What car would you recommend?

I currently drive a 1994 Volvo 850 (165,000 mi) and have always loved it. Air conditioning system is not working and do not want to put out the money to have it repaired and the interior is slowly falling apart. I am thinking about my next car and based on my current driving patterns what would you suggest? I drive everyday to work (3 miles), kids schools are about 2 miles from home, ballpark is about 2 miles from home, mall is 7 miles away, etc. - all local driving. Husband drives a Ford Freestyle and it is too big. Any suggestions? New versus pre-owned and how about the new hybrids?

You’ve got to be more specific - # passengers, price, what you like, etc.

Since you seem to keep your cars a long time and you do mainly local driving…a hybrid may be right for you. But need to know other information before we can recommend information…like how many people…what size they are…do you haul a lot of stuff???

There are five in the family (3 kids - 12, 8 and 6) with wife being main driver. Would not haul large items in car. Would prefer a mid-size sedan-type car that I could get 12-18 years out of. Price is not really a factor and do not use car as a status symbol rather as a way to get around.

Frankly with that situation I would only have one car in the family. Everything except the mall is within easy walking distance. It will do the kids good to walk to school and the ballpark. When I lived about three miles from work (OK it was about 2.5 miles) I walked. It was good for me and saved money, even when fuel was really cheap.

I am not saying you are a bad person for wanting two cars or because you may drive your kids 2 miles to school, but before you automatically assume you need two cars, give some serious thought to cutting back to one. Think about the savings in fuel, car payments, insurance etc. Ask your doctor what he or she things about walking those few miles a day. Give it some serious thought.

One hybrid might work, the Camry, but good luck finding one. Any of the current mid-sized cars, Accord, Camry, Sonata, Altima, Malibu, could work, and you can go with a 4 or 6, depending on your likes. An Avalon would give you a bit more room.

I’d say a pre-owned Honda Accord with a 4 cylinder engine would be the smartest choice. An Accord that is 3 years old will have already taken the big depreciation hit, so economically it’s smart. More importantly though it has excellent reliability, good fuel mileage, is safe, and will offer you the potential of many years of service, and may go as many as 300,000 miles with diligent service. The Toyota Camry while reliable in my experience, doesn’t have the same quality of interior and the driving experience is not as enjoyable.

Whichever car you wind up choosing I would suggest you change your oil very often, as the type of driving you do is extremely hard on a car and its oil. Good luck.

A lot of people recommended a mid-size car, but I suggest a full size car. You don’t drive far in your Volvo and a newer, full-size car would be more like what you are used to. Mostly, it comes down to what you want to spend. Tell us how much, and we can recommend a new or used car in your range. If your children aren’t teens already, they will be soon. Since you are looking at a car, I asume ther are two or three children. With two, a mid-size car would work. With three, you really should consider a full size car.

Agree with the kids walking or riding bikes to shcool… Maybe a used, certified and warrantied small japanese car like honda, nissan, toyota. I have an 11yr old nissan sentra, great mileage and reliability. The used part will get you more car for your dollar, and the warranty will protect you for a while. I would avoid all american small cars as they still have larger engines, and are much less reliable.

Since you are interested in saving money and already have one large car for family outings, I would suggest a 3-5 year old economy car as a second car. A used Hyundai Elantra or Mazda Protege would not be too expensive and have god gas mileage. Both these cars are much less expensive to maintain and repair than yor money pit Volvo.

Where do you live Joseph??? Come to NH and WALK 2-3 miles in the middle of one of our 20" snow storms we had last year.

Kids have a LOT of other activities besides school. Like going to a friends who’s 2-5 miles away…soccer/baseball/basketball. I’ll venture to say it’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to live with 1 car when you have kids.

Agree with the kids walking or riding bikes to school.

Another poster who lives in the south.

Older Hyundais are troublesome and have less than great transmissions. Hyundai has improved by leaps and bounds in just the past 3 years, but the older ones I wouldn’t touch with a pole.

How many miles/year do you drive? You have to put on a lot to make a hybrid worth the extra expense. If you drive little, I am with JT, a full size car might be the best bargain. New and used Grand Marquis and Crown Victorias can be had for little money these days. They are rugged, reliable, and easy (inexpensive) to fix if they do break. 20 mpg around town is attainable if you don’t drive them hard.

I have ridden bicycles through a lot of snow, and not for recreation. I can’t recommend it for everyone.

Light snow…it can be done…Some of the storms we had last year…IMPOSSIBLE…And not to mention how much narrower the roads during the winter…and the ICE patches all over the place (especially in March). Every once in a while sure it can be done…but day-in-day-out…nope…not going to be possible.