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October 14, 2010


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If you're trying to improve your kids' comfort, I would advise against the RAV4. The back seat is set at a 90 degree angle and is very uncomfortable. Unless they've changed this feature in newer models - definitely something to check before purchasing.

Have you tried Ford? I really like my Escape. I guess the Explorer would be the next size up.

About your whistling Toyota: Check out a manual from the library and tighten the belt yourself (at most, all you need is a socket set). Very simple...and free.

Keep the Subaru! It will last you at least another 100k miles. There are tons of them here in CO that have 250k miles or more and have no major issues. As long as you keep up on the maintenance obviously. Your kids won't need to ride with you often enough to justify a brand new SUV that will get worse gas mileage, cost more in upkeep like tires and brakes, and be more prone to rollovers. Your Subaru will only depreciate a few thousand dollars in the next 5 years, whereas any new SUV you buy will depreciate at least $15-20k in five years.

Tim --

I got the same advice from a friend who has an Outback with 130,000 miles. A week later he took his car in and they found a whole mess of brake problems. $2,700 later and his "cheap" car is now an "expensive" one (and with 130k miles on it.) ;-)

I agree with Tim. $2,700 for a brake job? Even if they replaced everything with new parts,including the ABS computers and components, that is a lot. I'm so glad I fix my own cars.

Keep the Subaru. I usually don't buy a car that has less than 100K. My current ride has 240K on a Jeep Cherokee. Wife Mazda has about 100K.

Cars nowadays should go 200K with just routine maintenance, I usually won't buy a car with a timing belt unless the wife really wants it (many still have a chain). It is really the only expensive maintence item on newer vehicles.

Recommend a GMC Acadia. Fits 8, rides nice and has ample room for alot of things.

I'll agree with the RAV4 comment--I have one and love it, but I'm 5'1''. Anyone over 5'7'' hates riding with me.

The Nissan Muranos are very nice cars, and ours has been fairly reliable. The back seat is big enough for people well over 6 feet tall to be comfortable.

Be sure to check out the Ford Edge. Ford quality has improved to equal or better than imports, and the Edge sounds close to the size of vehicle you are looking for. At least give it a test drive. AWD is available as well.

Go back to the Honda dealer and take a Crosstour home. It's 20 inches shorter and about 5 inches narrower than a Pilot, but much larger in the back seat than your Forester. It's also a hatchback, so you can carry somewhat awkward items like your small SUV does. And yes, it can be had with AWD

CU suggests it will be better than average reliability, but it is a new model so no historical data. The data for the current Accord sedan looks ok (this is basically just an Accord hatchback) but the Accord has no AWD so there is some risk I guess.

I don't think there would be any problem keeping the Forester for a few more years either. It looks like by 2012/2013 there could be some very interesting options (and with much better fuel economy) on the market. With a child about to go to college in less than 5 years, that Forester would be a good college car for either a local school or one away from home. Also, spending down your cash on a new car right before applying for financial aid might increase your chances (I understand retirement accounts don't count against you - cash savings in the bank does).

DCS --

I saw the Crosstour the other night while at the Honda dealer. I thought it was very cool (my son LOVED it), but didn't have much room for storage in the back. Add in the AWD/reliability issue you note and the high price tag and it's a deal killer for me.

I didn't drive it, but I'm guessing it's VERY fast. I think it has horsepower close to what a Pilot and Highlander have, but it has to be much lighter.

I had the same reaction to the Honda Pilot--too huge!

I purchased a CRV in 2008 instead--and I just love it. I'm not too big however (5'5") & I only have 2 children. Great gas mileage and very flexible for transporting stuff with the fold-down split rear seat, and on-demand 4WD which is good for the snowy upper midwest where I live. There seem to be hundreds on the road in my town now. I also love the heated drivers' seat...! Outstanding repair record and safety features too. Negatives are typical with a smaller SUV as compared to a larger one--more road noise, slightly less comfortable to drive because you can feel the road more--but for me the everyday gas mileage is more important.

I ended up with a Hyundai Santa Fe and have been very pleased

I don't live too far away and I would be willing to buy the Forester! Have you considered a Subaru Outback? The new Outback is more SUV-like than wagon-like.

Michael --

Really? If you're really interested, I'll keep your email on file and let you know when/if it's available.

$250 to adjust a squeaky belt? $2,700 for major brake issues? Where do you guys get your service done at? Even a dealer wouldn't charge that much unless your just a sucker.

My brother had a RAV4 for a long time and I hated riding in the back when I visited him. Leg room was too tight for my long legs (5' 9" tall woman). If your kids are going to be on tall side soon, then this may be a disadvantage for them. He no longer has the RAV4 and he bought a Toyota Highlander.

Myself, I still drive my 1994 Geo Prizm 4-door sedan with 53,000 miles but I only drive myself in it most times. Since I take mass transit to/from work during the week, the car has low mileage.

If you're worried about the headrest on the new Forester, just pull it out and turn it around.

I used to buy cars @ 100k miles, 'cause they can be had cheap if you're willing to do the maintenance on your own. Now, I'm looking at cars more in the 20-50k mile range - I make more money now and have less time for the maintenance (funny how that works).

I never buy new. The depreciation hit is too significant and what do you really get besides peace of mind that you're the only one to drive it. Just find one with complete maintenance records and you'll be happy

Check out the Honda Element! I'm 6'3" as well, and fit great up front, and just as well in the back. Plus, you have the added utility of being able to flip up the seats in the back and have a ton of room to haul things.

Keep the Superscrew after you get a major check of all systems, etc., and have all fluidd, belts, filters, plugs, etc., replaced and check the brakes/suspension for needed wwork. CArs today should EASILY go 200K, motors etc., don't wear out, just do ALL (the sever) mianteneance and don't let a vehicle overheat, run empty of critical fluid or a CEL light on flashing...the kids will fit fine!

I can't really say anything about Subaru's, but I bought my 91 Camry used at 131k miles and have put 100k on it since then. In that time, I've replaced the clutch, radiator, water belt, alternator, hoses (twice), brakes, and tires. I need new struts (and a front end alignment after running into a ditch in the spring). Aside from those repairs (so far, about $2500 in repairs over 6 years); the car has never given me any reason not to expect it to last until 300k miles.

I love my RAV4. It handles well, yet I don't feel like I'm driving a gigantic SUV. I used to carpool with a guy who was over 6', and he thought it was surprisingly roomy. The only complaint I have is the trunk space. Once I put my stroller in the back, there's not room for much else. Your kids are older, of course, but they might have a lot of gear/equipment that needs to be shuttled around. Also, adding a fifth person in the middle of the back seat is a bit of a squeeze.

I agree with what chynalemay said. My '97 Ford Escort station wagon has over 250k on it and after rebuilding the top end once, it runs fine. Yes, the rebuild cost around $2,000, but I asked myself if I could buy as good a used car for $2k, and the answer was no. So I had it done.

Yes, if it has a timing belt, replace it after 100k.

Or better yet, buy used cars in the $6K-$10 range, keep them for 6-10 years, and sell them for $1K-$3K. Let someone else do the maintenance. You only spend less than $1K per year on the car using this system.

I just love my 2003 Ford Escape 4x4. It's got just over 65k and I plan on keeping it another 7 years at least. I'll get another one. Fits both me (5'2) and DH (6'1) perfectly. Adult passengers say they are very comfortable in the back seat. No major expenses to date.

I had looked at the Forester first; but the Escape beat it out in handling, size and price.

My 92 4Runner has 260k on it. It'll go to 300k no problem. Also have a 2003 Tundra with 100k. We'll also take it to 300k.

The new CRV has a backseat that is the least comfortable of any car I've ever been in.

It's all the comfort of a wooden bleacher at a little league stadium, but possibly worse. A Klingon would be scared to sleep on it.

Try test driving the Scion Xb. Yeah, the boxy one. I'm 6'1 and extremely comfortable in it. I can also fit 3 grown men in the back seat comfortably. For such a small car, it is very roomy.

Keep the car and drive it into the ground.

I owned a 2003 Honda CR-V until last year & now drive a 2005 4-Runner. I loved both of them but the Honda will probably be too small for you. I am 5'4 and it was perfect for me & it drives more like a car, whereas my 4-Runner has a truck base. The tires were small on the CR-V so the cost of replacing those was way cheaper than most SUVs and the movability was just amazing, it practically pivots. We paid it off & my husband wanted something smaller so we kept his 4-Runner and he got a 2005 Mazda 3. I know you didn't mention 4-Runner but if it isn't too big I would highly recommend it. I work at home so the mileage is low but I have no doubt it will go for well over 100,000, probably double that. I prefer it much more over the look & feel of the Highlander. We are already talking of it being my daughter's car when she is old enough to drive (she's 9) so I have a lot of faith in it. Personally, we only buy used & get Carfax on everything we are seriously considering. Buy a 1-2 year old low mileage car & let the first owner eat the depreciation.

That being said, my husband is a big car guy, does almost all of our repairs. If you can get someone you know to look at that belt & fix it than I would just do that. We recently replaced a part on the 4-Runner that the dealer was charging close to $700 for. It took him a few hours to fix and the part cost was only around $70 and depending on the dealer, they can be known to find more problems than you really have & the labor cost is outrageous. A good mechanic or friend that you can pay with dinner/beer/etc., is a great thing to have.

I have had 2 cars get over 300k. They were a '79 Buick Electra Ltd. (363k) and a '92 Chevy Lumina (316k). They each also got 30 mpg regularly. I will say they were mostly highway miles though.

My current car is a 2000 Ford Taurus Wagon and it gets 30 mpg highway. I've even got 33.5 mpg more than once trying to use some of the tips on saving gas. Normally it gets @24-25 mpg as I drive only locally and don't use it as much since I am retired. Sometimes I only get a full tank of gas once monthly. It has @183k on it and I plan to keep it for at least 5 more years.

I always keep my present car if all repairs and maintenance average me less than $100-120 over the lifetime I've had the vehicle. I could not buy another car for a monthly payment of that amount. Right now my costs are running about $93 per month for repairs & maintenance over 5 years. I'm keeping it. I do have enough to buy an older used car if this one goes. In 5 years I may have enough for a better one. But, at 73 years of age, I don't think I will have but one more car to buy, if that. AND, being old, I do not like all the new thing-a-mabobs added to each new car. Ha-Ha!!

I forgot - the '79 Buick paid for itself for a year after it was dead. Sold it for a teen to use to get his experience driving on. I sold it for $75. It lasted one week, they changed the tires (almost brand new) and replaced the Diehard battery for an older one. Took it to the junkyard and got $100 for it.

One year later, I got a call from them about another Buick story. Battery dead. Took it to Sears. Enough warranty on the dead battery to completely pay for a new one for an older pickup. I love old car stories.

FWIW MasterPo's 4Runner has noisy belts too (taking it in tomorrow for another adjustment). But other wise has been 10+ years and 111k miles solid and reliable.

MasterPo has driven the Highlander and while it's nice it's more like a suped-up car with 4x4 rather than a real SUV.

OTOH, Mrs. MasterPo has a Hyundia Tuscon and it's great! More SUV like than a Highlander but not as "truck" as a 4Runner. Very good mileage surprisingly for a V6.

My fiance had a RAV4 in college and grad school - he named it Peppy. It did great in the snow (New York and New England), and for summer driving, it had a fun little button that I'm pretty sure acted as a turbo booster or something. We liked it.

FMF - yeah, if you do decide to sell the Forrester drop me an email with details on it, because I am interested.

I'd keep the Forester. 105K is not high mileage these days, and if it's well-maintained it will keep running well for quite a while. You could start mkaing car choices now, and when/if the Subaru has needs a significant repair, be ready to trade it in.

I drive a 97 RAV4/115k miles and love it. Handles like the top-heavy vehicle it is, but I have the utility of an SUV in a reasonable size. It's not 4wd, but does very well in snow.

i have a 1995 jeep cherokee with over 200,000 miles on it. i've always done regular maintenance on it, replaced things as needes & it has the original transmission & engine. car still runs great!

I'm actually quite surprised you are considering getting rid of your current car and even more so that you are considering purchasing a NEW car! I'm in a similar situation with a '97 Honda Accord with 110,000 miles but highly doubt I would buy a new car. Isn't purchasing a new car one of the worst moves financially, as the value depreciates quite a bit as soon as its driven off the lot? With that in mind, why not buy used, or certified pre-owned? What benefit do you see to spending much more money for a new car?

David --

You're going to have to read my other car-related posts -- I've been over this issue several times previously...

I have a 1997 Saturn Vue and have always taken care of it. It has the original transmission. If you read the reports, this car is supposed to be bad on transmissions. So far, so good!

I was once in the car business. Subarus just run and run and run. The Outback is bigger than the Forester. I'd check it out.

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