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Fuel efficient, fun, safe, comfy car for tall, out of shape man

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


We are finally ditching a 10-year-old Civic that I've hated since we got it because of its cheap interior and exterior. It is also too low-slung and tight for my tall, stiff husband.

I am looking for something roomier that is still in the compact category for budgetary reasons. Up to date safety features like Blind Spot Detection, lane change assist, etc. would be great. It needs to be at least as fuel-efficient as the Civic (app 35 mpg). Built in navigation desirable but not essential. We would love to have well padded premium cloth or leatherette seats. My heart is set in a hatchback. If I could have picked a fourth and fifth criterion, it would have been reliability and interior style since I am more concerned with what I see and feel than what others see me in. :)

At the moment we are focusing on the Prius Twoand the Mazda 3, probably both in the non-touring models. We loved the VW Golf but the dealer we test-drove with indicated that availability was sparse and pricing not very flexible. We will be test driving a Kia Soul this week.

Any feedback or suggestions would be welcome. We hope to make up our minds in the next month. I am willing to test drive a couple more makes and models if given good reasons. In theory I would rather buy American but I havent seen the right combo of price, safety, fuel-efficiency, reliability and comfort.

Priorities: Front seat support & comfort / Fuel economy / Safety & braking

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider new cars only

Maximum price: US $ 23000

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Response from Dnslater

7:41 am May 8, 2017

Kudos for you for valuing a car's interior as it is what you look at most of the time, not the exterior. It sounds like you have done your homework. In the small hatchback class, the Mazda 3 and VW Golf probably have the nicest interiors of the bunch. Thoughtfully laid out and high quality materials. Golf's get very good mileage. Prius's are a good choice, but the interiors are certainly more utilitarian. If you have other VW dealers in the area, you might try harder on finding a Golf, although in America they are certainly more interested in pushing the Jetta. The interiors are Audi quality and they are somewhat tall and boxy and have good headroom.

I'm not familiar with how nice the Kia's interior is, but the tall shape might be nice for your tall husband.

As far as American made I believe Ford and GM make their small cars in Mexico, as does VW and Mazda. For 2017, Subaru Impreza's moved production to Lafayette, Indiana, so this might be your best choice. The Crosstrek version is a bit taller and might be easier for your husband to get in and out of. The Eyesight driver assist is optional and adds blind spot detection. Subaru's traditionaly have had cheap interiors, but supposedly for the 2017 model, the Impreza has a much improved interior design.


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Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit / GTI
Subaru Impreza / Outback Sport
Subaru Crosstrek

Response from jasonmreece

9:21 pm May 9, 2017

The Mazda3 would be my first recommendation based on the features and attributes that you specify. It has a class-leading interior (both in build and material quality), Blind Spot Monitoring is standard on all 5-door/hatchback models except the base 'Sport' and it has an EPA rating of 37mpg highway. It is also very reliable and it's arguably the best looking model in the compact car class.

The Touring 5-door sounds like the best fit because it includes the Blind Spot Monitor, leatherette interior (heated front seats) and other useful features like 6-way power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar, dual-zone automatic climate control and sharp 18" alloy wheels. It also has the smaller 2.0L engine which keeps the price down and uses less fuel that the optional 2.5L. The MSRP on the Touring 5-door (A/T) is $23,120 and TrueCar shows a purchase price of $18,809 including $1,500 in current incentives. I ran a quick search on Cars.com and found 200+ of them all over the country priced at $19,500 or less.

There is also a Touring 2.5 5-door that stickers for $1,200 more and upgrades to the 2.5L engine. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring 5-door has the 2.5L standard along with leather, moonroof, Bose audio and a lot of other features for $2,700 more than the Touring.

If you are already planning to take a look at the Kia Soul, you should also check out the Kia Forte5 while you're at the dealership. It is the 5-door hatchback version of the Forte and the entry-level LX model has an option package available that includes a Blind Spot Monitor. It shares the same 2.0L engine with the mid-grade Kia Soul + (Plus).

Still, I think the Mazda3 wins hands down. Nothing else even comes close for the price, IMO.


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Response from JudithG

2:35 pm May 10, 2017

Thanks to both of you for your replies. I did not realize US "makes" were made in Mexico - good to know!

I looked at the Impreza and it does look like one we should test drive.

Since my previous post, we test drove a Kia Niro and looked at a Forte. We decided Soul's mileage was not good enough and there was something about the Forte that excluded it. The Niro was great except that to get the safety features we want we would end up paying close to $30K. Way over budget.

So far I wholeheartedly agree with you, @jasonmreece, that the Mazda (maybe the 3X) is by far the best car for the money. The dealer is offering great pricing as well, and hubby found it comfortable and a pleasure to drive. Our only hesitation is that the closest dealer has a bad reputation and the closest one with a good rep is 10 miles away... even the bad one is 5 miles away. We are used to going about a mile, or event to the place at the end of our block. :/ Toyota, VW, Kia, etc. all have dealerships within a couple miles. It is harder to say if the better car would outweigh the inconvenience.

@Dnslater, I too concluded that talking to other VW dealers would be wise. I felt the Golf was a car we could fall in love with.

Any thoughts on the Honda HR-V?


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Response from Dnslater

7:18 am May 11, 2017

I do not know much about the Honda HR-V as I'm not much of a fan of crossover SUV's. It appears to have similar space to the Mazda and VW hatchbacks, and is essentially just a lifted, fattened version of the Fit. The extra height sacrifices a little mileage and handling, but this might be a worthwile tradeoff as your Husband may find it easier to get in and out of.


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Response from mkaresh

12:10 pm May 11, 2017

At least some Mazda3s are still imported from Japan. All of them with the 2.5-liter engine might still come from Japan. The Mazda2, not offered here except as the Toyota Yaris iA, is made in Mexico.

The Ford Focus is still made in the U.S., but will be moving to Mexico in 2018 to open up the Detroit-area plant for a new Ranger pickup.

The Chevrolet Cruze sedan is made in the U.S., but the relatively low-volume hatchback is made in Mexico.

Yes, it gets complicated.


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Response from JudithG

5:21 pm May 27, 2017

@mkaresh, thanks for pointing us in the direction of Subaru. At the moment our shortlist includes the Crosstrek (despite being made in Japan... at least some of the company's cars are US-made!), the Mazda CX3 and the Mazda3. Hubby can get in and out of the CX3 better but initially prefers the handling of the 3.

Any thoughts on Mazda's reliability? Consumer Reports thinks quite highly of the brand and pretty much all its cars (it likes Mazda much better than Honda, for example) but it seems to have a pretty bad reputation from years past.


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Mazda CX-3
Subaru Crosstrek
Mazda Mazda3

Response from mkaresh

6:40 pm May 27, 2017

Most Mazdas have been mechanically reliable for as far back as I can remember. The turbocharged CX-7, no longer offered, was an exception. And the RX-8 sports car I personally known has a few weak parts, including the engine.

I say "mechanically" because in the past Mazdas were prone to rust. I think they've gotten better in this area beginning around the 2009 model year, but it's still a bit soon to be sure that problem has been licked. Probably.

I also prefer the handling (and power, with the 2.5-liter engine) of the 3 to the CX-3.


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Response from NormT

8:41 am July 8, 2017

The Buick Encore Premium offers more luxury features for a similar price of those base models mentioned above. The Encore Premium does sticker in the $30's but is discounted almost $7,000 or about $23,000 for the top of the line. It has auto dimming mirror, folding front passenger seat for more cargo area, dual zone cl I mate control that most in this segment do not offer.

If that is too expensive the Active Noise Control is offered all the way down to $16,000 after $10,000 discount. This will be the quietest cuv in the segment.

The fuel economy is rated 33 mpg highway for the front wheel drive. But our 2013 Buick Encore could see almost 40 mpg at the speed limit. ..with AWD. Nothing will match that in gasoline powered AWD.


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Buick Encore
Buick Envision
Chevrolet Trax
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