You Have $6,000 to Spend on a "New" Car ... What Would You Choose?

Updated on September 12, 2012
J.C. asks from Columbus, OH
18 answers

Okay, my husband totaled our 2004 Saturn Vue. He's fine, thank goodness. And thankfully, the kids and I weren't in the car. The other lady was cited. She has insurance. They are considering the damage 'total'. So we have about a little more than a week to find a new family car.

Looking for 4 doors. Not necessarily an SUV again. Reliable. We have the four of us, so carting us and the kids and the dog, we'd need a little bit of room.

What would you start looking for? Do you have a reliable good car you just love? What's your gas mileage?

Thank you very much for responding.

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answers from Seattle on

Subaru Outback... because I need to drive in the snow, and no longer have my Jeep!

(Ahem... Jeeps being too expensive in terms of gas and maintenance... or I'd get a new money pit. I mean wrangler. LOVE my old jeep. But it was seriously like opening a vein to drive it.)

I'd put a portion of the 6k down on a newer car, or lease one, not buy a 6k car (again, just soooo tired of money pits, and that's what a 6k car would be. At least around here).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My daughter just sold her 2004 Honda CRV to Carmax for $6200. So I'll bet if you look there you could find something in that range -- Honda or Toyota. I have a Honda as well. I won't ever drive anything else probably. I have almost 200,000 miles on mine with not a problem besides basic maintenance.

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answers from St. Louis on

Christy!! Did you read the 6,000 dollar limit? Prius, 20,000 god knows what that volt cost!

I love my Hondas. You can probably pick up a 2004 or 2005 CRV for that. I know the dealer gave me 10,000 for my 2007 so that should give you some idea. I have tons of room, there are four of us that use the car, it is small enough that you have full control big enough that you are not the bottom of the food chain.

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answers from St. Louis on

I have a 02 Ford Explorer, with the 4.0/6 cyl. It's 4wd which is a necessity for get across that riverbank we love so much! My DH & sons avg about 20mpg on the hwy, but I get closer to 22....which is great for a 10yo vehicle with 4wd!

For $6000, you should be able to find a '05/06. & as for reliability, Fords run forever. Been buying them new/used for 30+ years! & the great thing about the Explorer is the huge cargo space + flip-down backseats. We have 2 big dogs, & we can set up the large wire crate....& still have room for our cooler & suitcases!

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm sorry to hear that your car is totaled!! I am happy to hear that your husband is fine!!

I would go with a Honda or a Toyota. But $6k won't buy you a used car. My six year old Honda Odyssey was $ husband's CR-V (used) was $15K...

I personally could NEVER see me in a "sedan" again...I would consider a minivan or some other type of family friendly car (and see - this is where things get "dicey" as my idea of family friendly might not be YOUR idea of family friendly...we take our boys friends with us places...our dog...pick stuff up...haul scouts...cub scouts...) so a sedan would never work for me with kids...and to top it off, I WANT room. I WANT space...I hate feeling claustrophobic in a car...

So for me? I would start looking at mini vans, SUVs, Suburbans and the like!! :) Happy car hunting!!!

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answers from Detroit on

My husband has a 2008 Jeep Liberty. I love it! It has 140k miles on it and all it's needed beside regular maintenance is two sets of tires, new brake pads, and a loose wire in the airbag system that cost $60 to fix. I would leave my Grand Caravan on the side of the road if I could, but that jeep is awesome!

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answers from Minneapolis on

not going to get a mini van in decent working condition under a 100k mileage for 6,000. 2 years ago we bought our 2004 Honda Oddessy, 70k miles, and 1 year warranty for 12,000. Last year, 2 months after the 1 year warranty ran out. The Transmission failed. estimated 6 grand fix. Thankfully there was a problem with this year, and Honda payed 3 grand for it, but still had to fork out 3 grand for a new transmission. NOW the serpentine belt broke last week. Needless to say thats about another grand or more.

So all in all your looking at a small, foreign sedan, or another Saturn. At least 5 years old and probably in the range of 70 to 80K for 6 thousand. Unless you find someone selling on their own and dont really know KBB values

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm also a Saturn owner. Friends have been happy with their Camrys, Focuses (Foci?), Civics and Sonatas. I'd love a Fusion, but I can't afford anything like that right now. I do suggest that you put the seats in the car and see how everyone fits. Friends got a Crosstour and found out that with 2 car seats and 2 adults, there's no room for any guests...or any more kids.

What about a used Saturn if you're looking for used cars? My SL1 is still running fine and it's an 02. I was thinking about an Aura before the company went under.

ETA: I did not price these out before suggestion, so your experience may vary. Between the cash for klunkers deal and the economy, used cars cost more. We got my SS a Subaru through a private sale for less than $6K but it was more than we initially wanted to pay so SD did not get a car for her graduation (not that she NEEDS one).

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answers from Washington DC on

A 2005 - 2006 Ford Five Hundred
2008 - 2009 Ford Taurus

The 4 door Jeep Wrangler is fun to drive. I drove it in the summer so I don't know how the cold the inside gets in winter.

My friends just got a Prius that the love.

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answers from Iowa City on

2.5 years ago, 5000 got us a 2000 Buick leSabre, with 93000 miles. We absolutely love it. Mileage is awesome. Might be small for the dog though.
One caveat, with the economy being what it is, demand for used cars has skyrocketed. We looked for over a month, online and at every dealer with 50 miles. Prices were way higher than when we had looked just 8 months before that. Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't think you can go wrong with Honda or Toyota. Good gas mileage, VERY safe, and plenty of room.

I have a 2012 Camry and all 5 of us will get in there, We wouldn't take it on a roadtrip, but we take it for anything local (up to 2 hours or so away). It is a hybrid so that beats the gas in our Nissan Armada by a landfall :). We also know a girl who was just in an accident where the other car spun and she hit it's side head on. The other car's driver sadly did not make it, but the engine dropped from her car and her only injuries were from the airbag. She drove a Corolla. My kids will be driving Toyota's when they get cars!

You can get decent ones for around $6k today...maybe 10 or so years old, but they are so well built that it shouldn't be an issue.

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answers from Augusta on

I'd love a Flex or the new Explorer. One of my moms has an Edge and she loves it but they don't have much cargo space.
I love my Freestar but it's a mini van they aren't really great on gas milage but we also have the two kids, two dogs and a cat can't fit all that in a sedan lol.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Honda, Toyota, and Saturn all make great vehicles. I currently drive a Volvo and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. Some people are scared of the cost of repairing things on it. That is a non issue since my husband can do any work I need done. I will be upgrading to a larger vehicle later this year and I will probably go with a Honda or Toyota if I can find one in my price range. :) Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I guess it would depend on if $6,000 is my limit, or just a down payment.
My guy is a mechanic (GM - Saturn and Chevy, Kia) so $6,000 could technically get us a lot. He buys "totaled" or "unwanted/outdated" vehicles for cheap and to repair them is cheap (all my labor cost is free, or I just bake him cookies lol). We have been searching for a totaled out Vue forever, we love the size for our family, and of course he knows how to fix them inside and out. They just aren't out there. A lot of people keep theirs and just pay to have them fixed, where as before they would trade it in. So we can't ever find one. <sad face>
Anyways, If I had to put $6,000 *down payment* on a "new" car I would probably look for a used Chevy Equinox or Transverse. They are "mid-size" and I like how they run. If I am "gonna go big or go home" might as well go for a Tahoe or Expedition, lol.
Good Luck with your decision!

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answers from Jacksonville on

This is a little bit of a variation on what you asked, so if isn't something you can consider doing, sorry not to be very helpful. :/

But, if you have room in your budget for a short term payment, it might be worth considering buying NEW. You can shop for a bare bones 2012 model. This is actually one of the best times of the year for doing it. You buy this/last year's model brand new. The dealers are looking to get rid of them, because the model year is over and the 2013's need room on their lots.
When you combine that with the fact that used vehicle pricing is ridiculously high b/c of the cash for clunkers, and the economy forcing people to buy used and not new, and holding onto older vehicles longer.... it really makes used cars in demand and raises the prices on them.
The bonus with buying an older model year (2012 still on a lot) new, is that it IS new. Full warranty. No miles.

Seriously. You should check into it if you have room in your budget. I am NOT one to advocate signing up for a car payment. But, I also am not one to spend a big chunk of $ ($6,000) on a big fat question mark. And when you buy used, no matter WHAT they tell you... you just don't know when the big ticket repairs are going to be calling your name.
New tires. New brakes. Transmission. Clutch. Starter. O2 sensor. You just don't know... it could be SEVERAL of them over the next 20 months.... and you could (theoretically) be half paid off on a brand new car during the same 20 months... and NO repair issues except general regular maintenance.

So... just another way to look at the big picture.

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answers from Seattle on

Love my passat, or if I needed something bigger i'd look for a Honda pilot or odyssey, or consider a Subaru. I'd also do a big down payment though and small payments.

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answers from Los Angeles on

While Hondas and Toyotas are really great cars, they tend to be a little bit more in demand and so they charge more.
The Saturns are just as good and go for significantly less.

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answers from Dallas on

Prius VI or the Volt. something that is an electric hybrid.
I am not a huge fan of the Leaf only because of the retrofit/installment for the plug in. My MIL has a second generation 4-door prius and it is incredible. I never thought it would have the space I'd like, but it does. The newer versions of the prius are even bigger and have more trunk space. Haven't done the research to see how that impacts MPG, but certainly the direction I would go if I had the choice.
good luck.

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