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Car for my mom

The automotive specialist in our family, my dad, died in June. My mom needs to buy a new car for driving around Salt Lake City. I live in New York City, do not own a car, and don’t have much knowledge about current makes and models (other than what I see in the constant ads on TV).

I am hoping this forum could help me narrow down the massive range of vehicles.

Things that are important to my mom:

  1. AWD or 4WD - Utah usually gets a lot of snow and while she will mostly be driving on the freeways and highway she never wants to get stuck somewhere.

  2. Saftey - She is 5’3" and is concerned that a sedan crash would leave the engine in her midsection. I have no idea if this is true or just an idea she got somewhere. At any rate, she wants something safe for short people.

  3. Seats 5 - She ports my brother, niece and grand parents around. So it should comfortably seat 5.

  4. Resale value - Due to some credit issues she cannot lease a vehicle but her idea is to get a new one every 5 years or so in order to minimize maintenance issues. She can pay cash for one now but I want to make sure she loses as little money as possible 5 years down the road when she sales it or turns it in.

  5. Gas mileage - Her previous car is a Jeep and gets about 20 mpg (combined city and highway). It would be great for her to have something that did better.

  6. Cost - Probably looking in the $25K range. Open to the idea of Certified Pre-Owned programs if they make sense.

Thank you to anyone who could help us through this a little. It’s a daunting task especially without my dad.

Condolences on your loss.

as to point 2), no, that’s not true. It’s an idea she got somewhere.

Based on your requirements, I’d look at a Honda CRV.

I’m very partial towards Subarus but am not sure whether you’d comfortably fit five people in it - certainly not in the older models. The new Forester may be better, though.

Shadowfax’ suggestion of a CRV is very good.
It seems to be of decent size and Hondas do tend to hold value better than most cars.

Also my condolences.

And here’s another point for anyone who’s lost their ‘‘car person’’.
– shopping and buying –
sales people can smell inexperience in a buyer and they swoop in for the kill.

She should take along anyone who can present the aura of knowing their way around the car buying process so as not to get taken in on all their reindeer games.

Are your brother, niece and grandparents perhaps the very people to shop with ?
If not have her ask friends and neighbors, especially those who may already have a good history with sales people they know.

Call the internet sales manager or the fleet sales manager (often the same guy) at the dealership. They deal in volume, and wasting time screwing you out of an extra $300 represents a potential lost sale elsewhere. They tend not to horse around and just give you the price you’re looking for, provided you’re asking a reasonable price.

Here’s another shopping point, even if brother , niece, and grandparents aren’t the car buying experienced people who’ll accompany her to the dealer.

  • Definitely take them along when test driving.
    Space for 5 people…HAH !..5 PEOPLE AND ALL THEIR STUFF !

That’s right, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye.
What all do they bring on a regular basis ? Back packs ? Purses and bags ? lap top and games ? Breakfast and lunch ?
Do you take them along when shopping ?

There are actually now a number of options that meet your criteria. I’d suggest stopping by the local bookstore, picking up a copy of Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide, and test driving (with her) those that look interesting to her.

Anything made in the last 20 years will keep the engine out o fthe passenger cabin, thanks to crumple zones.

Not sure if you can get an AWD version for 25k or less, but a Mazda CX-5 would be worth a look. The AWD is rated for 31 on the highway. With it’s great fuel economy(for a crossover that is) it should hold its value. Don’t expect the salesmen to haggle, they’re selling the CX-5s as fast as they can build them right now.

I suggest a midsize sedan with front-wheel drive. Mom doesn’t need to drive when the roads are impassible. A Chevy Malibu is worth a test drive, as is a Ford Fusion. If they are too small, look at the small SUVs. A few of them, like the Chevy Equinox, have sliding rear seats that provide more leg room for the rear seat passengers.

If she doesn’t want to get stuck and if safety is a priority, then using winter tires in winter would be a good idea, no matter which car she buys.

The Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V are certainly worth a look, although they may not be big enough for five people with a lot of stuff.

If there is nothing wrong with the jeep, she should just keep it. A new car every 5 years is not necessary anymore. Most cars are good for 10-12 years or 150-200k miles before maintenance and reliability become issues.

“A new car every 5 years is not necessary anymore.”

Excellent point. Mrs JT wanted to get rid of the Silhouette when it hit 100,000 miles. She thought it would fall apart. It’s several years older and has 130,000 miles on it and runs fine. Even she hopes to get at least another 2 years out of it.