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Help Me Choose!



  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738

    @scotty49 said:
    Looking for a source of info (reliability, power, quietness) for 2014 Buick Verano, Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion.
    Looking for a car that is quiet, and power for mountain driving. I drove a Malibu LTZ, and found it a little noisy and a
    little weak on power at 7500-8500 feet pass climbing, but acceptable. Trying to get ideas of other cars to compare
    with. I consider all three cars very nice inside and outside, but any other ideas on a $25,000 car to look at would be appreciated.

    I looked at the Ford Fusion and while it was a nice car, the problem was that it lacked that extra bit that made it fun.

    I ended up buying a 2104 Mustang. Best decision I ever made in buying a car other than my 1967 Mercedes (still miss that car). 305HP, RWD, great power, even at high elevations, and the best thing of all was the insane price that I got it for.

    Seriously consider manual. Automatic is also fine, but manual is a blast to drive.

    Get it in any case as a base model. You don't want the extra bling or pleather or most of all, that Ford Sync nonsense. Keep it simple. If you do want to add something, only add the Ruby Red or Got to Have it Green paint as it makes the car look much better (three stage pearlescent paint for only a few hundred more is a no-brainer).

    • Mustang V6: $23420
      Actual selling price: $18748 (Truecar, Los Angeles area - $19K is common all over the U.S.)

    To put that in perspective, that's $2000 more than a base model Corolla with nothing on it.
    I get 24mpg combined in heavy rush hour traffic. 30 on the highway for long trips is actually possible. And when you need to move, it has the same power to weight ratio as a Audi A4 or a Cadillac CTS. ie - it absolutely flies. Handling is also worlds better than the Fusion. The Fusion is a nice car, but it doesn't make you love to drive it.

    And it's quiet, too. Surprisingly so. It's probably the most refined V6 Ford's ever made.

    Next year's model will be selling for MSRP due to demand, so the value will be on the outgoing 2014s.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,410

    plekto: Wow, that is a great price. Congrats on your purchase. Sounds like a very fun ride. Can you post a few pix? How is the clutch?

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 2,038

    But totally unhelpful to the poster.

    '14 Buick Encore
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738

    I think it's perfectly fair. The original poster did mention the Fusion but also mentioned that he lived at very high elevations and needed more power. I test drove the Fusion at the time and it was a very nice car. It really was. But the Mustang simply stole my heart. It's just built better and goes faster and is much better handling. For less money. 130 more HP also was more than noticeable. I drive a stretch of mountain road every day to work and a Malibu or Verano or similar is OK. But it doesn't fly up the road. Not even close.

    The clutch is fantastic. The shifter is a bit notchy, but that's part of its charm. It feels just that tiny bit crude and unrefined like you'd expect a sporty car to be. But it's all a very nice illusion, really. It handles great and is very smooth. They've done a great job at making it feel like a muscle car without actually driving like one. It hums along like any other car on the highway. Until you hit the gas hard and it roars to life, that is :)

    Go drive the Fusion and the Mustang, even with both having automatic, and the choice becomes a lot clearer.

    Plus, as a bonus, the Mustang and Fusion are built by UAW labor. They take immense pride in what they build at that plant in Flat Rock, MI. as it's one of the last "Big 3" facilities in the U.S. GM has moved almost everything to Mexico and Canada. Even if you don't buy a Mustang, at least don't buy a GM. Too much baggage at this point.

  • scotty49scotty49 Posts: 3

    Thanks for the info. Would like a manual, but have pinned and plated left heel and ankle.that sometimes causes extreme and sharp pain if I push on it just right. Front wheel drive is also desirable because of snow and ice.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 2,038

    This person pretty much recommends a Mustang or Crown Vic for everyone no matter what they are looking for. What is your budget for a vehicle? Do you want mid-sized? If you will consistently be in mountain driving I think a 6 cyl. will serve you best. We had a Nissan Maxima that sailed over mountains with ease. It wasn't the greatest in snow but did well enough for the kind of winters we have. If snow is a factor consider a Subaru Legacy or the smaller Impreza for all wheel drive. If there is only sometime snow you might look at the Honda Accord, either 6 or 4 cyl. We travel over the Eastern mountains quite often and our 4cyl Accord does just fine. Knowing your driving parameters will help. Have you driven Malibu, Fusion, and Verano yet?

    '14 Buick Encore
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738

    I've actually recommended dozens of cars over the years. About the only thing I don't recommend is GM stuff as it's as bland and soulless as a Toyota. And half as reliable. If you want a small rocket to get over mountains and that also is FWD, you might also consider a Mini. If you have more money, a couple of year old A4 or C class is also a great option. But upkeep is a bit rude on most of the entry-level luxury cars.

    As for myself, my final choice came down to a Fusion, a Mustang, and a Mini. I decided that bling was meaningless as it was primarily for driving to work and back. Note - if I had 5K more on my possible loan, I'd have bought C class with manual a couple of years old. The Mustang is nice, but it is a cheapskate car. Loads of fun, an amazing deal for the money, but no, it's not in the league of a BMW or Mercedes. It shouldn't be for $20K.

  • digitydigity Posts: 5

    I'm looking for something fun to drive, used, but not too high of mileage, good fuel economy, and under $7000. I really don't care about the age as long as I can fit comfortably (I'm 6' 2') and can install an aftermarket radio unit (and replace speakers). I'm hoping for a coupe or hatchback/5 door over a sedan (but sedan is okay). Definitely want to stay away from big cars (Acura RL and Chrysler 300 are my last two cars).


  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,410

    Hi digity: Welcome!

    For a hatchback for around $7k, I'd recommend a c. 2007 Mazda3 hatchback. If you can find one in good condition with maybe c. 80,000 miles, it might go for about that much. Mazdas are usually fairly reliable.

    But, you might also consider buying new. If you buy a c. 7 year old used car now, you'll have increasing bills for maintenance and repair. And if, when the car is about 12 years old and has c. 140,000, it needs so many repairs that you're back on the market for another used car, you might not come out ahead in the long run over new.

    With a small downpayment, and low financing provided by the dealer, you might consider buying a new Mazda3, Honda Civic, or similar. A new car, obviously, will only need routine maintenance like oil changes for quite some time. And, with good maintenance a little luck, it should go for c. 10 years and c. 100,000 miles without needing much.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,410
    edited March 2014

    digity: Here's another suggestion. Right now there's an oversupply nationwide of new midsize cars, and so a "price war" has broken out. In my market of Louisville, the following midsize cars are being advertised for sale for c. $19,000 with 0% financing: Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry. I'm a Honda man myself, but the Accord costs about $2000 more, and so if you're on a tight budget it's hard to beat the "extra value meal" found in, say, an Altima.

    And a new Altima, believe it or not, gets significantly higher mpg than a 7 year old Mazda3. It's also a lot safer. And believe me, Nissan, or Hyundai, or Toyota will try to work with you to make it possible for you to drive one starting today, should you choose.

    To get the lowest price,look at the newspaper ads, or the online dealer specials, or just send them an email and ask what the lowest price would be for a base model, and ask what financing they have. With competitive quotes you probably will get close to the 19k that these cars are selling for in my city....Just a thought.

  • texasestexases Posts: 7,164

    Another good used hatch would be a Honda Fit. I 'fit', and I'm 6'5".

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,878

    For a coupe, try the Civic. They tend to be a little less expensive than the sedans. For pre-2006, try to get an EX, as those come with ABS (also a moonroof).

    For an inexpensive hatch, if you can find a 2004-6 Elantra GT in good condition, that is a very nice car for those years. They can be had with ABS (and moonroof) but those are fairly rare. I have a 10-year-old GT and it's held up very well over 10 Minnesota winters and nearly 100k miles. It's also roomy for a compact, actually is rated mid-sized in interior volume. And has a fold-flat rear seat so can hold a lot of cargo.

    Both the Civic and Elantra use a standard DIN slot for radio, so should be easy to replace.

    @digity said:
    I'm looking for something fun to drive, used, but not too high of mileage, good fuel economy, and under $7000. I really don't care about the age as long as I can fit comfortably (I'm 6' 2') and can install an aftermarket radio unit (and replace speakers). I'm hoping for a coupe or hatchback/5 door over a sedan (but sedan is okay). Definitely want to stay away from big cars (Acura RL and Chrysler 300 are my last two cars).


  • digitydigity Posts: 5

    Interesting (the whole buying new versus old)... the thing is we're already set on buying the 2014/5 MDX as our primary vehicle since we're starting a family and we don't want two car payments.

    This second car (I'm posting about) would be just for me and one of my top priorities is that it's fun to drive.... and that I need it to get me to and from clients around the region once or twice a week. I don't plan on keeping it more than a couple years as this is just a placeholder car until I decide how selfish I want to be with a growing family (I'm eyeing the BRZ or Model S as my next real car).

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,878

    Since you're driving clients in it, another fun-to-drive hatch that can be had for under $7k is the Mazda6 hatch. Plenty of room for 4 adults, fun to drive, good looking (IMO), hauls a lot of stuff (fold-flat rear seat). Can get it with a stick, even a V6 + stick, but sticks are rare. Would be a better car to haul clients in than a Civic or Elantra (or Fit). I'd stay away from coupes if I were you if you have to haul clients in the back seat. Mazda6 doesn't have as good of fuel economy as the smaller cars, but if you're only using it 1-2 times a week, a few mpg might not make a big difference.

  • digitydigity Posts: 5

    Mazda and Hyundai... interesting. Also, I'm not driving clients around - just driving to and from their offices.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  • digitydigity Posts: 5

    Hmmm... I notice no recommendations for Subaru Impreza WRX or similar... Are they not fun to drive?

  • digitydigity Posts: 5

    Never mind. I see them starting at $11,500 for an 2006. Yikes!

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,410
    edited March 2014

    You can currently case lease a new Mini Cooper for c. $179 a month. With downpayment I think it comes to c. $8000 over 3 years, which is close to your budget.

    Or, a new Honda Fit Hatchback can be leased for c. $149 a month for 3 years, which with downpayment comes to about $7000.

    Each of these models is about to have an all-new model introduced, which is probably why lease rates are relatively low.

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738

    Clients adds a whole other level to the mix. I'd actually go older and (semi) classic, then. Something like a mint condition BMW 318ti or Mercedes C230K similar (with manual) would be a good choice and you'd have enough money left over to keep it running.
    4-5K is typical for something like this. Yes, the rims are a bit ugly, but it's just an example of many out there.

    Note - manual is a must as it's about the only major part of these two cars to go wrong. A broken BMW or Mercedes automatic is a lot of money to fix vs a clutch. And automatic is no conversation piece, either.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 2,038

    Since you don't want a car payment (thus a lease is out), probably a used Toyota Corolla or Matrix would have the best fuel economy, least depreciation and most reliability. That's letting go of the fun factor though. Otherwise, a used Elantra or Mazda is probably your best bet.

    '14 Buick Encore
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 48,724

    Pontiac Vibe with a stick... Matrix twin..


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 2,038

    Yes, Vibe is cheaper. I have an '04. Can be hard to find though.

    '14 Buick Encore
  • vseth96vseth96 Posts: 3

    How's the 2014 Subaru Impreza in your guys' opinions? Anything about the CVT vs. Manual?

  • texasestexases Posts: 7,164

    I've not read much positive about the driving character of Subaru's CVTs. Try a test drive and see what you think.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,878

    I've driven both and for me the CVT was much quieter than the 5-speed stick, the engine revved lower and it seemed there was more sound insulation in the CVT model--not sure if that's the case, but it seemed to be. When I drove them, it was a 5-speed anyway--maybe is a 6-speed now, if so that could make a difference. Also, the CVT delivered better FE for me than the 5-speed, and I think that is reflected in the EPA ratings also. The stick was more fun of course, but if I got an Impreza I'd go with the CVT because of lower noise and better FE.

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 51,277

    A reporter is looking to talk with shoppers who are in the market now or just who just recently bought a mid-size sedan like Accord, Sonata, Camry, Fusion etc. If you can assist, please reach out to with your contact info by 4/8/14.

    Moderator - Buying questions? Please include city or zip code and trim you are shopping, FWD or AWD, etc.

  • bbqplsbbqpls Posts: 2

    I am looking for a new car that has good fuel economy, decent to better acceleration power, good reliability and safety for preferably around or under 17k. I am slightly flexible on price as I have already gotten approved for a loan for 25k at my bank but don't want to actually go that high. I am willing to look into used as well.

    I have had a Honda Civic for the last 11 years and have had a great time with it but feel its time to get a new car. I won't be trading it in but will be giving it to someone. I am not opposed to another Honda but if another choice would serve better, like the Mazda3 hatchback, I'd love to hear it. Also, are certain years better than others in terms of recalls/engineering (such as, maybe to start in '12 of a model because that's where a significant change happened)?

    As an aside, I have had bad experiences at dealerships this last month where I was yelled at across a lot, chased down as I was trying to leave, and had people start swarming my car before I had even finished driving into a parking space. I am leery of entering another lot so narrowed choices would be great.

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738

    If you like hatchbacks, the Focus is a very nice choice. You can also get good deals and the dealers, well, there's almost no ego there as it's a Ford. You can get a Focus SE hatchback for about $15.5K after rebates. I'd choose the tricoat paint (blue is amazing, red is classy, both will last 3x as long as standard paint, well worth the extra $400) and the handling package. Truecar says that will end up at $16,542.(ie - huge incentives) You actually don't want the extra sync and lighting effects and so on as it's just more to break.

    Just the paint and suspension upgrades.

    I've driven both the Mazda 3 and the Focus and it's a stark difference. The 3 is plastic and very dated in its feel, and especially the interior. The Focus is just better all around until you get the the Mazda Grand Touring, which is better. But at $25K, its just silly money. $16.5K and almost as good is why the Ford gets my vote.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 2,038

    I would drive both the new Civic and the Mazda3. Try the Focus too but for reliability I personally prefer Honda and Mazda. Tell dealers that you have not completely narrowed down your choices yet and are interested in a test drive. Not all of them will be badly behaved. Are you more interested in a hatch or a sedan? That will help. Read Consumer Reports Auto issue basic info and to help you narrow down what you are interested in.

    '14 Buick Encore
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,878

    If I had that kind of money and was looking for a car as you described, my top choices would be:

    2012+ Mazda3i w/Skyactiv (I think you need a 2013+ to get a hatch with Skyactiv) - get the 6MT for the most fun

    2010+ Golf - again go for the 5MT for more fun. The Golf, made in Germany (at least until the 2015 comes here), has been reliable, and it's fun to drive and has perhaps the nicest interior in the small car class. And it's easy to find one with heated seats, if you live in a cold climate. I'd get a CPO car for the extra warranty, those are pretty easy to find.

    2015 Base Fit - looks like a great little car, although I haven't driven it yet--just looked at it at the auto show. Has a 6MT, although 6th isn't very tall so engine noise could be an issue. The automatic is a CVT, though. Should do very well on crash tests also, given it's Honda's latest design.

    2013+ Elantra GT. Can probably find a used base model for ~$17k, and the 6MT is smooth as is the 6AT. Nice little car, well equipped even in base form e.g. alloys and heated seats are standard. For 2014 it has a more powerful engine, but those will likely cost more than $17k unless you can get a real good deal.

    The Focus SE hatch might be another possibility, but reliability has been poor and the rear seat is pretty tight (although so is the Mazda3's), and it has a 5MT vs. the 6MT on the Mazda3i, Fit, and Elantra GT so I don't see any reason to go with a Focus vs. the others.

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