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Cadillacs, Lincolns too, Mercurys and Subarus

First, as always, a reminder that a new day brings a new theme at 100 words. I'm mostly happy with my story today.

So, the time has come to say farewell to an old friend - my '92 Ford Explorer. While her engine is still in pretty good shape, she's falling apart on me in other ways. Both passenger doors are broken and can't be opened. The paint, for some odd reason, has peeled right off the hood of the car. There's something wrong with the ignition and I'm thisclose to getting my key stuck in there, I know it. The brakes started squealing again. As much as I love the old lug, I just can't justify putting any more money into her (hey, I think my father said that about my mother recently!). And now I'm in need of a new car. This is where you come in.

I won't be buying brand new - the budget barely allows me to squeeze in a payment for a used car. I'll be getting something fairly recent, though. The question is, do I want to remain an SUV owner or do I want to go back to driving a regular car? The idea of nifty gas mileage is mighty tempting, but I also love driving an SUV, and I love having so much room for our stuff.

So your job today is to convince me either way - staying with the SUV or getting a car. I'll take recommendations as to specific makes and models. Two things: I have no problem with buying a foreign car and I am seriously tempted to buy another Ford just to give a big fuck you to these guys.

Ok, do your best to convince me that what I want to drive is what you think I should drive.

Update: No offense to some of you, but I don't want anything that is, resembles, can be misconstrued of or looks like a mini-van or a station wagon.


I know you want to buy American, but remember that most American cars aren't built here anymore, while Hyundai just opened a plant here in the states.

When Beautiful Wife's mini van dies, we're buying a Santa Fe. Something to look at. We've owned two Hyndais since we've been married, 14 years, and we've never had a problem with them.

I know you want to buy American


I have no problem with buying a foreign car

If you want to stick with an SUV but get a little bit better mileage and a more carlike ride, consider a used Ford Escape (with the 200HP V6, there's a good power to weight ratio that makes them fun to drive).

My wife just finished waffling similarly, and settled on my original suggestion of a Subaru Forester. It's basically car-like but has a pretty fair amount of extra room, and of course it's AWD. Apparently Subaru came out on top for the first time in the latest Consumer Reports survey but, unlike many of the imports - yeah, I mean you, Toyota - they don't seem to be charging $5K more than they're worth just because they're Japanese.

It's not a whiz-bang car that'll turn heads or anything, but it gets the job done for a low TCO.

Subaru Forester XT. 250 hp turbo motor. A WRX with space. You'll have fun smoking all your daughter's friends in their camaros and BMW's. Or nearly any other car you come across.

Plus you can portray yourself as a granola eating greenie at the same time. What could be better?

If you want a car, go with a used Camry. Can't be beat. They're boring as all hell, but they are bulletproof.

Find about a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. It's one of the better cute-utes, it's screwed together well, and in mid-line trim it should come in below $16k or so.

I really like my Nissan X-Terra. Unlike a lot of SUVs it's acutually built on a truck chassis (the same one they use for the Frontier), so it feels like a truck. I've never had any qualms about abusing it.

Second Hubris on the Escape. 'Bout the only downside there is you can't have anybody tall sit in the rearmost seat for long.

Anyway, if you want both space and gas mileage, you're thinking minivan. But I'm guessing that's not really your style.

If you want room with better mileage consider becoming a minivan-mom. I have always had good luck with Dodge Caravans. But if you want to check out what use cars a worth the price, you can research it here.

Not on your life. Did the mini van thing. Never again. At this stage in my life, with the kids at 12 and 15, my van days are waaaay over.


Make up your own damn mind.

Me, I wants a Ford F150.

Being a new homeowner, I HATE only having a car, my wife and I are looking at smaller SUV's and trucks. I'm trashing my car with all the trips to the garden ctr, home depot, lowes, etc. Really wish I had something bigger.

NO wait... that's not what I meant, I was talking about cargo space!

I had the similar decision and i went with a Volvo wagon,a GL turbo.Plenty of room for the dawg and keyboards,amps etc and it is a fast mobile.And it drove people nuts here is SF when I slapped it full of Bush stickers during the election,It is the standard issue East Bay dadmobile,

How about one slightly used 1996 Mazda MX-6 LS in a midnight blue with leather interior, sunroof, and too much - too much! - else to name?

Actually, I'll probably hold on to it as it's been very reliable and as much as I want a zippy new impractical sports car, I don't want a payment.

As for what to buy... being practical, the Forester sounds like a good idea. I'm looking at either the RX-8 or the Mazda6 (yes, I like my Mazda, she's been good to me) for myself in the next year or so.

PS ,Ford owns Volvo

When we get a second car, it's going to be Suburu Forrester/Outback. Decent milage (for an SUV) and storage space and we wont get raped on the price.


If you wanna stick with an SUV, go for the Honda CR-V. Uber reliable with pretty decent gas mileage. Built on the Civic frame and it handles exactly like the car. Lots of room...and let's not forget the picnic table in the back and the beer storage!

I have a Ford explorer. It is my second Ford explorer. I am a big fan of them and am waiting for them to come out with a hybrid model. (I think there is a Hybrid escape available now.... or soon.)

Why am I a big fan of a gas guzzling giantmobile. Safety. Christmas of 04 I totalled a Ford explorer when I hit black ice going 40 ish mph. And the fact that I walked away without a scratch (and my co-pilot walked away with his eyebrow ring bleeding) I credit to my giganting gas guzzling Ford Explorer. So naturally I think you should get another one/similar.

I'm lovin' my Santa Fe....as are a couple of other commenters! It's a mid-size SUV without the huge boat feeling of some other SUV's on the market right now.

"I know you want to buy American..."

"I have no problem with buying a foreign car"

I didn't have my glasses on yet...shrug.

Hey, I checked and there are a bunch of used Chrysler 300's in the Long Island area.

Nah...I'm projecting, that's what I want next.

What I want and what I can get are two different things.

I WANT a 2005 Mustang. Reality sucks.

We recently bought a Toyota Matrix and it's great. It's a lot bigger inside than it looks outside. It drives and rides like a car, not an SUV. It gets decent gas mileage - we've put almost 10K on it in five or six months moving and taking road trips. New it was right around $17K, not sure what a used one would go for.

I just retired my 4WD truck for a 2002 Subaru Outback LL Bean. I hate corporate branding, but this is what you'd get:

Nice leather interior
6 cyl. boxer, 218 HP. Very able powerplant. 20 MPG.
Dual moon roof (very cool)
Spiffy styling (see beyond the "station wagon")
Nice Alpine stereo
All Wheel Drive
6 yr / 60K powertrain warranty.
Built in Indiana.

Paid a little over 20K (California)for it. Everyone thinks it's brand new.
The 4 cyl are way cheaper, but gutless.

Forgot to mention that the Forester looks like a soviet-era clown-car. 4 cyl only. Never liked turbo's. Too many things to break.

Get an old 13 window VW microbus. I had a 1960 that got 25 mpg and went 100mph, certified by the Iowa State Patrol.

They have plenty of room for everything you need, enough power (with the bigger engine anyway) and they are historically significant in being: the first unibody vehicle, the first minivan, and also one of the first publicly available cars with 4 wheel independent suspension.

I'm with you, Michele. The 2005 Mustangs are cool, but I still have a couple of years worth of loan to go on my current car (2003 Neon). SUV's are ugly, and they guzzle gas, but they are somewhat safer in a crash. Other than the Mustang, there aren't a lot of cars out there right now that look good to me, style-wise. I do kinda like the PT Cruiser...

I've been a city dweller for the last 13 years and can count on one hand the amount of times I drive in a year - but offer this anyway: My parents just got an SUV and it is such a relief to finally see what is happening in front of you. Makes my life in the passenger side on the LIE/Old Country Road slightly less hellish. Think it would be tough to go back down to a regular size car... I know I hate it now.

I see you in this

Which might be more affordable than you think...

I just bought a Scion xB. Ugliest car on the road. But the dang thing rides better than ANY small car I ever had, I'm getting over 30 mpg, it came with ALL kinds of extras that are normally NEVER standard on a "budget" car, it's got Toyota-built dependability, and my kids think it's the coolest car they've ever seen.

It cost me 14,245 (NEW!) down here in the 3rd world. Just built you one at Competition Scion Of Middle Island - it costs the same. You couldn't get a used SUV for that.

But I don't know if you're a "stick" kind of girl, or if you'd be comfortable driving a car designed for and marketed to 21 year olds. I am VERY happy with mine.

Michele, I'm here for you. I have unique knowledge in this situation. My wife and I have a 2001 Subaru Forrester and a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe. Our last car ? 2001 Ford Explorer. Before that ? Toyota 4Runner.

Ford - Piece of crap. Never, EVER, buy one again, American made cars entirely - not far behind. American car makers have lost their ability, for one, to make brakes that last more than 20,000 miles. And I hate just about every other thing about them.

Hyundai Santa Fe is VERY reminiscent of the 4Runner. Not quite as big, but similar design points and feel. Way, WAY better than the Explorer. Smaller, but also cheaper and much better on gas.

I would also second the nomination of the Forrester, though it isn't quite as high on the quality scale as the Santa Fe, but still vastly superior to the Explorer. Gas mileage is even better than the Santa Fe (though I have the 6 cylinder model - which has pretty good pep, you might forget about the Mustang).

There's my 2 cents. First recommendation is the Santa Fe, second would be the Forrester, third would be any SUV NOT made by Ford, GM, Chrysler, Dodge, etc. And last would be Ford - DON'T.DO.IT.

Oh, and did I mention the Hyundai 100,000 mile warranty, standard ? Yeah.

Subaru. The Outbacks are larger in side than the Foresters, which are larger inside than the Sport Wagons, which ....

I prefered our Outback (which died at 186ooo miles after a deer collision 15ooo miles earlier) to our current Forester, but it does get slightly better milage and has better handling. Its most important feature is that my wife loves it.

A WRX Wagon would be more fun to drive, but I find it hard to believe that it's a four-person car.

Test drive a Forester, either XS or XT. You might be pleased.

heh i thought GM was the only one that had the "paint issues" from 85-95.

Dunno what to tell you. I have a handful of cars i want- '91 Acura NSX, '05 Ford GT, '66 Chevelle SS 396, '89 Toyota 4-runner... i think the 4runner is the only one in my income bracket :P

just take a day and drive the local car lots insane and test drive everything you can get your hands on.

Wind Rider nailed it. The Camaro is definitely for you.

buy toyota. they are priced right and are extremely reliable, not to mention very sharp and comfortable.

whatever you do do not buy a M class mercedes.

I just bought a '97 Toyota Rav4. I love, love, love it. It's getting 25 mpg

People still buy Camaros? Back home they were always driven by the Italian guys with too much gold and no sleeves.

Other than the Italian part, I don't see Michele like that...I don't even see her hangin' with guys like that.

But that was Chicago in the 70s and early 80s, maybe it's different now.

Well, FWIW, I recently had to choose a new car. I did the research ... price, mileage, reliability, cute ass, all the important things. I had very little money to put down, no trade-in, and can afford hardly any monthly payment. At the same time, it had to be comfotable for me and my kids (and anyone else that wanted to come along for the ride) and it couldn't blow up like my last car (thus the no trade-in). I had a '93 Aerostar, which was sucking so much gas and slowly falling apart ... that it, until the whole fire thing.

I had my heart set on a Scion Xa, which has a very cute ass, but when I got to the Toyota Dealership, I found myself leaning toward the Corolla. It fit my budget and was a lot cuter than I expected it to be. I ended up with an '05 Toyota Corolla in Super White 2 and I rediscovered my love of driving. Yeah, it's small, but the trunk will fit a 13 year old boy and an 11 year old girl ... not that I've tried anything like that ... ahem. For my money, though, just have the 6 cd changer is a LUXURY compared to my old cassette deck. Oh yeah ... it's got a great ass.

Anyway ... my $.02 worth. Good luck making a choice.

Find a used Pontiac Trans Am from around the year 2000.

Make sure it has the Corvette 6 speed stick. It helps if it is black. With the WS6 package, you get 0-60 in 5.0 seconds. Sounds sooo sweet, too.

I don't understand why your Explorer is in such bad shape. I focus on 91 - 94 Explorers in Phoenix area and find most for sale have 100K to 200K and are in good shape. Real good ones can be had for less than $4K. Ford made a mistake and made an SUV that works as well as a Toyota, but then, the Explorer is really a Mazda. The young always want new, sporty, cool. My advice: find a good used Explorer, since you like the one you have, and stash the old one for parts. Ever priced a simple component like a new air mass sensor? Put your money in an IRA since it is gospel S.S. won't pay you.

I love my Hyundai Tiberon, faster than the Mustang, handles better too, but not very big, in fact I drop the back seat and use it as a two seater and put all my shit for school and work in there, but damn I'm loving this car.
If you see a electric blue one with the plate "Breakneck" on the front, that's me.....and yes, I'll probably be speeding. And getting really good mileage, in the high 20's depending on where I'm driving, traffic or freeway. I can't recommend it enough. Top out is 160. Sweet sweet car.....