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Help Me Choose!



  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,971
    A reporter seeks to interview someone on how parents factor carpooling into their car choices. Does the parent with the big car unfairly do the most of the driving? Are the five-passenger car parents left out of carpools? Do you ever wish you had something bigger than/smaller than what you have? Does the price of gas or environmental concerns compete with the need for space? Please email no later than Tuesday, July 12, 2011 with your daytime contact information if you care to share your story.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,707
    Heh. My original advice was to get a small SUV or pickup with a 4 cylinder engine in it. Basically a previous generation Tacoma with 4x4 and stick is all you'll need in a truck, and we already went over small SUVs.

    If you've never had a vehicle with real cargo space before, you'll quickly realize how fast you get addicted to it. :)

    Shoot, not having to bring a U-Haul is worth it. All of my stuff in college would have fit into my old 4Runner.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    Does a Grand Caravan or Town & Country have enough "real cargo space" for you? They did for me. So did my MPV. But I don't need that much cargo space any more.

    It's just that the current Matrix/Vibe are POS cars, perfect examples of how Toyota's quality is declining. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone, unless I dislike them intensely. I'd take an early-2000s RAV-4 over one of those any day.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,707
    My initial recommendation based upon the various factors *was* actually an early 2000s RAV4 :)
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    edited July 2011
    As I have some experience with first cars for kids, I got my kids a truck-based SUV for their first car. This lasted them a while. Now they are driving a Ford and Subaru.

    If I had to do it again, I would have gotten them a Corolla, with gas at almost $4 gallon I would go for the economy. Cheap, reliable and sips gas. I don't care if it's not cool, if I'm paying for it it's my choice. :)
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Even though this is an old post, isn't being safe on the road in winter not getting stuck in a snow drift in the middle of an intersection?

    For someone living in LA you clearly have a very good theoretical view of 4wd/awd systems. It's the practical aspect that has be uh, strengthened.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I agree the Altima is a bad choice, however I would recommend the Camry in a heartbeat. Overall reliable, cheap to maintain, frugal with gas, inexpensive to insure. Overall it's a good bet.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    Why do you think I specifically said "early 2000s RAV-4"? But a Matrix/Vibe... no way. Lots of other good hatches out there if a hatch is what someone wants. Just had the (dis)pleasure of driving a 2011 Corolla rental (cousin of the Matrix/Vibe) for the past day... ouch.
  • I think the perfect car (not SUV/Truck/CUV) is a hatchback. Usually plenty of room to move belongings isn usually a small car for good gas milage. My solution to this for my daughter was a 2005 Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback. Inexpensive to purchase, own and operate.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    edited July 2011
    I love that design. Had two of that generation, a 2001 sedan that my sister still owns, and a 2004 GT hatch that one son drives to college. A crude car mechanically by today's standards, but mid-sized interior room, lots of cargo room (with fold-flat rear seat bottom), great driver's seat with 8-way adjustment, lots of padded surfaces vs. hard plastic, perforated leather seating, smooth controls, ABS with traction control, very reliable, and that retro fastback styling that is reminiscent of the Saab 900. They used to be a good buy as a used car, but prices have skyrocketed like for other used cars. I can't believe the KBB private party value on that car is 60% of what I paid nearly 7-1/2 years ago.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,707
    edited July 2011
    You have to be kidding me.

    Ten thousand square miles of rocks and mountains and desert also exist in So Cal. And then there's snow in the mountains every winter. And mud - when it rains (not often, mind you), it's like a mini-party out at the local mud hole :)

    I know 4WD. :)
    I also know that any AWD system that isn't locked and fully engaged will simply not react to anything at speed and will usually make the situation worse.(subaru/mitsubishi/audi/etc do work, though) But it will help you to get unstuck in snow and maybe up to 10-15mph. Is that worth the extra money? I had the right tires on my truck and rarely had to even switch into 4WD in snow. Yes, I ran winter/mud tires year round and ignored the noise ;)

    I especially liked it how people with new Mercedes would leave as much space as humanly possible between my car and theirs in the parking lot. (bull bars, sliders, not washed in 6 months... :P )

    But getting back to the OP's question. He didn't seem to WANT a small 4 cylinder SUV, which is basically a Corolla with 4WD and more cargo space. What's not to like? 25mpg+ as well if you get manual.

    So I thought what about hatchbacks and wagons? And nothing in his price range came to mind except for the Matrix and the Fit, both of which are kind of so so compared to the RAV-4.

    If he hates Toyota, Ford makes a very nice little SUV as well. It's certainly easier to drive and safer than an econobox.(height plus extra weight plus better visibility) Just put a roll bar inside the cabin and you're good to go.
  • I have thought for a long time that the perfect car is a compact wagon or hatchback. Too bad most have been discontinued in favor a compact SUV/
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    Hatches are making a comeback, and there's quite a few available now. Some of the small hatches are:

    Accent (2011 3-door; 2012 4-door just getting to dealers)
    Elantra Touring
    Rio5 (all-new design coming soon)
    Scion tC, xB, xD
    Sonic (at dealers yet?)

    And there's the mini hatches e.g. Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper. Quite a few to choose from! :)
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 790
    There's also the Mazda2 and the hideous Honda Insight (hybrid).
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I kid you not as I used to live in socal. Yep I had studded snow tires all year round on my cars.

    I'm not surenwhere you get your info from, but after owning a myriad of 4wd, rwd, and awd drive vehicles for the last 15 years my experience does not mirror yours. As I guess the same for our esteemed hosts as well.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    edited July 2011
    That's why I said "some"... I knew I'd miss a few!
  • wik82wik82 Posts: 21
    Hi guys. It's been a little bit and I've still yet to purchase a car. Patience is a virtue....I think lol.

    Anyhow, I was looking on in my area and saw an '09 Mazda6. This wasn't a car I had originally looked at, it just kind of popped up. I had narrowed myself down but it seems that there HAS to be more than 3 possible cars for what I am looking for. So, could this be one of them?

    It has a sunroof, almost 36k miles and is black (my criteria originally was sunroof, black and under 40k!).

    I did a bit of reading and some people were talking about engine issues (knocking and a couple that actually died!) that developed at a wide range of mileage (3k all the way to 55k). These were all '06 and '08s though. The model I am looking at is an '09. I know the '09 body is different. Is the engine though? Was this issue with the engines fixed for the '09 and newer? Or has Mazda continued to struggle with this?

    I noticed it doesn't get as good of mileage as a Sonata or Altima, which were the 2 big contenders, but seems to be nice and I guess if I am finding it at the right price/features it could be a viable option. Does anyone have an opinion on these? I would love to hear some feedback. With the Sonata being so popular, I think just on sheer price, I will be forced to go Altima (just so many more used Altimas over the past few years from '07 and up). But I don't want to sell myself short.

    So, please, let me know!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    Go drive one. They have a firmer ride than the Sonata, maybe the Altima too. But handles better than a Sonata for sure.

    I actually like the prior generation 6. And a much better value. Smaller, but enough room in back for adults and easier to park.
  • wik82wik82 Posts: 21
    Thanks Backy. I am hoping to test drive one tomorrow but wanted to get opinions here prior to that so I have a general idea of what I am getting into lol. Appreciate the info.

    As far as the value, are you referring to the features that it came with or the quality of the interior, MPG, or....???
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    Price for what you get. Also I prefer smaller cars. I think mid-sized cars are getting too big these days.
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