small suv's

futuresoccermom

New member
Does anyone have any suggestions on choosing a small suv? We just found out we are expecting our second child so we need a new(well used actually)vehicle. Unfortunately our price range is low, probably not more that $15,000.

The only one I've looked at so far is the Hyudai Santa Fe, I thought the size was pretty good, and the gas mileage wasn't too bad.

Thanks!
 

stevel

New member
we used to have hyundai service in our building. and those guys replaced ALOT of engines on those and took cylinder heads off other models on a very regular basis. I don't remember the model years or if there was one year in particular. but they had alot of cylinder sleeves drop causing catastrophic failure. my aunt's husband actually bought one used and had the timing belt break our of warranty, yet before the reccomended replacement time and they had to buy an engine. cheap vehicles often display why they are cheap, sometimes sooner than later......
 

southpawboston

New member
we used to have hyundai service in our building. and those guys replaced ALOT of engines on those and took cylinder heads off other models on a very regular basis. I don't remember the model years or if there was one year in particular. but they had alot of cylinder sleeves drop causing catastrophic failure. my aunt's husband actually bought one used and had the timing belt break our of warranty, yet before the reccomended replacement time and they had to buy an engine. cheap vehicles often display why they are cheap, sometimes sooner than later......
lol, stevel, i think you lost most of the people here with "cylinder sleeve". the hyundai 3.2L "delta" engine was in fact lousy, the later 3.5L versions were just as bad. those were the engines in the last generation santa fe. they also suffered piston slap, bad crankshaft bearings, and a slew of other problems. not to mention, the transfer cases all went bad. and i mean ALL. hyundai began losing so much money from replacing them (at over a grand a pop) that they started denying warranty claims on them and strong-arming customers to pay out of pocket (by finding lapses in their maintenance records). not a great vehicle from a reliability standpoint. however, the elantra and accent were quite reliable. the 1.6L "alpha" and 2.0L "beta" engines in the accent and elantra, respectively, were pretty solid. hyundais have gotten a lot better; the current crop of hyundais are actually quite nice. i had an older elantra which gave me lots of little problems, but none catastrophic, and all covered under that great warranty (but how great is it if you have to continually leave your car at the dealer?)... at the time i vowed never to get another hyundai, but i have to admit the new ones are looking pretty good. if only they held their value better... that's the downshot of buying a cheap car... it loses residual value much faster than some other cars that cost a bit more.
 

stevel

New member
lol, stevel, i think you lost most of the people here with "cylinder sleeve". the hyundai 3.2L "delta" engine was in fact lousy, the later 3.5L versions were just as bad. those were the engines in the last generation santa fe. they also suffered piston slap, bad crankshaft bearings, and a slew of other problems. not to mention, the transfer cases all went bad. and i mean ALL. hyundai began losing so much money from replacing them (at over a grand a pop) that they started denying warranty claims on them and strong-arming customers to pay out of pocket (by finding lapses in their maintenance records). not a great vehicle from a reliability standpoint. however, the elantra and accent were quite reliable. the 1.6L "alpha" and 2.0L "beta" engines in the accent and elantra, respectively, were pretty solid. hyundais have gotten a lot better; the current crop of hyundais are actually quite nice. i had an older elantra which gave me lots of little problems, but none catastrophic, and all covered under that great warranty (but how great is it if you have to continually leave your car at the dealer?)... at the time i vowed never to get another hyundai, but i have to admit the new ones are looking pretty good. if only they held their value better... that's the downshot of buying a cheap car... it loses residual value much faster than some other cars that cost a bit more.
more details than I knew. :) I never talked to the hyundai techs much. didn't like them. just noticed them do alot of engine work. scoupe turbos were deffinately something special too. lol.
 

Momto2whosews

Senior Community Member
lol, stevel, i think you lost most of the people here with "cylinder sleeve". the hyundai 3.2L "delta" engine was in fact lousy, the later 3.5L versions were just as bad. those were the engines in the last generation santa fe. they also suffered piston slap, bad crankshaft bearings, and a slew of other problems. not to mention, the transfer cases all went bad. and i mean ALL. hyundai began losing so much money from replacing them (at over a grand a pop) that they started denying warranty claims on them and strong-arming customers to pay out of pocket (by finding lapses in their maintenance records). not a great vehicle from a reliability standpoint. however, the elantra and accent were quite reliable. the 1.6L "alpha" and 2.0L "beta" engines in the accent and elantra, respectively, were pretty solid. hyundais have gotten a lot better; the current crop of hyundais are actually quite nice. i had an older elantra which gave me lots of little problems, but none catastrophic, and all covered under that great warranty (but how great is it if you have to continually leave your car at the dealer?)... at the time i vowed never to get another hyundai, but i have to admit the new ones are looking pretty good. if only they held their value better... that's the downshot of buying a cheap car... it loses residual value much faster than some other cars that cost a bit more.
OK, well now you have me a bit freaked out. I have an 03 Santa Fe with the 3.5L engine. We are in no way prepared to buy or trade in the next few years. We always plan to keep our cars for 10 years and DH's car will be 10 next year and due to be replaced. We don't finance them so the 5 year span between replacements lets us save for the next one. Mine has to last another 6 years! We can't make do with a smaller car/sedan because we have 2 in carseats, plus a dog that travels with us regularly.

If you can, can you tell me what I should be looking for before the warranty is up (I think it's 5 years on the powertrain and that will be in 9/08). And also, did you get this info by working for a Hyundai dealership or from other's who did? Not doubting you, just curious since you have a LOT of info.
 

Momto2whosews

Senior Community Member
OK, after worrying about this for half the day, I finally went out and read my manual. Turns out I don't have the 3.5L engine (that's the V6 model right?). I would never spend that much, LOL! We have the baseline model with the 2.4L, 6 cylinder engine. I think it's the same one as in the Sonata.

So, please, please, please tell me that there is a major difference between the two, and I don't have to worry about all those awlful things happening to my car (where's the begging icon?).
 

BABYGIRLLYNDSEY

New member
Suzuki XL7 is a nice small SUV. We have one, bought it used. It holds 7 passengers. The second seat holds three and the third holds two. The third row is small. We paid less than $9,000 and it was used. I do know new they are pretty cheap or getting a one year old one is pretty cheap too.
 

southpawboston

New member
If you can, can you tell me what I should be looking for before the warranty is up (I think it's 5 years on the powertrain and that will be in 9/08). And also, did you get this info by working for a Hyundai dealership or from other's who did? Not doubting you, just curious since you have a LOT of info.
watch out for components of the 4WD system, which are inherently weak in the santa fe (weak in terms of prone to failure). this includes the transfer case and the rear differential.

if any of these components fail within the bumper to bumper (B2B) 5/60 warranty, then they will usually not put up a fight, but they will want proof of maintenance as specificed in the owner's manual.

the sticky part comes in with the extended 10/100 powertrain warranty. as specified in the warranty manual, those parts do count as "powertrain" components and are covered under the extended warranty. and most of the failures are happening at some mileage over 60k, after the B2B warranty has expired. apparently the regional service reps are pressuring the dealers to not cover those repairs after the B2B warranty is expired, either by denying that the defect is part of the powertrain coverage, or by claiming that you didn't keep up with required maintenance (hyundai is VERY picky about that), etc, etc...

i never worked for hyundai, but i owned a hyundai elantra and was a global forum moderator at elantraclub.com. one of the members of that forum (and personal friend of mine whom i've met several times) was a guy who worked at a hyundai dealership, and he brought this up during a forum discussion about warranty claims. he said that they will basically try to weazel their way out of honoring the warranty and that it can require a pretty good fight to get them to "do the right thing". in addition to the santa fe problems, the hyundai accent also had a common problem with an engine knocking noise caused by loosed main bearings. this happened to his brother's accent and the case got escalated all the way to the top of the chain, and they never fixed it. he ended up selling his car at a loss and buying something else.

i'm not trying to scare you into getting rid of your santa fe. but be very diligent about the scheduled service intervals, and if you do need major repairs and the vehicle is still technically under warranty, don't let the dealer try to weazel out of honoring it.

if you bought your santa fe used, this may be largely moot, since the extended 10/00 powertrain warranty does not transfer to second owners.

ETA: oh, and another main point of all this was that much of the warranty shenanigans varies from region to region, as the regional warranty reps have pretty much complete power over authorizing the local dealers to perform warranty repairs. if you have a good regional rep, you may not ever have problems. but if you have a bad one, it can make being a hyundai owner difficult.

i also had firsthand experience with hyundai trying to deny warranty claims on my elantra, albiet using a different tact. they would always tell me that the problem "is not a problem, it is within spec"). so when one of my four power windows started going very slooooooow up or down, i was told "that's normal, we're not going to fix that under warranty... it still works, right?" after two years of this type of attitude, i unloaded my hyundai for something else.
 

Momto2whosews

Senior Community Member
Thanks! I don't have 4WD either - should have mentioned that. I try to avoid as many bells & whistles as I can when I buy a car. It's cheaper and there's less to go wrong - I hope!

We did buy it new, but we never take it to the dealer for service. My DH or my dad take care of oil changes, timing belts, etc. so I'm a little nervous on that front with respect to the warranty. There is no record of service except for our receipts for oil filters and they probably wouldn't like that. I'm going to read my warranty manual very carefully to see what it says about maintenance. I will NOT let them weazel me out of it if something goes wrong. I have a natural hatred for car dealers and service managers - too many bad experiences. DH lets me do the deal-making when we buy a car - he just leaves the building so as not to be embarassed :D

This is our third Hyundai. The only problem we ever had with the last one, an Accent, turned out to be a silent recall issue. A switch on the clutch that prevented starting it while it was in gear went bad and it just wouldn't start anymore. It was under warranty and they fixed it no questions asked and even picked it up at our house and gave us a free rental for the day. I hope this means we have a good regional reps up here.

Thanks for all the info!
 

twokidstwodogs

New member
Does anyone have any suggestions on choosing a small suv? We just found out we are expecting our second child so we need a new(well used actually)vehicle. Unfortunately our price range is low, probably not more that $15,000.
If at all possible, try to find a vehicle with side curtain airbags for rear passengers, but that may not be easy to come by in your price range. Also keep small station wagons on your list. They are just as flexible as SUVs in terms of seating and cargo, and if you don't need the ground clearance, you might be able to find one that suits your needs.

You should look into used RAV-4s, CR-Vs, Foresters, Legacies, and Outbacks. All should be pretty reliable. Used Subarus will be the best $ deal, and they have had great crash test ratings for quite a few years now, even without curtain airbags.

You might also be able to find a used Mazda5 in that price range. It's a van, not an SUV, but it's a great, flexible car.
 

southpawboston

New member
i've heard they are good for off-roading compared with other small SUVs, so if you want an SUV for mainly regular driving, they seem a little overkill. keep in mind that SUVs in general cost more throughout ownership than passenger cars, since maintenance items are more expensive (all-terrain tires, for example, cost more than passenger car tires, and don't last as long), and they tend to get bad gas mileage. IIRC, the jeep liberty is quite tall and has a high center of gravity, meaning high rollover risk. is the 2002 model you're looking at equipped with stability control? that helps in the rollover risk department.
 

Jeanum

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
Staff member
I don't think stability control became available until the 2006 model year on the Liberty. My MIL drives an '06 model, and hers unfortunately gets worse gas mileage than the larger GMC Envoy it replaced. I haven't installed any of our seats in it so I can't speak to carseat friendliness first hand. I have seen posts here or on other boards about it being tough to install RF seats in the Liberty.
 

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