General Question

silverfly's avatar

Looking for a new car.. got any recommendations?

Asked by silverfly (4040points) June 18th, 2012

My car is becoming unreliable and expensive… I’d like to get something with a spacious trunk to put my bike, gardening supplies, etc. etc. I’ve looked at some crossover vehicles and those seem like a nice option. I’d love to get something that is used, has low mileage, and gets good gas mileage.

What should I expect to pay? Should I even consider buying new? Do you have any recommendations or definitive list of cars to avoid?

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12 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

How about a minivan?

gorillapaws's avatar

Are external racks for the bikes not an option for you guys?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Minivan too!
Honda and Toyota have great records. Trunks on most “cars” will not hold a bike.
Both of these minivans two years old will be in the range of $23,000 to $30,000 depending on options and condition. Do not get All Wheel Drive on either of these, they have run-flat tires which can only be changed or serviced at limited number of tire centers.

geeky_mama's avatar

Two recent cars I’ve owned (and loved) and found very reliable and good for toting bikes, kayaks & gardening stuff:

1. Mazda5 (you can only find these used now, they’ve change the model as of 2012 to a CS-5) – all the seats after the driver’s row fold down which gives you a ton of interior space. The doors in the middle (passenger doors) don’t open outward, but slide back (like a minivan’s doors) giving you loads of space to work with. It’s a super flexible car that can seat up to 6, but it’s small like a car. It’s fun to drive and gets good gas mileage and ours was SO reliable. I’m only 5’5” but I had no trouble putting bikes in and out of it and onto the roof rack we got for it. (We got a nifty roof rack that attached extra storage space or a bike rack. Easy peasy to swap around.)

2. Mazda CX-7 – This is what I have now. It’s one size larger than the Mazda5 with fewer seats. I love it and it’s super-reliable. I find it easier to load stuff in this car (no need to bend down – it’s exactly at the right height—not too tall, not too short) – especially groceries & gardening.

You’d be safe buying used for either of these models..but if you can get a 0% financing offer it might be worth considering a new Mazda. (Mazda financing occasionally offers these – usually at the end of the summer when they’re clearing out all of the end-of-model-year cars.)

zenvelo's avatar

Sounds like a Honda Element would be perfect. Plenty of cargo room, configurable, Honda reliability, but none of the mini van stigma.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The best ones are also super hard to find used, in good condition and significantly cheaper than just buying new.

Honda doesn’t make the Element anymore but it’s a good choice for your needs, same with old Toyota 4-Runner or Subaru Forester, even a Subara Impreza Wagon.

robmandu's avatar

As current owner of a 4Runner and previous owner of an Xterra, I can heartily recommend both. Neither is a crossover. They’re real SUV’s as both are built on rugged truck frames.

The Xterra is especially great at carrying bikes… you can get an internal bike rack, fold down the rear seats, and carry two bikes upright in the cargo area. This keeps them safe from mud and rain, secures them from theft, and prevents you from driving roof-mounted bikes into low clearance overhangs (/facepalm. /twice.) It’s also very reliable and relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, it’s not very refined nor does it get great gas mileage.

The 4Runner sets the standard. It’s a world-class SUV with unbeatable reliability. They cost more but you get what you pay for with superior engineering and technical abilities. As far as bikes go, they’re not quite as accommodating as the Xterra since they have a “high floor” and a “low roof”. On the other hand, mine gets 22mpg in mixed city driving and over 25 on the highway, which for a truck-based SUV is simply stellar.

The small- to mid- SUV and crossover market is awash with lots and lots of choices covering a wide range of features, price, size, and unique features. Do lots of homework, look at pictures and compare prices on sites like, and the right vehicle for you will eventually stand out.

And then report back here what you got. We’d love to know. ;-)

silverfly's avatar

Is Car Max a reasonable “dealer”? I heard they charge quite a bit more. Does the 4Runner get good gas mileage? Are they still in production?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

We’ve got a 2000 4-Runner 2wd that gets about 18 mpg on the highway and runs like a dream. It’s got fold-down-flat back seats that have let us carry furniture, bikes, tons of garden stuff, camping gear and dogs.

silverfly's avatar

18mpg – that’s gonna be a tough transition coming from a honda civic.

mrrich724's avatar

I’d say that if you are willing to buy an x-over, stay away from them and go for a regular SUV.

They are in the same price range and have much more back space.

The Ford Edge is TINY inside, and the Mazda CX isn’t much bigger (CX 7 or CX9). I just don’t get it. The x-overs I’ve been in have basically been raised up cars, effectively.

Just my experience. . .

robmandu's avatar

Yeah, 4Runners have been continuously in production since the 1990’s. You have a huge range of years and trim levels and capabilities to choose from.

Yeah, CarMax is alright. I was only suggesting you use their web site for comparison purposes, but I know a lot of people enjoy the no-haggle, up front approach they take to selling certified used cars. You get what you pay for.

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