In the nearly 3 decades of driven and fixed my rides, there are some things that I've learned. The longest lasting vehicles me and my wife have driven are plain Jane, four cylinder coupes, sedans and wagons. My wife's 1996 Ford Escort and 2004 Pontiac Grand Am have lasted a total of nearly 18 years to date. We've had both 9 years apiece. Neither one would have ever made Consumer Reports or JD Power, but they've lasted where my 2003 Dodge Intrepid, an award winning sedan, barely lasted the payment book and was sold at a terrible loss. There are other vehicles that are good to avoid and it isn't because they were made badly, but because of things like poor maintenance or driving habits. Without any further adieu, here's the list.
1.1999-2003 Ford Windstars. These have a bad habit of breaking the rear axle at the most inopportune of times. Too bad as these vans have great fuel economy and power.
2. 1998 to 2003 Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, 300M, LHS, Dodge Stratus or Chrysler Sebring with the 2.7 liter engine have all but become extinct. Whether it's bad maintenance, poor engine design or a combination of both, these are good vehicles to stay away from. The 3.2 and 3.5 liter engines are very dependable and the rest of the car is built pretty well.
3. 2008 to present Dodge Caravans and Chrysler Town and Country and 2008 to 2012 Volkswagen Routan. In an era of high prices for used cars, a van that goes for $30,000 new can plummet to less than one sixth of that in the less than five or six years. The reliability is terrible, and the rear seats are small.
4. Chevy Uplander, Buick Terraza, Saturn Relay, Pontiac SV6. Poorly made, clumsy styling and a short product run. GM stopped making minivans for a reason.
5. 2004 to 2007 Ford Freestar and Mercury Montery. Poor reliability, poor gas mileage and so few made. Ford stopped making minvans for a reason as well.
6. Any Fiat 500 or 500L. Cute to look at, but the same Fiat propensity to break down and a death trap if you get in a smash up with it.
7. Smart for Two. Any car that requires premium gasoline and only seats two people is not an economy vehicle.
8. Any Mercedes or BMW. Unless you intend on adopting an auto mechanic and have stock in their parts, stay away. The parts for these are much more expensive than for their American and Japanese counterparts.
9. Any Ford EcoBoost vehicle. There is nothing economical about a turbo or needing premium gasoline. Turbocharged engines need to be idled several minutes before shutting them off, and more frequent oil changes to keep them working right. Do you want to bet the previous owner did?
10. 2003 to 2010 Ford Trucks and vans with the 6.0 or 6.4 liter diesel engine. Maybe it was more publicity than Dodge or Chevy. The EGR and oil coolers plugged and subsequently the headgaskets blew on the 6.0 liters. The 6.4 liters had an issue with the DPF clogging up and a regeneration system that wasted fuel and money. Both are expensive to fix, but the emissions controls were the downfall of both of these engines. I'd stay away from the 2011 to 2013 with the 6.7 liter too as the ceramic bearing for the turbochargers fail frequently and are pricey.