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Give me ideas for my next car - lots of requirements

Hey Everybody!
I am looking for a new to me vehicle, but I have so many prerequisites for said car that my head is spinning. I was wondering if the community here could help me figure something out. Here’s what I need:

  • Max Price $5000
  • 2003 or Newer
  • Four Doors and 5 to 7 seats
  • FWD or 4WD/AWD
  • Antilock Brakes and Stability Control
  • Dual front and side airbags
  • Power windows, air conditioning and cruise control
  • Capable of carrying at least 60 cubic feet of cargo with the back seats folded OR have the ability to tow a trailer
  • Capable of towing at least 2000 pounds
  • 0-60 of no less that 10 seconds
  • Real MPGs of at least 20 city and 25 highway
  • Well known reliability that will go at least 300k miles with care and maintenance.
  • Preferably the engine would have a timing chain

In general, I would want to stay away from the following vehicles, some of them are conditional

  • Anything Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Isuzu, Audi or Volkswagen
  • Subarus with the 2.5 unless the head gasket was recently replaced
  • Honda Odysseys unless the transmission was recently replaced
  • Anything with a Northstar or a Triton engine

RWD vehicles aren’t completely out of the question, but I live in an area where we usually get a decent about of snow in the winter.

It doesn’t matter to me if it is an automatic or manual. The more horsepower, the better, but I know that negatively affects MPGs. High miles is not a big issue for me with brands like Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti, Honda/Acura, Mazda, Hyundai and certain Fords

Given all of those parameters, any recommendations?


station wagon like Subaru Outback or relatively rare Mazda 6 Wagon ?
I would run from used VW Passat Wagon as from a fire, not so from Jetta, but it is probably too small.
I currently run Pathfinder - it will hit all your requirements but MPG

A used Dodge Caravan minivan would fit the bill. I personally would not buy one, but your low budget figure does not offer a lot of choice. If you get one with low mileage and well maintained it would be cheap driving.


How about this for an idea. Make a realistic list.


Like Docknik, my thoughts keep settling on a used Dodge Caravan (or its mate, Chrysler Town and Country) as coming closest to meeting your (yes, VV70) unrealistic, often antagonistic criteria.

We have happily owned 2 of these minivans, buying them used. The 1999 Plymouth Voyager lasted over 150,000 miles before strut tower rust tipped it toward the junkyard. Our present 2007 Town and Country is of a newer generation, ending in 2007, that does not have that particular rust problem, although it is showing a variety of rust areas now in its 11th year. Here in WI and MN it’s not uncommon.

I think 300,000 miles may be the least realistic of your criteria, but some have made it.

You will find a great many of these minivans on the market, and in junkyards. By limiting your purchase price to $5,000 you reduce your choices, but also your exposure to financial loss.

Look at any minivan except the Odyssey, since you already decided against it. Don’t bother with any SUV. They are popular and won’t meet your price/age requirements.

And do not try to pull a trailer with any of these. They are not built for this.

We installed a hitch and pulled a rather heavy trailer a couple thousand miles, altogether, with our 1999 Plymouth Voyager. I was careful to change the ATF and filter and monitor fluid levels. There was no engine or transmission trouble. That said, seeing a hitch on a vehicle that was questionable as to towing capacity, I would have questions, but it would not be on its own a deal-breaker.

amen! I would love to drop 5k for a numbers matching 100%stock 51k miles show room new perfect running 1971 Plymouth road runner with a hemi 426 in it :grin::grin::grin: but it’s just not relistic. O if any one has one please message me!! I’ve wanted one for years.

The OP has been gone for almost a month and not really understanding why you are replying to me. Your dream car has nothing to do with the OP’s requirements.

Other than its compleatly unrealstic and agreeing with you. I know it’s been a month but o well. You still were right.

OP may have left the building but was anyone else confused by the requirement “0-60 of no less that 10 seconds”?

1 Like

No. He meant no more than 10 seconds but messed it up.

Sounds to me like a kid looking for his first car, but that may be wrong.

Personally, I do not think a Caravan stands the chance of a snow flake in the hot place of going 300,000 miles, unless easy highway miles with no around town driving.

I think the old ones with the Torqueflight 3 speed would make 300.000 but the electronic ones would be lucky to make it on one replacement transmission.

The early Chrysler electronic-controlled transmissions of the 1980s were a major trouble spot, but evidence shows they have been much improved.

For several years now the Consumer Reports Annual Car Reliability Survey of Dodge and Chrysler minivans has shown Trans. Major as consistently better than average and Trans. Minor as variable between better than average and worse than average.

(This data is for the 2007-2009 cars. Our OP’s budget would keep newer ones from being considered.)

Full disclosure here. In 1999, some guy most likely talking on his cell phone creamed several of us on I-35 Low in Austin. We rented a Buick LeSabre and drove into the Midwest to visit our son.

We shopped around and eventually settled on a 1989 Caravan. Seemed okay, had 120,000 miles on it.

After a year or two, we’d leave McAllen, drive to Amarillo, and instantly make an appointment with a mechanic. Then, in a few days, we’d drive to the Quad Cities, and instantly make an appointment with a mechanic.

In a few days, we’d drive back to Amarillo, and when we got there, make an appointment.

In a few days, we’d drive back to McAllen and when we got there, make an appointment. At 160,000 miles I sold it for a modest amount of money to the man who cut our lawns, and we bought a new 2002 Sienna, the vehicle I often have mentioned here over the years.

That Caravan was an absolutely horrid vehicle. So, I have an extreme prejudice against high mileage Dodge Caravans, or anything else that says Dodge on it. I can believe they might (or might not) do okay when they are new. But. I guarantee you I am never going to find out. Not even if someone offers me one free. Not worth it.

And, yes, once on our way home from Amarillo, the transmission simply ceased moving power to the wheels. Deader than a door nail, whatever that old saw means. We had to have it towed home, maybe 100 miles or so.

Yeah, I guess I’m being pretty unrealistic. I’m basing my needs on three basic requirements:

  1. Meets the minimum specs to be driven as an Uber vehicle (my secondary income source)
  2. Ability to carry big things both inside and with a trailer, in my case, pinball machines (my hobby and tertiary income source)
  3. Good scores with NHTSA and IIHS. I have a sort of…automotive safety fetish. My first car was a 1995 Volvo 850 Turbo and what turned me on the most about it was that it was the first production car with side impact airbags.

If it weren’t for Uber, I’d probably be looking for a 1993 Volvo 240 Wagon to to use and abuse. If I can get full time hours again by the time I can sell my car and no longer need to do the Uber thing, I’d much rather a 240, or maybe a 740 TIc wagon.

Generally speaking, I don’t like newer cars…

Every new car made is safer than those old things in your post. And yes you are being unrealistic. You need a van-problem solved.