Need to buy reliable used car for kids-suggestions as to make/model?

<p>It's finally happening....My son just got his driver's license and his sister will get hers later this year. Time to buy the Third Car. We have owned only Toyota products in our household since 1992, so my inclination is to buy a used Toyota. I hate to buy an SUV (an, amazingly, my son doesn't want one), but the Camry or Corolla are such "mom" cars.</p>

<p>Any suggestions of cars that aren't super dorky, aren't gas guzzlers, but are generally reliable?</p>

<p>We actually looked at buyin a used car also, but decided to buy new. We got him a pontiac g5. Our main reason was after we saw how much a used car was going to cost vs. the new, it was cheaper in the long run (we have 3 kids) and so we will keep it through all of the kids. The Pontiac has good gas mileage, it is sporty, it cost us @15k and best part we have roadside assistance for 3/36 and 100K for warranty. His insurance was also going to be a lot less with the new car.</p>

<p>Piece of mind knowing that they won't break down somewhere. I have also seen to many of our friends who are on their 2nd used car (add in maintenance on a used car over time), and when you add that into the tally it also made us new car was the way to go for us</p>

<p>We fully investigated and ended up buying a new car also: a 2007 Honda Civic EX (? middle model, anyway). We initially thought we'd buy a used car, but then opted for the convenience of the more known commodity--sans someone else's problems. We also wanted all the airbags (including side curtain) that come with the newer models. </p>

<p>For reliability in a used car Consumer Reports consistently recommends Toyotas and Hondas--we've had great experiences with both makes. Scion is less expensive, less dorky and still essentially a Toyota. Mazda makes a nice sporty little car that's reliable and fun to drive (no tall backseat passengers though).</p>

<p>We consider it the third family vehicle and will probably gift it to our daughter upon college graduation, at which point we'll replace it and do the same with her younger brother.</p>

<p>We've bought TWO Ford Tauruses since twins turned 16 two years ago. H researched and went with the Taurus for safety and reliability. D was hit from behind and first car was totalled, but she walked away without a scratch. We figured that Taurus did it's job and immediately replaced it with another!</p>

<p>Somewhat middle-aged dorky but leather interior and moon roof help. Now that Ds are off at school, I happily alternate between the Taurus and my convertible. But it's admittedly a bit of a gas guzzler.</p>

<p>We initially looked at several Japanese autos, but found they had a higher resale value. Good for a seller, not so good for a buyer. If you choose the used car route, we found yahoo autos a great time saver to locate cars of interest. But do call the dealer to verify that the car is still on the lot.</p>

<p>Enjoy the freedom of having another driver in the family.</p>

<p>I have a 50+ mile round trip commute to work. One option I am also considering is buying myself a Prius and giving the kids my (dorky Mom) Camry. Don't know if I can get used to the size of the Prius, however....need to drive one.</p>

<p>We bought a used Saturn for our kids and couldn't be happier. Repair prices are reasonable, car is reliable and sporty looking. Buying a new one would help to spark the economy in recession-weary Detroit, so that is a bonus.</p>

<p>Ditto for us...when the time came we got a 2006 Civic and when her brother graduated from college he got a 2007 Civic Hybrid. We opted for new so that we could have the most up to date safety features and for the warranties. By the way, D had an accident about 9 months after we had the car, side impact collision, and though the car sustained much damage, she was fine but for an airbag burn on her arm. I don't know what might have happened without the side curtain airbags since the bulk of the impact was to the driver's door. And since my H and I drive Acuras, you could say we are a Honda family.</p>

<p>I love my Prius. I had no problem getting used to it after a Subaru Forester. </p>

<p>We bought the Forester used and love it. D will take it to school next year; it's great for her snowy area.</p>

<p>@ missypie</p>

<p>I also recommend Mitsubishi cars. I drive a 2001 model, and it has given me few problems other than typical maintenance issues. It has over 100,000 miles and is still going strong. </p>

<p>I also recommend attending your local area rental-car auction sales. You can buy a new car model with some mileage for half the price of its original value.</p>

<p>We had an American car, a Chevy Eurosport wagon, in the 90's and could never really find a mechanic who would really service it in the manner that my Japanese car mechanic did. The American car mechanics would always try to "save me money" despite my instructions to "fix it right before it breaks". The steering rack went out on a vacation in NJ and the mechanic down there raised it on the lift and the motor mounts gave out and the engine fell out! This was all two weeks after having a complete mechanical checkout and getting a clean bill of health before our vacation. This was also like the fourth "really good mechanic" we tried on this car. </p>

<p>All of my other cars have been Toyotas or "Toyota inside" cars like a Geo Prism (which I took to my Toyota mechanic) and they have been trouble free. My Toyota mechanic will do things like replace a perfectly good water pump when he does the timing belt because he's "going in there anyway" and it's more cost effective than "going in there" again when the water pump eventually goes. We've never been left stranded through 4 Toyotas and hundreds of thousands of miles over 16 years. </p>

<p>IMO, one of the reasons Japanese cars are better used cars is because Japanese car mechanics are used to customers expecting a higher standard of reliability.</p>

<p>After taking a leap of faith and relying on their fabulous warantee, we are a committed Hyundai family and we sold our first one to our ds for $1. It has 130,000+ miles on it, made the trip to California and back with no problem, has had zere maintenance problems and still purrs like a kitten.</p>

<p>Plus they still have a relatively low resale price compared to Toyota and Honda.</p>

<p>Check with your insurance agent, there might be significant rate differences for different models. For instance, our insurance does not like kids driving 4X4, because it implies the car will be used for offroading by inexperienced drivers.</p>

<p>In our area, Honda Civic is #1 stolen car. We ended up buying Corollas for the kids. Toyota now makes a hatchback Corolla called Matrix, and it fits a lot more stuff (bike, skis, my monthly Costco loot) than the sedan version while the mpg is about the same (ours get 32 mpg consistently in mix of freeway/town driving). Pontiac has the "american" version of it called Vibe; it is very similar to Matrix in style, has the same "guts", and even the dashboard looks the same!</p>

<p>Toyota is coming out with the new restyled Matrix in a couple of months (looks very jazzy and even has Nav. system), so the dealers are very eager to get rid of the 2008 and 2007 ones!</p>

<p>Just keep in mind many older cars do not have side impact airbags, which greatly reduces injury in auto accidents. We had one used car (jeep) and all I can say is never again. Car prices now are very good, especially on leases, it almost does not pay to purchase.</p>

<p>Just looked at pix of the Scion looks cute.</p>

<p>Used Saturn as well.</p>

<p>Buying a new car is anti-American.</p>

<p>Scion was at the top of reliability lists, I think, a couple of years ago. Made by Toyota to lure in the younger buyers, but old ferts like us keep buying 'em! </p>

<p>I had a rental Yaris sedan in Boston. What a neat little car! I drove all the way to NH, came back, drove around the city and only put 3 gallons or so of gas in it before I had to return it!</p>

<p>mini, you are right! New cars do not put enough $$$ in the dealers' pockets! That's anti-American!</p>

<p>We also went with a new car for our youngest (latest to get a car) and, after much research and testing, chose a Mazda 3 hatchback. Great car, handles well, good gas mileage, and wonderful safety features which, for us, was the most important consideration.</p>

<p>My sister and I both drive used Saabs from '96 and '97. That's older than what most people are talking about on here, but my parents weren't looking at the cars as large gifts. The cars are under my father's name and are just for our use (getting to school, work, etc.). We got them when we were 17 and 19 years old, and we're now 19 and 21. Both cars have had some issues, but I think that's expected with old, used cars that sit in the driveway most of the year, including throughout a NE winter. We're both pretty happy overall, though. My car drives well and gets pretty good gas mileage. It's not bad looking, and the leather seats, sunroof, and seat warmers are a big plus!</p>

<p>We've had very good luck with Subarus. I just recently bought an Outback station wagon, which I like very much.</p>

<p>I can't say enough about the Scion XB. Wife had always driven Hondas, bought new (Civic & Civic wagon, first we had for 11, the second 17 years). We looked at Hondas when it was time to replace the wagon, and she drove both the CRV and Element. </p>

<p>We drove the XB on a whim, as she liked the "box" look like the Element. She was more comfortable driving the XB. Car was less than $16k with auto, air and CD. She did not want or need anything more.</p>

<p>I was amazed at the room, particularly the passenger legroom. Unless you're 6'8", you won't have a problem with head or legroom. Good overall ride, great on gas, handles well and has Toyata reliability.</p>