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Help Me Choose!



  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,708
    The 40mpg Dart is 21K with just the Automatic transmission added and no other options.

    The Chevy Cruse Eco is $22K

    The Prius is $23K.

    The Mazda 3 i sport which does get 40mpg (all other models are not even close to 40mpg) is $19,600. If you can find one with no other options, that is. I guess $19,600 *is* technically under $20K...

    A VW TDI is close to 25K. Ouch.

    40mpg and under $20K is almost* impossible. So I generally ignore it and look at other factors. 30 or even 35mpg highway, though, is quite easy to do on the other hand.

    * There is one and only one option legitimately under 20K. And that's the Honda Insight. It's $19,200 including delivery charge. It comes with everything standard. I don't mention it most of the time, though, as it is frankly a rather nasty car to actually drive. No power, paper thin interior that's just to look at, and hopelessly budget everywhere you look at it. Add in a nasty CVT that's brain-dead, and the angst is complete.

    For the price, considering it's a Honda and a hybrid, it's a great deal. But it's also such a let-down as well in so many ways. They tried to get good MPG out of it and they did. But they also sucked all of the goodies and soul out of it as well in order to get every save ounce of weight. To me, it feels like a 4 door wagon version of a Smart Car. It's lovely to look at but it actually makes me want a Prius more. And that kind of kills my soul a bit, just thinking about how a car actually is so austere and eco-maniac that it makes me think about a Prius.

    Who knows? The OP might fall in love with the Insight. Me? Life's too short to drive a hybrid.
  • For one, in no way, shape, or form do I want a hybrid. Much less a Prius... blegh. Am I willing to sacrifice a little fuel efficiency for more power and fun factor? Definitely. I would possibly consider a Mustang if I got behind the wheel of one and got that rush from driving it, I'm sure you all know exactly what I'm talking about. Hell, what I drive now gets 12 mpg combined, so anything in the 30 range I will be perfectly happy with haha. I was considering the Dart for the extra fun factor that it might have given the engine and all the praise the 6-speed manual is getting, but from the looks of things and testimonies of people who have gotten to drive one, the Mazda3 still takes that cake. I am certain this decision will come down to a good amount of test driving and letting my heart decide from there. The only thing is I have to wait a month to return from this damn deployment, so I was at least trying to get it narrowed down to a few cars. If there's one thing I'm absolutely sure of it's that I do NOT want a stinking Prius, or ANY hybrid for that matter. I want to feel alive driving it, not feel like the engine is about to rip out if I put a little foot in it. If that means sacrificing a little fuel efficiency, so be it. I'd really rather not drop below 30 mpg hwy though, if I can help it.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,708
    edited November 2012
    Mustang is no doubt a nice car for the money. But you're likely going to take a 10mpg hit over an economy car and even for someone driving 15k a year, that can add up.

    I usually try to compress multiple responses, but I thought a little math would be informative. Not anything personal, mind, you, but because there are so many lurkers who are obsessed with MPG.

    15K miles times 3.50 a gallon (national average is a bit lower, but this makes the math easier).

    32 mpg combined car (40mpg highway Dart) is 469 gallons.
    25 mpg combined car (30mpg highway) is 600 gallons. That's about $450 a year in extra fuel, or about $38 a month.

    Q: is it worth $38 a month to drive a car with no power, no features, and that costs a 2-3K premium over a standard car (say a Honda Fit for $17K)? I personally don't think it's (normally) good economics to chase MPG at the expense of everything else. Because a Honda Fit (as an example) is about 3K less than the 40MPG cars.

    With a combined 29mpg, that Fit vs a Dart or Mazda 3 can end up being ten years to make up the difference. (note - it's a never break even scenario with VW and some hybrids)

    Note - a Honda Fit is also a nice choice for him. The low weight actually makes it fun to toss around. I forgot about it for some strange reason. ;)
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    That depends on how many miles people do. You're assuming everyone is average. some people do under 10k. Some, like me, do over 20k per year (I do 24k actually). That makes the math work out noticeably different.
  • A Honda Fit is out of the question, personally I am not a fan of that type of styling whatsoever. A Mustang honestly would be pretty nice, the fun factor would make up for what I'd be losing mpg-wise, but it's a little out of my price range. 18.5K MAX is what I can realistically afford. Mazda is having some really good sales right now, and I've gotten numerous quotes for a brand new Mazda3 i Touring for sub-17K, which I'm sure I could get even lower with USAA discounts and military discounts. This is a great deal, and depending on what else is out there by the time I get back I may jump on it. Most everyone has recommended it anyway, saying it's a lot of fun to drive while still getting very good mpg. Another car I just stumbled upon though is the new 2013 Nissan Sentra, though I can't quite decide if I'm a fan of the styling. The SV is sub-18K MSRP, so I'm sure I could cut a deal around the 17K mark, and its mpg is rated pretty much identical to the Mazda3, only not as much horsepower which would be the only concern for me. If it's not as fun to drive as the Mazda3, I will probably pass it up. All in all it's looking like it will come down to the test driving these cars.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    I've driven the 2013 Sentra. If you are looking for a nice small car appliance that has no power, imprecise handling, and good fuel economy, also a nice interior for its price, you might want to check it out. Good little car to schlep from point A to point B.

    But based on what you said here I think you'll find the Mazda3 much more to your liking. It also gets very good fuel economy. But you'll actually have fun driving it.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    I'd agree. Looks like the Mazda has conquered another soul with the power of Zoom Zoom. :shades:

    Nice that it gets 40 MPG highway in real life too.
  • Thank you a lot for your input! I feel as if I've definitely made up my mind at this point. I can't wait to test drive a Mazda3 for myself. How does the driver's seat fare with taller drivers though? I'm 6'2". Rear leg room isn't a huge concern for me. I'm not opting for the sun roof as that would just further hinder room in the front seat.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    Well, you'll have to check out the driver's seat for yourself, as not every 6'2" is the same kind of 6'2", right? :)

    Good thing rear leg room isn't important to you as that is not a bright spot for the Mazda3.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,708
    So I ground through as much data as I could while I was waiting for an old PC I'm resurrecting as a game box to install Windows (for the second time - sigh). Three hours and still no joy vs 20 minutes and worked perfectly for Linix Mint...)

    Anyways, check this out:
    Leftover models are on some sort of massive discount right now.
    It's about $16K and is a far superior car to the others that we've been recommending. I just ignored it as they typically run around 20-22K. It's very solid and has enough power to get around acceptably well.
  • A Cruze is "far superior" to a Mazda3? A Hyundai Elantra? C'mon. Decent car I'm sure, but not "far superior."

    And let's stop all the "Mustangs get 30 mpg" nonsense. Look at a Mustang owners forum. The guys posting there say they're averaging 20-22 mpg combined city/highway. Some are thrilled to hit 24, in highway-only driving. A lot say they're getting 16-18 mpg in typical driving. You'd have to believe in fairies to think a heavy car with a 300-plus engine is going to get 30 mpg, and if you try to baby it to squeeze out an extra mpg or 2, you'll lose all the fun.

    One downside to the new Mazda3: The new, fuel-efficient engine is supposed to be a bit of a dog compared to previous versions.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Superior where? It's got fewer HP than the Mazda3, gets fewer MPGs, and doesn't offer a hatch option. Not to mention being heavier and much less fun-to-drive.
  • Personally, I'm not a fan of the Cruze. I looked into it briefly and nothing about it really caught my eye. Not to mention I've heard much more praise about the Mazda3.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,341
    edited November 2012
    One downside to the new Mazda3: The new, fuel-efficient engine is supposed to be a bit of a dog compared to previous versions.

    ....and, it is a two seater; it is time to get over that too. I simply would never buy a car that cannot fit two adults in the back. Some of these manufacturers aught to just skip the back seat altogether and have a flat floor for hauling/loading. As in the case with the Mazda 3, and many versions of Subarus, the designers seem more intent on providing room for an umbrella than thoughtfully planning out adequate space for adults. If I want a two seater, I'll get a Miata. Please don't continue to charge me 20+ thousand dollars for a car with little/no useful space behind the driver's seat!
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,225
    I would think if hauling adults comfortably is a would just buy a more appropriately sized car to begin with. I used to commute in a VW Jetta diesel that allowed the front seat to go back so far it rendered the back seat useless. That was fine by me because it was one of the few small cars I was extremely comfortable driving (i'm 6'4). I find many much larger cars to limit the travel of the front seat to a point I don't have enough room. It's been awhile but I had a Mazda3 rental and don't recall having any issues. One of the worst in recent years was a Pontiac G6 which is bigger than a Mazda3 but was not comfortable at all. I also don't find the Impala all that comfortable and that's probably considered a full size today.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,708
    The Reason I think the Cruze is a better car than the 3 is because it actually has a usable and decent interior. It certainly drives better thanks to the weight and wheelbase.

    Almost all of the magazines seem to be calling neck and neck between the two. Remember, that this car is a re-badged version of GM's best selling small car in Europe and is made by Opel. So it feels a lot better than the GM of old. Or essentially it's caught up with the imports.

    But $16K? (including the destination fee!) That's 2-3K less than the nearly identical driving 3. Plus it has a usable rear seat. I have to give the Cruse the win here based on that crazy incentive program. And 0% for 5 years financing.

    Also note that according to the EPA, the Cruze is actually a mid-size sedan and GM is marketing it as a compact. Where it is doing very well as expected. Of course the heavier and beefier built chassis will drive smoother. Of course the rear seat can fit normal people. The trunk in the Cruze is almost 50% larger than the 3 as well.

    If the prices were the same, I'd probably get the Mazda. But at 16k? Grab it while there are still some 2012s left on dealer lots.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    edited November 2012
    The Reason I think the Cruze is a better car than the 3 is because it actually has a usable and decent interior.

    Huh? Have you SAT in the back seat? I have. What a joke... more cramped for leg room than even the Mazda3. One of the main reasons I took it off my list a long time ago.

    I will say the dash is pretty nice on the Cruze. And the car has a nice solid feel. But so too does the Mazda3.

    And the Cruze has no steering feel. A problem the Mazda3 does NOT have.

    Leftover Mazda3i Touring sedans can be had for $16.5k in my town. I'd take that any day over a Cruze LS. Does that even offer cruise? I don't think so. (kinda funny... no cruise on the Cruze). And not the turbo 4 either, on that LS. And plastic wheel covers, vs. nice alloys on the Mazda3i Touring. etc. etc. etc.
  • markwillismarkwillis Posts: 7
    edited November 2012
    Same here. I've received multiple quotes for about 16.5K on i Touring 3's, AFTER destination fee and BEFORE military rebates (which I believe is only $500, but still, that's 16K which in my opinion is an INCREDIBLE deal). With that, I'm sold. No need to sacrifice options or anything. That's the price of most BASE models of cars in the same class with half the options. I believe the only way my mind can change is if the offer isn't available in a month, which I don't believe will happen because dealers will still be trying to clear the 2012s off the lot, and I know end of December sales can be very rewarding, possibly even more than November.

    Not to mention, sure I can get a Cruze at the same price, but that's a stripped down Cruze with no options, not even cruise control! No thanks. I'll stick with a 3 i Touring, which mind you is the second most option-happy trim the 3 comes in, second to the i Grand Touring (unless you count the s Touring and Grand Touring models, which I don't because of the mpg hit for only a little more horses) which comes with leather and a few other bells and whistles, which I wouldn't call a necessity by any means.
  • The Cruze has almost 3 cu in of cargo space in the rear, has a longer wheel base which will give you a better ride/feel along with the 17 in tires verse the 16 in on the 3. Cruze has 40,000 more miles on the warranty PT and roadside assistance to go with it. Ipod hook up, The steering you dont like allows for better response. It does have less HP but the same tourque and achieves better fuel economy (owners have validated the fuel economy). There may be a little less room in the rear seat but the areas used 90% of the time are better than the 3. Cruze hands down.....
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    edited November 2012
    The Cruze LS that Pletko was talking about doesn't have 17" wheels, does it? Just 16" steelies I believe... vs. 16" alloys on the Mazda3i Touring. I think you need to go all the way to the 2LT to get 17" wheels on the Cruze, right? 17 inchers are available on the Mazda3 also... as are 18" wheels. If that's important to you.

    The Cruze has almost 3 cu in of cargo space in the rear...

    I don't doubt that. :D

    The steering you dont like allows for better response.

    The reason I don't like it because it doesn't have good response or feel... especially compared to the Mazda3.

    ... achieves better fuel economy (owners have validated the fuel economy).

    Better than the Mazda3 Skyactiv? Please show me the numbers... especially compared to the Cruze LS. Mazda3 owners have validated the excellent FE on their cars also. Also, in CR's tests, the Mazda3 Skyactiv got better FE than even the Cruze Eco.

    There may be a little less room in the rear seat but the areas used 90% of the time are better than the 3.

    Let's see... I use the steering and suspension pretty much 100% of the time. Also the engine (which uses fuel). I think the Mazda3 is superior in all those respects to the Cruze.
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