Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

I'd be grateful for some advice please -

I need a larger car than my 3 door Colt for transporting 4 adults (plus myself) in comfort and with room for 5 rucksacks in the boot. The Colt can only handle myself plus two passengers and gear.

I'm thinking Mondeo or C Max, but my last four cars have been Japanese and have all been great - Colt, Civic, Integra and Primera.

I might consider a larger car (7 seater), but I guess my budget's a bit low. I might also consider a smaller car, as long as it has good leg room in the back and can accommodate a roof box.

I'm thinking diesel, but I'm quite wary at this price range and will consider petrol if it's not too thirsty. It being economical is a factor.

The main consideration (apart form the size and price) is reliability and I'm not really interested in high spec, gadget-laden models.

An added bonus would be its ability for me to sleep in it - flat folding rear seats or easily removable seat. This isn't paramount though.

I don't really want a model with a boot - so just hatches or estates.

Thanks very much

Large reliable car for under 5k - Avant

Best to stick to Japanese, as your own experience suggests. Petrol power is probably better for reliability, although there aren't many bad stories about Toyota diesels. Don't go near a Mazda diesel.

The Toyota Verso is well worth a look - you can either have 7 seats up or a big boot with the back seats folded. Or a conventional estate like the Toyota Avensis, Honda Accord or Mazda 6.

I can't remember when the Nissan Primera was succeeded by the Qashqai - somewhere around 2007 I think - so one of these could be a good buy for your budget.

Large reliable car for under 5k - SLO76
I would tend to agree that you're best avoiding diesel for reliability sake and ultimately running costs. Older modern diesels tend to be money pits and a complete false economy.

£5k is plenty to buy a medium to large petrol powered hatchback however and most are really pretty decent on fuel these days if driven within reasonable limits.

Toyota Avensis, Mazda 6, Ford Focus, Mondeo, Vauxhall Astra, Insignia, Honda Civic and Accord estate are all good cars in petrol form with few of the issues which plague diesel versions.

For the money and assuming it's large enough I'm a fan of the Yamaha designed 1.6 engine in the Ford Focus and your budget is plenty to get a nice late Mk II 1.6 Zetec 5dr or estate. Avoid the diesels at all costs! The 1.6 PSA diesel has a terrible reputation. It's a lovely car to drive with 40mpg economy, plenty of space and rarely gives trouble as long as it's serviced EVERY year with the correct oil.

I'm also a fan of the Honda Civic 1.8. A very strong engine, still capable of 40mpg, it's chain driven so no expensive timing belt to change and an easy sell when you're done with it. Again they need a full service history. Walk from anything without it.

If you need more room then the Mondeo is a great drive and cheap with a petrol engine. The 1.6 is slow and the 2.0 a little thirsty. Again the 1.6 diesel is a nightmare worth dodging.

Mazda 6 uses basically the same chassis as the Mondeo but Mazda's petrol engines are pretty bombproof and a bit better on fuel. The 2.0 we had could hit 40mpg without too much effort. Nice to drive and cheap in petrol form.

Only issue with the larger petrol cars is that they're hard work to sell on so negotiate hard and buy it right with a view of hanging onto it for a long time.
Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Thank you both, very helpful

Large reliable car for under 5k - MondeoMonkeyMagic

Hopefully not thowing a spanner in the works too much here. Agree wholeheartdely with the above advice. I owned a 5 dr Attivo Colt for 5 years until I too needed more room.

Knowing that modern day diesels (TDCi. CDTI, CDi etc etc) are a money pit I bought an old fashioned indirect injection diesel Omega. Like all big non branded barges, this thing is absolutely wonderful.

I have had it 3 years now and apart from a handbrake cable that snapped (after 12 years) it hasn't put a foot wrong. Tax isn't £30 a year like most cars nowadays, it is a massive £265/year, but it sits at 60/70/80 like all other cars on todays roads.

Seats are comfy, all the standard gizmo's still work (because it was designed to beat the 5 series - which it couldn't) and I don't have to get precious about it when I park somewhere.

There is a good forum available (same as any car model nowadays) and it rides so well. Let us know what you chose in the end please.

Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Thanks very much - sound advice.

Agree that a quick car isn't necessary these days. My last cars were Civic and Integra Type Rs, but even if I did still own something like that, the roads are always full up. Those days are gone anyway.

I will post back with my choice, could be a while though as I need it for work which quietens down in the winter - going to take my time and hopefully find a good one.


Large reliable car for under 5k - barney100

In that situation I would take a look at big Volvo saloons, diesel or petrol. Well maintained ones just keep going and going and eat up the miles.

Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Thank you!

Large reliable car for under 5k - daveyK_UK
0.9 tce or 1.2 Dacia Logan

Should pick up a 15 plate with over a years warranty left in mid spec ambience trim for £5k

Very under rated car
Large reliable car for under 5k - Steveieb

How about a Honda FRV? Its a six seater MPV beutifully made in Japan and drives like a car.

The diesel version is the one to go for.

Large reliable car for under 5k - sandy56

For Petrol car go Japanese, like an Avensis.

For a diesel car look at the 407SW, go for 2010 last edition. Strong cars and good diesels - as used by a number of car manufacturers. The 20L diesel with 6 speed auto is a good one.

Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Thanks very much!

I just called in at a local garage as I saw a Zafira 1.6 petrol parked outside - 2013, 31k, £6500 - seemed good car, but a bit of of my price range. I've heard they have soft gearboxes though...? I live a bit out of the way, so some of the lesser known cars are a good drive away - eg. no Toyota Corolla Versos anywhere near me.

They actually had a diesel FRV in there too - 2005, 107k, think it was £4k though.

The only other car in there which might have fitted was a Skoda Roomster 1.2, probably a bit small though, and didn't know a thing about them.

The salesman was actually OK... I think - didn't push or patronise me. He was telling me to avoid diesels like the plague (although he was trying to sell me a petrol) - talked of the price of particulate filters and clutch / fly wheels.

He also said to avoid Mazdas as they all rot undeneath, which I had heard.

Large reliable car for under 5k - SLO76
The petrol Zafira is a pretty robust thing. Comfortable, spacious but sluggish with the 1.6 petrol but fine around town and ok at speed on motorways, it will struggle with a full load and require planning ahead for B road overtaking. There are loads of elderly Zafira's still running and I'm unaware of any gearbox issue. I've certainly never had bother with any I've sold or the Astra it shares its mechanics with.

The salesman is right to advise you to avoid diesels, they are too complex and will cost you substantially more in maintenance and repairs in the long run. Also the Zafira 1.9 and 2.0 diesels are Fiat engines and best avoided, the comparatively rare 1.7 is an Isuzu unit and very long lived if looked after but still suffers from DPF issues is you do a lot of short stop start driving.

As much as I like the FRV (it's a great car all round) I wouldn't rush to pay £4K for one with a six figure mileage. They do suffer from turbo failure and timing chain issues if neglected and aren't as reliable as the bombproof petrol versions which is what I'd go for if you really wanted one of these.

The Roomster depends on what engine is in it. If it's the 68bhp 3cyl 1.2 12v then it's massively underpowered and fit only for town running really. The 4cyl 1.2 TSI with either 85 or 105bhp is a much better unit, faster more refined and better on fuel. Bit quirky looking but well made.

As for his comments regarding rot on Mazda's, he's right enough. They're probably the worst brand for rust resistance today. Though I've yet to see the previous 6 from 2008 with any rust so they may finally have got a grip. But 3's, MX5's and previous gen 6's rot like it's the 1970's. The 2005 Mazda 3 I'm using as a runner at the moment has a lot of rust on both rear arches and the underside looks like a car ten years older. But it starts, runs and drives like a car with half the mileage and has given its last owner (I sold it to) no trouble whatsoever.
Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Great info, many thanks!

Large reliable car for under 5k - KenMavor

Agree with everything that has been said so far.




They did make such a car.

Best one....2 litre auto petrol with VVTI engine. I get 26mpg average whilst my wife gets 32mpg. Rock solid engine and running gear. It has done 125k and has not needed anything other than oil changes, brake discs and pad etc. It even survived a snapped drive belt due to broken waterpump whch was my fault as it had been making loud noises from the pump for about a year. Oil everywhere as the oil release valve popped to save engine damage. Garage replaced water pump, new drive belt and oil and has been fine since - cost £220. It also has a timing chain it being a Toyota.

They are still available as second hand or imports. Have a look on Ebay for Toyota Avensis Verso or Ipsum for an import.

It's a solid, dependable workhorse that has a bit of get up and go.

Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Thanks very much!

Hadn't heard of them, but I'll take a look, cheers.

Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

I said I'd report back with what I'd bought.

I've gone for a 1.8 Zafira petrol manual. Early 2014, 45k, some history, £5.6k.

My first choice was an FRV, but they're few and far between, particularly with me living out of the way a bit; they're getting on a bit and most have high mileages too.

The Zafiras are so cheap, abundant and with with spares gallore, so hopefully worth a risk.

I'll be changing the gearbox oil on it shortly (just had engine oil change). When would you recommend changing the cam belt (and water pump and pulleys) please?

Got my Colt CZ1 on the market now. 2011, 1.1, 45k miles, excellent order and condition. It's here if anyone's interested -

What do you think of the price at £3100 ono? It is a good one.

Edited by NickRL on 23/01/2017 at 13:12

Large reliable car for under 5k - SLO76
Sounds good value. I'm assuming it's a B model that was sold from 2005-2014 and not the later C that was sold at the same time from 2011? If it's the later it's a hell of a buy.

As for the timing belt, it's due at 6yrs or 100k whichever comes first but the 1.8 VVT is known for cam pulleys failing which can shred the timing belt so listen out for rattles when starting from cold or revving when stationary. It's not that common but I've just been stung for it on a punters Astra with the same engine that had only 40k on it.

Belt was overdue time wise but it was the pulley that had failed pushing the belt against the cover. We just got it in time but still cost me £570 for both pulleys, t/belt, tensioner and water pump. Bang went my profit on that one. It's costly but probably worthwhile having both pulleys replaced when you do the belt to avoid having to strip it all down again if they do fail. Otherwise it's a solid, reliable and comfortable car.

As for your Colt it's overpriced I'm afraid. Sadly they just don't fetch much money these days and I'd expect to retail it as a trader for £2795-£2995 so as a private sale it is too dear and worth closer to £2,000. I'd advertise it at £2295 expecting to get knocked down a bit if you want to sell it. As a trade in you'd get around £1,200-£1,500.

Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Thanks very much, much appreciated!

I don't know whether it's a B or a C to be honest, how do I tell? I haven't picked the car up yet and didn't notice on the reg document. It's a March 2014 1.8 (120) Exclusiv.

I thought the Colt might be a touch high, but there are several on the market at even higher prices, at £2k they seem to be Cat Cs / high miles etc. Think I'll bring it down a bit and see what happens.

Thanks again!

Large reliable car for under 5k - SLO76

There's loads of Colts around my neck of the woods and they're cheap as chips but there is a small variation depending on region, cars do tend to be cheaper up here in Scotland. A good wee car in its day but dated now and not as well made as the previous model which I used to sell new as a Mitsubishi salesman in the 90's. They were almost indestructible.
Large reliable car for under 5k - NickRL

Thank you!

They do seem to vary in price a bit, I'm in Cumbria, which is pretty pricey I find. I do think they're a good car though and very good value, I'd certainly be keeping it if I didn't need a larger car.

Large reliable car for under 5k - barney100

Big Volvo estates, tough as any and do starship milelage.


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