Need advice on next family SUV

First and foremost I am not a “car” guy so any help is greatly appreciated. We have a 2010 forester currently that drinks oil and the head gaskets are leaking for the 2nd time. Over all its been good but its time for a new car. This will be my wifes car and the family buggy. Our budget is 20k or under. We value fuel efficiency and reliability. My wife wants a Nissan rogue or a VW Tiguan and seems to be pretty against a RAV 4 or CRV . I have friends who have counseled us to not get either the VW or Nissan. So what are our options?

I suggest you head over to one of the large used car sellers like Carmax. There you will find tons of used SUVs you can test drive. That is the only way you’ll find one you and your wife like. CarMax doesn’t pay their salesman on commission and the prices are non negotiable so you can test as much as you want.

I’d suggest boosting your budget but you’ll see that when you start looking.


Consider a minivan, either a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna. Best vehicle for a family with kids, hands down.


I would look to a region where cars do not rust, and buy a low-mileage used Dodge Caravan, especially the generation which was made from 2001 to 2007. I can think of no better vehicle for hauling a family and its stuff, and this generation offers tremendous bang for the buck. I always liked these vans, as well as the 1996 to 2000 generation.

If a smaller vehicle would meet your needs, I’d get a used low-mileage 1997 to 2001 Toyota Camry. There is literally no car on Earth which offers more bang for the buck than this generation, and with millions of them still on the road, finding parts and service will be easy for a long time to come…perhaps longer than many much newer vehicles.

Consumer Reports is your friend, esp. their annual car issue every April, which includes evaluations of used cars.


And, if the OP bothers to consult that publication, he would find that the Rogue and the Tiguan lag FAR behind the RAV and the CRV in reliability.


I would not buy any 2001-2007 car. Much too old.


Of the vehicles you mention, I’d be leaning towards the Nissan Rogue. but only if you can get it w/a manual transmission or conventional automatic. I’d want to avoid Nissan’s CVT transmission. If a Rogue w/manual (or conventional automatic) isn’t for you, next up would be whatever HOnda offers in that market segment.

Since your budget is $20 K, you’ll most likely be looking at a used vehicle. Be sure to get it inspected by your own mechanic before finalizing the deal, called a pre-purchase inspection. You’ll pay $100-$150 for this service, money well spent. You might take a look at what the rental company sales lots have too. They offer pretty good cars, well-optioned, well maintained, usually around 3 years old, the sweet spot age-wise imo. Biggest problem w/rental car sales lots, nearly (more like totally) impossible to find one with a manual transmission.

Before making a final decision on a make/model, good idea to see what Consumer’s Reports Used Car Guide says, and check the forum search feature here, link upper right this page.

Toyota and Honda were nearby in the places I have lived. Nissan and any Volkswagon are probably out, especially the ones you can get for your price range. VW dealers were always too far apart. European parts were always too expensive and some of those countries can’t tell Miller beer from Champagne.

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Additionally Consumer Reports is available online at my public library. Maybe it’s online at your (OP) public library or they have paper copies in the stacks. Online car reviews often have reliability assessments for used SUVs. I like and use their True Cost to Own feature to estimate reliability. The lower the repair cost, the more reliable the model is. The maintenance cost is also instructive since maintenance is almost always more expensive than repairs, implying that cars are generally pretty reliable these days. Still, I’d think twice before buying a Nissan or VW.


Rav4 all the way. Honda ceased being honda after the Old Man died (1999?).

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Must be a good thing. Everyone I know that has owned a Honda has been pleased with it. I’ve had two Accords since 2005, my wife has driven a 2019 Ocyssey, and two daughters have 2020 Hondas, one a Passport and the other a CR-V.

You - and your associates - were lucky. I was not. My 2000 CRV had a failed injector @34K and I had to fight to get it replaced. @36,200, trans (MANUAL, MADE IN JAPAN!) input shaft bearing failed, and honda even refused to discuss any assistance in repairs. I got rid of all 4 hondas I had in the family except one (1998 Civic) that I sold just a couple of years ago. The next day after the crv ordeal, I was driving a 4Runner that still have and love after 20 years/302,000 miles. Never again shall I touch honda but it’s a free country, and you have the right to keep testing your luck.

I could say the same for you with Toyota. The wheels literally fell off brand new Toyota bz4x’s a couple of years ago, leading to a recall. They were off the market for several months until Toyota figured out how to keep the wheels on. My point isn’t that Toyotas are bad, but that any brand, even well respected ones like Toyota and Honda, can have problems.


I wonder if the 2023 Foresters have the same head gasket leak problem? Otherwise I’d suggest getting one of those

No Rogues come with a conventional automatic as far as I know

I can’t find a year that the Rogue was not a CVT (meaning they are all CVT’s), didn’t check every year, but (did check) most (years) of them and they were all CVT’s…

EDIT I may have not worded that quite right… lol… the () are edits

According to a couple of sources, they are all CVTs, including the AWD Rogue. Here’s a brief article describing the pros and cons of conventional and CVT transmissions.

Yeah I think that didn’t come across correctly, I meant that from everything I found said ALL Rogues are CVT’s to date…

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I found one link indicating a manual transmission was an option for a 2022 Rogue. I think it was for a “Rogue-Sport”. Is a “Rogue-Sport” the same as a “Rogue”?