Want to downgrade size, upgrade MPG, AND buy American

I’ve never heard of a dog living 17 or 18 years. You may need to call Guinese Book of Records.

Not even close:
“An Australian Cattle-dog named Bluey, owned by Les hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia, was obtained as a puppy in 1910 and worked among cattle and sheep for nearly 20 years. He was put to sleep on November 14, 1939 at the age of 29 years, 5 months.”

I have been very very happy with my Ford Explorer. I am on my 2nd one which is now pushing 140 K, and 12 years old. When it goes, I am getting an Escape hybrid. However, for your needs, a regular Explorer now has 3 rows of seats. While the mileage could be better, the room would be great for you. I am very impressed by Ford’s reliability for the past decade +. I can’t vouch for where it is made, but the nameplate is American. (I have been preaching “Buy American” since the early 1980’s. We haven’t been, and look at the predicament we’re in.

Oldschool, the neglect is mostly in appearance and outer body ? rest assured, the van has been adequately maintained on the inside (it helps that one of my members moonlights as a mechanic for Firestone!). It does have 120,000 miles on it.

Docnick, I will look up that book; thank you. In spite of my professed patriotism, I do try to keep an open mind. Having said that ?

PEColorado, My car history: Pinto, Escort, Ranger, Explorer, Venture ? husband has owned Chevy, F350, and now Ram. It is a personal preference which, yes, can override practicality! Few people look at labels as closely as I do, so if I get a vehicle w/an US Automaker?s name albeit not fully 100% US made, darn few would know and I?d still be able to promote ?Buy American!?

JTSanders: What a cool reference site ? thanks. It seems my Venture gets better mileage than expected ? must be my good driving (ha!).

Texases: Thanks ? now I?m feeling badly that my terrier was potentially only middle aged!!! (PEC, smaller dogs typically live longer lives, and 17 is not unheard of, FYI.)

Today?s Update: Just took our van back to the mechanic for a recheck on the “check engine light” messages … after the dark warnings from 1-1/2 weeks ago (before we reset the computer), the only thing that shows now is ?P0440 EVAP System Fault,? which could be as little as a faulty gas cap. Still ? the incentive to downgrade size and upgrade MPG is going strong. I?m waiting for a call back now from a friend who works for UAW ? my boss reminds me that IF we were to buy a vehicle, then NOW would be the best time.

It seems the Escape Hybrid (mentioned a couple of times in this thread), if bought used and affordable, might be a great option, even though it only seats five. I wouldn?t mind giving up a seat for a greener yet still spacious vehicle. Thank you all so much for your advice. If you have more, PLEASE keep it coming. With the pressure off from the check engine light, we?re NOT buying THIS week!!!


Grand Marquis and Crown Victorias are very roomy cars and the older ones have front bench seats. Gas mileage is about the same as a minivan. BUT they are made in St Thomas, CANADA, albeit by members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, a spin-off from the UAW!

From a soulmate label reader, I keep track of all the things we buy and their country of origin, on my computer. You may be surprised that a Toyota Camry and a Corolla have higher US manufacturing content than such "domestic’ cars as the Crown Victoria. These cars were deliberately built with maximum imported offshore components from Mexico and Spain to let them be qualified as “imports” by the EPA for fuel economy reasons (less penalties).

The main difference is the Toyota plants are non-union shops and the Ford plants in Canada and the US are union.

When we remodeled our kitchen and bathrooms most of the items (except the over the range micro) were US made; Fridge, Stove, Dishwasher, sinks, garburetor, etc. But the “American” taps with the lifetime warranty (Delta, Moen, etc) and other fixtures were all made in China.

With respect to the best time to buy a vehicle, “now” basically means 2009; this will be a very slow year worldwide for vehicle sales, and there is no hurry.

Hi, ok, this is off topic- about your dog, I used to work in a vet clinic so I learned quite a bit about animals (a lot more than I know about vehicle, ;-)), so anyways, dependent upon breed it is very possible,. For the smaller sized dogs, a lot of the toy breeds, the’ll go into their early to mid-20s (provided they have proper preventative care, healthy diet/nurturing environment, etc. etc.). Genetics and pure luck being on ones side don’t hurt much, either. Ok, anyways, I’m sorry - both about your car and your dog.

“A Flex with a 4 cylinder diesel would be perfect for OP.”

I don’t believe there are any engine options on the Flex. It comes with a 6-cyl gasoline engine.

since your looking for an american car and planning to buy used. pretty much anything you purchase would send profits to us. with the exception of some replacement parts. but dealer profit, repairs, sales taxes, etc will all stay here.

The funny thing about Dodge minivans is that the larger/largest engines get the best fuel mileage. I think the smaller engines struggle and burn more fuel trying to move the heavy vehicle about.

I think Dodge could really learn from Honda & Toyota in equipping their vehicles with one decent engine (Dodge has one) and transmission vs have a 4 cylinder(anemic and poor MPG), small V6 and larger V6(best MPG/engine).

What About New Cars?

I’m pretty much over ever buying new. I can afford it, but for me it’s a big waste of money. I have purchased, new, used, program, rentals, etcetera to reach this conclusion. However, I have read that with the economy the way it is right now and record discounts and incentives on new vehicles, one has to be careful not to spend more on a used car than a new one.

Like ElGrove, I buy only American badged cars. I realize some dollars from the car purchase go to other countries providing parts or assembly, but how much profit from the actual car sale (everthing considered, not just parts)goes over-seas when you purchase say, an Asian badged car vs. American? I want as much of my money going to the workers and fat cats at the big 3 as possible.

If some of these Toyotas have a “higher content” of U.S. made parts, for example, does that still translate into more total profit staying in the U.S. or does the balance of profit from the overall sale still favor corporate in Asia?

I don’t think you are going to find a smaller vehicle that gets any better fuel mileage than a minivan. 2 kids + 2 dogs + OP and spouse + stuff = minivan, mid-sized wagon, or SUV. The shear physics of what you are trying to get inside of a vehicle dictate a certain size. I’m thinking you should look at the Grand Caravan, a Ford Flex, or maybe the Chevrolet Traverse. Unless you are willing to make some concessions, you are going to need a vehicle about as big as your current vehicle. Forget about fuel mileage, you simply are not going to find an American vehicle can hold all the things you want to haul around and get any better fuel mileage than what you already have.

No American car company has made any significant profit in the last few years. As a taxpayer you are really footing the losses with the bailouts. The total profit on a car (if there is any)is small compared to the total contribution to the economy made by manufacturers and suppliers.

If Toyota builds a $20,000 (retail) car and makes $1200 profit on that car, the maximum transfer of dollars to Japan is $1200 if the whole car is made in the US. The multiplier of that remaining $18,800 is about 4 jobs generated downstream for every job in the selling price (Economics 101). If the local content is 90%, that’s still 3.6 jobs generated for every job in the sales price. And all Japanese car manufactureres now have design and engineering studios in the US as well.

A domestic company bleeding red ink and importing a lot of parts from overseas makes a worse contribution to the overall economy.

Prime examples of good US corporate citizens with overseas headquarters are Shell Oil, BP, Unilever, Philips Electronics (Norelco), Cadbury Chocolate, Siemens, and others. All maximize their economic activities (ie job creation) in the US and keep reinvesting.

Now if Chrysler is to survive with Fiat as a partner, it will import ALL of its engineering for cars from Fiat, import whole engines made in Italy, and numerous other parts from China, and finally slap on a US brand (underlined with the stars and stripes)and call it an American car! The total US content will be significantly less than Toyota’s but the “profit”, if there is any, will likely be used by Cerberus, the owners, to invest in Chinese growth companies.

As mentioned before, a Chevy Aveo is 100% imported from Korea with only the sales and marketing and after sales service (labor only) as US content over the life of the car. The Aveo does not have a single UAW labor hour in it!

If you want a good example of how globilization works go to Thailand. Thailand has no native car industry, but is the world’s second largest maufacturer of pickup trucks after the US and also makes a very large number of cars. Most Asian manufacturers have plants in Thailand, where they build vehicles from locally supplied parts. Most small Mitsubishi cars are made there.

Agree with FoDaddy that we are up against size limitations that no US vehicle can meet. See my first post where a minivan with the smallest engine would do the job. When Lee Iacoca invented the minivan he pondered how to get a typical US family with all their gear into the smallest package that would still be comfortable on a long trip.

Jt, I’m aware that the Flex is not availablem with a diesel; I’m trying to point out that the US market due to cheap gas and low taxes has not been moved to putting economy engines in larger vehicles. Going hybrid seems an expensive way to get the mileage up when a diesel can accomplish the same thing.

I vote for the Chevy Malibu.

The Malibu looks great, but at the very least we’d need to get a hatchback-type of car. I like the designs of the Equinox (low MPG), Saturn Vue (good MPG), and Escape (BEST MPG). Of course we can keep our 2001 van 'til it drops, but the lure of upgrading to a better MPG (even if it means losing 2 passenger seats) is strong: 22 mpg is good for now, and we’re SO used to the space, BUT these gas prices won’t last and something that gets 30 or more is a significant improvement (and of course more environmentally friendly). The dogs can always ride in the back … I’ve got to make sure a large crate fits into anything we buy. Hmmm … but we won’t be able to take our bikes, will we? Oh, there’s always the roof rack.

The final trade-off will be your decision. I would rent a smaller car that you are considering, such as a Ford Escape, and try it out for a weekend. When we had 2 kids, a dog and a camper trailer, the smallest car we had was a Ford Granada. We put the bike rack on the trailer, and when traveling without the trailer we had a Sears “Excargo” weather-proof roof carrier. The dog (small) sat between the kids on the back seat.

People often regret buying a vehicle that is just too small for their needs. Renting one for the weekend(quite cheap) is highly advised!

Good luck!

Repair costs for the three you mentioned aren’t too much higher than a Rav4. The Equinox is around 30% more and the other two are about 20% more. The estimates are based on the 2006 models so that some or all of the warranty will have expired. The takeaway is that you should not expect to pay two or three times as much for repairs just because it isn’t a Honda or Toyota. If you plan to keep it for a long time, don’t worry about resale value.

Saturn Vue Hybrid! 30+ MPG with ample room for 5 and a couple of dogs leashed in the back. The way we got ours was through the dealer from Enterprise a year old. Perfectly maintained and low miles. The only funkiness is the lack of a spare tire.