I have a mercury sable and I love it. I have driven the car for 7 years and have put over 150,000 miles on it. I have only had to perform what are considered to be normal maintenance repairs. Oil changes, new tires, and one complete brake job at 145,000 miles.
The gas mileage is not the greatest at 24 mpg, but for I car that I only put gas in, I am saving far more money by continuing to drive this car than I could save by making a car payment for a car with better gas mileage.
I wrote the review and to specify, I get 16 city 21 highway. That driving is the slow acceleration granny driving, not burning out and what not.
I also have a 97 Sable with 105,000 miles and it has been very reliable for the most part, usually just requiring routine maintenance (oil changes, tires, brakes, etc...) Several things have needed replaced, such as the radiator, master cylinder, and brake calipers, but those things are to be expected with a car with so many miles on it. Prior to 90,000 miles, nothing went wrong other than routine stuff. This car also has a very responsive engine... I hit the gas and off I go as quick as I'd like. I have owned and driven several similar cars, like a 99 Pontiac Grand Prix (stolen) and Dodge Intrepid and the Sable moves just as quick if not quicker than the V-6's of these other cars. Basically though, the Sable has been good to us.
1000 dollars per year on insurance is quite low, especially for a new driver. You should try living in the People's Republic of New Jersey. I have been driving for 15 years, never been pulled over, never had a ticket, never had an accident, and still pay well over 1000, just for liability. I do not carry comprehensive coverage. I do not feel like mortgaging my house for that. You should thank your lucky stars for 1000 dollars per year.
Also, you cannot expect a car with 97,000 miles to be like brand new. Likewise, there is no way your mother's Crown Victoria gets 32 mpg.