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Mid-size SUV for towing light loads, going on road trips, growing family. Expecting to put ~5,000mi/year on it.

The Right Car for Me:

This member has purchased a 2003 GMC Yukon.

Looking for a vehicle for my husband. We want a mid-size SUV with towing capability (light loads) and 4WD. It needs to have enough room to fit his 6'3'' self. He will be towing his canoe and utility trailer often during hunting season-short distances. We want room in the back for our dog. Definately need 4 doors for our growing family. Third row seat is not needed at this time. We would like to take it on road trips, as it should have more room than our PT Cruiser.He has a work truck for work, so his personal car does not get much use, and spends a lot of time in the driveway (no garage). He put about 5,000 miles per year on his last vehicle. With that in mind we don't want to spend more than $5,500 (why spend a lot of $$ on a vehicle that is not going to be used daily?). We would like this vehicle to be reliable and last a loooong time. We are unsure weather an older car with low miles or a newer car with high miles would be better. Domestic makes are preferred, personal preference is GM or Ford.

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 150000
Maximum age: 12 years

Maximum price: US $ 5500

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Response from mwcten

11:17 am September 16, 2014

Regarding old/low milage versus new/high milage, if you're putting only 5k a year on the vehicle, I would steer towards new/higher milage. If you were putting a lot more miles on, I would say steer towards old, low milage. Maybe this would be different in the salt-free south, but there are "miles related repairs" (engine failures; brakes, etc) and "age related repairs" (rusted brake lines, cracked hoses, etc). You're driving little enough that you won't incur miles related repairs that fast, and if your vehicle is new enough to avoid the age related repairs, you should be better off on average.

Plus, you should try to get vehicle with electronic stability control to reduce your odds of an accident/dying especially if you're towing, and in your price range, that's only going to be available on newer high milage vehicles.

If the space works for you, a Pontiac Vibe would be the longest lasting/cheapest to own $5500 domestic wagon/SUV you could find. Nominally it would be similar to the PT (dodge neon platform versus toyota corolla platform) but you might find the space works for you; it has reasonable room behind the back seat. And its available in awd with 1000 lb towing. It lacks the stability control, but is lower and less prone to roll.

Assuming that's too small, all of the domestic SUV's have pretty similar reliabilities. In your shoes, I would probably just look around for a babied, higher milage vehicle with ESC. Probably an 05+ Explorer or an 06+ Trailblazer from a private party seller.


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Ford Explorer
Chevrolet TrailBlazer
Pontiac Vibe

Response from mkaresh

1:18 pm September 17, 2014

Reliability is slightly iffy for both the TrailBlazer and the Explorer. Probably nothing huge, but a minor to moderate repair about once a year. Driving less will help, except possibly with the brakes, which can rust up if allowed to sit for a while with salt on them.

Between the two I prefer how the Explorer drives.

The reliability champ in this class is the Toyota 4Runner, but it'll also cost more to buy.


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Response from Bzimbug

2:21 pm September 29, 2014

What is not being mentioned here is that the Pontiac Vibe is really just a rebadged Toyota Matrix. Some are available with AWD as well. Reliability should be just like a Toyota, which is to say fairly bullit proof!


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Response from wcpowell12

9:06 pm September 29, 2014

We ended up buying a 2003 GMC Yukon, 127,000 miles, 4wd, brand new towing package and quite new tires. It has no visible body rust (yet) and is also fully loaded with leather, heated seats, moon roof etc, which is a bonus we were not really shopping for. It is bigger than what we were originally looking for, but we will appreciate the extra space. And it is replacing a 1995 GMC Sierra so we won't mind the gas mileage. We got it for $5,200 and the previous owner payed for the towing package to be put on. Based on our search this was a good price for the market in our area of Michigan. Thanks for the earlier replies!


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GMC Yukon
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