Family car for £4000 - Jason
Can anybody give me some advice? I am looking for a 2nd family car for approximately £4000.
I have so far narrowed my selection down to:
Ford Mondeo (Petrol)
Citroen Xantia (Diesel)
Vauxhall Vectra (Petrol or Diesel)
Nissan Primera (Petrol or Diesel)

I want the car to be no more than 4 years old and I am not too fussed about the mileage, so long as there is a FSH and the car is in good condition. I would like to buy from a garage to get the piece of mind of a warranty.
A garage approx. 50 miles from me has the above types of car for sale, all 1 owner with print out FSH and high mileage (65 - 90K).

I have looked at the car by car breakdown, but I would like to hear from people who have had experience of any of the above cars or can suggest other alternatives.

I would like the car to be economical, safe and above all reliable (don't we all!!)

Look forward to your replies.

Thanks in advance

Family car for £4000 - jammods
Might be worth adding the Peugeot 406 hdi to your list?
Family car for £4000 - Jason
Yes - good idea and also old shape Laguna??
Family car for £4000 - Woody
Based on my own experience definately not a Xantia. Mine sold at 3 years, but loose trim, electrical gremlins and brake judder did not suggest longevity.

Old shape Laguna not a great idea. Poor reliability, hard to work on and kamikazi depreciation even from 4K.

I think a Primera 1.8 makes sense or how about a Toyota Avensis?

Other than Jap cars I would suggest a Mondeo 1.8.
Family car for £4000 - Jason
Thanks for your reply Woody. The garage I mentioned has a Mondeo 2.0 Zetec X-reg with 75k miles. Superb condition, FSH, 1 owner etc... for £4500.

What are these like and do you think it is a reasonable price?

Family car for £4000 - Ben {P}
Steer clear of old lagunas. Loads of trouble.

If the car you are talking about is a 2000X, i think that car may be the best part of a grand overpriced. Cam-belts are due to be changed at 80k, so check to see its had it done. If not budget for getting it changed straight away.
Family car for £4000 - Burnout2
An obvious Jap alternative is the '98-'03 model Honda Accord. Well-equipped, safe, good to drive and more reliable than any of the cars on your list. Find an early S/T-plater with a Honda history and one sensible owner and you're unlikely to go wrong.

Of your list, the Primera and Mondeo are the best bets - reliability and durability are strong points for both. I think the only people who'd recommend French cars as a long-term ownership prospect are those owners lucky enough to have got a good 'un.
Family car for £4000 - MB
My Avensis bought in similar circumstances to yours has been excellent. I would go for either it, a Mondeo or Primara - Hondas are bit heavy on fuel - I think - someone will no doubt correct if I'm wrong. My Avensis estate easily tops 40mpg on long runs.
One point - at this price would it not be best to buy at auction or get an aution buyer to do it for you. You are paying a £1k premium to buy from a dealer. You can always buy an aftermarket warranty yourself - that's all the dealer does...

Family car for £4000 - DavidHM
Tend to agree with the 'buy from auction' views; as long as the auction ensures the car's HPI status and you get a year's third party warranty for a couple of hundred, it's hard to see how you can go wrong.

£4500 isn't too bad a price for a new shape Mondeo with that spec and relatively low (for a Mondeo) mileage. Haggle down to £4k, including a cam belt change, which should be possible at this time of year (make sure the work is done though!) and you have a soild deal.

If you want reliability, I'd consider the Primera as it's a bit sharper than an Avensis, although either should be available. Except at auction, £4k will only buy you a comedy mileage Accord of this age.
Family car for £4000 - joe
I've got a 2.0 se Primera and its great. I would recommend it highly.
Family car for £4000 - bradgate
I would advise you to avoid the Vectra.

I owned a 96N 2.0 GLS and it was awful. Everything that could go wrong did. Central locking, windows, radio, heater, t/c etc etc. It was also unpleasant to drive with a bouncy ride, dead steering and stodgy handling.

I now drive a Subaru (Japanese, obv.) and am delighted with it. If reliability is your priority, the choice is a no-brainer.

Buy Japanese.
Family car for £4000 - AdrianM
Wouldn't touch a Laguna or Xantia. We currently have a Vectra SRI (SWMBO's runaround, shopping trolley & kiddie transporter) and 406HDi (my commuter), both of which serve us well - we are very pleased with them. Best 'family' car I've had was a Mondeo - although it wasn't very exciting it was reliable, comfortable, reasonably economical and very practical (both as people transporter and, with back seats down, rubble/garden trips to tip after weekend DIY jobs).
Family car for £4000 - Ken A
I'm on my 2nd Vectra Esate. No 1 was a bog standard P plate 1.8 Expression, no electrics - nothing! Bought in an emergency when my 10 yr old Alfa 164 developed £2.5k worth of problems! Kept it 12 months with no problems before exchanging for a 3yr old S plate CDX Estate which I still have. 26k when I bought now just over 60k after 2 yrs trouble free motoring, much of it long hauls. I love it. Don't understand why Vectras have such a bad press. Handling and ride, particularly on M-ways - is, IMHO perfectly acceptable and as long as it continues to start 1st turn every morning and gets me where I want to go without hassle and at a very reasonable average of 35mpg with a/c in constant use, I'm happy. Having said all this, I'm considering replacing my wife's P plate Megane with an S plate 1.8LX petrol Mondeo currently advertised locally with a guaranteed 42k on the clock for £3995, fsh, RAC warranty included and all HPi checks undertaken. Can't find anyone with a bad word to say about Mondeos so, although I have no personal experience of them, I'll probably go for it.
Family car for £4000 - Aprilia
Go for Primera 2.0 petrol. Legendary SR20DE engine is highly reliable (chain driven twin-cam) easy to maintain and not too heavy on petrol. Primera also handles very nicely. Was a Motoring Which? best buy for several years and the US variant (the 'Infiniti G20' - built at Sunderland) won the US JD Power survey a couple of times in the 1990's.

Drawback (which no one ever seems to mention) is rather large turning circle.

Steer clear of French or Italian cars.
Family car for £4000 - prm
I agree with the Vectra boys, I bought mine over 2 years ago, 1.8 LS its now on 84000 miles never let me down, runs like a dream, and I get 42-45 mpg, parts are cheap, easy to work on,cambelts, servicing etc and you can pick up a fairly late one for peanuts because twonks like Jeremy Clarkson slates them, ( I love critics like him, keeps the prices down.)
Family car for £4000 - bradgate
Obviously not all Vectras were quite as bad as mine! I would concede that the Vectra 2.0 is an excellent motorway cruiser and prices are indeed very low.

In response to positive comments about these cars i would refer the chap who raised the query to HJ's car-by-car breakdown entry for the '95-'99 Vectra.


Value my car