What cars should be on our short list?


We just dodged a bullet when we found out that our noisy exhaust problem on our 1997 Subaru station wagon is only going to cost $30 to fix. But before we knew that, we had started thinking about what to replace the Subaru with when it dies, as it surely will, sooner or later.

One of our friends is selling their 2000 Land Rover with 144k miles for $2000. Dh thought that would be a great option; I really don't. I'd rather have other good options to suggest when the subject comes up again. The one and only good thing about the Land Rover is the price. In all other ways (age, passenger capacity, gas mileage - 8 cylinder motor, etc), it is not a good car for us (IMO). Well, the other good thing about it is all/four wheel drive. We do want that.

So, help me get a list together. We want AWD/4WD since we live in a hilly, snowy place with inadequate plowing. (Last winter our van got stuck 3 times, and it would have been more if we hadn't opted for the Subaru in the worst weather/conditions. And dh is resistant to getting it snow tires.)

We also want it to fit our whole family (6 people). We don't care too much about cargo space because we wouldn't likely take it on big trips. Good gas mileage would be a big plus. Cheap would also be a big plus. (ETA: not really sure on budget b/c we don't know how long we'll have to save up - I'd say under $10k is likely.)

I have driven an Astro/Safari minivan and that is out.

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New member
Land Rovers are very capable vehicles, but they have a reputation for being unreliable and requiring costly and time-consuming repairs. Whether or not that reputation is truly deserved is hard to say, but certainly JD Power's Dependability study shows them at almost bottom in the industry:


If you want 4WD and seating for at least six, with reasonable gas mileage and reliabillity, I'd probably be on the lookout for a Toyota Sienna AWD minivan. Not sure what availability would be like in your area and price range, but based on a quick search online, somewhere around the 2004-2005 model year should get you near the $10K mark.

If you want to expand your search further, it sounds like a mid-size, 3-row SUV like the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer or Honda Pilot would also work for you.

Safety-wise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's website (iihs.org) is a good source for safety ratings. Pick the vehicle you're interested in and then "other model years" to see a summary chart -- sometimes you can see a clear jump in scores starting with a particular model year.


I think a Sienna with AWD is going to be nearly impossible to find around here for cheap. Currently there are none on Autotrader within 100 miles (for <$10k).

Thanks for the tip on IIHS ratings!


Gas mileage isn't ideal but our '06 Explorer was great on slick roads. DH would always take it when weather wasn't good, and very rarely engaged the 4WD because the traction control worked so well. Mind you, we live in Arkansas, so we don't get that much snow, but when we do, it likely has a layer of ice under it.


The prices on those Ford Freestyles are kind of crazy good. That is definitely on the short list! Why is it not more popular? Is it just that no one thinks of Ford when they want a crossover-type car?

Thanks for the help! Next time our Subie gives us a scare, I'll have a good list going to show dh. :)


CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Hasn't been around for years, plus depreciation on Ford/GM/Chrysler products is generally greater than Honda/Toyota/Subaru. I didn't look closely at any of those listings, sometimes you get a batch of vehicles that don't have clear titles due to recent floods or something, so be sure to check that stuff out of course.

And if you like Subaru, I wonder if an early Tribeca with the third row would interest you?




A Tribeca *definitely* interests me. (If we could fit all our kids in another Subaru station wagon without strapping one to the roof, we'd do it!) I will put that on the short list as well. Subarus can sometimes be hard to come by up here because they are so well-liked, but maybe if we have a mild winter (ha!), then people will be selling them off. ;)


CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
And I think the third row was optional, at least the first couple years, so finding less expensive ones that have it will be even tougher. Might have to drive to NYC:/

Carmax is usually overpriced, but if you have one near you, they will ship from any store nationwide for a fee.

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