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Help Me Select a Wagon



  • Love my 2005 Outback 2.5 XT. But, if you've been to CR you may know that they rely heavily on desiel fuel, so maybe some sort of desiel conversion may be what you want. I'd definetly get something with quick response that can handle the 6 foot pot holes. You'll also be needing a good, working horn. Those Ticos' are so horn crazy, you'll feel left out without one. :) Have fun, and Pura Vida.
  • Magnum seems like the best compromise unless you can find an M5 wagon conversion or a used 540i Touring. With the Hemi, you won't need a stick.
  • rodutrodut Posts: 343
    Well ... truth is we don't know what we buy. For instance we bought a Chrysler Pacifica (which is the nicest WAGON on the market in my opinion) and it's really difficult to know who made it.

    I mean the engine is made in US, the alternator and fans are made in Japan (by Denso, Toyota's electrical parts manufacturer), the car is assembled in Canada, the rear suspension is German designed (and the company is German too), most cables are made in Mexico, so who can tell me who made my car ?!?!

    I even saw "Bosch" written on a big part ... I don't even know what that was ... cars these days are so complicated ...
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    I agree, it's difficult to know in our marketplace where that TV, washer or car originate considering the number of components that go into it from around the world. Personally, that's why I favour international standards rather than national lobbies. Back in the 70s when the last round of Japan bashing happened, Lee Iacocca was slamming the imports publicly while the company he was heading (Chrysler) was supporting Mitsubishi. GM and Ford are not exclusively national brands, they have always exported into the world market in some cases trouncing the local competition (witness the transformations in the British auto industry for example).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Just try to find an American flag that isn't Made in China. :D

    It's hilarious.

  • kanukanu Posts: 19
    I’m looking for a used wagon for my wife. She used car for shopping, bring a kid to park, etc. I want the wagon because occasionally we need to carry big thing like lawn mower, and easy for carry baby stuff. Don’t want SUV since it’s bad gas mileage and too tall for her (5’). I have only a baby 1 year but in future we may want another one.

    I budget for 7-8K, 3-4 year old as a second car (another one is 05 Accord). Inexpensive wagons are hard to find. We want pretty reliable, inexpensive to maintain (eliminating Volvo, VW) I’m thinking about FOCUS wagon, but it’s pretty rare in my area – Memphis, TN as well as Subaru (only one dealer). There are some Tauras or Saturn but are they reliable. What is your suggestion.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    For that price and age you'll probably have to go small.

    Try a Toyota Matrix or a Mazda5, both are really 5 door hatchbacks, but they'll do the trick for a small family.

    Subaru has the Impreza, Outback Sport, Legacy wagon, and Outback wagon. Even a Forester might do the trick for you. That opens up some options since they aren't that common.

    Focus wagon is quite roomy, even a Focus ZX5 ought to work.

    What else? Suzuki Aerio can be had cheap.

  • kanukanu Posts: 19
    thank for the respone.

    I don't want much option except for Auto transmission.
    Most subarus are probaby over my budget, I probably have to go older year to get them, then the maintainance costs could be high since there is only dealer in my town. Are subarus too complicate for most independent machanic shops?

    Many suggests PT cruisers, but my wife and I think it looks horrible.

    Matrix / Vibe would be a good choice, but they are relatively new models, may have to wait longer to meet my budget.

    Any thing else, please
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Complex, no, not really. They only add a rear differential that needs to be serviced, fluids every 30k. About as hard as an oil change.

    Different, yes. But what mechanic is not familiar with at least one Outback? They're so common now.

    Earlier wagons included the Ford Escort and Toyota Corolla.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,110
    Subarus can be high, and by the vintage your budget requires, the maintenance could be pricey. If there is only one dealer you don't have as much choice if you don't like them. Options there are older Foresters and Impreza wagons. The Focus wagon might be more in your ballpark and you could get a newer one for less than a comparable Subaru. Taurs wagon is much larger, so depends on what you want. Vibe might be less expensive than you think, since they've been out for 2 years now and the Vibe tends to cost less to start with than the Matrix.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    Vibe might be less expensive than you think, since they've been out for 2 years now
    Actually some Vibes are close to 4 years old.
  • gussguss Posts: 1,181
    They build a nice wagon right down the road from you. Saturns have been fairly reliable and you can get them pretty cheap on the used market.

    If I were looking in the $7k to $8k range though I would go with your initial suggestion. You could could get a 2 or 3 year old with 30K to 40K miles for that amount. Their reliability has improved greatly over the past couple of years. They also are very large inside for their size.
  • Hi folks - We are needing to buy a different vehicle, and these are the features we are looking for:

    -AWD or front wheel drive,
    -Good crash test rating,
    -Air bags,
    -Good gas mileage (30+ hwy).
    -Good mechanical/repair rating.
    - Under $5000-$6000
    Our preference is a wagon, unless there is a some other 4 door sedan that is just really great.


    Any and all input would be greatly appreciated. We have and have had toyota tercel wagon, 1988, for many years....they are great cars and actually have all the features that we want, except they do not have air bags and would not offer much protection in the event of a crash.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,110
    You can easily find everything you want, except for the "$5000-6000" part. Up to that point, I was thinking Toyota Matrix. But for less money -- Maybe an older Camry wagon -- I think they stopped making them in 1994? -- but newer and still cheap, I think your main option would be the Ford Focus wagon. There are other wagons out there but few that get 30 mpg.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sorry but I think you're asking for way too much.

    AWD and 30+mpg? (to be fair you do mention FWD) Good crash test ratings and under $6000?

    You'll have to compromise on those, pick one or the other.

    At first I was thinking 2006 Legacy wagon, which just got the IIHS Gold award for safety, tops in the mid-size class. But that's $22k or so. And you might get around 28mph highway, not 30.

    Civic sedan was the other IIHS Gold winner, but it's a sedan only. And it's closer to $20 grand since it just came out.

    The other Gold winners are the Ford 500/Montego and Saab 9-3, but we're going in the wrong direction as far as price goes.

    For $5-6 grand, perhaps consider a '99 Forester. Those got Good scores in the IIHS frontal, just don't expect quite the same for side impacts because it didn't have side air bags back then (2003+). AWD, too, but mileage is 21/27.

    Consider a used Matrix or Protoge5, both efficient little wagons. They won't meet your safety criteria, though, in fact even some newer compact models don't.

    Check out the IIHS web site. Most of their data is for newer models, but some previous generation models do fairly well, perhaps Good or Fair in the important categories:

  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    Since you did say awd or fwd I would suggest you stick with fwd. It will lower your purchase price, increase your gas mileage and open up many more choices.

    A 4-cyl Camry or Accord wagon wagon from the early 90's would do the trick, but most of the Camry's were V-6's and would use too much gas.

    I would say your best bet is a mid 90's Corolla wagon. Great gas mileage - relatively safe for it's time (your budget hurts you here as the safest cars are the newest ones). I know they were made in '94, I think 1996 was the last year. The next generation did not have a wagon. These are well within your budget and you could get a very nice low mileage example. tsidenav..12.Toyota*

    For $400-450 (Corollas have small inexpensive tires) you can pick up a set of 4 snow tires on steel wheels and will do better in the snow than most AWD vehicles (at least those without snows) as you will be able to stop.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Can't disagree with that. You'll give up some safety, but steelies with snows will give you traction and you can drive defensively. Those should be safer than your Tercel would be in a crash.

  • What years were the Ford Focus wagons made? I tried researching it, and i could not find it......
  • I have appreciated the input on my question....I posted a reply a few days ago, but it must have been when the site was shut down for awhile, and does not look like it went through. So I will try again....

    I figured we would have to compromise somewhere, given our budget of $5000-6000. With that in mind, I should say that having the best possible crash test rating within a $5000-6000 budget would take precedence over 30+ mpg hwy. And I thought the snow radial suggestion was a great that opens up some possibilities. It would still need to be automatic, and good reliability rating is very important. I like the idea of a Toyota Corolla as well.

    Another question.....even though we do prefer a wagon, are there some great choices out there that we are missing by limiting it to a wagon? Is there something better in a 4 door sedan?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I like wagons because you get a lot more utility. You can fit a box probably 4 times as big as what would fit in a sedan, and don't really give up much in the process. Not to mention that long roof means a roof rack is possible.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,110
    Ford Focus was made starting 2000. The first two years had lots of recalls but from 2002 on they are supposed to be pretty reliable. A 2002 wagon would probably be in your price range and have less miles than the older Corolla wagon.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    Hello, I was just in this same purchase scenario and scoured the internet for a good used car in that price range. I was really looking for a used Subaru, having owned an Outback and WRX in the past, but discovered that used Subies in that price range a) have a salvage title from a previous wreck, or b) have well over 100k miles already.

    One model in particular fits your criteria but can be difficult to find in good condition: a Subaru Legacy wagon from 1995-1999 with the 2.2l engine. That was a bulletproof engine, has AWD, gets close to 30mpg, and achieved good crash scores. For $6000, it will likely have around 100k miles, but this has been one of Subaru's best cars (from a reliability standpoint) and I would feel comfortable driving one for many more years.

  • Thanks, Suydam, for clarifying the ford focus years. We are considering any and all options here, and sometimes its difficult to get this kind of information.

    We have heard a lot of good things about the Corolla, but, yes.....I don't ever remember seeing one for sale in our area anyway. Brian....were you able to find one via the internet? We kind of hesitate buying a vehicle in that manner, but if we could find one that is in our proximity, that would work. Are there some sites that you found that work better than others?

    In an earlier post, someone mentioned the Chrysler Pacifica...does anyone know much about that vehicle? Mostly curious.....I think we are leaning towards the Corolla due to the combination of AWD, crash test, mileage and reliability....but I would like to research all options.....
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    Ultimately, I found an 01 Nissan pickup with under 40k miles that I bought -- I would have loved to find a good used Subie, but that's a *really* tough price range to be in. My priority was a trouble free utility vehicle for cheap, and the Nissan fit that perfectly.

    I did most of my searching on Craigslist (.org), which has sites for dozens of cities, but is especially useful in the San Francisco area since that's where it started 10 years ago. Other good ones for searching is and vehix, although those two are mostly *dealer* vehicles as opposed to private party vehicles.

  • Thanks! I will check out these searches....we prefer to buy from a private seller, so if anyone knows of sites specific for that, that would be great.
  • I am searching for a new or used(1-3 years old) wagon or car.Here are some things I need. Space for large dog(80 pounds). Reliability and safety important. I live in the mountains(rain but no snow, windy roads) Commute to city(30 miles away).I am willing to pay up to 30k..amy recommendations? Also which cars depreciate the least and don't have alot of electrical or maintenance repairs? Which carry the best warranties?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Here's their latest Gold/Silver awards for overall ratings:

    From that list, a few of the models come as wagons:

    * Audi A6 Avant
    * Saab 9-3 SportKombi
    * Subaru Legacy
    * Audi A3 5 door
    * Audi A4 Avant
    * Chevy Malibu Maxx

    Jetta and Passat wagons should come soon, as well.

    With 80 lb dogs look for the tallest hatch, see if they fit comfortably.

  • erics6erics6 Posts: 684
    For private party sales,, and your local paper. I'd second the 95-99 Legacy (non-Outback). Corolla wagons are hard to find but good. In the 5-6k range, you have limited options.
  • Ok, this Malibu Maxx driver, who likes the Maxx but is worried his 1st yr build model is gonna die of 1st year gremlins just after its warranty expires, is considering the following '06 models:

    1. Malibu Maxx SS
    2. Audi A3 3.2T QUATTRO
    3. Toyota RAV4

    The Audi has advantage of AWD and a nice interior but costs _way_ more than the other two, and I really don't know if it will be reliable (Audi, and especially its parent BMW, do poorly on that) or if its resale will hold up.

    The Maxx SS, has a revised engine from my '04 LS, and should have 1st year gremlins exorcised by now, but I hear the ride is like lead and am not sure of VVT engine's reliability (how are other GM engines with VVT holding up?).

    Perhaps the Toyota is the safest choice given their track record. But this year's RAV4 is an all new design.

    My biggest concern is overall reliability and dealer backing. Gas mileage is also a factor. Also any feedback on new Audi and Toyota (JDPower has zip on either) would be appreciated.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, RAV4 is rather large, so first I'd determine if the extra space would be useful, i.e. an asset, or a liability (extra weight).

    If you can use the space, that would be my pick.

    Otherwise, the SS sure looks a lot nicer now, and the extra kick won't hurt, plus it'll be several grand cheaper than the Audi. Bummer that Audi got rid of the free scheduled maintenance, eh?

This discussion has been closed.