New Car Advice

I’m an outdoors person (cycling, hiking, camping, etc). I currently drive a 2003 Saturn VUE. It’s been a great vehicle, but someday I’ll need to get something new. My only complaint with my VUE is that the 2003 will not except a Yakima/Thule roof rack. So that is one requirement of anything new.

I’ve read some of the reviews on your site and really thought the Honda Element was going to be a good option. Then I looked at the MPG and was disappointed to see a max of 25. My VUE gets better than that.

Do you have any suggestions? I don’t need AWD. I’d rather have MPG than AWD.


You’re going to be hard pressed to find a crossover that gets over 25 MPG combined. The Hybrid Escape comes to mind. Don’t get fixated on fuel mileage, many people do. It’s actually one of the lesser expenses in car ownership.

Shop first for your hardest to fit priority, the roof rack capabilty.

Much like people with mobility adaption needs, the lack thereof is a deal breaker, no sale.

Even with 2wd, shop for ground clearance too.

VW Jetta TDI wagon. Diesel has 100 years on hybrid technology and gives equivalent MPG with less trouble or expense.


In addition to the gas mileage of the Element, you should be aware that this model was rated so low on ride, road noise, visibility, and driving position by Consumer Reports that they do not recommend it, despite its excellent reliability.

I don’t know about the rack details, but you might want to check out a Toyota Matrix. If you can find a dealership that still has any Pontiac Vibe models left, you should be aware that this is a Toyota Matrix with a Pontiac badge on it. Bearing a “loser” nameplate will get you the same car for a lower price.

“Bearing a “loser” nameplate will get you the same car for a lower price”

That certainly worked in the past, but might not with Pontiac. I checked Pontiac dealers within 100 miles when the closure announcement was made, and there were very few cars on the lot then, and it has been a while. But it’s certainly worth a few minutes on the net.

Yet Another Happy Owner Of A Car That CU Rates As A “Used Car To Avoid” And Gives Less Than Stellar Reliability Ratings.

Matthew, I am glad that your Saturn has been " . . . been a great vehicle, . . . " and gets better than 25 MPG.

I hope your Saturn continues to deliver much more Saturnfaction !


The Subaru Outback with the CVT transmission will get 30 mpg on the highway

Many AWD cars/suvs extract extra gas over their fwd counterpsrts, no more than on the order of manual v automatic. Check the figure comparisons. Most of the loss in mileage of SUVs is in wind resistance, weight and gear ratio.

21/28/24 for 2wd crv; 21/27/23 for awd crv…Similar incidental loss for RAV 4. How long do we keep saying awd extracts a big penalty. It’s more car dependent and deference is well withing individual driving habits.

Dump the VUE and get a Honda/RAV if you want better mileage and the advantages of an SUV, even with awd.

With a pod on the roof and a rear bumper or trailer hitch mounted bicycle rack, I don’t see why you can’t drive almost any vehicle of your choosing. I say this having gone camping/bicycling using a small station wagon similar to a Jetta Sport wagon with no roof pod or roof rack. We hauled two bicycles, a 6 x 8 cabin tent, a large cooler, two cots, a gas stove, food, clothes and more.

A Subaru Outback should work. I would be surprised if they don’t have roof rack capabilities, as they are built for the outdoors-type people. They should also get good gas mileage.