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Reliable family car

The Right Car for Me:

This member has purchased a 2006 Ford Escape.


Looking for a good solid, reliable car for my sister who has two kids. She prefers something a little smaller than a minivan but is open to a small one. Would like it to last at least 5-7 years or more, up to at least 200k. Thanks!

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Rear seat room & comfort / Fuel economy / Price or payments

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Hatch / Wagon / Minivan

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Family transporter / Errands about town / Long trips

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 120000
Maximum age: 12 years

Maximum price: US $ 5000

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Response from acetech09

4:00 pm May 5, 2015

Regarding brand: If your sister doesn't have much of a preference for how the car drives*, or too concerned about luxury (comfort, features)**, it's hard to look at anything but a Honda or Toyota, or possibly a Saturn.

Regarding bodystyle: You mention hatch/wagon, however if your sister doesn't have much of a preference for how the car drives*, it's worth taking a look at small SUVs/crossovers as well. They aren't much less fuel-efficient, and will have more room and a better driving position for general around-town activities.

So, down to specific cars:
- Corolla Wagon: Great all-rounder, but they stopped selling those in '96, if I recall correctly. If you can find one with low miles and in good condition, that can be a good bet.
- Saturn SW2/LW300 wagons: Really underrated cars. The SW2 is more of a bare-bones transport car, but you get Honda reliability at a fraction price. The LW300 the higher-line version, overall a bit finer around the edges, and also a great car. Both are somewhat rare though.
- Honda CR-V: A great car, but the problem is that everyone and their mother wants one of these. Used car prices are incredibly high. I'm almost certain you couldn't find one with your specified criteria. Due to the newfound popularity for crossovers, CRVs and similar are very expensive compared to wagon/hatchback alternatives.

I'm mildly assuming that your sister isn't interested too much in how the car drives*. This is mostly because people who do care about how a car drives* are generally enthusiasts who have more knowledge to come to car-buying conclusions themselves. If this isn't the case, I'd be glad to revise my recommendations. Same goes for if she prefers something more luxurious.

*Speed, handling, fun-ness, etc.
** Comfort, features, etc.


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Toyota Corolla
Saturn L-Series
Honda CR-V

Response from mkaresh

9:50 pm May 6, 2015

In an email to me the person who posted the request said his sister likes the Dodge Caliber and Durango--what about these?

I don't have a lot of faith in the Caliber going 200,000 miles. The Durango perhaps a bit more, but it's a much larger vehicle, and larger than she seemed interested in.

The Pontiac Vibe is similar in size and shape to the Caliber, but was engineered and manufactured by Toyota, so I have much more faith it will last. The Toyota Matrix is similar, but also likely to cost more.

Might she be willing to drive a car with a manual transmission? They're less expensive to operate and are less likely to have a transmission failure as the miles climb (though the clutch lining might have to be replaced).


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Pontiac Vibe
Toyota Matrix

Response from mishagos

10:02 am May 7, 2015

Response from mishagos

10:23 am May 21, 2015

Well, despite my best advice to buy the exceptionally clean 2005 Honda CR-V with only 115,000 miles on it, my sister wanted the 2006 4-cyl Ford Escape we saw with 127,000 miles. The Honda was only $900 more. Why would she do such a thing? Because she liked how it looked better.

I have no sister. :)

Not that the Escape is a terrible car but the CR-V was in amazing condition.

Priorities, I guess.


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Ford Escape
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