If safety is my priority, what do you think of the Mazda Millenia?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I would appreciate your help with a matter that has really been putting a wedge
between my husband and me. I am driving a 1990 Volvo 740 with 112,000 miles. My
daughter will start to drive in six months, and I want to give her the Volvo and
get a new, or newer, car for myself. The problem is that my neighbor has
convinced my husband that we should buy a 1989 Mercedes station wagon with
100,000 miles on it (they just bought one and they love it).

I, on the other hand, want to buy a 1995/96 Mazda Millenia with 20,000 miles on
it. The Mercedes will cost about $13,000, and the Mazda will cost between
$15,000 and $18,000. What should I get? I want a big car that is safe (I have
three kids), and I want a comfortable ride. I originally wanted a Lincoln Town
Car, but my husband says I'm too young (I'm 38). I don't want a minivan or a
sport utility vehicle! -- Liz

RAY: I'd go right ahead and get the Millenia, Liz. It's fun to drive, very
comfortable, and big enough to be reasonably safe (we checked the Car Talk web
site at cars.com, and found the Millenia got four out of five stars in the crash
test for the driver and five out of five for the passenger -- which is very
good). It's also likely to be pretty reliable, and with only 20,000 miles,
presumably nothing major will wear out soon. You might even have some time left
on the warranty.

TOM: Plus, you'll have a better chance of picking up guys in the Millenia.
You'll never meet guys driving a Mercedes wagon. Hmm. Maybe that's what your
husband has in mind!

RAY: That aside, a 10-year-old Mercedes station wagon is not much fun to drive.
It's safe, that's true. But with 100,000 miles, it's not going to be that
reliable, and you're going to be very unpleasantly surprised at the cost of
repairing it. A price of $13,000 may sound like a bargain now, but once you get
your first bill for an $800 brake job, a $900 tune up and a $1,200 exhaust
system, you may feel differently.

TOM: Besides, we all know that the only reason your neighbor wants you to get
one is because he knows he's going to need a parts car!

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