4x4Wire TrailTalk

Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work)

Posted By: justice

Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/18/13 01:12 AM

Looking to buy an older late 90's early 00's commuter since I retired from the USMC got a new job with a 60 Mile commute from my house...I'll eventually be getting my own company van to drive to and from if the job works out, but have to pay dues first, but I don't want to rack up that many miles on the wife's 2012 TDI in the meantime, and the 98 Montero with the 33's...forget about it..

I'm looking for something comfortable and hopefully fun, since I'll be spending at least 2 hours a day in it. Commute is 98% highway miles ave speed on the 15 south in AM is 80MPH and in the eve possibly stuck in traffic adding 15-20 minutes to commute..Looking to get 28 MPG highway minimum.

Budget: $2500-3500 (low, yes but it is what it is)

When it comes to cars I'm partial to Euros for some reason, probably the tight handling..Maybe a jetta or passat with the 1.8 turbo, seen late 90's 3 and 5 series BMW's in my range not sure on these long term (maint?) I like the basic styling that seems to be somewhat timeless..Maybe I need to throw cool out the window and go with reliability and fuel economy?

What Say you wire?
Posted By: DRX350

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/18/13 05:59 PM

Japanese 4 cyl; reliable and efficient. Stay away from V6 Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, after 100k they fall apart.

Avoid the euro cars like the plague, MBZs from that era are just plain horrible, and BMWs are a royal pain to work on and are really expensive to maintain. VW, Volvo, and Jag; the electrics are a joke.

Fords and Chevys are decent, the engine run just fine, but everything else kind falls apart, but I've had several with 200k plus with no major issues.

Chryslers; the electrics kinda suck, and the transmissions really suck, but the ride's nice and the engines run well...
Posted By: fasteddy

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/18/13 08:29 PM

ditto the above

Hard to get 28mpg in 80mph freeway OR stopngo since you are on and off the gas in the latter to avoid the cut inners.

I'd be tempted by bottom of the line Korean stuff in your situation.
Posted By: LandRaider

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/19/13 12:57 AM

MK4 TDI's are running around 4500-5500. I love mine. 45 mpg all day long.
Posted By: kewlynx

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/19/13 01:53 AM

Bought the roomie's car as the beater with a heater. 97 Corolla, 367,811 miles on it (just filled it up). 1.8L engine (4 banger), still gets 34-39 mpg at 60 mph. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" /> Give 'er a romp and she passes well.

Congrats on your retirement Justice. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cheers.gif" alt="" /> Just make sure you're taking enough out of your retirement pay for taxes! Ask me how I know! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/scared.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: 4x4Wire

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/19/13 04:53 AM

I am with fasteddie. Some of the Korean stuff is good. I have had Kia's a few times as rental and have been pleased with erformance, comfort and mileage.

Other than that, Corolas are a solid value.
Posted By: Greg_Canada

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/19/13 02:44 PM

My GF's 04 civic has 146,000 miles on it and it runs great. suspension is still tight, etc.
I would look for the 1.7 vtec engine though. She has the non-vtec and it's quick around town but runs out of steam on the highway. My buddies 1.7 vtec does just fine on the highway.

Last tank was 33mpg... 50/50 city and highway... i've got high 30's on highway driving...

You should be able to pick one up in good shape for 3500-5000...
Posted By: DRX350

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/19/13 06:06 PM

Quote
Bought the roomie's car as the beater with a heater. 97 Corolla, 367,811 miles on it (just filled it up). 1.8L engine (4 banger), still gets 34-39 mpg at 60 mph. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" /> Give 'er a romp and she passes well.

Congrats on your retirement Justice. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cheers.gif" alt="" /> Just make sure you're taking enough out of your retirement pay for taxes! Ask me how I know! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/scared.gif" alt="" />


Those engines are stupid good, I have personally seen one with 480,000 miles. The late '90s Japanese cars are the epitome of reliability...
Posted By: RaiderMonteroFL

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/19/13 07:04 PM

See if you can hunt down a Pontiac Vibe 2004+. They are basically a Toyota Matrix with a Pontiac Sticker on it. Great car I had one for several years put 100K+ on it. 30+MPG all day long. Sold it 3 years ago and still see it around town. You can get them cheap since GM dropped the Pontiac line couple years ago.

Other than that the ole 4cyl Civic is tough to beat. That's what I bought to replace the Vibe.
Posted By: Dandeman

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/20/13 09:58 PM

Re: Old Toyota 4 bangers........

We finally gave away our 88 4 banger Camry Wagon at 300,000 miles to a friend kind of in need..

Still on the road at 330+ thousand miles. Engine has never been opened up, original clutch on the 5 speed still in the car, STILL not burning any oil..

The usual shaft seals have been replaced when timing belt replaced.. I think the water pump replaced one time. Some front end bushings, tie rod joints, alternator, brake pads, AC compressor replaced.. that's about it..

Gets 31-33MPG in daily driving..

The only car I've driven to higher altitude than a non-turbo'd Cessna 182 can do.. Drove up Pikes Peak 14,120' when it was new in 88. I think that trek turned out to be a good break-in on a new engine.. Rather than overheat the brakes on the way down, I used engine compression braking in lower gears to control the downhill speed, near the rev limit much of the way..
Posted By: kewlynx

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/22/13 05:50 AM

In addition to that list, it's been rear shocks, cuz Fritz would load that trunk like ya would a ranch truck. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif" alt="" />, and had the fuel pump in the tank go south. That one was easy; just pulled the rear seat cushion, and there she was. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" />

Almost bought a friend's Camry wagon a few years back, but I'd just plopped some $$ on land about 2 weeks before she called me. It's all good. It went on to be someone's kid's rig for college.
Posted By: stock87

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/23/13 02:22 PM

Honestly? Look for an 00-05 Hyundai Accent.

Stay away from the automatics, they die quickly and frequently from what I hear. Get the 1.6DOHC over the 1.5SOHC.

Yes, the interior is crap. Yes, the rear visibility sucks. Yes, the shifter is garbage.


BUTů they depreciate like mad, mechanically are probably 95% as sound as a similar Japanese model, and they are dirt cheap to fix if something does go wrong.

My wife was able to pick up her 2003 in 2005 for 4k, a third of what it sold for new. By now there ought to be plenty around 1000 bucks. Gets about 35MPG on a 20 mile/2000ft commute. Pushes 38 around flat areas.
Posted By: off-roader

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 08/30/13 08:00 AM

What did you end up getting Justice? Also did you stay out east after you retired?
Posted By: justice

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 09/02/13 10:57 PM

Wow those Hyundai Accents are dirt cheap...I didnt look at those but they are definitely worth a look. Offroader, I'm back in So Cal now, and working for a medical air systems company down south from where I live. Been building huge vacuum systems for hospitals the last couple weeks.

Sorry I didn't really take anyone's advice, and I may end up paying for it later, but for now very happy with the car I got. Its a 2000 Passat with the 1.8 turbo and a manual trans, and cloth interior (the leather ones are really all torn up bad at this age) with 133K miles. picked it up for 2700 bucks. It Nets about 30 MPG on the highway. The little turbo kicks in when I need it to on the highway and the car handles really nice.

Changed out all the fluids this weekend with high quality synthetic, as I'm aware of the oil sludge issue with the 1.8 if not maintained. Changed out the transaxle oil as well. Still needs a new snub mount in the front and I have that on order with a bunch of other small bits.

I test drove a Civic and a few other econo's (that were more $$ and miles) but they were just not comparable in ride quality and the road noise was all over the place IMO they felt like go carts.

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Posted By: kewlynx

Re: Reccomended used Commuter? (a bucket to drive to work) - 09/03/13 08:20 AM

Nice lookin' rig for that price; I'd say you did well so far. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" />
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