1993 4Runner vs 2011 Mazda3 Hatch

I’m conflicted between these two cars
4Runner $4700 (193,000)
Mazda3 need to talk them down from $6900 to ~$5000 (120,000)

On one hand, the 4Runner is cheaper upfront, has more storage space, and has everything done to it that I would’ve probably done, and has almost new everything right now. However, its MPG is horrible compared to the Mazda3’s mpg which would save me money in the long run and it has lower mileage even though I know 4runners can go for a long time.
I’m just thinking because over the years yes I would have to do things to the Mazda that I would want to do to make it look more of the way I want and stuff and possibly some things will need to be fixed but it would also save me thousands in gas in the long run so I don’t know which one I should do. 4runners storage is very helpful as I’m a college student and I ride a bike. Idk I just need advice, if I didn’t give enough info just comment and ask and I’ll try my best. Thanks!

You are comparing apples to hamsters with these choices.

Mazda wins hands down because the 4Runner is 28 years old with nearly 200k.


Yeah probably, I’m just super conflicted because my brother works with cars as his job and he’s talking to me like it’s a no brainer that I should go with the 4runner and the dude said he’s only taking $4700 if I come Sunday. I just feel super pressured.

Super pressured is the worst way to buy a car. Don’t buy what your brother wants, buy what you want.

Be sure and pay your mechanic to check out any vehicle you want to buy before you buy it. Best money you can spend.

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Another vote for Mazda. 1993 is a little old,

Not exactly comparable directly but both have strong following, the Toyota has the reputation of going forever but those i know with the same year or older Mazda3’s have put 200,000-250,000mi and they’re still driving them daily. The market for Toyota 4wd’s trucks and 4runners has been nuts around here for decades. Doesn’t really matter how many miles as long as it casts a shadow and gets you to the mountains.

Yeah, but that’s the thing. I’m really just looking for something reliable that has a decent amount of storage. I’m just conflicted because financially I feel it’d be smarter to go with the Mazda but my brother who works at toyota working on cars and has been a car dude his whole life has been saying it’s a no brainer to go with the 4runner.

I think I’d go with the Mazda being the better bet. 1993 is pretty old. I assume the 4Runner has the 3.0 v6. I think they had more issues than the 4 cylinders. I don’t remember what (head gasket failure maybe)?

Now from a personal perspective, I’d probably buy the 4Runner myself, as long as it ran well, was in good shape, etc. I’d just rather have that old suv than the Mazda. But that’s just a personal choice based on zero common sense.

I’m sure I didn’t help with your decision, sorry!

I can see positives to both vehicles, it’s going to come down to which one will work the majority of the time, the 4runner will have more storage and be better in the snow you just have to live with the gas mileage and be aware that it has a lot of miles on it. Having someone who knows 4runners is an advantage.

$4700 is too much money for any college student to pay for anything 1993 with almost 200000 miles on it. Unless you are an art or music major you are unlikely to be impoverished for longer than your remaining college career.

Examine you needs, do you really need a car, if you do, how long are the trips it needs to make? Then buy the bare minimum. That usually means a car that was small and cheap to begin with.Avoid the cars of choice for the consumers reports crowd. The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are way overpriced in the used car market, Think Focus or Cobalt or Cavalier or one of their clones. Forget Subarus, ones in your price range probably already need a head gasket.


I would not buy either of these vehicles, as neither is a particularly good bet for a college student with limited funds. And as you have correctly pointed out, even assuming that the 28-year old 4-Runner is reliable, and won’t incur costly repairs–an assumption I would not make, the fuel economy is lackluster at best. The 2011 Mazda 3 is not new enough to be super-reliable, but is new enough so that any necessary repairs will be expensive.

A used Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan or Toyota Sienna would offer much more bang for the buck, while still providing the capability to transport a large amount of people and/or stuff when needed. It would also be much more economical to operate, maintain, and insure.

Why would you try to get him to buy a minivan?


I have owned two Caravans in my life. I cannot think of another vehicle which offers as much utility for what it cost to purchase, maintain, and insure. I was also very happy with the fuel economy for a vehicle its size–something which will be very important as fuel prices continue their steady rise for the forseeable future.

If your brother is going to do free work on your 4-runner and get parts discounts, then buy the car your brother wants. Also buy a parts car and park it at your brother’s houise.

A few questions;
How much driving are you going to do?
You can go to fueleconomy.gov and compare cars. Personalize your miles and gas prices and see how much extra you pay each year.
Also, are you going to be mostly in the city or suburbs.
Also, on the Mazda, you are thinking you will talk them down or you are sure?
I like both cars, the question is, do you NEED an Suv.

I have a coworker that drives an old 4Runner, I doubt he would trade it for a compact car, can’t engage in off-road activities in a Mazda3. Different vehicles, different uses. Half of my coworkers prefer a truck or SUV as a daily driver, whether they need one or not does not matter to them.

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Even if your brother works for free, parts in the 4Runner are still in you. At this age, anything could go wrong (engine, transmission, brakes, suspension, electrical), even if it is a reliable vehicle and has been well maintained. Maybe as a weekend ride, but not as a daily driver.

Go with the Mazda. Stop overthinking it.

If your brother wants the 28 year old 4Runner, let him go buy it. Good luck to him.

A 28 year old anything with 200K miles is going to be something less than cheap and reliable, not to mention unsafe, compared to a 2011 Mazda.

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I appreciate the comments/advice and will take all of what has been said into consideration going forward. Thanks guys!

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Do come back and let us know what you end up getting.