Hello, my name is Mackenzie. I am a 16 year old girl looking to buy her first car. I am looking at Jeep Cherokees (NOT Grand Cherokees). I am trying to find a decent manual transmission one, but I can’t seem to locate any within a reasonable distance from me (Eastern Virginia). My dad says I should look for a 1999-2001 Cherokee, but the few that I have found that are stick shift usually have pretty high mileage or are out of my budget. As car experts, would you guys recommend an older (94-98ish) Cherokee or a newer one with higher mileage? I keep hearing that American-made cars are not as hardy as foreign-made cars, and that over 180,000 miles for a Cherokee is a no-go. My parents have agreed to pay half of the car, but with what I am finding, it’s still going to be a lot of money to pay. At first I was looking at $3500 tops, but I’m thinking I will have to raise that. Any help or advice yall have on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
Sajeev Answers (via Email):
Mackenzie, thank you for writing. I know you want a Cherokee and they are pretty cool, but they are a terrible choice for your money (gas, insurance, other things). A boring little compact car is your best choice, you will have more money for other things, and will be better off in the future. If that sounds good to you, what smaller car would you be interested in?
Mackenzie writes back:
Sajeev, you really think it would be a bad idea to get a Cherokee? My older brother got a 1970 Volkswagen camper van for his first car-that was definitely not a good investment, although it is pretty cool. We also have a ’92 Honda Accord, but it has 296,000 miles on it. If not a Jeep Cherokee, I’m not quite sure what I want to get. I know I definitely want a stick-shift car, and I would really like something with room in it-I am in high school and I am always going to sports practices and transporting other kids around. Any advice you have would (again) be helpful.
Consider these three things.
- Jeeps are more desirable at this age (like every truck) so they cost more to buy than a sedan of the same age/mileage. Which means you
get a worse vehicle in terms of reliability and upkeep.
- They are more expensive to insure. Call around and compare a Corolla to a Jeep.
- They guzzle gas, and that’s not cheap right now.
Do NOT raise your budget. Find a sedan in that price range. I was a drummer in high school and I carried plenty of gear and bandmates in it, the Cherokee has a pretty terrible back seat for carrying anything, too. I know you want a Jeep, but you need to get one later, when you have more money.
Mackenzie, I would do two things.
- Pool your money a bit. If you have the patience, you’ll likely get a compact SUV that is far better at the $5000 to $7000 level.
- Broaden the pool a bit. Cherokees became a bit difficult to get as five-speeds as time went on. Personally, I would opt more towards a five-speed Escape. You get a more modern powertrain along with far better fuel economy and less of a price premium.
I have a 95′ Cherokee on my lot right now that has 269k and is still picture perfect. But if I were 16 again and shopping for that big college car, I would want something that I don’t have to think about as much. Go with an Escape.
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