CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Looking for a car recommendation

I’m in the market for my next used vehicle. I’ve had a string of minivans most recently. That’s probably the most obvious answer for the replacement, but my wife would prefer anything else. :slight_smile:

Criteria:
… Family friendly
… $5k-$10k max
… Better than 20mpg would a plus
… Well under 100k miles preferred
… I usually prefer owning a car for 5 yrs+ rather than constantly trading
… Recently saw our first Chrysler Pacifica and thought it was sharp. I mention this only for style reference.

I have a huge list of “top ten”, “most affordable”, “family friendly”, “most reliable”, etc. but I figured you people here would narrow down my choices.

So… what say you?!

I think finding a $10k car that has less than 100k miles in good condition might be difficult today. The used car market is pinched, and so prices have been jacked up. Hell, you can get a couple grand for an old 89 Civic if you’re patient enough. It’s not uncommon for SUV’s/crossovers to be 10 grand for 150k miles if it’s from a good company.

It really comes down to how big.

Something like a Honda CRV may fit the bill.

But finding one for under $10k and it has to be at least 7 years old. It’s doable…but you’ll have to do a lot of searching to find the one that fits your list.

Thanks guys - exactly what I’m looking for. I realize I’m going to have to compromise somewhere.

The Pacificas (we actually saw two of them) both were 2005, had ±100k miles, and I’m told are gas hogs. Price and style were a fit, but I know nothing about them.

MikeInNH - The CR-V keeps coming up in lists, so that may be worth checking out. I’ve seen plenty but never been in one.

shadowfax - You’re right about prices. I know enough about cars to follow conversations, but that’s about it. 100k was always a rule of thumb, but it’s probably not the case anymore. If I were told which vehicles lived longer than that, I wouldn’t be uncomfortable going for higher miles.

Money is probably going to be the controlling factor. I have a couple cars we can unload to offset the price. We’re most likely looking for the best Crossover, SUV, or van (in that order of preference) that we can get for under $10k. (And I forgot to mention that AWD is a near-necessity for my wife.)

So… in addition to the CR-V, anything else still on my list? Are Pacificas worth considering? Anything else?

Thanks again!

Well, 100k certainly isn’t as bad as it was 30 years ago, but it’s still up there, especially since you have no idea how well or poorly it was maintained during that 100k. That’s a lot of miles to accumulate damage if some idiot refused to do oil changes or other preventative maintenance.

I wouldn’t get a Pacifica, no. But then I wouldn’t get any used Chrysler product that had over 100k miles, except possibly a Viper just because I like it more than I should :wink:

If you’re looking for a van, you might be able to get one cheap because they’re gas hogs and people aren’t as jazzed about them as they used to be. But then, they’re gas hogs.

AWD is going to add a lot of maintenance expense, and unless you’re slogging through 2 foot snowdrifts to get to your job as an emergency responder, you probably don’t need it. Just get a FWD and put a good set of winter tires on it when the snow flies.

All good points. (BTW, I’d take anything to the shop for a 30-pt inspection before buying, so that might help mitigate some of the unknown.)

Assuming a decent bill of health, any brands or models I should look at before resorting to a van? :slight_smile:

I skip the Pacifica, not great on reliability or mpgs. But would a CRV be big enough for your needs? That’s the first thing we need to know.

Fuel economy is a common complaint with the Pacifica, 13 to 15 MPG in the city. The AWD Pacifica wieghs about 4400 lbs., about the same as a 1/2 ton pickup truck.

Good to know texases.

Good question about room. I haven’t been in a CRV, so it’s all conjecture. Based on the photos, it looks doable though maybe on the snug side. Honda Pilot is roomy and comfortable - not sure how that compares. I’ve also been in Gr. Cherokee, Explorer, and those are fine. My wife’s 2002 2-door Blazer is way too tight, though maybe 4-door would open that up some.

Does that help at all?

@Nevada_545 - Yikes. I don’t own a refinery, so that’s probably out. Keep it in mind only for a rough idea of style that is appealing then.

Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, Chevy Equinox(?)

Do you really need a mini van? May be you should consider some other possibilities.

The 2-door Blazer is smaller by modern SUV standards; the newer Trailblazers, Grand Cherokees, and Explorers all have gotten much bigger since the late 90s. Cars are growing up, literally. The doggone Toyota Corolla is about as big as the previous generation Camry.

Vehicles that come to mind, in no particular order, are the Escape, CRV/Rav4 (but if the Blazer feels tight those might, too), 2005+ Grand Cherokee with the V6 (might be too pricey for a good one), Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander.

I’d throw the Ford Freestyle on the list, since it’s the same concept as the Pacifica, but I understand them not to be terribly reliable. You can probably pick one up for peanuts though…

If AWD is a necessity, how about a Subaru Outback or Forester? Subie’s the best selling brand in a number of snow states.

You should be able to find a good number of Outbacks and Foresters under $10K.

Thanks everyone. A number of cars I’m not familiar with have been mentioned - I’ll have to check them out.

@jscottsmith -

Pretty much ANYTHING will last over 100k nowadays if properly maintained.

And the prices can be obscene. Last week the Toyota dealer near here (one of the largest in the country) had a 2002 Ford Explorer with 300,000+ miles on it and they wanted $9,000. No freakin’ way.

Their “deal” is better this week - a BASE 2002 Chevrolet Cavailer with 150k for $4000. That thing likely didn’t cost much over $11000 brand new, and it was a miserable car then.

A different dealer wants $16,500 for a two year old Ford Fusion SE with 110,000 miles on it. I had the Ford dealer in town try to sell me a 2 year old 2008 Taurus with 95,000 miles for $19,000 two years ago… That car likely sold for ~$22,000 when brand new. Only a $3000 discount for 95,000 miles? No.

Or how about a salvage title 2007 Ford Fusion with 150,000 miles on it? Lowest price for a Fusion in town by nearly $3000, and they still want $5000. Next lowest price one has nearly 200,000 on it.

The nearest dealer even has 7 cars for sale with over 200,000 miles on them. 5 are GMs, 1 is a Ford, and 1 is a Freightliner commercial vehicle. They have nearly 50 used cars on their lot with over 100k on them. 100k is really nothing anymore.