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  NormT

At $30,000 for a 2016 the quietest and smoothest would be a Buick Envision Premium l. With it's Hyperstrut from suspension and among the twin-clutch AWD it achieved 55.5 mph in Consumer Reports emergency test or on par with Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-pace. Along with handling it has the best braking for it's segment according to Car & Driver testing. It is also quieter than a Lexus RX according to C&D.

It has real leather seats with heat front and rear, along with heated leather steering wheel. The tri-zone climate control will have you not freezing yourself while trying to keep your rear passengers cool like most of the otherSUVs. The HUD-heads up display is a nice feature where I keep the speedometwrfloating low on the windshield.

At $29,000 the Envision is over $10,000 less expensive than a Lexus NX200T where some of the options are not available at any price but are offered on the Buick.

Small SUV with smooth ride
  LectroFuel

I would lease a compact sedan/hatch for less than $149 a month since you are going to sell it soon. Of course you won't get any money back, but your daughter will be much safer in a new car than an old one.

If you want a used car perhaps a 2009 Corolla would do the trick. It has standard side curtain airbags front and rear, driver front, passenger front, and front side seat-mounted airbags. ESC was optional and became standard in 2010. On the 2009, ESC was available in every trim with an option package. It's an important feature because studies have shown that it reduces the fatality rate in car accidents by 50%. Before 2009, the Corolla did not have great safety scores. On any used car you buy, make sure there is no Takata airbag installed with the mechanic.

The 2010 Mazda 3 would be a less boring car, but is less comfortable than the Corolla. The hatchback would give you more versatility. You will need to buy a more expensive model to get the needed safety features. The manual transmission has a clutch that fails quickly, so maybe stick to the automatic.

These cars are reliable, but not as reliable as a new car.

vehicle for my daughter
  IndyIan

The 06-13 Suzuki Grand Vitara had 2 spd transfer case 4wd, and is probably the best other than a Jeep, or an Xterra if it isn't too big. I don't know if the newer CRV's have a 4wd lock button yet, but my 06 CRV needing some wheelspin to kick in the rear wheels makes it far more likely to get damaged if you need to follow a particular line through some rocks.
So if the GV or Xterra don't work for you, make sure the AWD system in whatever you get can be manually locked in before you spin.

I want a smallish SUV that can actually go off road.
  LectroFuel

If you don't need more than 5 passengers (or 2 rows), definitely don't get a three row SUV. They generally cost more, consume more gas, have less cargo space, and will not be as enjoyable to drive.

Also, what's your budget?

I wouldn't go with the Dodge Durango. It's good for towing and it's fast, but reliability is a weak point like most Chrysler-Fiat cars. It's one of the most old-feeling entries in the segment.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is better, but it's also an older outdated SUV. It is a great value though because you can get many features for the price.

Toyota Highlander is the best one you mentioned. It's smaller than the other two, but more reliable and up-to-date with interior tech.

I'm thinking you would like a small CUV more because it gives you a similar driving position but is easier to park and gets better MPGs. Drive the 2017/2018 Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The CR-V has the most cargo space. The CR-V and CX-5 have the best interiors

Wife's Next SUV
  NormT

"Seat belts?also humble and un-sexy?were not required by law a few decades ago, and wearing them was not commonplace. Today, side airbags aren't always standard?and as the safety bar ratchets ever higher, cars without them are lagging in safety ratings. The airbag effect shows in our list of the least-safe new cars on the market. In crash tests, a car with side airbags can be among the best performers; take the bags away, and its ratings can fall dramatically. Case in point:Toyota Motor'sCorolla four-door. It's popular, reliable and a good performer in crash tests?except for models without side airbags. Then it comes with the lowest possible side-protection ratings from the IIHS, and makes it onto our list." https://www.forbes.com/2006/10/30/safety-cars-airbags-forbeslife-vehicles-cx_dl_1031lsafe.html

What car should I buy next?
  Dnslater

Your criteria is pretty limiting, but you can easily find 2010 and above Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas around your price range with low miles, depending on your location. Not sure what Norm is referring too, as these cars easily meet your pricing/mileage criteria and have side curtain airbags.

What car should I buy next?
  mkaresh

It's due for a redesign, probably for the 2019 model year, as the current design was introduced in the 2013 model year and the CR-V was redesigned for 2017.

Unexpected purchase!
  usmc_jcr

First I've heard the RDX is being replaced soon... I have an excellent 2014 w/127K miles and thinking of getting the 2017/2018 RDX. What do you believe the RDX will be replaced with?

Unexpected purchase!
  NormT

if I was spending $23K on a sedan with some power I'd at at least drive a 2016-2017 Malibu Premier 2.0T with 250 hp . It is as quick as a Accord V6 but making 37 mpg highway, shorter braking to a stop from 60 mph, better handling...and it costs more than $10,000 less.

https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/689971505/overview/

The new Accord drops the V6 and replaces it with a 2.0T. Mazda 6 doesn't offer anything over 185 hp and no turbocharged engines.

http://www.motortrend.com/cars/chevrolet/malibu/2017/2017-chevrolet-malibu-20t-premier-first-test-review/

Next family sedan
  NormT

The 2016 Buick Envision Premium l or ll will be in the low $30's with about 10,000 miles or less as advertised on cars.com. The Premium ll includes NAV, cooled front seats(not just vented), articulating HID headlights with auto high beam, heatedbfrontnand rear seats, HUD (heads up display) to name a few. Here is a complete break down:

http://gmauthority.com/blog/2015/12/and-now-the-trim-levels-and-features-of-the-2016-buick-envision/

The standard tri-zone climate control and twin clutch AWD are unmatched at sub-$50,000 range.

Wife's Next SUV
  danlisahall

As another owner of a 2015 Outback, I echo this review. I would add that the safety features, including Eyesight, are top notch and well worth the extra cost.

Member Vehicle Review
  danlisahall

I would add the base VW GTI to your list. It has plenty of passing power, is quite comfortable for two, relatively comfortable for 4 assuming their are not large people - definitely better than volt - and fun to drive.

High MPG aggressive highway car yet safe
  JeffMartin

Yes, I just drove a new one and they did get it right. Unemployed Retired, not in the budget.
Thanks,
Jeff

Suspension
  masaraco@yahoo.com

I did not do anything to the suspension of my 2014 CX-9. I had the Touring with 18s. I lowered the tire pressure to give it a more compliant ride which did the trick. That being said I have a 2016 CX-9 now and the ride is 5x better with the redesign.....still on 18's.

Suspension
  JeffMartin

Thanks for the reply. I do have 18" wheels and avoided the Grand Touring for that reason. Our aging spines no longer like the 18's either. I've lowered the tire pressure from the recommended 35 psi to 33 which does help. I'm hoping someone has found a softer shock that would help solve the problem.

Suspension
  LectroFuel

Gassers don't get as many MPGs as hybrids. I drive a 2016 Prius Four, which is the current generation. When under hard acceleration in the Prius, the engine doesn't sound stressed, unlike my 2005 Prius. The Prius is a very reliable car, but the Volt has had some problems with it's engine, not much the electrical system. The Volt gets more range than the Prius Prime, has less controversial styling, and is faster. I find the Prius fast enough for highway use in, but going up a steep mountain is not what it's meant for. In stop and go SoCal traffic, I get around 70 MPG in my regular Prius. In mixed driving 70% highway I get 58 MPG driving pretty aggressively. When going over mountain passes and passing 18-wheelers, it's not fast but it doesn't make me nervous. The Prius is limited to 112 mph, 11 mph more than the Volt. I've gone 103 mph in my Prius when no traffic was around.

An added benefit to the Prius is that you get all the active safety features standard including blind spot moinotring. A cool feature is that the Prius can park itself. You only have to brake when it tells you and the steering wheel does the rest (it works suprisingly well). In the Prime you can get an almost-Tesla sized screen, which has mixed reviews (I like it). The Prime's pricing structure ends where the Volt's price starts at $34k without tax credits. When I drove and sat in the new Volt, I noticed that the interior and rear seat are MUCH smaller and cramped than my Prius. Regular Prius seats 5, Prius Prime and Volt seat 4 (Volt has an unusable 5th seat, Prime has 2 larger seats in the back). I thought the Volt and Prius/Prime drove pretty similar. Both pretty comfy rides and a small amount of road noise. The Volt was a little quicker off the line, but the engine didn't sound refined. Volt and Prius/Prime have the same safety ratings. Volt's price starts where the Prius and Prius Prime end, at $34k.

In the Prime, the trunk floor is raised by a couple inches and it seemed significantly smaller than my Prius in person. A good reason to go with the Prius is that Toyota has been making the Prius for 17 years and they have perfected their tried-and-true hybrid system. The switch from the EV to gas engine is almost undetectable, they have suppressed most of the engine noise, and the reliability is amazing. I have 250,000 original miles on my 2005 Prius and I've only replaced the battery once, the A/C compressor, and an inverter water pump as part of a free-fix recall.

Another newbie to the segment is the Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid or Plug-In, which I've heard is more engaging to drive than the Prius and gets better MPG but not by much. The powertrain is not as refined as the Prius and I'd question reliability for the first few years. Also, the Kia Niro is not as refined, but more of a conventional crossover/hatchback. It's MPG is a little less than the Prius and the cargo space is not that generous. Both the IONIQ and the Niro are faster than the Prius and give you 10 year/100,000 mile warranties. mKaresh posted his thoughts on the Niro recently on TrueDelta.

So, if you don't need the huge trunk, go for the Prius Prime, which will give you around 22 miles of EV range. When you run out of range, you can change the driving mode into "regular Prius mode" in which you get 54 MPG and often more.

High MPG aggressive highway car yet safe
  NormT

Personally, I would not recommend any used car in that price range to a loved one as they lack side airbags as standard and their crash worthiness on iihs testing.

My inlaws were looking at replacing their 2010 Corolla with older one. I told them that era of economy cars did not have side airbags like cars today. They eventually replaced it something from this decade.

What car should I buy next?
  NormT

August lease deals from Edmund's August $199 lease deals.

https://www.edmunds.com/car-leasing/monthly-199-lease-deals.html

There are two 24 month lease deals that are right about your $6,000 in payments. But at least you won't have to do any maintence or repairs as they are coverin oil changes and obviously the warranty covers that period. And you only pay taxes every month on the portion you rent, not all at once on a $6,000 car. You have the latest in crash worthiness and safety with a 2017 model.

The inlaws had their Corolla totaled by a tree. Insurance was going to give them $7,000 for it and they found another Corolla for similar price but older than 2010. Some of those $8,000 cara did not have side airbags as standard and was optional. I told them they would need to investigate whether it was a fully airbag one or not. The chances of getting the Takata aut bag recalled was a possibility too. They ponied up and bought a 2011 Camry for $11,000. So buyer beware.

vehicle for my daughter
  Dennyd75

Do you have the Grand Touring model with the 20" wheels? Several media sources cited the harsher ride with the 20" wheels. Our Sport had 18" wheels and had a pleasant ride. Switching to 18" wheels and tires (look for used OEM wheels to save some money) may be the most cost effective means of smoothing things out for you.

Suspension
  NormT

What is the weight, horsepower, and torque of the vehicle you have now? Can you plug in a vehicle at your work place and home with the hybrids?

If narrowed down to hybrids I'd choose the quickest and the one with the best handling, that is the Volt. It easily out handles the Prius and will provide more passing power when you need it. But I think they are speed limited to around 100 mph, which is easily obtained in passing two or more 18-wheelers by the Volt

Skip the V6's for passing power and go right to turbo-4's. They provide over 40 mpg at cruise in the smallest 1.4T and close to 40 mpg in 2.0T guise. I like the Buick Verano 2.0T when traveling hours along I-80 as it is the quietest compact car you can buy along with one of the smother riding ones. I would see 37 mpg, two way average, at 70 mph for hours on end.

If you want AWD the Buick Regal is a little bigger than the Verano but just as quiet and smooth. The Buick Encore will also see almost 40 mpg at the speed l ok mit and offer better visibility sitting up higher than a sedan and AWD option.

If you want to go arounder Japanese V6's this side of a GT-R, just ecu tune a 2.0T to over 350 lb-ft of torque and you'll never look back.




High MPG aggressive highway car yet safe
  LectroFuel

I'm just going to list the issues based on carcomplaints.com and TrueDelta.

The A/C blend door is a common complaint. It's what controls the A/C and whether it is on recirculation fresh air or defrost. $500 fix

The engine randomly dies and stalls often for no reason. Some say it's the power module. $900 fix

There is also a thing owners call the "death wobble". The truck violently shakes when going +65 mph. The shaking makes it hard to control the truck and is a safety issue. expensive

Starting with 2008, the 4x4 system would not engage and become stuck.

The 2010 was more reliable than the previous years.

How reliable is 06-2010 Dodge Ram 1500's?
  NormT

Again, Car & Driver does not provide the data for thier rankings. They test cars and also provide test comparisons and rank within the test. I think you are confused or being misleading.

Not everyone can afford new cars at $34,000. But a Luxury model that stickers for close to double that that can be had for$35,000 price is quite the bargain at one year old vehicle with a few thousand miles. For you to say a vehicle is not a good value and just avereage when someone who actually owns the car is telling you otherwise is being confrontational and misleading as you have never set foot in said vehicle. Consumer Reports has had a bias unless you cannot see through your rose colored glasses. What they are telling you is not always true and my example of them saying one thing and the data showing nothing that supports that they are slanted. Sometimes you have to read between the lines and think for yourself to get a truer picture of what marketing is going on.

Buick has the most safest cars on the road today.

https://blog.iseecars.com/study-buick-beats-out-volvo-to-have-the-greatest-percentage-of-the-safest-vehicles/



upscale, comfortable suv/crossover to ferry clients and my kids around town
  LectroFuel

@NormT http://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-does-c-d-test-cars

No, I don't drive cars for my job. Consumer Reports is one of the most respected research websites available. It's non-profit and they buy their cars anonymously so the dealer doesn't modify them for their journalists. I also read mkaresh's excellent reviews which are very in-depth and helpful. We are not here to argue, but the reality is that more people buy mainstream cars than luxury cars simply because they cost less to buy and maintain and not everyone has money. The average car purchase is $34,000, which is perfect for a new well-equipped mainstream economy car or a very limited amount of new base luxury cars. Not everyone has this budget, but itis the average. I don't see a reason for most journalists to give negative reviews about the Envision if it is a fantastic car, so that's why I believe the consensus. I respect your love for your car, but I like to get multiple opinions from people who drive many cars and write about them.

upscale, comfortable suv/crossover to ferry clients and my kids around town
  NormT

My opinion is based on a vehicle on own, 2016 Buick Envision Premium ll that you do not and have not even set foot in.. I also own more and less expensive vehicles and usually average one different vehicle per year from German, Australian, Swedish, and domestic makes. I have owned multiple vehciles from those countries and from Canada, Korea, and China. So I have some seat time in different cars from different parts of the world.
When your driving experience are two economy cars and a decade and a half old mini van, a new car today at any level can knock your socks off. Just regurgitating journalist reviews can only go so far and you have to spend some quality time in these cars.
The Buick Envision can top $50,000 new and is made in Asia, not the U.S.A. Why would America's be interested in a middle sized crossover at that price? Because no one should pay MSRP and the price with a couple thousand miles is mid-to-low $30's and is feature packed. Those economy CUVS from Japan and Korea are just that, ~$20,000 CUVS that sticker just over $30,000. That is about where the entry level Buick Envision starts and includes many standard features not offered in those economy customers like rubber mounted subfrane like that in the Envision for better road isolation and lower NVH. Where those entry cuv's are directly mounted steel to steel and transmit more road noise.
The Envision is a subcompact and the similar interior dimensions as the new BMW X1 which ranks #1 in Luxury Subcompact SUVs where the Envision would place #2 U.S. News Rankings. They take reviews from 26 sources and average them based on what consumers want so the Buick does really well. Car and Driver rankings are based on what? Do you know? Please tell us as commenter have asked the same question and we have not found the source of their rankings. So they don't hold much weight and are laughed at in the comment sections. Consumer Reports is another one to review the data from their testing and take their recommendation with a grain of salt. They complain about the Envision handling in their video review and praise the Jaguar F-pace. When looking at the data from their testing the results are almost identical. Hmmm?
My fully loaded 2016 with 3,000 miles costs what a stripped Lexus NX does with no options, FWD, and faux leather. It is really over priced for a gussied up Toyota RAV4 that it is. The RDX, CR-V economy cuv with a V6, is no longer like by even Michael Karesh. A manufacturer can only expand on a entry level platform so far and run up the price adding features.
Vehicles like Subaru and Mazda do not share their economy suv roots with another upper tier and have to carry their name further up the price scale by making the interior better and offering better options. Unfortunatrly, their power trains lack the punch when price gets into the $30's but have added acoustic glass and extra sound deadening to appease the noise complaints and the negative effects on handling and fuel economy. Continue to offer 2.0l and 2.5l making 150-180 horsepower while every else is offering 1.5-1.6T making torque where those two make peak power. Allot of over marketing and under performing

upscale, comfortable suv/crossover to ferry clients and my kids around town
  LectroFuel

Sorry, but the Envision is classified as average or mediocre by several journalists. U.S. News made a consensus of many Buick Envision reviews online and wrote, "The 2017 Buick Envision ranks 12 out of 15 Luxury Compact SUVs. The 2017 Buick Envision gets lost near the back of the luxury compact SUV pack. It's comfortable to drive and nicely equipped, and it offers good value for the money, but in a sea of over-achievers, the Envision is just average." On Car & Driver, the Buick Envision is ranked #18 out of 19 Luxury compact crossovers/SUVs, 3 out of 5 stars. It's a cheaper option, but even small mainstream SUVs get better ratings and are more well-recieved.

First option is the 2018 Kia Sorento SX with Advanced Tech Package. I drove one on a short road trip and came away thinking it could be a luxury SUV. The leather, ride, road noise, seat comfort for the front and rear, and the technology are next to Lexus quality. Reliability is also a standout and it has a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty. It seems to be an underrated car because the Highlander and Pilot get all the sales, but the overall feel of this car is superior to most of it's competition. The second row seats are comfortable and spacious, but the third row is almost unusable, so just leave the third row down and use it for the trunk. It's also tough to see out the back, but all the safety features come with the tech package. Also, this is way more expensive than a small SUV like the two below.

An equally good, more fuel-efficient choice is the 2017 Honda CR-V Touring. It has an optimal driving position like most Hondas, is spacious, comfortable, fun to drive, quiet, and safe. Going with the CR-V means you'll have more than $6k left over and still have a very nice car. Plus, lower insurance costs and high reliability.

The Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring with Premium Package ties for best small SUV with the CR-V. It gives you an extremely upscale interior for a fraction of the cost of the luxury SUVs. Add to that a smooth ride and more than $5k left over and you have a compelling package. It's the best looking SUV on the market in my opinion. It's reliable, too. It's more fun to drive than many luxury CUVs. It's one of the quietest SUVs in the segment. Like all three of these SUVs, the rear visibility is compromised by the styling.

A lot of luxury brands are producing compact SUVs that are not as smooth-riding or comfortable as the mainstream brands' small SUVs. Compare the Honda CR-V to the Lexus NX and you'll see what I mean. There are so many downsides to owning the NX over a top of the line CR-V.

Good luck and tell us what you buy!

upscale, comfortable suv/crossover to ferry clients and my kids around town