Buying a new car

I have a 1996 Volvo Turbo Wagon. It has only 120,000 miles

I love my car but I know there are safer vehicles out there.

I’d like to buy a new car, but haven’t found anything quite like the 850. It’s compact, yet roomy. The car isn’t perfect. You feel every bump, but when I’m on a smooth surface it runs beautifully. Plus it’s fast when I need to be. I hear that the newer Volvos aren’t as well made as my 850, and I know these cars are expensive to maintain. I don’t like SUV’s or cars that ride high off the road. Finally, I’m looking for very good gas mileage. I have a family of 5. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help.


You love your car, Every year you keep it is 1 less year of car payments, Do the math and figure your car is still on the list of safe enough for most circumstances.

What mpgs do you expect? Fast+room for 5 does not = very good gas mileage. Subaru Outback would be an option. Buy a Consumer Reports car buyer’s guide, it’ll help you narrow it down.

Your Volvo is quite a safe car. The best increase in safety for your money is to take a defensive driving course! With that you substantially lower your chance of getting into an accident in the first place and escaping injury.

Almost all the posts we get from owners who want to get rid of their Volvos relate to unreliability and very high repair bills.

As others point out, gas mileage is only part of overall operating costs, about 1/3 maximum. Your paid for but still good Volvo will be cheap to operate from now on until major repairs start coming in. When that happens, you should sell it.

thanks for your good advice. much appreciated.

I was thinking of a Subaru Outback.
Thanks for your help.

Once major repairs start coming in I’m moving on.
Thanks for your help.

Have you looked at the VW Jetta SportWagen? They offer it in a TDI version that is rated at 30 mpg city and 41 mpg highway; from my personal experience you’ll do better than that. VW claims that it’ll do zero to sixty in 8.4 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph; that fast enough for you? They also offer side airbags for the rear seat, although they’re a $350 option (and they shouldn’t be - shame on you, VW!)

We’ve got two TDI Jettas in the family, and they’re doing well - one’s up to 230K miles!

I haven’t looked at the Jetta, but I will now.
Question: how many passengers are usually in the car. Is it big enough for 3 people in the back?

Three people in the back of a Jetta is OK if they are small and the trips are short. On a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro we hired a Jetta taxi and driver for the day to do some sight seeing. The back seat was roomy for 2, but 3 would have been a tight squeze for adults. If you want three in the backseat with any degree of comfort, buy a big car such as the new Ford Taurus, the Chevy Impala, or find a Mercury grand Marquis or Crown Victoria.

I have to concur - Three kids will be okay in the backseat of a Jetta, but once they become teens, you’ll need something bigger (assuming they’ll still get in the car with you). Which is funny, come to think of it, because I was passed by a Jetta the other day that had at least three teens in the back, but the driver and front passenger were teens as well; they’re much more flexible in their friends’ cars than their parents’.

I like my Jettas, but must confess that I’ve never ridden in the backseat of one.

Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata.
Gather your family for a day of car shopping and pile into various vehicles to find how they fit you guys

I hope the OP is still around. I suggest looking at the Mazda 5. A friend of mine got one a year or so ago and seems quite happy with it. It’s a 2+2+2 seating configuration, with some flexibility in moving the seats around. For some reason I like the looks of this tall wagon sort of vehicle and it should get decent fuel mileage.

I almost forgot - Acura will start selling a wagon version of the TSX this fall, I believe. That would have the sporty feel you’re used to, reasonable room and economy (4 cyl fwd), and good quality. It still might be tight in the back seat, but it’d worth a look.