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Seeking suggestions for replacement SUV

My GF would like to get rid of her current vehicle, a 1998 Honda Passport, and get something newer before winter. Her Passport has held up fairly well, but with major rust on the frame, and over 200K on the odometer, it’s nearing time to put it out to pasture.

She doesn’t have a ton of money to spend, and we’re looking at used SUVs in the $5000-$8000 range. She’d prefer a 4x4 and a domestic vehicle this time, but nothing is set in stone. She’s test driven a Ford Escape, a Chevy Blazer, a Honda CRV and a Jeep Liberty so far. The Blazer was a plasticky P.O.S. that actually broke down during our test drive. I was neutral about the Ford. The Honda was cute, but kind of cramped and gutless. I was a little more impressed with the Liberty, as it was more comfortable, quieter, and had more options and a better control layout. She doesn’t like that the Liberty has only a 2-star rollover resistance rating. She’s also looking at an AWD Saturn Vue, though she’d prefer a selectable 4x4 vs. an AWD vehicle.

She doesn’t care about horsepower too much, but wants a safe, reasonably reliable vehicle that she can live with for at least 5 years, and that gets at least as good of mileage as her current one.

Any thoughts/suggestions?

What do you mean by domestic. Ford, GMC or Chrysler ? If you want something reasonabley reliable for only $8k, you will need to put as few restrictions on name as possible. I feel you will need to look for the best buy regardless of “name”. Start by looking at automotive issue of CR for possible buys.

Less than $8000 really limits the choices. A 2005 Chevy Equinox might be less than $8000. A 2005 Dodge Magnum SXT also has AWD, but it will have to be a higher mileage car. A 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS is also in her price range. I wouldn’t worry too much about rollover rating if she has to shop price. If she drives within its limits, any SUV will be a safe ride.

What can she get for the '98 Passport? Used car prices are crazy high right now. In your price range I’m not sure you can do much better than her current ride.

We have already found many available vehicles in her price range. Let’s assume that the used vehicle will be at least 7 years old and have 100K miles on it, and let’s forget ‘foreign’ vs ‘domestic’ for now.

I’m just looking for suggestions for vehicles that meet her criteria:

-SUV (or crossover) body style
-Safe (she’s mostly worried about rollover, having been in a rollover accident at one point)
-Reasonably reliable
-4x4

Ironically, the day we test drove the Escape, while we were test driving it, we passed a rollover accident that had just occurred, involving an Escape that was on its side. Apparently the driver was in the process of turning when they were struck by someone that ran a red light. Despite the fact that this could happen to almost any vehicle in these circumstances, it seemed almost like an ‘omen’, and further soured us on the vehicle.

How about a 2005 Outback wagon? I don’t know what the price would be, but they are not quite as top heavy as some of the models you have mentioned which might make her feel better about the stability. Saturn Vues have had issues with transmissions - so you would want to know if that had already been addressed. Outbacks had head gasket problems, but the 2005 Is a bit better that the first generation.

You can flip anything. It’s more how you drive, not what you drive. Lower/wider means that the vehicle is less likely to roll over.