Daughter wants a fun car, dad wants something more practical.

Just tossing this out, not my quote but I agree with it - it's more fun to drive a slow car fast, than to drive a fast car slow. Also easier to avoid tickets and have lower insurance. Insurance on a new sports car might be more than her food budget.

This may sound silly, but I see a lot of youngish women driving jeep wranglers. Sporty, kinda practical, probably fun. Or a smallish pickup, like a Frontier.
Or a smallish pickup, like a Frontier.

I had thought to suggest this as I have a Frontier and it's a great mid-size vehicle. Probelem would be to find one under 20K ... I mean you can, but the older ones are a bit homely and the upgraded ones (2022 and up) would be tough to find in that price range.
Get a base model Subaru Impreza with a manual. I had a 2012 with the FB20 years ago and I beat on it relentlessly. I had it for 148,000 miles with maintenance consisting of oil changes, tires, and plugs. When I traded it in, it had a little bit of clatter from the valve train and probably needed an adjustment but that was about it. I did highway speeds during a near whiteout snow storm while passing semis and 4x4's that had either spun into the median or pulled off onto the side of the road to call it quits. I mention the manual for a couple of reasons. First, the CVT is garbage. Second, I firmly believe that you're a better driver if you know how to drive something with three pedals. Third, it's more fun.

Currently, she now uses the wife’s old 2009 Toyota RAV4 with 260,000 miles on it. I feel it has reached the end of its useful life. I have offered to go halvsies with my daughter to get her a better, more reliable vehicle. Under $20k, looking for suggestions of something that’s fun but still will do the job of safely, reliability commuting to her clinical rotations. Manual transmissions are an option.
2014-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 w/3.6 as long as it has maintenance records of regular oil changes (true for anything, though). We have three of these currently in the family inventory with 100,000 miles, 160,000 miles and one over 250,000. No measurable oil use between changes, 21-27mpg city-hwy, comfy, safe and actually cheap to insure. One brake job since new on each, one rear shock on one of them, and new tires every 50,000 miles. If you find one with factory tow hitch, it'll have the mechanical auto-leveling rear shocks for heavy loads when travelling (my daughter crammed her entire bedroom in one).

The 2014+ all have the proper ZF 8spd trans. Stay away from any used vehicles having a CVT as previously mentioned.
Last edited: