What Has Room for Six And Good Fuel Mileage? – WSJ.com

29 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on What Has Room for Six And Good Fuel Mileage? – WSJ.com
Mazda Familia


Updated Aug. 5, 2008 11:59 p.m. ET

Q: What are the five or six vehicles with seating for at least six people that get the best gas mileage?

— Andrew Swenson,

St. Petersburg, Fla.

A: The list consists mainly of crossovers, some with third-row seats that are too small or fuel economy that isn’t so great. At the top of the list is the Toyota Highlander hybrid which has an EPA fuel economy rating of 27 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. It logged 26 mpg overall on a recent family trip to Maine.

That’s amazing performance for such a large vehicle.

Next is the Mazda 5 that seats six and is one of my favorite vehicles. Its fuel economy rating is 22 city, 28 highway and prices start around $18,000, or less than half the cost of the seven-seat Highlander Hybrid Limited. Of course, the Toyota is a much more luxurious vehicle.

Others that rank well include the Toyota RAV4 with two-wheel drive and optional third row, 21 city 27 highway; Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid 21 city, 22 highway; the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz R320 CDI and GL320 CDI, 18 city, 24 highway; and finally the Ford Flex, 17 city 24 highway.

The Ford also stands out for its huge interior and outstanding comfort. It also made a 1,000-mile road trip recently, loaded with three adults, two children and too much cargo. The big wagon (it’s really just a station wagon) eked out 24 mpg on the highway.

Q: I have a 1995 Dodge Neon that I use as a commuter car to drive seven miles each way to the train station. I think this car is on its last legs, and don’t want to spend a lot of money for a car I hardly drive. What used car models would you recommend that are fairly inexpensive and get good gas mileage?

— Stephen Rannekleiv,

New York

A: High fuel prices have boosted market values of some small used cars, but many are still bargains compared with new models. For station duty I think you should look for an older, less sought-after model. A five-year-old Ford Focus hatchback may cost more than $5,000 if bought from a private seller.

But a 10-year-old Ford Aspire, Geo Metro or another Dodge Neon in good condition can be found for less than $1,500.

Q: My 2003 Honda Odyssey just had its 60,000-mile service and will be six years old in November. The technician told me that the factory recommends replacing the timing belt at 100,000 miles or 6 years. Can I safely observe the mileage requirement and ignore the six-year recommendation?

The dealer wants well over $600 for the job.

Mazda Protege

— Jon Ellenbogen,

Penland, N.C.

A: I think you can put off the timing-belt service for another year, because Honda recommends a change after seven years or 105,000 miles. But, I think it would be wise to change the belt after seven years, because it could degrade and weaken under lengthier service.

Q: I love my little 2003 Mazda Protege5. I get 26 mph, which is fine for a four-speed automatic transmission and the air conditioning running constantly in the heat of South Florida. I’m soon to have the 60,000 service and I’m curious about the benefits of switching to synthetic oil.

I typically get the oil changed every three months or 3,000 miles. I want to keep the car for two more years and then offer it as a gift to my granddaughter.

— Bill Weeks,

Miami, Fla.

A: I think switching to synthetic oil is a good idea because it generally improves engine performance and efficiency. You will also be able wait longer before your next oil change because synthetics last longer than conventional oils.

Depending on the oil, you may be able to drive 10,000 miles between changes. Of course synthetic oil costs more, but it’s still one of the cheapest things you can do that will play a major role in keeping your engine healthy.

Have a question about cars? Write to mecar@wsj.com .

Mazda Protege
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