I am looking at 2 different cars to buy -both seem in very good shape -which is more reliable? One is a 2003 Jeep Liberty with 49,000 miles and the other is a 2005 Ford Escape with 67,000 miles. Both are V6 engines -the Jeep is 4 wheel drive and the Ford is front wheel drive. Both are around $9000.00
It depends on how they were treated. If both were well-maintained, the Ford is probably more reliable, especially since it’s 2 years newer. See if either owner has repair and maintenance records. The one that does is likely to be the most reliable in the future.
Neither of these cars has fared well in the latest Consumer Reports automotive summary issue in long term reliability. A car the “seems” in good shape can only be cosmetically dependable.
Without stepping over your reliability advice request, I would plan on spending more money and include RAV4 and CRVs as well as other more dependable models if a compact SUV is what you’re looking at.
If $9K is the working number, compacts like Focus, Corolla and Civics give the best transportation bang for the buck. $9K can turn into a lot more with a few unplanned repairs with these compact SUVs you have mentioned. For only $9K, I’d avoid cars with awd/4wd and a fwd Escape SUV has little going for it that a compact wagon can do much better.
The Jeep Liberty will need more repairs and is less reliable than the Escape.
4 wheel drive means more expensive to own. The word “Jeep” also usually means more expensive to own, at least compared to a Ford Escape (or Rav4 or CRV).
You can get a nice 2007 Focus SES for about $8000. A comparable 2007 Corolla S will cost over $10,000. A 2005 Corolla S is worth about $8000. I’d look for a well-cared for Focus and pocket the extra $2000.
As said it depends more on how they were maintained and treated.
For those who recommend the RAV4 & CRV, you realize that within that price range they are going to have over 120KM, and if you want to buy one bellow 80KM the price tag goes to around $14-15. This wipes out a lot of cash upfront in the hopes of lower repair bill and you know a used car is going to need some work one way or another. So financially buying a car that depreciates more, makes more sense. You have to realize that there is a reason for the depreciation and be able to live with it, which involves the occasional visit to the repair shop.
On the same note, even consumer report in a recent article admitted that the gap between the best and worst cars has narrowed a lot and even though they still rank the cars, in real life it depends more on your luck than on the brand of the car you buy.