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What's best used foreign car for mpg and safety?

We need a FOREIGN commuter car that’s safe and gets great m.p.g., better than the Volvo XC wagon my husband’s driving now. (He puts on 25K miles annually, country roads and highway.) VW Jetta diesel seems safe & gets great mpg, but he needs convincing on diesel, and the ones he can afford have 200K miles. (He won’t spend over $6K.) Volvo S40 seems safe but m.p.g. isn’t much better than Volvo wagon. Used Honda & Toyota seem expensive, but great m.p.g. – are they safe on highways & country roads full of deer? Our teenagers will drive this car too. (My husband will not consider a Prius, and we don’t have garage so electric is not option.) We’re in NC, so he has to have AC. Car MUST be foreign, as our amazing mechanic doesn’t fix American cars. Any ideas? Thanks.

For $6k I’d look at used intermediate 4-cylinders, like a Camry, Accord, Mazda 6, or Altima. Larger= better with deer and teen drivers. Volvos in that price range could be a real headache, and Volvos are no longer uniquely safe.

Your best bet is to go to a large news stand (like Barnes & Noble), and pick up a copy of the Consumer Reports Used Car Buyer’s Guide. This publication lists every make and model of passenger car that was sold in the US over the past 10 years or so, and includes information like safety ratings, frequency-of-repair ratings (I’m sure that you want something less expensive to keep running than that Volvo!), mpg info, and everything else that you might want to know before you start visiting used car lots.

Alternatively, you could take subjective suggestions from random strangers on this board who may have agendas somewhat different from yours. What seems like the ideal car to someone else may not be a good car for you, hence the importance of you personally looking at objective information, like that shown in the CR Buyer’s Guide.

Thanks to both of you. @Texases: Volvos aren’t uniquely safe? Aren’t they still the only car with entire steel cage around driver? Or is that sales pitch?
@VDC: Good ideas–I’ll get the mag. But I still like input from others. Oddly enough, our mechanic fixes Volvos more cheaply than I can get our Jeep fixed (which is why I’m unloading the Jeep too)

If you go back 15 years or more, Volvos did have a safety advantage over most other makes of cars. In recent years, many manufacturers have designed cars that are the equal of Volvo in terms of safety, and some are superior. If you are thinking of Volvos, based on the idea that they are uniquely safe, your information is very outdated.

As to Volvo vs. Jeep in terms of long-term repair costs, let us just say that neither of them is among the best in terms of reliability and low-cost repairs.

Like VDC said, no, they’re not special anymore. Here’s a good site that compares and ranks the safety of various cars. You’ll note that many makes rank near the top, not just Volvos.

When it comes to getting the attention of a deer in the wee hours, there’s nothing really safe. The accident will simply knock their legs out from under them, and they’ll pile into the windshield. The best advice I can give is to not make any sudden changes when you approach deer. Changes in vehicle noise notify them something is happening, and that’s when they bolt. They heard you miles ago, you just didn’t know they were there. BUT…if one decides to jump in front of you, there’s not a lot you can do but stomp on the brakes, and in general, slow down so you have more reaction time.

First, please define FOREIGN. Is it the Ford Fusion made in Mexico, the Honda Accord/Civic made in the US, the Chevy Aveo made in Korea, the Ford Transit van made in Turkey, or the Mazda cx-7 made in Japan?

"Car MUST be foreign, as our amazing mechanic doesn’t fix American cars. Any ideas? Thanks. "

Why do you want a car that needs to be fixed all the time?? $6K will buy a NICE Crown Vic and it never needs to be fixed…If your mechanic only worked on Panthers, he would starve to death…

Am I doing something wrong? Can’t find a car that passes the safety tests in “informed for life” charts. Not Volvo; not Honda; not Hummer! Any other quick comparison charts out there for safety, besides the US gov site? Better yet, any also include m.p.g.?

Gee, both my Acura and my Subaru were built in the USA. My Ford Crown Victoria was built in Canada.

What’s a “foreign” car?

I suggest an Accord or Camry. These are possibly the two best all-around sedans in the world.

Volvo? There’s nothing special about a Volvo anymore. ALL cars have a steel cage around the passenger compartment.

If your mechanic weren’t so butt-headed, I’d suggest the Ford Fusion, which has an excellent reputation for reliability and gets decent gas mileage.

I think this mechanic is used to making boat payments from his Volvo-owning customers and doesn’t want to lose his cash cow.

There are some excellent “American” cars, they’re just not necessarily built in America.

Volvo is owned by Geely, a Chinese car maker…

One of the better may be the Mexican made Ford. Your amazing mechanic can’t be that amazing if he doesn’t know the difference.

For a reasonably reliable car with a foreign badge on the hood, good gas mileage, with a budget of <$6k, you are pretty much limited to 10+ year old Asian makes. Look at Hyundai; you can get a whole lot more car than you will from Honda and Toyota for that budget, and still have an Asian nameplate on the hood.

Your mechanic has strange taste. I find GM and Ford to be among the easiest to repair, and even Chrysler (Jeep) is generally considered much easier to work on than Volvo.

Volvo mechanics make a lot more money…

“…our amazing mechanic doesn’t fix American cars.”

eb88, you need a new mechanic. Who is in charge here, anyway? You’re the customer, and he is supposed to work for you. If you buy an American car, and he turns his nose up at the business, then he doesn’t deserve your business.

“Any other quick comparison charts out there for safety, besides the US gov site? Better yet, any also include m.p.g.?”

The first link provides real crash pay-out information from all the insurers in the USA. The insurers use it to decide how much to charge you for auto insurance. Lower numbers are better, and it is normalized to use 100 as the average. The second link is the offset frontal crash rating system. Click on a car to see what the ratings are. Click on “select make” and “select model” if you want to see used cars. The third is the the US Government site for all gas mileage ratings. Click on the year and you will get a list of brands. Some of the older years (not new) have actual mileage reported by others visiting the web site.

I was wondering about this “mechanic only works on foreign cars” thing…around here, we have mechanics that are “import specialists” that work on only a few makes of foreign cars, one in particular does vw and audi…might see the odd bmw or volvo, never an american car, naever a mercedes…but I figure that is like caddyman said, they are kept plenty busy with those makes as it is…
So what does this mechanic work on? Anything that doesn’t say ford or gm? That’s odd to me…I mean…I am asking if you believe he will work on anything foreign or only “euro-foreign”?

Even funnier is the fact that the Ford Focus is a European design, later brought to the US market.