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Sedans: My Best Choice for Fuel Economy?

bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,030
edited March 2014 in Honda
With the miles being racked up on my Tercel (131K now), I thought it might be a good idea to start looking for a replacement. Considering our now European-like gas prices, the Tercel's replacement will have to be capable of achieving at least high 30's on the highway, and preferably 40's. I'm looking for something for less than $8K, which means it will have to be used and it won't be a hybrid. It also has to be at least as reliable as the Tercel, which rules out many small cars. That pretty much narrows down my choices to the Echo, Corolla, and Civic. I also want a manual transmission as these subcompacts seem to be very doggy with automatics, the fuel economy tends to be better with manuals, and manuals seem to last longer.

Maybe the most recent spike in gas prices has the prices of these small cars higher than normal, but the Civic seems to be priced abnormally higher than the rest. The Civic is definitely a well built car, but I think the prices are unjustifiably high. That pretty much leaves my choices down to the Echo and the Corolla.

The Echo would be awesome for fuel economy, but there seems to be very few of them, and of the ones you can find, every single one of them has had an auto tranny. Yuk! There seems to be lot of Corollas available, but the vast majority of them are also autos. Are people too lazy to shift these days? Any other suggestions?


  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    at this time of rising fuel prices. I altered the title and moved it to the more appropriate Comparisons board so others can participate and benefit.
  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,030
    Let's get this topic rolling! I would think with gas prices as high as they are, this would be a hot topic.
  • chidorochidoro Posts: 125
    Your choices are pretty narrow and a lot of smaller cars really don't get the gas mileage you'd think they would. You have picked the three cars with high mileage and good reliability records. A diesel Jetta gets great mpg but I wouldn't know about the price or if it would meet your reliability criteria. If you are having trouble finding a manual echo or corolla, you might want to look at the civic again. While they may be a little more pricy, there are probably a whole lot more manuals out there. And manuals do resell for lower prices typically.
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,670
    What about the Mazda 3 ? Which is the replacement for the Protege. It is listed as one of the best all around small sedans.Great comfort, handling and performance. Rates high in the fun to drive factor. Very good reliability and gas mileage.
  • Yeah, but your not gonna get one for under 8k on the used market which is what that first post was lookin' for. I'd suggest going back and taking a hard look at those used Zoomer Protege's. My '00 LX has been bulletproof (at 175,000 and still zoomin!) and highway commutin' is definitely upper 30's mpg with the 5 speed. Now do consider it ain't a race car under the hood. Think ol' Mary the Mazda is rated around 105 ponies. Not exactly rocket material. But I do think it rates well on reliability AND gas mileage. Oh, did I mention she corners like the day she came off the line? Yep, still zooooooooooomin'!
  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,030
    At 105 ponies, it should feel peppy compared to my sub-100 HP Tercel. My wife and I have an '03 MPV which we purchased new and if the build quality of the Protege is anything like that of the MPV, I'm sure it's a fine car. I will definitely add it to my search list.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Are you currently shopping for a vehicle? If so, a reporter would like to talk with you to learn how important fuel efficiency is to you as you make your decision.
    Please respond to [email protected] no later than Wednesday, September 14, 2005 with a few thoughts on the subject.
    Jeannine Fallon
    Corporate Communications
  • I might get slammed for this one.

    Only based on my experience, I would suggest an S-series Saturn (Not -Ion). You can pick them up for dirt cheap, and I have owned two of them from new (97 SL2 manual, 99SL2, slushbox). The 99 has almost 120k on it now and have had very few problems (there was that resonator and motor mount at 30k).

    Just a thought. I wouldn't normally suggest an american car, but have had very good luck with Saturn and they are very inexpensive used. YMMV

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    If it's had reasonable maintenance, and has been driven more or less normally, 131,000 miles is not all that much for a Tercel. It should be good for at least 200,000, and maybe considerably more. Given that economy is a high priority for you, why trade it for another used car?
  • If there's nothing wrong with it, keep it. My brother owns a 92 corrola wagon with over 270,000 miles on it. All original equipement (tires, spark plugs, belts and fluids excluded).
  • i have had a 98 civic 4 dooor auto for about a month now and the best ive got was 37.5 on the highway no ac and the windows cracked the whole time it now has 143566 miles on it and i would drive it too cali if i had too. im from mich. the worst tank so far was 32.33 all city driving. ac half the time.
  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,030 keep the Tercel as long as possible, but within the last year it has started consuming noticeably more oil. It has always used some oil as long as I've owned it, but I'm wondering how quickly the engine will start to deteriorate from this point on. As long as it remains reliable I'll continue to keep it, but I also need to have a plan B in case things with the Tercel start going south.
  • I have been looking for about 3 weeks now at the Scion, Echo, Corolla, & Civic.
    The Scion felt cheap and the plastic was wobbly on the inside (of course it was cheaper than others). Edmunds didn't have nice things to say about the Echo and I have heard it's being discontinued.

    Left with the civic & corolla... I really like the look and feel of both of them. I owned a Corolla in the eighties and put 180,000 miles on it before giving it to my brother-in-law. Haven't owned a civic but they have a great record.

    Bottom line for me.... Price. I live in South East Texas. No dealer in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, or Dallas would go more that $300 below MSRP on the Civic. I have emailed with 14 Toyota dealers and so far my best price is $1200 off MSRP. (The Toyota is cheaper to begin with but adding the options to take it up equivalent with a Civic makes them almost similar in price.)

    Just my experience... but I don't think you can go wrong with either of them... :)
  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,030
    I don't think you can go wrong with an Echo either. I don't know what bones Edmunds had to pick with this car, but my brother-in-law works for a Toyota dealership. He said everyone he's talked to who owns one has had nothing but good things to say about it. They are very reliable and get over 40 MPG on the highway. My brother-in-law said Toyota decided to discontinue the Echo because of poor sales. They haven't sold like Toyota had hoped, but they may want to reconsider that decision in light of the recent spikes in gas prices.

    You are right: you can't go wrong with either a Civic or a Corolla, but if price is your bottom line, I would definitely consider the Echo (if you're willing to consider used). It can be had for less than either of those models.
  • sr45sr45 Posts: 144
    Here in Florida, I got a fully loaded LE Corolla 06, and it was around $ 16,344.00 not including the tax, lic and Doc fee ( $ 499.00 here in Florida ) and all that translate to around $ 17,100.00 out the door. Much better than the Civic. Compared the two, and its somewhere around $ 2,200.00 less than the Civic EX. Even though you might get a better resale on the Civic over the Corolla, it will take you longer to do so, since those that purchase the Civic, pay more from the get go.....

    Also like the interior on the LE Corolla over the odd looking Civic. The Civic's dash is very cheap looking, and I could not get over that fact, since it now costs more to own, and you would think the manufacture would upgrade the interior material a little bit more.
  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,030
    I read through the Edmunds reviews on the Echo and their gripes are basically nit-noid things, unless high speed handling and looks are a big concern of yours. They did say the car should have the typical Toyota bullit-proof reliability. If you really want to know the true colors of the Echo, read the reviews posted by owners. They had very few bad things to say about it. Though I'm not you, I personally wouldn't buy a new car and when buying used the Toyotas can be had at a more reasonable price. Used Civics sell at ridiculously high prices and because of that, I wouldn't touch one. If you're like me, I look for the best car I can get for the money, then I drive the wheels off so I don't care about resale value. For that reason, the Toyotas fill my bill.
  • I agree with you. I love Toyotas, I have a 2005 Sienna and had a 2002 before this one. I only traded my up on my 2002 because I had it for 3 years in Germany running 100 mph consistently and had 65,000 miles on it. (NO problems by the way, routine maintenance only) I wanted a new one to keep forever and I got a really good deal.
    I had my first Toyota (corolla) from 1976 to 1987. Great car!

    And, I agree with you about the Honda, overpriced, no negotiating on price.

    I don't buy used unless I know the car personally. Bad experiences...

    I have ordered my Corolla for $1000 under MSRP and I'm happy as a clam..

    As for the Echo... this page pretty much turned me against it....

    I too keep my cars a long time. I have a 1999 VW Cabrio that has been a total gem and I will keep it forever or until I give it to one of my kids. The Echo just does not sound like a car that would be a keeper for me.
  • As a previous Saturn SL1 owner, I must agree that the gas mileage is very strong in that particular model.
    I drove a 2001 sl1 with a manual and often exceeded 36 mpg in city/mixed driving. Highway only would yield approx. 39mpg on regular 87 octane gas.
    I did have some reliablity issues with my saturn, including a cracked engine head and many other small issues. Many of those were taken care of under the basic warrarnty.
    Overall it is difficult to pick this over a civic even though Iwas able to buy a 18 month old sl for about $7100.
    As a commuter I thought, and still believe that the saturn represented a strong value, especially at the gas pump.
  • My brother-in-law said Toyota decided to discontinue the Echo because of poor sales. They haven't sold like Toyota had hoped, but they may want to reconsider that decision in light of the recent spikes in gas prices.

    Just a head's up, Toyota hasn't really discontinued the Echo, its just that they decided to use the same name they use elsewhere in the world, Yaris, for the new redesigned model.

    Also, Honda will have the supposedly $12,000 Fit/Jazz soon.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    inquiring minds want to know - what did you buy bottgers? I suspect you bought a Corolla.

    I recently went on an agonizing search for used Corollas, and came up short. Considering the number they sell each year, there were precious few for sale that were less than about 12 years old. I guess Corolla owners love their cars eh?

    The couple I came across seemed pricey for what they were, so for a few hundred $$ more, I picked up an '02 Echo. The 40 mpg is a reality, I have got 38 mpg so far in all mixed suburban driving. What Edmunds hated so much about this car, besides the looks and center gauges (which are obvious to the eye as soon as you see the car - you either hate them or you don't) was they thought it was overpriced (I believe it was, a little bit, when new) and the tricky handling at illegally high speeds. Beyond that, it is a really wonderful little car for doing what it is intended to do without feeling as cheap as it is, and owners report that it is extremely reliable, with few to no repairs needed even near six-digit odometer readings.

    FWIW, I used to have a Saturn SL2, and while it was unacceptably unreliable for me, it did get 35+ mpg in mixed driving, and I know those are inexpensive on the used market, plentiful too.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • kneisl1kneisl1 Posts: 1,694
    >As for the ECHO this page (Edmunds review of the ECHO) pretty much turned me against it.<

    IGNORE what Edmunds has to say about the ECHO. They are the ONLY source I have read that has panned it. Every other writer has nothing but praise for it. There is nothing wrong with its handling. There is nothing wrong with it having 14 inch wheels. Ive had mine for over five years now and its still wonderfull to drive. No problems at all. NOT ONE. I get 40 mpg driving it six miles to work. (in the summer) Its amazing all the things it does so well. You would do better to read the comments of the ECHO owners. Almost no one has anything bad to say about it.
    It gives me the creeps to have someone post they have discounted the ECHO because of Edmunds article about it. That article is widely recognized as one of if not THE most infamous article written in the last 25 years about a car.
  • have you thought about the chevy aveo.I recently purchaced one and love it.Start brand new for a little over 9 grand.
  • then it is a no-brainer : Get a Prius!

    It won't be the lowest TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) but that is not the subject of this thread.

    I couldn't get a Prius because I never learned to drive an automatic :(

    A shifting man,

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    get an Echo - I have had mine a couple of weeks and 1000 miles now, and it is averaging 39 mpg around town, A/C often running with the defrost, mixed suburban driving. And with the price differential between it and a Prius, you could buy enough gas to drive a Hummer all the way around the world! :-P

    Yes, yes, the Echo is gone now, although there are used ones out there for the taking. Or you could wait about three months and get a Yaris, with the same powertrain and estimated by Toyota to make the same fuel economy. :-)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • Nippononly,

    Echo LOL. I never considered a Echo, even the new restyled ones still look funky. There are all sorts of issues from handling, to display layout, etc ; there is a reason why Toyota is dropping the Echo. A good Toyota choice would be the 5-speed Corolla CE or the snazzy looking S model.
    Another choice would be the 5-speed Scion xA or xB.

    I liked the 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid and though about getting one. But i waited too long the 2006 HCH is CVT only. And perfomance pretty slow.

    The Hyundai Elantra 5-speed is a choice for some. Hyundai relability has significantly improved recently and it has a fairly low TCO.

    The 5-speed Honda Insight is the mileage leader and I seriously considered ordering on for $400 over invoice. And the Prius is the highest mileage sedan and has hatchback utility. My wife said the performance would not be enough for Houston traffic for the Insight, Prius or HCHand what about the 2006 Civic Si ? So now I have a Rallye Red Si on order for my commuter car.

    The title of this thread is very deceptive ?

    Is is sedan only ? (probably yes)
    Is it highest mileage only or should TCO be considered?
    (probably yes , even though it goes against title)

    You know you can get a basic Cobalt or Aveo or Rio really really cheap? But sometimes cheap begets cheap!

    Then there is new versus used? A good used Corolla or Civic might make the most sense.



    Aspirations: manual shift, relability, fun (performance, handling), looks, features, TCO
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,870
    then it is a no-brainer : Get a Prius!

    Are Prius available for $8,000 or less?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I agree: Echo, LOL. :-)

    Having said that, they are not dropping this model, merely changing the name to match what it already is in the rest of the world - the Yaris. For the next-gen, due out in April, they are trading out the 2-door coupe for a 2-door hatch in the hopes it will sell better as hatchback sales have proliferated again since Y2K. There will still be a 4-door sedan, and it will still be pretty much the best choice you have in a gas-only car (here I am talking FE using EPA ratings).

    "There are all sorts of issues from handling, to display layout, etc ; there is a reason why Toyota is dropping the Echo"

    Handling is decent even with the older model I have with the skinny tires - beginning in '03 they made 15" rims optional with larger tires, which improved handling quite a bit I am sure, and yet maintained the EPA rating of the older cars. As for the dash layout, it will not change when the next-gen car arrives this year. Still center-mount IP.

    No, I don't think we are STRICTLY sedan here, as there are good 5-door hatchbacks out there too, performing roughly the same mission. But forget SUVs and minivans, that sort of thing.

    I THOUGHT it was highest fuel economy only - TCO is such an improbable guess most of the time. I assume we could consider new or used.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • Yes, but not new ones! You can buy a used prius for $8,000 if you want a Gen I with lots of miles.

    The title of the thread is the best mileage sedan, not the best mileage for the money sedan or lowest TCO sedan.



    Now the best fun per dollar car is another story ;)
  • its hard to beleive u are getting 39 mpg in town with AC on come on be real even the hybrids dont do that
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Well what do you want me to say? I have been measuring it, and now after several thousand miles the average is just about 39.5 mpg. I don't get down to the last hundredth or anything, just round to 0.5.

    There hasn't been much A/C use except for the defrost which I run every morning on the way to work and most times it rains, which has been on and off. I don't think the compressor runs as much on defrost cycle as it does when you are cooling the car down.

    I should add that 39 is exactly what I would expect to get in around-town driving in a car rated 34/41, based on 20 years of driving experience and many different cars of various EPA ratings. Or at least, I would EXPECT 38 and HOPE for 39-40! :-)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

This discussion has been closed.