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Auto Eye for the Family Guy

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Ok, so our trusted '95 Subaru Legacy wagon is not gonna be safe to drive on the road this winter. Well, it could be - but I'm not gonna dish out over 50% of it's retail book value to get the needed work done. (Trade in value recently hit the negative numbers.....)

So..... into the auto market we go.

Here's our thinking thus far:
- The car will need to carry 4 family members comfortably, plus have room for all our stuff when we travel. Said stuff will include all the equipment/paraphanalia that go with an impending arrival of #2 in early April.
- This will be Mrs. SGB's commuting car, plus our travel car.
- Given the climate and roads we deal with locally and at sites visited frequently, all wheel drive (AWD) is a must.
- We'd like to avoid an SUV for fuel efficiency issues, but could be convinced otherwise.
- The nonexistent budget pretty much mandates purchasing a used car - preferably a late model w/ low to moderate mileage.

I could use any and all suggestions and/or advice The Throbbing Brain (tm) has to offer. HELP!
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Not a big change but - Forester?

Isn't AWD only available on Subarus or luxury cars like Audis?
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Seabishop said:
Not a big change but - Forester?

Isn't AWD only available on Subarus or luxury cars like Audis?
I'd love to hear of anyone's experience with Foresters. My wife, however, may be Subie'd out. (They are the only car model I've ever owned.)

I know that there are some minivan models w/ AWD. (Pontiac Montana, for example) Luxury cars are out of our range right now.
 

martini

Cyburbian
Messages
678
Points
19
hmmm. If you search carefully, you MIGHT be able to find a decent Volvo XC70 AWD on the used market for a good price. Same goes for Mercedes and thier 4matic. On the more affordable scale, I'll bet you could find a Volkswagon Passat 4motion used for a decent price. I know what you mean by afforable and AWD though. They are hard to find. Unless you look for Subies(of which I'm a huge fan. We've got two in our family) that is. Minivans with AWD are things like the GMC Safari, the older Mazda MPV's, some Chrysler Caravans, and of course the 4motion(or quattro?) Volkswagon Vanagons from the mid 80's to mid 90's.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
Of course the 93 Volvo 245 wagon meets none of your criteria for AWD or newness, but I shall recommend it none the less.
It is cheap, built like a tank, and will haul your stuff anywhere in the snow. You can pick up a really nice one for no more than $6K. A decent one will fetch $4500. A beater (ugly but reliable) should cost $3500. Volvos scoff at low millage. I'd buy one a 180K if it passed a compression test knowing I'd get another 100K out of it before an engine rebuild.

PS. It will never be stolen by anyone ever.


Getting "Groceries" if ya know what I mean! ;)


PS - It would help if we knew what your budget was and how mechanical you were.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
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7,415
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34
Two of my friends have Foresters and love them! I think one of them told me he gets about 27mpg, but I'm not sure on that. They're fairly comfy and you can pack a fair amount of crap in them.

If it's in your taste, the Honda Element is available with AWD and gets fairly decent gas milage. I drove one for the hell of it a couple of weeks ago and was surprised by the comfort. It has one of the most flexible interiors I've seen in a while.

I can tell you from my experience that Pontiacs can be a nightmare. My Grand Am goes into the shop every few months for non-routine repairs. As soon as I get enough $$$ together it's turning into something else. My mom had a hell of a time with her Grand Prix, too.

Oh, you might look at the Pontiac Vibe AWD. It's basically a Toyota underneath, so you shouldn't have many repair issues. They get like 30 mpg on the highway, too. I don't know much about price though. I don't know if the Toyota Matrix comes in AWD, but it will have a higher resale value.

Hope that helps!
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
el Guapo said:
PS - It would help if we knew what your budget was and how mechanical you were.
Our budget has yet to be firmly determined (read: negotiated w/ the wife), but right now I'm thinking +$16K (U.S) is our upper limit.

My mechanical ability is limited to:
- checking oil levels & tire pressure
- recognizing a noise as "out of the norm"
- calling AAA for a towtruck when I break down

Mechanical reliability is a must.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
At 16K I suggest 4 Volvo 245's. :)


naw...I'd get a XC70 with that kind of cash.
 

ilikefish0

Cyburbian
Messages
204
Points
9
martini said:
We've got two in our family) that is. Minivans with AWD are things like the GMC Safari, the older Mazda MPV's, some Chrysler Caravans, and of course the 4motion(or quattro?) Volkswagon Vanagons from the mid 80's to mid 90's.
First off, I must say that Chrysler needs to shut up because VW realy invented the minivan when it introduced the Vanagon 1in 1983. Caravan/Voyager/Town & Country didn't come out until 1986. (rant over) The 4-wheel drive system on the Vanagon was called Synchro. I think the synchro system was offered on other models, but I am not sure of this. Incidentally, I think the last Vanagons were made in '92 or thereabouts. Good Luck on the car search.
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
Points
23
Saabs will also plow through the snow as if they had AWD (they're FWD) and will hold lots of stuff, especially the hatchback models. You can get a really nice newer one for that much. And they usually don't break down.
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
Messages
4,898
Points
27
SGB, go for the Forester.

I have one and I love it. I'm at about 85k. OK, I'm a little biased because my significant other works on Subies for a living. But it has far fewer problems than Volkswagens, IMHO.
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
6,426
Points
40
How old are the kids and how long do you plan on driving the new vehicle? Do you also take your kids' friends in the car with you and/or your whole family?

We just bought another vehicle. Our considerations were safety, reliability, leg and cargo room. We keep cars for a long time, so the new vehicle needed leg room, and room for kids' friends, too. Before that, we sometimes needed both of our vehicles just to get everyone somewhere. These reasons are why we chose a Suburban.
 
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6
Chevy Venture. The short wheelbase version is "sporty". :)

Plenty of room for stuff, and a nice, comfortable road car. Beware of transmission problems though.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
kms said:
How old are the kids and how long do you plan on driving the new vehicle? Do you also take your kids' friends in the car with you and/or your whole family?
The kids are 4yo and -5.5 months and counting.

We would drive the new "previously owned" vehicle until it was either paid off (probably looking at 60 mo. financing), or until it dies - whichever comes first.

Yes, we would like room for other kids inside. Although we would not be above placing nuisance children on either the bumpers or a roof rack. ;)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Let me chime in on behalf of the Subaru (Forester or Legacy). I've owned Pontiacs, Fords, and Buicks, and had too many problems with all of them. I just replaced my 1999 Legacy with a 2004 Legacy (less than one week old). The milage is about 26-27 MPG regardless of model. The Forester is a bit more rough on the inside, while the Legacy is plusher. Either is reliable, and it is a car that retains its value.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
Seabishop said:
Isn't AWD only available on Subarus or luxury cars like Audis?
Australian made Mitsubishi Sedans (called Magnas here) are AWD. I understand they are exported but have no idea if they go to the USA.
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
I'll also chime in for Subaru. I have a 2001 Legacy and it's been a great car. I've put 44,000 on it in two years and have never had a problem. The new Foresters look nicer than ones a few years ago, I think. Maybe look at those.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
SGB said:
I'd love to hear of anyone's experience with Foresters. My wife, however, may be Subie'd out. (They are the only car model I've ever owned.)

I know that there are some minivan models w/ AWD. (Pontiac Montana, for example) Luxury cars are out of our range right now.
honestly, if you look minivan, look foriegn..

i poop on american minivans.
 

martini

Cyburbian
Messages
678
Points
19
Ohhhh, I'd steer away from Minivans in general though. Even If I suggested a few above. I thought about it last night, and I can 't honestly push another male torwards the Satan spawn that are Minivans. They are absolute soul crushing machinations of the devil himself! Sure they officailly take away your manhood as soon as you sit in one, but that fact that 'ol Satan hisself has a part in this is scary. Just look at how many of them are on the road. All those soulless zombies, zipping about, oblivious to the carnage that has happened to thier potential afterlife. Poor folks.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
martini said:
Ohhhh, I'd steer away from Minivans in general though. Even If I suggested a few above. I thought about it last night, and I can 't honestly push another male torwards the Satan spawn that are Minivans. They are absolute soul crushing machinations of the devil himself! Sure they officailly take away your manhood as soon as you sit in one, but that fact that 'ol Satan hisself has a part in this is scary. Just look at how many of them are on the road. All those soulless zombies, zipping about, oblivious to the carnage that has happened to thier potential afterlife. Poor folks.
I've considered these very thoughts, too. I think we could get a minivan without selling both my soul and manhood, since this car would primarily be my wife's commuting car. I'd only have to be in it on weekends, vacations and when I need to take it for maintenance.

As I understand it, as long as a man is not driving a minivan alone but instead has it packed with family and the assorted stuff that goes with it, he can remain intact. ;)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
SGB said:
As I understand it, as long as a man is not driving a minivan alone but instead has it packed with family and the assorted stuff that goes with it, he can remain intact. ;)
Yeah. Whatever you want to believe, Mr. Mom.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
If volvo made a minivan I'd drive it and still consider myself a rugged gun nut. More room for the Ma Duce.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Update: The purchase

We pick up our '03 Chevy Venture LT minivan this evening.

AWD, seats 7, leather seats, fully loaded, 19K miles.

We feel like we got a good deal on this one, and it pretty much meets all of our criteria.

Plus, I can remove all the rear seats when needed to use it as a mini cargo van as necessary.
 

FueledByRamen

Cyburbian
Messages
449
Points
13
I would say that no one should ever buy a FWD car if they plan on driving it in the weather. The old myth that they were safer is now a flat out lie since the advent of ABS, Traction control, ASR, etc.

Id especially stay away from minivans if you'll be in the snow...Ive had first hand experience in this and it is a harrowing experience to say the least.

While american cars are as reliable as anything japan puts out (believe it or not, im a shadetree mechanic) i would recommend German for your needs.

I nice 3 series awd wagon or sedan is roomy, sporty, and incredibly safe. Plus you can get a used one for under $20, depending on how used it is.

Adam
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,313
Points
44
Re: Update: The purchase

SGB said:
Chevy Venture LT minivan
ewwww...a mommy van? I'd only ride in one with double tinted windows and an ice chest full of beer. ;)
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Re: Re: Update: The purchase

RichmondJake said:
ewwww...a mommy van? I'd only ride in one with double tinted windows and an ice chest full of beer. ;)
Tinted windows? Got 'em!
Room for a chest of beer? Yes!
Leather captains chairs w/ cupholders for the beer? You bet!

Note to self: Sell car long before son becomes of driving age!
 

SlaveToTheGrind

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Messages
1,447
Points
27
Ah, I see you wife made you cut your balls off, too. Same thing happened to me when we bought our minivan a few years ago. I wanted to get BALLESS or NEUTERED on the license plate. The wife did not go for it. The only thing I like about our minivan is that it is very easy to get the boys in and out of. That's it.
 

Richmond Jake

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44
Re: Re: Re: Update: The purchase

SGB said:
cupholders for the beer
I never use cupholders....I drink fast so the beer doesn't get warm...and so I can drink more.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
SlaveToTheGrind said:
Ah, I see you wife made you cut your balls off, too. Same thing happened to me when we bought our minivan a few years ago. I wanted to get BALLESS or NEUTERED on the license plate. The wife did not go for it. The only thing I like about our minivan is that it is very easy to get the boys in and out of. That's it.
I have no such concerns.

This will be my wife's commuting car. I will only be driving it on trips and when it needs maintenance.
 

biscuit

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3,904
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25
FueledByRamen said:
I would say that no one should ever buy a FWD car if they plan on driving it in the weather. The old myth that they were safer is now a flat out lie since the advent of ABS, Traction control, ASR, etc.
What?
Have you ever tried driving a RWD vehicle through ice or heavy snow accumulation? Probably not, because it can hardly be done without weighting down the rear. Front wheel drive is far better and safer for driving in bad weather.
 

Richmond Jake

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44
biscuit said:
What?
Have you ever tried driving a RWD vehicle through ice or heavy snow accumulation? Probably not, because it can hardly be done without weighting down the rear. Front wheel drive is far better and safer for driving in bad weather.
That reminds me, I need to get the sand bags out of my shop and throw them in the bed of my pick up....snow is in the forcast for later this week....bummer
 

FueledByRamen

Cyburbian
Messages
449
Points
13
biscuit said:
What?
Have you ever tried driving a RWD vehicle through ice or heavy snow accumulation? Probably not, because it can hardly be done without weighting down the rear. Front wheel drive is far better and safer for driving in bad weather.
Yes I have, many times. Mostly in my last car, a Jeep Cherokee which had no ABS or traction control.

But if you read what I said, with the advent of ASR and traction/stability control, which wheels actually drive doesnt matter as much. The advantage to having RWD in this case is weight distribution.

Ever gone around a corner in a FWD car and slid? You understeer and go head on into the gutter. If you slide in a RWD car, the tail just comes out a little and at the most your car twists a little. (BTW, all race cars are either AWD or RWD)

Also, a FWD being better in bad weather is just a lie. The back end of the car becomes too light due to having no differential or other rear axle items which increases the chances of hydroplaning.

Now Im not saying all RWD cars are safer or handle better (ESPECIALLY TRUCKS!), but the majority, especially with modern technology are. They also have better performance and break less because the design is simpler. Not to mention it is more difficult to peel out in a rwd car because when you gas it, all of the weight shifts to the rear, which gives the front wheels less traction and the rear wheels more.
 

martini

Cyburbian
Messages
678
Points
19
Too bad about the minivan SGB, but at least you'll get rid of it before the kid drives. That'll save an eternity of embarassment! The tinted windows certainly DO help matters. At least you can go incognito.
 
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