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Getting a car

Gandalf_the_CrazedGandalf_the_Crazed VigiloConfidoRegistered User regular
edited March 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
So my '95 Ford Contour (affectionately known as "Deathtrap") finally died for good, and it's time for me to replace it. I want to get something recent -- no older than a 2008, preferably, so that I can just drive a well-functioning vehicle for a little while. I'm tired of constantly dealing with mechanical bullshit like I had to do with the Contour.

Here are my primary criteria:

1. Fuel efficiency and price -- I ain't no rich boy.

2. Low-profile. I know there are plenty of affordable cars that still look good. But while I don't want something that looks terrible, I also don't want it to look like an appealing target for someone to rummage through.

3. Visibility. I get really paranoid about not being able to see things extremely well (with or without the aid of mirrors). This means I don't like driving tall vehicles, and really don't like long ones -- I don't trust my depth perception, despite not having any dangerous vision problems. I'm just more comfortable with smaller vehicles. A VW bug, for example. Huge windows are good, long trunks are bad.

Any suggestions of models I should be looking at?

Gandalf_the_Crazed on
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Posts

  • CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The first car that came to mind while reading your post was the Honda Fit. Personally I think it meets all your requirements.

  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Are you intending to pay for the car in full, or finance it? If you're financing, don't dismiss the possibility of buying new over used. Sometime manufacturers offer 0% (or at least low %) financing deals that actually make a new car cheaper in the long run than than used car that will have a relatively higher APR. Also, a new car would definitely have warranties and such.

    Look at the Japanese manufacturers, Hyundai, and maybe Ford for reliable, fuel efficient cars. I don't like Kias, but some people do.

  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Ford Fiesta
    Hyundai Elantra
    Ford Focus
    Chevy Cruze
    VW Golf/Jetta

    The Fiesta, Cruze, and Elantra can be had the cheapest and all sport 40MPG.

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  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I kinda like the Mazda 2. There's also the Fiat 500.
    Those are just two newer suggestions you might want to take a quick look at.

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  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    That Fiat would be hard to get for a while, assuming the OP is in the US. The dealership that's going to be by me doesn't open until May.

    I agree with Cryogen about the OP pretty much describing a Honda Fit.

  • lonelyahavalonelyahava One day, I will be able to say to myself "I am beautiful and I am perfect just the way I am"Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    man, i loved my chevy Malibu.

    so much love for my car. I didn't drive alot, so my gas lasted forever. 13gallon tank and I usually filled up once a month.

    She (sorry the car's name was 'Carmen') treated me so very well. even after she got backed into by my ex-future-brother-in-law's wrecker. Only damage wasthat her hood was a bit bent and her fender a bit scratcched.


    2005 chevy malibu.


    I wanted the sportier one, but dad said that one and i couldn't have been happier.

    (i miss my car......)

  • RayzeRayze Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm going through the same thing. My requirements are good visibility, low price, and good mileage. So far, I've tried the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Ford Focus, Mazda 2, and the Hyundai Accent. They're all good cars so be open to everything.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Cryogen wrote: »
    The first car that came to mind while reading your post was the Honda Fit. Personally I think it meets all your requirements.

    :^:

    I drive a Fit, and it is a great little vehicle, and even stood up very well to me getting side swiped by an SUV going 60K or so.

    The Fit is a nice little car with good fuel efficiency, a small size, and bag of holding like cargo capacity. It has great visibility, I've thought of naming mine "Fishbowl" ;-)

    The only mitigating factor for the OP may be price, the Fit is not the cheapest thing it is segment, and going used is probably the best idea for him. However, it is a Honda, with Honda's typically fabulous reliability and quality.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Corvus wrote: »
    Cryogen wrote: »
    The first car that came to mind while reading your post was the Honda Fit. Personally I think it meets all your requirements.

    I drive a Fit, and it is a great little vehicle, and even stood up very well to me getting side swiped by an SUV going 60K or so.

    Wow, 60,000mph! That's quite a sturdy car. :P

    Looks like the base model is pretty well-equipped. Yaris has less base (like no power anything), but cheaper.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    Corvus wrote: »
    Cryogen wrote: »
    The first car that came to mind while reading your post was the Honda Fit. Personally I think it meets all your requirements.

    I drive a Fit, and it is a great little vehicle, and even stood up very well to me getting side swiped by an SUV going 60K or so.

    Wow, 60,000mph! That's quite a sturdy car. :P

    Looks like the base model is pretty well-equipped. Yaris has less base (like no power anything), but cheaper.

    K as in KM. Canada, yo.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Corvus wrote: »
    Cryogen wrote: »
    The first car that came to mind while reading your post was the Honda Fit. Personally I think it meets all your requirements.

    :^:

    I drive a Fit, and it is a great little vehicle, and even stood up very well to me getting side swiped by an SUV going 60K or so.

    The Fit is a nice little car with good fuel efficiency, a small size, and bag of holding like cargo capacity. It has great visibility, I've thought of naming mine "Fishbowl" ;-)

    The only mitigating factor for the OP may be price, the Fit is not the cheapest thing it is segment, and going used is probably the best idea for him. However, it is a Honda, with Honda's typically fabulous reliability and quality.

    Less than a month ago I got .9% financing on a new Fit. If he's getting a significant sized loan the difference in finance charges could be considerable over a used.

    Yes, the Fit seems to hit all his requirements and comes highly rated CR and other sources.

    Trogg wrote: »
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  • That_Spoony_BardThat_Spoony_Bard Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The only thing I didn't like about the fit is I felt I didn't have enough legroom for the driver-side. I'm 5'10 250 lb, but I'm also picky like that.

    I have a Hyundai Elantra Touring---different look and feel from the standard elantra. It doesn't get 40 mpgs, but it has a lot of room. I'd get the manual-drive, the automatic is weird.

  • Gandalf_the_CrazedGandalf_the_Crazed Vigilo ConfidoRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well, I can't drive a manual, so that would be a dealbreaker. :P

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  • UsagiUsagi Feminazgul ~*special snowflake*~Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm going to throw a vote in for the Focus, I had a 2003 wagon from '04 until I moved last year. I put over 80k miles on that thing and besides putting gas in, getting regular oil changes, a new battery and one new set of tires, I had absolutely zero problems with it through seven New England winters. Loved it.

    I convinced my Dad to buy one in '06 and his is still going strong despite weekly commutes from suburban Detroit to rural Ontario for work, and I almost almost bought another one when I moved to Seattle. If they had offered an AWD version I would have simply because I had such a good experience with them.

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The only thing I didn't like about the fit is I felt I didn't have enough legroom for the driver-side. I'm 5'10 250 lb, but I'm also picky like that.

    I have a Hyundai Elantra Touring---different look and feel from the standard elantra. It doesn't get 40 mpgs, but it has a lot of room. I'd get the manual-drive, the automatic is weird.

    Heh, this was my exact concern, as I'm 5'11" and my first concern was how my leg felt a little tight on the gas. Of course, when I'm driving the car the gas pedal isn't in the fully retracted position....it hasn't been a problem.

    Really this is just a matter that really speaks for test driving, and actual test driving. If they don't let you take it out on a real road find a different dealer.

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  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'd recommend either a Honda Fit or a Ford Fiesta. I'm in the same boat as you, looking for a very similar car, and after searching for quite a while, I'm leaning toward the Fiesta. I'm heading out to test drive soon, so I can't comment on comfort, but check out some car reviewers and see what you think.

    Top Gear does a great job reviewing cars, and the bonus is that they're honest and quite funny:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e7R3y-qwZ0

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  • Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Captain East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well, I can't drive a manual, so that would be a dealbreaker. :P

    Learning to drive a stick shift is ridiculously easy. You can pick it up in an afternoon. You won't be racing around a track anytime soon but you'll save gas in the long run.



  • WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Honda Fit or Chevy Aveo.

    Same car, slightly different body kit. Both come in Automatic

  • StraygatsbyStraygatsby Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I didn't notice a ballpark in the OP, so my suggestion may be on the upper end of the price bubble, but I've religiously been driving Toyota Corollas (I own 2 atm) for about 15 years now.

    The most recent model or two got a price bump, which was sad, because they used to be all that a bag of chips for like 11-12k, but I think you could probably still hit a new one for 14.5 or better.

    They are BORING AS SHIT, but they also last a really, really long time, require little to no maintenance depending on how and where you drive them, parts are available by the truckload, and they fit your size profile nicely; you can park these babies on a quarter (not a dime like a mini, but a solid quarter). I consider them to be one of the best utility cars you can get.

  • LankyseanLankysean Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Learning to drive a stick shift is ridiculously easy. You can pick it up in an afternoon. You won't be racing around a track anytime soon but you'll save gas in the long run.

    CVT transmissions are actually more fuel efficient these days, but the only car in the Fit/Yaris segment I can think of is the Nissan Versa SL so it might be out of his price range.

  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Corvus wrote: »
    Cryogen wrote: »
    The first car that came to mind while reading your post was the Honda Fit. Personally I think it meets all your requirements.

    :^:

    I drive a Fit, and it is a great little vehicle, and even stood up very well to me getting side swiped by an SUV going 60K or so.

    The Fit is a nice little car with good fuel efficiency, a small size, and bag of holding like cargo capacity. It has great visibility, I've thought of naming mine "Fishbowl" ;-)

    The only mitigating factor for the OP may be price, the Fit is not the cheapest thing it is segment, and going used is probably the best idea for him. However, it is a Honda, with Honda's typically fabulous reliability and quality.

    I bought a Fit Sport and I think it's fantastic.

    Car and Driver and other institutions did comparisons between the Fit and the Mazda 2, the Fiesta and other cars and the Fit is hands down the best in its class. I absolutely love it. As Corvus said it has a pretty long windshield...feels like you have a bubble around you. It's kinda cool.

    Another thing. In some article I vaguely remember reading that the Fiesta and/or the Mazda 2 have rated fuel efficiency better than that of the Fit...but under driving simulations, the Fit was found to have the best fuel efficiency in its class when given real-world tests. For example the Canadian Fit is rated at 7.1/5.7 L/100 km for city/highway driving, which is ~33/44 mpg. Of course, these are truly optimal conditions - in my quasi aggressive driving, I've gotten 8.2 in my first tank, 8.0 in my second, 7.5 in my third and since filling up yesterday and driving about 50 km I'm at 6.8.

    And good lord is it huge inside. You can fit pretty much anything in there. It's more than a little astounding.

    If you're really looking for visibility (pun!), the Fit sounds like a great choice.
    Corvus wrote: »
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    Corvus wrote: »
    Cryogen wrote: »
    The first car that came to mind while reading your post was the Honda Fit. Personally I think it meets all your requirements.

    I drive a Fit, and it is a great little vehicle, and even stood up very well to me getting side swiped by an SUV going 60K or so.

    Wow, 60,000mph! That's quite a sturdy car. :P

    Looks like the base model is pretty well-equipped. Yaris has less base (like no power anything), but cheaper.

    K as in KM. Canada, yo.

    Silly Americans and their imperial system of measurement.

    @Corvus, where did you get hit? Where in the city, I mean.

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  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    WildEEP wrote: »
    Honda Fit or Chevy Aveo.

    Same car, slightly different body kit. Both come in Automatic

    Don't get an Aveo. I hate to admit I had one for about 3 years. The price might tempt you, but you'd soon find out that its the only nice thing about that car. They are known for having intermittent electrical problems and Chevy will string you along until your warranty runs out and then tell you it needs $thousands in parts/labor. I also found that no one but dealers seemed willing to do any work more complex than charging a battery on the damn things.

  • TehSlothTehSloth I'm so basic that when I drop acid I just get saltRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Usagi wrote: »
    I'm going to throw a vote in for the Focus, I had a 2003 wagon from '04 until I moved last year. I put over 80k miles on that thing and besides putting gas in, getting regular oil changes, a new battery and one new set of tires, I had absolutely zero problems with it through seven New England winters. Loved it.

    I convinced my Dad to buy one in '06 and his is still going strong despite weekly commutes from suburban Detroit to rural Ontario for work, and I almost almost bought another one when I moved to Seattle. If they had offered an AWD version I would have simply because I had such a good experience with them.

    I've got an 08 here and it's been pretty good to me. The rear seat in the coupe is small though, so I would be especially worried going down to the fit. I could sit back there comfortably but my roommates are over 6' so if one of them has to jump in the back they usually sit sideways since whoever else is riding shotgun probably has the seat all the way back.

    I've heard great things about the Mazda 3 though, so it definitely deserves some looking at.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    WildEEP wrote: »
    Honda Fit or Chevy Aveo.

    Same car, slightly different body kit. Both come in Automatic

    Uh, what are you basing this on? Honda and Chevy have no relationship afaik. The Chevy Aveo is a sibling of the Pontiac Wave or Suzuki Swift, there is no realtionship to the Fit.

    @Riku, I was in Poco.

    Edit: In other news, I got a 5 foot long table in my Fit today. Try that with a Yaris, Fiesta, or Mazda 2/3.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yea, the Fit has an absolutely fucking ridiculous amount of room in the back. It is like some kind of extradimensional space or something.

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  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well, I can't drive a manual, so that would be a dealbreaker. :P

    Learning to drive a stick shift is ridiculously easy. You can pick it up in an afternoon. You won't be racing around a track anytime soon but you'll save gas in the long run.

    Saving gas and wear and tear will only be as good as the driver. It's not easy to be really efficient with shifting, and I find it extremely frustrating to deal with a manual in traffic. So I doubt I'm getting any, or a significant savings from owning a manual, and the extra fun I get occasionally from having the control, is more than offset by the frustration of my more common traffic-heavy commute.

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