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Buying a new used car


I am in need to replace my 1995 Mercury Van. I have looked at the following cars:

2001 BMW 330i - 62K miles

2004 Chevrolet Impala LS 44K miles

2006 Ford Fusion SE 7K miles

2005 Honda Accord LX 23K miles

2006 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T 29K miles

2007 Saturn Aura XE 9K miles

One of the main criteria is leg room in the back seat. I have two boys that are 5 foot 10 inches now and still growing.

Any thoughts on the cars listed?? Any other suggestions?? Trying to keep the cost of the car under 20K.


As far as legroom is concerned, you can research the specs on a site like the auto section of However, the numbers won’t tell the entire story. There is no substitute for actually sitting in the cars. The BMW is probably going to be the most cramped.

The Europeans on your list will probably cost more for maintenance and repair.


I’ve been in a few of those cars and actually have lots of experience with the BMW. I’ll first point out I’m almost 6’2 with a long inseam and the BMW is not cramped-I actually have to the move the seat FORWARD in my 3 series haha. The back gets tight if you have a tall driver and passenger though. That said, stay clear of that BMW as 2001 wasn’t a good year for that model and they hadn’t sorted out some of the bugs yet. If you want a 3 series look for a 2004 or 2005 which are affordable if you opt for the 325i instead of the 330i-same car different engine.

As for the rest of your choices hands down go for the Honda Accord which is far nicer and more reliable than the Impala. The Passat can be a potential headache from a repair and maintenance standpoint, but it is a nice vehicle. The Fusion isn’t bad, but I don’t expect resale value to hold as well as the Passat or Accord. I wouldn’t buy a used 2007 Saturn because for very little more I could just get a new one. Although, I’d never buy a Saturn since the reliability and fit and finish aren’t up to par with the Accord or Passat.

Personally I suggest a 2004 or later Honda Accord LX or EX model sedan which is reliable with good quality and strong resale value. I strongly recommend against any Volkswagen cars because of potential headaches.

The Impala will probably be one of the cheaper cars. My mom drives one of the same vintage and likes it. My brother is 6’2" and has no issues in the back as long as the front seats aren’t all the way back. You can probably even find a newer one with lower miles for well under $20K.

I like the Ford Fusion and the Saturn Aura, but you’d probably want to take the family to sit in them to make sure everyone is comfortable. I’d avoid the Accord simply because it will probably be overpriced with the recent craze for all things Toyota and Honda, but if the price is reasonable that might work as well.

Like NYBo said, the Europeans are probably more expensive and less roomy, so I’d pass on those.

What is it with everyone thinking European cars are so small?? Folks, the tallest people in the world live in Europe. A Mini Cooper for instance has more head room than almost ANY car on the road.

Wow, that list include apples, oranges, and grapefruits. If legroom is your only criteria, test drive them all and buy whichever one has adequate room and is the cheapest.

“What is it with everyone thinking European cars are so small??”

Because they’ve never actually sat in one, don’t confuse them with the facts.

“Folks, the tallest people in the world live in Europe.”

But the fattest people in the world live in the u.s. (-;

-The BMW 3 series is a compact. It has 34.6" of leg room, 54.2" of shoulder room in the back.
-The Impala is a large sedan. It has 38.4" of leg room, 58.9" of shoulder room in the back.
-The Fusion is a midsize sedan. It has 37" of leg room, 56.5" of shoulder room in the back.
-The Accord is a midsize sedan. It has 36.8" of leg room, 56.1" of shoulder room in the back.
-The Passat is a midsize sedan. It has 37.7" of leg room, 54.6" of shoulder room in the back.
-The Aura is a midize sedan. It has 37.6" of leg room, 54" of shoulder room in the back.

I was not picking on all European cars. Looking at the main criterion and the cars the OP listed, the BMW is the smallest. The Accord, Passat, and Aura are similar in size (the Passat does well on rear leg room, but not particularly well on width, and I’d bet those teenage boys would appreciate that). The best cars, strictly in terms of rear seating, are likely to be the Impala and Fusion. Just my opinion. The Passat is sort of a toss-up for me with the Fusion, but when you factor in shoulder room, pricing, and maintenance costs, I’d go with the Ford over the VW.

Like Craig said, the cars aren’t all that comparable. I was giving my opinion of the cars the OP listed.

If you want leg room, consider a 2003/2004 BMW 525i and a 2004/2005 Audi A6 (with or without quattro).

Put the boys in the back and then ask them.

The 5 series is an excellent suggestion. At 41.7 inches of legroom up front and 34.2 in rear that would make it much more spacious than any of the cars on the list. Not to mention two boys are gonna love that thing once they can drive haha.

Agree; the Passat has a very roomy back seat and lots of headroom. The Impala is also very roomy; where I live it is now a favorite with the taxi companies (good back seat big trunk). The Dutch, Norwegians and Swedes are on average taller than Americans. Just because they don’t play basketball, they still need to fit in their cars. Agree that the US has the most obese and overweight persons.

Reason for asking question. We did look at these cars and did the seat check thing. Just wondering what peoples opinion were for the selection and many good points were brought out about, cost of repairs etc, reliability, driving etc and if there were other cars out there worth while to check out.