Long story short: right now I'm leasing a 2010 Honda Civic. Good car, quality and reliable. I like it, but its not the car for me. My lease is up in June of 2013.
As someone who spends a lot of time outdoors and traveling to get to various outdoor locales, I've realized that I need a bigger car. HOWEVER, I do not want something huge like a Ford Explorer or other comparable SUV. MPGs are important to me as well, I'd like to save on gas.
My first choice right now is a 2008 or 2009 Ford Escape. Anyone have any opinions/advice on these? I like the body style, it gets solid gas mileage and its big - but not too big - for my lifestyle. I'm in my mid twenties right now and am planning for this car to last me at least into my early-mid thirties. I also have an interest in the Subaru Outback and POSSIBLY one of the low-mid tier Jeep models, but I know less about these.
I'm fairly certain I am going to buy - I'd like to build equity and actually HAVE something once my payments are gone. I like leases b/c its cheaper but a part of me feels like I'm just tossing money away each month.
Leases are tossing your money away anymore. Before the recession hit when they were giving away cars on lease, it was a different story (I got a 2007 Grand Cherokee with nothing out of pocket/down for $300/month and now the same car would run me almost $500/mo).
Buy used, it looks like that's what you're doing. Best way to build equity, obviously, since a new car loses basically half its value in the first 2 or 3 years.
The lower end jeeps (Patriot/Compass) are built on car chassis, I think the same chassis as the Dodge Caliber. You can save a buttload on these if you get the FWD version but then what's the point of having a jeep if it's not 4x4??? Looks like Patriot 4x4s in the model years you're looking at are going for around $13k with about 50-60k miles on them. You can get Grand Cherokees a few years older for about the same price but they get worse gas mileage, maybe 18-20 mpg freeway from what I remember with mine. I would personally stay away from the lower tier jeeps and sacrifice the gas mileage for the nicer Grand Cherokee
Then again, when my lease was up I paid cash for a 2001 Jeep Cherokee. No car payments and the thing runs like a tank
I test drove a few Escapes and was just not keen on how they rode. Not that a jeep is the most comfortable vehicle in the world, but the Escape just rode "cheap" if that makes any sense.