Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Opinions on next used car welcome!

So I have a 1999 ford escort zx2 2.0 engine dohc and it’s time to part ways. I have a baby coming. Boyfriend says minivan I say station wagon or sedan. What’s a decent easy reliable car to fix? I would prefer
mostly American makes or models I’ve had the best luck with them. Anything after 2000. I liked my escort but I want something that’s rugged, will last a while (in northern New England) decently easy to fix, and generally cheap on maintenance, and repairs.

How much do you have to spend? I’d say with just one child a sedan is fine. We got a minivan when we had 3 children.

I’d suggest looking at a Chevy Cobalt or Chevy Malibu. To me, newer is better because older cars have repairs that are more like maintenance issues because the car is so old. If you can afford it, I’d look at 2006 or newer. You can find a 2006 Cobalt LT sedan w/ auto transmission for a little over $9000 from a dealer. A 2006 Malibu LT would be a little less than $10,000.

We had a Taurus wagon when our first was born, the wagon was fine for one. We bought a Windstar after our second.

I bought a Cobalt last year and have been pleased with it so far. Whatever you get, make sure it has 4 doors. From experience, a two door car and a baby is a bad idea.

If you have a baby seat or carrier, bring it with you when you go car shopping.

Good luck,

Ed B.

Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Matrix and the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute all come to mind. All can be had with all wheel drive if desired.

You don’t really need a minivan for one child. A nice station wagon will do, but there aren’t that many wagons out there.

Two of my favorites are the Ford Focus station wagon and the Pontiac Vibe.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would suggest a minivan for such a small family. A sedan will serve you just fine.

Even better would be a small wagon, but these are hard to come by these days. Look around for a compact hatchback. All of the above suggestions are good ones. I will add the Ford Fiesta and the Mazda3, both available as hatchbacks.

You have a lot of good choices. The price and condition of the vehicle will matter more than the make and model.

Minivan’s are great with kids especially if one other shows up. I own a small wagon as some suggested and find it okay but cramped with loading kids. My wife/I long for a 7 passenger since my kids have friends and also carpooling. However if you drive a lot there is a fuel pump penalty with 7 passenger vehicles.

If you don’t go minivan buy a mid size domestic sedan that suits your fancy. Small cars are okay but MPG savings for domestic smaller car is not substantial vs a midsize car. You also give up ride comfort, durability(IMHO), and potential of three kids in back buying small. Also the chances of finding a leather interior (substantially easier to clean) go way up in a midsize.

Good luck with your new addition.

I’m really liking a ford focus wagon. Thoughts? I agree the minivan is impractical, unless we were having twins. Thank god there’s only one!

Focus wagon? That is what I would get. Perfect choice.

If you are planning to have more than one kid, go ahead and get the minivan. Every time you trade in a vehicle because your needs change, you take a hit on new or used car premium, interest on a new loan, tax, title, fees, depreciation, etc. Avoid those costs by buying a car that will serve you long term.

Unfortunately, minivans are difficult to work on. You have to do a lot of work to get to most of the parts around the engine. If you need a minivan, you might also consider a crossover vehicle. The Honda CR-V and the Toyota Rav4 were once car-based SUVs, but these days, they are very nice crossover vehicles; minivans inside with the front end of an SUV. Chevy and Ford also make nice crossover vehicles.

If you plan to stop with one kid, I would consider a small economy four door car, like the Ford Focus wagon.

A Ford Focus, especially the wagon version, is an excellent choice. Even when it is time for a second child the Focus will still be the right car. Take good care of it and it will last many years. No need to even think about trading up until it finally wears out.