I agree with comment 16:16. Hybrids aren't really the answer. Sure emissions are lower, but how much gas are we really saving? With the way I see people driving these hybrids, it can't be that much, because these little Priuses are usually flying down the highway at 90 MPH with some clueless driver who believes they are saving the planet, because they drive a hybrid.
I bought a Toyota Highlander 2010, and it's getting water inside from the roof rack, and there's no guarantee for that.
I had a new black Trailblazer and it rode great. Loaded with all options including Onstar and diagnostics.
I do not like off road tires; I prefer street tires. I traded it in at 12000 miles for a new Corvette.
I will never forget our harrowing test drive of a 2003 Highlander. Pieces of interior trim falling off, not enough power to merge into traffic and defective brakes that violently lurched to the left. We got it back to the lot as soon as we could and ran to a GM dealer. We bought a 2003 GMC Envoy. The Envoy just hit 120,000 miles. Thus far it has cost us a whopping $77 in total repairs (water pump and drive belt). Everything else except tires and battery is still original.
I test drove everything. In 2011 when we looked, Highlanders were ranked as the #3 choice on auto reviews like Motor Trend. If you wanted a faster manufacturer with far better suspension, the one to buy was the Mazda CX-9. We have 3 Mazdas in our family. The CX-9 has an astounding array of electronics as well. You may spend a lot of time reviewing the owner's manual to review it all. Also the styling is far more aesthetically pleasing vs a Highlander. That's my suggestion anyway.
I also have not had the recall or paint issues discussed. If I wanted a large SUV, a new GM black Surburban with every conceivable option and then a day at an aftermarket shop with more tint, wheels and other upgrades would be my pick.
I never pay the slightest attention to car magazine ratings. In fact, for used cars I generally look for one that Consumer Reports rates as "much worse than average" because they sell cheaper.
Two of our cars (both GM) were rated "much worse than average" and were (and are in the case of one we still own) absolutely reliable and trouble free. The one we still own was bought new and just turned 11 years old. It has 120,000 plus miles on it, and so far has never had a brake job, shocks, alignment or any repairs, other than a water pump and drive belt, which cost me a total of $77. All hoses, spark plugs, sensors, etc. are original and the car runs as good as new.
Over the years, the cars I found most disappointing were two that had "much better than average" ratings.
About 5 years ago we had a major fuel price increase. I went out and bought a fuel hog Chevrolet High Top Van with the 350 V8. It has a 37 gallon tank. Low mileage, mint shape and a low price. People were terrified over gas spikes. I had a blast with it on trips. No issues, and one of my best later flips ever. I sold it and bought another car with the profit. I read of people walking away from deposits on the little smart cars in our area. Gas prices stabilized. Buying high demand vehicles can cost more. If you live close to work, a more comfortable large used vehicle can cost less vs payments.
You can even use Carfax to your advantage. I bought one that had a rear quarter repair shown, and got it lowered. Doesn't affect performance. If you bought a Toyota with many recalls performed, it may give you a bargaining chip as it shows on the Carfax. I know some may buy new and drive it til it's time for the graveyard. My preference is to buy ones low, and I can flip it or get out from under it at any time. And no loss.
Some cars with worse than average ratings may be over issues like trim pieces. That makes it great as a buyer, especially being able to buy all cash and no trades. I also found insurance is less on mine as I own them. Then collision insurance isn't an issue as required with a loan.
I feel bad when people buy a vehicle that was highly rated a year ago, but actually isn't with the newest one. They have paid high retail and then have shop time and parts on top. Warranties can be interpreted differently. Someone has to pay for repairs. It may end up being you.
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