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  1. Default Car recommendations

    Hey guys,

    I currently drive a Honda Civic 2dr hatcback and love that car. However, I feel that the time to upgrade has come and was hoping that Gurus might have a few recommendations.

    Here are my criteria:
    a) Not too big. We went to checkout the subaru outback and felt that the thing was huge. I felt the Subaru impreza hatchback was the right size, but the mileage was pretty poor, so ruled it out.
    b) Needs to be a hatchback. I camp frequently and found the hatchback the most convenient for this.
    c) Reasonable ground clearance. I have driven on dirt roads with my little car, and have been fine so far. But I have to drive really slow, and the roads have to be in a decent shape.
    d) Would prefer a 4WD. Currently I have 2WD and have to be really careful in inclement weather.
    e) Decent mileage. I currently get around 35-40 mpg on highways and would like to continue this.

    I have been thinking of Toyota Matrix, Mazda 3.

    What do the Gurus think? Which cars best fit my criteria? The list is not hard and I can bend a bit depending on the item.

    Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default If Only....

    First, let me say I agree with you about Subarus in general. Great little car, but they are getting bigger and heavier as all cars do as they 'mature'. Between us, my wife and I have owned 4 of them over the years and they have never failed to get us where we wanted to go, even when most SUVs were off on the side of the road. However, today's full time AWD comes with a price, namely the less than stellar gas mileage due to the extra weight of transfer cases, etc, and the fact that you always need to be turning all that extra hardware. If only Subaru would make a simple FWD like they used to.

    Besides our current Subaru (a '97 AWD Outback, still going strong), the other car in our garage is a '10 Honda Fit which replaced our old minivan. It, too, is a great little road car with one problem. While it gets great mileage, is a hatchback, has surprisingly ample cargo capacity, and has generally good ground clearance, they extended the nose a few inches while still keeping it low for aerodynamic purposes when they remodeled it last year. That means it scrapes that nose on even modest changes of incline such as when coming off driveways onto the street. I have had it back on some dirt forest trails without problems but wouldn't consider it an off road vehicle by any stretch. If only they hadn't extended the nose so much.

    I mention these cars because they are the ones I am intimately familiar with. I know that when we were shopping around last year, our criteria were much the same as yours. Unfortunately, every car we looked at came up short in one department or another. We also have the added problem that my wife and I are 14" different in height making driver's seat adjustments a major stumbling block. The best advice I think you're going to get is to do lots of research on every car that might possibly meet the bulk of your needs and then just make the best compromise you can.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-10-2011 at 10:25 AM. Reason: Corrected Specs

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Something is going to have to give - you are absolutely not going to get that kind of gas mileage with any AWD vehicle. You are not going to get any kind of decent ground clearance in a high efficiency FWD car.

    Have you considered a hybrid?

    Personally, I'd get a Subaru. The EPA highway mileage on a Impreza is 27, but this is under the new rating system. I would expect you to get around 30 on the highway if you drive conservatively and use gas with minimal ethanol. My nephew has a 2004 WRX with a 5 speed manual, and he gets about 25 commuting on San Diego freeways on low energy California 91 octane gas. He HAS seen 29+. The only reason he uses 91 is it's a turbo. The non-turbo is happy on 87.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Limited scope of choices

    You seem to have listed the few vehicles which meet your needs. I think the Impreza would probably be your best bet; no matter what you get, stellar mileage and AWD are going to be very difficult to find.

    Be realistic with yourself about the types of driving you are going to do. Will you be on dirt roads often? Is the expectation that those roads would be in poor shape? If it's a rare occurrence, then the FWD vehicle would probably be the better choice; you'd certainly have a lot more to choose from. Put on some good snow tires for the winter - which is good advice no matter what the drive system.

    An aside: As someone who felt that Subaru models gave the best balance between size and capability, I am worried about their recent decision to add bloat to their cars. As it stands now, they do not offer a vehicle that would meet my requirements should I choose to replace either the '05 Forester XT or the '08 Outback. These models maintained a fairly consistent size for 10-15 years. A recent auto magazine column sums this up nicely.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Tim, what WOULD you replace them with if you had to do it today?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Tim, what WOULD you replace them with if you had to do it today?
    If I had to do it right now, my choices would have to be used: '08 Forester XT and '09 Outback 3.0, respectively. But if this trend continues when either one is ready for a replacement, I'll probably go in a totally different direction.

  7. Default

    Hey guys,

    I have bought my new car! I picked a Honda Insight EX 2011. I got a good deal on it. I picked this car for the mileage and the similar ground clearance to my civic. So hopefully I should be able to manage with this.

    I had to make a few compromised but I guess this is the best choice for me right now.

    Thanks.

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