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Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, smart fortwo, MINI Cooper
#9149 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [nippononly]
Dec 13, 2010 (2:46 am)
You should also test drive the following vehicles with manual and tell us what you think:
- Scion TC - Overlooked but a fine car. Handles very nicely, IMO. Back seat is small, though. These are very slow sellers(Scion never seemed to really have taken off?) so you can get good prices on them.
- Mitsubishi Lancer - Also another often overlooked choice.
I personally think they are better vehicles that the Mazda 2 or the Fiesta. The Fiesta felt... HEAVY. Like they took a Fit and put a Buick suspension on it. Quiet, soft, and stable. But it's as wide in the rear end as a Buick, and the transmission, as you noted, is rubbish.
BTW - the two I mentioned above have pretty decent manuals. I'm consistently happy with how Toyota does manuals(Honda is also good, a Civic with Manual is a great thing)
Of course, if I had the money, I'd spend 17.5K on a 2010 Mustang and forget about MPG. (still does 25mpg combined, easy, with the V6 and manual) And, yes, that's a local price from TrueCar. Evidently the 2010 V6 models are slow movers, due to the new V6 in the 2011, despite being great budget transportation. Yes, it's a better engine, but is it worth 5K more? I don't think so considering that you have a manual to extract every ounce of that power. Figure a real world 8 seconds(again, not abusing the car) or so 0-60, which is worlds faster than a typical sub-compact.
#9150 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [plekto]
Dec 13, 2010 (8:11 am)
In looking at the models you suggested I drive, plekto, I am thinking you are suggesting cross-shopping strictly on price, as those models would be roughly the same price (the tC would be a bit more than the Fiesta SES and significantly more than the other two) but I am only interested in subcompact 4- or 5-doors, because I have sworn to myself I won't replace the Echo with a car that makes worse mileage and because I have little kids in the back often enough to value the extra doors.
tC and Lancer mileage kinda sucks IMO, especially the tC's. Mazda2 and Fiesta will allow me to match the Echo, I'm very confident, and in fact if I went with the Fiesta I think I could improve on the 40 mpg I get now by a bit.
A big drawback to the Fit is that I would probably drop a few points in fuel economy, so for me the Mazda is definitely leading in the race. The Fit would have to feel much more fun to drive than the Mazda to grab the prize at this point.
I wish the 500 were already out - I would love to compare its drive to these others, even though it is only a 3-door. But I bet it's slow - I really want to check out the Abarth, which is still a year away.
#9151 of 9848 Re: From AutoWeek... [hpmctorque]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:26 am)
I'm so glad, and I hope they call it the CR-X!
#9152 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [nippononly]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:27 am)
Well, that's the rub. If you want a good ride, 4 doors, and 35+mpg, you're down to a very narrow list. But there is a list. The Fiat 500 is 2 door only and as small as a jellybean. It's like an estate version of a Smart car. And just about as slow unless you get the Abarth (which we won't in the U.S.)
I also removed a ton of vehicles from the list because they got mediocre MPG or had issues like miserable suspension or lacked a manual. The Civic Si, RX8, and many many others were dropped, because if you want 28-30mpg highway, just get a Buick or Camry. They are cheap and nearly indestructible in a crash. More on this later...
1: TDI type cars of course are one option. Good MPG and really no issues. No batteries to deal with, either from an environmental perspective or a potential resale value one. Due to the current pent up demand, resale value is quite high as well, especially for a TDI with manual(will sell in days, not weeks) A Jetta TDI gives you a midsize package and a micro-car's fuel economy. Finding one 1-3 years old, though, can be problematic. And the price you pay for them nearly kills the economy savings for the first 50-80K miles.
2: Alternative cars:
- Mini Clubman. What impressed me was that they managed to turn a tiny and poor excuse for a vehicle into something that actually works as a small family car. And without making it look like a jellybean or losing the same look and feel. Mini used to do this sort of alternate body styles approach back in the 60s, so it's not without merit. Great handling. Holds its value quite well. Buy new as these tend to be abused all too often.
- Get a Civic or Corolla. Sacrificing 3-5mpg for a much larger and better vehicle isn't necessarily a bad compromise. (don't forget the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe, either) The 2008 Pontiac Vibe is basically a Toyota Corolla wagon with a better interior and higher depreciation. Win-Win. Buy 1-3 yrs used if you can.
- The Jeep Patriot gets 29mpg highway and has a huge cargo area. It's a hidden gem amongst the miles and miles of overpriced and gas hungry SUVs. As long as you avoid automatics, Jeeps are decently reliable. There are loads of other small and micro SUVs out there as well, but most of them just simply cost too much. Starting at $15K, and often having rebates as well, it's worth looking at, IMO.
http://www.carsdirect.com/build/options?zipcode=91107&acode=USC00JES141C0&restor- e=false (I chose Pasadena, CA because it's fairly close to a typical national price and is well known) Buy new, obviously.
3 - Kids. If you factor in really low prices like this (which is why I added the Mustang), you can get into a situation where you would have to drive a new Civic 100K+ miles to break even on the fuel costs. Just because you got such a screaming good deal. If it was my money, I'd be a cheap ba***rd and get the best 3-5 year old car that I could for the least amount of money. This usually means a domestic midsize sedan, but not always. The advantage here is that while you might get 5 mpg less than a typical small car, you paid 5K less for the vehicle. That's more than the gas savings. And it's safer in a crash, often handles better, and has tons more amenities as well. These tiny cars are frankly, not something I'd put kids into, because they're simply not going to survive in a typical crash, given that most cars are rolling down the road with a running weight of nearly 4000lbs including the driver and everything else.(not even factoring in SUVs)
My top "tightwad" pick for a good used car is to just get a 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix or similar for $8-10K. It gets 25mpg combined. If you drove 100K miles, the Pontiac would use 4000 gallons. If you had a 35mpg average car, it would use 1143 fewer gallons. At $3.20 a gallon, that means that as long as the larger vehicle is $3657 less than the econobox, you're breaking even and MPG is a moot factor.
That's your optimal car, other than it having an automatic. Though, the shifter is in-line on the floor, so power-shifting the automatic is simple. And, yes, it does have a "1" gear, so I've actually done it with cars I've rented. I'd rather drive this than a Civic, Yaris, or Mazda 2 any day.
(maybe I'm spoiled, but I prefer small cars like the Volvo C30 - the lack of features in a typical $15K car is too much for me)
#9153 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [nippononly]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:29 am)
#9154 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [plekto]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:32 am)
About the TDI- with the HPFP problems, and the loss of power/dash warning lights like a xmas tree problems that keep getting reported on the 09+ TDI's, I'd personally avoid them. Too bad, as I like the car in concept. YMMV...
#9155 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [tifighter]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:33 am)
TrueDelta did report lots of early TDI issues FWIW....
#9156 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [ateixeira]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:36 am)
Well, the issue with TDIs is VW. Not the technology. Honda makes a TDI Civic in the U.K. that is amazing. Nearly 50mpg and Honda reliability. But not for us plebeians in the U.S...
#9157 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [plekto]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:38 am)
It's a shame, because the TDI Jetta wagon is pretty darn nice, too. Hopefully VW addresses it soon.
#9158 of 9848 Re: the Mazda2 [plekto]
Dec 13, 2010 (10:47 am)
I've read those GPs aren't exactly the most comfortable best finished cars.
But if kids are going to ransack it, I guess why not.