Which car is best for me?

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

  1. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    Apparently I am not properly stating the snow, road and traffic conditions in this area since there's now question whether I'm confusing front with rear wheel drive or cruising beautifully in long, winding country roads.. Let's try this again..

    Imagine New York City traffic on hills. Sure in CT there are some great roads and areas, but I'm not in one. Block to block tight with angry drivers in a hurry but nobody going anywhere fast. People cutting each other off, schoolbusses stopping virtually every other corner, cars, trucks, motorcycles.. pretty regular accidents, overpopuplation.. That is our typical day driving to get her to work and back.

    Back behind this main road that is so congested is our neighborhood. A series of very steep hills that are a problem for ALL cars whether it's 2" or 2 feet of snow. There isn't a person on our street that drives non 4wd in the snow. It's over 45 degree angle and our driveway is even steeper. I have never seen any 2wd (front or rear snow tires or not) make it up our driveway when any snow has accumulated. In fact, without being plowed and sanded first, if anyone here in 2wd can make it up our driveway in virgin snow I've got a crisp hundred dollar bill for you. Seriously.

    I've been on this blue marble many years. Owned and driven many a car. Fast, slow, small, large, rear wheel, front wheel, four wheel.. I am keeping the SUV for snow. Period. it's a done deal so snow isn't the issue. I'm looking for the most efficient vehcile for stop and go, hilly driving that can't be read a mile (or even a few blocks) ahead..

    For those who have read and understood what I'm asking for and have been answering accordingly, I can't thank you enough. All the research in the world isn't as valuable as personal experiences from people who have already lived these decisions. Thank you - it is really helping in narrowing down what we should be focusing on.
  2. kmactavi

    kmactavi Well-Known Member

    You're just exaggerating with the 45 degree angle and greater, right? If not, have you measured it? Even a 10 degree grade looks huge.

    Here is a picture of a 45 degree incline, I have my doubts a 4WD SUV could make it up this covered in 2 ft of snow:

  3. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    Pave that, make it longer and add a curve and that's exactly what our street looks like.

    Make it steeper, longer and smoother, put a house at the top of that sucker and you'd have our driveway. Seriously folks.. I'm here for advice, not to tell tall tales. This is not uncommon around here.
  4. Kevin108

    Kevin108 Well-Known Member

    Check out a Corolla.
  5. brucepick

    brucepick Well-Known Member

    We're back to the original question - what to get for good FE in nasty stop-and-go city traffic on hills.

    I'm with brick's first answer - Civic hybrid, and Prius hybrid would be even better. I'd add that a Honda Insight should surpass that, however this two-seater is no longer in production and you may well have to travel several hundred miles to see one offered used. And yes, the Camry hybrid if you want something roomier on the inside and also heavier.

    These suggestions don't assume that your price range is in new car territory - however hybrids aren't plentiful on the used market yet. If you want a hybrid you probably need to get it new unless you're willing to search with dedication. CleanMPG has an excellent article by xcel on fuel efficient older models, both hybrid and non-hybrid, in the "Articles" section, at
    We've been driving nothing but very well used cars since '95 and plan to continue doing so.

    And I second the comments re. an engine block heater. During the first few minutes of driving a large percentage of the fuel is used to warm up the block. You can accomplish that at much lower cost by using a block heater. This has been confirmed by multiple users on this board. The benefits are greatest for those driving short distances per each warmup. I think you should seriously consider getting one installed as soon as you get your next car.

    I'm also in CT however my commute is drastically different from your driving. Currently 60 mi. each way, nearly all highway, and only moderate traffic. I'm originally from NYC and in fact drove a city cab there for eight months, so that helps determine my frame of reference for traffic pain.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  6. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member


    Sorry if you were offended - didn't intend to - and by all means keep the 4WD in reserve.

    If you check my location - you'll understand why I think anywhere in CT is picturesque winding country roads - especially when when you mentioned the steep driveway.

    As for the hundred dollar bill - PM me when you have your first snow - weekends I'm in the Ridgefield-Danbury area. It might be fun to prove either you or myself wrong. If I can't get up by the 4th try, I'll shovel your driveway.

  7. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    Prius and Honda Civic hybrid were choices I couldn't get around no matter how hard I tried just doing things out on paper. Nice to see real world results matching up with that. I have no idea why, but for whatever reason the Corolla wasn't a consideration until this thread... The camry and hybrid camry was under consideration for a touch, but not the corolla, we're going to have to go check one out after all the mentions here and seeing a little on paper how it looks. Thanks for bringing new possibilities into our view.

    Local Toyota dealers say the wait for Prius is now at 7-8 months, yet I've read elsewhere on this board a southern dealer that has some in stock and some folks who order their own and only wait 2 months. Can I have one shipped faster than the local dealer states if we choose that?

    lol - I won't be responsible having a man die in our driveway. This isn't a shoveling driveway for sure.. even under an inch.
  8. 93Hatch

    93Hatch Well-Known Member

    Deeko, you gotta post pics man! Not saying I don't belive you, I just want to see it!
  9. 93Hatch

    93Hatch Well-Known Member

  10. A024523

    A024523 Currently in Training

    I second brucepick's recommendation, as I have since '96 only purchased used cars at least 6 years old and 100,000 miles. However, thread 665 does not include the Toyota Tercel, which is my preference :D, especially since you don't have to turn the ignition back to "on" during FAS and Rev-matching is unnecessary, compared to my wife's Civic. Furthermore, it lacks high-tech features like power windows and power door locks, which reduces energy consumption. And it might only cost the downpayment of a new car. :thumbs_up:
  11. kmactavi

    kmactavi Well-Known Member

    Yep, at 0.5 MPG... :D

    @Deeko, I don't doubt the steepness of your driveway, I was just wondering since that is pretty crazy.

  12. kwj

    kwj I hypermiled this

    I have a fairly steep driveway also (but not 45 degrees). Depending on the type of snow and the temperatures, I can sometimes get up easily, and sometimes not. I can state emphatically that nothing stopped my 4-Runner. Put it in low range and then first gear, and it would just walk up anything. People pushing front wheel drives, and I'd just poke on by.

    One snowy day, with my old Ford Ranger, when I got up the driveway and set the emergency brake, as soon as I took my foot off the brake pedal, the vehicle slid down to the road. Twice I did this, and realized that my emergency brake was only holding the back wheels, while on the brake pedal, all four wheels were braked. So, I honked until the wife came out with some hot water, and had her pour it around the rear tires. That cleared the ice and snow enough for the rear wheels to safely hold me in the driveway. Problem solved.

    But, it only snows a few times a year here and the 4-Runner wasn't worth the poor gas mileage to me. If my Aveo can't make it up the driveway or up on the lawn, I pull it on the sidewalk to get it off the road for the plows. Works for me.
  13. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    I would like to thank you specifically for putting Hyundai in a light that made me reconsider it. I was pretty caught up in the biggest guns in the mpg game, but after re-reading through this thread a few times and hitting the dealers over and over again the Hyundai Elantra started to stand out - safe, cheap, quite decent mileage and understated appearance, so it doesn't attract unwelcome attention of any kind. Not even through the first tank of gas yet but have already gone 2 days further than I could have with the 22 gallon SUV tank in this 14 gallon car. Invoice minus $2k manufacturer cash back, not to shabby and thanks to the price no problem keeping the suv as the snow only vehicle.

    Thanks CleanMPG and sailordave. Now it's time to get a scangaugeII and get in tune with driving this car.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
  14. jwbrooks7

    jwbrooks7 Honda Fit Owner

    In the past 10 years, I've gone from a Ford Aerostar all wheel drive extended van (18 mpg), to a Honda CRV (26 mpg), to a Honda FIT sport (5 speed MT) (38 mpg). Living in upstate NY, and a skier, I felt the need for AWD. The space, comfort, and snow capability of the Aerostart was awsome. With studded snows, the CRV was practically unstoppable, fun to drive, very good FE for an SUV, and paired with a rooftop carrier, could take a family of 4, large dog, and vacation gear for a week. However, a head-on rendevous with a black bear in NH cut it's life short after 7 years and 120K miles. Because of the incredible resale value of CRV's, the insurance check covered most of the cost of a new 2008 Honda FIT. Like you said, it seemed a little small at first. However, the more I drive it the more I like it. While the FE is just a little less than my son's Toyota Echo, it is more comfortable, more fun to drive, and can hold more than you'd think possible. I can even use the roof-top carrier from the CRV to really increase cargo capability. (Note: the FE with the roof-top carrier drops to around 30 mpg.) Because of my insecurity of not having an AWD vehicle anymore, I purchase a set of aftermarket Alloy rims and Hankook studded snow tires. Despite the snowiest winter in recent memory up here, I had zero problems. In fact, the performance was fantastic. Even when my Son's Echo would get hopelessly stuck in the drive way, the FIT with snow tires easily drove right past it. To be fair, the very low ground clearance of the FIT would certainly make it unwise to blaze trail through deep virgin snow. But once the first plows came through, or even just neighboring traffic I never had a problem. After almost 1 year and 9000 miles, my best FE has been 45 mpg, (staying under 60 mph) without even trying any of the techniques on this web site. Our friends have commented after a multi hour trip with 4 adults, that the comfort was comparable to their Sonata. The cruise control works great with the Manual Transmision. You might want to rethink your opinion of small cars. Unless you needto haul lots of people, tow trailers, or be a first responder in a snow storm, driving a small car can be a lot less expensive, surprisingly fun, and better for our planet. Good luck with whatever you choose. I'm waiting for my new SG-II so I can try for a new personal best FE.
  15. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Deeko, congratulations on your new purchase! My '02 has been very good to me. What transmission did you choose? If you got the manual transmission, your car is good for regular tanks over 40mpg with effort, and over 50mpg with all out pushing. Click on the banner in my signature to see what I've managed with my older and slightly less efficient version of your car. :)
  16. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    I've got a 99, and was amazed when CR finally give the Elantra a glowing review ;). But as Right Lane has said, my Elantra has been the most trouble free car I've ever owned. It's over 100k now, and as far as repair record goes, it's done better than my last two Hondas.
  17. Deeko

    Deeko Member

    Thanks folks!

    Circumstance (the mother in law occasionally needing the car) had it so the automatic transmission was a must. Weird though, sticker, dealer and epa all say the 08 AT gets 1 better mpg city than MT? I asked the dealer, he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled.. You got me.. I don't get it.

    RightLane: Impressive to say the least. Those 7-8 hundred mile tanks had my mouth agape and eyes bugging out of my head. If I could get myself into that kind of neighborhood I think I'd be singing and skipping around the gas pump while filling up.

    Car really seems great. I was to the point I just couldn't argue with all the information coming in.. The out the door cost, the crash test ratings, the warantee, the pzero emissions, the facts that I could more than just tolerate sitting in it (comfort-wise) and that it got BETTER mileage than the tiny little Accent which we originally went in to see.. It got to the point where I just had to get it. Amazing mind-shift for me and I'm very thankful.
  18. R E P U B L I C

    R E P U B L I C Well-Known Member

    I agree with Deeko , Sailordave&Ophbalance in this case
    .I did some reading & I'm ready to buy a
    USA made(Alabama) Sonata.
  19. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member

    My answer is: Use the right tool for the right job. Just as one wrench cannot be used for everything, the same can be said for vehicles.

    For example, it makes no sense to use a large SUV to go get a loaf of bread. Instead, use a vehicle that will get you to the grocery store and back without emptying your wallet. An EV is ideal for this purpose, and for trips to the post office, shopping mall, school, or bank. Errands like these will cost almost nothing in "fuel" (battery charges).
  20. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Deeko, you can still get very good numbers out of an Automatic transmission car -- you've got a lot of good tanks ahead of you!

    The Auto is rated higher because of taller gearing -- your engine will turn at lower RPM on the highway than the manual transmission version. In steady state driving, the auto will beat out the manual... but around here we don't really do much steady state driving. ;)

    Keep working on it with focus on DWB, DWL, P&G (NICE-ON of course), light timing, and route selection. Try to keep your car in top gear whenever possible and you'll pull in some great numbers. :)

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