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Big Guy - $5,000 Budget

So I got sideswiped last week (no injuries) and they totaled my car—my first car. I’m getting $4,800 from their insurance and that’s pretty close to my price ceiling for the next car.

Aside from price, the other limiting factor is my frame. I’m 6’5”, most of it from the waist up, and quite big as well. Headroom and shoulder room are always problems for me.

My priorities in a car are pretty simple: I want the most reliable and safe car I can fit into. I’ve seen big/tall guy car advice on the Web, but it’s mostly for new cars, and a strangely high percentage of those cars recommended do very poorly on Consumer Reports for reliability. Good fuel efficiency is great, but it seems that for a $5k car, reliability is probably a bigger cost factor over the life of the car than getting an extra 5 mpg.

I’d very much appreciate any advice you might have.

Thanks,

Michael

A guy I used to work with was about 6’10". He drove a Ford Taurus station wagon and professed to be perfectly happy with it.

It mostly comes to mind for that reason, and because there are lots of them (mostly sedans though) around at $5K or below.

There is no way to answer this question. $5000 is the shallow end of the car pool, and is going to be very regional. It would be better if you post some cars you find locally and let us give you advice from there. With that said, keep your eyes open for a crown Vic, or chevy caprice. Lots of room dead reliable cheap to fix. There only short fall is MPG.

Agree with cig on the Taurus. Unless you ride with backseat passengers often, pushing the seat back you’ll have lots of leg room & headroom. Upper end models also have multi adjustable power seats & pedals. Should be able to find one in the ballpark your looking for.

A Crown Vic or a P/U truck…

Michael, I think the only way to determine if a car is suitable for you is to try it. Remember that all cars’ seats are adjustable in varying degrees. Push 'em back, tilt the seatback, and move the telescopic steering wheel. See if you can make it fit.

So, with the first car that was side swiped, what make and model was it? Were you happy with it? Did it seem too cramped? Having a reference point to start from is always nice.

Try a VW New Beetle. You might be surprised.

Thanks for the advice, folks. The car I had was a '91 Camry and it was much, much too small. It’s a car I would never have purchased, and I was quite cramped in it; but it was a gift from family and only had 60,000 miles on it, and I was pleased to have it. Now that I’m actually purchasing a car, I intend to get one in which I am capable of sitting comfortably. I like to sit erect when I drive, I don’t like having to lay the backrest down to have good visibility–like I must with the 2012 Altima rental I’ve used this week.

As for posting cars that I can find regionally, you mean I should post links to cars.com offers and such that are nearby?

Yes post links if you would like feed back.

You should at least drive a Vic, which will give you yardstick with which you can judge all the others…

If you look at the Crown Victoria and like it keep in mind the Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car are basically the same car, they’re built on the same frame and have the same drive train only with Mercury/Lincoln badge instead of the Ford badge. They all have a 4.6L V8 so they have plenty of power and the fuel mileage is pretty good for a very comfortable full size car. My mom has a 2000 Grand Marquis, when I drive it I usually get 24-25 mpg in mixed city/rural road driving. I drove it on a trip of 540 miles last fall which was about 90% interstate and 4 lane driving. I wanted to see what kind of mileage I could get out of it so I set the c/c at 55 MPH, it got 31.48 MPG for the trip, this included about 25-30 miles of city driving in Indianapolis, IN and about 10 miles of driving in a funeral procession in Indianapolis. Before my dad passed away when he drove it on longer trips he usually drove 65-75 MPH on the interstate and got around 28-29 MPG.

I’m a big guy myself but my height is more in my legs than body so I need maximum legroom.

The 2003 Chrysler corp minivans have a ton of front seat room, more than the new ones but I don’t know what year they changed. Mine is the most comfortable trip vehicle I have ever been in.

I agree that the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Lincoln Town car line is clearly the way to go. However, I think that FordMan1959 gas mileage figures are impossible.
Still, there are lots of low mileage, very good geezer cars. Being unfashionable, they go for a low price. They are very comfortable. I would not buy one later than about 2005, which your budget will fix anyway. In my opinion the peak is the 1996 Town Car.

melott, You may think the gas mileage numbers I gave are total BS, but when I drove mom’s car on the trip I left Russellville, KY (south central KY) filled the tank to the cap drove to Indianapolis, IN and back plus the city driving and funeral procession, filled up at the same station, same pump I filled up at when I left, again filling the tank to the cap. The trip was 540.9 miles round trip and it took 17.181 gallons to refill the tank. If you don’t believe me, you do the math. As I said in the previous post this was 90% interstate and 4 lane roads with c/c set at 55 MPH. I filled the car one day this week for mom where it had been driven locally the trip odometer had 154.x miles which I had reset the last time I filled it up for her and the car took between 6 and 6.1 gallons to refill it which comes out to right in the neighborhood of 25 MPG. These car are geared for what they do best highway travelling.

For the average driver these numbers probably wouldn’t be accurate, but when I’m driving I watch the traffic conditions and stop lights ahead of me, if I see a car in front of me slowing down or a red light 1/4 mile down the road I let off the gas and coast instead staying on the gas until I catch the person or get to the red light and jumping on the brake. By doing this many times I never even touch the brake pedal. I’ve broke 45 MPG in my '97 Escort many times when driving on the interstate with the c/c set at 55 MPH. The best tank I ever had was 49.85 MPG on a cool summer day when the a/c wasn’t needed and 100% interstate with the c/c set at 55 MPH. I can’t do it now because I’ve put a new set of tires on it which has increased rolling resistance, but I can still normally get 39-42 on the highway and around 32-33 in mixed city/rural road driving. I check my mileage with every tank of gas I buy so I’m familiar with the mileage I should be getting on all my cars, if the mileage takes a huge plunge I know to start looking for the problem. I’ve taught my son to do the same thing since I maintain his car. Last year he told me his mileage had dropped dramatically from one fill up to the next. Within a couple days the check engine light came on codes PO171 and PO1131, put a new 02 sensor in it reset the ECU the CEL stayed out and mileage was back to normal.

Fordman’s mileage figures are pretty much in line with what my mother-in-law has gotten with both of the Grand Marquis she’s owned.

Several years ago, Tom and Ray had author/commentator Daniel Pinkwater on the show. Pinkwater is a self-professed large man, who was looking for a car that would fit him. He discovered that the “new” VW bugs were perfect for big/tall people. Here is his story:

http://www.cartalk.com/content/daniel-pinkwater-fat-city

@FordMan1959

My FIL has a Buick LeSabre with the 3.8L V6, and gets around 32 MPG in highway driving. It seems to me that the LeSabre and the Crowne Victoria are similar cars and have similar mileage results.

OK, yeah, big steady American early 2000s sedans - CrVic, LeSabre, Taurus, etc. Time for me to go out and get behind the wheel of some of them. Maybe the best way to do that is to go to some big used car lots to see which work for me. And then once I know which model (or models) I like, I can go and look for a specific offer, and maybe get your thoughts on those.

If you happen to know of terrific used lots not far from Austin TX, by all means, please let me know.

Thanks,

Michael

Oh, and regarding the New Beetle, the consumer reports findings on it are pretty lousy. I want an ultra-reliable car. Regardless of form factor, VW doesn’t seem to do well for reliability.