Car shopping has commenced.

My wife and I have agreed that my much abused Focus is to be passed down to my kids for their go to school/work car, as its over 195K miles, and I need something more reliable. A four door car has been stated as mandatory, as the Focus was a ZX-3 hatchback, and my kids hated crawling into the back seat for any kind of trip. My wife drives an ‘02 Explorer, which is decent on long trips, but something that can haul the family and gets better than 20MPG would also be nice. Oh, and my limit is about $6,000, which kind of puts a damper on buying a that 2019 Mazda 3 or VW GTI I’ve been dreaming about. So, on that note, here are the early contenders after an hour or so of Craigslist shopping.

1. 2004 Honda Civic. 94K miles, and only $2,500. The paints iffy, but it looks pretty clean on the inside. It’s cheap, but not really pretty, and no mention of maintenance. So, a bit of a crap shoot.

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2. 2012 Malibu. $6,000 and less than 70K on the clock. I’ve always liked the looks of this model of Malibu, as they have a clean design and nice looking interior. Large enough for the family, should be a comfy ride, as I put on a lot of miles per year. Not sure about Chevy reliability, but parts should be cheaper and plentiful at the local pick & pull salvage yards. The 4 cylinder would give decent mileage as well. That’s important.

3. Base model 2008 Ford Fusion. Sold by a local used car dealer that’s been around forever, so not a buy/here pay/here kinda place. Not too much in the way of convenience features, but has the basics of power windows, mirror and locks, as well as A/C and a decent radio. Cheaper than the ‘Bu, but not as nice, and four years older.

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4. 2010 Ford Focus. Basically the devil I already know. Other than a new body style, the engine, transmission and suspension are basically the same as my 2006. Decent mileage, and again offered by a long time used car dealer a bit out in the boonies, but I’m out there next week, and may take a look at what they have. Seems clean and rust free, and small enough to get into and out of the urban environment. Good MPG, and cheap to fix.

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5. The wild card. 1998 Olds Intrigue. Absurdly low mileage, and has the reliable 3.8 V-6, not the Short-Star 3.4 liter of the later years. Decent, but not great mileage, and a much bigger car than I’m used to driving. But, I’ve always liked the Intrigue, and it would surely meet the needs of taking the wife and my grown kids on longer trips where the Explorer would just eat gas. On a dollar per pound basis, an easy winner.

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So, what’s the Oppo hive mind think? If I expand my search to just over 100K miles, the options open up considerably, but I’m trying to find a car with a bit more life left in it. Not saying I wouldn’t look, but it’d have to be clean and well maintained.

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