1995 Chevrolet Caprice 4.3 V8 from North America
A solid car, big and safe, a few minor quirks, but if you pick out a good one, it should last
Ignition switch broke.
Drive belt squeaks.
Rear sway bar came loose.
Engine lifter ticking.
Power window issues.
Cruise control quit.
Trunk remote broke.
I've owned this car for about 18 months, it has been very reliable, fairly comfortable, economical to maintain, and performs very well under all road conditions.
I researched owner reviews before buying and would like to return the favor here, I found them very helpful. I looked for a couple months until I found a non-police, low-mileage "grampa car" that was kept up and not beat up. The police package cars have stronger drivetrains and suspensions, but are also beat hard, both by the law and by the go-fast crowd that buys them at the police auctions. I looked at a few ex-cop cars before finding mine, and they were all thrashed. I'm old and slow, and don't like breakdowns or big repair bills.
I had to do the normal things with any used car after purchase, about $500 in preventive maintenance: changed all fluids including trans, rad and rear diff; new shocks; minor rust repair; new belt.
Every 6 months the belt squeaks, but it's a $20 part and takes 2 minutes to replace.
I got too rushed turning it off once and broke the ignition tumblers; cost me a tow and a $200 switch/re-keying (electronic keys).
One back window sticks going up and has to be partly pulled up by hand.
One side of the rear sway bar lost both bolts; a neighbor noticed it, and I had the bolts on hand to replace.
Cruise control quit; the dealer charged me $100 to tell me I needed a $300 switch. I bought the switch for $25 on ebay and installed, but it didn't fix the cruise.
When I first got the car, I floored it through 2 gears and a lifter started ticking, and still ticks when cold.
The 4.3 non-positrack, non-police sedan like mine isn't meant to be hotrodded, so I just take it easy, keep the fluids clean and it has been good to me.
All the issues I just mentioned, I consider minor things, as the car always starts, drives and rides good, gets 20mpg all the time, and is cheaply repaired at my local independent mechanic shop. Forget going to the dealer, a 1995 model is "too old" for them, they don't have the computers or experience to accurately diagnose; my dealer techs look like they were in 4th grade when this car was built.
I bought this "luxury" car because I have a bad back, the roads in Maine are rough, and my old VW was beating me up bad. I grew up in the 70s and remember how soft the big old boats rode back then. This car is more modern, it has a stiffer ride than an old 70's boat, but as a result, handles curves better. The seats are firm, the foam isn't super plush, but lasts a long time. A Lincoln or Caddy might be more comfortable, but costs twice as much to buy... and repair. The Caprice is probably the best combination of durability, comfort, and safety you can find in a modern, fuel-injected, radially-tuned, ABS-type of car.
I drive slow and find the brakes and acceleration fine for my needs. I tow a boat in summer and drive through snow and ice in winter (with studs), and this heavy, RWD, V8 sedan is great for that. Especially climbing hills, with 150 lbs in the trunk, it chugs up icy hills that have FWD cars and minivans spinning out. You just have to slow down descending icy hills and in curves, but any car is like that, honestly, to be safe in winter.
One day I will get a more comfortable car on the bumps for my old bones, and the only thing I can imagine would be softer ride is a 1960's/70's boat with coil springs in the seat and rear axle. Until that time I'll probably keep the Caprice, as long as I have room in the driveway.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th October, 2011
You are smart in that you didn't buy a used police car. Police cars are slammed around like no other street driven car.
20 mpg with this car. I have a 2011 Buick Lucerne, which is significantly smaller than your car, however not a bunch lighter, and I am only averaging about 19.3 mpg according to the on-board computer.
My old Park Avenue, which was also bigger, was averaging over 22-23 mpg in the same driving conditions. It really puzzles me how Detroit has seemed to go backwards in many areas, especially fuel economy. It is sad that cars like the Caprice and Roadmaster were shunned because people saw how large they were, and just assumed they were gas hogs. Many of the new "big" cars are a lot less roomy and smaller on the outside, yet don't get any better fuel economy because they are almost as heavy as the 15 year old behemoths. It makes me mad that we are all being relegated into smaller and smaller cars, because Detroit either cannot or will not build a decent sized car that will get over 30 mpg.
I think a lot of fuel mileage has to do with tires and how you drive. My tires are almost to the wear bars and I keep them at 32 psi, both of which lower "rolling resistance." Because the car is so heavy, it takes off down hills, so I slow down near the top, coast over the crest, then I coast down the other side, and end up needing to brake lightly if the hill is long enough. It helps to know the roads, too.
I don't have a mileage computer, but I reset the trip when I fill up and do the math in my head, best I got was just over 21 mpg. It doesn't matter if I tow or run the A/C, it always gets 20 mpg. The only exception is in winter, I have beefy winter tires, they are soft and squishy on highway curves, but with the studs, very safe on back roads. Winter mpg averages 16-18, that is without towing or running the A/C, like in summer, or it would be even less.
So I guess it would be more accurate to say I get 20mpg with worn summer tires and 17mpg with winter tires. But not everyone needs to change tires in winter or even drives a car like this in winter, so for most people's driving it would not be too hard to get 20 mpg all year round if you have the right tires and drive smoothly. I try to drive like it's a limo with passengers drinking in the back, like "there's an egg on the gas pedal," which probably saves on wear and tear, as well as fuel consumption.