Easy to work on car to buy-- also good gas mileage

Easy is of course relative. I’ve got a 93 Camry and looked at vids telling me its a day to take motor out to get at transmission. We are looking for a newer car for wife. I fondly remember how I could remove the motor of my old VW bug in 15 minutes. I’ve also got a Aerostar which is a nightmare to work on. Everything is so crammed together. Maybe nothing is easy anymore.

Pretty much nothing is easy anymore. The Camry you have is a FWD car so the motor and transmission are pretty much all jammed together. If you want a simpler drive train find a RWD car, and better yet RWD with a solid rear axle. Unfortunately not many cars with set up are being made today. Your best bet might be a Ford Crown Vic.

A used RWD pickup is about as easy as you can find these days. Get a full size Chevy or GMC.

Nothing easy like a Beetle. Course, it HAD to be easy, given all the work required. Get a newer Camry 4, hard to beat.

Pardon me, but ease of engine removal seems like a weak motive for selecting a vehicle for your wife. I make the suggestion that you discuss which class of vehicle she prefers – anything from a compact to a full-size truck – and then consider models noted for their reliability.

Why not buy a car whose engine does NOT HAVE TO BE REMOVED! A basic Toyota Yaris, if looked after will never need its engine removed. On today’s better cars the engine will outlast the body.

If you want a vehicle that’s easy to work on, get a compact pickup truck with no options.

I second Doc’s suggestion.
Most cars today have transversely mounted engines with transaxles. This puts the front of the engine behind one of the wheelwell liners, making everything difficult to access, often incudes the water pump being driven by the timing belt, making that impossible to access, and in V6 configurations put the rear “bank” of cylinders up against the firewall, often making even the sparkplugs difficult to access. The tranny will also be built around the rear of the engine, compounding the problem by stuffing every available cubic inch. Couple that with the “live” axles with CV joints and McPhereson struts instead of simple shocks, and modern cars can become a nightmare to work on.

Small pickups with 4 cylinder engines have the engines mounted front-to-back, with the tranny in back and the driveshaft running to the rear axle, meaning everything is easy to access. They’ll also often have shocks that can be changed seperate from the springs, making that a lot easier. And the fewer accessories the truck has, the easier it gets.

Why do you need to get at the transmission? Leaking or has it just decided to go south?
Often the easiest way of doing something like this is to just pull the engine/trans as a unit and separate them while on the ground.

Other than RWD pickups, one of the easiest to service cars I’ve seen are the later model Mustangs with the V-6. My daughter has an '05 Model and it’s uncluttered with a lot of access. Even changing the plugs is a 10 minute job at most.

Pulling the motor in a modern car will never be as easy as the old beetle, but all day, I don’t think so. Half day at the most, the biggest part is removing the axles. You might save time by just undoing the axle nuts and pushing the axles in as far as they can go, then as you lift the engine, keep pushing the axles in until they clear the steering knuckle. That going to make putting the engine back in that much harder though.

You might even be able to just pop the axle from the transmission and remove it from that side as you lift the engine, that way you won’t have to mess with the axle nut, but getting it back together will be even harder than removing the axle nut. You might not have enough range of motion to develop enough inertia to get the lock rings on the end of the axle to reseat when you reinstall the motor.

Try a 2002 or 2001 Honda Accord with a manual transmission. It should be cheap to buy and is relatively easy to work on. When looking at Accords of this vintage you should check the clutch, timing belt, brake and fuel lines, and the front subframe (under the engine and transmission). Each of these are big ticket items that these cars are known to need. If they have been taken care of already (or are in good shape), and maintenance has been done these cars easily top 200,000 miles. Don’t forget to inspect all items because even small repairs can add up quickly.