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What Car is Right For Me? Help Me Choose!



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    edited May 2013
    Why not get a new or 1 year old slightly smaller version: elantra, civic, or corolla? Is there a reason you need a midsize car?

    That's not a question for me, but for the OP. The OP asked about 3 large-ish cars. Actually, the Avalon is a full-sized car, and by interior volume I am pretty sure the Accord and Sonata are also. So a big difference there compared to something like the Corolla and Civic, with their relatively small interiors, and even the Elantra, which at least has a mid-sized interior.

    I suppose you could ask the OP, what about a Smart car or Fiat 500 too... really easy to park! ;)
  • biker4biker4 Posts: 746
    I second the recommendation to stick it out with public transport until you know where and what you will be doing. This is not the time to make a large purchase.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,684
    Sorry, I didn't have the thread right. I WAS asking the OP, so I thought! I also thought about the new Accord LX, but maybe that's more than he/she can spend.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    If you want the most reliable used brand that would be Toyota! No question.

    While Toyota is good, it isn't the only good option out there.
  • sparklandsparkland Posts: 120
    I would stay away from the 2008 Accord XLE because as mentioned it was the first production year for that particular style. We owned one and the road noise was horrendous. Also the headlights flicker and dim when driving down the road with the 4-cyl. which is a very annoying issue and there is no fix.

    The Avalon will be a more luxurious car and ride like a lot smoother than the others. If you want sportier driving the Sonata SE is the obvious choice.

    You should drive each one on the highway to get a better feel for what you would be getting. Also check out the dashboard lighting in the night--some people do not like certain colors.

    Happy shopping!!
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I would stay away from the 2008 Accord XLE because as mentioned it was the first production year for that particular style. We owned one and the road noise was horrendous

    I'm assuming you mean EX-L? I would tend to agree about the first year of production for any vehicle; give them time to work out the bugs. However, drive one yourself and judge road noise. It's all relative. Hondas are not the quietest cars in the class, but they certainly aren't tractors rolling down the road. Trust me, I put 235,000 miles on a '96 Accord and 65,000 on a 2006. However, my 2009 Sonata V6 is the quietest car I've had, for what its worth.

    Drive one, don't trust me or another random internet poster. Come to your own conclusions - you may love the Accord; they drive beautifully. :)
  • speedrazorspeedrazor Posts: 5
    I am planning to buy a new small size car under $20K. My driving needs are
    - I drive around 2000 miles per month (mainly highway)
    - I need good MPG (around 35+)
    - Reliable (no frequent breakdowns and repairs)
    - Low maintenance/repair

    So far my options are
    Mazda 3 iTouring
    Nissan Sentra SR or FE+SV
    Honda Civic LX
    Ford Focus SE
    Hyundai Elantra GLS

    All 2013 models

    Which ones of these are worth buying? It would help me a lot if you can explain the reasoning behind your suggestions.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,684
    All of them except the Focus are extremely reliable and they all get good fuel economy. I think the main issue is that you drive 2000 miles per month. Which ones best fit your driving style? How comfortable are they and are the features easy for you to use? Have you driven them yet? What matters most to you in terms of features? It's very subjective. For example, I love the audio interface on my new Accord but some people hate it. Do you like a more sporty or more cushy driving experience? Do you find the seats comfortable? Is road noise a factor? After you get some initial driving impressions it will be easier to comment on specific vehicles.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • speedrazorspeedrazor Posts: 5
    I have not test driven any but I am planning to do so very soon. However, I was hoping to get some feedback from current owners of these models to share what they like and what they don't. Like you said you like the audio panel of you Accord.

    My most critical points are price, mpg, and low maintenance. Those would be deal breakers. Since this car will be mainly getting me from point A to B, I am not too hard on features. Eg. Having a navigation is not at all a factor.

    Good audio system, keyless remote (not remote start), quiet ride, smooth driving, and slightly sporty is all I care. Eg. from what I read about Sentra, it's a good car, spacious, but a bit bland. Mazda3 has a good balance of looking sporty plus giving you smooth ride.

    I hope this gives some more insight.

    Thanks for sharing your views, suydam.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    Since you'll be driving these for long periods of time on the highway, you need a comfortable highway cruiser with a smooth ride, relatively quiet, good seats, and of course excellent highway fuel economy. So I recommend you take each of these on as long a test drive as you can, on the type of highway you frequent. Some of them are available as rentals, e.g. Focus and Elantra, maybe the Sentra, Civic, and Mazda3. I just took an Elantra GLS on a "3 day test drive" on a 500 mile trip (rental) so I could get a good idea how it would fare in such conditions. It did quite well in all respects, although there was a certain boominess when it hit sharp bumps that would be tiresome if you have to drive on lumpy highways a lot.

    There was just a small-car review in the June Motor Trend you might want to check out. It included the Mazda3i, Sentra, and Civic but also the Dart and brand-new Forte. And... the Forte came out on top. So you might want to take a look at it. It's based loosely on the Elantra but the EX trim has a more powerful engine with little FE penalty, and I think looks-wise it's a stunner. A well-equipped LX automatic would come in under your $20k limit, an EX just over before discounting.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 24,495
    Why do you say the Focus is not reliable?

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,684
    Just going by overall Consumer Reports ratings. But I didn't mean "unreliable"' just not as extremely reliable as the others. And that was a concern for the poster.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 24,495
    ok. Understood.

    I would, however, like to point out that per US News, the Focus ranks the same as mazda3 and Honda Fit, and higher than Elantra. The Civic does score a little better.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    The US News ratings are based on the JD Power VDS, which rates 3-year old cars. Thus none of the cars the OP is looking at are included in the VDS yet. The Mazda3i is sort of (2010), but has a new powertrain since then. The alternative is the JD Power Predicted Reliability rating. I'll take CR's over that any day. But given all of these cars except the Mazda3 are new since the 2011 MY, there's not a lot to go on for predicted reliability except the automaker's track record. I'd say Honda has the edge there, of these cars, but then you'd have to put up with the Civic, which is no longer at the top of this class as it once was.
  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 4,674
    I drive these for a living now and I personally would not get the Focus, or Fiesta, for that matter...there are better vehicles out there like the Mazda3 or the Sentra. Hate the auto tranny on these Ford products and the styling, inside and out, is a bit dull. The new Forte is probably going to sell very well and I have seen a couple down here. The Civic is o k, a bit bland looking but reliable and "cheap to keep". Personally, I'd buy the Elantra right now, hands down. It does everything well and looks pretty cool...that's the vehicle I'd buy right now if in the market. Think my '06 Civic looks better than the new one actually.
    Go rent them all and see which "fits", then you'll really know!

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

    2015 Audi A3 (wife) / 2015 Golf TSI (me) / 2009 Nissan Versa SL Hatch (daughter #1) / 2008 Hyundai Accent GLS (daughter #2)

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,684
    I think reliable, good mpg, and "cheap to keep" is what the poster is looking for. That would be the Civic, although new Mazda may beat it in fuel economy.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    I was going to mention the Focus transmission. I know a few people with these and they dislike the automatic and do not get the mileage they expected. One guy I know has one as a company vehicle and his previous was a '12 Impala which he said got better mpg than the '13 Focus!
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,684
    Focus seems to be consistently rated well for mpg. Actually, though, looking at Consumer Reports data, the Mazda 3 has fared the best of the group in both reliability and now mpg with the new engine.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • biker4biker4 Posts: 746
    edited June 2013
    You will have to get a used one to get under your $20K limit but the best option for fuel economy will be a VW Jetta or Golf TDI. It is a good hwy cruiser and handles well. Those diesels are good for 200K+ miles and sounds like a good fit for you.
  • biker4biker4 Posts: 746
    In the same vein, a used Prius will get you the mileage and reliability you seek.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    The OP specifically said "new" otherwise I would have mentioned cars like the Golf/Jetta TDI that get excellent highway FE. But as you noted, it's above the stated price point.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 24,495
    But given all of these cars except the Mazda3 are new since the 2011 MY

    I agree, which is why I wouldn't have labeled any of them "unreliable" at this point.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I love Honda design, style, ergonomics. The Civic and Accord both are very comfortable for me and nice drivers.

    My 3 complaints are pretty indemic to the entire Honda line - 1) They are noisy at highway speed. Mostly in the the rear, and from the tire noise, which is transmitted up through the rear suspension. In the back seat, you can't converse comfortably, it's so noisy at 70mph. The Odyssey is the worst, because there is yet a 3rd seat.

    2) The Air Conditioning is insufficient, noticeable in the southwest now. Compared to a Toyota or Ford and some GM cars, (but not all), it will not keep you cool on a hot sunny day. That's a deal breaker for me. It's mostly the lack of volume rather than temperature.

    3) It's a little issue, but the Hondas steer a little too stiffly for my pleasure. Magazines love it, but I like a responsive (which it is), but easy steer.

    The Noise and A/C keep me from buying one or recommending one, despite their superior looks and cabin design.
    And, of course, you can't dispute their bullet-proof reliability.

    My choice therefore? Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion or Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra.
  • Very good feedback so far.. From the messages I think most of you recommended Mazda3 i Touring, Elantra, or Civic.

    I have noticed the same issues with Civic as nvbanker mentioned. I have ridden older Civics owned by couple of my friends and my wife has Accord, but it's reliability ranks very high.

    I got feedback from a co-worker who owns older Mazda3 (probably 2-3 yrs). She had good review, except it doesn't do very good in snow. However, I don't think any of the small cars will do any better.

    Focus is a bit pricier compared to others and it's base model is not that fun. Edmunds' True Cost To Own is highest for Focus.
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    "The Air Conditioning is insufficient, noticeable in the southwest now. Compared to a Toyota or Ford and some GM cars, (but not all), it will not keep you cool on a hot sunny day. That's a deal breaker for me."

    I was a hardcore Honda fan from the day I got my license and owned seven Honda/Acura vehicles in the following 20 years and never dreamed of buying anything else...until I saw and drove the 2006 Civic...and I was devastated because I hated it so much that I had no choice to consider alternatives.

    The Volvo dealer had a leftover 2005 S40 they were trying to get rid of and it was discounted by $7000+ off sticker. It was white with beige cloth and didn't have a single option, which explains why it was glued to the sales floor. I was very close to signing on the dotted line when I learned that the 2004.5 Volvo S40, 2004 Mazda3 and Euro Ford Focus were built on the same platform. Engineers from all three companies developed the cars together, so it piqued my curiosity about this little Mazda with a mono-numeral name!

    The moment I saw the 2006 Mazda3 s 5-door, I knew it would be my next car...and I still have it 7.5years later! Of course, I spent weeks researching the Mazda before I was comfortable taking one home. The most impressive thing was the sheer lack of complaints I found. But one issue that was mentioned more than anything else was the poor A/C performance in the Mazda3. I consider cold A/C to be an absolute necessity on any car I own. It can easily top 100 degrees in summer here in Atlanta and, as an insurance agent, I find that soliciting new business wearing a shirt soaked with sweat isn't a winning combo.

    My MZ3 is Titanium Gray with Black cloth interior. I bought it in 12/2005 and when things got really hot in July/August of 2006, it took 15-20 minutes for the A/C to cool the interior and on the hottest days, the air from the vents was between kinda cool and lukewarm. I changed jobs in late 2006 and the buildinng had covered garage parking. At my previous job, I parked in the middle of an open parking lot, not a hint of shade in any direction and fully exposed to sun all day. I quickly discovered that my A/C always performed adequately if the car hadn't been parked out in the open all day.

    I finally realized the true source of the A/C problem. Over 80% of 2004-2006 Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks had BLACK interior! On a 98 degree summer day, I checked the temp inside the car after sitting all day and it was over 120 degrees inside!!! The next day, I parked in my garage and it was 97 degrees outside. My car was a tolerable 83 degrees without the sun baking it all day....

    Mazda still beefed up the A/C system a few months into production of the 2006 models to compensate, but I simply chose better places to park and never had another A/C complaint!
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,684
    Pretty much all compacts are noisier than midsize. I think that's a matter of driver preference as to which ones bug you the least. It's not like any of them will be whisper quiet. I never had any AC problems with any car EXCEPT the ones with black interior, so I try and avoid them. I really like steering on the Honda and Mazda, haven't driven an Elantra. Just my 2 cents. Let us know what you decide.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • I loved your story. I am leaning towards Mazda 3. Thanks for your tip on black interior. I will make sure I avoid it because I have to park in open parking space.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 3,596
    nvbanker: Have you done a test drive in the new 2013 Accord or new 2013 Civic?

    You're right that before this model year Hondas have been noisy. But amazingly, 20 years of complaints about this finally got through to Honda.

    Result: the 2013 Accord and Civic are much quieter.

    My 2013 Accord is much quieter than my 2008 Accord.
    2018 Acura TLX 2.4 Tech 4WS (mine), 2018 Honda CR-V EX AWD (wife's)
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Have you done a test drive in the new 2013 Accord or new 2013 Civic?

    I have not - and truly hope you are correct. Now, please tell me they learned how to make an A/C blow, and I'll put it back on my list.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 22,438
    >But amazingly, 20 years of complaints about this finally got through to Honda.

    Gee, only took 20 years.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

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