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A reliable, safe fun to drive, low-moderately priced mid-size sedan or hatch that I cam give to my child when she gets her license in 2019.

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I am in the market for a fun, practical 2015-2016 mid-size sedan that I will feel comfortable handing over to my daughter in 4 years when she gets her license. Reliability, safety, handling and quiet comfort are all important to me but may be unatainable for what I will spend since cars are such a poor investment. After reading my story below, I would appreciate your thoughts, opinions or actual experiences of the two cars I am seriously considering or tell me if there is another car I should also consider and why. After reading numerous reviews, unless there is something terribly wrong, most folks are happy with their cars so I'd also like to get more insight on what about their car folks would change if given the chance. Whatever car I do buy, I plan to keep the Ridgeline.

I've been driving a pick-up since 1988 and have had my current Honda Ridgeline since 2008. During this time I've also owned several roadsters and a Saab convertible as 2nd, but not always practical, fun cars. In the early to mid-80's I also owned two, 5-spd manual BMWs- a 318i and later a 533i. Loved the 533i - it was my perfect car but sold it to buy a house. I replaced the 533 with a new, top of the line Accord EX. After a week of ownership, I started to dislike the Accord (as much as I now like my Ridgeline, I detested that Accord) and within the year traded it for a used Mazda 626. That was a fun car.

My super reliable Ridgeline now has over 120k and has been a mostly perfect vehicle for our needs but is not very much fun to drive. My wife replaced her 2009 Outback Ltd with a 2015 Outback Ltd and everything about the new model is so-ooo much better than the 2009 that a 2015-16 Legacy is a consideration. That said, while Subaru owner satisfaction is high, their reliability had been middling at best. My top consideration is the Mazda6 since it can be had with a 6-spd manual trans (though the jury is still out on whether man or auto), is fun to drive and has some nice features. That said, while it offers most of the driving pleasures I want to experience in my next car, after multiple test drives of 2015 and 2016 Mazda6 Touring (both man and auto trans) and GT models, I found that my 7-year old Ridgeline has a much quieter ride than any of those testers. Although it might be tolerable driving around town, I am concerned it could be a problem on long trips.

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Hatch / Sedan

Car Needs: Long trips / Errands about town / Family transporter / Daily commuter

Primary Driver(s): Senior driver / New driver

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 20000
Maximum age: 2 years

Maximum price: US $ 30000

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Response from HHR

11:56 am July 2, 2015

Try out the Buick Verano and Regal. Another car that is quiet on the highway is the Ford Focus. Chevy Sonic is a fun and safe car also.


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Buick Verano
Buick Regal
Ford Focus

Response from mkaresh

2:15 am July 3, 2015

I was going to suggest the Mazda6 until you objected to the amount of noise, which is higher than the midsize average. This might also rule out the Honda Accord.

The Subaru Legacy is quieter than the Mazda6 and has outstanding safety scores. Plus they now offer Eyesight on lower trim levels. Those from 2010 on have been much more reliable than older Subarus, at least so far. As long as you don't need sporty handling, it seems a very good fit.


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Subaru Legacy

Response from probstp1

10:54 am July 3, 2015

Thanks both for your input. The Verano, Focus and Sonic may be too small but I think I will check out the Regal to see how that car feels.

While it was not one of the cars mentioned, I had driven a rental Ford Fusion on a recent business trip and did not find it to be anything special. That's a pity since I had a rental Ford Mondeo on a business trip to Ireland a few years ago and found it was a joy to drive. The difference between the two rentals was night and day. I really expected today's Fusion to be a much better experience since they are pretty much the same car.

As for the Mazda6 interior noise level, that is my dilemma since everything else about the car pretty much fits to a tee what I want to see and feel in the next car I purchase. It's a darn pity that the 'hear' part is not on par with my other senses in this car. For that I say shame on Mazda for not delivering in the 2016 Mazda6 refresh on their attempt to adequately mitigate or even eliminate this well-known problem. How much more enjoyable might it be to spend time behind the wheel of a quieter version of this car? Too bad we won't find out any time soon.

Based on driving my wife's Outback wagon, the Subaru presents a different dilemma in that what I see and hear is what I could be happy with in my next car but not necessarily what I feel. Although the 2015 Outback is a very good car in general with a really comfortable ride, the wagon lacks the sporty handling that I am hoping to find more of in the sedan. I'm holding out hope that once I spend time behind the wheel of the Legacy on a few lengthy test drives, the 'feel' of the sedan will prove more to my liking than in the Outback. Though probably unlikely, I'm hoping the Legacy's handling will have Mazda-like qualities and still provide a comfortable ride.

Does anyone know if Subaru has any interesting handling, performance or appearance changes planned for the 2016 Legacy?


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Response from mkaresh

12:49 pm July 3, 2015

The Legacy is a little sportier than the Outback, but not in the same class as the Mazda6.

The Fusion feels too large and heavy, but is also quiet.

Really, though, even the Mazda6 doesn't feel all that sporty. You need to step down a size class for that.

Is a hatchback out of the question? If not, the new VW Golf is worth a look. Interior space isn't far off a mid-size, but with the handling of a compact, and quieter inside than a Mazda3. Reliability has been good so far--though it's early. With recent VWs reliability has tended to be good for at least the first 4-6 years. Beyond six is the big question mark.

Aside from noise levels similar to the Mazda6's, the Mazda3 is an excellent option. If the car is fun enough to drive, maybe you'll find a little extra noise doesn't bother you so much?

If you are going to get a manual transmission, the Ford Focus is also a contender. Its rear seat is less roomy than the VW's, but it's quieter than the Mazda and I think the VW as well. Good handling with the SE Sport Package. Plus it's often possible to get a great deal on them. I wouldn't suggest the automatic because I'm unsure of the long-term reliability of the transmission.

The Buick Verano is quieter than any of the above, and handles well, but has numb steering and a rear seat at least as tight as that in the Focus. Reliability has been good.

If you drive any of these compacts, even the Mazda6 will feel boring in comparison.

The Chevrolet Sonic suggested above is two size classes down. Not much power. But it's by far the cheapest car you can buy with forward collision warning, a great safety feature, especially for young drivers. This feature is also available on the Buick and Mazda, though only on the latter when fully loaded and without a manual transmission.


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Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit / GTI
Mazda Mazda3
Ford Focus

Response from probstp1

11:20 am July 5, 2015

Again, thanks for the suggestions. Whiel I think they'd all be fun cars to drive, my wife just reminded me that anything smaller than a mid-size won't work for her since she gets panicy in a mid-size ehwn there are more than two passengers since she suffers from claustrophobia.


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Response from mkaresh

2:42 pm July 5, 2015

The new Golf and Mazda3 (to a slightly lesser extent, but sharing many parts with the Mazda6) are about midsize in width, which is probably the dimension that matters for perceived interior space. The Focus and Buicks are definitely out.

I'm not a huge fan of the VW Passat, but it does feel very roomy without handling like a large car.

The Accord and Legacy are also among the roomier mid-sizers.


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Volkswagen Passat

Response from Member5528

11:30 am July 9, 2015

Most of your sporty cars are going to have more interior noise due the tighter suspension.

The VW GLI might fit all your criteria and since the car may go to your daughter, may I emplore you to get it in manual? It will keep her from texting and driving for a while, her friends won't be able to drive the car (as they probably won't be able to drive stick), she will have a better understanding of how a car works, and most importantly at any stage in her life if she finds herself in a bad situation and there is a piece of machinery there, she will be able to use it to get herself out of a bad spot.

Also I generally suggest leasing cars for first time drivers or when unsure of the choices. That way you only pay for the part of the car you are using, you are not stuck, roadside assistance for the 3am flat tire, gap insurance usually included, always in warranty, and will never need to replace brakes or tires.

Check out the Jetta GLI. it's bigger than the mazda3 and golf, smaller than the 6 and passat and has all the attributes of the GTI for fun.


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Volkswagen Jetta

Response from mkaresh

1:59 pm July 9, 2015

The problem with the Jetta is that the new Golf is a much better car. While the Jetta has a roomier rear seat, front seat space is about the same.


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