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Used Car Recommendation?

Until recently, I owned a 2002 Chevy Silverado. It had the 5.3 V8 with 4WD. I averaged approximately 18 mpg/highway. I REALLY liked it! But about three weeks ago, I was in a car accident and my truck was totaled.

So now I need to purchase another vehicle. But I can’t afford to purchase anything new. I drive about 60 miles (mostly highway) every day to go to/from work. I’d like to take this “opportunity” to get something that gets better gas mileage. But I have a German Shepherd Dog and need something that will be able to fit her very large crate.

I’m pretty open-minded about what to buy. I’m okay with hatchback or small SUV (Escape/Blazer/etc), so long as it meets the two criteria: Decent/good gas mileage & ample capacity for toting a large dog crate.

Any suggestions?



P.S. I’m a volunteer firefighter. So it’s important to me that it handles well in inclement weather (snow, rain, etc). 4WD is a plus.

Pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore and test drive all that look interesting to you. Capacity, AWD, and mileage may be tough to get all in the same package.

Thanks for your input. Unfortunately, I’m not looking to purchase a new vehicle. So I’m not sure the “New Car Buyers’ Guide” would be particularly helpful to me.

Does anyone have any recommendations on specific vehicles to look at or stay away from?


There are as many car preferences as people. While I am a Toyota fan, American cars do well for the first 120,000 miles or so. A low mileage Dodge Caravan will get fairly good mileage and your dog will fit, also can be modestly priced. Have a trustworthy mechanic check it out.

If you want 4WD, then you should get it. However, few people need it. Wherever you drive your 4WD, most of the time you will see lots of people with 2WD driving right alongside. Most front wheel drive cars handle well in snow and rain, and on ice it matters little. And, it is noted here that when traction gets bad, those 4wd and SUV’s are in the ditch in large quantities.

I remember some years ago, I had a Chevrolet with limited slip differential. The minute it got slippery out, that car became totally unmanageable. When I said so, all the people who did not have one got real smart alecky, telling me I did not know how to drive it, even a few said I was so stupid I didn’t even know good traction when I had it. Morons.

The people who had owned them admitted they had the same experience. The minute it got slippery, the back end of the car tended to seek the ditch when starting out. One needed studded tires or chains, then they were unstoppable. My regular rear wheel drive did fine without studded tires and chains.

The reason I mention this is you seem to be setting up a real complex set of conditions. 4WD on most models means less mileage. Big means less mileage. Good mileage tends to be smaller. And, dragging around 4WD 300 miles a week can add up.

Get it anyway, it has an extensive listing of used cars, their reliability, and their recommendations both to buy and avoid. For what you want an Escape, CR-V, RAV4, or Forester (what we recently bought) would do well.

Consider an small, AWD wagon:

Volvo V50, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Matrix, Subaru Forester, and Subaru Impreza.

The Vibe/Matrix were AWD from 2003 through 2006.

They also publish a “Used Car Buyers’ Guide”.