Better Vehicle

Man with keys to a new car
Man with keys to a new car

You graduate college, you get a job, you do well at it (probably after working extra hours and missing a few holidays with family), and, finally, you get that first raise. What better way to reward yourself for the hard work and some of the sacrifices than to upgrade your vehicle? You can always search out a good barn find to put some money into. We’ve even got a list of the Top 10 Best Cars to Restore.

Whether you’re buying a brand-new car, trying to retrofit an older model vehicle, or you get your hands on a classic, you have the money to make a change. The question is: which car do you choose? We’ve got three expert opinions lined up to help you decide!

Christ Kaiser

1996 Porsche 911 Carrera

Short List:

1996 Toyota Land Cruiser
2022 Honda Odyssey
2023 Kia Stinger

1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com
1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com

It’s finally happened. After all that toil: those all-nighters you pulled to complete those last-minute papers in college, the interminable wasteland of job interview after job interview, the endless emails you answered off the clock, and the stale office coffee you swilled down by the gallon every morning, you’ve finally gotten that first big promotion you’ve long sought, and a nice little pay bump to go with it.

Naturally, the first thing to do with that extra cash is get yourself locked into an auto loan you can just barely afford, kidding of course (… am I?). We’d recommend budgeting according to your newly achieved “next level.” We’ll assume you’ve not quite made it to the corner office, though the roomiest cubicle nearest the coffee maker is nothing to sneeze at, either.

1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com
1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com

So, what do you buy to impress family and friends and force your neighbors to look upon you with smoldering envy? A Honda Odyssey because you’re a responsible adult with young kids. The Odyssey is what you buy when you need a roomy, comfortable, practical people-mover. This minivan not only does it all, with loads of options, creature comforts, and advanced driver assistance tech, it does it all excellently.

But what if you’re still “on the scene” so to speak. You’ve got the promotion and the loafers to prove it, now you need the car to complete your first date ensemble. For a bit of panache, consider Kia’s take on the European sports sedan, the Kia Stinger. The Stinger GT2 offers a spirited drive thanks to athletic handling complimented by a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 pumping out 368 horsepower. The near-luxury interior will have your date saying, “This is a Kia?!”

1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com
1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com

Forget first dates and familial responsibilities, the fruits of your first promotion ought to satisfy a long-time automotive itch. Maybe it’s time to finally buy a Toyota Land Cruiser for that overlanding project you’ve been dreaming of during company planning meetings. I found a 1996 example in good condition with a 4.5L I-6 almost as indefatigable as you’ve been in hunting that promotion.

After shuffling through the options, I found that there was only ever one pick for a car to buy after getting your first promotion, a Porsche 911. Though a brand new one is probably a few years off, carefully scouring Carsforsale.com yields a sizable number of 911 candidates. The example I landed on was a 1996 911 Carrera cabriolet in Speed Yellow. A promotion car should make a statement and this car screams corporate hustler.

1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com
1996 Porsche 911 - carsforsale.com

As a 1996, this is a 933 Series making it one of the last air-cooled 911s. Given Porsche penchant for incremental improvement, many consider the 993 the pinnacle of the air-cooled 911s. Located in the rear is a naturally aspirated 3.6L flat-six making 282 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. Amenities include a premium stereo system, leather seats, cruiser control, and keyless entry.

Balance, power, and high-style make the Porsche 911 a favorite among the jet-setting, country-club class you’ve been aspiring to. If you prefer to buck convention, you can always do a safari style conversion with a lift and some knobby tires for an off-road-ready air-cooled 911 that matches your maverick, take-no-prisoners approach to business.

Jesse Batson

2018 Maserati Quattroporte

Short List:

1969 Chevrolet Corvette
2021 Maserati Ghibli
2005 Lotus Elise

2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com
2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com

My first car was used. It was in good condition, but I didn’t really get to pick it out. It was a purchase of convenience since I was in high school. It was to get me from point A to point B, not really to impress anyone. My second car was a purchase of necessity since the first one was damaged. There wasn’t time to search around, and I didn’t want to get anything too expensive because I was busy paying off student loans. Finally, after a few job title changes, I got my third car. It was time to go new. That was my first ‘real’ car purchase because I shopped around, looked at features, collected a full wallet of salesman’s business cards, and had a little more money to buy it.

If I was in that position again today, with a decent raise behind me, I’d probably go the less practical route and choose something fun. That’s why the Lotus Elise, Maserati Ghibli, and Chevrolet Corvette are all on my shortlist. They’re not really suited for loading IKEA furniture, hauling a family, or handling a variety of road and weather conditions, but they’re fun vehicles! So is the 2018 Maserati Quattroporte GTS GranSport that I chose, but it is kind of practical, too.

2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com
2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com

First off, the powerful engine fires up effortlessly. Lower models have a V6 that puts out 424 horsepower with 428 lb-ft of torque, but this GTS GranSport has a 3.8-liter turbo V8, which achieves 523 hp and 524 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an automatic 8-speed transmission. The downside to the awesome power is not-so-awesome fuel efficiency. This is a thirsty vehicle. The 2018 Maserati Quattroporte gets 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. It has a 21.1-gallon capacity.

What it lacks in gas mileage, it makes up for in handling. This RWD sedan is agile, able to be easily steered around curves. Sport mode gets an even better response out of the transmission. You’ll notice a firmer ride with the 2018 Quattroporte than in some other vehicles, but Maserati used an adaptive suspension that gives you the control to adjust ride stiffness. It’s by no means uncomfortable.

2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com
2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com

Cushioned, high-quality seats cover a lot of the bumps you may encounter, making for a pleasant passenger experience. It’s a roomy sedan that has space for five passengers. The trunk fits a lot of luggage, or other items, too. You’re working with 18.7 cu-ft of cargo space here. That number is the highest in the luxury sedan segment for the 2018 model year. The rear seats do fold down, so people wanting to transport a longer item can likely do so.

There is some great styling inside. The upscale interior includes chrome and leather interior accents, faux suede headliner trim, a leather shift knob, and stainless steel foot pedal trim. This Quattroporte also has footwell lights and a moonroof. Dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a remote start, and a blind-spot warning are just a few of the other safety and convenience features.

2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com
2018 Maserati Quattroporte - carsforsale.com

Bluetooth, USB, a jack for older model iPods or cell phones, a memory card slot, and integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all included. Pandora is already loaded as an internet radio app. SiriusXM works in the Quattroporte, too. Music is played through a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

These are the types of rewards I’d want after a promotion. Getting more convenience, comfort, and style for my money. This 2018 Maserati Quattroporte costs $59,500 with only 29,929 miles on it. It’s not cheap, but is a nice step upgrade with a raise to boost the budget.

Jesse McGraw

2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 Gran Coupe

Short List:

2022 Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback quattro Premium Plus
2023 Volvo C40 Recharge eAWD Twin Ultimate
2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range

2023 BMW i4 - carsforsale.com
2023 BMW i4 - carsforsale.com

So, you’ve got the new office with a view, more responsibilities, extra cash flow, and want to celebrate by getting rid of your old daily for something more modern. You could shoot for an expensive sports car, a luxury SUV, or maybe a classy retro ride, but this may be the right time to jump on the electric vehicle bandwagon. EVs have grown to be a unique automotive space that feature all of the latest technology, some of the most luxurious interiors, and come with a unique powertrain that can give you some added perks in the parking lot.

The only issue now is landing on a model. The EV landscape has exploded with new models making picking the right one a little harder. You could go with one of the most well-known brands in the segment by springing for a Tesla Model Y Long Range, but Tesla vehicles have been declining in quality control over the years, have encountered more complaints from customers, and carry with them more negative connotations than other EVs. I then considered options like the Volvo C40 Recharge and Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback until I came across a listing for something perfect for the occasion.

2023 BMW i4 - carsforsale.com
2023 BMW i4 - carsforsale.com

This brand new 2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 Gran Coupe is an ideal model for when you want entry into the EV world while also looking to flaunt that big new promotion. I mean BMW as a brand already carries with it that “I’m better than you” kind of attitude. The car itself looks like your typical sporty 4 Series from the outside, aside from that iconic kidney grille not featuring any holes in it. As for performance, the BMW i4 eDrive40 packs 335 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque from a single electric motor powering the rear wheels. This setup coupled with the 81-kWh high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack allows the i4 eDrive40 to reach an EPA estimated 300 miles of driving range on a single charge.

While there isn’t a rumble from beneath the hood, this i4 still handles like a BMW should. Passengers will enjoy a nice ride while the driver can still experience sporty handling that BMW is known for. Inside is a plush cabin featuring red leather upholstery, a Harmon Kardon sound system, a sunroof, automatic climate control, and the exciting new infotainment system from BMW. The i4 is one of the first BMW models to feature the latest iDrive 8 system utilizing a curved display that spans from behind the steering wheel to the center of the dashboard. The unit is comprised of a 12.3-inch instrument cluster screen and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen. This all-new iDrive 8 system features a host of new technological features and will only grow with over the air updates to the system, so you’ll always have the latest and greatest experience from BMW.

2023 BMW i4 - carsforsale.com
2023 BMW i4 - carsforsale.com

The 2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 Gran Coupe is new, high-tech, luxurious, different, and will act as a nice reward to yourself. Plus, there may be some onsite chargers at your company that’ll give you preferential parking access as well. Consider it another perk of your promotion.

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Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson earned his journalism degree from South Dakota State University. No stranger to newsgathering and reporting, Jesse spent 13 years in TV news. 10 of those years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR. A highlight of his time there was being able to take a lap around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His interest in vehicles, starting with Matchbox cars, a Big Wheel, and the Transformers, evolved into taking photos of motocross events. Now, he puts his research skills to use on car culture, reviews, and comparisons.

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