I was a mechanic for a decade, so repair costs aren't my biggest concern. Buying a second car to get better mileage is a big thing for me since I live about 50 miles from the middle of nowhere.... South Dakota. Plus, I regularly have to make the 600 mile round trip to my ex-wife's place in North Dakota so she can have her visitation with the children. I've been looking for Park Avenues as well, since they are just a Bonneville with different sheet metal, and I like the looks of the Buicks. I decided to go as high as $4000, since I have decided to put the Explorer in the garage and turn it into my project/fun vehicle, but I still don't see any reason to spend a lot on a car. I am going to go look at a Galant and a Bonneville tomorrow, possibly a Taurus and Sable too if I have the time. I thought about an 00 STS I came across for a good price, since they actually do amazingly well on the highway for gas, but, premium gas means another 5 bucks a tank, which translates into 40-50 miles less for my money for anything with similar fuel mileage.
Does anyone have experience with a 2002 Grand Prix? I know they are a bit smaller a car than a Bonneville, but they have a pretty wide track, so I wonder how much less room one would get in the back seat. If it is equivalent to a Taurus, I might make the drive to go look at an 02 Grand Prix GT, since it also has the 3800 I like so much.
Audi, Volvo and Saab are all overpriced in the US, plus parts are expensive here. I would buy a Volvo, cause I like the appeal of the unbreakable box on wheels, but....
For as big as they are, the Park Avenues and the LeSabres get pretty good highway mileage. With the 3.8 V-6 most will do over 30 MPG highway with the cruise set on 65, and they ride more comfortably than my living room couch.
After looking at several cars, I was able to score an 02 SLE for quite a bit less than I'm sure the previous owner will admit to his friends. Pro-Tip: Don't just carry $100s, having a big chunk of it in $50s makes it look like a lot more money. It was the best combination of fuel economy and size. I have FWD and traction control for the worst weather I see. Watching the instant fuel economy and with smart driving, I got 35mpg on my trip home on the interstate on a vehicle I haven't even modified. Kids like it too.
Later I'll put on some Low Rolling Resistance tires and do some tuning. Probably convert some of the 40 bazillion incandescent bulbs to LED arrays to save wattage, No factory amp to worry about, not sure what changes I can manage for aero other than a belly pan. I might do some covers for the rear wheel wells yet, but I am hesitant, I feel like that would really spoil the look. I'll make up something I can clip to the fenders, if it looks ok, I'll paint it to match the car.
I was this close to driving a LeSabre Limited home, until I put my scan tool on the car and realized the only reason the CEL wasn't on was that it was burnt out. Nothing major, evap vent line, but, the disappointment kinda spoiled the car for me.
There really aren't a lot of good options out there for big family sedans. I was afraid I might have had to look at minivans... That just won't fly for a single dad like me. I really wish I could have gotten a station wagon of some type, but unfortunately, the only ones I could find were Flex Fuel Tauruses, and I am not going to take less mileage from my regular gasoline, just so the car can burn a fuel that gets WAY worse mileage if I ever decide to put the soybean squeezins in that cost almost as much as the gasoline these days.