How used a used car?

In November 2007 I was in an accident that left me with 2 badly broken ankles and a totaled Saab 9-5 wagon. The EMTs said that one reason I survived was because of my Saab. I am not able to walk with a walker, and have been okayed to swim so I am starting to look at cars. Because of the nature of the accident- a logging truck backing into a driveway while blocking both the north and southbound lanes (this is Maine)- there is a lawsuit outstanding and the driver has been indicted for aggravated driving to endanger. Settlement is unlikely for about a year so do I buy a pretty cheap car that will be good for a year while I am waiting for the settlement, or a mid range car that will be good for a couple of years, or a certified/warrantied car that will be good for quite some time. Money is tight but we can afford a reasonable car loan. And we are only considering very safe cars…Saab, Volvo, Audi… I would greatly appreciate opinions about how used a used car we should buy, as well as opinions about other likely contenders that would fit the safe car requirement. My limitations mean no cars that are too tall to get into, and I have to be able to get my walker/crutches into the front seat. Thanks.

Suggested car: The Ford Five Hundred/Mercury Montego is a large FWD car with good crash test ratings.

How used a car: I’d buy a good car that will last a few years. Any settlement could take quite a while to come to fruition. Budgeting as if there will be no settlement might not be a bad idea.


Modern (mid 2000’s - current) Honda and Subaru are tops for safety beyond the Euro makes listed.

If money is tight, I would avoid the European cars. There are plenty of safe cars that are not European and will offer a much lower cost of ownership.

I also don?t think an EMT has the qualifications in crash dynamics to conclude that the SAAB saved your life.

DITTO to Scrabbler’s suggestion.

Get a used 2006 or newer Ford Five Hundred. Ford has done remarkable jobs with relatively trouble free launches on some cars. The 05 Five Hundred was above average, but the 06 is proving even better in surveys. You can get an 06 certified used around here with a nice fat warranty and 30k on the odometer for about $14-14,500.

In case you didn’t know, this car runs on the same platform as the MUCH more expensive Volvo S80.

Consumer Reports lists it as average, I believe (which is actually almost indistinguishable from the top ratings, btw), while lists them as an average of 0.26 trips to the shop per year lower than the 06 Honda Accord, 06 Honda Civic, 07 4cylinder Camry, or 07 6cyl Camry (0.72), just for reference…

And naturally of interest to you is the SUPERB crash test ratings. You simply can’t beat them. They have basically the lowest insurance losses of any car (better than any Saab)…

And you can get about 30 mpg out of them on the open road…

I agree, buy some cheap domestic/ricer and drive it for a year or two until you are ready to buy a real car (try not to hit anything in the mean time). You can find something serviceable for about $5000 if you shop around. When you are ready to by a more expensive car, take a look at the crash ratings and find some thing that you like with decent ratings.

No Honda sedan really even comes close to the Five Hundred / Taurus for insurance injury-related losses per the IIHS. You have to go to a Pilot or Odyssey to even begin to approach the same crash protection, and those will cost you MUCH more in purchase price and gas costs…:

For reference:

Personal injury protection (lower is better)
Honda Accord coupe 148
Honda Civic 126
Honda Accord 121
Ford Five Hundred 87
Ford Five Hundred AWD 62

Bodily injury protection (lower is better)
Honda Accord coupe 127
Honda Accord 100
Honda Civic 98
Ford Five Hundred 68
Ford Five Hundred AWD 56

Medical payment (lower is better)
Honda Accord coupe 134
Honda Civic 125
Honda Accord 114
Ford Five Hundred 70
Ford Five Hundred AWD 64

There is a lot of good advice given above. Heed Loafer’s statement about the questionable value of the EMT’s comment – there’s nothing miraculous about Saab’s crash protection. Any other car of comparable size and weight would have served you about as well.

I support Craig’s view about getting a temporary car for a year. Anything of sufficient size and weight will offer you adequate crash protection, so don’t limit yourself to a small handful of European cars. Get what you can afford. After you receive your settlement you can review the situation again.

Insurance losses cited do not correlate to safety of vehicle in any direct manner. Losses are per vehicle and the rate of accidents is higher with Honda due to driver pool not the vehicle itself.

Those #'s are more useful for shopping for insurance on price.