LuxInterior HalfDork
Sept. 23, 2016 2:05 p.m.

I have two fabulous daughters 17, and 19. Both of their self-bought beaters have died. It's time for Dad (that's me) to buy them some basic transportation. We live in Colorado and they both like SUVs.

I'd love to buy them each a new Honda or Toyota SUV with 37.5 airbags, but the budget for two newer vehicles isn't there. Given that, my strategy is to go for mass, because heavier vehicles tend to protect their cargo somewhat better in an accident.

Goal: Two reliable mid-to-large sized 4WD/AWD SUVs with auto trans. Price: ~$3.5k for each SUV. Yes, I know, that budget is tight.

I'm thinking 2000-2004 Tahoe/Yukon. I've heard plenty of stories about transmissions failing on these. How worried should I be about Tahoe trans-splodo? What other SUVs should I be considering?

Mister Fister New Reader
Sept. 23, 2016 2:18 p.m.

Well, first off, no teenager belongs behind the wheel of a 5000-6000 lbs death machine that is prone to rollover and is impossible to maneuver around obstacles.

That said, you've made up your mind.

Tahoes are inexpensive but prone to rust.

An older X5 will be solidly reliable (although repairs will be more expensive in general) and will provide a modicum of dynamic capability you won't find in a unibody truck. It's also galvanized steel so it won't rot out like a Ford or Chevy.

Pretty much impossible to go wrong with a Wrangler. Added bonus - get a 2 door to make it harder for them to cram their friends in. Nothing makes a teenage driver take changes more than peer pressure.

mazdeuce UltimaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 2:30 p.m.

CR-V? Escape? Something that doesn't swallow gas at an alarming rate?
Just theoretical numbers to consider. 10k miles a year, 20mpg uses 500 gallons, $2.50 a gallon, $1250 a year. Take that to 30mpg, 333 gallons, a mere $832 saving you $418 per year per car. Now consider that tires are smaller and cheaper. As are lots of wear items. You can probably step up your purchase price by $1k each to buy something smaller and come out ahead in the end.

Maybe there's a compelling reason for full size?

LuxInterior HalfDork
Sept. 23, 2016 2:30 p.m.

In reply to Mister Fister:

Rust really isn't an issue around here.

Heavy SUVs: There are oodles of them on the road here. It's crappy, but I'd like my girls to be evenly matched with the rest of the texting-while-driving people when the inevitable accident happens. Unfortunately, buying newer, safer vehicles is beyond the budget.

edizzle89 Dork
Sept. 23, 2016 2:31 p.m.

infiniti QX4's are just pathfinders with fancy clothes on, and that generation of pathfinders where pretty reliable, they can be found for pretty decent prices too.

I dont know alot about the Lexus rx300 besides i see decent ones for good prices on CL quite a bit, seems like they carry the toyota quality with the Lexus fanciness.

92dxman SuperDork
Sept. 23, 2016 2:35 p.m.

It looks early Honda Pilots are coming into that price range now. They are going to have around 150k miles though. 07+ Mitsubishi Outlanders/00-04 Nissan Pathfinders are in that price range.

I think the no brainer here is the nicest Subaru Forester/Outback you can find in that price range.

gearheadmb HalfDork
Sept. 23, 2016 2:36 p.m.

We have a 2002 cr-v that has been fantastic. I would highly recommend something along those lines.

LuxInterior HalfDork
Sept. 23, 2016 2:50 p.m.

I'm seeing a bunch of QX4's in my price range. I'd forgotten they existed. Seems I'm not the only one. The Honda Pilot's I'm seeing on CL are a little too expensive.

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:04 p.m.

Infiniti QX4 is a great recommendation.
The completely forgotten-ness of the Infiniti brand should bring actual selling prices much lower than asking prices.

92dxman SuperDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:06 p.m.

How about a Mitsubishi Montero/Montero Sport or Endeavor?

LuxInterior HalfDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:10 p.m.

In reply to 92dxman:

I'm sure that a Montero would be affordable. Rightly or not, I'm worried that a Mitsu wouldn't be as reliable as the Hondas/Nissans mentioned above.

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:10 p.m.

Lots of good Isuzu choices too.
Rodeos were made, pretty much the same, until 2005 but are also forgotten.

KyAllroad UberDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:21 p.m.

Every single Trooper on CL has a bad transmission. That seems telling.

I have a Suburban but honestly I preferred driving my 04 Expedition. Can you find a good, clean Expedition of that vintage for your price? It was that year they got IRS and really good brakes. I've heard less great things about similar vintage Explorers, but they still aren't bad. Ford sold a billion of the things so they must have been doing something right.

Grand Cherokee should get some attention as well. Not the damned Wrangler, those things are awful!

92dxman SuperDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:24 p.m.

Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy?:

mndsm MegaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:30 p.m.

Yeah, no wranglers. Too tip happy. I'm busy trying to convince swmbo that swmbo needs a camry, not a jeep. Also remember, Mass does not always equal safe. If it did, all cars would be the size of excursions. I would think Subaru, or some flavor of Volvo.

LuxInterior HalfDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:35 p.m.

In reply to 92dxman:

Yep. There are oodles of Blazers for sale around here and they're cheap. My 17 year old daughter has an Envoy/Trail Blazer. It's dead. I realize that a Blazer is not the same as a Trail Blazer. But, in light of all of the affordable Japanese stuff mentioned above, I'm not as excited about about another GM product as I could be.

Also, seems like an older Acura MDX could be had for my budget.

Thanks for all the great suggestions! I really appreciate it.

java230 Dork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:43 p.m.

3rd gen 4runner? They are hard to kill....

captdownshift UberDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:46 p.m.

Izusu Ascender GM V8, 0-60 in 6 flat and nobody knows what they are.

Sept. 23, 2016 3:46 p.m.

old CRV or 4 runner. They'll run forever and not cost the two million dollars in gas that a Tahoe will.

Sept. 23, 2016 3:53 p.m.

Another vote for CRV or Rav4

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:55 p.m.

Other choices from the fringe...

If thinking Ford Explorer, consider the less known Mercury Mountaineer as well
If thinking Ford Escape, consider the less known Mercury Mariner as well

Mazda Tribute was also a rebadged Escape.

Speaking of was replaced with the CX-7. With the turbo engine, the CX-7 is considered one of the least reliable cars you can buy...but.
The simplest CX-7's were outfitted with a 2.5L NA engine which is quite reliable.
It is possible that the reputations of the turbo models drive down the resell of even the good models.

BrokenYugo UltimaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:56 p.m.

I'd say Subaru, though I'm not sure if $3k will get you one that isn't ugly and/or on the deffered maintenance schedule though.

4Runner maybe?

Something that takes tires available in mountain/snowflake stamped AT sizes would be ideal, no dealing with the set of snow tires that way.

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 3:57 p.m.

The earliest MDX and Pilot may be know for transmission issues. The same issues that plagued the early Odyssey.

KyAllroad UberDork
Sept. 23, 2016 4:35 p.m.

And of course. At this price point you want the cleanest/best maintained example of something you can find. Almost everything mentioned will do the job (except a wrangler), so find something non-abused and be better off than the ideal model that's lived a hard life.

mndsm MegaDork
Sept. 23, 2016 4:43 p.m.

In reply to captdownshift:

You quit trying to drive the price up on those. I know damn well what they are.

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