What mid 2000's crossover suv should I buy?

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1,983
Location
New Brunswick
I'm looking to buy a small/midsize crossover type SUV in the next few weeks. I've narrowed my choices down to either a 2007-2010 Mitsubishi Outlander or a 2005-2007 Nissan Xtrail. I want good winter capability, especially after the whoopin' we got last winter. I'd also like to do some light offroading as well. Cowtrails, fire roads, nothing extreme. I like the styling of the Outlander and its AWD system. The Xtrail looks alright too, although according to what I've read the AWD system is a little less capable, but the 4 cylinder engine should get better fuel mileahge. I'm looking to spend around $5000 or so (Canadian monies). What do you think? Got any other vehicle suggestions?
 
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22,187
Location
Colorado Springs
Even though Suzuki is now defunct, I would also consider a Grand Vitara. They are quite reliable little SUVs and you can find them for a decent price. For 5,000, I'd also consider a Chevy Tracker (same as the Vitara). If you don't need low range for the 4wd system, Subaru Foresters are hard to beat.
 
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9,794
Location
Ontario, Canada
$5k seems a little low unless it had a whole lot of miles. Do you need a lot of cargo space while seating 4? If not, have a look at the 99-04 Vitara/Tracker. I like the real 2 speed transfer case 4wd with the manual trans. We do some unmaintained roads driving and with the advent of the side by side ATV, it fits on a lot of tracks that only ATVs have been on. Its also narrow enough that you can easily straddle the big truck ruts so you don't have to drive in them. For DD use, the two you are looking at will be nicer I'd assume but we survive just fine in ours. Not much hp with the 4, but it gets upper 20's mpg in our country driving. If I had a hard $5k budget, I'd be tempted to get a $3-4k Tracker and save the rest for the odd repair. We just had the balljoints on the front control arms done and it wasn't cheap.
 
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4,998
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Both vehicles are CRV/Rav4/Escape sized and similar in capability. I'm not sure some of the larger recommendations are good, since the fuel economy is not even close. Around here that price makes anything Toyota/Honda/Subaru out of the question, unless it has a million miles. Escapes are so common, I think that's what I'd shoot for. I think the Vitara/Tracker recommendation is a cool one, if you can wrench and you don't need the space some of the larger options offer. One parks by our house pretty often, always think of the Wheeler Dealer episode where they build one up for offroading. (albeit a much older one)
 
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3,159
Location
Boston, MA
My mom had a Grand Vitara XL-7 which was awesome. Really nice and the price was right. The engine was a little under powered but the Grand Vitara (non XL-7) is a great deal with true four wheel drive. Tough little trucks
 

01rangerxl

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10,316
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Birmingham, AL
Even though Mitsubishis tend to have pretty terrible resale, finding a halfway decent '07-'10 Outlander for that price seems like a major stretch and probably isn't happening. I am sure you can get one for well under $10K, but not for $5K. Parts availability for Mitsubishis can be spotty - I have more issues with them discontinuing things on relatively late model cars than anyone else. If it's not discontinued, it's expensive. For example, if the HVAC control head goes out in one of those Outlanders, you are looking at $500, and it is only sold as the complete unit. Realistically, you need to be looking at 10 year old vehicles, not four year old vehicles. Maybe look at some of the Korean offerings...Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson, Kia Sportage and Sorento.
 

Astro14

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13,238
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Virginia Beach
Volvo XC-70. High quality interior, very rust resistant, heated seats, stylish, car handling, AWD and as much ground clearance as the SUVs you're considering. Look for an '03 to '05 model in your price range. Be certain the maintenance was done by the book, especially oil changes and timing belt.
 
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14,505
Location
Top of Virginia
I sure like the idea of either a Jeep Liberty or Grand Vitara. Look also at the Kia Sorento, 2002-2009 generation. It had a solid rear axle and should have at least minimal capability for what you want to do. I don't know anything about their durability, though...I only mention it because I think it meets your minimum requirements. I think a Liberty might be your best option. Minimal maintenance requirements (timing chain on the engine, easy-to-get fluids for the transmission and differentials, etc), plus low range 4WD.
 

55Test

Thread starter
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1,983
Location
New Brunswick
The fuel mileage for the Liberty and a 2007 Sorento are only 15 city/20 highway. The 2005 Sorento is rated even lower at 13 city/18 highway, which is what my brother's 5.3 V8 Tahoe Z71 is rated at! Fuelly has the Liberty rated at 16.9 to 17.9 mpg average for 2002-2004, 21.3 and 20.9 for 2005-2006 and 16.2 to 17.8 from 2007-2010. I'm think I'll be looking for something a bit better on fuel than that. I test drove a 2003 XC70 today. Man what a piece of work.. 270000 miles, one bad creaky strut in the rear, at least 2 dragging brakes, bad vibration above 65 mph, seems to pull left on hard decel, and spins the tires rather easily on a corner for an AWD car. Only $3000! Haha no.
 

55Test

Thread starter
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1,983
Location
New Brunswick
So I went and took that 2004 V70 for a test drive today. Hmm, on startup I hear a small exhaust leak coming from up front somewhere. It's not bad right now but I suspect it will get worse and that means $$$ to fix. Pulling out of the guy's driveway onto the road and I hear clicky CV joints. I wonder how much that'll cost. The car rides nice, performance is good but not overwhelming (I suspect there's a lot of torque management in 1st gear). A/C didn't seem too powerful but then again it was only about 55 Fahrenheit outside. I tried a standing start on a dirt patch and the front tires spun a lot more than I was expecting. How exactly does the AWD system on these work? The car has 245/something/17's on it and comes with a worn set of 16 inch studded winter tires which might last another year. I wasn't overly impressed. I also tried out a 2007 Caliber R/T FWD and a 2009 CVPI later in the day. The Caliber is quite nice. It has 145000 kms. New rear brakes and rotors, new rear control arms, new battery. The 458 watt Boston Acoustics sound system is loud but clear too. It has a built in 150 watt 120 volt inverter in the center console and a spot in the glove box to chill up to 4 water bottles. I liked this a lot more than the V70. This one is $3500. The CVPI has 156000 kilometers and runs great. Suspension, steering, brakes (kinda mushy feeling brake pedal), engine and transmission all work excellent. Ride is firm but well controlled. Front seats are comfortable but the interior is so plain. Body is solid but the car looks kinda rough mostly due to poor reflective tape removal before the car was auctioned. This one is $2900. Of the three cars I tried today, my overall opinion has the Caliber in front, CVPI close behind in 2nd and the V70 back in 3rd.
 
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6,167
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
I ended up with my Saturn Vue b/c they were far cheaper than a Rav4/CRV/Escape. 4cyl 5spd from 2004+ are quite reliable and a good bit more cargo room than a Caliber...
 
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14,505
Location
Top of Virginia
Originally Posted By: 55Test
Of the three cars I tried today, my overall opinion has the Caliber in front, CVPI close behind in 2nd and the V70 back in 3rd.
If this is the case, then your realm of possibilities are nearly endless. I'd have never suggested any of the three I did if you were also looking at FWD crossovers and RWD sedans. I read your original post to say that you'd be doing some mild off-roading and such. You also cited good winter capability. I'm not sure a Crown Vic fits those criteria, but maybe...
 
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