Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mid Week Match-Up: $10k Driver For Dukie

It is Wednesday so that means another time for another episode of DT's Mid Week Match-Up , the game where even the winners don't get a copy of our home game.  This week's MWMU request comes from Oppositelock contributor Dukie, who writes: 

So, Aces (1981 Toyota Celica) isn’t really cutting it as a daily. The transmission issues are getting bothersome (I have one to swap in, but trying to find the time with a newborn just isn’t happening), and the lack of good HVAC in it has sucked during the last few weeks here in Seattle.
Anyway, I’m seriously looking at getting something different. I’ve always wanted a Wrangler, but I just can’t justify a best MPG of 19 hwy (yes I’ve driven a TJ & JK). I like the 1st Gen 4Runners like this one, but I’m not sure if it will work well for our family.

Dukie continues:
Ideally I’d like something that will baby, has decent cargo room, and it would be nice if it can tow a small trailer/haul junk with on the rare occasion I need to make a dump run, but that’s not an absolute need. I also want it to be fun and not “beige”. The wife said a Wrangler wouldn’t be out of the question MPG-wise since I carpool and we use my co-worker’s car (I give him gas money every week), but I like to occasionally get out and go for a drive.
Budget is around $10k, but I’m cheap. Seattle area but not afraid to hit Spokompton or Portlandia for something that catches the eye.

DT: A quick search of the Spokane craigslist netted this beauty, a 1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, offered for $8,000.  It looks like the perfect unusual driver for a decent price. What can you find? Comments below.

70 comments:

  1. Eh, I haven't worked out in a while. Not sure I can wield the shield correctly. lol

    Just an FYI, I actually live in the Seattle area. Spokane and Portland are just good distance marks I've thrown out for how far I'm willing to drive for the right vehicle.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm struggling with the towing/hauling and fun requirement.

    This '06 Xterra will do the towing/hauling requirement, will baby and has AC, but will probably only be fun off road.

    Now this hauls and would be fun.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm trying a new tact. No one ever takes my suggestions, because human nature dictates you already know what you want when you ask for advice like this, so instead of saying what will work, I'll say what won't work, based on your criteria.

    Wrangler--I thought I could daily drive a TJ...I was wrong. Miserable on-road handling and the reliability of a British Leyland product really do put one of these squarely in the 3rd car status.

    Grand Wagoneer? Owned one. On a good day, a REALLY good day, I might see 13mpg....10mpg was the norm.

    The big problem as I see it is that you want to spend 10K, and you seem to want an SUV, and 19mpg is too thirsty for your liking. Add those up, and almost nothing comes to mind. I can think of plenty of sub 10k SUV's that get 15-18mpg, and I can think of plenty of sub 10k cars that exceed 20mpg but aren't SUV's. And any 20mpg+ SUV is going to newer (and probably a crossover) and above $10k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, Ralph Nader, I am not---I'm ok with calculated risks and I don't go around wringing my hands worried about safety. With that said, even I felt a little guilty when my kids were riding around in the back of my TJ (and they aren't newborns)---there's a level of exposure to danger and harm riding in the back of a wrangler that you just don't get in almost any other vehicle, IMHO.

      Delete
  4. This MWMU confuses me. Dukie - do you want a car or a truck? Or some hybrid? If you want the combination of '81 Celica and Wranger, I suggest a modified Volvo 850 Wagon. Like this https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/5121925191.html
    -Steve, posting on mobile, can't log in.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Let's just cut to the chase here. What you really need is a Honda Element like this one: Awesome Element 5-Speed"

    The Element gives you all the good Dad stuff (reliability, safety, AC, approval of other parents), all the good truck stuff (fun to drive, great mileage, good handling, great engine) and all the fun stuff (Element drivers tend to be an enigmatic group of folks. Nuff said...).

    And I can testify that it's worked for me. I went from a 4Runner to an Element and pretty much didn't have to give up a good driving experience to make my wife and kids happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hear, hear. I'll second the Element as a funky alternative people hauler. Besides the incredibly efficient packaging design (a cube gives a whole lot of interior volume for the footprint), what I like about them is that they were available with AWD and a 5-spd manual, together.

      A cursory search of Seattle CL reveals these two:

      green one for ~$11k

      blue one for $8k, 130k miles

      Then when you've saved up a bit more cash and are feeling REALLY frisky, you can convert your Element to a pop-top camper. The factory rear sunroof acts as an access hatch to the upper bed. So freaking sweet.

      Ursa Minor Element pop-top "ECamper"

      Delete
    2. The only downside of the Element we saw was with the suicide doors. If the driver has a kid that has to ride in the back seat, but is old enough to let themselves out curbside, they can't do it themselves as the main door has to open before the suicide one can. So then the driver needs to get out and open the passenger door and then the suicide door to let them out or open the suicide door on the driver's side and let the kid out in traffic. Otherwise, cool car.

      Delete
    3. I'll second both opinions shared here. The amount of cargo space in the Element is insane. Sometimes the kids and I call it "The Tardis". And there are a ton of crazy-efficient Honda designed mods for cheap. I just ordered a surfboard holder for my rack for $70 including shipping. Crazy!

      The suicide doors are more of a challenge than originally expected. Especially in tight parking lots. But once you get the dance down, no other doors will ever piss you off. And they certainly do make this little truck enigmatic!

      Delete
    4. I see no reason to prefer an Element over, say, a Transit Connect or that Dodge minivan a couple entries down, other than there being more used ones out there, and the suicide doors are a complete no-no for me.

      Delete
  6. The tow/haul thing is just normal househould type things, like dump runs/Home Depot runs/etc. I'm not looking to pull a fifth wheel or large boat. My wife has an Enclave that can do most of the hauling, but it's a really nice car and I'd rather not have another "Honey, Home Depot put a 4"x12' through my windshield" call again. Yes, that happened.

    FTB - Point taken about the back of the TJ. It's creeped pretty low on my list, even with the rollbar back there. Same with the 4Runner.

    I'm really open to a car or a truck. That 850 is very intriguing, Steve.

    ReplyDelete
  7. How about a Mazda 6 wagon? Here's one in Kennewick for $5K

    ReplyDelete
  8. Early-mid '00s Prado-platform 4Runner. Sweet driver, should get to 20mpg.

    If you want a slightly older 100-series V8 (15mpg) Land Cruiser I may have access to a well-maintained, moderate-mile, bashed-a-couple-times-but-repaired-correctly example for somewhat less, relative wants to get rid of theirs, not sure if they already have but not asking much for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can also find good E53 X5s in that price range, they may not meet your standard of off-road ability and they've got two customary ZF 5HP24 transmission weaknesses (a thrust bearing in the middle of the clutch-drum stack and the reverse-drum piston) and the usual BMW cooling system issues that depend on whether six (too much plastic) or V8 (click-on hoses and valley-pan seal.)

      Got one for $6500 with a new trans and a leaking valley pan, that I'll fix when I've got a little more garage space.

      Delete
    2. The early Merc ML55 is also dirt-cheap now, and while the first ones had basically Dodge Ram-grade interiors they fixed that around '02 or '03 I think. Not particularly complex or troublesome as Mercs go, kinda fun when you put the right foot down.

      Delete
  9. The Element is a fabulous option. If you want conventional doors, a far more luxurious interior and exterior, an additional 74 turbocharged hp and are willing to go with an automatic and slightly less interior volume, the Acura RDX would be an excellent choice, built on the same platform. 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, which I believe is a little conservative.

    You'll have to keep an eye open for one to pop up locally or be willing to travel. Unfortunately, I didn't find one particularly close to you but here are some examples.

    2008 Acura RDX

    2007 Acura RDX

    It's funny, it seems like RDX prices are significantly lower here on the East Coast. I just helped a friend buy one for seven grand with pretty low miles in nearly perfect condition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The CR-V, also on the same platform, is another excellent option.

      Delete
  10. The Toyota RAV4 with the V6 is a bit of a sleeper (0-60 in 6.3 seconds) and was mentioned here on DT recently. Unfortunately, they're a bit rare and you're once again stuck with an automatic but they're out there. In comparison to the RDX, the RAV4 has really subjectively sad styling and none of the luxury.

    Here's one that not a million miles from you:

    2006 Toyota RAV4 Sport

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would definitely call the RAV4 a sleeper, but not for the reasons you gave! :-). There is no fun to drive here.

      Delete
    2. When did I use the words "RAV4" and "fun" in a sentence, Señor? Don't you go puttin' words in my mouth, Mister!

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/RNNR6FG.jpg?1[/img]

      Delete
    3. Dukie wants fun and not beige, so two strikes for the RAV4. ;-)

      Delete
    4. "Let's have a fight over a RAV4!" said nobody, ever. It's practically the automotive equivalent of Valium. :-D

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/oziGD6v.jpg[/img]

      Delete
    5. G brings up a good point regarding the RAV4. But I've long since given up trying to figure out what people think is fun. After all, some folks think watching the Kardashians do whatever they do is fun...

      http://youtu.be/5gLCA_BhgO4

      Delete
    6. G, I think you and I need to settle this like men...in the ring. I'll fight for the, uh, fun-ness of the RAV4 while you defend the lack of that quality in that vehicle.

      I've done this a couple of times and it's great fun. Let me know where and when you're ready to duke it out over this vital topic of immense importance.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-pEchX2ikM

      Delete
    7. For the win: all the middle aged women (some with grand children) in my extended family have RAV4's... :-)

      Delete
  11. The Mazda CX-9 is horribly underrated and is possibly one of the best CUVs made, ever, especially by Mazda (though it's built on a Ford platform and has a Ford engine). Great to drive but they didn't sell that many and when people buy them they hang onto them for dear life. Most are out of your budget range but deals are out there. Again, you're stuck with an automatic.

    2008 Mazda CX-9

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mazda5. Ugly. Useful. Cheap. Good. 19/24 mpg.

    2007 Mazda5 Sport (a misnomer if there ever was one)

    ReplyDelete
  13. This won't be nearly as reliable as the vehicles I've mentioned above but if you want to live on the edge a little and don't mind fewer doors (and 14/17 mpg), check this and this out. 0-60 in 5.3 seconds...

    ReplyDelete
  14. 2005 Volvo V50

    2005 Volvo V50

    2005 Volvo V50

    0-60 in 6.8 seconds and 17/24 mpg. You can see 19/27 if you can locate one with a 6-speed manual transmission.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Finally, a manual! 2001 Subaru Forester. You're on your own if you want a turbo XT; talk to my fellow DTers who know a lot more about them than I do. I'm biased and don't recommend any turbo Subie if you want long-term reliability. There are a couple for sale in your neck of the woods.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Another "Tardis" car (nice one, Steve!), the Honda Fit is tiny on the outside but huge on the inside. There are plenty for sale in your area, so you have lots to choose from, including many with manual transmissions! You're not going to be able to haul as much and get 27/35 mpg as easily. Here's just one example for sale in your neighborhood, a 2007 LX. I think it would be pretty easy to find one in even better condition; this one looks like it has a small dent on the driver's side.

    Surely there are hop-up parts for these things. Or just NOS the daylights out of it. This could be a really neat little sleeper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Booya.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJp3S--D5v4

      Delete
    2. Comes with the "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" stick shift knob.

      Delete
  17. The Lexus IS300 SportCross would be an awesome choice, if you can find one. I'm posting this one for sale near you but it's got to be one of the most disturbing ads I've seen in a long time. You could find one much less criminal, I'm sure.

    Some folks have never even seen these. For those, here's a video. Additionally, 16/22 mpg.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLrnL56341E

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only thing that would make that Lexus IS300 more disturbing is if it had a clown in it. CREEPY.

      Delete
    2. Agreed, Steve! That "trade" is a no-win situation.

      Delete
    3. I'm guessing it's for sale in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma.

      Delete
    4. Are you telling me that they sell something other than Toyota Tacomas in Tacoma?

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/PRmO2fF.jpg?1[/img]

      Delete
    5. Things that go bang! are popular in the Hilltop neighborhood.

      I thought it was funny when Toyota chose Tacoma as the name for its truck. Tacoma has a lot of pulp mills and frequently smells like a fart when you drive thru on I-5. The old saying is "The aroma of Tacoma"

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  18. Nowhere near as fun as the IS300 but worth considering, a 1999 Lexus RX300.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Basically the same car as the Pilot and Odyssey...all butched- and jacked-up Accords...it would be a crime not to check out an Acura MDX (15/21 mpg). Here's one that just an absolutely hideous color but there are plenty for sale in your area, like this one, if you don't mind stormtrooper white.

    ReplyDelete
  20. 2006 Mazda3...fantastic little wagon and if you doubt it can pull a light trailer, just talk to Bobinott about it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  22. BTW, I mean no insult but is that pronounced Ducky or Dookie?

    ReplyDelete
  23. There are literally tons more options out there, in your neighborhood and budget, but I'll leave it until more feedback from our subject/victim comes forth.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Just a quick note, I've been slammed with a project and have had time to look at some of the suggestions. I'll try and make a more articulate post later today. Suffice it to say the Element has made the short list.

    K2 - Dookie is what everyone called me in the Air Force. Also, that's quite a list of suggestions!

    Thanks everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for clearing that up for me! I wonder about these things. But I don't judge. Whatever floats your root beer.

      A word of warning; after a while, things go a little haywire and you'll start to get suggestions like this Nissan Cube. You don't want that; you could get a rash and then what would your neighbors think? When you get a chance to look at the tidal wave of information, please give us your thoughts and fire away any further questions you may have. We love helping fellow hardcore gearheads!

      Delete
  25. Hi everyone, I'm back, sort of. I'm still away from Seattle on a work trip, but I've had time to look over the vehicles you've all suggested and quite a few are in the running. I won't be ready to purchase for another week or so, but I will definitely keep everyone updated.

    I did have a question for the hive mind though:

    This popped up during a search yesterday.
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/5104458637.html

    I love me some wagon, and manual, and I've been curious about the TDi VWs for some time (A couple friends have had TDi Jettas with great mileage).

    Now, He's waaaaaayyyyyy over KBB on it, and I'd allow for a little over due to the BSM delete (from what I read it's not cheap, but maybe I misread) and the manual swap. But almost $5k over KBB retail?

    If I were to talk this guy down to a reasonable number (suggestions appreciated), what are the cons of the Passat TDi Wagons? Maintenance costs? (I consider myself a decent wrench but have no experience with diesels.) Insurance costs?

    Thanks guys!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not my monkey, not my circus. I don't really see the attraction of the VW over many of the other options.

      Delete
    2. I'd also check out what's being said about it on Carsurvey.

      Delete
    3. Sorry. Was out on a drug sting, now I'm not and have access to my monolith 'puter. Here's the link:

      http://www.carsurvey.org/reviews/volkswagen/passat/2005/single-page/

      Of course, you should look at what other folks are saying about other years, too.

      http://www.carsurvey.org/reviews/volkswagen/passat/

      Delete
    4. Admittedly, I'm a hater but reading what folks have written about it I wouldn't touch this car with a ten foot pole, much less put my family or anybody I cared about in one. But you may have some sort of really devious insurance scheme going on, so it may be just perfect for you.

      Delete
  26. So... it's been forever and I've been out and about for work quite a bit. Since I'm out on another deployment and have time, I'll update on what has happened.

    I'm the proud owner of a 2001 IS300! Thanks to K2's suggestion about the IS300 Sport Cross, I started looking hard at the IS300 family. I found a couple of Sport Crosses but had issues contacting the owners so I never got a chance to look at them. However, I found a 2001 IS300 and bought it for well under my $10k budget. The four of us fit in it comfortably, and I love the way it rides. So... K2, thanks for the suggestion!

    ReplyDelete

Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint Eastwood...it don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="http://www.IMAGE_LINK.com" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.