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Sheila's next vehicle

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Sgaebel

Looking for a mid size or smaller SUV for winter driving in MN that has room for hauling totes of vending goods. I am not a big fan of crossovers simply because of their appearance-kind of a strange blend of SUV, station wagon and mini van. I prefer an SUV that looks like an SUV. Fuel economy is very imortant.

Priorities: Fuel economy / Exterior styling / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 5 years

Maximum price: US $ 15000

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Response from Dnslater

7:52 am April 19, 2017

While I am not a fan of crossover SUV's, they do fit the bill for what you are looking for as far as SUV traits combined with the need for mileage. Most larger truck based SUV's tend to get very poor mileage. The only semi-rugged looking compact SUV's that I can think of that also gets decent mileage is the Subaru Forester or the Jeep Patriot/Renegade. Unfortunately Jeep's aren't known for their reliability.

You can jump up to the midsize SUV class and you are looking at more space and some more truck like options, but highway mileage in the mid-low 20's. Thinking about options like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Jeep Grand Cherokee etc..... True truck based SUV's like a Nissan Xterra, Toyota 4Runner, etc.... tend to be heavier and get mileage of around 20mpg highway. Also as you move into these more expensive SUV's your budget will get you older cars with less reliability. Truck based models also tend to have higher floors in the cargo area and may hold less totes.

I guess my overall thought is that Rugged and SUV looking vehicles tend not to have traits that lend themselves to getting great mileage.

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Subaru Forester
Jeep Patriot
Jeep Renegade

Response from NormT

1:43 pm April 19, 2017

Response from jasonmreece

2:27 am April 20, 2017

A 2013-2014 Mazda CX-5 would be my top recommendation. With AWD, you'll get 26-27mpg overall, which is better than almost any competing models. They're also good looking, well made and a pleasure to drive. They have been very reliable since their introduction in late 2012. For $15k, you can easily find a 2013-2014 with AWD and under 80k miles. FYI, the 2013 CX-5 was only availble with a 2.0L engine while most 2014 models were upgraded to a 2.5L. The 2.0L is slightly more efficient, the 2.5L is significantly more powerful.

An alternative, although not as efficient, is a 2011-2012 Toyota RAV4.

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Response from Rjjalbert

5:40 pm April 20, 2017

My 2006 Toyota Sienna has been a jewel. Lots of room, reliable but had some maintenance at around 90,000 miles that was readily taken care of. Over all reliability has been better than any car/van I've owned in the past 30 years.
I've got 152,000 miles on it and hope to hit the 200,000 mile mark.

I think you can get a Sienna a few years old with carfax that will meet your needs for under $15,000.

Although I don't "need" the room I love having the room and recall a backpacking trip with four large guys where we meet at a picnic area near the Long Trial in Vermont. The plan was to put up our tents and pack up in the morning for the hike. My buddies pitched their tents in a torrential downpour. I put my third row seats down, pitched the 2nd row seats forward, openend my sleeping bag and slept in the van. Very pleasant evening and no wet tent and clothes to handle in the morning :)

Good luck.

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Toyota Sienna

Response from NormT

7:32 pm April 20, 2017

That $400-600 every 95,000 miles or so for timing belt and water pump can add up as most other use timing chain that requires zero maintenance.

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Response from Dnslater

7:25 am April 21, 2017

There are actually a lot of cars that use belts still, so it is a mixed bag and probably not worth chosing a car over. Also, while they are less likely to fail catastrophicaly, they do stretch over time and the tensioners can also be a failure point, especially if you have oil pressure issues or use the wrong oil. If/when the chains or tensioners do need replaced, they can cost far more than belts.

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Response from Rjjalbert

7:31 am April 21, 2017

Excellent point. How many new cars have I asked, "is your timing belt a linked that needs zero maintenance?"
None ! I'll do that in the future but overall I like the room and other features in the Sienna. I doubt a new car
salesman will know what the timing belt is made of. Info like this is why I love this site. It's where the rubber meets the road. Not a lot of hype. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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Response from Rjjalbert

11:04 am April 21, 2017

Good point. Rubber and chain timing belts allhave problems eventually but if it comes down to the timing belt I would go with the chain/link type with positive tensioning device like the Audi and Volkswagen golf Alltrack have.

Lot of pros and cons when buying a car. Only you can decide what is most important for you.

Good info on this site. I like it.

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Response from jasonmreece

12:43 pm April 21, 2017

For my first 16 years of driving, I always owned Honda/Acura products. Paying for a timing belt and water pump replacement every 60k/90k miles was 'programmed' into me and I was hypervigilant about doing it slightly early just to be safe. I knew that some cars had timing chains, but I was such a Honda-phile that other car brands were irrelevant to me.

When I bought my first Mazda in 2005, I was excited to learn that the timing chain required no maintenance or scheduled replacement. On balance, I did have some issues like A/C system repairs and a premature clutch failure on the Mazda that never happened on any of my Hondas or Acuras. So, at least in my case, the maintenance and repair expenses were about the same in the end.

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