We are 106,000+ car owners sharing real-world car information.

Join Us

Used, comfortable family car

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

aallured

I am looking for a 7 seater family car with captains chairs in the 2nd row rather than a bench seat. We are trying to balance low price (trying to stay out of debt) with years and low mileage. I'm looking for something with all the bells and whistles that will be a reliable family car. So far we have tried the Buick Enclave (which I really loved but am concerned about problems with older years), a Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country (not sure that we need all the space of a minivan with one child so far so I would prefer an SUV). I'm interested in checking out the Chevy Traverse (concerned about problems with the 2009-2012 models though), the Mazda CX9, and Honda Pilot (it doesn't have the captains chairs but Hondas are very reliable).

Priorities: Interior styling / Reliability & durability / Warranty, maintenance cost

Need minimum of 7 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 90000
Maximum age: 8 years

Maximum price: US $ 15000

« Return to results

Sign in or join TrueDelta to post your own thoughts.

Sort responses by likes

Response from NormT

9:04 pm March 10, 2018

The Lambda triplets were the most sold crossover and also the largest. Either the Acadia, Enclave, or the Traverse are a safe bet. Just make sure thr oil changes have been documented as the oil life monitor was calibrated for too long and it was killing engines.

If you are going to tow make sure it has towing option with wiring and additional cooling.

1

Link to this reponse

Buick Enclave
GMC Acadia Limited
Chevrolet Traverse

Response from AcuraT

1:51 pm March 11, 2018

I have to agree with NormT. Unfortunately, in this segment, there are just not that many good reliable options that truely fit 7. The Lexus RX L tries to do that, but the third row is too small. The LX is like a truck and the handling is terrible (so bad some car maganzines in the past said it was unacceptable). The GM ones mentioned drive better than the competition. As they do get older (over 100,000) they do tend to have more problems as you state however.

The only option I can think of outside of the GM triplets is the Toyota Highlander. It probably will hold up a "little" better but won't drive as well, but not as the bad options Lexus gives. Another model that is okay is the Mazda CX-9. But it has less space that the GM triplets and is not really any more reliable than GM.

The oil life monitor Norm mentioned was fixed on the later models - but the earlier models he is right, they were not calibrated correctly and were patched in many cases but not all (fix came in 2010 model year). I owned an Enclave from 2010 and put over 70,000 on it with really no issues over 6 years when I sold it because I did not need something that big anymore. Went back to driving my now 12 year old GM Saab 9-3 with 168,000 on it. The oil monitor works fine on that car.

1

Link to this reponse

Chevrolet Traverse
Toyota Highlander
Mazda CX-9

Response from LectroFuel

1:59 pm March 11, 2018

Skip the older years of the Enclave and Traverse. They are essentially the same car with the typical GM rebadge that saves them money. Later years (2015+) are the only reliable years. The earlier years had timing chain failures (average repair is $5,000), faulty traction/stability control that reduces engine power, and power steering failures ($1,300). Oh joy! Also, the Grand Caravan and Town and Country are terrible vans. They are more unreliable than the Traverse and Enclave and should be avoided at all costs. They have this computer in the electrical system that makes every little feature on the car malfunction. It's called theTotally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) and it is the command center for everything in the van and it always breaks.

NormT should not be trusted because he has to recommend GM products regardless if they are good or bad.

The Mazda CX-9 has been reliable, but is not as comfortable or spacious as the most other options. It handles better than probably any other midsized SUV.

The Honda Pilot has also been reliable and is one of the best used SUVs out there.

Look at some 2008 and newer Toyota Siennas. They were very reliable and drove like Lexuses. Minivans are much better cars for family use than SUVs. SUV's are inefficient wastes of space, but that is what people are going for these days. The Sienna is the only van with AWD. Why go with an unreliable Chrysler or Buick when you can get a reliable Toyota minivan that rides like a Lexus and holds more cargo with AWD?

The Toyota Highlander is the most reliable midsized SUV, more than the Pilot. I would look for a 2008 or newer. These drove like the Sienna; smooth, quiet, and little steering feel.

If you are willing to sacrifice some reliability for handling, the Honda Odyssey is a good choice. Hondas are not as reliable as Toyotas, but they are still pretty good.

Hondas and Toyotas generally are more expensive because they have greater resale value than most brands and are some of the most desirable used cars. Minivans have 3,500 lbs tow ratings with the tow package, 1,500 less than the Traverse, Acadia, and Enclave. Big deal. The GMs also get worse MPG and don't hold as much cargo. I have rented a 2015 Traverse and it barely had enought space to hold 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks with the back seats folded. It was comfortable, but inefficient, big on the outside, and small on the inside. The 3rd row was barely usable.

With your budget, I wouldn't look for a luxury SUV.

Please let us know of your decision, good luck!

0

Link to this reponse

Toyota Sienna
Toyota Highlander
Honda Pilot

Response from AcuraT

6:14 pm March 11, 2018

LectroFuel has good points. Note that the Honda's he recommends have transmission issues most years. Honda has a problem with the V6 engines. I should know, I owned two of them and both had transmission failures before 100,000 miles (one had two failures). Even the dealer when he gave me a ride in the Dealership pilot to pick up my car with a new transmission - it failed on the way back to the dealer and they had to pick us up in another Pilot!

Otherwise I agree with him (except on GM, I owned a 2010 Enclave for about 100,000 miles without the issues he mentions).

1

Link to this reponse

Response from aallured

7:04 pm March 11, 2018

LectroFuel, is there any way to know if the 2015s have really improved or is it just too early to know if those problems have been fixed? When the mileage increases on those will we start to see more problems? I have always been a Toyota or Honda delivery but have questioned that because my husbands 2006 RAV4 started burning oil at just 120,000.

thanks for all the detailed and helpful responses. How much would you recommend increasing our budget to get a reliable used suv?

3

Link to this reponse

Response from NormT

8:19 pm March 11, 2018

Buick Enclave from 2015 can be had for as low as $20K on cars dot com or autotrader websites. The Buick has a 4 year, 50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

1

Link to this reponse

Buick Enclave

Response from Dnslater

8:13 am March 12, 2018

Good suggestions above. When deciding about an SUV versus a Minivan, ask yourself how often you will have more than 4 people in the vehicle. If it is frequent, the minivan is the way to go because the third row is larger and much more accessible. The sliding doors are great in parking lots with kids. Mileage is better, etc.... Also with a minivan, you can remove seats and hold 4X8 plywood and drywall, 12' posts, etc... so the utility is unmatched.

Minivans don't do offroad well and tend to not tow heavy things well, so if these are among your needs, you should get an SUV. For most folks, the minivan would suit their needs better, but but buying cars is not always a rational choice and the "rugged image" of an SUV wins out. I'm a secure man and I'm not ashamed to say that I drove a Minivan for 6 years. I really enjoyed the practicality (kids, lumber, bikes, etc..) and today's minivans are actually pretty quick. I did my time and I'm glad to be back in a small fun car though! Good luck!

1

Link to this reponse

Response from AcuraT

2:30 pm March 12, 2018

The most reliable SUV you can buy is the Toyota Highlander. If reliablity is the thing you want most and are willing to give up handling, then that is what you want. Honda has too many transmission issues, and GM will give you fits if you keep your cars over 100,000 to 120,000 - usually with minor annoyances. While GM quality is much better today due to the adoption of six sigma like Toyota, it still does not quite match it still.

Price is where you live. Go to Truecar.com and the used car listing. Pick Toyota, and then the Higlander. It will list a lot of used cars in your zip code area. Will warn you now - they are expensive (you pay for that top reliablity). A 2013 base Highlander with just over 76,000 in my area is $15,595. It does have 4 wheel drive however. Raise the amount to $20,800 you can find a 2013 with 43,000 miles on it.

In comparison, a slightly less reliable Chevy Tranverse you can get a 2016 for $17,000 that has 36,000 miles. So you get three years newer and a few miles less for $3000 less.

Pricing does take into account reliablity for the most part. The discount on a Chevy is substantial but as reliable as it is, it won't match Toyota in most cases. While unfortunate your car burned oil from Toyota, it is less likely to have issues than other brands. However, as you found out, it is not impossible to have issues and in those cases that premium you pay on the used (or new) car is not worth it.

2

Link to this reponse

Response from LectroFuel

8:44 pm March 12, 2018

I actually meant to say the 2013 Traverse was the start of decent reliability. I would say most of those engine problems with the Traverse have been fixed for 2013+. 2013was a mild redesign, and starting that year somehow people aren't having nearly as many problems as the older ones. The Toyota Highlander will be more reliable. Even though the Highlander is more expensive, you'll probably pay for repairs with the Traverse that will exceed the expense of the Highlander. Neither the Chevy or Toyota handle well. Beneath the exterior design, the interior is all from 2008, which is just like the Highlander.

AcuraT and Dnslater had good points. For the Pilot, transmission problems were only from 2003 to 2005. I wouldn't buy those. 2006+ were the good years. We have also had a transmission partial-failure in my wife's 2002 Odyssey. It only had 24k miles when the transmission slipped a few gears and red lined. It sucks when it happened on the freeway, but restarting the car fixed it for a few more trips. So it wasn't a total failure, but just dangerous since she had to pull over on the busy freeway. Honda had already come out with a recall at the time and they replaced it for free. Many of the reports you hear about transmission failures at low mileage were because the owners ignored the recall notices. At 182k miles now, we've had no transmission problems since, but the engine misfired on a trip to Mammoth Lakes last month and set the CEL on for 350 miles until home. It drove fine and the CEL turned off this week on its own. Nonetheless, it has been a great family car and is the reason I know that minivans are much better for families unless you need to off-road or tow.

As for oil consumption, both Toyota and GM had oil consumption issues in a few of their cars. There were no consequences of the excessive oil burning in most of their cars. Your RAV4 was one of the years (2006-2008) that had some extreme oil consumption. The Highlander was not affected by this problem. The 2008-2017 Traverse was affected (the earlier, the more common), but I've seen much worse. 2008-2012 Traverses had the timing chain failures that resulted in almost $7,000 engine replacements. 2009-2011 Pilots had oil problems that resulted in no consquences.

You should always be willing to pay for a reliable used car. What is the purpose of owning a car that breaks down all the time? Except for the 2008-2012 Traverses and 2003-2005 Pilots, none of these cars are truly bad. Some are just more likely to have problems than others.

0

Link to this reponse

Response from aallured

10:10 pm March 14, 2018

We found a 2013 Acadia with only 35,000 for $20,000 so I am thinking that is our best option right now. Based on the fact that it's a newer model that's more reliable and the mileage is so low, I think that makes the most sense with our budget.

3

Link to this reponse

Response from NormT

9:34 am March 15, 2018

Make sure the dealership will provide free Carfax available. You should have less than 10 dealership visits for oil and filter change and tire rotation. I see a few that look similar to yours but the Carfax is not available and it has 29 records already. Something the dealership doesn't want you to see. Remember too Carfax is not an end all to buying a used car as an accident/repair might not have been recorded. So a visual inspection is important.

1

Link to this reponse

Response from AcuraT

10:09 am March 15, 2018

My brother has that exactly same vehicle and he bought it used a couple of years ago. He likes the SUV a lot and the only issue has been one electrical problem that is minor - the side view sensor has shorted out in the heavy snow he gets. Besides that, it runs great and carry his family of 5 comfortably (and grandparents if he needs to). Carfax is important and make sure regular maintenance has been done.

I have a checklist but I am not sure how to get it to you on how to buy a used car which I and my friends have used successfully. I have tricks such as holding a piece of paper to a tailpipe when you start the car - if it is sucked in, the vehcile probably has bad valves and you don't want it (not going to be a problem on that car you listed, but I have a lot of checks that could apply).

1

Link to this reponse

Response from aallured

12:18 am March 16, 2018

The CarFax seems a little strange. It was a lease for several years but then was up for sale at a dealer for 6 months before it was finally auctioned. Another dealer bought it, sold it to someone who only owned it for 3 months, and then sold it back to the dealer. I don't know if I should be concerned about that.

1

Link to this reponse

Response from aallured

12:19 am March 16, 2018

AcuraT, I would love to see your check list. Is it possible to post it here?

1

Link to this reponse

Response from LectroFuel

2:08 am March 16, 2018

The cars that have been sitting on the lot too long eventually are sent to an auction. Another dealer buys it for very cheap (the original dealer loses a lot of money). That part of the CarFax is normal. On the other hand, the guy who only owned it for 3 months concerns me. Something could be wrong with the car. Could you post a link here to the car listing? A lot can be told just though good pictures (like an unreported accident).

0

Link to this reponse

Response from aallured

10:10 am March 16, 2018

The first link is the 2013 Acadia with 35,000 miles that we've been talking about. I'm going to post the link to a couple other cars as well. Let me know what you think. The Enclave is a corporate car but the CarFax look good. I've heard good things about previous rentals and assume corporate would be the same but let me know of any red flags I'm not aware of.

2013 Acadia
https://www.nissansunnyvale.com/inventory/1GKKRRKD3DJ155746?utm_source=CarGurus&utm_medium=referral

2014 Acadia
https://www.dgdg.com/inventory/used-2014-gmc-acadia-sle-1-fwd-4d-sport-utility-1gkkrned8ej341756

2012 Enclave
http://www.billpearcemotors.com/inventory/2012/Buick/Enclave/NV/Reno/5GAKVDED8CJ366950/

1

Link to this reponse

Response from NormT

1:03 pm March 16, 2018

I'd like to see you get into one that has about one year left on the bumper-to-bumper warranty. GMC has 3 years 36,000 mile warranty or Buick has 4 years 50,000 mile warranty. CPO is included in the price and adds 12 months and 12,000 miles. It also extends powertrain warranty but cannot remember exactly the numbers.

If you like the largest crossover you are in the right ballpark. Have you driven one? So I'd look at title date usually found in Carfax report as very close to the in service date to start the warranty. For Acadia 2016 and Enclave 2015 as these will be priced $23K on up. Also if you live in an affluent area the choices will be slim and wouldn't be shy to ship a CPO vehicle to your door if you are not trading in. Shipping is about $1,000 from most of the country but as most dealerships will ship these days and sometimes the salesman will split thr difference with you.

You can use KBB.com and NADA.com to get estimates of thr price in that area it is for sale.

Lastly I'd ask if the bumpers or any body panel has been repainted and if the car has cigarette odor when opening the doors. Repaint jobs never match the factory to my liking and cigarette odor us mostly impossible to remove without adding a chemical odor.

Good luck and let us know how you do.

0

Link to this reponse

Response from AcuraT

5:14 pm March 16, 2018

I posted the list below, but it does not transcribe well so it comes out with a stream of text. not sure how to clean it up. Sorry.

  • Use Kelly Blue Book (kbb.com) to find out the average price of the car you are looking at in your area of the US or Canada to get an idea what you will have to pay to get it.
  • Names of previous owners and a number to contact them (particularly important if buying from a used car lot ? buying from individuals generally better, especially if they are honest or bad liars)
  • Check to make sure that paperwork on maintenance is available showing evidence that oil changes were done as scheduled as well as tune ups.
  • Check the VIN number on the driver's side of the dashboard looking through the windshield outside of the car (it is a long number ? the Vehicle Identification Number). If rivets holding it in place are clear and hollow, the car is in the clear. If the rivets have metal shards, or the VIN has scratch marks or is otherwise impacted, stay away from the car. It shows tampering.
  • Check the body of the car closely for damage or rust. Open doors, trunk, hood and look in seams for these items. Rust can collect here if the car was not cleaned often enough.
  • Open and close all doors to check for binding, squeaks, and other noises and problems.
  • Check under the mats to see if the carpeting is discolored/missing. If the carpeting can be pulled up without damaging the car, check the floorboards for rust. Carpets should not have a musty smell ? could indicate flooding at one point water saturation). Also check for wear/rust.
  • Check for overspray (excess paint) inside the door frames, and look for tape on the bottom of doors. Could be repairs made to cover damage. If you see new seat covers and/or carpeting, but the doors or dashboard show signs of wear, then steer clear of the car ? it shows that wear and tear have been covered up.
  • Check the wheel wells for rust (turn wheels fully right and left to check). Check for undercoating that can hide rust. Be suspicious of brand new rust proofing.
  • Check the muffler system for rust and discoloration. If either appears, may be facing a few hundred dollars in replacement fees.
  • Check lights and circuits to make sure all are in operating order (car off).
  • Check wipers and washers to make sure all are in operating order (car off).
  • Check brake lights (car off)
Check turn signals Check hazard lights Check Interior lights Check Emergency brake
  • Check under the hood with the engine off
    1. All belts and hoses for cracks and dry surface ? they may need replacing
    2. Is there corrosion or rust on the radiator? This will be expensive to replace.
    3. Check coolant for rust by opening the top to the radiator.
    4. Check battery and terminals for corrosion as well as battery cells if battery needs water (non-sealed). Can show lack of maintenance.
    5. Check tires for uneven wear (if worn on edges, out of alignment)
    6. Check for welds under the body ? indicates body damage (accident)
    7. Leave the hood open for step 12.
  • Check windows for stains ? will show leaks
    1. Check for missing handles on doors, control knobs on dashboard
    2. Check horn to see if it works
  • Start the car with someone watching the engine and the tailpipe
    1. Check for blue smoke out of the tailpipe ?can indicate an engine problem
    2. Check the gauges to see if working correctly (especially dummy lights in the dashboard)
    3. Check air conditioner
    4. Check defroster/heater
    5. Check brakes (push on with steady pressure for 30 seconds. If it starts sinking to the floor, you have a system leak which can be expensive)
  • Push the accelerator down gently, slowing increasing the pressure. Check under the hood simultaneously for knocking or leaking. Knocking could mean bad valves from low octane fuel.
  • Check for pulsing exhaust. If you are suspicious, there may be a bad valve. To test, hold a dollar bill up against the tailpipe. If it is pulled in at all, the valves are definitely bad and you should avoid the car unless you are willing to pay for an engine overhaul.
    1. Check for oil inside the tailpipe when the car is off. If it is there, the car burns oil and should be avoided.
    2. Shift transmission to neutral to reverse and back for clunk. If noise heard, you may have transmission problems on the horizon.
    3. Shift transmission to neutral to drive and back for clunk. See B.
  • By now, the engine has idled for five minutes. Check for oil pools by moving the car out of the way. If there are leaks, you are looking at expensive oil repairs.
  • Test Drive
    1. Move the car forward toward a second person that is watching at ground level (move head close to ground). Check the wheels for "crabbing" (moving in and out along the path). If seen, the wheels are out of alignment. In best case, an adjustment. In worst case, car has been in severe accident and should be avoided. Do the same with the second person behind the car and the car driven away from them to check the rear axle.
    2. Drive the car for at least 30 minutes if possible, pay for the gas if necessary.
    3. Check engine performance and noise it makes when doing it.
    4. Check brakes for grinding (indicates brake job)
    5. Check steering for looseness or clunks ? it may need expensive work, by twisting back and forth.
    6. From 10 mph, accelerate rapidly and listen for two gear shifts.
  • After the drive, check under the hood again with the engine still running. Look again for noises and leaks (steps 14 and 15)
  • Seat-mounted side airbags are indicated by a fabric tag, a sewn-in emblem or a labeled plastic panel somewhere on the outboard side of the front seats' backrests. It typically says "Side Airbag," "Airbag," "SRS Airbag" or simply "SRS" ? for Supplemental Restraint System.
  • Side curtain airbags have similar wording along the roof pillars, usually near the ceiling. The labeling often resides where the pillars meet the ceiling.
  • Antilock brakes show up via a dashboard indicator when you turn the car on. Somewhere around the gauges, look for a light that says "ABS" ? for Antilock Braking System ? to illuminate along with other warning lights. If the ABS or any other warning lights stay on when the car is running, however, it indicates a problem with the system in question (see #16b).
  • Electronic stability systems are harder to pick out because they go by various trade names, from Toyota's Vehicle Stability Control to Ford's AdvanceTrac. Most of these systems include the word "stability" to distinguish it from simple traction control.

3

Link to this reponse

Response from mkaresh

9:14 pm March 16, 2018

Great info above. The formatting info is in there--it looks good in the notification email we sent--and we'll see what we can do to make it display properly.

1

Link to this reponse

Response from LectroFuel

5:50 pm March 17, 2018

Those car listings are pretty iffy. The Enclave listing had a rear crankshaft oil seal replaced at under 5k miles. The car was serviced at only 400 miles after buying, which could mean anything. The rear shock absorber was replaced at 37k miles. The car was serviced again for something 100 miles later at a different shop. Sounds like this specific Enclave was not built with much precision.

The 2013 Acadia SLT-1 is a higher trim than the 2014 Acadia SLE. The 2013 SLT-1 you said had a wierd CarFax, but the website doesn't provide a CarFax. The 2014 SLE doesn't have any maintenance records and only shows that the dealer that is selling it replaced the tires and brakes. Between these two Acadias, the 2013 seems like the better choice.

I know I'm a Toyota fan, but that is only because they are reliable, solid cars. The Highlander rides smooth like the GMs, but has a smoother quieter powertrain, more available features, is not a stereotypical rental car, and is more reliable. I've found some other listings in Sunnyvale that are worth a look. They have good CarFaxes.

2013 Toyota Highlander Plus V6- this guy got his Highlander maintained (oil, filter, normal stuff) every 5k miles. Usually Toyotas are more expensive than GMs, but this has a comparable amount of miles and is pretty well equipped.

2013 Toyota Highlander Plus V6- Very similar to the one mentioned above. Well maintained.

2012 Toyota Highlander 4WD Limited - Also well-maintained, zero accidents. This one is very well-equipped with all the bells and whistles, close to Lexus quality. It has 4WD, navigation, leather, tri-zone auto climate control, JBL sound system, sunroof, power tailgate, bluetooth, push button start with smart key entry, heated seats, dual power seats with driver power lumbar and thigh extension, and the tow package. Slightly higher mileage than the other two, but not significant. The Highlanders last longer than any of its competitor SUVs. This is the best listing and I think you should test drive it. The car is in Burlingame for just under $20k.

0

Link to this reponse

Response from aallured

9:35 pm March 17, 2018

Keep the comments coming. I really appreciate all the input but am still unsure as to which way to go. Lectrofuel, we really weren't going to consider another Toyota but that 2012 Highlander Limited looks great. Thanks for sharing those options. It's definitely worth checking out for a test drive.

2

Link to this reponse

Response from NormT

9:45 pm March 17, 2018

Did you have a payment in mind? I think VW is putting people in the seats and I'm sure can find a price for you for an Atlas. Especially if you your arrangement will change in 3-years during a lease.

0

Link to this reponse

Sign in or join TrueDelta to post your own thoughts.

Return to top