I'm currently looking to purchase a used, very inexpensive vehicle to make a weekly ~200 mile mainly highway round trip drive and save a lot of fuel and tire costs over my truck that averages about 14mpg. Over the course of the year and assuming average fuel costs of $2.50 and getting a very conservative 42mpg (so 3x as efficient), I would be saving over a thousand dollars a year in fuel.
My financial situation (student) limits me to purchasing a very inexpensive up-front cost though, and most used Mirages near me seem to be going in the $3000-4000 range at the cheap end. However, I have found a 2015 manual, standard option Mirage with two dented passenger side doors and around 300,000 miles with an asking price of $2000. According to KBB, this appears realistic, but NADA guides makes it seem otherwise? Also, that's a lot of miles. It is also located a 5 hour drive away so is tough to check out in person so I feel like I'd have to negotiate a price before I leave based on accurate photos, descriptions, answered questions, etc which could be risky or otherwise face a wasted day (with less bargaining power) and quite a bit of fuel costs driving out to check it out. However, it is substantially cheaper than other used Mirages (barring the ones I see for sale in Canada), and a thousand dollars or more savings over other used options with only 100,000-150,000 does go a long way in repair/maintenance/fuel costs or just straight up savings to use to pay for other life necessities.
Another option that I'm trying to consider is just purchased an even cheaper used car of older vintage such as 90s or 2000s. That will open up purchase options a lot, and I could feasibly get something even cheaper, but I'm still risking unreliability and maintenance and it seems like the Mirage is quite reliable and easy to work on (I'm able and willing to do my own maintenance and repairs). Is a $1000 1990s Corolla with 1xx,xxx miles and 'only' 35mpg better than a 2015 Mirage with WAY more miles but perhaps less brand cachet and reliability? Fuel costs will be marginally higher (a couple hundred bucks a year) and the cars I'd be looking at would likely be much less safe with less airbags, no traction control, possibly no ABS, and likely to have worse crumple zone and impact designs. Even a vehicle in the 30mpg range will be a huge increase over what I'm driving now .
I'm leaning towards the super high mileage Mirage, living with the dented doors, and reaping the rewards of ultra low fuel costs and modernish safety features and design and dealing with maintenance and repairs when it comes up. I feel like a 300,000 mileage car will have roughly the same maintenance issue probabilities as a 100,000 or a 200,000 mile car.
Is $2000 realistic? Is a $1000 offer insulting? It looks like the seller had listed it for $2700 originally and it's been on sale for 8 weeks.
Should I be talked into or out of this purchase???