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I need a small camping car to replace Scion xA

I have a 2005 Scion xA. It had 103,000 miles when I bought it 4 years ago and it now has 135,000 miles. I like it quite a lot but it’s slightly small for my use. It’s in good condition, although the speedometer doesn’t work. Otherwise it has been very reliable. I paid $7000 for it and it’s paid off. I’m satisfied with the way it drives (so obviously I don’t how a nice car drives).

(1) My first question is whether I should sell it now, before it depreciates any further or develops a major problem. My experience with my last car (1997 Corolla) was that when it hit 140,000 miles it started having expensive problems that continued until the end at 220,000 miles. I don’t want to go through that again. I assume the Scion xA is a better car than the older-generation Corolla??

(2) If I sell it, what should I replace it with? It has to be a hatchback. I take a lot of complicated camping trips, with equipment for kayaking, biking, and hiking stuffed in and on the car. The Scion xA is small for that purpose, even though I travel alone and have the rear seats folded down. It gets chaotic and I spend most of my time looking for and rearranging stuff in the car. I would like to get something like a Toyota Rav 4 but I can’t afford it. Plus it’s a bit tall and hard for me to load a kayak on the roof. I’m not fond of the Honda Fit, either inside or outside. A Subaru Outback might work, but I went through the head gasket problem with a friend and am leery of Subaru. I would be buying used and looking to spend about $7000. Is there a hatchback that would be just a bit larger than the Scion xA? Reliability is paramount. A square rear (like the Scion xA) is an asset for interior space, as are rear seats that fold flat (I never, ever use the back seats). It must be an automatic. Any ideas?

2008-09 Audi A3 Hatchback is probably the best in this category.

What about a small pickup truck like the Ford Ranger? The Tacoma and Frontier may be too popular to get a good price on. The Ranger is less popular and that usually translates into lower resale value; good news for you. They were produced until 2011. If the prices are attractive near you, test drive one and see if it works for you.

How about a Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Vibe?

Matrix/Vibe is a good suggestion. Not sure how a 10 year old Audi could be considered reliable.

Could also look into a Kia Soul, or a Hyundai Accent or Veloster. They won’t be fast, but they have a lot of cargo room.

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The car you have is fairly reliable, as far as I know, and 135k isn’t that high for mileage. Any car you buy for 7k will probably also need repairs at some point not far off. A minivan would have a lot more space and still be economical. A small pickup like the Ranger would be good if you want 4x4, can put a camper shell on it. I just made my S10 truck into a low budget camper. I put a cot with a mattress in it, shelving for storage and a solar panel on the camper shell top. I plan to go extended camping South West most of the Winter.

You might need to shop around a little but a 2008 or slightly newer Scion XB could be had for about $7,000. Might not be that much bigger than what you have but has a pretty good reputation for reliability.

I have thought about the xB and xD. I dislike the appearance of both but they’re still on my list of possibilities. What I really want is an xA stretch out 15% larger.

Does anyone have an opinion on the Subaru Outback and the infamous head gasket problem? I guess Subaru is claiming the problem has been solved, but I spoke with a guy who was the manager at a Subaru dealership service garage and he said it has not been solved.

Still trying to find out exactly what years are better than others but my older brother has had his 2006 non outback Legacy Wagon since buying it brand new, with all the services done by the shop that he trusts to a level that is hard to really describe, they suggested the car over the list of Audi’s he had in mind. An indie Subaru shop may have a different take on the issue and a better idea of what to look out for.

As far as I know, the problem is gone. The Forester is cheaper and has more room.

Have you considered the Honda Fit? Very reliable and durable, kind of fun to drive, very versatile interior spaces, surprisingly large inside.

I think the Scion xB recommendation is great. They have a HUGE amount of interior room for their size. I’d look at the later generation (2007 or newer).

I really liked the Scion Xb. Probably the roomiest econo car there is. Wasn’t very pretty but very functional.

I like my Honda CRV. The data suggests that they are reliable up thru 2011.

??? Have no idea what that means unless the 2012 to 2017 are not reliable.

The 2017 Consumer Reports Buying Guide covers 2010-2015; its Used Car Verdict gives 2010 and 2011 its maximum 2 up-arrows; 2012 one up-arrow; 2013 and 2014 2 up-arrows; and 2015 an I, which may mean incomplete data.

It is solved for a new Subaru, but for what you want to spend, your getting into the bad years. However if you get one that has just had the head gasket replaced, I hear the replacement gaskets last much longer, so you could be getting a good deal.

I hope that’s true because previously I believe they lasted about 80,000 miles, meaning you could change them TWICE if you kept the car long enough.

I also heard a few years ago that some parts stores were still stocking the old gaskets. When I helped a friend find parts I had to research the stock numbers to avoid old stock. Maybe that has all been cleared out now.

It’s too bad the Scion xB only gets 28 mpg highway. I get 33 with the xA, sometimes 35 for long distances.

I was disappointed that Toyota stopped making the great xA, and really disappointed when they cancelled the whole brand. I know it was designed for young folks, but the xA is a perfect car for older people who want a small, efficient vehicle.

What do you think of looking for a low-mileage xA and adding some roof-top storage for my trips? There seem to be some xA’s available with mileage in the 50k’s. I realize these cars are 12 or so years old now.

Does anyone recommend simply holding onto my current car? How long??

Tailwind, as for holding on to your present vehicle that is something only you can decide. As for a replacement just look at online ads and when something seems likely go look at it. You know what you carry with you camping and how much space you need.