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Which Hatchback?

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  • The Matrix is not a bad choice...but I have a bit of an unusual requirement for a car, it neesd to be SHORT in length for easier parking in the city. The Yaris is 150 inches long, the only thing shorter to my knowledge is the Mini at 145 inches. Then the Accent at 160 inches, and the Matrix is 171 inches, getting a bit large for tight urban parking.
    For most areas of the US car length isn't much of a concern but here (Chicago) it makes the difference on whether you find parking fast or circle around for an hour, following people walking with shopping bags in the hopes that they will get in a car and free up a parking spot.
    Maybe I should wait for the Smart, which is truly tiny... :)
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    an unusual requirement for a car, it neesd to be SHORT in length for easier parking

    Agreed. I think this should be an important selling feature of cars (and so it is in Europe) but here in North America the tendency is to go big so unfortunately this is overlooked. The Nissan Versa is an excellent choice for size, utility and parking. A curious fact: a hatchback is often shorter than its sedan version. Case in point: my Protege5 hatchback which is shorter than its sedan cousin.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "but I have a bit of an unusual requirement for a car, it neesd to be SHORT in length for easier parking in the city."

    Considered a 1st generation Scion xB? Overall length of 155".

    The new Scion xB is quite a bit larger at 167". However, a current 2-door Rabbit is 166" so no real difference for parking considerations (probably mirror placement and turning radius would be bigger considerations).
  • I test drove both back to back, Versa then Rabbit.
    The Versa reminded me style wise of modern French cars, which is no surprise, it has Renaul relations...I liked to goofy triangular windows just behind the windshield, cabin much more upscale than Yaris or Fit. Good visibility. Drove...OK, nothing special.
    Then the Rabbit. I felt like I was in a much higher price category. So many details differentiate it from the other cars in its price range, incredible heavy duty door hinges, hydraulic struts propping up the hood, most upscale interior, great interior lightinig. Love the VW Emblem hatch with a little electric assist opening the hatch.
    Firm controlled ride, better multi link suspension, torquey at low speeds, but not much gusto after 40mph.
    A nice upscale small city car.
    Its a car you really want rather than tick off reasons for practicality. The 5 speed action felt just like my friend's MINI, it may be the same manual tranny in both. Oddly, the nicest manual of all the cars I checked out lately, Yaris, Civic, Corolla, Rabbit, Versa, Fit, Accent was...the Yaris!
    So, fully aware of possible reliability issues, and inferior gas mileage, I am initiating a purchase of a Rabbit. Its the only car in this category that made want the car, rather than just justify the car as a practical choice.
    My only small gripe is the drab color choices for the Rabbit. Its supposed to be VW's youth model, why not make it in bright candy colors? Like the Renault Twingo, for example...
    image

    I wish they would sell the Fox
    image
    and the Polo
    image
    here in the U.S.

    I live within bus rides of 2 VW dealers and there are private VW mechanics near, benefit of being in a large city. So reliability be damned! :sick:
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    The Polo is a neat little hatchback. If VW brought it over here, they could position the Rabbit vs. the higher-end compact hatches like the Mazda3 and leave the Polo to duke it out at the low end vs. the Yaris, Fit, Accent etc. And the Polo could have a small engine for excellent fuel economy, vs. the big I5 in the Rabbit.
  • The Yaris seems like it should be called "Rabbit", its light, cheap, cutesy.
    The boxy artist formerly known as Golf just doesn't seem bunny like. Its austure all black interior lends it more to names like " VW Vault" or how about a Wagner reference, the "VW Walkure"? Pissed off immortal war goddesses seem to go with the car more than furry woodland creatures. :shades:
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    [The Rabbit is] a car you really want rather than tick off reasons for practicality.

    That's exactly why I *didn't* buy a Rabbit/Golf. At that price point, there are just too many good solid cars that are every bit as good and sell for less. A neat car, a classic hatchback, but too expensive.

    ...

    I regularly see a Polo near my home (in Fort Worth, Texas, some 300-400 miles from the Mexican border) with Mexican plates. I don't see it frequently, maybe every few months. And every time I do a double take, try to figure out what it is, see the plates and go, "Oh, that car..."
  • One of the other considerations in buying any car is insurance costs. I live in Chicago, downtown, and insurance is extremely high and differences between insuring different models is exaggerated here. I can't figure out why, but Hyundais of any stripe are wildly expensive to insure here. I ran quotes via Geico, my provider, and State Farm. In both cases it was MORE to insure an Elantra that a VW GTI! Also, an Accent was much more to insure than a Rabbit. Doesn't make any sense to me... :confuse:
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    It's likey the buyers and not the car. Insurance companies profile...and the system works for them.
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    It's likey the buyers and not the car. Insurance companies profile...and the system works for them.

    Do you mean driver profiles?

    My understanding is that insurance rates are based on statistics including cost to repair following accidents, incidents of theft, and popularity. One of the costliest cars to insure is the Subaru WRX, partially because it is frequently a target for theft. I wonder if the Accent rates poorly because of its lack of ABS as standard equipment.
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    Re: Accent

    Probably less to do with ABS and more to do with injury rates and repair costs.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    And the "profile" thing is this: If they look at not just how much to fix a car on a given claim, but how much is spent per time period, you build a profile of the group of drivers that typically drive that car, and how they drive it. I think in the case of Hyundais, They are frequently bought by first-time new car buyers (and sometimes first-time fully collision insurance), and it could be that they tend to have a higher incidence of making claims, so their rates are higher.

    I was looking at both the Spectra and Elantra, and they are virtually the same car, but an Elantra costs more to insure. The only way I can think an insurance company can justify it is that they must be paying out more frequent claims on Elantras (since the cars would cost about the same to repair for a given accident).
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    Spectra and Elantra, and they are virtually the same car, but an Elantra costs more to insure. The only way I can think an insurance company can justify it is that they must be paying out more frequent claims on Elantras

    Exactly. If a car is involved in more accidents or is stolen more frequently it would make sense to have higher insurance rates for that car. The Mazda Protege and its hatchback version, the Protege5, are another example.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    Wow, not much going on here lately.

    I find myself in a holding pattern re "which hatchback?" I'll be buying a new car next year and prefer a hatchback. I'm first on the waiting list at my local Honda dealer for a 2009 Fit (base AT). From what information is available now, I think it will be an ideal fit (sorry) for my needs. But I am hedging my bets, in case I don't like it. Another hatch I'm going to take a close look at is the 2009 Elantra Touring. I like the fact that ESC is standard, and I like the styling and interior. The Versa is another candidate, but I suspect I'll like the Fit better. The new Matrix is more powerful, thirsty, and expensive than I'd prefer. The Scions are not my cup of tea styling-wise. The Rabbit 3-door is a possibility, but it would cost more than the Fit and have worse fuel economy and not as versatile in hauling people and cargo. I'd look at the SX-4 and Impreza if I needed AWD, but I don't. I don't like the styling or interior quality of the Caliber, and it's FE isn't that good.

    What am I forgetting (that isn't forgettable)?
  • The Spectra5 which is very similar to the Elantra. Also, check out the slightly dated (no Fit) but still relevant $15,000 Cheapskates article at CarandDriver.com.

    Personally, if I were looking for a small hatch right now, I think the Rio5 would also be a strong contender. I was shocked and pleased when I test drove a Rio Sedan in 2005, but the 5 door wasn't yet being sold in the U.S.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    The Elantra Touring has a bigger cargo compartment (comparing the size of the rear end behind the rear wheels) and nicer interior than the Spectra5, and also standard ESC. So I'll take the Elantra Touring over the Spectra5 any day.

    I was shocked by the Rio also--shocked that it got a "Poor" in the IIHS side crash test. So the Rio5, and its cousin the Accent hatch, are a no-op for me. Also I don't see that the Rio5 will cost much less, comparably equipped, compared to the Fit, which I think is a superior car even as a 2008 model, except for the great driver's seat on the Rio5.
  • w2ew2e Posts: 1
    Okay ladies and gents...
    I own a 2003 Suzuki Aerio SX 2wd with approx. 43K miles. Everything has been fine until this year.

    First....grinding brakes. Note that the brake pads did NOT need to be replaced, they were fine, just Suzuki's inability to maintain lube on the break components (according to my mechanic...but if that sounds like a crock, please let me know).
    That problem has since been fixed (it took 4 visits to the shop, but at least that problem is "at bay" for now).

    Now for the doozy and where I really need some help.

    Recently, after getting my battery replaced (it died), my "check engine" light went on. Apparently I had a spark plug that needed replacing. Right after that happened I noticed that at higher speeds (50-60 mph) the car would "jump" and almost loose power when I took my foot off of the accelerator. Left it with the mechanic today, and he thinks it may be a tranny issue. Fuel injector cleaner has been done and all other services have been maintained. Could it really be a tranny issue or is my mechanic full of it?

    And if it is a tranny issue, does anyone know what the Suzuki warranty is on such issues and the expiry of such warranty's? Keeping in mind I bought the car in Canada in 2003 and then moved to the US the following year (only mentioning as I'm not sure if that has any bearing on the warranty).

    Before I pick up the phone and call Suzuki myself, I thought I would put these issues out there to see if anyone has any wise advice. As I'm sure you can see, I'm in need of some as I'm not exactly a car expert!

    Thank you for your words of wisdom in advance!
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    The best thing to do is to check the owner's manual for warranty items.

    Barring misuse, a tranny issue on a 4 year old car with only 43K miles sounds unusual to me. Is your mechanic a Suzuki dealership mechanic or an independent? Work on trannies can be expensive; it may be a good idea getting a second opinion before proceeding.
  • tmbctmbc Posts: 2
    I am looking to purchase a new vehicle and one criteria is that I would like rear seats that recline enough that my 2 kids can sleep comfortably. Other criteria are decent gas milage (25+ mpg mixed) and quite/comfortable ride. Any suggestions on models to research? I am looking at hatchbacks as well as small wagons.

    tmbc
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I don't know how far the rear seats have to recline so your 2 kids can sleep, but I don't know of any small hatchbacks where the rear seats recline more than a few degrees. The other consideration is, if your kids will be sleeping while you're driving, you really don't want their seats to recline much because the seatbelts will be ineffective then.

    If you must have a rear seat that reclines a lot, you might look at the Mazda5, which has two captain's chairs in the 2nd row. I don't know how far they recline, but they probably recline more than a standard rear seat would. It might squeeze under your mpg limit.
  • tmbctmbc Posts: 2
    Thanks Backy,

    Do you know of specific small vehicles that do have some degree of reclining rear seats? I dont' really care if it is a hatchback, wagon or sedan. One option I am considering is looking for a preowned Malibu Maxx. I am also considering the Mazda5, but want to wait for the 08s to arrive.

    We are currently in a Hyundai Accent. When we drive for more than about 20 minutes, the kids (9 and 10 yrs old) fall asleep, then end up laying across the bench, held in only by the loosened lap belt. If I can find a vehicle where they can can lean back a bit, perhaps they will at least stay upright behind the shoulder belt.

    tmbc
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    The current-gen Accent hatchbacks have a reclining rear seat, but it's a slight, single notch adjustment. I think some other small hatches such as Yaris and Fit have a similar adjustment for recline also. I'll bet the Maxx' rear seat reclines more than it those cars.

    If you live in or near a city with an auto show, it is getting to that season now (mine is in March). That is a quick way to find all the cars with reclining rear seats, and let your kids check them out.

    Why wait for the '08 Mazda5s? Are they much different from the '07s? You might be able to get a big discount on an '07. While at Mazda, look at the Mazda3s and Mazda6 hatches also, their seats may recline a bit.

    Have you looked at small SUVs, e.g. CR-X and Tucson? They may have reclining rear seats. Most may not make your 25 mpg limit, but the CR-X might.
  • malagenmalagen Posts: 2
    I am getting ready to buy a new car. I have been researching for months now, and my mind is saturated with review information. I need some advice from some real world drivers I guess. I am looking for a low cost car, like most people these days. I have been looking at the Honda Fit, Scion xB and xD. I like the tC a bit, not sure if it'll fit what I want though. The new Corolla isn't too bad either. I am trying to keep the price below $18k, so other cars like a cheap Fusion might be ok. Mostly I just want a car that is quiet, I am so sick of the tire and wind noise in my car now. Mileage is another concern, hence the interest in tiny cars mostly. Any advice on the cars out there? Can anyone tell me if the Fit and the Scions are quiet? A lot of reviews are mixed on the noise, except wth the tC, everyone says it's not very quiet. I am just trying to minimize the trips to dealers, I am not a fan of playing the car buying game.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    For quiet small hatches, look at the 2009 Matrix, the 2009 Elantra Touring (should be at dealers real soon), and the Rabbit 2-door. Of those, the 1.8L Matrix will probably give the best FE, with the Elantra Touring pretty close behind.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    If you want a quiet inexpensive high mileage car avoid the Scians.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    Correction: I just found out at our local auto show, from a Hyundai factory rep, that the Elantra Touring won't be available until fall/winter. So that leaves the Matrix and its twin the Vibe, and the Rabbit. The Impreza might be another option, but I don't know how quiet it is.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    In the 2009/2010 Honda Fit discussion, skeptical asked:

    My question was are there any Hatchbacks that can compete with the FIT's safety, MPG , quality, reliability, price.

    A fitting question for this discussion. I think the answer to that is "yes." Here's some possibilities:

    2009 Yaris 5-door: The Yaris got excellent crash test results on the IIHS frontal and side impact tests--Good on both. The rear test was not as good, but then the Fit's latest score wasn't very good either--the 2009 should improve there. The Fit has ABS and 6 airbags standard, and those are available on the Yaris but not standard (maybe for 2009 they will be?). The Fit offers VSA only on its highest trim level, Sport with nav. The Yaris doesn't offer VSC. FE wise, the Yaris bests the Fit. Quality and reliability? Honda vs. Toyota, pretty even there. Price? The Yaris' pricing starts lower than the Fit's, although comparably equipped they are pretty even.

    Versa 5-door: Safety-wise, the Versa runs the table on the IIHS crash tests: Good/Good/Good, a rarity for small cars. It has six airbags standard but ABS is optional. ESC is not available. FE-wise, the Versa is very close to the Fit. Quality-wise, the Versa is very nicely trimmed for an inexpensive car, with plush seats. Reliability-wise, the Fit has the advantage, with CR rating the Fit much above average and the Versa average. But price-wise, the Versa is considerably less than the Fit, although you can order some options on the Versa like a killer sound system, Bluetooth, Intelligent Key, and moonroof that put it in the same territory price-wise as the Fit Sport w/o nav.

    Matrix/Vibe: Really a class up from the Fit in size (based on the Corolla), yet the Matrix and Vibe can be had very nicely equipped for the same money as a Fit Sport. They offer the latest safety features including ABS and six airbags standard, VSC is widely available, FE is about the same as the Fit (unless you get the 2.4L engine), and offer traditional Toyota quality and reliability (although IMO some of the interior bits look/feel cheap).

    Elantra Touring: Due for late 2009, this is a 5-door wagon version of the Elantra SE. Like the Matrix/Vibe, it's a class up in size from the Fit. It will offer best-in-class interior volume, tons of standard safety features including ESC, ABS, and six airbags, FE very close to that of the Fit (based on the Elantra sedan's FE) but with a 138 hp engine, standard 16" alloys with 17 inchers optional, and excellent quality and reliability (the Elantra sedan is rated much above average for reliability by CR). Price-wise, it's a guess at this point, but the previous-generation Elantra hatch was just a few hundred more than the sedan, and the Touring is close in equipment to the SE. So a good guess is around $17.5k for the MT, $18.5k for the AT--in the range of the Fit Sport w/o nav.

    There's some other really good hatchbacks out there, including the Impreza (with AWD), Mazda3s, and Rabbit, that would be in the same price ballpark as the Fit Sport, but they are all a notch down from these other cars in FE--but also a notch up in power.

    UPDATE: I just found out that the 2009 Yaris will have ABS and 6 airbags standard! Woo-hoo! Also, the 5-door with AT starts at $13.3k--a heckofadeal compared to the base Fit, although I expect the base Fit has more equipment standard, e.g. power package.
  • Wow--I just requested this follow-up with actual names but five minutes ago --you either already had this typed up and ready to send, or you type faster than the speed of light!

    In any case, a thousand thanks for indulging me so thoroughly. This is tremendously helpful. I plan to test drive each of these cars--I'm really curious now!

    Have a fantastic day, backy :-)

    (Wonder how many others are peeking over here too from the FIT forum?)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I never thought of myself as a fast typist, but maybe I should. :)

    Unless you have to have super-high FE, be sure to check out the Rabbit, Mazda3, and Impreza also. They are very nice cars. The Impreza is the best of class for safety--the only IIHS "Top Pick" of small cars. The Mazda3 is a blast to drive, especially with a stick. And the Rabbit is a very refined little car and pretty reasonably priced in 3-door form.
  • Wonder how many others are peeking over here too from the FIT forum?)

    I am. :D
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