Which used car?

I am currently used car shopping. I have a budget of $5,000, maybe a smidgen more, and need a car that’s reliable (mostly because I don’t have too much money to spend on fixing it).

I need to drive about 120-170 mi. per week, sometimes more if I go to NH or VT to go hiking, camping or kayaking.

I have looked at Jeep Wranglers (1998, 1999), Honda CRVs (1999), Toyota Rave 4s (1999), and New Beetles (1998, 1999, 2000). I can find these models in my price range, especially the Beetle, but I worry about the VW because of all the write-ups and recalls for the electrical system (brake lights) and water pumps. Do you think I should even be considering these cars and if not, what would you recommend?

i think you should be good with a the crv because hondas are very reliable and it saves gas. the crv will last very long than the other choices.

If reliability comes into the sentence skip Wrangler and New Beetles.

Concentrate on RAV4 and CRV, remember in all cases you are getting a 10 year old vehicle which is likely well worn and may require more cash.

That being said I would see what you can find that is 7yrs/150k or less. Otherwise be prepared to fork over some chunks of change doing repairs or maintenace(as Honda/Toyota owners call it). Personally if I were not cash rich I would see what is available for $5k and is in sedan/wagon form.

I agree, avoid the Beetle and Wrangler. Check with friends, relatives, aquaintances about any reliable cars they know of. Whatever you do, have it inspected by a trusted mechanic (about $100) BEFORE you buy it. With cars in this price range, it’s the maintenance history that’ll have a lot to do with the reliability, so try and find a one-owner car that comes with a record (not a claim) of regular maintenance.

The CRVs are good cars, they have 4WD and you can haul lots of stuff.

Do you carry a lot of gear when you camper or kayak? If you rent the kayak at your destination and don’t carry a lot of equipment, you could get a smaller vehicle like the Beetle. Otherwise, you need to look at least at hatch backs or larger vehicles. Consider a Matrix or Vibe, too. FWIW, they were available with AWD up through 2006. Test drive a Matrix or Vibe and see if you like them. The Pontiac Vibe can be serviced by any independent gatage, any GM dealer, and probably any Toyota dealer. IMO the Vibe will becone a Chevrolet after Pontiac shuts down, so there is little down side to the Vibe.

No on the Wrangler, not reliable and a gas hog. New Beatles are OK, but they have a higher than average repair history. CRV and RAVE 4 are good cars, but pricey. To get in your price range they will be older and/or higher mileage and will need some repairs.

To throw out an out of left field suggestion, how bout a Ford Taurus wagon? Not awful on gas, lots of room for stuff, good repair history, lots of mechanics know the car and parts are relatively cheap. You won’t have to buy a real old one to get within your $5,000 budget.

Agree; with the $5000 budget you don’t want AWD or 4WD, and avoid cars with expensive repair histories. In other words, a very common (easy to get fixed) 2WD car with a high depreciation rate. The Taurus wagon or Malibu Maxx (a large hatchback) fit the category, among others.

Dare to be dull and buy a Grand Marquis. They are reliable and inexpensive. You don’t drive much so it won’t make that much difference if you get 20 or 30 mpg. Insurance is low too.

I would suggest the one that is the best current condition and the one that best meets your needs. Since I can’t see the cars nor know you needs (and wants) that is about the best I can say.

Be sure to have a good mechanic check it out before you buy.