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New Car Buying Advice?

I am 48, live in the suburbs of Boston and drive a 2004 Honda Element - 208,000 miles. Drive a lot for work, highway, not in traffic. Use the Element as the “utility” vehicle - can toss my mountain bike in the back, the dogs, groceries, planting material… We will be giving the Element to my nephew. My wife is driving a Volvo S80. We need to start thinking about a new car for me. In my twenties, I had a Corrolla, 30’s had a Jeep Wrangler, 40’s had a Volvo wagon (totaled in an accident) now the Element.

I am 6, 220 lbs, big, fit guy and cannot fit into a compact or subcompact car.

Would like to spend under $30K. What I am looking for is a safe vehicle, cool factor, fun to drive, gas mileage that is not horrible. Not looking for a luxury vehicle - I dont want to have to worry about the car getting dirty or scratched.

I have looked at the hybrids, VW diesels, pickup trucks,…and I am lost in all the choices.

I am leaning towards another Element or possibly a Jeep Wrangler. LOVED my Jeep!!!

Your thoughts, suggestions, alternative options are greatly appreciated.

Jeep Wrangler guy ? The new 4 Runner (maybe in 2wd) is in that vein and plenty large enough to tow and handle your toys. I don’t feel you need it, but they are cool though $30plus will get you only the base. Nissan xterra is the next choice. The most practical sounds like another Element though you had better hurry, they may not be making them anymore. Jeeps are horrible mileage wise and my only reason for not recommending them. Golfing buddy has the 4door model which he likes and another option for cool factor.

I believe Honda quit making the Element after the 2011 model year, but it sounds like another Element is just the thing for you.

A Wrangler won’t get anywhere near the fuel mileage an Element will get, and it probably won’t be anywhere near as reliable, either.

You didn’t mention how frequently you trade the cars. You might be a good candidate for a Volvo XC wagon, but I’d trade it at the time the warranty runs out as it will be a money pit to repair off warranty.

If you plan to keep the car for a while and rack up miles, another Element seems to fit your life style just fine. There really aren’t any choices that get decent mpg and carry as much and have the flexiblity of an Element. My son downsized from an Element to a Fit and is happy. He likes the mpg of the Fit and it seems to handle his “stuff” just fine.

The Jeep Wrangler will get awful mpg and isn’t a good highway car at all. If you must have one, just budget a lot more for fuel than you are spending to run the Element.

I agree with McP, if you like your Element, find a new 2011. Since you put on a lot of highway miles I’d think the Jeep would be a bad choice, not what I want to do that in.

Toyota pickup truck with a cap. You don’t want dog slobber and mountain bike grease inside a Volvo.

Wrangler is a toy made for college girls, not for grown men. Xterras are for the boys they date.

I also like the pick-up and cap for the bed idea. You probably want a second row, so look at crew cab models. A full size crew cab pickup will get around 20 MPG on the highway, while a small crew cab truck can get up to 25 MPG. Honda’s Ridgeline gets 20 MPG on the highway, and it is 4WD. At $25,000 it is not a bad buy. The full size crew cabs are all over $25,000. GM and Ford 1500 crew cabs start at $30,000.

Thanks for all your info and insight.

If the Jeep Wrangler had better gas mileage that would be the car for me. I loved my wrangler.

I will be looking at the 4 Runner and the Xterra this weekend!

Most likely will look at buying another Element. There is a large dealership nearby that has new 2010 and 2011 Elements on the lot that they are trying to sell. Maybe there is a deal to be had!

Thanks again !

6’? That’s it?

You should easily be able to fit in a compact car - though you may not want one.

None of the cars you listed would I consider “fun to drive”, unless you’re offroading in the Jeep. I wouldn’t even say any of them were particularly cool, either…

That said, there are solid choices for vehicles to get utility and decent mpg. Finding a leftover Element could be a good choice. Others I would consider are the Mazda5 and the Ford Transit Connect. Just like the Element is based on the Civic, the 5 and the Transit Connect are based on the 3 and the Focus (old version), respectively. Both can easily be had close to the $20k mark, and have gobs and gobs of space and utility.

Of those three, the 5, Transit Connect, and Element, I would ONLY consider the Mazda5 to be even remotely “stylish”, and even then they uglified it this year over the prior years. For fun to drive, only the 5 comes anything close to it - and even then it is pretty limited - all these vehicles have higher centers of gravity, which limits their handling capability.

The 5 and the TC are also rated with higher mpg than the Element… 10% or so better highway mpg…