Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





Best Choice in a sub-20k Hatch

nova664nova664 Posts: 1
edited March 8 in Mazda
I'm a college student looking into purchasing my first new car, and I'm trying to decide between a few options. First of all, my priorities in my search thus far have been safety, fuel efficiency, comfort, and drive quality. I'm looking to keep the price of the vehicle under $20,000. My driving habits will include some suburban areas and also fairly frequent highway driving of the 150 mi trip to and from my school. I decided to look for a hatchback because I will be transporting a fair amount of stuff and I generally just like their looks better. Also I'll be using an automatic trans (dont know how to drive stick!).

I've previously driven older models of the Ford Escort and Hyundai Sonata, and spent the summer using a 2006 Subaru Forrester. I really liked the visibility and higher ride on the Forrester, but not the 23-5mpg I'd get. I can't seem to find a cheaper car with similar driving height but better gas mileage.

I've tested a few cars very quickly and I'm having a hard time deciding. I really liked the handling on the Mazda 3, and I LOVE how the exterior looks. But its a bit pricey and the reports I've read seem to indicate it only gets around 26mpg at best. My other vehicle I'm looking at is the Nissan Versa. I drove the SL CVT version and was very impressed with the quality and space of the interior and liked the exterior fairly well. Driving and handling seemed adequate. Taking the conservative end of the fuel consumption estimates, I'd be getting at least in the high 20's for mpg using the CVT.

I guess I have reservations about each car, especially as a fairly new driver. I'm not the most confident driver - is the Versa, with such a small body, a safe and comfortable choice for highway driving? Is a 5 or 6 mpg drop in gas mileage going to put a big dent in my wallet as far as the Mazda 3 is concerned - especially as a student with only part-time income? Are there other options out there for my needs? Thanks in advance for any insight!

(BTW I did test the Honda Civic, the perennial economic favorite. I found the ride to be very comfortable but I missed the hatchback and found the interior and exterior styling to be simply ugly. Seems silly to discount a car for its looks, but I figure if I'm going to put this much money into something I should love everything about it.)

Comments

  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    I suggest getting the best deal on any one of these four cars: 1) Honda Fit; 2) Nissan Versa; 3) Yaris Hatchback; 4) Mazda3. These are all good to great cars for the money. The Mazda3 is in last position because of its unimpressive fuel economy for the automatic; personally I would rate it first in terms of styling. If your funds are limited, going after the best deal will get you the best car value.
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    I suggest getting the best deal on any one of these four cars: 1) Honda Fit; 2) Nissan Versa; 3) Yaris Hatchback; 4) Mazda3. These are all good to great cars for the money. The Mazda3 is in last position because of its unimpressive fuel economy for the automatic; personally I would rate it first in terms of styling. If your funds are limited, going after the best deal will get you the best car value.

    Alternatively, you might want to look at a used version of one or more of the above. A used Mazda3 could be very interestingly priced.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 931
    I was very impressed with the Versa. I think it will feel the most roomy of the 4 you mentioned and it has impressive safety features. I would argue against the Mazda, even though it's probably the most fun, because its fuel economy tends to be even worse than labeled, not better. I had a Mazda6 wagon that hardly ever got better than 20 mpg.

    Another choice, and a bit larger than those four, is the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe. The back seats fold flat which is great for hauling lots of gear. We are getting 28 mpg in town driving so it would do well over 30 highway I'm sure. You could get the Vibe especially used for less than a new Versa. With both the Matrix and the Versa you will not feel like you are driving a small car. You sit up high and they both handle very well. The Versa is much quieter and has the nicer interior. If only its seats folded flat it would be perfect!
  • eldainoeldaino Posts: 1,618
    if you miss the civic hatch, then the fit is the way to go. its basically the best of the older civic hatches, but with even more versatility and it handles just as good as the mazda 3. (and it gets better gas mileage.)

    i would suggest the 3, but it has a high cost to own, and the mpg is nothing to write home about. The VW rabbit is great too and has the best interior for the money, but its mileage is even worse than the 3, even if only slightly.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    Based on your needs, I'd say get the Fit. It handles great. You'll get real-world 30s MPG. The sport auto has paddle shifter, so you'll be able to drive like a manual without a clutch, all the safety features are standard (unlike Nissan or Toyota). It has a lot of space behind the 2nd row for stuff, and while the 2nd row isn't as roomy as the Versa, it's on par with the others mentioned. And the Fit's magic seats fold flat and will hold a lot. The quality/reliability have been excellent.
This discussion has been closed.