: Reliable, used gas-saver recommendations.



Benzilla
04-02-08, 11:44 PM
Hi guys,

I know I haven't been on here too much lately, and I have some PM's backed up (which I'll respond to when I have time to properly address them.) Basically, life got in the way.

Now to the matter at hand, since I sold my Sentra two months ago, I've split all of my driving up between my four Cadillacs, and my '84 Cutlass coupe... gas prices are KILLING me. I'm going to have to get another little grocery getter. So I'm looking for recommendations.

I got up to 37 mpg with my sentra, I'd like to come as close to that as possible. Basically the car will be doing all the mundane tasks & dirty work that the Caddies are just too distinguished for. It doesn't have to be fast, good looking or fun to drive. It just need to be tough as nails, reliable as sin, and cheaper than Pam Anderson in a tube top.... Speaking of which, it would be nice if the car could also fit five inside it. ;) Probably I'd just keep it over the summer, and I don't want to make this into a sizable investment. So I'd probably end up going with something mid-'90s. I keep thinking Honda Accord, but how good are they on gas? That's the main requirement. I might even end up with another Sentra, the problem with my old one was that it started nickle & diming me to death. Annoying and - by comparison - trivial things like the headlight switch & window motors kept breaking. I just got sick of it all and let it go. All in all I still broke even, but wouldn't have if I'd kept it any longer.

So, I'd love to hear some feedback, I know everybody has their favorite brand of beater to offer up, lets hear it!

Yours truly,

Ben.

dkozloski
04-03-08, 12:07 AM
3.0L Ford Ranger pickup with an extended cab.

Benzilla
04-03-08, 12:27 AM
I actually thought about a truck. But I failed to mention that I'd like some interior room too. I've been looking at reviews of the 1992-1995 Civics, and they look like a solid choice. Anybody have first hand experience?

Ben

gdwriter
04-03-08, 12:35 AM
Ben, I had a '95 Accord coupe from 1995 to 1998 and a '99 Accord coupe from 1998 to 2005. Both 4-cylinder, automatics. In a mix of city and highway driving, I regularly averaged in the high 20s. On highway trips, I could get in the low to mid 30s, and this was with the cruise set at 75-80 MPH and usually with the A/C going full blast (this was when I lived in Phoenix).

Both cars were entirely trouble-free. I put 57,000 miles on the '95 and 75,000 on the '99. My niece has the '99 now, and it continues to run like a Swiss watch.

A Civic will give you better mileage, but I find the Accords more comfortable. Still, if you were comfortable in the Sentra, a Civic will be fine.

As used cars, they're not exactly cheap, and I would say it's worthwhile to pay a little extra for one that's been adult-driven and well cared for. These cars are popular with young drivers, and many are thoroughly trashed. Before I bought my Cadillac, I looked at an '87 Accord whose hood looked like it had been painted with Liquid Paper. Using the brush.

Benzilla
04-03-08, 01:06 AM
Thanks Gary, that's exactly the kind of feedback I need. A Civic seems like the right choice, comfort isn't important, that's what the Cadillacs are for. :)

Now, does anybody know anything about Corollas? ...Good God, never thought I'd ask that. lol.

Ben

dkozloski
04-03-08, 01:11 AM
Any Toyota with a 22RE engine. My Celica drove like a dream and got 30MPG without even trying.

Benzilla
04-03-08, 01:17 AM
Hmm, I hadn't even thought of something like a Celica. I like the styling of even the older generations, but never thought of them in a gas saving way. What all model years had that engine in them?

Ben

Red_October_7000
04-03-08, 01:19 AM
Any Toyota with the 4AGE mated to a manual. That motor is tough as nails (actually all the A series motors are) and you can easily get 35+ MPG from any such car. Also check Geo Prisms, they were once upon a time fitted with that motor (which is easily good for 250,000 miles) as Geo was a joint Chevy/Toyota venture. Perhaps the best car to choose from the very broad lineup of vehicles fitted with the 4AGE and its brothers, is the MR2. It's very light (about 2,100 pounds) very quick, loads of fun to drive, sips gas (can squeeze about 40 MPG from a well-tuned example), is easy to park, is safer in an accident than anything its size (except perhaps the rare and difficult to maintain Fiat X1/9, which was built to meet hypothetical safety standards that never came into being) and many larger cars (most Mazdas) due to its monocoque construction, and has a surprising amount of room in it for such a little car (a long rear trunk, designed to hold two golf bags, and a deep front trunk or "frunk" that can swallow surprising amounts of groceries), plus numerous interior storage places. Only downside at all really is that it's only a two-place roadster, so its out if you need to carry people, but as a commuter/errand car it simply can't be beat from a standpoint of ability to absorb abuse, cost (they run about $500-1,500), fuel economy, and enjoyment of the motoring experience. If you need to carry more people there are infinite combinations of Celicas, Corollas, Coronas, Prizms, and even the odd Nova or two, with the fuel injected A motors. One fellow purposely blew a motor that was of no value (had run some time with no oil by accident and its replacement was waiting in a crate), it took well over five minutes of running above redline with no oil before the motor finally gave up. Oh, and they're non-interferance motors, so will not be ruined by a snapped timing chain.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
04-03-08, 01:22 AM
3800 powered GM. I won't get 37 MPG, but it may get 32-33 highway...mid 20s city.

Or are they just too big for you Ben? (never thought I'd say that)

dirt_cheap_fleetwood
04-03-08, 01:55 AM
I hate to say this, but if you want a reliable car that will drive forever, go with a jap car. A friend of my dad had a late 80's Toyota (forget what model, but it was a little thing) that ran for 400,000+ miles. Rusted to hell but it still ran.

Night Wolf
04-03-08, 08:42 AM
I was first going to say a Saturn.... the used SL's can be cheap and were neat little cars.

Then as I read more about what you wanted from a car... I'd have to say a 3800 GM.... Park Ave or similar... most people would consider Buick or Oldsmobile as last pick for a fuel sipper... but my '89 Eighty Eight got 22mpg city and 32mpg highway, A/C on and not driving too easy either. Regular gas, nothing special, but was still pretty quick. Parts are really cheap, they are easy to work on, quite a nice car and very reliable. I miss my Olds, and in fact the only reason why I sold it was due to excessive rust/rot on the underbody, otherwise I would probably still have it. Honestly, I keep my eye out for another car just like it... cause I was able to use it as a "car" without any extra worry, yet it still had features ans options that were very nice to have, but not over the top.

The '85-'91 style seemed to be less trouble and take quite a beating moreso then the '92+, tho they looked alot more modern inside and out and had more options, even then, any of these cars from the late 80's to the mid 90's makes for a crazy used car bargin... I mean, $1k could land a pretty decent car.

EcSTSatic
04-03-08, 09:16 AM
I'm in the process of recycling a '95 Ford Escort wagon that I recently bought for a daily driver. Parts are cheap and j/y sources are abundant. They get 35+ MPG too.

Escort project (http://pages.prodigy.net/fremin/Garage/car_Escort.htm)

AMGoff
04-03-08, 01:20 PM
Damnit... Chad and Rick beat me to it... The 3.8 is a workhorse, not only in that they're hard to break and parts a plentiful... but they actually return really decent mileage for such a large displacement motor. What about a late model Regal Coupe, say a '94-'96 - I always liked those cars, especially the rear-end with those full-width tail-light housings.... SHARP!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3085/2385624146_54dfb6d387.jpg?v=0
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2251/2384792879_76fc5c6dc3.jpg?v=0
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3228/2384792967_35d6d89121.jpg?v=0

LS1Mike
04-03-08, 03:06 PM
I had a 98 Bonneville with a 3800 I used to average 27-28 MPG mixed driving. I put over 270,000 trouble free miles on it.
I believe in that time I did normal maintenance water pump and I had added a transmission cooler. I should have kept the damn thing as a daily driver. I gave it away to a friend of mine who needed a car. 330,000 and still going.
Here it is at my former place of work. 3480 on the trucks scales with a full tank of gas.
http://www.fquick.com/images/vehicles/full/485324539.jpg (http://www.fquick.com/garages/viewgallery.php?action=viewimg&id=24539)

I~LUV~Caddys8792
04-03-08, 03:27 PM
Or heck, if nothing else, you could always try and find a GM A Body (Ciera, 6000, Celebrity, Century) with the 2.8, 3.1 or 3.3L V6's. With the V6, they're pretty damn durable and cheap as all hell too!

LS1Mike
04-03-08, 03:36 PM
Hell yeah and when you say cheap, like 500 bucks cheap, if you don't mind rolling the Celebrity.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
04-03-08, 03:52 PM
I wouldn't go for a Celebrity. I'd like to have something a little newer than 1989....

NAFTA
04-03-08, 04:10 PM
one of my guys got a real nice 3 series, but drives it like an idiot and works at a pizza place so he can't tie the knots with gas money. what he did was for $500 he picked up a Geo tracker, that small jeep thing, seats 2 comfortably, i don't know about more than 2 though, however hes had it for a few years not, had nothing to repair on it, drives 200 miles on maybe 6-7 gallons of gas.

JimmyH
04-03-08, 05:04 PM
2-3 year old Elantra

Red_October_7000
04-03-08, 07:28 PM
No Hyundais. They fold up like a cheap suit in an accident. The 3800 powered cars can be good. Even my 4400 Lbs Buick gets about 25 MPG and I have a terrible lead foot. The lighter Pontiacs and and such will naturally get better mileage especially considering as they're more sporty they're not as likely to have a muffler the size of a Cape Cod house. I did away with that and got about 1.5 miles to the gallon more. The Buick accomodates six in relative comfort. Four like their own livingroom. Good six-speaker stereo from the factory too. Lots of nice features can be had, but beware of stripper models, the most desirable features are hard to add. Even a passenger's power seat is a nightmare.

Night Wolf
04-04-08, 08:11 AM
Thats what I liked about my Oldsmobile, it was pretty basic for a Delta 88, yet even for today had decent options.

Power locks, windows, brakes, (tilt) steering... duh. Actually I think the most basic of basic could have had manual windows, which probably woudln't have been a bad idea (they do get slow as the age)

I had a 6-way power driver seat with manual recline, passenger seat was manual forward/back and recline, which was fine.

It had cruise control and delay wipers... something I much apperciate, tho the norm for today (Probably the only thing that bugs me on the Isuzu, as it dosen't have either.)

Climate control that kicked major butt, mine wasn't the auto one, just regular with the knobs, which I preferred. I didn't have a trip computer or cornering lamps either. My car also didn't have pull down trunk motor etc... tho it did have auto level control (same system as the Caddys, except alot more durable strangely)

It did have the "performance" 2.93 gears, as well as "firm ride and handling" package, which I later added a $10 sway bar from the junkyard to it.

Like I said, it was great, that car was really awesome, and I still miss it. I bought it with 116k on it, funny as I considered it "high mileage".... yeah right... I sold it with 135k for $500, the same price I paid for it a few years later due to rust. Being in the South with no rust, if I could find another, I'd snatch it up... nobody wants these things, yet they are the little-known kept transportation secret.

I wonder if I can dig up a picture of it.... maybe I still have one uploaded here on the site...

Here we are :)

It looks to be in great shape... but thats cause I did have it repainted, cost about $500, had it done at the vo-tec school I went to, othen then that I bought the new tires for it, which was $350 or $400, besides that, little things here or there... I only put 20k on it, but I had the thing for nearly 3 years actually. It was only supposed to be my winter car to keep the Coupe DeVille off the NY winter roads, which it did, but man, I liked that car so much I kept it on the road year-round.

The clear coat was shot, but also I side-swiped a telephone poll one winter, so the vo-tec put the new used fender and door on the car, and painted it, but also, some guy in a van drove into the right quarter panel of the car in a parking lot... got something like $1,300 from the insurance company out of it.

Personally of all the styles, I like the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight the most, for 1st gen, like mine, and I like 1989 the best... odd eh? Though for the 1992+ restyle I like the Buick/Pontiac more.... I'd like to find another tho.... cheap, awesome transportation.

Here it was at my apartment in Clearwater, made the drive from NY to FL in 2 days perfect, not a single problem :) The week that I went to NY to drive this back was the week the Coupe was stolen.... so for several months it was my only car, which is why I started looking for something else, I was doing alot of driving, and highway driving, really wasn't trusting the rust to hold together much more. Thats when I got the Isuzu to replace the Olds, which became my only car until I got the Town Car.

I will say this, that Oldsmobile had THE BEST headlights of ANY car I've ever drove or ridden in... I have no idea what it was, but man they were freakin awesome!

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/attachments/cadillac-forums-lounge-member-introductions/22403d1155050108-possible-stolen-car-pdr_0310-2.jpg

Arrggh theres the beast! What an awesome engine, really. That was powerful (165hp/225tq) and got awesome gas mileage.... work on this thing was SUPER easy too, basically the same engine bay as the V8 Caddys, there was quite a bit of room! When I had to replace the waterpump, all I had to do was remove the coolant/washer fluid tanks and that was it, wide open room. Changing spark plugs was a breeze.... great engine. Thats the same sway bar that came on the FWD Caddys, which is what that one came from, it did tighten the front end up a little :)

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/attachments/cadillac-forums-lounge-member-introductions/22401d1155050108-possible-stolen-car-pdr_0308-2.jpg

The whole car was rusty underneath, there was a couple holes under the rear seat, the bottom of the A-pillars were pretty much gone, no more inner fenders etc... along with everything else under the car had a nice coat of rust on it.... this was the power steering cooler lines that were rusted so bad they were leaking...

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/attachments/cadillac-forums-lounge-member-introductions/22402d1155050108-possible-stolen-car-pdr_0309-2.jpg

This is what finally made me sell the car... the engine cradle/sub-frame is bolted to the chassis in 6 places, the rear most mount on both sides was completely rotted thru, there was nothing behind all that, If the subframe was to drop (as people with the Caddys had it happen to them) it pulls the steering linkage with it, and you loose steering...not something I wanted going 60mph on US19 with concrete barriers on both sides due to construction. But, this car was bought new in NY and stayed there, thats what the salt will do.

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/attachments/cadillac-forums-lounge-member-introductions/22660d1156173409-isuzu-amigo-rusty.jpg

Heh, I remember going to junkyards for parts with my friend, we actually started laughing, because every single one of these cars that was there, if it wasn't involved in a major accident, it had atleast 220k on it, and quite a few had 300k+.... these things just keep going.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
04-04-08, 12:51 PM
For whatever reason, and I have no idea why, but those mid '80s-early '90s GM "box" models just have some sort of charm to them. It's hard to describe, because they're not really a desirable car by any means, but they just grow on you after time with them.

Rick's right though, those full size FWD 3.8L GM cars are excellent runabout cars, for all the reasons listed.

Another great suggestion would be a 92-96 Park Avenue Ultra. Well 1991
too if you don't mind not having the Supercharged 3800. They share all of the 3800 powered cars positive traits, but they were by far the most luxurious and most plush...those seats are to die for! And they've got more features than any of your Cadillacs do Ben! And the performance was always quite good, even in the initial 205hp form the Supercharged 3800 had from 1992-93.

The design is just beautiful too...well as good as any '90s Buick would be, aside from the '95 Riviera. It was compared to a Jaguar XJ-6 when it came out, and you can see the resemblance in it's formal, but sleek and contemporary, almost European lines. The interior is gorgeous too...deep pillow top leather seats, full guages, loads of faux wood trim...overall just a nice layout. This is definitely the Cadillac of the 3800 powered cars.

Here's a '91 Park Avenue Ultra.
http://i23.ebayimg.com/01/i/000/e6/61/c2c4_12.JPG
http://i9.ebayimg.com/03/i/000/e6/61/c4f0_12.JPG

If that isn't you Ben, I don't know what is. :)



Otherwise, if you like the idea of a full sized luxury sedan powered by the 3800, try a 91-96 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight. It's basically the same car as a Park Ave Ultra, but just with a different interior and exterior. The design is....polarizing to say the least. Some, myself included, like it, others hate it. It's definitely different.

Here's a 1993 Ninety Eight Touring Sedan; Oldsmobile's version of the Ultra Park Avenue. These could get the supercharged 3800, but they all had the full analog guage cluster, bucket seats, floor shift & console, blackout trim, performance suspension and performance final drive ratio. It's sorta like the DeVille Concours, except like $8,000 cheaper when new. The Touring Sedans are very rare though, most Ninety Eights were your basic american luxury sedan....six passenger, column shift, digital dash, etc etc. Nice cars though, much rarer than the Park Avenues, and certainly undervalued.

http://i19.ebayimg.com/06/i/000/e6/f1/df80_12.JPG
http://i12.ebayimg.com/02/i/000/e6/f1/e27e_12.JPG
http://i14.ebayimg.com/08/i/000/e6/f1/f073_12.JPG

AMGoff
04-04-08, 01:21 PM
For whatever reason...

Do we not like the Regal coupes?

LS1Mike
04-04-08, 02:54 PM
They are great! I think people like the idea of having a 4 door for the room.

JimmyH
04-04-08, 04:14 PM
No Hyundais. They fold up like a cheap suit in an accident.

:umno:

NHTSA gives it 4 and 5 (out of 5) in the various crash categories.

As for cheap suits; all my suits are cheap, and I can tell you they are not easy to fold.

JimmyH
04-04-08, 04:16 PM
Rick's right though, those full size FWD 3.8L GM cars are excellent runabout cars, for all the reasons listed.

Maybe, but ugh. If you want to stay American, why not a Cobalt or something? It will surely get better mileage than a one of those big cars. Probably handle better too, and certainly be more nimble.

Night Wolf
04-04-08, 05:01 PM
Maybe, but ugh. If you want to stay American, why not a Cobalt or something? It will surely get better mileage than a one of those big cars. Probably handle better too, and certainly be more nimble.

1993 Buick Park Ave - $2,000

2007 Chevy Cobalt - $16,000

Hmmm.....

Personally that '92+ Park Ave styling HAS always appealed to me.... they seem to have all the great features of my '89 Olds in a newer, sleeker package... tho Chad sad it, that car had quite the charm... I just liked it and I can't say why, and anyone that takes a look at it would think I'm crazy... until they drive it... my friend was all pro German, loved his VW's... then he drove the old Oldsmobile and wanted to buy it from me.

Night Wolf
04-04-08, 05:07 PM
The only thing with these 3800 cars is, they are addicting, Ben said he only wanted a car for the Summer, I said I only want a winter beater and I don't care about anything else.

If you were gonna spend $1k for a knock around car, stretch it to $2k or $2,500 which would buy a pretty nice car actually.... and it'll be yours for wuite a while, being a perfect daily driver that actually has quite a few nice features and options, that even a new Cobalt dosen't have.

JimmyH
04-04-08, 05:36 PM
I meant a used older Cavalier. Dont know why I said Cobalt. I am sure an older Cavalier is a POS. But they should be cheap enough, and repairs on that car can't be that much.

hueterm
04-04-08, 07:20 PM
I loved the '89-91 LeSabre T-Type coupe.....the 2 door of the boxy style. If I found a really nice one, I would give it some thought...

And while not a T-Type, I'd get this before any little puny ricer. It would probably go another 150K and it's barely optioned, so there's not much to break...

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?car_id=239189637&dealer_id=100004080&car_year=1990&model=LESA&num_records=25&systime=&make2=&start_year=1986&keywordsfyc=&keywordsrep=&engine=&certified=&body_code=0&fuel=&awsp=false&search_type=both&distance=0&marketZipError=false&search_lang=en&make=BUICK&keywords_display=&color=&page_location=findacar%3A%3Aispsearchform&min_price=&drive=&default_sort=priceDESC&max_mileage=&style_flag=1&sort_type=priceDESC&address=72712&advanced=y&end_year=1991&doors=Two+Door&transmission=&max_price=&cardist=875

Night Wolf
04-05-08, 06:57 AM
It's odd, MOST cars, I prefer 2-door over 4, when offered..... tho there are several exceptions... one of them being the 2 door version of these very cars.... I just cannot get used to the styling at all, same goes for my '89 Olds Delta 88. Another example would be the Jeep Cherokee.... just don't look right in 2-door.... same with the Trooper RS... they are sort of the little diamond in the rough for us Isuzu folks due to their very short wheelbase and 4.77 gears... but I just don't like the way they look... too stubby. There are others as well.

caddycruiser
04-05-08, 05:25 PM
Otherwise, if you like the idea of a full sized luxury sedan powered by the 3800, try a 91-96 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight. It's basically the same car as a Park Ave Ultra, but just with a different interior and exterior. The design is....polarizing to say the least. Some, myself included, like it, others hate it. It's definitely different.

Here's a 1993 Ninety Eight Touring Sedan; Oldsmobile's version of the Ultra Park Avenue. These could get the supercharged 3800, but they all had the full analog guage cluster, bucket seats, floor shift & console, blackout trim, performance suspension and performance final drive ratio. It's sorta like the DeVille Concours, except like $8,000 cheaper when new. The Touring Sedans are very rare though, most Ninety Eights were your basic american luxury sedan....six passenger, column shift, digital dash, etc etc. Nice cars though, much rarer than the Park Avenues, and certainly undervalued.

http://i19.ebayimg.com/06/i/000/e6/f1/df80_12.JPG
http://i12.ebayimg.com/02/i/000/e6/f1/e27e_12.JPG
http://i14.ebayimg.com/08/i/000/e6/f1/f073_12.JPG

I REALLY like that car...and I've never seen a Touring version, only the grandma wire hubcapped ones.

You know another Olds of the late 90's era I really like, again in "sport" form, but are a bit more common?

The LSS, particularly the newest one from '96-99:

http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com//pictures/VEHICLE/1998/Oldsmobile/14415/1998.oldsmobile.lss.8700-E.jpg

Not that I'm a super huge fan of that platform or era, but I had a customer with a beige/tan '99 non-supercharged and enjoyed driving it. It wasn't as boaty as a regular Eighty-Eight but still oddly yacht mixed with touring, had great space, and the regular 3.8L was it's usual full of grunt self. Moreso, like the combo of cleaned up trim, buckets/console, and the wheels.

But that Ninety-Eight Touring...hmm...now another oddball of oddballs to keep a lookout for...

I~LUV~Caddys8792
04-05-08, 05:42 PM
Derek, I think I've seen like two or three 1991-93 Ninety Eight Touring Sedans in person since I got interested in them three years ago. They're very, very rare.

caddycruiser
04-05-08, 05:52 PM
Derek, I think I've seen like two or three 1991-93 Ninety Eight Touring Sedans in person since I got interested in them three years ago. They're very, very rare.

Yes, and ooh, oddly enough...out of a search, I just found a silver '93 Touring with 100k and CLOTH in Chicago:

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?car_id=241629639&dealer_id=62316533&car_year=1993&model=98&num_records=25&systime=&make2=&start_year=1992&keywordsfyc=&keywordsrep=&engine=&certified=&body_code=0&fuel=&awsp=false&search_type=both&distance=0&marketZipError=false&search_lang=en&make=OLDS&keywords_display=&color=&page_location=findacar%3A%3Aispsearchform&min_price=0&drive=&default_sort=priceDESC&max_mileage=100000&style_flag=1&sort_type=priceDESC&address=19966&advanced=y&end_year=1994&doors=&transmission=&max_price=7000&cardist=702

Anything with that kind of a rarity/oddball factor always peaks my interest. That dark blue one on Ebay is a stunner, and one that will be hard to ever replicate again if looking for one.