Camry v. Accord v. Corolla

I want to buy a reliable used (2005?) car for my college-aged daughter. We live in Maine, so it should be good in the snow. Any thoughts or is there something else should consider. (She’s not into Subarus)

You’ve got three good choices you can’t go wrong with. Each has it’s own advantages. Buy the one you like for the best price of the three. Personally I’d recommend the mid size Camry/Accord for added safety (we did buy the mid size Accord for our daughter) instead of a compact of each. None of your choices will be great in snow compared to an awd car, but all should suffice with winter tire change overs.

BTW re: “she’s not into Subarus” I don’t feel is a deciding factor. I recommend you buy her what you feel is best if it’s with YOUR money, whether it’ AWD or not. I feel it’s your decision, not hers.

All three are excellent choices. I’d go with the Corolla for the gas mileage and its near-bulletproof reliability.

The Mazda3 is another car you might want to consider. It, too, has a good reputation for reliability.

If you put four winter tires on any of these cars she can drive through most of the snow she’s likely to encounter (blizzards excepted). This is ESSENTIAL. Don’t even try to get through winter with “all season” tires. A set of four winter tires is more important than AWD, and since “she’s not into Subarus,” she’s unlikely to be driving an AWD vehicle.

Another option would be an AWD version of the Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Vibe (mechanically identical). These vehicles are 5-door hatchback versions of the Toyota Corolla. Same reliability with AWD.

She’d still need winter tires, though, even with AWD. The tires make all the difference.

Snow tires provide more safety than 4wd. A car with snows will out brake and out corner the same car with 4wd.

Just to agree whole heartedly. While clearing land to build a house on a mountainous road in Maine, my son and I had to sand ahead so the other workers could make it in ice conditions. They had a 4wd with all seasons, we had a 2 wd compact truck with 300 lbs of weight (tube sand) and studded snows and were the lead truck.
Now when we combined 4wd with studded snows and weight, it’s a different story, and neither vehicle could match it.
But again, unless daughter faces severe conditions daily, 2wd with snows, and even just all weather tires if there’s no pressure to drive in snow storms and in and around the cities on maintained roads, it should be fine.

All are great cars. The Corolla will get the best gas mileage, and if you want the Camry or Accord, they are like comparing apples to oranges. Get the one that fits you best.

None of the above. Buy a 2005 Chevy Malibu with the 4-cyl engine and save at least $5000. You can find a 2007 Malibu LT 4-cyl for the a little less than a 2005 Accord LX 4-cyl.

BTW, I own a 2005 Accord EX V6 (bought new) and I think it’s a great car. But you get a whole lot more for your money by avoiding the car that everyone wants.

Though I fully agree with the economics with your advice and have bought vehicles for our use with that in mind for business, I have a hard time recommending anything for others that did not approach the long term reliability of the other cars considered by OP. I consider reliability as much of a safety factor as a seat belt and well worth the added expense; and a car like your Accord is a great investment with that in mind.

In my example, there is a $5000 repair fund created. I bet it is never used. That has been my experience with my 1998 Buick Regal and 2003 Olds Silhouette. They were significantly less expensive to buy new, and the repairs never added up to the difference in initial cost between the Regal and an Accord or the Silhouette and an Odyssey.

College Aged Young Adults In Certain Cars Can Pay A Very High Premium For Car Insurance, Particularly If You Are Considering Collision And Comprehensive.

If cost is any concern to you, I’d start my search at my insurance agent’s office. Some of these Asian cars you are considering are rated as much more expensive than normal in several categories of insurance coverage depending on the company. Sometimes the difference between 2-door and 4-door models is significant.

Compare the costs to insure among cars you are considering to see if it makes a difference to you. Don’t rule out any 5-star rated American badged cars as others have suggested, unless money is no object. Buy safety.

As advised by my agent, I made sure my college-aged son’s car was titled in his name. People with valuable assets to protect should check with their agent about this.


For a single girl, a Corolla with good winter tires is about as good as it gets! The car is near bullet-proof and only requires modest maintenance compared to AWD vehicles. It’s easy to drive and park and can be serviced anywhere.

Please go and read the “sexist” thread on how many, not all, women react when something goes wrong with their car. I have no doubt that your numbers are correct. Malibu does have a real good reliability rating in CR.

However, if you only look at the dollars, it is possible to come to a false conclusion. If that daughter even once or twice in her four or five years of college has a breakdown in a time and place when the more expensive car probably would not have had, the dollars don’t matter.

Just how much is a daughter worth in dollars to you?

We had the same decision to make back in 1988. Our daughter was no longer going to drive a few short miles to the community college every day, but was facing a 65 mile round trip to the State University. We went out and bought a new Nova (Toyolet), and never once did she get stranded during the three years it took to graduate. (Not dumb; about that time parents went on the warpath, because the University was not making courses available to graduate in four years, requiring another year of expenses.)

By the way, there are other issues. When winter came, a down filled military sleeping bag and a large jar of peanut butter went in the trunk, in case she got stranded on the 15 mile open country in the route she drove. She never needed it, but it was there just in case. People die every winter for no more than this.

I bought my kids (all girls) a new Cobalt LT this year and one of them is taking it to school - 500 miles away. I’m not worried. They routinely drive the 1998 Regal and it has never left them - or me, stranded.

Just how much is personal experience and widely available, unbiased information worth to you?

“In my example, there is a $5000 repair fund created. I bet it is never used. That has been my experience with my 1998 Buick Regal and 2003 Olds Silhouette. They were significantly less expensive to buy new, and the repairs never added up to the difference in initial cost between the Regal and an Accord or the Silhouette and an Odyssey.”

That’s an excellent point and worth considering for my use. But, when I considered which car to buy my daughter doing clinicals in 4 different hospitals in big cities along the east coast after graduation, I did not consider the savings achieved by buying a different car other than an Accord. I wanted the most reliable car for the money that provided the least chance of break down. I’ve owned a lot of car makes myself, just to save money, and felt confident in emergency situations. I don’t have the same feeling recommending a car to someone else where a break down could be a bigger safety issue for them. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. The nightly sub zero winter trips I did working, were done in cars I could most trust, not the ones that saved me the most money, though in the long run they often coincided. Chevy Prisms/Toyota trucks/Subarus etc.

“We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.”

I’ve had excellent experiences with GM cars for 30 years, and one Honda for 5 years. My cars are highly reliable in part because I maintain them well, and in part because they are well made. My point wasn’t that I could sacrifice reliability for a less expensive car, but that I got great reliability and a less expensive car. If I can have my cake and eat, too, why shouldn’t I?

JT, I’ll Have To Disagree Right Along With You. My Experiences Have Been Similar To Your’s With No Reliability Problems And Tremendous Savings.

I take back half the bad things I’ve said about you CSA! :wink:

Plus, you’ve stated a few times that you don’t have any foreign car dealerships nearby either. :stuck_out_tongue:

Which is why I don’t see that many Mazdas, Subarus or Euro brand cars around my town. I’ve seen more Mini Coopers than anything else, and even then, the dealership, which is a BMW/Mini only dealership, is a good hour drive away(about 33 miles).