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Old 09-08-2010, 11:05 AM
 
Location: East Valley, AZ
3,852 posts, read 8,027,357 times
Reputation: 3983

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I'm looking for credible (well, as credible as an online forum can be) suggestions for small SUV's to look for with my $3,000 budget.

I'm leaning towards: Mazda Tribute, Ford Escape, Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, and any 4-door Jeep.

Honda and Toyota would be the obvious choices, but you can't find many with my small budget, and people who own them tend to hold on to them for years.

While reliability is not a HUGE issue, I do need a good, solid car I can take on occasional road trips. Mostly the car will be used to drive to/from work which is only 4 miles one-way.

There are literally thousands of listings for SUV's that fall into my search on Phoenix's craigslist, especially Jeeps.

Mileage doesn't matter (to an extent) and the year doesn't matter at all (I'm looking around 1993-1997).

(Edit: I'm not interested in sedans...or any life lessons.)

Last edited by MAtheBanker; 09-08-2010 at 11:53 AM..
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 49,574,957 times
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We just bought a 2001 Buick Lesabre that cost, including bodywork, less than $3,000.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:36 AM
 
Location: 'Murica
1,302 posts, read 2,345,272 times
Reputation: 803
will you actually be using the SUV's hauling, cargo, or towing capability? because if not, then you'll probably be able to find a newer compact sedan with fewer miles for the same amount of money, something like a 2000+ Nissan Sentra, Mitsu Lancer, or Ford Focus.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:51 AM
 
Location: East Valley, AZ
3,852 posts, read 8,027,357 times
Reputation: 3983
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinsanity View Post
will you actually be using the SUV's hauling, cargo, or towing capability? because if not, then you'll probably be able to find a newer compact sedan with fewer miles for the same amount of money, something like a 2000+ Nissan Sentra, Mitsu Lancer, or Ford Focus.
No, I'm not interested in sedans. I have one now and have had 3 others before.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:59 AM
 
268 posts, read 380,840 times
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I was going to suggest an Audi, but no sedans.

I'd say the Rav4, but only out of personal preference as I'm not really that knowledgeable about any small SUVs.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
13,397 posts, read 42,750,303 times
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If you want to think outside the box a bit, my own experience with 1980s VW watercooled and Toyota cars has been good. If you stick to the newest cars you can get cheap, you are looking mostly at cars with serious needs and/or just undesirable. I'm assuming you can drive stick or are willing to learn that - VW automatics are not the best - if you have to have a slushbox, stick with Toyota, or Honda.

Particularly a Toy hatchback from the mid 80's can be a really decent car. I drove the 87 Camry to work today. I realize you said SUV, but think about a hatchback as well, they are much better for hauling "stuff" than you might think. An older 4-Runner could be called an SUV, if you go back to the 80's they are a small, svelte thing compared to the current truck/SUV/whatever it is. The Rav-4 is good bet, although I sort of doubt you can get a good one for $3K

You will need to cultivate a good mechanic, probably anything you find in this age bracket will have needs. But if you take care of the needs intellegently, say spending 1500 to 2000 to buy the car and the rest of 3000 to take care of any deferred maintenance, you can end up with a really good, reliable, simple car for a relatively cheap price.

I'm assuming you are in a climate where rust isn't a problem.

The older recommendations from Consumer reports - say the cheaper cars they were recommending for about 5 to 8K a few years ago - may give you some ideas.

Don't get too caught up on if the car needs for example tires. I really hate when some geezer puts a new set of cheap, hard compound, crap tires on a car he's trying to sell - maybe they remember not being able to buy tires during WWII? So long as the price of the car reflects any immediate needs, I'd rather take care of them myself anyway.

Last edited by M3 Mitch; 09-08-2010 at 12:32 PM..
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:24 PM
 
Location: 'Murica
1,302 posts, read 2,345,272 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAtheBanker View Post
No, I'm not interested in sedans. I have one now and have had 3 others before.
well, in this price range, the best you'll find is a mid-90's Ford Explorer or Jeep Grand Cherokee. I understand that mileage isn't a big concern, but do note that SUV's are more likely to have seen harder days than a sedan.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Incognito
7,001 posts, read 18,172,150 times
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My dilemma would be choosing between the RAV4 or the CRV. But since I am a Honda loyalist, hmmm. Exactly!
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Pikesville, MD
5,229 posts, read 11,493,051 times
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Jeep 4.0 Grand Cherokee. Pretty much indestructable, and like old Toyota 4Runners, probably outlast us all (though Toyotas may rust into the grouond sooner than the Jeeps...).

Great community support, tens of thousands of enthusiasts to help with them, huge aftermarket and part availability everywhere.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:32 PM
 
Location: East Valley, AZ
3,852 posts, read 8,027,357 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Cat View Post
My dilemma would be choosing between the RAV4 or the CRV. But since I am a Honda loyalist, hmmm. Exactly!
I don't really know who I'm loyal towards--I've owned a Civic and a Corolla before.

I much prefer the look of the Rav4, but not the older editions. The CRV I don't really feel anything towards.
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