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I am dreaming of getting something a bit bigger for a lower monthly payment...

My current car, 2006 VW Golf, is awesome and I love it, but with its very small (hence the term COMPACT car..)! I got it before I got Abbey and it's just not ideal for traveling with animals. I do the 1.5 hour drive home and back at least once a month, plus all of the city driving I do with the animals, so I really need something a bit bigger.

Plus my car gets stuck in the snow at least 5 times in the winter, so something with 4x4 ability or at least AWD would do me well.

I know I drive a foreign car, but I'm not against getting something that's American either. I am buying my car but the monthly payments are $300, so if there is anything that I can get that would reduce that, it would help.

I'm dreaming here, I don't think I could sell my car right now in this economy, especially in MI, but I'd like to get some info for the future, too.

I really like the Jeep Liberty and Ford Escape. I might be looking into something slightly used, maybe 2006 and up. I'd like to have leather seats, moonroof and all of that. :)

So any of you have any suggestions?
 

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I am dreaming of getting something a bit bigger for a lower monthly payment...

My current car, 2006 VW Golf, is awesome and I love it, but with its very small (hence the term COMPACT car..)! I got it before I got Abbey and it's just not ideal for traveling with animals. I do the 1.5 hour drive home and back at least once a month, plus all of the city driving I do with the animals, so I really need something a bit bigger.

Plus my car gets stuck in the snow at least 5 times in the winter, so something with 4x4 ability or at least AWD would do me well.

I know I drive a foreign car, but I'm not against getting something that's American either. I am buying my car but the monthly payments are $300, so if there is anything that I can get that would reduce that, it would help.

I'm dreaming here, I don't think I could sell my car right now in this economy, especially in MI, but I'd like to get some info for the future, too.

I really like the Jeep Liberty and Ford Escape. I might be looking into something slightly used, maybe 2006 and up. I'd like to have leather seats, moonroof and all of that. :)

So any of you have any suggestions?
We have an 02 Jeep Liberty and I haven't liked it since we got it new. It's much smaller inside than any of our other cars. 4 people and that's it. The very rear is very small. Our labs have a tough climb up into it. It's my husband's car but I have to drive it ocasionally. It always feels like I'm going to tip over when I'm turning corners. Possibly the newew Libertys have more room? The one good thing I can say is that we've never had a problem with it at all. I just don't like the size and handling of it.
 

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I went from a VW Jetta to an SUV because of Jake :)

I looked at the Ford Escape because it came in a hybrid model - but the safety scores, especially the side crash ratings, weren't as good as similar cars. I didn't look at Jeeps because they were out of my price range for the upgrades I wanted (leather seats, sunroof, etc.) and John used to have a Jeep Cherokee that I just didn't enjoy driving much. That's totally personal preference, as everyone I know that has owned Jeeps seems to love them (John included).

I ended up with a RAV-4 Limited. It's 4wd with a V6 engine. I do a lot of merging onto highways in the city (read: on ramps about 10 ft long) and it's always been plenty of power for me. Easy to drive in the snow and we've taken it around the mountains and never been stuck. It has plenty of room for Jake in the back, gets good gas mileage, really cool upgrades (bluetooth, etc.) and I love driving it.

Now is a great time to be buying a car! Good luck with your search :)
 

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I looked at the Ford Escape because it came in a hybrid model - but the safety scores, especially the side crash ratings, weren't as good as similar cars.
Hmmm - I have a 2009 Escape and when I researched it found very good scores for front and side impact.

I love it. I've had it since November and drive a lot for work. It is nimble and was great in snow this past winter. The mileage is OK and it's a pretty comfortable ride. I don't think you can fit 2 crates in the back - and right now I have Diesel and the puppy fitting nicely into the back seat - it may be a little bit snug when Blaise is a big boy.
 

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We absolutely love our Escape. It handles like a dream, and is a blast to drive. Believe it or not, the only thing I could do without are the leather seats, but I will say the heated front ones are nice in the winter and when my back hurts. LOL At some point, we're going to get seat covers. The back seat is a split bench. Caleb's Vari Kennel (#400) fits real nice with the driver's side one folded down (that's the widest one). It would fit behind the back seats, too, but there wouldn't be any "crunch" room if we got rear ended.

ETA- For what it's worth, this is our Escape.
 

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Hubby drives a Jeep Patriot - smaller than a Liberty but we love it - in a crunch it can take 2 adults, 4 dogs and 2 cats

it can also take 4 adults and 2 dogs to the beach ...a little suished but the dogs aren't tiny ;)

I like driving it - my mum who is a total car snob has borrowed it a couple of times and been shocked to find she likes it .. my hubby likes it and can use it to drive the chief aroudn when he needs too
 

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Hmmm - I have a 2009 Escape and when I researched it found very good scores for front and side impact.

I love it. I've had it since November and drive a lot for work. It is nimble and was great in snow this past winter. The mileage is OK and it's a pretty comfortable ride. I don't think you can fit 2 crates in the back - and right now I have Diesel and the puppy fitting nicely into the back seat - it may be a little bit snug when Blaise is a big boy.
I was looking at 2008 models, which got 3 out of 5 stars on driver's side crash tests.

http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2008/ford/escape/crash_test_ratings/index.html

I'm not surprised they improved it on the 2009 models :)
 

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Another vote for the Ford Escape. I drive an 04 model though, Hybrid not an option then. My dog fits wonderfully in the back and he's a big boy too. It can also fit 4 adults comfortably, possibly 5. I get about 20 miles to the gallon but I don't sit in alot of traffic either. About once a month I make the drive home, which is 2.5-3 hrs away, and it takes about half a tank one way maybe a little less. All in all I think it's a great smaller SUV. I say all this as I'm strongly considering selling it to get a Silverado truck though, I just want a truck, always have.
 

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My company car is a 2004 Jeep Liberty. I drive it on the highway to and from NYC and for it's size I think the fuel mileage could be better. I drive it around the metro area during the week and I like the manuverability but.... the things I don't like out weigh the good. The company I work for owned Chrysler so I've had the opportunity to drive many of their models. I think you don't get much value in the Chrysler products, that's just my opinion.

I driven the Ford Escape as a rental and it was OK but I really didn't have it for a great length of time to get a feel for it.
There are lotsa a great values in small SUVs and crossovers. Everyone who owns a Pontiac vibe/Toyota Matrix raves about them. It might be something to look in to.
 

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MJ has a 07 Liberty. I don't really like it but she loves it.

I think it has bad gas mileage....it is small on the inside like was mentioned.

It is very "jeepy" if you know what I mean.
 

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I've heard nothing but BAD things about the Liberty, both mechanical and all around. My sister has one and she hates it.

The Rav4 and Honda CRV are probably a bit too much, I think - both go for around $22K on the low end. Unless you go used, of course. Both are excellent vehicles though. :)

I've heard nothing but GOOD things about the Escape and it's probably the cheapest.

Good luck!!
 

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Another vote for the Ford Escape. I drive an 04 model though, Hybrid not an option then. My dog fits wonderfully in the back and he's a big boy too. It can also fit 4 adults comfortably, possibly 5...
Ours is a 2004, too. We had 5 adults in it last summer (Ken, me, his parents and my mother). Our parents were a little cramped in the back seat.
 

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My company car is a 2004 Jeep Liberty. I drive it on the highway to and from NYC and for it's size I think the fuel mileage could be better. I drive it around the metro area during the week and I like the manuverability but.... the things I don't like out weigh the good. The company I work for owned Chrysler so I've had the opportunity to drive many of their models. I think you don't get much value in the Chrysler products, that's just my opinion.

I driven the Ford Escape as a rental and it was OK but I really didn't have it for a great length of time to get a feel for it.
There are lotsa a great values in small SUVs and crossovers. Everyone who owns a Pontiac vibe/Toyota Matrix raves about them. It might be something to look in to.
My brother drives a Matrix. He's 6'4 and he has a ton of head room in the front. They have two teenage boys and the boys have quite a bit of leg room in the backseats. plus, they have two dogs, small dogs, but still.. It's a hatchback and the backseats fold down. It'd be good for a person with dogs.
 

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Try looking at Kias - the Rondo, the new Soul, Sorrento, and Sportage. Find a dealer lot with 2008s they want to get rid of, and they will make you a great deal with yours as a trade-in. We got our second Sedona in 2007 at their cost because they wanted to get it off the lot before their year-end inventory at the end of April.

ETA - my sister has a Matrix and loves it, and my best friend has an Escape Hybrid that she adores. Now is a GREAT time to be car shopping! Honda has been offering great trade-in deals, too.
 

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I have an 08 Liberty and love it. It is a Jeepy kind of thing. We put the back seats down and haul all kinds of stuff.....Dogs included. It is great for our weekend trips to the lake.
 

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Under $300? Yeah, good luck with that.. and then don't forget fueling an SUV compared to a golf is going to be a whole new world, too.
 

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We got an 07 Liberty when we got Remy. Its great for the 2 dogs and fitting all their stuff. They have no problem getting into it. Horrid gas mileage though. And we got the fabric seats and they water stain terribly.
 

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2003 Subaru Forrester here. Love it.
 

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my mother drives an escape and loves it. in 2007 a man ran a red light and hit her going 70 mph. besides a broken forearm, fractured clavicle and being brusied head to toe she was fine. she now has a 2008 escape.



the one she has now.
 
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