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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Mom is going to replace her Monte Carlo now that my stepdad died (last year). They were / are reenactors, basically camping, and the minivan they used for this stuff was sold to one of my step-bros. The Monte isn't good for this sort of utility use, especially with the long (8-foot) tent poles and other large and oddly-shaped stuff she takes along; the tent poles would go inside. And she's an avid gardener. Again, Monte Carlo isn't the best option.

She's 73 yo now and in good health but would still like something easier to get into and out of. Ditto loading and unloading cargo. In a big understatement, she's also not the best of drivers and is paranoid of encountering snow, rain, dark, deer, bears, butterflies, potholes, thimbleholes, you name it. That's only a very slight exaggeration - she simply dislikes driving but does it as a necessity that comes from being an independent and active widow. But she won't drive in snow and avoids the dark due to glare at night. Guessing the car would see 5,000 miles annually, tops. I don't have a dollar amount and she'd be buying used. Gonna guess $7k - $12k but we haven't gotten into that yet. We'll private-party the Monte Carlo for the extra money.

Naturally, Subaru, right? Good size for her stuff without being huge, crash safety, AWD if she has to drive through a muddy field at an event, great visibility... you know the drill. But the mileage isn't the best and she'd be paying more for the AWD that may not be needed. The models I'm thinking about: 04-08 Forester, 05-09 Outback (touching on the large side but still drives smaller than the Monte Carlo), older Outback. I know that she would not enjoy the noisier SH Foresters, and they're also a bit too tall for her liking.

Being the fair-minded guy that I occasionally attempt to be, I'm trying to find some other good used-car options for her. Here's what I'm coming up with, that shouldn't cost a mint:

Mazda 5. Awesome cargo packaging. For similar year and miles, quite a bit cheaper than Subaru. Mileage a little better than Subaru, not surprising given that it's fwd.

Chevy HHR. It sucks and she doesn't like it, either (a friend has one). But hey - it's a wagon so it gets a mention.

Dodge Caliber. Yeah, I'm not putting her in a Dodge. Brand snobbery? So be it.

PT Cruiser. See above, even though they are huge inside for the outside size.

Ford... I dunno. Focus wagon? For reliability reasons I'd rather have an older Forester.

Jetta or Passat wagon. I don't know much about these. So far as I know the electrical gremlins of old are not present in newer models.

Volvo something. They're nice (luxury-wise) cars, which means they will cost more than she would like to spend.

Honda Fit. We looked at one maybe 6 months ago and while it's a nice enough little car I don't think it's the solution for her. Might not fit the tent poles inside, either.

My brother says Mazda 6 wagon. I'm not entertaining that suggestion. Just doesn't seem like the best utility option for her though I'm sure it's otherwise a fine car. For the same reason I'm not recommending a mid-2000s Legacy wagon, no matter how friggin' hot they look.

Audi RS6 Avant. Okay, that one is for me. :icon_wink:

She checked out my Outback and thinks that would be a decent choice if one can be found at a good price, but I'd like her to see some other brands.

So, give me some wagon options. She's leery of older cars (why we're not really considering older Outbacks even though the size is perfect) and doesn't care to spend more to get something fancy.
 

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I agree an 04-08 Forester would be a good choice.

I would avoid the HHR and maybe the Magnum, strictly due to lack of visibility. My dad drives an HHR and I think it has the poorest visibility of any car I have been in.

I would lean towards the Mazda 5 or the Focus wagon as the top alternatives to the Forester.
 

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2000 Ford Focus Wagon 5 speed manual
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Ford... I dunno. Focus wagon? For reliability reasons I'd rather have an older Forester.
Hey now, my '00 Focus wagon makes my '03 Forester look like a high mileage Yugo.
 

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2015 Highlander AWD XLE 6AT
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So, give me some wagon options.
Honda Element or CRV?

Pontiac Aztek? :puke: Just kidding, but, considering my present mood... :icon_wink:

HTH, and best of luck!
Jim / crewzer
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Acura TSX wagon will be perfect.
Stan
Tough to find around here, and too nice for what she would like. And the driving virtues would be lost on her. I wouldn't mind one, but it's also too nice to be my work vehicle.
Hey now, my '00 Focus wagon makes my '03 Forester look like a high mileage Yugo.
Edumicate me on it. The early Foci weren't the best but if they are better in the later years then I'm all ears. Might be tough to sell her on anything older than, say, 2006.
Honda Element or CRV?

Pontiac Aztek? :puke: Just kidding, but, considering my present mood... :icon_wink:

HTH, and best of luck!
Jim / crewzer
Element too big. Early CRV and RAV4 I suppose might work since the SG would work. I'll see what she thinks.

Azteks are soooo easy to find around these parts. Seriously, this must have been the dumping ground at the end of its run.
 

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Narrow it down to 5 models that you have a reasonable expectation of finding used, in good condition, with low to moderate mileage.

When I purchased my '11 Forester, I considered the CX-5, an Outback, CRV, Mazda 5, and not much else.

The companies that sell fewer vehicles, such as Mitsubishi and Mazda and to an extent, Subaru, will have fewer used vehicles. Honda and Toyota maybe. And that drives the choice to a large degree - availability, unless you are willing to wait. I followed the used market for months after my purchase and was glad my instincts told me to buy when I did as I saw nothing as good for months after. Note as well that I'm on Long Island, with 6 Subaru dealers within 15 miles.
 

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My '01 525i wagon has been a great car, I've had it for a year now. It is roomy, comforable, easy to drive and is very simple to operate. Visibility is great and the parking distance control feature (car beeps faster the closer you get to an object) is something to consider having since your Mom is 73.

IMO gas mileage is not a big concern here since she drives so little. Concentrate on comfort and features that would make her and people around the car safer.

Stan
 

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Mid 2000s Volvo XC70 (?). These are very common in where I live along with the Forester and Prius.

Toyota Matrix
 

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^^Another good option, my beemer replaced a '99 V70XC. Volvos will have electrical issues, probably similar to a Jetta. Passat may be a step up since it's actually German.

You have lots of German choices, as well as Saab/Volvo. I'd go for a higher end car personally, they depreciate a lot. E320 wagon is an awesome machine in every way and costs surprisingly little used.

Before people start the reliability rants -- don't bother, look into problems section of this forum and listen to those that have spent money to keep their Subarus on the road.

Stan
 

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My 73 year-old mother evangelizes her 2010 PT Cruiser highly: good cargo/passenger space, ease of ingress/egress, easy to drive, reasonably good in midwest snow. It replaced a 2007 Toyota Matrix which, though to my mind a better vehicle, was "small and awkward."

If ride height isn't (too big of) an issue, an '07-'12 RAV4 may be worth a good look. Class-leading cargo space, great reliability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Mid 2000s Volvo XC70 (?). These are very common in where I live along with the Forester and Prius.

Toyota Matrix
Forgot about the Matrix / Vibe. Gonna have to throw a tape measure at the interior. Prius is an interesting option - you know how much old people love to talk about saving money on fuel... :biggrin: "Gas was two cents cheaper over in Gopher Gulch..."

The simpler the better, which still leaves Subaru in the mix. They were GM buyers (he ALWAYS had GM) so I'm lucky to get her to consider anything else; I'm sure the old man's ashes are fluttering around right now as she considers something else. Maybe we can throw a bowtie on the front, a la the Chevy Forester.

Luxury brands won't happen. I don't have a problem suggesting one but she simply wouldn't buy a luxury brand. Volvo might slip under the radar. Could get some support from my brother for the Volvo option, too; I'll have to look around to see if there are any brand experts (mechanics) in the area.

Found this on CL just a minute ago: 2007 VW Passat Turbo Wagon - Black
 

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I on occasion drive the department Prius at my job. My biggest problems with it (other than it is sluggish) is the little visibility through the rearview mirror and the blind spot with the A pillar. I usually drive it with the rear seats folded and have to lean forward before turning. Other than that, its awesome on gas. I can do a round trip from western MA. to the Cape and have only a bit under half a tank left. If she wants something fuel efficient and that can carry more gear, Toyota makes a larger Prius.
 

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Lexus IS300 Sportcross

Bulletproof engine, mpg not so good (23-25 hwy) but it's a great car. Not AWD but I always felt safe in mine, I had one for almost 5 years.
 

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Might be slightly over the budget, but a ~2010 GMC Terrain or similar era Equinox. might fit the bill. If she is used to GM vehicles, this might be the easiest choice. In the Midwest, they are priced as low as $15k with higher miles (80k).

Obviously an Outback or Forester would be the best suggestion, but if she is more comfortable with a GM, this might be an interesting option.

What about a pick-up?
Is that out of the question?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I on occasion drive the department Prius at my job. My biggest problems with it (other than it is sluggish) is the little visibility through the rearview mirror and the blind spot with the A pillar. I usually drive it with the rear seats folded and have to lean forward before turning. .
Visibility - good point. We'll be sure to pay attention to that, It's a big deal for me so I always check this anyway.

Might be slightly over the budget, but a ~2010 GMC Terrain or similar era Equinox. might fit the bill. If she is used to GM vehicles, this might be the easiest choice. In the Midwest, they are priced as low as $15k with higher miles (80k).

Obviously an Outback or Forester would be the best suggestion, but if she is more comfortable with a GM, this might be an interesting option.

What about a pick-up?
No pick-ups, though it would be really convenient to have one back in the family. Maybe she'll take one for the team. :icon_wink:

I thought about Terrain / Equinox but like the newer Foresters they are a bit large for her tastes. That said, I'll put her butt in our '12 and see what she thinks about a taller vehicle. You never know. The Monte already drives like the long and wide vehicle that it is - along with the 'benefits' of crappy sight-lines - and she really hated driving the large minivan (Chevy - of course - Uplander) because it was so big. And relatively noisy.

But I'll have her take a look.

new Forester ... of course ...
See above. The new one is out of her price range, though, unless she changes her mind on the budget. That would mean a '12 or older and I think those are noisy enough that she would dislike driving it. Sometimes it's the little details...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Spent four hours bumping around to see what's available in our area. Didn't drive anything since this was just to get an idea of what size (smaller), features (fewer, but heated seats are a plus), etc., that she would like. I think it was a good day since it allowed for some back-to-back comparisons of small utes and wagon-esque options.

What we saw:

Ford Escape, the previous boxy model.
RAV4, 2009-2011.
Odyssey - a bit big so that was ruled out in a hurry.
Outback, pretty much like mine but with an AT and fewer miles - but still high at 92,000.
Honda Fit, 2009 and 2011 models
Mazda 5, 2009
Prius V (we didn't open one up - they only had new ones)

Notably, no VW wagons. Didn't see any Volvo wagons or the Matrix / Vibe twins, either. We also didn't hit every dealer so maybe somebody has more options. She'll take a look at our own Forester one of these days.

Of those we saw, I liked the Fit, 5, and Outback. She wasn't as thrilled about the Fit and has good reasons: it's just a touch on the short side (interior length) and there is about a 5-inch liftover height to get stuff out of the back. I told her we could come up with a removable platform to handle that but for now the Fit is a Plan B option.

I think she favors the 5 over the Outback at this point, but it's still early. Better mileage without AWD, the sliding rear passenger doors, enormous space in back, and she could sleep inside if necessary without any pretzel maneuvering. It's also a bit narrower on the outside. I couldn't come up with any reasons to NOT consider one.

Now that we eliminated some options, I'll be doing my research and will figure things out from there.

Thanks for the list of suggestions - big help.
 

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I'd rock the Mazda 5. My knees hit the steering column but it should be fine for someone with shorter legs. Check out the Volvo wagons, they may be tough to find because people hold on to them.

Stan
 

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I have owned two Mazda 5s, an 07 Sport 5spd manual, and my current DD an 06 Touring auto. You cannot go wrong with a 5, they are fantastic little vans. Be aware that the early models (06-08) had rear alignment issues that can cause accelerated rear tire wear. The auto trans models require diligent maintenance (changing of fluid, filter) to ensure long term reliabilty. Models made after 2009 come with a helper fan to push A/C to the rear seat area to address complaints about anemic A/C. Both my 5s have been heavily tinted so that hasn't been an issue for me. I'm six feet tall and comfortably fit in mine, and yes you could put a double bed size inflatable mattress in the back of one. HTH
 
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