Should I buy a used rav4 or a mazda5 want to spend about 8k

Need advise. Any special reasons. Any exceptional years to look for or avoid?

Need high sitting vehicle
decent milage
low maintenance

They are both good vehicles. If both are well maintained, you may have lower overall costs from now on with the RAV4, but the difference will be small.

I would drive both and check the seat comfort and the all round visibility. You could also look at a Honda CRV, but it’s transmission will be less sturdy that the other two.

For only $8k, I would not limit myself to the choice of just these two cars. Consider ALL cars in the $8k range that are in this range and evaluate them on condition as determined by a trusted mechanic where BODY integrity will be utmost important, as much so as mechanics. You might find another car is a better buy with these qualities. IMO, if unnecessary, exclude Awd when talking cheap and decent mileage. @docnick mentions the CRV. There are others too.

I would agree with @dagosa get the vehicle in the best shape you can for your budget. The Mazda 5 is one that I have recommended to others in the past (2 co-workers and an uncle own 5’s) and is mechanically a Mazda 3 which has a great reputation. The Crv/Rav4 would be good choices as well but it all depends what shape the particular vehicle you are looking at is.


I believe a 8K RAV4 or Mazda 5 will be a “well used” or perhaps “used up” vehicle

I’d plan on spending a bit more, if that’s possible

If looking at a RAV4, AVOID the 2AZ-FE 4-cylinder. It has a lot of baggage, to say the least

Avoid the 2az-FE 4 cylinder motor ?

After a little, maybe not enough, research, that seems like avoiding nitrogen when you’re looking for breathable atmosphere. That’s the motor used by Toyota from 2004 to 2010 in a plethora of vehicles including just about all the RAVs that might be remotely available during that time, including the one I have. Getting the six for that price would be difficult. That means avoiding all Camrys of similar vintage, for a total if a gazillion vehicles. Might as well say, avoid Toyotas…Guess I now have a good reason now for dumping our 2005 RAV. Thanks for the heads up.

I’d avoid the awd Rav4 and CRV in that price range, look for a fwd model.

I can’t speak to the RAV4, never having driven one, but I did have a Mazda MPV once, and loved it. Of course it’s not the same model you are considering, but I’d certainly look at another Mazda if I were car shopping. You might want to consider a Honda product, perhaps a Civic. I drive a 2005 Civic for work and have discovered I love the car. It handles very well, and I love the steering. Lots of feedback from the road, and it really moves, considering it’s a four cylinder. My own car is a Ford Ranger, but I now wish also had a Civic.


Perhaps you have forgotten, but several months ago I referenced (but was unable to post it) a Toyota technical service bulletin which described what you were supposed to do WHEN the head bolt threads pulled out of the block . . . on the 2AZ-FE equipped Toyota vehicles.

The factory approved repair often entails replacing the block. There are aftermarket repair solutions out there, but they also involve some serious work.

The fact that it was their bread and butter engine for several years does NOT guarantee that Toyota got it right.

The 1MZ-FE V6 engine does not have this problem. A RAV4 with that engine is a better bet.

“After a little, may not enough, research”

Please explain exactly what you’re saying

You can add bunch of Scion models to the list of the 2AZ-FE engines. As an owner of '05 Camry I could not be happier owning a Toyota product with a known defect.


Your car has a known potential defect. That doesn’t mean it will happen. But it might.

Scion also has a TSB for those cars with the same engine

Here’s an interesting question for you specifically

If you had the TSB about the cylinder block in your hands before you bought the car, would you have hesitated before throwing the cash on the table?

To answer your question, I would say most probably not.

I have bought a lot of used cars, most with known potential issues. One last example was a Dodge Caravan (2000), bought in 2006. I knew these cars are known for transmission failures, but also knew that if I do regular ATF change the chance of this happening is much less. I also factored a transmission rebuilt and the headache associated with it in the purchase price and I would still be ahead compared to lets say a Honda or Toyota minivan. Said van was just sold last week with 160K miles and a smooth shifting transmission.

When I bought the Camry, it was a CPO off lease and I bought it to have less headache and I also was at a point that I could afford a more reliable car. Had I known it is prone to major engine failure, I would either pay less for it, or buy something more fun. Hence our newer car being a Mazda CX-9.


Thanks for the response

As for the Caravan, are most of the transmission failures directly caused by poor maintenance?

Or is that just a contributing factor?

The reason I ask is that some engines and/or transmissions are more forgiving of negligence than others.

" after a little mabe not enough research" just means I was looking for Toyotas which used this motor and may have not found enough examples. Understanding that as @galant adds Scions, I would miss a lot of other models as well. Toyota no longer makes the RAV with a v6 and it obviously did not sell enough of them to keep them in production, so getting a Toyota product with a motor other then the 4 cylinder in either the RAV or Camry that we’re referred to, would be nearly impossible.

Consumer Reports reliability surveys seems also to have missed this item. The motors in RAVs and Camrys from year 2004 to 2010 have shown reliability equal to or better then the models they compete against. Not saying they will not have problems. Just saying there is a block of legitimate people who have seemed to have avoided motor problems. If being a survey contributor can somehow keep me from having problems, guess I will keep up my subscription.

@ db4690;

The Dodge Caravan transmissions have had issues, mostly worked out by the late 90’s models. The biggest problem is lack of maintenance and also using the wrong ATF (instead of the ATF+4 called for).
As we all know, the everyday shop would tell you they used the “correct” ATF and they mean a generic fluid with maybe an unidentified additive. That is why I always do my own ATF change and if for any reason I can’t do it, I take it somewhere that would let me watch as they work and pour in the fluid I brought in myself.
My Caravan was only n=1 of many, but at least at 160K miles the transmission was fine. I can not say the same about the other parts on the car though :slight_smile:

As a rule of thumb for anybody who is shopping for Toyota products after the 2001 model, if it has the 2.4 engine, it might be affected. From what I have read the 2.5 4 cylinder is a better design.

You might want to consider a Honda product, perhaps a Civic.

A Civic is not what I’d call a ‘high sitting vehicle’; it’s more like a ‘butt scraping the road’ kind of vehicle.

Of the 2 choices, I’d go with the Mazda 5. For $8k it’ll likely be newer than a similarly priced Rav4.

IIRC, you need a vehicle for your dog walking business. Same shrimp? You should look at all small SUVs and minivans in your price range and only consider the ones in excellent condition. These are likely to be at or over 100,000 miles, and condition is more important than brand. You might also consider a 2006 Mazda MPV.

Thannks guys, good input. I test drove a mazda5 the other day, and I would love it, except sadly it sits too low for me. so looks like the next one is going to be a good rav4. My knees are my #1 priority and slipping in and out of the seat is the winning factor.

Any small SUV should work. We have friends with knee problems and they liked the Honda CR-V the most.

My knees are my #1 priority and slipping in and out of the seat is the winning factor.

I had knee surgery several years ago…and couldn’t get in and out of my wifes Accord while recovering. My Pathfinder was perfect. The seat was even with my butt…I just slid in. No strain on the knee what-so-ever.