Samuel lives in New Jersey and works from home. However, he needs something that’s cheap, durable, roomy, and able to withstand any weather when he’s driving. It also needs to be the right size to fit in his garage. That’s a lot of requirements for just a $5,000 budget. What car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario:
My wife uses our main car to get to work. I work from home but need a car to get around periodically during the week. It doesn’t have to be much more than a drummer, but I have a few requirements. First of all, we recently bought a house, so I want something that can haul items from the hardware or furniture store better than our current Lexus IS350 F-Sport. Second, the roads we live on are both hilly and terrible, and I’ve scratched or gouged the Lexus a few times, so good ground clearance would be great. Third, winter weather can also be harsh, so AWD/4WD is strongly desired. Fourth, our driveway includes a door that is rather narrow, so the vehicle cannot be wider than 73 inches. Otherwise, I can’t take it to the garage. Lastly, since it’s going to be a beater, I’d like it to be on the more reliable side of older cars with higher mileage.
Budget: up to $5,000
Daily driver: Kind of
Site: Bergen County, New Jersey
Wants: Cheap, durable, spacious, AWD/4WD
Will not : Anything wider than 73 inches
Expert 1: Tom McParland – Stay in your element
Samuel, it’s definitely a tough combination of requirements, especially given the $5,000 budget. Thresher cars are delicate and my colleague David says you need to re-evaluate your notion of “reliability”. Although I don’t necessarily agree that your beater should be a rolling bristle rust.
Fortunately, there are a few decent options available. The one that stood out the most was this 2005 Honda Element. This large box ticks all your boxes. It has the tallest ride height of an SUV, is super roomy with flexible seating, and comes equipped with all-wheel drive. This car has 190,000 miles coming up there, but if these Hondas are well maintained, you should be able to squeeze a few more years out of them. Best of all, the boxy Honda is 71.5 inches wide, so while it may be tight, it should fit in your garage.
Expert 2: Collin Woodard – Stay in My Lane
I wanted to find a different answer for you, Samuel. I really did. Maybe something like a GMC Envoy XUV, you know, for those times when you’re buying furniture or tools that big, a regular SUV just won’t do. But aside from being too broad for your portal, I don’t think I can recommend anyone to buy a GMC Envoy. Even an XUV.
Instead, I’m going to recommend something I actually have experience owning: a Subaru Forester. They’re cheap, relatively durable, less than 73 inches wide, and ridiculously practical. Plus, you get all-wheel drive and decent ground clearance. There are several in your area that might be worth looking into, but this one seems a solid place to start for $4,500.
Expert 3: Erik Shilling – Stay in My Lane
Hi Samuel, I’m afraid you’ll fit in a box the size of a late 10s or early 10s Japanese SUV. And for $5,000 you won’t find much of interesting. If you want it to be reliable, of course. So I say bend over to be boring, like with this 2010 Nissan Roguewhich is listed for $4,800 and is located in eastern Brunswick.
These Rogues are 70.9 inches wide not including mirrors, according to the Internet. The mileage – over 175,000 – is high, but this era of Nissan is quite reliable. I’m a little curious what part of Bergen County you live in, where the roads are hilly and terrible and bring you to rock bottom, but that’s a question for another day. (I guess it’s Mahwah.) Good luck!
Expert 4: Raphael Orlove – But you already knew that
Samuel, I feel sorry for my other colleagues who on this God given website told you to buy a bunch of Japanese crossovers from the 2000s. As if you didn’t know! I’m sure you sent your email while standing in front of a second hand parking lot full of elements, foresters and thieves.
You need something to stretch your mind. You need Jalopnik! Well, I’m here for you. Normally I would say you should just buy a jeep, nothing so great came up when I checked the local Craigslist. If only there was something that had all the desirable qualities of a Jeep – a durable straight-six engine, durable all-wheel drive, ample ground clearance – without the brand attachment or price tag that comes with it. .
Ah, OK ! There’s the AMC Eagle!
For incomprehensible reasons, AMC packed all of Jeep’s trusted technology from the 1980s into its midsize family car called the Hornet. Sold as a sedan or wagon, it became the original crossover, the Eagle. This one’s right next door to you in some pretty hip Saugerties. Show up with cash and it shouldn’t be hard to get it down to Craigslist’s usual 60%.