Sorted by class (truck, SUV, crossover, economy, and sports car), here are JMB’s top 5½ picks for the best vehicles to own if you live in Maine.
In addition to more than a decade of experience working on and driving these vehicles, we’ve also taken our lovely weather, road conditions, four-seasons of recreational activities, drivability, fuel mileage, maintenance, common repairs, and overall reliability into consideration to create this list.
1. Chevrolet Silverado
From a lowered two-wheel drive sport truck to a diesel work truck with 1000 FT/LBS of torque, the Chevy Silverado has you covered. Today’s brand new models offer a multitude of options designed to fit your needs including hands-free smartphone integration, 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to seven devices, preventative safety features, award-winning towing capacity, and Chevy’s long-standing record of dependability. These trucks are also readily available in the pre-owned market and built “like a rock.”
2. Chevrolet Suburban
The first generation Chevy Suburban made its debut in 1935, making it America’s longest running nameplate 12 generations later. This four-wheel drive SUV features a powerful V8 engine that will pull your camper across the country in a tornado, through the mountains and into the desert with your spouse, six kids, and Saint Bernard comfortably in tow while enjoying heated and cooled leather seats and three (yes, three) DVD players.
3. Subaru B9 Tribeca
This snazzy crossover features Subaru’s proven all-wheel drive system with plenty of room for the kids, dogs, bikes, kayaks, standup paddle boards, skis, and all of the other accouterments needed for the outdoor activities that Subaru owners (and Mainers) love to do. Also, it comes in orange.
4. Toyota Yaris
Toyota Yaris dominates the economy class for an affordable vehicle with both two-door and four-door model options. The Yaris gets amazing gas mileage without the added cost of a hybrid. Toyota advertises 30-37mpg for the Yaris to be on the safe side, but in the real world, the Yaris can average about 40mpg. Plus, it’s not a Prius. No one in Maine should drive a Prius unless it’s summertime and it’s on dry pavement. Trust us; just get a Yaris. You’re welcome.
5. 1998-2002 Pontiac Firebird
If you’re in the market for an affordable Maine-friendly sports car, the Pontiac Firebird is among your best options. Not only are the 98-02 Firebirds affordable, they are plentiful and many are in really good condition if you don’t mind searching. These cars came with many options in three different models: convertible, T-top, or coupe with leather seats, all power accessories (doors, windows, locks), automatic and manual transmissions, and more. The engines in these model years boasted good power with excellent fuel mileage: 300 horsepower with 15-28mpg. There are many aftermarket companies that still make performance parts for these cars including go-fast goodies for the engine, and suspension and brake system upgrades.
5½. 1998-2002 Chevrolet Camaro
Since the Firebird and Camaro are so similar, we decided to also include the Camaro as number 5½. This year and body style is near and dear to Jason. “Here is a picture (of a picture) of my old ’99 Chevy Camaro SS, which is now cruising around in Tennessee. It was a sad day when this one rolled out of the garage for the last time, but I’m excited to build a new one again some day with a few new JMB customizations,” he said.