As I drove home from the Red Hat Summit yesterday, my 13 year old Ford Taurus stalled out and died. It did this as I was on the exit ramp from I90 to 128N, where the ramp curves around and under I90. Exactly under I90, but far enough around the turn where no one could see me until they were right on top of me, and cars came flying around the corner at 50+ MPH. Thankfully, I was only there about 10 minutes before a State Trooper responded to my call and pushed my car (with his car) up onto 128N, where I was actually on the side of the road. About 70 minutes later, the AAA tow truck arrived and towed me to a (closed) service station. On the hunch that the heat had played a factor in the car stalling out, I tried to start the car again and this time it started (I had tried repeatedly while waiting for the tow truck, without luck). I limped home, along the back roads (not trusting the car on the highways), and parked it in front of the house.
I had held on to this car for a long time, mostly for silly sentimental reasons. It was my first car. It has less than 100,000 miles on it. But it has always had issues, like the persistent electrical shorts that caused the windshield wipers to come on at random, something that sounds like "squirrels having sex" in the AC system, the radio randomly (and stubbornly) insisting that the bass level needed to be 0, and not being able to tune in to some FM radio stations. The brakes have been changed out at least three times, one of the back windows refuses to work, and when it went for inspection this year, it failed twice, resulting in $2000 worth of repairs to get it up to code. Oh, and the mechanic told me that the muffler was starting to fail, but that it wasn't bad enough now to fail inspection (but that he thought it would be by next year).
So, I'm done with this car. Even though I can't really afford one right now, I need a new one. Here's where you come in, friends/coworkers/strangers on the internets. I know just enough about cars to have a license. What should I buy? Here are my basic requirements:
1) Good gas mileage (gas in my part of MA is $3.50/gallon)
2) Nice sized driver seating (I'm 6'4", 250lbs)
3) Needs to have a back seat that can easily contain two full-sized car seats (we only have one child at the moment, but I'd like to future proof a bit)
4) As cheap as possible. I think the most I could do per-month would be around $200 (and I'd have to sell a lot/most of my Bruins season tickets to afford it)
5) I did like how my old Ford Taurus had a strong V6 in it, I may like to drive a bit faster than I should, so I don't want a rubber-band engine if I can help it.
6) I can't drive a manual (ask Peter Jones, he can vouch for that).
7) Any geek cred is a nice bonus.
Can you help me out? Any and all help is appreciated.