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Fuel-efficient, reliable hatchback for lengthy commutes

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I've had three Volkswagens (gasoline) over the course of 30 years and am unsure what to get next. I keep my cars for a long time and drive approx. 30,000 km/year - mostly highway & city commuting. Fuel efficiency and reliability are my two main concerns and I've always preferred compact hatchbacks. I've test driven a 2013 Subaru Impreza, a 2011 Mazda 3 2.5 and a 2013 VW Golf TDI. I think I'd like to find a Mazda 3 skyactive, I hear they get better fuel economy than the 2.5.

I want the TDI for the fuel economy, the Mazda 3 for the reliability and the Subaru for the AWD. I've loved my VWs but the repair costs are painful.

Thoughts? Other suggestions to go and look at? Thanks!

Priorities: Fuel economy / Reliability & durability

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Hatch

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

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 60000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: C $ 23000

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Response from toddcurry

10:23 pm December 15, 2014


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Mazda CX-5
Mazda Mazda3

Response from mkaresh

6:00 pm December 18, 2014

The SkyActiv engine is much more efficient than the previous Mazda engine. This is the case even for the SkyActive 2.5, available with the 2014. As toddcurry points out, Mazda does offer a SkyActiv AWD vehicles, the CX-5 crossover. It might be beyond your budget, though.

The Subaru gets good mpg when you consider it has AWD. Subarus tend to be reliable for at least the first 100k miles. After that point older ones can get expensive. It's too soon to predict how the newer ones will perform.

Other hatchbacks worth a look are the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra GT, and Kia Forte5. Reliability probably isn't as good as with the Mazda and Subaru, but it's still pretty good, and the deals could be much more attractive. The Focus is most reliable and fun-to-drive with a manual transmission.


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Ford Focus
Hyundai Elantra GT
Kia Forte

Response from ellen_yvr

2:15 pm December 19, 2014

Thanks toddcurry and mkaresh, for the thoughts and interpreting what toddcurry was "saying". I'm not that concerned about AWD, it's a nice to have, not a need to have. I drove the 2013 Impreza again this morning and it's fine. I like the hill holding clutch and the heated seats but otherwise my 2001 Golf 1.8T seems to have better acceleration on the highway. It's difficult to get highway speeds and listen for noises on a test drive but I tried.

I'll try to find a Mazda 3 SkyActiv and a Ford Focus and try those out. The Golf TDI 6 speed manual was really nice but I need to stay away from those costs over time, I should have learned by now.

Thanks again. Happy Holidays.


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Response from koksetna

5:57 pm January 7, 2015

Try out a Jetta Sportwagen. Our 2011 TDI gets 40 mpg in combined driving, and has been very reliable to 43,000 miles, much more reliable than my 2006 Passat (not bad, just a number of recalls) and my 2002 Audi A4. (Good grief! Lots of coil pack problems). It has more utility than the hatchbacks, if you really need it.


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Response from ellen_yvr

2:46 pm January 9, 2015

Thanks, it's good to hear someone saying their 2011 TDI has been reliable, I'm definitely leaning towards a TDI Golf. I don't need the size of the wagon and I am still trying to be open to cars other than VW.

Before Christmas I made an offer on the 2013 Impreza but the dealer was barely willing to deal. The car is still on the lot and I could have gone higher but I didn't feel like they were willing to meet in the middle anywhere.

The looking stalled over the holidays so it's starting again tonight.


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Response from koksetna

3:20 pm January 9, 2015

Best of luck with your search!
Granted, my experience is only one owner's experience out of many.
Remember, though, the JSW is in its last model year, so perhaps dealers will be eager to negotiate on this outgoing model, which now is time tested, so perhaps more reliable.
Also, the sportwagon isn't really much larger than the golf, a bit longer.
I have a friend with a year-old Impreza. He likes it okay, but says it is noisy and rides roughly, so you might see if that is the case for you or not. He then bought a used Subarau Outback for his highway drives, said it was quieter and more comfortable than the Impreza, and he felt the new Outbacks were too big.
My MX5 miata sure is reliable. So, I'd be tempted by the Mazda 3. I liked the Ford Focus when I drove it, but much preferred the manual to the auto (so did my spouse). I didn't like what I considered Ford's "busy" interior styling. I found the Elantra quite serene to drive and roomy. But, it's a bigger car and more sedate to drive.
Tough to choose, good luck.


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