Things are looking pretty bleak on the car shopping front right now.
I considered buying a Prius this summer but encountered price-gouging and a lack of availability.
Then I looked into the Yaris. Saw announcements that a 5-door hatch was coming ... and now we find out it's automatic only. No manual tranny is a deal-breaker.
Honda upsized the Fit and decreased the fuel economy. They also didn't fix the problem with short gears limiting fuel economy (particularly highway). Effectively, this makes it just like the Yaris - no decent manual tranny in a 5-door hatch. Scratch another off the list.
The MAZDA3 5-door hatch looks appealing, but it has poor fuel economy even compared to the automatic versions of the Fit and Yaris.
My current vehicle is a 2000 Mazda MX-5 Miata. It gets reasonable fuel economy (about 25 city / 30 highway) but I'm looking for something a little more fuel-efficient and practical in my next car.
So now I have to decide what to do next. I see my alternatives as follows:
1) Wait until spring '09 for the Honda Insight II. Probably face waiting lists and price-gouging then as masses flock to the newest, hottest, least expensive hybrid on the market.
2) Try again to get a Prius around the first of the year. Hopefully the temporary reprieve in oil prices will clear the inventory log-jam.
3) Settle for a 4-door Yaris sedan, though I really wanted the utility of a hatch.
4) Settle for an automatic 5-door Yaris. Though I despite automatic transmissions for their greater expense and maintenance. I don't do FAS, so that limitation isn't an issue ... but I still don't want to pay $800+ extra for extra bulk and lower MPG.
5) Look for other alternatives. Are there any other 5-door hatches out there getting at least solid 30s real-world city MPG? (I know even the Yaris is only rated for 29 city, but it seems most real-world estimates run in the mid-30s.)