Pick my new (used) car

I have a 1996 Chevy Lumina with 160k on it. Technically, the car still runs pretty well, but I’ve been thinking of upgrading. The trouble is, the Lumina has a couple of features that have spoiled me:

1.Galvanized Body Panels. The car is highly rust resistant.

2.Stainless Steel Exhaust. The Lumina is the only car I’ve ever owned where I’ve never had to touch the exhaust system. Not once in seven years.

My Lumina has been a terrific vehicle in a number of ways. It’s very reliable and very durable. Its only real drawbacks are ones you’d find in any normal passenger car: basically, it doesn’t haul stuff too well (and, of course, it’s old). I’m increasingly interested in utility as of late, being able to carry bigger stuff (furniture, camping gear, etc) around if I have to. So basically, I am looking for a smaller sized pickup, SUV or even a hatch-back with a high reliability/durability factor. Also, I’m not made of money, and I can’t really spend over $10k. So, I’m looking for suggestions as to what kind of vehicles may fit my criteria.

Sounds to me you have New Paint Fever.

Seriosly, if you only have $10,000 to spend, I suggest you keep driving what you have and save your money. The only real reason you give for wanting a newer car is because “it doesn’t haul stuff too well”. Well, how often do you have to haul stuff? If you are like most people, you don’t do it often enough to justify a different vehicle. Get a small trailer to pull behind your car when you need to haul the occassional item.

As far as it getting old, sure it is. So will a newer one. But by driving your old reliable car as long as you can, the more you can save to get something even better.

I know this isn’t the type answer you were looking for, but it’s what I would do.

Galvanized body panels are actually fairly commonplace nowadays, and stainless steel exhaust components are not uncommon either. If those were your only criteria, that wouldn’t narrow down your search very much.

However, your desire to be able to carry more cargo suggests either a small station wagon or a small SUV. If you are looking for reliability, I would suggest looking at Japanese hatchbacks/station wagons/cross-over SUVs in your price category. Just be sure to have any potential purchase inspected by a trusted mechanic. There is a good chance that the vehicle will have many galvanized body panels and also a stainless steel exhaust system.

I agree with the previous post. GM went to great lengths to increase durability when they launched the Lumina; good rust protection, ss exhaust, and major items were tested twice as long as previously. By now most cars have that upgraded qualiity as well. I would keep the car and buy one of those fold-up compact trailers, with a 800-1000 lb capacity. Should set you back about 800-900 dollars. If you really want to trade up, a good used minivan with only the basic equipment will carry a lot with the rear seat removed. Most people who buy a truck so they “can carry some things” end up regretting it because of the poor gas mileage, rough ride, lack of passenger space, and no trunk. Clic and Clac have received countless calls and letters on this subject!

A minivan has all the style of… So,not that. You could use a full sized pickup 2WD and it won’t murder you on gas mileage. I don’t like those smaller ones.

Why not keep the Lumina and buy a small van for hauling, etc. The Lumina has little value and may have many miles left in it. And $10,000 should buy a good van or SUV, even.

As usual, I will recommend a Saab hatchback or Saab wagon.


  1. Safety (not only in a collision, but also in collision avoidance)
  2. Economy (near 30 mpg)
  3. Reliability (our 2 Saabs were Toyota-like through 160,000 miles when sold)
  4. Used Saabs are a bargain due to depreciation, which is unfounded)
  5. Utility is amazingly good (add a Thule roof rack if you need it)
  6. Fun to drive (decidely not Toyota-like or Honda-like)

For our two Saabs, both had original exhaust systems, and original suspensions when sold at 160K miles.
We are in the south now, but both Saabs where used in Massachusetts with salty winters.

For $10,000 you can get a nice 2000-2003 9-5 hatchback or wagon with 70-100 k miles.

Or, we’ve had similar good luck with our 17 year old Lexus LS400; original exhaust and suspension at 220K miles. The Lexus is not as good regarding utility, and a roof rack just doesn’t seem right on one of these.

You could get a 2003 or earlier Nissan Frontier (not the crew cab). My cousin has one and she loves it.