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go so low as to embarass yourself. then work up from there. research what a rav 4 (choose your year) would go for in your area. keep in mind the lower the mileage the higher the asking price. used vehicles have a whole lot of profit margin for a dealer to haggle with. what i usually do is have a definite price i want to pay. then i go to a dealer with the vehicle im looking for. then after all the sales talk and friendliness i tell the salesman "i am going to make a one time offer" if you take it fine if not i walk. stick to your statement. but honestly i dont spend much time after that. l figure if they accept my price fine. if not i walk. have another dealer to go to and do the same. maybe adjust upward a thousand. of course if you're not that kind of buyer then just go in and pay the price. gerald

ps this has worked for me aover three times

Car for long drives and gravel roads

For the 2013 RAV4, I would start at $11,500 and go to $13,500. For the 2012 RAV4, there is no CarFax so you'll need to check that. I would start at $11,000 and go to $13,000. That CR-V seems very good and has a clean CarFax but there are no pics. It is a fully loaded EX-L. I would start that at $12,000 and go to $13,500.

The Kia is cheaper, but likely won't last as long. That 2.4L engine had a lot of problems and isn't the most efficient. I would get an older Toyota or Honda before that car if you were planning to have it last for as long as possible. If you need a car for 6 months or a year, a beater is by far the best option. In that case get an old Toyota.



I looked on Craigslist and these were the only two decent ones I found. The Honda's transmission may go out soon and the Subaru might need head gaskets soon. Whatever you get, get it inspected by a mechanic. If the mechanic approves, it will probably last 6 months with little to no problems. Don't trust the dealer if they say their mechanic inspected it. I feel like the Subaru might be the better choice.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

It's me. Again. I looked at the approximate trade in values for the RAV4s and realized that I might be able to negotiate more off than I thought. How close to those do you think I can start without getting laughed off?

Car for long drives and gravel roads

Sorry if I am posting a lot. But I did some more scrounging around and found two non-Toyotas:



Car for long drives and gravel roads

Sorry, I'm so indecisive. Just a spot of trouble getting a loan. It's making me get a bit of cold feet about it.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

Sorry to throw any previous help out the window, you guys have been great. But looking at things financially, I might be better off in a beater. Which drops my budget down to 4000, 5000 with another paycheck. At a bare minimum, I hope the thing can last the six months I'll be working here.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

Here are the listings:



I hadn't budgeted for the fees or taxes. Rookie mistake, I guess. I could tack on some more, but that would be getting really tight.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

Toyota 4Runner would be a good fit. They last forever, are good off road, and have decent cargo space.

Tool cart

Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, and Honda CR-V should be your best bets in order. The Mazda depreciates quicker (which is good in this instance), and it will likely be about as reliable as the Honda and Toyota while giving you the most for your money. For the RAV4 get a 2009 or newer, I suggest 2013 or newer for newer features. All the Mazda years are reliable. For the Honda, I think a 2012 or newer would be a good idea.

I would say the Hyundai and Kia will likely be about as reliable as the Subaru. Pretty good, but the three I mentioned earlier may last longer. I would avoid the Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander Sport. Especially avoid the Nissan Rogue because those have failing transmission as do most Nissans. Ford Escape isn't a great car. The 2.5L engine was decent, but I would doubt the reliability on that car overall.

The Lexus RX is a good car, but I don't see why your first car should be an old luxury car. It is better to get a newer mainstream car like the RAV4.

If you post links to the RAV4 website listings we can judge if they are worthy of buying and how much you should pay.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

Have heard the seats (front) not comfortable. Would like owners to comment on any issues or non-issues they have experienced.

At 70, my body has endured a couple of motorcycle crashes, over the years. Maybe my bits are out of alignment, making me sensitive to seat issues if they exist. Earlier Honda cars in 1970's were tiny. Had two 1978 Civics, at one point. Think go-cart with a roof. Had a blast. Hoping Fit is similiar.

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Sorry, a few more questions. I've been really stretching my budget, and it's making me nervous. I'm not sure how much I can talk down the dealers for the two RAV4s I'm looking at. What do you think of the Mitsubishi Outlander or Kia Sorento/Sportage? There isn't much data on the website? Also, Nissan Rogue.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

Actually almost any car, CUV, or SUV with 5" or more ground clearance can handle gravel roads as long as you don't have to navigate major ruts, potholes,. mud/clay/deep sand, nor snow over 2-3". Under those circumstances, no mods should be needed.

I live along the I-5 corridor in W WA where snow is real hit and miss. Some years none, occasionally enought to paralyse traffic (that's anything over 3" here!). When that happens lots of services and business shut down and people just stay home for a day or two till it melts. Lots of AWD rigs here, but definitely not required.

To directly answer your questions:

The RAV 4 is certainly competent for gravel roads & would likely prove quite reliable. IMO your best bet in your price range.

The Escape is a decent vehicle. CR rates the 2012, 2016, 2016, & 2018 as having good reliablity. They ding Escapes for fuel economy for the eco-boost engines, poor overlap crash tests, and somewhat cramped seating. We had a 2004 Mazda Tribute (Escape twin) for 3 years & 30K that was trouble free.

A Honda CRV, Kia Sportage Hyundai Tuscon would also fill the bill

As a 3 time Subaru owner (2004, 2010, & 2015) I wouldn't hesitate to get one of those either. A few Subies have oil consumption & wheel bearing issues, but many go 100K plus without significant problems and total breakdowns are rare. IF they were unreliable they would not be the number 1 car in WA nor have such a high resale value!

Ideally, if your budget permits, I'd try to get a 2015 or later model to get some of the improved safety features that benefit all drivers.

RX300 is certainly a great vehicle tending to be upscale compared to the above. But to get one in your price range will probably mean a model before modern safety nannies were part of the package.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

Yeah, there aren't many in my area, and none are right. More common brands would be better. What about a Ford Escape? Someone suggested it to me and I see a few for sale.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

look for a lexus rx300 or rx350 with a v6. at your price point you'll probably find a 2010 or so. these are very reliable vehicles. my 2003 has 220K miles and very minor issues that i couldnt do myself. it might be difficult to find this in a remote area.

Car for long drives and gravel roads

For the X5, the 2013 and older had bad reliability ratings and the 2014 and newer had good ratings. I wouls still doubt the longevity of the German cars however. It is definitely a risk. The 2015 X3 was the first "good rating" year. 2013 ML ratings were OK and improved in 2015. The 2015 GLK seemed to be its most reliable year.

I think the Mercedes would be a little easier for DIY maintenance since it is a more traditional engine. I'm not a big fan of the GLK just because I think it is ugly. I would probably get the ML or either BMW.

The Acura and Lexus have similar reliability ratings, but have a history of long term reliability. Old German cars have a poor history for reliability. They are also more expensive to fix.

Of course you should test drive these as they are all equally good in my opinion.

Fun, comfortable compact/mid-size SUV. Good for long road trips.

Looking at Consumer Reports and this site as well, the BMW X5 and X3 as well as Mercedes M-Class and GLK all seem to get solid reliability ratings. I am leaning towards a V6 because the 4 cylinder turbos don't seem to hold up. These vehicles are in my $20K price range:
2013 - 2014 BMW X5
2015 BMW X3
2013 Mercedes ML 350
2015 Mercedes GLK 350

I have always been concerned with the $150 oil changes and premium gas usage that I hear about... But I watched some YouTube videos and routine maintenance (spark plugs, oil, etc.) seems relatively straight forward. Mercedes still "requires" premium gas, but BMW has said that it is not a requirement for their vehicles.

Any thoughts on these vehicles?

Fun, comfortable compact/mid-size SUV. Good for long road trips.

I was just adding my two cents on the snow thing. I really have no experience in the snow except on some snowy mountain vacations. All that info I gave regarding snow and tires was just a consensus of some articles and videos.

Fun, comfortable compact/mid-size SUV. Good for long road trips.

Oil leaks from valve cover gasket and timing cover.

The Valve cover gasket was replaced 5 times (3 times under recall). Still leaked, though very minor leak. I resealed myself and seems to be working for now.

The timing cover leak repair is ~10 hrs job, very expensive. It is minor in my case and I am living with it.

Suspension makes various noises over bumps.

Overall, quite reliable. Engine and tranny work like a dream. Good value for the money.

Buying used: reliability and common problems

I have little to add to Lectrofuel as usual as he really got it right. The only slight quibble I have with his response is the FWD comment and snow tires for 15 inches of snow athough he is correct in saying they are better than summer tires and AWD. When the roads are not well plowed, 15 inches on the ground is a lot of snow. I would stick with AWD in that case as you are going to need power to all the wheels with that much snow on the ground and the bottom of the car rubbing against the snow. We have simiilar situations here in CT when they plows don't get out and the FWD cars with snow tires get stuck. Add that to our mountain and then you have no hope getting home.

I have tried previously on my older cars with FWD and snow tires when I moved to CT and I got stuck if I waited too long to leave work and get home. If not getting stuck on the flat roads to close to my home, it would definately happen on the climb (I climb about 550 feet every day as the mountain base is at 100 feet above sea level - a total of 650).

If you only drive on flat surfaces and get a lot of snow you might get by with FWD and snow tires in 15 inches of snow as I have not really tested that (the most I could get through in a Saab 9-3 was 6 inches of snow on flat surfaces).

Fun, comfortable compact/mid-size SUV. Good for long road trips.

Get a Lexus RX 300 awd if you can find a decent one for $6K. Comfortable and very reliable.

All wheel drive, SuvGood gas mileage, reiliable

Out of all the SUVs you mention, the only one that will likely be reliable is the Lexus. The others are so-so. The Jeep will be cheaper to fix than the German cars, but will likely break down just as often, if not more. You'll also need to go pretty old to get one of these within a $22k budget. Hold off on some money for future repairs with the SUVs that are not the Lexus.

The Lexus will do everything well, except for the "fun" part. It just doesn't handle that well and is meant for long road trips and comfy and quiet cruising. The other SUVs will have a more firm ride, but handle better.

The only other similar car to add is the Acura RDX. It is a little less refined than the Lexus and a little more sporty.

Snow tires with FWD is much more effective than all season tires and AWD at getting through snow. I would get some all-weather tires because they are supposedly good to leave on year-round and are great at everything.

2016 and newer Kia Sorento, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Subaru Outback, 2016 and newer Mazda CX-9, and 2017 and newer Mazda CX-5 are all good choices.

Note that SUVs are expensive right now as everyone wants one, including the used market.

Fun, comfortable compact/mid-size SUV. Good for long road trips.

Since no one has responded I will give you what Consumer Reports got in their mixed driving test. I use this for my basis of what I will get when driving a new car because when I buy one, I tend to get about 1 mpg better than they indicate (not that I buy frequently, as I keep my cars about 10-12 years before getting a new one and drive them about 200,000 miles).

In any case, for the 2.5L four cyllinder they got 24 mpg. Unfortunately, they did not test the turbo.

There is a site called fuely you can use to see what others get with your car. It is:

That will give you a better idea. Owners there average between 17 and 39 depending where they are driving, and how hard they go.


Consumer Reports does an MPG test around CT, driving a combined highway/local roads drive with average traffic. When I buy my cars I get close to the MPG of what they get, but usually a little higher (I also live in CT but I live in eastern CT while they are located in central CT).

I don't own this car but since you are not getting any responses I will give you what Consumer Reports got with the 2.0L turbo engine they used. They managed 24 mpg on average. EPA is 17/34 so it is about what you would expect in mixed driving on average.

I also found a site that can give you a decent idea from thousands of owners. It is:

The most people average on that site (895 owners of the Q5) is 22 mpg.

Best of luck.

Mid size luxury SUV

Personally, I would be scared if I needed to travel further than the EV range in the Niro EV because there is no supercharger network. I wouldn't be able to take road trips. My wife went three days without charging overnight last week and realized on her way to work she would need to stop at a supercharger to be safe and not get range anxiety. She only had a 40 mile estimated range and 30 miles of freeway to get home. There is no charging network except ChargePoint and a few smaller brands for non-Tesla EVs.

If you plan to not drive far everyday then both the PHEV and EV have their advantages: The EV will be all electric all the time and the PHEV will stay on EV mode for a short time, possibly meaning you won't have to fill up with gas nearly as often.

I would say this comes down to your preference. You can't really go wrong with either. The question is whether you really want a true EV and never have to fill up with gas, get instant torque, and pay a few grand more and miss out on memory seats.

EVs and PHEVs depreciate more than most gas cars as AcuraT said. However,Teslas hold their value 2 times better than the average gas car.

Also something to think about is your electricity rates and if you have time of use (TOU) plans. Here in CA we have special time of use electricity plans specifically for people with EVs. Charging at night costs 9 cents per kw/h and from 4pm to 9pm costs 54 cents per kw/h. Without these plans, it would be useless to own an EV as you would never get your ROI. I learned this the hard way after the first month of owning the Tesla because our electric bill was over $600.

I couldn't end this without telling you to test drive a Tesla Model 3 before your Kia purchase. There have been several posts online of people saying they were not in the market to purchase a car, and they unexpectedly driving out of the Tesla store with a new Model 3. I would describe the driving experience as otherworldly. It is such an amazing car. The only thing it is missing for you is it is not a crossover. It is pretty low to the ground, so that may be a deal breaker. It has some of the best seats I have ever sat in (many car reviewers have said the same). 12 way power seats for both front seats, so the lumbar adjuster has 4 ways of adjustment. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes by power and gets out of the way when the car is in "Easy Entry" mode. 240 miles is the base model's range. The base model also has Autopilot standard, so the car drives itself under supervision. Along with that is all the active safety features you expect. The car gets many software updates, so it always feels fresh and interesting. Cargo space is very good for a sedan because you get the frunk as well as the massive under-floor storage well in the trunk. It just feels like the future, but in a really good way. Delivery time is only 2 weeks now and their build quality problems are much less frequent. This video does a good job summarizing everything.

You can't really go wrong with either the Kias or Tesla. I just think the Tesla is a great deal at $39k before incentives. And it comes well equipped on the base model. The Kia EV is similarly priced, but with more incentives.

I would avoid the old Leaf. They have a problem with battery degradation. The old Soul EV might be good, but the range is short. I would recommend a Chevy Volt as well. GM hasn't embraced safety features much, but you may want to see if you can get a good deal on those before they are off the lots forever if they aren't already. Depreciation will be a problem with those I would guess.

A note on the Michelin Energy Saver A/S tires: I have those on my Prius and while they allow the car to get good MPG, they are pretty loud in my opinion. The amount of low rolling resistance tires on the market is kind of small, so there wasn't much I had to choose from. Tires can make or break your MPG. Again, I learned this the hard way with my first Prius.

Is the Kia Niro a hero?

Actually, I am not Lectrofuel but I would be interested in his opinion - the three of us spend time on here answering questions when we can.

It depends on your driving to make the economics of the surcharge paying for an electified car work in your favor. You are right, you lose money on any car you buy - you just lose a little more according to the sources including that first link I sent going the EV or PHEV route. You are also right, going slightly used on one of those cars you get a huge markdown as the resale market is terrible.

Totally agree with you - the next big advance coming in the next 5 to 15 years is the self driving car as well as those who won't even own a car and just use Uber/Lyft/Name your driving service. Time is running out for those who like to drive unmonitored/unautomated but not all that soon. Future generations will look in the history books of those who drove their own car - probably in 100 years or so. I do think it is going to take some time to get to that fully automated point because the technical difficulties involved as well as the cost right now to make such a self-driving car work. Surprislngly GM with SuperCruise is the forefront of what you can buy right now, and it is a $10,000 option only on a couple of Cadillacs so far. Tesla is trying as well and they are even more expensive.

The stuff being done by Cruise (GM and Honda self driving division in California) and Google (Waymo starting testing in Arizona later this year with the public) is so expensive and experimental you cannot even buy it right now. And the PR disaster for Uber in this area because they were rushing to catch up forced them out of this catagory for now. Even Apple gave it up because they saw no hope of catching up - or doing something different that made sense. The European companies are banding together to try to make a run at it but they are way behind the American firms and surpisingly, the far east is even further behind in this catagory as the only news I have heard is that Toyota is investigating an all-electric car but is quite some distance away from selling one.

Let us know what you decide, I am sure it will be interesting. Like I posted, I took a small step in the hybrid car getting one that turns off at stop lights that has AWD. My trouble is I do live in CT on a mountain so getting a FWD battery car won't work in the winter even with snow tires since I tried that with my old Saab and I could not get up the unplowed road to my home. I am sure a battery powered car won't do it either. Whenever I leave CT I can reconsider.

Is the Kia Niro a hero?
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