Purchase options

My husband and I would like to replace his 1997 Nissan Pathfinder with a newer vehicle which gets better gas mileage. We have a family of 5, so one of the requirements is something that will actually fit 5 people and two small dogs. We are looking at a new Kia Sportage, and a used 2006 Honda Accord with about 6,000 miles. They would both cost about the same. Here’s the catch: the Honda has been in an accident, totalled by the insurance company, and rebuilt by a friend of ours who does really quality work. The Honda has had an entire new back end put on it. I’m tempted by the 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty offered by Kia, but don’t really know much about their vehicles. HELP!

As good as your friend may be, I’d run away from the Accord. This car is too important to take that kind of risk. The Kia Rondo would be a lot more space than the Sportage for the money, and should get better mileage than the Sportage. Kia quality these days is much improved (they’re made by Hyundai). Otherwise, there are plenty of used Accords, Camrys, and Altimas around. A used Avalon would have more room than any of these. Also, you might check out the Mazda 5 - a lot of room for the money.

I’d recommend against the Accord that was in an accident. No matter how well your friend put it back together it will never be the same car it was. There’s too many things that could go wrong. How would you like to get hit in the side to find out a small wiring problem caused an airbag failure? There’s a long list of things that can go wrong with a car that sees major repairs. Besides the paint work is rarely as good or durable as the factory job-which means you could have a two-tone car in 5 years+ years.

If I were you I’d consider a Honda Accord in the 2004-2005 year range which will save you from that initial depreciation hit, but still leave you with a fairly new vehicle. There’s not a big difference in fuel economy between the 4 cyl and the V6 models, so choose what you prefer driving. You might also consider a 2004-2005 Acura TL which is very reliable and very nice to drive, as well as luxurious. I would advise against the Kia Sportage-the reliability has been poor in Consumer Reports surveys and I don’t consider their build quality or driving experience to be nearly as good as Honda/Toyota/Nissan/Mazda/etc.

If price is a major issue I would investigate the 2006 Ford Fusion 4cyl which is quite reliable and affordable to maintain, and it drives well too. Not quite Japanese in its appointments, but better than a Kia. You could also look at a 2003 or later Toyota Avalon which is about as reliable as it gets.

Hope this helps some-good luck.

If your sole reason for dumping the Pathfinder is fuel mileage and savings and you really want to run the #'s with miles traveled/year X MPG(15MPG?) vs taking on the cost of purchase for something that is only going to get 10MPG at best better for a family of 5+2 furry friends.

Keep in mind Kia’s 100,000 mile warranty is not a “bumper to bumper” warranty. It is only a “limited drivetrain” warranty and a 10 year/100,000 mile “limited anti-perforation warranty,” (whatever that means). Their “limited basic” warranty only lasts five years or 60,000 miles. Almost every car company gives you a drivetrain warranty that lasts as long or longer. They just don’t feel a need to make their warranty a major marketing point like Kia does.

On a side note, I often wonder why a car company makes its warranty a major marketing point. Is it because their cars have a reputation of poor quality and the company is trying to overcome that reputation? Wouldn’t you rather own a car that doesn’t need to advertise its warranty because they are already known for making reliable vehicles?

Having said that, I would not pay that much for a used totalled and rebuilt vehicle. There are just too many things that could go wrong, and even if the car is in prestine condition, knowing its history could affect your satisfaction. For example, suppose your car needs a new air conditioning compressor next year. If you have owned the car since it was new, you might say to yourself, “The original lasted this long, so I’ll go ahead and get it replaced.” If it was a totalled and rebuilt used car, you might say to yourself, “I should have never bought this darn car.” Your attitude can affect your customer satisfaction, and a vehicle’s history can affect your attitude.

The Rondo has a 3rd row of seats, but there is no cargo space if the seats are used.

Understand, but at least they would have the ability to occasionally carry extras (friends of kids, etc). Sportage or Accord/etc can’t do that. Rest of the time, fold the third seat down and you’ll have lots of storage.