Which car is best for me?

Discussion in 'Start Your Journey Here' started by Deeko, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    I have owned big engine, big cars, trucks, suvs and other than getting through snow, I'm done with it... I'm looking for the best car for my situation and am very open to suggestions. Sat in both civic hybrid and prius - didn't love the seats comfort in either but will make seat alterations if necessary - I'm looking for efficiency first then something better for the planet second, comfort can be changed. Yaris and Honda fit seemed too small, beyond the comfort thing. No smart car dealer in area. Lots of reading, research raises more questions than it answers lately.. looking for owner experience from like minded people and would really appreciate some input.

    My driving situation is - my wife doesn't drive, so I drive her to work and back 5 days a week.. 3 miles per way, 12 miles per day for her to get to work... totally stop and go on roads. Hilly. Multi-lane, impatient folks going in and out of lanes trying to get an extra inch, but in reality slowing everyone else down and stalling traffic. The type of traffic you "plan" a light and hope to coast to, but 3 cars pull in the lane thinking they'll beat the slowpoke not rushing to the red light, leaving no option but to hit the brakes and then have to use the gas to make it up there. :(

    I'd say, 90% of all my driving is fairly local, on roads. Lights, stop signs, good amount of pretty large hills, drive-thru lines at banks, etc... especially in my immediate area, entire neighborhood is hills so there's no getting around it. Probably average around 200 miles a week total (in current car that is about 3/4 tank of gas and roughly $75)

    So like I said, efficiency of fuel is important to me, but need an automatic transmission due to the fact that the mother in law will take the car from time to time.

    I would like something that is relatively easy to get and finance.

    Thank you for any and all suggestions.. comments.. etc..
  2. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member

    jetta wagon tdi - $24k

    or Jetta tdi - $22k

    both 106 inch wheelbase, with
  3. kmactavi

    kmactavi Well-Known Member

    I second that, my parents are getting the Jetta SportWagen TDI. Another good option if you want a decent amount of space is the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe. The Prius might be beneficial for you as you said you have a lot of stop and go driving. My vote is on the TDI Jetta/Jetta SportWagen though.

  4. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    If he were doing mostly highways I would agree with the diesel as a good option since that's where they really shine. I'm sure it would be OK in the city with careful driving but at 29mpg city per the EPA on $4.50+ diesel, I don't think it's the best option. The Civic hybrid ought to be a step up from that since it is more proactive about managing fuel while slowing down and stopped. (The engine doesn't stop while moving, but the valves close and let it spin with relatively low resistance and no fuel. It does stop completely while you wait for a light, bank teller, etc.) The Prius is one more step up in stop & go driving since that's where its hybrid system really shines. Once warmed up, it completely shuts down the engine below 41mph when you don't need power from it, and the elecric drive lets you creep along at very low speeds while waiting for the road to clear. The Camry Hybrid uses the same type of system but would be a step down in FE due to larger size and engine displacement.

    One thing to rememer is that any car will give sub-par FE if your trips are short (only a few miles). Another thing is that the very high FE cars are really hard to get at the moment, so what you get might partiolly depend on when you need it.
  5. 93Hatch

    93Hatch Well-Known Member

    I suppose there is no good mass transit system in your area?
  6. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    I love the responses, thank you very much.. any and all are greatly appreciated. THIS is super valuable and not the kind of things you see in a brochure or manufacturer website. This website is great and will be all the difference between buying *A* car versus buying MY car. Thank you all so much... keep 'em coming! :)

    93hatch: Not in a practical way, no.
  7. atlaw4u

    atlaw4u Well-Known Member

    For stop & go I would strongly consider the Prius but they are currently fetching a premium over last years' prices. Have you considered a non-hybrid civic or corolla?
  8. kwj

    kwj I hypermiled this

    Not sure I've heard a harder set of challenges. Sounds like anything you could do, trips you up on another area.

    Without sitting in a Yaris, Fit, or Aveo means you are limiting yourself. They are "large" inside, and with the seats folded, will carry a fair amount of stuff. And, the Aveo and the Yaris are quite inexpensive (easy to purchase and finance). Although by your description, it sounds like a Prius would serve you well considering your short commute.

    I think we need more information. Where are you located? Lots of snow, or minor snow? Frozen most of the year, or steamy most of the year?

    What are you currently driving, and what kind of fuel economy are you getting?

    If you leave the house to drive your wife to work, 3 miles away, don't warm up the engine. Just start and drive gently. From your description of your circumstances, this will not be a problem. Make sure you aren't carrying any extra weight in the trunk or back seat. Make sure your tires are at a good pressure and check them weekly. In the winter, use a block heater, and/or a radiator block (and get a temperature gauge you can read - a ScanGauge would be perfect).

    Read all you can digest out of the article "Beating the EPA, the Whys and hows of Hypermiling." Whether you get a new car or not, these tips can help you. Learn one at a time, and perfect it prior to going on to another.

    After you drop your wife off, you could use the return trip to take care of other tasks like grocery, bank, pharmacy, etc. to make better use of the trip home.

    What about a trip slightly less direct, but with less stops, less traffic? No matter what you get, a six mile trip with many stops will be tough to get into high numbers, but with a smaller, lighter car and a small engine, you will do better than with a large, heavy V-8.

    How many miles a year do you average? Do you need this car to take long trips with the wife and mother-in-law? If so, the Yaris, Fit, and Aveo may not have adequate room for luggage. In that case, you could find a roof rack for the one time a year you'd need one.
  9. 2TonJellyBean

    2TonJellyBean Well-Known Member

    Whatever you get, try and get it with a block heater and use it to preheat the engine. At idle speed, a cold engine will burn about 4x as much gas.
  10. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    You people are awesome!

    Have (or will) consider just about anything. My mind isn't closed to any car at the moment.

    Have sat in the fit, civic, prius, yaris, camry so far. When I talk about space, I don't necessarily care about or mean space for stuff... it's more body space, position, etc.. I'm starting to get the feeling by driving these larger, v8 vehicles for all these years, our bodies (even though we vary in size and shape quite a bit) have been trained to be comfortable with being in certain positions or something... as we can easily find comfort in a lincoln, large suv, olds, buick, etc.. but the smallest of the cars we tried just didn't "fit" (for lack of a better word).. center console where knee goes, steering wheel that doesn't move enough to allow reasonable entry/exit without hitting legs.

    We're in CT so our weather is all over the place from rediculously hot days in summer to 18" of snow and sub zero in winter.. depending on the year or whatever of course.

    Due to the snow and brutal hills (our driveway and street especially) we're keeping the SUV for snow days - we've seen no 2 wheel drive vehicle make our street, let alone driveway on a snowy day. But we're hoping to only use it in such a case. The current car is a v8 ford explorer, 2003.. tires inflated -1 max pressure, techniques used when surrounding traffic allows. Average about 8-9,000 miles/year. Due to the low rolling resistence tires we "upgraded" (grrr) to, the brutal city driving and such I'm only averaging like 14mpg. (when I used to drive more "like them" I was averaging 11)

    Regarding route taken - current route is straight line direct as possible. There are 2 other road paths, both quite off path, still hilly and many more stops and turns. Shortest way via highway is backtracking, about 8 miles total 1 way and in the shape of an upside down triangle or something and subject to brutal rush hour(s) traffic. I keep all paths, routes, trips, etc.. as efficient as humanly possible due to the monstrosity I'm driving and polluting the planet with... I have pretty much planned my life via map/pen/paper.

    Regarding hybrid versus non.. my first line of thinking was the most efficient vehicle in terms of fuel usage and least emmissions spit out to try and start undoing the evils of my present and past vehicles. But if the word efficient also encompasses cost to me then so be it. I think the efficiency is taking all the info from you great people and making the best possible decision and purchase with the expertise here as the horsepower fueling the choice.
  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Deeko:

    ___The Civic is not going to be a Lincoln Town Car but I would much rather sit in the Civic with its form fitting seats than the flat and broad without an thigh support benches in anything else. My preference of course.

    ___As for cost. Do the TCO’s (Total cost of ownership) on a Prius and it buries everything including Focus’, Cobalt’s, Corolla’s and Civic’s. You are limiting your ideas to cost out the door which is the mistake most make when purchasing a vehicle. Look at the cost over time and the Prius is the smart choice.

    ___With regards to the Prius’ comfort, it needs a lot of work. The next gen will have the height adjustable seats, possibly longer seat bottoms plus a tilt and telescopic wheel making it a much more fitting car than its current form offers.

    ___About the 4WD … Somehow somebody in your locale is getting from point A to point B on the same snow days you are in compact 2WD automobile. At 14mpg, I would not own te 4WD given the total costs are astronomical :ccry:

    ___What does that leave you with? I have to go back to the original questions and answers …wrt banging knees and such. The steering wheel position in relation to the seat bottom edge is usually a comfort limiting relationship but the Asians’ have packaged their compacts very well wrt this. It is the roof line height that usually is the problem but I did not hear you mention banging your head?

    ___If you are not considering a compact, you may be wishing you had in just a few short years. Getting into and out of can be a compromise (all 10 seconds a day worth) but while you are behind the wheel, a compact can be far more comfortable than an SUV or full-sized but the stiffer suspensions and such they are sometimes shod with may not be to your liking. For the most numbing ride in a reasonably fuel efficient automobile, the 10th gen Corolla CE/LE might fit the bill if you do not have to sit in the back. For HQ fit/finish/feel, the Civic would be near the top of my list but you have already told us you do not like the size.

    ___Not sure where else to go. Maybe a Mini Cooper as it is a fuel miser, gets attention, has great resale and decent ergonomics in some regards. It is small however.

    ___Good Luck

  12. sailordave

    sailordave Well-Known Member

    Have you looked into Kia or Hyunda? I'd say check out the Kia Spectra or the Hyundai Elantra. Both have the same engine but much different styling. If you need larger you could try the Kia Optima or the Hyundai Sonata, both offer 4 cylinder models. If you can go smaller try the Kia Rio or the Hyundai Accent. They're not as fuel efficient as their Japanese competitors but they do offer 10 year 100,000 mile warranty. The Chevy Aveo is a Daewoo car that feels huge when sitting in the front seats. It's plus is price.
  13. shiroboi

    shiroboi Well-Known Member

    I'd say keep your 4 wheel drive. You obviously need it in the winter and i'm sure insurance wont be bad if its paid off. Maybe you should look at slightly larger hybrids. Sounds like a good compromise. Is the Altima Hybrid available in your state? It looks nice. That or the Camry would probably suit you.

    I know Waynes hot on Priuses but they aren't for everybody. You're the one thats going to be stuck in this car for the next five years. If your butt tells you that it aint working, don't kid yourself. On the flipside, Priuses are also practical cars with good amounts of hauling space. If it suits you, its a great choice. I think hybrid is the way to go but you have to figure out which one will fit best. As much as I like the Fit, the MPG is going to tank in that stop and go environment you're in. Why not go with a car that by default gets better gas milage in your situation instead of worse.
  14. sailordave

    sailordave Well-Known Member

    If you really need all wheel drive you might want to check out the Suzuki SX4 or anything by Subaru. I can't recommend either because I really don't know much about either other than they have an all wheel drive option. Oh, some of Chrysler's products (midsize and smaller) now have an optional all wheel drive but is limited to the V-6 or performance edition so kiss efficiency good bye.
  15. sailordave

    sailordave Well-Known Member

    The above link has a list of cars with all wheel drive. Some include the ones I named before as well as the Ford Focus and the Toyota Matrix. Though not a MPG winner, if you still need all wheel drive there are some fairly economical choices both in price and mpg. Now as for reliability and it's ability to dig itself out of the snow,...that I don't know.
  16. sailordave

    sailordave Well-Known Member

    My mistake, this article came out before the revised Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe came with all wheel drive. Oh, if you have the money and are lucky you could get the Saab 9-3 Turbo X. Think there's only maybe a thousand or less coming to this country and only for a little more than half a grand if you can find one.
  17. theprophet

    theprophet Active Member

    subaru !
  18. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    On the topic of winter driving, I've never had anything but 2WD (both front and rear) and have spent all but the last year living in southern New England and upstate NY. I haven't had any major issues (including the Prius) for one simple reason: good snow tires on all four wheels. I don't have enough fingers to count the number of times I've chugged past a 4WD or AWD that couldn't make it because their rubber wasn't up to the task. The only down side is a bit of a FE hit four the months that the tires on, but I bet it's a whole lot cheaper than paying tax, insurance, maintenance, and gas on the extra vehicle.

    Subarus have one thing going for them, which is that they are versatile and extremely well built cars. If not for fuel concerns I would probably (almost definitely) have one myself. But the AWD system adds a lot of weight and eats efficiency through the driveline. So for a maximally efficient car I'm afraid it would be a poor choice. My brother's Legacy (4cyl/auto...I think it's an '04) gets about 24mpg and he's a fairly conservative driver.
  19. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member

    Brick is generally correct on the Diesel vs. Hybrid story (ie get a Hybrid if you are mostly city and get a diesel if you are mostly HWY)

    Since you are in CT, I'd venture that your 'city' driving is more akin to country road driving. If you are driving steady state 40-50 much of the time then perhaps err on the side of diesel - If you a driving less than 40 a majority of the time - the Hybrid will win hands down.

    As for the snow - You might be thinking of rear wheel drive cars which are a complete disaster in the snow (recall the era of carrying snow chains). Modern front wheel drive cars drive exceeding well in snow conditions.

    Look at where many of our long terms hypermilers live (Minnesota, Wiscon). These are places with many more snow storms than we have on the Atlantic seaboard. They drive these dinky FWD machines all winter long in tundra like conditions - and seem to get along fine.

    We get, what, 3-4 real snowstorms a year - perhaps one of these is significant enough to cause some concern about going out and driving. For that one day a year, I'll gladly stay in snowbound and mess with the kids building snowmen and later one sitting by the fireside with my beloved. There is always enough food to get by for one or two days until the snow is plowed.

    check out the Jetta Wagon - you'll be pleased by the interior room.
  20. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Do you know when the TDI will be available? My future MIL is a high-mileage driver and needs to replace her diesel Benz pretty soon.

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