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Help Me Choose!

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  • New 2013 Civic coming this month that is to address 2012 shortcomings -- announced in past couple of days by Honda. Check web stories. Also check Ford Fiesta or Focus, which are getting good reviews. New 3-cylinder engine gets great mileage with good acceleration.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    Out of those two choices, Civic all day long. 2013 Civic will be much improved though...the '12 is a bit lacking in the Honda scheme of things. But if you can't wait...you can't wait.

    I'll throw out one more to look at...Hyundai Elantra. Should be priced about the same as Civic, I'd dare to say it's better, and much longer warranty.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    edited November 2012
    I drove an Elantra GLS (2012, with Popular Equipment Package) to NYC from Birmingham, Alabama back in August. Me and three friends road tripped through the App. Mntns to get there. It more than met our needs for space, and we averaged 37 MPG for the entire 2,000 mile trip. One tank topped 41 MPG, but loaded as we were, we were happy with our overall average, especially considering we drove into and out of Manhattan.

    Yes, the engine dropped to 4th gear up some of the long grades (approx 4,200 RPM at 70MPH) to keep us moving, but it was very relaxed otherwise, running low RPM quietly. The price was similar to the Civic LX, but it had more equipment and interior space.

    In comparison, the Civic I've driven was much noisier, if similar in the power department.

    I know you didn't ask about the Elantra, but give it a test drive. It is a substantial feeling car and a good value.
  • songladysonglady Posts: 1
    edited November 2012
    Stumbled on this forum while researching used vehicles and thought I would give it a try as you all seem so knowledgable. :)

    I am needing to replace my commuting vehicle, a 1995 Lexus 300, as it is finally getting to the point where fixing anything wrong on it would be more than the car is worth. I live just off a short rural gravel road, but it is paved highway after about 2 miles - lots of hills that can be a problem in the winter. My Lexus conquered them all like the champ he was. I drive about 50 miles per day round trip to work.

    I have literally not even looked at cars for about ten years, so all the new bells and whistles are a bit much to take in. I tend to drive cars a VERY long time, so reliability and low maintenance are important. I take reasonable care of my vehicles in terms of routine maintenance, but need a mechanic for heavy duty repairs (56 year-young lady).

    My budget is unfortunately limiting and I realize that. I have between 8-11K to spend on a good used vehicle. My basic needs are:

    Must be able to transport 4 people of middle age and above - need 4 doors, with not-too cramped back seat and legroom and not too low to climb out of.

    Open to wagons, sedans, crossovers or suvs that are not too high to get into (5'2"). (Don't like running boards)

    I like Toyotas and have had a Tercel, a Corolla, a Camry and my Lexus in the last 35 years, but I will consider most any car as they have all improved over the years in terms of reliability.

    I prefer leather or leatherette seats over cloth for durability, and I love my sunroof but I would give it up if I had to. I know where I am going at all times, so I don't need navigation, and I have never backed into anything so I don't need cameras. (Although after looking at some of the newer cars where the back windows are rapidly shrinking to the size of portholes, I can see why so many cars have backup cameras!) One cup holder per person is a luxury as far as I am concerned, and there are no children that need to be entertained with DVD's or full scale audio systems.

    I should add that aesthetically I hate the look of the newer boxy things like Scions and Souls.

    Am I asking the impossible here for the price? All suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Forgot to add - I can drive a manual. Don't particularly want to, as it makes holding a cell phone difficult in city traffic, but it's not a deal breaker. :)
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    I would certainly recommend a Camry given your history and wants/needs. It will do the job without much complaint and there are examples out there that fall into your price range. It will probably be the newer equal to your 18 year old Lexus. There are tons of rental and lease returns out there...which I would avoid. Find a one-owner that's been cared for and drive it ten years. It might be tight on the budget but I'd try to get in a 2008 or newer.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    edited November 2012
    In that price range for a used vehicle that fits 4 adults, with great leg room and head room in the back, I have two contenders:

    1. Hyundai Elantra Touring. Finding one between 8-11k may be a bit tricky, but they are out there. If not the ET, then the prior model Elantra GT hatchback would be my next choice.
    2. Nissan Versa Hatchback. Much easier to find in this price range.

    Both cars offer easy entrance/exit for aging adults, great visibility, and a compliant ride. Plus, if you often carry multiple adults as passengers, both offer room in the back to store/haul their items. If you don't need storage room or the versatility of a hatch/wagon, they I agree with the previous poster that an older Camry or Accord would be my third and fourth option for you.
  • I would ask your dad if he would pay 11-12k for the Explorer.lol.. Full disclosure, I am a Sales Representative. I first want to say the reason many might believe Ford,GM are less reliable is because for years they were the mass producers you will hear about more problems than you would foriegn makes. So if you look at it as a percentage Ford/GM are as reliable as any. Honda, Toyota sales have reached higher levels in the past years and what do you hear about now? Well they have recalls often as well. Now the Explorer is getting a bad wrap here. It was a corporate vehicle. I understand a friend drove it but I promise he didnt not drive it like he owned it. As a salesman I know how important a good service department is. If your is really that bad then I can not think of a good reason to buy a Ford. They have great cars but a good service department is key. I am glad mine is good. I will say I hate selling used vehicles unless it is under 18k miles and a CPO preferably. Ford has a great CPO that adds 2 years and 40k miles of warranty. Chevy has great warranty for new. Honda has great CPO program as well. Good luck. Wish you all well.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Here are my top choices:

    1: Believe it or not, you can get a 2-3 year old *non-rental* Grand Marquis for about your price range. It's big, extremely overbuilt, and parts are extremely inexpensive. Toyota breaks less often but the parts are getting hideously expensive as of late. It's big, comfy, and perfect for a 50 mile highway commute. It's as close to your old Lexus as you'll find in that price range, IMO. The fact that you want a solid and comfortable ride over amenities and frills makes you the perfect buyer for one of these, IMO.

    And there's tons of glass. You can actually see out the back. And sides. And it's not nearly as hard to park as you'd think, thanks to being rear wheel drive.

    2: A Buick Park Avenue. This is the last of GM's overbuilt large cars. It's basically a Cadillac DTS with a V6 instead of a V8. This means decent MPG on the highway but the exact same ride and quality - just different body panels for the most part. The downside is that 2005 was the last year. The up-side is an absolute mint condition one can be had for about $7K. Not bad for almost a decade newer than your Lexus.

    Also, FYI, GM builds the best automatics on the planet, with Ford 2nd.

    3: A Honda Accord with manual. Why I mention this be because the 4 cylinder with manual is exactly as fast as the 6 with automatic in actual driving. But it's literally video game simple to shift gears in. The clutch must have all of 10 lbs of spring on it and it appears to just be controlling a set of servos instead of a direct linkage. So simple anyone can learn to drive it. It's also amazingly reliable.

    4: Going even smaller, a Toyota Rav4 is great. Especially the first generation one with manual. It's quick, has 4WD (plus an actual diff lock) and is extremely fun to drive. The 2nd generation model is also quite nice.
  • I am definitely torn with this one. I've been researching cars for about 4 months now while I've been working on selling my truck privately. I'm pretty close to the point where I'd be willing to just trade it in, be happy to get what I owe on it, and cut it even. Anyway, after a long 4 months of researching sedans on the Internet, pricing them out, talking to some dealers here and there, I'm still pretty torn between three sedans. The 2011/2012 Hyundai Elantra Limited, the 2012 Mazda3 i Touring, or the 2013 Dodge Dart SXT. For a good month or two I was completely sold on a Mazda3. I hadn't really considered the Hyundai Elantra at all, but I heard that Hyundai was really making a comeback and doing some good things, so I checked it out and I fell in love. Then, I discovered the brand new Dodge Dart, and I fell in love again. The exterior of the Dart is a thing of beauty, and then interior is so clean and it's one of my favorites I've seen. I've only been reading about the Dart for the past day or so, so I definitely don't claim to know everything about it. What I do know though, is I am torn. Now, one of the main things I'm looking for in my vehicle is fuel efficiency. I know the Dart with the 1.4L engine is rated 39 MPG hwy, which is up there with the Mazda3 at 40 MPG hwy, and the Elantra which is also rated at 39 MPG hwy, so in that aspect I consider all 3 of them pretty much a tie. Unless I'm missing something and one of them is rated higher than what it really gets. Another big thing for me is the exterior. I know that's personal taste and the Dart definitely wins that one for me. Interior is another must-have for me. I want the inside to loo just as good as the outside, considering it's what I'm going to be seeing the most. Next point would be how fun it is to drive. And finally, front leg and head room. I'm 6'2". The only two vehicles I've ever owned and driven on a regular basis is my old 1989 Jeep Wagoneer, and my current 2003 Dodge Ram. Big vehicles. I'm making the switch to a sedan for, well, obvious reasons. My big Ram is killing my wallet. And a midsize sedan is just out of my price range. For the most part, I've researched all of these main focus points for me pretty thoroughly. However if anyone possibly has anything to add, personal experience with any of these vehicles, anything commonly overlooked, and anything like that I would greatly appreciate reading about it. I just need that final nudge towards one of these vehicles to force me to make up my mind and dive in. Thanks guys (and gals)!
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    Have you spent much time driving cars to know you're not going to go crazy making this move? With the exception of my sports cars, I absolutely hate driving a typical car after driving trucks/SUV's for the last 15+ years. I'm not going to recommend any of them but will recommend you find a rental lot and pick up any of these (the Dart may not be on the rental lots yet...but it might be) and spend a few days on your normal commute. You've probably be averaging 15mpg on a good day with the Dodge...and I will say there are quite a few 20-25mpg SUV's you might find more appealing over all. Gas mileage is a big deal...but so is your sanity if you buy something you absolutely hate after a few weeks. And the cost of getting out of a brand new car will likely be prohibitive for you since it sounds like you're stretching yoru budget pretty hard to get into this. And that's another issue I don't recommend at all. Buy a used one and keep some money in the bank (or finance less).
  • I'm only 21 so I'd say I've been driving larger vehicles for 5+ years or so. I may take your advice and rent for a few days just to try it out. Or maybe see if I can find a dealer willing to let me test drive it overnight. But either way that'll have to wait for about a month, as I'm currently deployed right now. Although whenever I go home on leave I drive my mom's 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix or my fiancee's 2005 Dodge Stratus, as I have to leave my truck on the other side of the country. So, I do drive cars every now and then. It is most certainly odd driving one when I've been driving my truck for a few months, but I go back and forth so much I could get used to either one. But once I get used to being so low to the ground and not being able to see as much, I can get into driving them and enjoy the extra peppiness that comes with not driving a full-size truck. However, don't get me wrong, I still dream of getting myself a nice Ford F-150 here in 10 years or so. ;)
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    The Elantra has recently been down-rated. The 40 MPG for it turned out to be "testing error" or something. I'd skip it for now. The Dart will get EPA, and is a torque-rich motor (that's a good thing), but that 1.4L wants premium, so factor that in. I don't know how the Dart does, but I know the Mazda3 actually gets its EPA rating or better in real life. They're both pretty fun to drive.

    If you want to still maintain some cargo capacity, the Mazda3 is available as a hatchback. The Dart's got a lot more gadgets though.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,687
    edited November 2012
    I haven't driven the Dart but have checked it out. I like the exterior but the interior was not as impressive. Maybe in the higher trim with leather it would be. Also the back seat was surprisingly tight for such a large car... the Elantra has more room.

    If I had to choose between these 3 I'd go with the Mazda3. Great handling, buttoned-down ride, excellent fuel economy, reliable. Who knows how reliable the Dart will be? The Elantra is good looking and roomy, and pretty economical, but not the crisp handling of the Mazda3.

    Also at least in my area it's possible to get a 2012 Mazda3 Touring sedan for about $16,500. Great deal on that car. I'd go for the hatch myself though.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    IMO, a better choice for about the same money would be to get a basic Ford Mustang. With the V6, it gets 30 highway and is quite a bit more usable than the Dart. Also, a whole lot faster as well.

    See, by the time you option out the Dart, you're pushing $18-19K, and it's not really much different than a basic V6 mustang in terms of features. Also, in terms of reliability, I'd put my money on Ford over Dodge.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Plekto, the OP is looking at compact, FWD, 4 door 4 cyl compacts with around 40 MPG. Where exactly does a 30 MPG RWD 2 door Mustang with vestigal back seats come in?
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    I'd recommend a Tacoma. They're really fast and get great mpg. :P
  • There is also the basic fact that the cheapest Mustang costs close to $21,000 even with all available incentives while the Dart goes for $16,500, according to Edmunds True Market Value numbers.

    But overlooking such factors is what our man Plekto is famous for, right?
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited November 2012
    Actually, Truecar has a Dart at around $18K by the time you get the SXT version, which you have to TO GET AIR CONDITIONING FROM THE BUMS.

    The Base model is a total stripper that even rental companies won't want to buy as it is below their minimum equipment requirements. I mean, who actually makes you pay for air conditioning and floor mats these days? What is this, 1990?

    So you have to start with at least the SXT for $18K. Plus another $1100 for an automatic if you want that. And to add insult to it all, it's not the 40mpg highway turbo model. It gets 24/34 with the automatic, or a whopping 5mpg better than, well, a typical V6 sedan.

    $19,540 was the price I got locally via truecar including destination charge. For a Dart with just A/C and automatic. Zero other options. Add in decent paint or better sound or anything else and you just hit $20K.

    If he wants high MPG, it's $20K plus automatic, or $21K. The idea of a $16K car to run around in was left in the dust a long long time ago.

    Remember, that a base model Prius, which has all of this standard as well is $23K. And it actually DOES get 40mpg. The second you hit 20K, you're faced with alternatives that crush the econoboxes flat. 20K for a Dart vs 23K for a Prius? He will save $500 a year in fuel with the Prius, guaranteed. And have a lot less depreciation than in a Dodge.

    I keep bringing the Mustang up because it's a good vehicle and a stunning deal for the money. 300HP and 30mpg highway? That's got to be worth something in the calculation as well. Whenever I see econoboxes creeping towards 20K, I recommend it as it comes with all that stuff standard, is better built, and that 300HP engine is (IMO at least) well worth the extra thousand dollars.

    When I recommend cars, I ignore the number of doors first, since it's really an aesthetics thing and very low on most people's list of must-haves, generally. 2 vs 3 vs 4 vs 5 doors is usually a "whatever" if push comes to shove. A lot of people can manage to live with a 2 door car if it's just hauling around the occasional friend or maybe fitting a child seat back there.

    I also largely ignore MPG if the poster is asking for the impossible. 40mpg means a TDI engine or a hybrid. Anything else in real-world driving won't get better than about 30mpg combined. LOT of cars get 25 combined or so, though. Like a bog standard 4 cylinder Camry. Or 3/4 of everything GM makes aside from its trucks. Anything that does get 40mpg highway, though, is well over 20K. Every last one of them charges you a small fortune for that MPG gain, be it a hybrid or a super economy engine.

    Unless he drives 50K a year, 5mpg isn't worth having to settle for a tin can on wheels. Which is kind of what the Dart is unfortunately turning out to be. It's nice, but it's just not worth $19K.

    *****
    Now, if he wants a simple thing to get around in and needs 4 doors, for 16K or less, he might consider a Jeep Patriot. It's really a small wagon that's been lifted 3 inches. I consider it a wagon and not a SUV in any case. Jeep does as well, considering that it has a "brother" version which is the Compass. Unibody construction as well. Not a truck by any stretch of the imagination.

    That said, it does drive well. It's dirt cheap. It hauls a lot. 23/30 isn't so bad, either. So why consider one?

    http://www.truecar.com/prices-new/jeep/patriot-pricing/2012/

    $14K.

    It's the price of a Yaris for the base model. Add in a few options, air conditioning, and you're still just under $16K. And that's the OP's real price goal. The only real down-side is that you must get the manual. It's a good manual as well - easy to drive. But it will save you a fortune later on as the CVT is a hateful thing that's expensive to fix - just avoid it and get the manual. It's the least expensive new vehicle that I know of that's worth considering.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    He was looking for 40 MPG highway, which is perfectly attainable in a non-TDI, non-hybrid. Your excuses are very thin here. There's no way you can tell me a Mustang gets the same MPGs in any way as a Mazda3 or Dart.

    Then again, why am I bothering? you've made it perfectly obvious you don't listen to people.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    I'll give you the AC comment...there's only a few vehicles that don't come with AC these days (Civic DX for one....) but floor mats are becoming more common as an option. In theory I would put it as a plus because I always end up with all-season mats anyway. In fact, I was just tripping over 2 sets of new OEM carpeted floor mats piled up in the garage. The catch of course is that the dealers order them on all the models so you get stuck with them anyway.

    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. $50/month in fuel is a lot if someone really doesn't need something like that. I'm dropping an extra $200/month on fuel driving my Pathfinder vs a car...but I don't like cars!
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    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: 3,738
    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: 18,687
    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: 18,687
    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: 3,738
    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:
    http://www.truecar.com/prices-new/chevrolet/cruze-pricing/2012/
    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.
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