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Contradiction
Contradiction Reader
4/7/14 12:47 a.m.

Hi everyone,

So for the first time in my life I'm finally coming around to the idea that I shouldn't be buying a new daily driver solely on driving enjoyment alone, and it's time that I buy something reliable with good fuel economy that chances are will give me little to no hassle driving to work or on a long distance trip.

I'm finally of the income bracket now where I can afford to buy something new (or nearly) within the $20K range without braking the bank. I'm also wise enough to know that as much fun as a new STI etc would be, it would just be a bad decision right now. I won't put myself in a car I can't outright afford.

In that past I’ve routinely bought cars in the 70K to 100K mileage range and by the time you pay them off they are going to hell. Every other time I've bought a car in the past I've started off the search with a budget in mind and a list of cars that would be "sensible and practical" for me to own and when I started actually comparing that dollar figure to what's out there on the market in the price range I've naturally gravitated from something responsible like a Ford Focus to "give me something with a V6 or a turbo and a manual trans". Truthfully, buying a Prius would be as hard to convince myself to do as a Corvette would be for a Prius owner. It would be willing myself to drive something I just didn't want.

Well now I've got a dedicated project car, the GTI in my avatar, and that means I can funnel all of my energy into building that instead of wanting to mod my daily driver. It will help me adhere to the mantra "Don't E36 M3 where you eat" and leave the car that gets me to work alone.

So where in the past if I didn't have that in the garage I'd start gravitating into a daily driven "fun car" like a newer GTI, and STI, an Evo, a Mini Cooper S, or an older Audi or BMW, etc I can will myself to stay away from that path this time. So as much as I hate the idea of driving a "Soulless Appliance", it's time.
So what can you guys recommend for "Soulless Appliance Cars"?

Here's my basic criteria:

Budget: $20K tops

Wants: - Reliability. Yes even at the expense of “fun”.

  • Fuel Economy of high 20's combined and 30 mpg highway or better. If I’m going to buy something I don’t find fun driving it better damn well be great on gas. Edited to a more realistic number for broader choices.

  • “Passing Capable” Acceleration. I need enough power to pass a semi while that F350 is on my ass.

  • 30K - 60K miles tops. I’m willing to stretch my budget a bit further by buying a used car and I can live without a warranty but I don't want to top out my budget on something that is already on the decline. If I’m going to spend that much I want it to last.

  • Decent Interior Quality. I realize that "Economy Car" usually implies budget materials, lower grade plastics, and no frills interior design. I can live with that to a certain degree but I'd prefer something that's decent and will hold up. So if there's a car that stands out for interior quality I'm all ears.

Needs:

  • Driving Comfort. I’m 6’1” and on the heavier side. I don’t want to be squashed into the car when it comes to leg room sight lines, etc. So a Sonic, etc sized vehicle is probably out.

Would Like But Can Live Without:

  • AWD

  • Manual Trans

  • Larger Cargo Space (i.e. 4 door hatch size or wagon)

  • Aux Audio inputs, bluetooth, etc.

Dislikes:

  • Puny Little Effeminate Cars. Yes I'm not buying a car that will make me "look cool" but if I think it’s down right “dorky looking” or “Ugly” I’m going to have a hard time willing myself to buy it. That voice in the back of my head is going to start saying “Hey guy, look at that used 328i across the lot…”

What’s Out Already:

  • Crossover SUVs: I don’t like SUVs at all, even though it would fit my cargo hauling criteria. I’m pretty unlikely to end up with one.

  • Trucks: I’d love a truck, but it’s not practical for my price range or needs.

  • Hybrids: I have no intent to become a “hyper miler” and I don’t want to pay the premium for a Hybrid either.

What’s already on my radar:

  • ’10 and up VW TDI Sportwagen – Diesel, cargo room, the next upgrade from the 02 Jetta Wagon I own now

  • Forester or Outback – No I’m not a carpet munching Lesbian but they are AWD and wagons

  • Legacy – again, AWD, wagon option as well

  • Honda Fit

  • Honda Civic

  • Honda Accord

  • Toyota Corolla

  • Toyota Camry – Even though it would pain me to do this

  • ’12 up Mazda 3 w/ Skyactiv

  • Chevy Cruze Eco – Sounds good on paper 1.4T, 6 spd MT

  • Ford Focus

So what recommendations do you have?

Cars you own or have drove that fit my criteria?

Things I haven’t considered yet like a Kia, Hyundai, etc?

1966stang
1966stang Reader
4/7/14 3:29 a.m.

The TDI cars have issues, but honestly I may be willing to live with that. Fiesta ST is 21k new also.

aussiesmg
aussiesmg MegaDork
4/7/14 3:30 a.m.

http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/another-appliance-thread-hyundai-content/34080/page1/

 photo 27749E21-47AF-4FB3-9672-CC26F11D8E3E_zpsvdpb6hzr.jpg

DaveEstey
DaveEstey UberDork
4/7/14 5:06 a.m.

I'm still going to say Prius because its the right answer for what you want if you weren't so busy looking for reasons to not get one.

bastomatic
bastomatic SuperDork
4/7/14 5:37 a.m.

Yep, a friend bought a certified used Prius and it seems like a very impressive appliance for the amount he paid. Lots of interior room, great mileage, and lots of techy stuff inside.

As for your list, the Subarus won't get anywhere near 35 mpg. If I were you, I'd be test driving the Focus, Cruze, and Elantra first if I couldn't get over my Prius-phobia.

1966stang
1966stang Reader
4/7/14 6:43 a.m.

Prius is a good answer, but methinks TDI is close. I also have Prius-phobia....

captdownshift
captdownshift Reader
4/7/14 6:57 a.m.

it's smaller then what you're looking for, but if you drive a fiesta st you'll end up buying one. I'm not sure if i'm giving you a recommendation or a warning.

t25torx
t25torx HalfDork
4/7/14 6:59 a.m.
1966stang
1966stang Reader
4/7/14 7:12 a.m.
captdownshift wrote: it's smaller then what you're looking for, but if you drive a fiesta st you'll end up buying one. I'm not sure if i'm giving you a recommendation or a warning.

One word...ST!

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
4/7/14 7:20 a.m.

I was immediately thinking Mazda2/Fiesta if that's not too small.

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
4/7/14 7:25 a.m.

Where do you live? Also, how many miles do you drive a year?

Currently, there is a $7500 tax credit on the Chevy Volts. More in individual states--if you buy and live in Illinois, for instance, there is another $3500ish. You can find brand new Volts for $29,995 or less, and I have that number on paper. I cannot come up with a better new car than that for $22,495, and I'd be surprised if you don't make up that $2.5k within 2 years in fuel and maintenance. It might say Chevy on the steering wheel, but it felt way nicer than a Chevy to me. It is probably faster than my 99 Miata. It can hold 2 hockey bags easily. My only knocks on it were the cloth seats (I don't like cloth), and the center console buttons seemed like they'd be annoying. It was a seriously cool car.

I was strongly considering one before I decided that I can't swing 2 cars, and changed my tune towards a BMW or Corvette. Probably the only guy cross shopping those vehicles, but nobody ever accused me of being a sound thinker.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
4/7/14 8:02 a.m.

you can't go wrong with the Hyundais. The Elantra comes in sedan and coupe and the Velociter, while based on the Accent, throws in funky design with tasty turbocharged boost.

Hyundai is on a design tear right now and all of their cars are damn good looking and no longer something you have to settle for.

icaneat50eggs
icaneat50eggs HalfDork
4/7/14 8:11 a.m.

I'm in the exact same boat and right now the Mazda 3 is my favorite

Contradiction
Contradiction Reader
4/7/14 8:12 a.m.

I'm not crazy about Prius or Volt because I'm honestly concerned about maintanence and part cost if there is service needed. I definitely wouldn't want to find out how much battery replacement would cost.

I also do longer distance trips occassionally like 500 miles one way to visit home, so I just wouldn't want an EV like the Volt.

I know the TDI would contradict some of the above statements, but I am going to do some through research on them before I decide to get one. I don't feel like I'll be blinded by brand loyalty. If the TDIs have too much problems I'll pass.

icaneat50eggs
icaneat50eggs HalfDork
4/7/14 8:14 a.m.

Volt takes gas not just electrons

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
4/7/14 8:18 a.m.
Contradiction wrote: I'm not crazy about Prius or Volt because I'm honestly concerned about maintanence and part cost if there is service needed. I definitely wouldn't want to find out how much battery replacement would cost. I also do longer distance trips occassionally like 500 miles one way to visit home, so I just wouldn't want an EV like the Volt.

The Volt has no range limitations, it has an onboard gas engine. You could decide to go across the country at the drop of a hat--you'd get about 40 miles on a full charge before you hit the gasoline. It is NOT a hybrid though.

Also, the maintenance on an electric engine is pretty much nothing compared to a gasoline engine. MUCH simpler. And the batteries have what... 8 year warranty's? Combine that with the fact that with the Prius batteries, almost all of the originals are still around.

Trust me, I used to be on the same side as you. I even wrote a term paper on how hybrid/electric technology wasn't the answer, and had about 4 or 5 pages devoted solely to the battery issue. I was wrong. And there was no pages on the maintenance issue, because I couldn't find any evidence that they were unreliable.

DaveEstey
DaveEstey UberDork
4/7/14 8:23 a.m.

Our Prius is 7 years old and 135k miles. Still returning 50+ mpg with minimal care and no special driving practices. Only non-wear item replaced was the water pump at 110k miles.

Contradiction
Contradiction Reader
4/7/14 8:24 a.m.
captdownshift wrote: it's smaller then what you're looking for, but if you drive a fiesta st you'll end up buying one. I'm not sure if i'm giving you a recommendation or a warning.

I had a hard time getting in them when I was at the Detroit Auto Show this year. I'm not sure that I could be comfortable in one. ST would get dangerously close to "toy" too. I don't want the "maybe I could just do some suspension upgrades", etc. thoughts to spring up in my head. That's how it all goes down hill. I'd rather have something that is completely "uncool" by my standards and won't let me get bitten by the mod bug.

Contradiction
Contradiction Reader
4/7/14 8:31 a.m.
mtn wrote:
Contradiction wrote: I'm not crazy about Prius or Volt because I'm honestly concerned about maintanence and part cost if there is service needed. I definitely wouldn't want to find out how much battery replacement would cost. I also do longer distance trips occassionally like 500 miles one way to visit home, so I just wouldn't want an EV like the Volt.
The Volt has no range limitations, it has an onboard gas engine. You could decide to go across the country at the drop of a hat--you'd get about 40 miles on a full charge before you hit the gasoline. It is NOT a hybrid though. Also, the maintenance on an electric engine is pretty much nothing compared to a gasoline engine. MUCH simpler. And the batteries have what... 8 year warranty's? Combine that with the fact that with the Prius batteries, almost all of the originals are still around. Trust me, I used to be on the same side as you. I even wrote a term paper on how hybrid/electric technology wasn't the answer, and had about 4 or 5 pages devoted solely to the battery issue. I was wrong. And there was no pages on the maintenance issue, because I couldn't find any evidence that they were unreliable.

I'm willing to look at them some with an open mind, but cost is going to factor into things too. If it would cost me just as much to buy a Prius with 70K on it as a brand new Cruze or a Focus for example, that's hard to justify. I'm not 100% dead set on "NEW NEW", but I'd like to be close to that if I'm going to spend the money.

I'll be honest to and say (with no disrespect to those of you driving one!) that Prius just brings up all kinds of "anti-enthusiast" feelings. Not to mention stereo types like granola munching, Hippie, Environmentalist drivers, etc. I always get a bit of a smile on my face when I see a car at a show that has a "This cancels out your Prius" sticker too.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 PowerDork
4/7/14 8:46 a.m.

If you are truly committed to it being soulless, then the only answer is Toyota. Otherwise, I'd go Honda, Mazda, or even Ford.

stumpmj
stumpmj Dork
4/7/14 8:49 a.m.

I was looking at leftover Sonics last year (so 2012 model year in 2013) in the $11-13k range new. That was with a manual and the turbo engine. A used one should be a bit cheaper than that.

stumpmj
stumpmj Dork
4/7/14 8:51 a.m.

Oh I forgot to add. The new Civics are terrible cars. Seriously awful. THey somehow combine being underdamped with ridiculously stiff and top it off with numb steering and the cheapest new car interior I've been in in a long time.

1966stang
1966stang Reader
4/7/14 8:52 a.m.
1988RedT2 wrote: If you are truly committed to it being soulless, then the only answer is Toyota. Otherwise, I'd go Honda, Mazda, or even Ford.

Sadly, given toyotas current lineup (minus the FRS) this is wildly correct.

turtl631
turtl631 New Reader
4/7/14 8:57 a.m.

In a similar boat, we got a '12 Mazda3 Skyactiv hatchback with the 6AT. It has a good amount of space, gets impressive mileage, is reasonably fun to drive, and has Bluetooth. I've been quite happy with it for an appliance car. Bought new, about 15k miles now, not a single issue yet. After going through a couple cars that were more on the performance side of things and spending more time and money than anticipated on them, this has been a welcome change, and my wife loves the thing. It sounds like the Hyundais are another pretty good option, but we didn't drive any.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 HalfDork
4/7/14 8:59 a.m.

TDI isn't going to beat everything on the list, judged solely on mpgs. The awesome fuel economy a lot of the newer DI gas burners are getting makes the added cost of Diesel less appealing. Unless comparing to models running on premium, around here diesel is ≥ premium.

That said, the diesel torque is like a light switch, instant on, you can flog the crap out of it, treat every stop light like a drag tree, and still get 40+ MPGs.

We're approaching 85K miles on our '09 Jetta TDI, it has been a great car. I've maintained it by-the-book, most of it DIY, I replaced 1 glow plug around 70K miles, which has been our only "issue," and we've driven it all over the country.

If you're already a VW fan, the Sport Wagon wouldn't be a bad choice.

  • Lee
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