Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mid Week Match-Up: Cheap Daily For Mike's Kid

Welcome to another edition of Mid Week Match-Up, today's request comes from Mike who writes: Here is one for you, that is certainly not very exciting, but could fill the gap.  Just had a daughter turn 16 yesterday and I will be car shopping over the Christmas break.  Idea is to get her something that could then move into her college vehicle as well.  Here are some specifics:

1) We live in a ranching area and the vehicle will be on dirt roads about 50% of the time
2) We experience all 4 seasons, including a fair bit of snow, so 4WD is more or less 'de rigueur'
3) Spousal input is that it does need the electronic stability control for safety, which I think puts us in the last 5 years 
4) Budget is about $10k

It would be easy to recommend some random Subaru Forester/Impreza/Outback but instead I'm going to go with a hybrid all-wheel-drive compact SUV from Ford that gets 30+ mpg.  This 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid AWD is bidding here on eBay for $2,550 with a few hours to go located in Philadelphia, PA. It isn't the fanciest thing on four wheels, but it should be relatively safe, reliable (the Escape is used for NYC taxis, so it can't be that bad!) and as a bonus gets good fuel economy.  You could hold out for the Mercury Mariner version if you want something "different."

What do you suggest?  Comments below.


  1. I'd be wary of that escape. I checked out the warranty history of this car on Fords website(I work at a dealership), and it shows a recall done on the vehicle on October of 2014 with 300k miles on it. I'd bet it's a retired taxi.

  2. I would never recommend any Ford Escape. Especially that generation, not only are the batteries about the go bad (if they haven't already), that generation has chronic rust issues around the strut mounts. It is so bad even if you don't live in a salt filled climate the chance of rusting is very high.

    Any subaru is decent, just make sure it has had the headgaskets/timing belt/water pump replaced and it has good even tread on all tires.

    You may also want to look at the toyota rav 4 or the honda CRV, but I would stay far away from escapes as possible...there is a reason they are named "escape".

  3. I would never go hybrid without a warranty through the period I expected to own it. Just my take.

    Non-hybrid Escapes have, in my limited (friends) experience, some electrical (engine wiring harness) problems, don't recall what years are affected but do your research. I live in California so rust is seldom a consideration.

    Subaru...well, I think I could comfortably keep an E53 X5 running for that kind of money.

    My vote: E53 X5, or GMT800/GMT900 Tahoe/Yukon. So you spend on gas what you don't spent on purchase price, you get a nicer vehicle in the bargain.

    1. Your vehicle:

    2. ML55 AMG as the daughter's high school / college vehicle?

      Strong move...

    3. They're fairly simple for a 4WD, go up and down slippery crap well with the right tires, intimidate the boys.

    4. That is quite a vehicle for the price, though not sure turning a 16 year old loose with 340 hp and 375 lb-ft is the best idea. Thanks all for the initial suggestions. Certainly some of these are on my list. Escape is (was?), though probably not the hydbrid. I'm nervous on the Subbies due to much discussion on these pages about post 100k issues and costs. Any insights on the smaller GM products (Terrain, Equinox)?

    5. So I'm going to be That Guy and ask, why not FWD and a set of 4 Blizzaks for the winter months?

    6. Fair question and probably workable. However, we do run studded snows and use with some (albeit limited)frequency the low range in our primary rigs. Do not think we need a transfer case for the kids car, but would be more comfortable with 4WD.

    7. I am with Gianni. AWD just helps you get moving faster, so that you are in more trouble when you discover that the laws of physics still apply. Four good snow tires on FWD means you can usually predict how much grip you have, for all conditions.

  4. Has ESP actually gotten good enough in the past 5 years to be considered safe in snow/ice. Always been my understanding that most freak out in it. I'd also comment that most ESP system are a detriment to actually driving the car safely in an emergency situation. (I'm talking about ESP and not ABS btw.) At the track we regularly have students fight against ESP kicking in when teaching them about car control and how to properly recover a car.

    1. I always wished I had ESP. I think it would have helped me get through school.

    2. Not really sure, but here is the type of language you see associated with it: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the installation of ESC reduces single-vehicle crashes of cars by 32 percent and single-vehicle crashes of SUVs by 57 percent. NHTSA estimates that ESC has the potential to prevent 72 percent of the car rollovers and 64 percent of the SUV rollovers that would otherwise occur in single-vehicle crashes.

      I welcome feedback, especially if it is a negative.

    3. I think overall it's a good thing, my wife got PITted (bodyshop had to cut off and replace right rear quarter) by a Ford pickup a while back while driving one of our E39s and I'm pretty sure it was the DSC that kept her from spinning.

      It's not something I worry about too much for my own purposes.

  5. This would be spoiling your daughter, but it has everything you're asking for.
    2004 Lexus GX470
    I purchased mine used 3 years ago. It's the smoothest truck I've ever driven and I'd like to keep it for another 100k miles. Over the last 30k miles it has cost me over $5k to maintain at the Toyota dealer, despite it using mostly 4Runner and FJ parts (it's just a fancy Prado).
    The combination of Pirelli Scorpion winter tires, vehicle stability control, ABS, and full time AWD has saved my ass a few times. I have no buyers remorse despite the higher cost of ownership. The higher maintenance cost should be factored with any used 4x4 SUV.

  6. I guess I'm quick to recommend Volvos in these match ups, but why not? If she's the small sedan type, the 2005+ Volvo S40 can be had in AWD, or there's the V50 small wagon. Might even be able to find a higher-mileage 2011+ S60 AWD, which are very nice.


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