By on December 30, 2011

 

TTAC Commentator Jimal writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I have one of those quandaries that most adults will go through sooner or later in life and I figured I would tap into you and the B&B for suggestions. My father passed away recently after a long illness and I’m helping my mother with settling his estate; cleaning up finances, etc. Among the things my father left behind were his 2005 Buick LeSabre, which my mother hates, and her cherished 1996 4-door Chevy Blazer.

They bought the Blazer new and 14 years and 170k miles later it owes my mom nothing. The problem is it is a ticking time bomb. My mother realizes this and realizes that they don’t quite make SUVs like that Blazer anymore. Our (my) plan is to sell the Blazer on the front lawn and either trade in the Buick or put it on the lawn for some down payment money for something.

My first question is what CUV built today would be the best replacement for my mother’s beloved Blazer? Because my father was a GM retiree, my mother is eligible for the GM Family First discount and the Chevy Equinox is high on my list, although depending on how much the bankruptcy screwed my mother (my dad was salaried and not protected during the C11 like the UAW members were) we may or may not want to support the General going forward. I’ve also looked at the Tiguan, the Journey and the Flex. She prefers American nameplates; the VW is my idea. I don’t know that anything Asian will fly, otherwise a CX-7 would be on the short list.

My second question is about the wisdom of leasing in this particular situation. My mother takes care of her vehicles (hello? 170k Blazer) and she’s not going to be driving long distances. To me the advantages of having a new vehicle before the old one is out of warranty outweigh the equity issues. I’m finding the lease to be a hard sell for my mother because my father had a bad experience with it on the Olds Achieva the Blazer replaced.

Steve Answers:

Older folks usually prefer to buy a familiar product. The less they care about the product, the more this usually rings true.

My mom is a prime example. She has owned a Camry for 10 years and now wants a new vehicle. My brother said ‘Let’s have her go see some Volvos.’ Well, she didn’t like any of them.

Then I said, “Well, maybe she would be happier in a Toyota Matrix. The seats a bit higher so that will help her with getting in and out of the vehicle. Plus it’s an easier car to drive.” My mom tried the Matrix and hated it too.

Finally, my mom drives the new Camry. She loves it. Why? Because everything is already familiar to her. Plus it now has a rear camera, navigation, and 10 airbags. She likes all of those things. To be frank though, she would still buy the new Camry even if it was still the exact same vehicle she drives now.

Go buy her an Equinox. Sell the other two vehicles for cash and use the family discount to get her a vehicle she can enjoy for the long haul.

Sajeev Answers:

The short answer is to stick with American or Japanese nameplates for a long term owner like your Mom. Buying a VW for this length of time is not worth it, unless you want to be one of the unwitting souls who tells the world the latest crop German vehicles have finally overcome a decade of being a below average value proposition! I wouldn’t want to be the person holding their breath for that.

German cars are for leasing only…and I don’t see your mother wanting or needing that. Buy, don’t lease. Buy American, it’s important to her. The Equinox, Traverse, Flex and Edge are great. Supposedly the new Journey is good value and a quality design, I haven’t driven it yet to know for sure. You need some quality time with Mom doing the Test Drive thing, make it a fun outing with a nice lunch too.

Like Steve said, this is a GM family and she likes GM products. Nothing wrong with that. Honestly I would put her in a Buick Enclave: the size is a bit much, but the luxury and style might be a great choice. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something nice in circumstances like these. And how often do we get to say that around here?

Seriously, tell her she’s worth a Buick Enclave. As long as she likes sitting in it, enjoys the road test, etc. make it happen for her.

EDIT: on second thought, why not a new Caddy SRX? It’s smaller than the Enclave (which could be a good thing for her), and it’s a friggin Caddy.  Get her an SRX!

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

139 Comments on “New or Used: Being a Parent…to your Parent...”


  • avatar
    JCraig

    The Enclave is a great suggestion.

    • 0 avatar
      MR2turbo4evr

      Really? Those things are huuuge. A PITA to park and I’d image they like to guzzle gas too. My brother-in-law’s dad bought a brand new Enclave for his wife. She’s afraid to drive it so he bought her a ’05 Chevy Cobalt. They still have the Enclave, but it rarely gets driven. My mom also hates driving their ’05 Toyota 4Runner and is much happier driving her ’96 Corolla (even though the 4Runner is obviously a much nicer vehicle overall). Steve’s suggestion to go with an Equinox makes more sense to me. It should already be a huge step-up from the Blazer she’s driving.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        I didn’t think the Enclave was that big. I’ve been in one and it felt like a roomy mid size CUV. In my head the Traverse is much bigger. The Blazer was pretty small inside so my thinking here (and I believe Sajeev’s) is that she get something bigger, safer, a lot nicer and more comfortable. I bet the mileage is on par with her Blazer. She is coming from another SUV so the size difference may not be as shocking as coming from a compact car.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Midsize SUVs were actually pretty small before the crash standards got out of control. The 4 door Blazer has a smaller footprint than a modern Corolla. The 2 door Blazer has the footprint of a 2nd gen Neon.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @JCraig

        The Enclave is essentially the same size as a Tahoe. Have had several as rentals, nice cars if you actually NEED to haul 6 people around, but I can’t see a little old lady needing one. Plus they are not so nice to see out of – the rear-view camera is mandatory.

        And they very much do guzzle gas.

      • 0 avatar
        scottcom36

        J, the Traverse and Enclave are the same size, same platform.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        I did know the Traverse and Enclave were similar, but I thought the Chevy was a stretched version. It looks a lot bigger to me in person, but maybe that’s just perception.

        She may not need all that space but older people seem to like bigger vehicles that harken to the glory years of american iron. It seems like the Enclave is one of the last remaining Buicks that still really appeals to the retired crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      nearprairie

      I concur and offer these suggestions.

      Buick Enclave
      Chevy Equinox
      Honda CR-V
      Nissan XTerra

      The Enclave has high appeal to a wide variety of seniors, including salt of the earth Mid-Westerners like my parents-in-law. The Equinox is smaller but offers the bonus of decent gas mileage. And should you break ranks to consider imports, take a 2012 CR-V for a spin. Its size, operational simplicity, and frugality may appeal to your mom. And if your mom likes the body-on-frame dynamic, the XTerra is a solid, tried and proven ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Why sould anyone suggest GM to anyone? Silly. Bankrupt. Anyone remember why? And they obviously haven’t changed. Get her a Volt so she can have a barbecue.

      • 0 avatar
        scottcom36

        Because her last GM product lasted 15 years and 170k. And she gets a discount.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Because her recently deceased husband was a longtime GM employee and dispite what GM has gone thru some people still have loyalty.

        BTW, Jimal, sincere condolences on the loss of your Dad.

        I agree with Steve, Equinox. Enclave is a gorgeous CUV, and gorgeous very large CUV. Good Luck.

    • 0 avatar
      Hildy Johnson

      The Enclave is a ludicrous suggestion for a single old lady. I know this advice is for free and all that, but let’s have a little common sense please.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        How is it ludacris– ludicrous? It has plenty of room for the family (grandkids, their own children + grandkids), lots of space for shopping, it’s comfortable. Does everyone forget that large vehicles are the favorite among retirees?

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        That really made me chuckle… It may be the 12 hours of work wearing on me, but how old is this lady? Grandkids plus their children and grandkids? That’s 4 generations!!

        Plus, she’d need a good bit more than an Enclave unless everyone just had one kid. Four-generation families often have upwards of 50 members!

        As for the suggestions… I agree with Steve about the familiarity factor, but the current Equinox (I really dislike them, but I’m not going to push my opinion on anyone else – have her drive and decide) would be utterly foreign to anyone stepping out of a GMT330 Blazer. Everything – the controls, features, seating position, sightlines, road performance – will all be vastly different.

        I’d go for a smaller CUV for this lady. As mentioned above, that old Blazer is a mighty small beast. The closest thing that comes to mind is the current Ford Escape. There are several pluses to this posibility: cheap deals at the end of a long model run, American nameplate, size and layout familiarity, easy sightlines (owing to the old design). Of course, there are also negatives: no GM discount (this may not matter, depending on GM’s treatment of her husband’s benefits and the lowball deals to be had on the Escape), the Escape’s notorious weak points (Transmission, Transmission, Transmission!!), etc.

        But, even in V6 4WD guise it’ll be a damn sight more economical than that old Blazer. And if the lady made the Blazer last this long, perhaps she really has what it takes to carry anything through!

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Yep. One look at what’s parked in the handicapped spaces will confirm that the old and infirm love them some 19 foot car.

        And one look at the state of those cars’ bumpers and fenders will confirm that the old and infirm probably shouldn’t be driving at all and certainly not in something with corners 12 feet away from the driver.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I know several years ago my Grandmother (widow of a GM plant member) got the “friends and family” discount even on the used cars on GM dealers lots. (That’s how she ended up with an Aztex.)

    If your mom liked the previous generation Equinox you might be able to get a good deal on a gently used Pontiac Torrent/Saturn VUE as long as you’re dealing at the GM dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      I wouldn’t want to saddle someone with a orphaned brand, no matter the parts shared underneath. I’d be okay with it myself, but not to a more elderly family member or friend.

    • 0 avatar
      underachieva

      Yeah no kidding. Go for a low mileage 04-07 VUE with the Honda powertrain.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I’m pretty sure the VUE falls at least partially into the no-no years of Honda V6/autotrans trouble. And, of course, neither Honda nor “Motors Liquidation” are going to back an old VUE up with warranty fixes.

        Poor VUE.. Worst of both worlds, it seems.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Dan, I thought for sure your head would be hurting after seeing that gorgeous Poncho wagon! I really thought the article was about somebody having one of these! Now I feel cheated…

      I forgot what the article in question was!

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    The Traverse/Enclave is much larger than a Blazer, or even Trailblazer for that matter. Drives bigger and you sit more in the center than with a Blazer. She may not like that so much, I would also suggest the Equinox or the GMC Traverse. They are similiar in size to the Blazer, as well as visibility.

    Alternatively, I’d suggest a Forester for a Japanese nameplate. Very close in size and more boxy like she has been used too. Even the same number of gears!

    In the end, it should be what is high on her list, not your list.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I would suggest a Ford Escape for size, cost, and maneuverability. It would provide the best 1996 Blazer flashback and support the home team.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    An X-Terra or 4-Runner seems like the most logical replacement candidates for a Blazer. I’m not a fan of the Equinox/Terrain, the ones I’ve driven just feel heavy and sluggish, and my sister-in-law has not had a good experience with hers.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Again, consider the target buyer. An Xterra or 4Runner is great if you’re going off-roading, or alot of outdoor activities. Not really a replacement for a lower-riding Blazer which gets driven around town (most likely).

      Yes, I’ve had an Xterra, 4Runner, Terrain, Enclave, Equinox, and Escape as rentals. I still prefer our Outback to all of them. The Xterra is a favorite of mine for field use/2-track roads. But, I’m a 29 year old guy with 2 little boys…not an older gal.

    • 0 avatar

      She doesn’t want a Japanese product. No way that will work.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        “She doesn’t want a Japanese product.” Definition: “She doesn’t want a quality product. She wants to become very closely acquainted with the service department. She wants to camp out on a dark, desolate road when her GM POS leaves her stranded, which it will.”

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Doesn’t sound like its been an issue for her thus far.

      • 0 avatar
        MR2turbo4evr

        @ Kevin: Take it easy. I love Japanese cars as much as the next guy….more actually. I wouldn’t buy anything else. But we’re talking about an older lady who’s formerly owned a GM product and has been very happy with it. Someone has to buy domestic cars to support the US economy, so why not let someone buy a domestic vehicle who doesn’t really care about cars and couldn’t tell the difference between a CR-V or a Equinox. I would way rather see more domestic cars on the road than some hyundai or kia.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The new smaller Buick “Encore” CUV set to debut at Detroit next month may be a good option.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    The Enclave is gigantic. I ended up with a leather-lined Chevy Traverse as a rental last winter and thought about putting down a Slip ‘N Slide with the two sets of rear seats folded down. Looking out the back was like looking through a periscope. Going from a Blazer to that, especially in advanced years, I’d expect her to kill at least one bicyclist within the first couple of months before she gets the blind spots (or maybe “areas”, because “spots” sounds too small for what they are) figured out.

    If you’re willing to spend Ford Flex coin, why not a Grand Cherokee? It’s “American” but rides like a German, has an interior that will blow her away, and has the iconic nameplate thing down (vis-a-vis the Blazer).

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    What makes the Blazer a “ticking time bomb”? If its been maintained and is in nice shape, why not keep it? I am guessing your mom doesnt abuse it, or even drives it that much anyway, and she loves it. IIRC, that generation of Chevy trucks was excellent.

    From your list, it would appear you are the one wanting a car. Even if there are deeper issues with your mom’s Blazer, she would probably be happiest finding another used Tahoe or Blazer with lower miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      NEW GM cars are ticking time bombs.

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      The CPI setup on a 1995 4.3V6 is a (very expensive) ticking time bomb. The setup on the 1996-2003 4.3s and Vortec V8s isn’t much better.

      If she’s lived with the Blazer for this long, I don’t think she’d mind a Trailblazer with a 4.2 I6 or the 5.3 LS motor. They’re dirt cheap, too.

    • 0 avatar

      As the owner of a ’97 Blazer, and having owned four GM Midsize SUVs over the past ten years, I’m surprised no one’s brought up the specific issue with these “W” engines:

      Leaky intake manifold gaskets.

      …THAT’S the “ticking time bomb”.

      The ’96 4.3 was the first with the composite 2-piece intake, and the first to use “Dex-Cool” coolant. Some have blamed the intake gasket leaks on the Dex-Cool, others blame the gaskets themselves as substandard. But now you can buy “global” coolant that works in both standard and Dex-Cool vehicles. Plus you can change the intake gaskets for around $500, labor included.

      The upshot of this engine is the fuel spider was improved from its trouble-prone predecessor, the one Ian Anderson mentioned. That was a worse time bomb.

      If mom loves this Blazer (and based on my personal experience, the ’95-’97 models are more reliable and better built than the ’98 and newer models) and the body is solid, sink some bucks into it and get another 100K or more out of it.

      BTW if it’s 4WD, be sure the ball joints and idler arm are up to snuff. Replace with Moog if replacement is needed.

  • avatar

    I second Steve Lang’s advocacy of the familiar. In his late 70s, I thinik, my uncle replaced a 10 year old Camry with a new one for exactly that reason.

    On the other hand, my father, in his late ’70s, went from a 10 year old Celebrity to a new Grand Caravan, but the extenuating factor was that they needed something my mother could drive her electric scooter into, and the Grand Caravan with the extendable ramp and the rotating captain’s chair on the passenger side made everything much easier for them.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Knock the Equinox off the list if you’re folks don’t like Asian, as it’s a Daewoo with some help from the nice folks at Opel.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      LOLwut? Oh, you’re being sarcastic.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        No, it was engineered by GM Daewoo. GM is a global company and uses its global resources wisely. The Equinox happens to be one of those products engineered primarily overseas.

    • 0 avatar
      underachieva

      Older people usually don’t know or care where their car was engineered or manufactured. They just want a ‘brand’ they’re familiar with.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        You described my elderly neighbor. He’s a GM man, never owned another brand, and never will. Refuses to even consider a foreign brand, even though his current Cadillac is made in Mexico out of Chinese and Brazilian sourced parts.

        Give you another example: The above neighbor sees me riding my old fillet brazed Schwinn Sports Tourer(made by hand in Chicago back in 1978, the last year they were made) and tells me that he wants to buy a bike for his grand kid, and he wants to buy a Schwinn because, “I don’t want to buy any foreign garbage.” I told him that Schwinn went Tango Uniform back in the 90′s and the modern Schwinn brand are actually made in Asia, as are all kid’s bikes. I suggested he look for a bike that fits the kid properly instead of wasting his time looking for a specific brand. Did he listen? Nope. He bought the kid a good ol’ Merican (made in China by China Bike) Schwinn.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Sounds kinda like me with Cannondale. I’ve had 4 of them, went to buy one for my wife…I didn’t realize that they had started shifting their manufacturing to China a few years ago. I think this was the last year for racing bikes to be made in the US.

        I guess that is what happens when a conglomerate buys you out and wants to increase the profits (as prices didn’t drop). Oh well, glad there is a used market if you prefer US made. Granted, my only US made car is actually a Subaru.

      • 0 avatar

        Texn3,

        Litespeeds are still made in Chattanooga. I’m pretty sure that Serottas are still made in Colorado. Perhaps you were speaking specifically about Cannondale but you can still buy a racing bike made in the US of A.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        . I think this was the last year for racing bikes to be made in the US.

        That’s definitely not true. Some of the best, Parlee Cycles and Seven Cycles are made in Massachusetts. Parlee is in Beverly, and Seven is in Watertown. I think we have a couple of other manufacturers as well – maybe Montague and Merlin.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Bingo, right on the mark, underachieva

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        I didn’t mean to hijack the thread, my bicycle story was meant to illustrate the power of branding. Schwinn has been dead for 2 decades, but my neighbor insisted on an “American” Schwinn. Same applies to GM, they continue to be the largest American car company despite bankruptcy, government bailouts, and decades of building absolutely crap cars.

        As for American made bikes, yes you can still buy them, but they are now all “high end” costing thousands of dollars. Richard Schwinn currently operates Waterford Cycles, a US bike builder that hand builds bikes that are updated versions of the Schwinn Paramount. I believe the cheapest model starts at $2,500.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        My friend owned a bike shop in the 90s and I can say with certainty that Schwinn lost control of it’s global manufacturing big time. He spent more tine on this garbage than was necessary on the premium stuff. Wheels horribly out of true, bent parts, etc. When you buy this crap at a toy store, you the purchaser has to fix it yourself. A bike shop does it for you, which is why bike stores cost more than toy stores…I was horrified when Cannondale moved to China. They also moved off my buy list as well. I’ll keep the one I have now.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        At it’s peak in the 70′s Schwinn manufactured over 1 million bicycles per year here in the US….mostly in its Chicago factory.

        This is an excellent book about what what went wrong with American bicycle manufacturing. Most of the problems would apply to US auto manufacturing as well.

        No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, an American Institution

        http://www.amazon.com/No-Hands-Schwinn-American-Institution/dp/0805035532

  • avatar

    Edited my work, upon B&B’s comments, to include the Cadillac SRX. Yes, that’s what Mom deserves.

    Go drive an SRX.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      That crossed my mind too but isn’t it considerably more expensive than even an Enclave?

      • 0 avatar

        Expense is a relative term when dealing with an estate sale. I do not know the details, but hey, the time and money involved with an estate sale is Cadillac worthy for me…if I was a GM-lifer.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Keep in mind, there’s a good possibility she’s buying her last car. Which means, she should get something she likes and to hell with the cost (assuming she can live with the price quoted). At this point in life, it’s about enjoying your ride, not, “did I get the best possible deal?”

        At the worst, sonny boy has a bit less inheritance to look forward to.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Until it stops, which is about 5 minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Sajeev,

      I agree that Mom probably deserves a SRX, but many old folks, including this old folk, are frugal and don’t aspire to spend money on unneeded frivolities(sp?). If she is now driving a 15 year old vehicle(Chevy) it is doubtful she would even feel comfortable driving a Cadillac.

      I could go out tomorrow and buy two CTS-Vs one red for me, one white for my wife……cash, but I’m fine driving my 2002 Buick Century and my wife her 2008 Suby.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Just went thru the same thing with my 93-year-old mother-in-law. Upon dad’s death last year, she had full ownership of a 2005 Buick LaCrosse (bought used, without her input, both points were dad’s way of buying cars) which she really wanted to get rid of. Also, after 60+ years of marriage, she finally wanted a new car.

    She settled (happily) with a ’12 Ford Escape Limited and absolutely loves it. I managed to give her a crash course in car buying, and she got a fairly decent deal. At the very least, she wasn’t taken to the cleaners.

    • 0 avatar

      Good for you. That’s the way to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      “a crash course” – good one. A 93 year old in a large SUV – definitely a crash course.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        An Escape is not a large SUV.

        Maybe you’re confusing it with an Expedition?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Yup, the Escape is a small SUV. I just bought one (despite a personal hatred of everyone else’s SUVs, but they don’t make wagons with kid safety features and towing ability in 2002), and it’s a hair (2″) shorter than my wife’s Prius. It’s taller and wider, it gets half of the MPG, has an engine twice as big, and is generally a different beast than either the Prius or my old Ranger — but it really does fit into a compact car spot.

        My Escape has leather seats, as well. It’s not the Limited, but the lady in the article probably would find looking at a higher end Escape to be worth her while. It’s a bit smaller than a Blazer, a lot newer, drives like a sprightly and durable a modern car. She’d probably like it.

        OTOH, if she wants to keep her blazer, then that seems just fine to me. Keep a few grand in the bank for towing, repairs, and taxi fees. If she doesn’t have a cell phone, get her an iPhone and don’t worry about the Blazer anymore until she calls. If she lives nearby, drive out and take care of the problem. If she lives a long way away, use Google Maps to find the right towing company and taxi for her.

  • avatar

    I know you said it before but just have her test drive a Nissan Murano. I have one and fell in love with it on the first test drive. It’s such a nice riding vehicle! If Nissan just won’t fly with her then I would have to agree with Trend-Shifter and a Ford Escape I think would be the best vehicle for her.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    The suggestions above for Escape, Equinox & SRX are great, but I think the Enclave/Traverse/Acadia/Edge are going to be too large.

    If only the Buick Encore is available now! It would be perfect–CUV for the senior citizen, heh.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    The Equinox (or SRX) is probably the smartest choice, but a Jeep Liberty might be worth looking at. It’s American, it’s borderline traditional SUV, and it’s not enormous.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      How is a Jeep American? Did we annex Italy?

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Fine, forgive me for not being needlessly pedantic. It’s 46.5% American, and 53.5% Italian. But then how do you score that it’s an American nameplate, or that it’s built in Ohio. What about the CEO who grew up in North America? Do you think Jimal’s mother is even slightly concerned with any of this, or do you just feel the need to be right?

      • 0 avatar
        SherbornSean

        Maymar,
        I think if the criteria for selecting a vehicle is that it be “American”, then you need to define what you mean by American.

        People used to mean that it was built in the US, but then Honda opened up the plant in Marysville Ohio, and US-based consumers started to realize that about a third of ‘American’ cars are built in Canada.

        Then, people started to define American as being engineered in the US, but soon learned to regret that, as many GM and Ford vehicles are engineered overseas, and “foreign” carmakers have significant design and engineering capabilities in the states.

        Now these same consumers (please notice that I didn’t label them as racist or xenophobic) started to define American as having an American nameplate, meaning that Chevrolet that is engineered in Korea and built in Mexico is American, so long as it has that American nameplate.

        Which is actually French.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    Have to agree with Sajeeve – unless you have a really good reason, or she really doesn’t like them, take her to your local caddy dealer.

  • avatar
    spyked

    Why not a new Explorer? Right-sized, and Mom friendly. And it has black A pillars. Any car doing that (that isn’t painted black everywhere else) deserves kudos.

    If she really wants some fun, and likes Anglo brands, the RR Evoque is a HOOT. Economical and safe too. Absolutely loved my time in one. As someone else said, it MIGHT be her last car (hopefully NOT, but true for any of us really), let her have some FUN.

    Evoque it is.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      The Explorer is not right sized at all, it is huge! Bigger than the older models.

      My dad has 07 V8 4×4 company car, my mom has a 11 Limited…the new one is much wider and you have to make use of all it’s sensors (parking, blind spot) to get it in or around tight spots.

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        I test drove an ’11 Explorer and the guy asked me if I liked it. I told him straight up that I’d stick with my well used 95 XLT example. To me, the new X feels much larger than even my land-yacht Chevelle and much more ponderous than even the 2nd gen Explorer.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I saw one of the new Explorers in my rear view mirror a couple of months ago, and wondered how someone fit an expedition into a normal lane (the Expedition technically fits just fine, but it looks like it’s spilling over because of its shape). Turned out it was an Explorer, but I had to let it pass me before I figured it out…

        The Escape is a much better size for a 2-row vehicle with 5 seats, and it’s probably much closer to the Blazer’s size than an Explorer/Expedition/Extension.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Enclave?! Horrible suggestion. I daily drive a 5th gen 4Runner, which is considerably larger than her ’96 Blazer and when I had the Enclave as a rental in Glacier, I was very uncomfortable with how large that thing was on the road and in parking lots. It always felt like it was ready to scrap into something because it is such a wide, long vehicle. I’m a 29 year old that is generally pretty comfortable in an SUV. I can’t imagine being in my twilight years trying to pilot that monster around. Something Rav4/Escape sized would be much more appropriate, IMO. Lexus RX350 or Acura RDX? Luxurious, safe, reliable, and close to the same size as her old Blazer.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Lexus RX350 – the ULTIMATE lady-of-a-certain-age CUV. Buy it CPO or lease one new.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      If she can get over the US nameplate thing… there’s a reason so many of these are on the road. And the old ones still look great on the road. CPO though, she’s a keeper.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Considering how much she likes it, I would just give the Blazer a reasonable restoration.

    Then again, I’m the sentimental type.

  • avatar
    dts187

    If she wants an American badge then give her just that. I like the Equinox and Escape suggestions but how about a Jeep Patriot? If it was mentioned I didn’t see it. They’re easy to drive and I’ve seen many under 18k. I had a 2011 as a rental for about a week and found it to be a lot better than reviews suggested. If you drive it like a normal person (which I’m assuming an elderly woman would) the Patriot was basic, comfortable transportation with decent cargo space. It really didn’t disappoint until you floor it. That’s when the lack of power and coarse engine made themselves apparent. In my short time with it I averaged 29mpg. Did I mention it’s under 18k?

    But if price isn’t an option head to your local Caddy dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      How is Patriot American? Because the label sounds American? Platform Japanese, Ownership Italian.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Platform Japanese? Where’d you get that from?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The Patriot/Compass is based on the same Mitsubishi platform as the Dodge Caliber and the Mitsubishi Outlander:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_GS_platform

        The car business is a global business, and the nameplates are only for PR/branding purposes.

        The nameplates don’t tell you much about the vehicle. For instance, the only thing that’s actually American about my 2002 Ford Escape is that it was assembled in Kansas City — it’s an evolution of the Mazda 626 sedan/wagon platform with an AWD bolted-on and a 3L V6. (I haven’t looked up the heritage of the Escape’s V6 yet — could be either Ford, Mazda, or a joint venture.) But I got to have it both ways — I bought a car that is both American and Japanese. The “buy ‘Merican” folks generally think that buying a Ford means you’re buying an American car, though.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Thank you for the suggestions everyone. The timing on this is actually perfect. After I wrote Sanjeev and Steve back in June, my mother decided to let things ride for a while. With the estate settled and with a better idea of what her budget is going forward, she is talking about getting a new vehicle.

    Now to answer a couple of questions that came up.
    - @Sajeev Mehta, We’ve mentioned the SRX, but my mother, at 67 years old thinks she’s too young for a Cadillac. She has remarked that she likes the Dodge Journey. Once we get around to test drives we’ll add it to the list.

    - @mnm4ever, When I say “ticking time bomb”, I mean literally ticking. Something has been ticking in the engine for a while now. Not a knock mind you, but a tick from an accessory or perhaps the valve train. Since I wrote this we’re replaced the water pump, an inner CV joint boot on the front and a rusted brake line. A couple of electrical niggles are coming up; nothing worth fixing at this point.

    - @Kevin Kluttz, I get it, you don’t like GM. While there have been exceptions over the years, our family has been a GM family for decades, starting with the ’29 Buick my father had as his first car and his college days at GMI. That is a hard habit to break and considering the strides GM has made in the past few years I’m not going to try. While the LeSabre is the height of GM bankruptcy crappitude, the Blazer has gone 170k without any major issues.

    • 0 avatar

      Tell your Mom that Cadillac is now for young people that normally buy BMWs, Benzes, Lexi, etc. At least that’s what they keep on telling us!

      I think she’ll change her tune when she sits in one, esp compared to the Journey!

    • 0 avatar
      Szyznyk

      My S10 had that tick for 70,000 miles (on a 167000 mile truck) and it was never an issue. There must be a low miles 2004 Blazer around for her somewhere. I’m lucky in that my mother’s only qualifications for a vehicle are that it be small and red.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      I’m 28 and drive a current-gen Cadillac CTS (which I bought completely by choice). With the exception of the outgoing DTS, Caddies are hardly only for the older set anymore — even out here in LA.

      When I suggested he check out a Buick Lacrosse or Regal, my 70 year old father recently said he was “too young to drive a Buick.” I told him to check out how many botoxed, augmented late-30s/early-40s something MILFs are riding around in Buick Enclaves. He changed his mind.

      I find it funny that most of the people who keep the “XXX is for old people stereotype going”…are old people.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        Well that is the argument that I’m deciding whether I want to make or not. These are sort of generational attitudes. That being said, my nephew, who has been advocating for the SRX since the idea of replacing the Buick came up, just read this and texted me saying to listen to Sajeev’s suggestion. I may have to look at CPO prices and what is out there.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Wow, Jimal, small world my Dad went to GMI also, graduated in 1933. And was a GM lifer. I lived in Flint as a kid.

      I still have my Dad’s last car, a 1967 Pontiac Catalina Ventura Cpe. It’s in great shape, 53,000 miles. At one point it sat in a garage for 25 years. Note my Avatar.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    HHR is a no more and probably ripe for a deal. Otherwise Nox/Terrain/SRX for a nice sized car that can best a class high of 32 mpg with an old lady driving it I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      I don’t mind the idea of an HHR – the vehicle itself would be pretty decent for an older person. Small, manueverable, not overly powerful, chair-height seating… But the things are damn near impossible to see out of. I don’t care who you are. The pillars are a foot wide, the headrests aren’t foldable (you could remove them…), and the windows are exactly 3.78″ tall each. You can’t even see traffic lights out of the windshield without resting your chin on the dash! Avoid…

      If someone wanted that type of vehicle, I’d recomment a Kia Rondo (or Soul, if they can stand the styling). Comfortable suspension (Mazda5 is pretty hardcore…), good sightlines (except for the rear quarters – but still not bad), up to 7 seats, pretty reliable, MASSIVE headroom (beehive hair??), and that chair-height seating. Or, if it’s not immediate, wait and see how the production Ford C-Max ends up being, although I think they’re making it some hybrid-only nonsense to feel the market out before committing. Boo!

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        I recently drove a rental HHR from NC to Cincinatti, so I can say with alacrity: please don’t inflict that shitbox on an old lady. It seriously sucks in just about every way. And what a bummer driving through all that mountain scenery in a car you can’t see out of!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If she’s the average senior, then she’ll drive about 5,000 miles per year. With mileage requirements that low, reliability becomes less important.

    She should get what she wants. GM discount or no, it shouldn’t matter. I wouldn’t get one myself, but for her, the Enclave may not be a bad choice at all.

    That being said, I’d be concerned with anything with too much height. There’s a reason why older folks often buy large sedans. Aside from being accustomed to them, they also have an easier time getting into and out of them.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Having test-driven an Enclave 4 years ago, I was impressed with the quiet and solidity of the vehicle. It is, however, kinda big which she might not like. If she drives around 6,000 miles a year, don’t even worry about fuel economy. The difference between 20 mpg and 26 mpg isn’t worth thinking about if that’s your annual mileage.

    I’ve driven some Escapes as rentals. They’re the right size (with respect to the old Blazer) but strike me as kind of crude all around . . . and the interior is blech! Maybe the Mariner is nicer inside if you can find one.

    I definitely agree about putting the old Blazer out to pasture. When you’re 67, you don’t want to be futzing with an old vehicle in constant need of repair.

    The other option you might consider — a Chrysler 300. Except for the plasticky interior, I was pretty impressed with the previous generation car, even with the 3.5 liter engine and the 4-speed automatic. While I haven’t driven it, the new model seems to have fixed all 3 of those problems: interior, V-6 engine, transmission. It’s a big, comfortable car, easy to enter and exit, which drives quite competently. Does she really need 4WD and SUV hauling capabilities? If not, I’d have her drive a Chrysler for size.

    And, if you live in the snow belt, get 4 wheels with snows and throw a bag of sand in the trunk in the winter. You will do just fine. She’s old enough to remember with RWD cars with snows were the only option in the winter (except for VW Beetles) and people managed to survive and get around.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      She could just get an AWD 300…

      I think the 3.5 V6 had a five-speed auto every year it was made. I know the latest ones, since the ’08 or ’09 freshening, have. I believe the only 300 with a 4-speed was the basic, fleet-sale 2.7L.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    I suggest that you spend some time with your mom on the internet to look what is out there, get a list of several cars hit the dealerships to see them live and test drive the ones that strike a cord. There are some interesting CUV-type car coming on by US manufacturers, the Encore that has been already mentioned and the new Escape. Also a Journey replacement might arrive soon. Another side effect of this is that Escapes and Journeys will be getting huge discouts to get off the lots soon…

  • avatar
    meefer

    What no LSX FTW transplants into the Blazer? Unless it’s going to rust out or completely falling apart.

    New I’d say wait for the new Escape, Equinox, or step up to the SRX given the limitations. I’d be wary of Fords if they come with myTouch or Sync though for an older driver, the learning curve is steep. Current Escape hybrid might be good also.

  • avatar
    RayH

    Leftover 2011 Escape. I think she’ll find the Escape close in most dynamics to her Blazer.

    Bonus tidbit: Older people who have driven General Motors the past 30+ years seem very confused that the cruise control, high beam selector, wiper controls and turn signals are no longer on a single stalk on new GM vehicles. Make sure she spends extra time practicing those controls!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Now I remember what I wanted to write…

    After dad passed away in the fall of October 1978, 6 hours before he would have turned 70 and after we had mom move in with us in our first house in early 1979, their 1970 Duster was rusting away and she needed a new car.

    What to buy? She and dad have never owned a new car – the closest was our beloved 1950 Plymouth, which was 6 months old when they bought it.

    So, now what? She liked the Duster, but I was leery about the Aspens and Volares (prophetic!), plus the Dodge and Plymouth dealers wouldn’t deal for what you got. I asked a mechanic friend and he suggested AMC! We went to the AMC dealer nearby and looked at Pacers(!) and such and settled on a very nice metallic brown 1979 Concord sedan. 258, auto, PS, PB, A/C, AM radio, saddle tan vinyl interior. Quite classy, actually. Well, she drove it and fell in love with it, as we did! It was the right size, easy to drive and penty of room for her friends and our (eventual) family.

    She drove that car until 1990, when her eyesight didn’t allow for safe driving. Sold it to a neighbor down the street who bought all our cars!

    My point? Whatever she feels most comfortable in, that’s what she should buy. Enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      DougD

      Hey Zackman, that’s exactly what we did for my Grandfather. His AMC Concord was metallic green with tan vinyl roof, tan velour interior. Got the job done all right, and he loved it for all the reasons you mention. Plus the heater and radio controls were simple (Grandma worked those while he drove). I interited it in 1990 and drive it till 93.

      Has anyone mentioned the Kia Rondo yet? Oh right she doesn’t want foreign make. My retired Dad likes his Rondo, and Mom liked it too until her back went bad and it became uncomfortable. Just sent Sajeev an email about that, hopefully we’ll have part II in six months..

  • avatar
    probert

    I think a lot of hard decisions have to be made here. Bearing in mind that any large expenditures will impinge on your inheritance I would plump for a monthly bus pass. Pea Pod and other services can deliver food and her friends are probably rolling on dubs.

    Overall she will still have a full and happy life and your trip to Vegas will be upgraded to first class.

    No problem – don’t mention it.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    I’m going to go against the grain here and suggest you keep the Buick LeSabre and she learn to live with it… here are my reasons:

    1. The 3800 V6 is perhaps the most reliable engine platform GM has produced in the last twenty years.

    2. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the Buick is paid off and has < 100k, so why does the typical 'little old lady' whose not driving great distances even need a new car?

    3. I'm not sure of your mother's age, but sit down and really think about how much longer shes really going to be driving herself and how much longer you think she will NOT need assisted living.

    My 91 year old grandmother stopped driving altogether in her late 70s and has been in assisted living since 2007… in that time she has blown through her 90K savings and now needs an additional $1500/month… with already having Social Security and some VA money she gets for being a veteran's widow.

    Dump the Blazer, save her/your money and invest it wisely. She may not like the 'big' Lesabre but deal with it. I didn't like my stripped 98 Saturn SL instead of a new lease for five straight years, but I drove it because it was paid off and reasonably reliable.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    If you’re going to go for luxury the SRX is a great idea, with her employee discount she should like that a lot. I’d avoid the rest, because if she doesn’t want luxury just stick with the Chevy.

    Stick with GM with the discount available to her, I don’t think the cost/benefit of switching to Ford or Chrysler products is worth it.

    Good luck with the one you choose.

  • avatar

    Sort of off-topic, but I love the big green Poncho wagon brochure picture in the header. You never see them at shows.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    LOL…Why has no one suggested the obligitory gently used Panther?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Cause she wants a CUV and believe me there’s going to be no changing her mind. My father (58 on Saturday) just purchased another vehicle. If he had is way it would likely be the world’s cleanest 2005 LeSabre or Park Avenue or loaded Grand Marquis or well optioned Town Car (he’s always been a big sedan guy) but my mother has been driving a Chevy S10 Blazer (like our OP mother) since about 2002 or so. She INSISTED on the high seating position of a CUV. What did they buy? A loaded Pontiac Torrent with EVERY option except AWD. She confesses she’s in love.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        I told my Aunt about a used Equinox. She got one just when GM was having some “issues”. Later I found out their 3.4 engines loose their heads at 100K. She hits 100K and just got the truck back with an $1800 Head Job. She tried dumping it before the repair. All other comps. in the market were in the same hole. Maybe the 3.6 Sport PKG / SS versions are better.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        In the car rental biz. where unwanted GM cars were dumped all the time we found that Pontiac name funny and sad at the same time.
        GM calling their own product TO-RENT.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I always thought that was a little comical, too.

        Rental Man, where’s your picture from? Looks like possible Cleveland-Hopkins, but it’s too small for me to really tell. I’m assuming it’s a ready line someplace.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        KalapanaBlack. Not Even close. JFK, New York. Under the Rail. Nearly all of the Hertz Adrenaline Challengers together, prepped and about to be fleeted. They will never look this good again…

  • avatar
    50merc

    Why is the ’05 LeSabre “crappitude”? If all that means is she prefers tall vehicles, and the price is in “crappitude” territory, I’d sure be interested.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      I have a 2001 Lesabre which is the same car. Front hubs shot by 70K miles. Lower control arm bushings are underdesigned and wear out quickly, and lower ball joints can’t be replaced, you have to replace the entire lower control arm.

      Radio toast, constant 3A drain on battery. Must pay dealer $100+ to reprogram any other factory radio in order for it to work (Theftlock). ALL dash bulbs are soldered in, none are user-replaceable. You can spent well over $1K to get your burnt-out dash bulbs (including those in headlight switch DIC switches, HVAC controls, radio, steering wheel buttons, etc) replaced at a dealer (you have to buy a remanufactured cluster, HVAC control head, and radio, and new everything else).

      The multiplexed electrical system modules all have the VIN hard-coded into them, making aftermarket parts replacement (and junkyard parts) impossible w/o a trip to the dealership.

      I had a 1988 Electra T-Type for 16 years and it had 221K miles on it when I sold it, with the original engine/trans running just fine. It was probably the best car that I have ever owned. I’ve had more problems with my 2001 (only 83K miles on it now) than I even did with my 1988 with twice as many miles on it.

      GM deserved to go bankrupt, and I say this as a big fan of American iron.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        Three times in the last 18 months I’ve driven a 2005 LeSabre (which belongs to a friend’s parents now in their 80s) a thousand miles between south Florida and the northeast, while they flew north or south. There are no such problems yet as you’ve described – the car has less than 50,000 miles on the odometer – but I would love to have a reason to urge them to get a different car; the LeSabre has a lively drivetrain and is fairly economical on the highway, but it handles like a huge marshmallow.

        The difficulty is that I’d have to interest them in something other than a Buick, and the traditional Buicks that they favor aren’t made anymore (their other car is a slightly older, slightly larger Park Avenue).

        A relatively frail person of that age (in my opinion) needs something that has great outward visibility and a high seating position as well as ride comfort and easy, non-wallowing maneuverability. An Enclave would simply be too massive (they have no need for a three-row vehicle), a LaCrosse too difficult to see out of, a Regal too small/European. (My own dad is 83 and has a previous-generation Forester that meets all these needs except ride comfort, but he can accept that tradeoff.)

        Given all this, I wonder whether I should suggest that they look at a Lucerne; I see that the Buick website still offers 2011s for sale, but not for long, I’m sure. Would it avoid the electronics and other problems that are apparently endemic to the 2000-2005 LeSabre?

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I went through a couple of variations with my mom and subsequently my aunt after my dad and then my uncled passed away. I learned a couple of things:

    You are and will forever be a kid. Your opinion is as valuable as that of any 10 year old, and no more.
    You -may- be able to force her into some particular choice but she won’t like it and she’ll do something to fix that all by herself – she’s not senile young man, and she can take care of herself just fine – just like she took care of you,

    Just show her some choices and help her buy the one she likes. You say that whatever she likes is “a great choice, mom”. Everyone will be happier that way, and really, what does it matter? At 5k a year she’s never going to have any problems and if she does, her dealer will fix them.

    She’s always been a GM family member, I can see some potential guilt tripping if she leaves the hold. Unless, of course , she decides otherwise. I personally love the SRX, and the Buick Enclave but if she thinks she’s too young for the Caddy, she may feel the same about the Buick. My mom at 72 called them “old people’s cars”. Maybe a nice Equinox? Don’t even bother with Japanese -they were Detroit’s enemy for too many years. And VW? One problem that wouldn’t even faze her in a GM car will be the end of the world.

  • avatar
    Paddan

    Very interesting post and replies. My mother – a widow and a young 78 in 3 days – is ready for a new car in December ’12. She has a MB 350 Bluetec and wants to cut down her lease payments…she loves the Equinox. Has anyone had actual experience with the new generation? Is it decent? I have leased 3 Tahoes (most recently an ’11 Z71) and all have been excellent machines. I don’t buy the “all GM is crap” line. Its simply untrue.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    Am I the only one who thinks that station wagon at the top of the article looks like a hearse (except for the color)?

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      It’s probably the vinyl top on it. Never cared for those on a stationwagon, made them look awkward.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        We had a ’67 turquoise Executive wagon that had the black vinyl roof (with chrome roof rack on top) AND fake woodgrain aft of the front wheel opening; it was a former dealer demonstrator, which possibly excuses this combination’s existence.

  • avatar
    solracer

    How about a Chevy Captiva Sport? I know GM likes to pretend they don’t exist but they finally have opened them up for ordering for non-fleet buyers. Since it’s based on the Saturn Vue it’s small and inexpensive and though it’s made in Mexico it’s a Chevy so it should satisfy your mother’s wish to buy a American car.

    http://wot.motortrend.com/chevys-vue-like-captiva-sport-fleets-only-37847.html

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I think a Ford Edge or a Lincoln MKX (is that the Edge?) would be a great choice. Very comfortable, nice size, not too big or too cramped.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    If your mom likes that 1996 4-door Chevy Blazer, I think she would like the new Jeep Liberty, similar size and dynamics. You could probably get a heck of a good deal with its now-being-discontinued twin, the Dodge Nitro.

    I know it’s heresy here to suggest a Chrysler product, but I’ve rented both long term, and found them to be pleasant vehicles…

  • avatar
    dvdlgh

    Equinox.

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    The Ford Escape is the first that comes to mind, or if it’s possible to get a dealer to let go of one to a non-fleet buyer, the Chevrolet Captiva Sport (AKA: Saturn Vue in drag). Aside from those, the Jeep Patriot (if it’s already gotten the Fiat midcycle refresh) and Liberty are the closest things I can think of in the size category. Maybe a Ford Edge/Lincoln MKX.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India