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Fuel-efficient hauler for single guy and four-legged friends, easy to clean, reliable, cargo

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Currently driving a 2008 Dodge Nitro SLT and sister is driving a 2007. Both of us have been experiencing reliability issues and are looking to move onto something else.

For the here and now, these are things I am currently looking for in a vehicle...
* Easy to maintain and clean interior - travel with dogs that shed a lot and haul cargo that tends to be very dirty/dusty
* Cargo space
* Make/Model Reliability
* Reasonable/decent gas mileage
* Aux input or bluetooth
* AWD/4WD - brother recently bought a lake house and got stuck after a brief rain and the more regular ice storms during winters

I have been considering either small/compact trucks or compact SUVs. I've researchd mostly compact SUV as the thought is I can make use of the better fuel economy during the work week and pair it with a trailer of some sort for the occaisional haul (mulch, construction debris, etc..). Though, it seems there are a number of trucks that would probably sport better fuel economy than my nitro.

So far, the vehicles I've looked into most are:
* Honda Element 2008-2011 EX with AWD - Looking for those with less than 70k miles, but these seem to be going quickly
* Jeep Renegade Trailhawk - Like the styling and concept, concerned about first year jitters and that 9-speed automatic tranny
* Mini Countryman All4S- Drawn to the styling on this for some reason, impressed with what I've read of its off roading capabilities, but concerned about reliability based on feedback I've read on Minis
* Subaru Forester and CrossTrek - Find both appealing, though would prefer it if the CrossTrek had the hitch option.

On my radar:
* Mazda CX-5
* Kia Sportage
* Chevrolet Colorado

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Coupe / Sedan / Hatch

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 50000
Maximum age: 5 years

Maximum price: US $ 25000

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Response from Member6121

7:21 pm July 21, 2015

You could add an Impreza Wagon to the list. The recent editions do better with fuel and have AWD. You could get a new one for less than $25K. The Honda HR-V can carry a lot of stuff and has AWD and the magic seat could be useful for the pets. A used Forester would work as well....


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Subaru Impreza / Outback Sport
Honda HR-V
Subaru Forester

Response from mwcten

11:29 pm July 21, 2015

I'd agree the smaller vehicle+trailer is the way to go to save on money/gas. I'd also agree the Element is a good choice. You can hose out their interiors, and it offers a lot of options for reconfiguring space. I think you should hold out for the Element. Some of the other vehicles you mentioned are OK choices, but if you're serious about hauling around a lot of stuff/dogs, what price do you put on your cleaning time? Even if you get an older/cheaper/non-awd model, it's still a vehicle optimized to do exactly what you need to do with it. I wouldn't really even be that scared of high miles. Even big ticket repairs aren't that expensive on them. Also, I would evaluate whether you need 4wd. I do just fine on snowy NY roads with fwd on a compact car. If you know how to drive and keep aggressive tires on the front, you should be fine. And worst case you either carry come-a-longs in your car to pull yourself out of things or you suck it up and ask your truck driving buddies to pull you out. If you're doing more serious off-roading than that, you probably don't want to risk your daily driver doing it - get a compact car for your long haul road driving and an old 4wd truck/jeep for the trails.


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Response from mkaresh

2:22 pm July 23, 2015

The Element does seem like a good fit.

A budget option might be the Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix. I think they also had plastic cargo areas, and AWD was an option. They can tow up to 1,500 lbs.

The Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester are both very nice all-around crossovers. I have more doubts about the long-term reliability of the Subaru, so it's a matter of whether you're likely to own it past 100k miles. Same for the Impreza.

The new HR-V has good cargo capacity, but powertrain performance is borderline. Not the best candidate for towing.


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Pontiac Vibe
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