Owen will be going to college in the fall. He bought a Chrysler 200 a few months ago and while he likes the car it hasn’t been terribly reliable. He is looking to cut his losses and move on. What car should he buy?
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
I’m 19, and the 2015 Chrysler 200 C I bought six months ago is already on the fritz. The check engine light just came on for the second time in a month - and our mechanic did extensive work on the last repair. I’m going back to college in the fall, so I need something reliable.
AWD is a must - I’m going to Maine for college. I’d like to have more space in the car if I’m going to be hauling stuff up and back. My reach goal is a sunroof. Also I’m 6’3” so I need something that will comfortably fit a taller driver. I am looking to spend up to $23,000
Budget: Up to $23,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Rehoboth, Massachusetts
Wants: Comfortable, reliable, AWD
Doesn’t want: Another Chrysler
Owen, sorry to hear that the Chrysler is giving you a less-than-ideal experience. You have learned the hard way that while the 200 was a good car on the surface, it couldn’t really compete with the imports. Remember that the 200 was “imported from Detriot.”
While there are a few AWD sedans available, it seems like you would benefit from some kind of wagon or crossover. You could be like everyone else in New England and get a Subaru. I would not fault you for that, but good luck finding a nice Forester or Outback in this current market under $23,000 without a ton of miles on it. I say use deprecation to your advantage along with a big warranty.
The VW Tiguan is super spacious and will make it easy for you to lug all your stuff home and back each semester. Now, I can anticipate all the folks in the comments screaming “This kid wants reliable and you recommend a Volkswagen!” That’s why you want to focus on the 2018 and up models as they came with a six-year/72,000-mile warranty. That is a lot of coverage, and something like this SE trim car, which comes with a sunroof, would give you coverage until 2024.
Honda and Acura. Toyota and Lexus. Mazda. All of these flashed in my head as I read your request, Owen. You want reliable and I understand that, especially after such a bad time with your Chrysler. Then again, you are a young driver and I can’t stomach putting you behind the wheel of a car that favors reliability above all. Let’s be a little reckless! You mentioned your driving conditions call for some off road prowess, so I’m recommending this 2008 Land Rover LR3.
Sure, it’s nutty, but it was our readers that actually got me thinking about this. When we asked about cars with undeserved reputations for being unreliable pieces of crap, this generation of Rovers came up. These Discoveries borrowed from Ford’s engines and I can’t shake the notion that combining a stout American V8 and British luxury makes for a great SUV.
Also, this was the generation before the Disco became just a bigger Evoque. The mileage on it is low enough for a V8. It’s far away from you, but that will be good for a road trip where you can really get to know the LR3 and experience its highway MPG. Once you get into the city, you might start cursing at the bad gas mileage, but the LR3 should fit you and your cargo nicely, and since it costs less than half your max budget, it will leave you with plenty of gas money.
Want something that won’t leave you stranded and still has a factory warranty for a little backup? Then you want Hyundai.
I admit I’m slightly biased as I drive one, but it’s for good reason. They’re reliable, and you get a lot of features for your money. Take this 2018 Tuscon. One owner, just over 33,000 miles on it so it’s still under factory warranty. (Keep in mind though with Hyundai, the factory warranty only covers the second owner for five years/60,000 miles. Still not bad though!) You get a seven-speed automatic, panoramic roof, and all-wheel drive, all for just $22,600. You can’t beat it.