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Fuel-efficient, reliable, smooth handling car

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta



I am looking for a new car to replace my 2005 Ford Explorer. I would primarily like to replace it to get a vehicle that is more fuel efficient, and has better handling. I do not need such a large vehicle, and I do not enjoy driving it because it handles like a tank, and is noisy on the highway. I am looking in the 8000-11000 dollar range, as I would like my monthly payment to be close to what my fuel savings would be. My ideal fuel efficiency would be City: 27+ & Hwy: 35+. My daily commute is only about 2.5 miles, so most of my miles come from errands, and long trips (average 300mi round trip). I would like to be able to take more long trips, but the fuel efficiency of my SUV is limiting. In my search the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Ford Fiesta, and Ford Focus (2008-2010 range) have been common. While the Ford's look more fun to drive they seem to have terrible reliability ratings and the Prius is the opposite. I'm looking for something that will be reliable, but also a bit more fun than the Prius. I don't know if such a car exists (I can't have my cake and eat it too).

Thanks for any recommendations. .

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Hatch / Sedan / Coupe

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

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 125000
Maximum age: 10 years

Maximum price: US $ 11000

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Response from mkaresh

12:57 am August 18, 2015

In our survey the reliability of the 2008-2011 Focus has been pretty good. The older ones are less reliable, as is the Fiesta (especially with the dual-clutch automatic). I consider the 2008-2011 Focus a good value for people who want an inexpensive, reliable car that is somewhat fun to drive. For the best handling, look for one with the sport suspension (SES trim, I think). Fuel economy will be at best what you're requesting, though.

I wonder if it's possible to find a 2012-2013 Mazda3 with the latest SKYACTIV engine + six-speed transmission (manual or auto) within your budget. Fun-to-drive, efficient, and reliable--I'm just not sure about the price. Noise levels might be somewhat high. The older engine is much less efficient.

The Suzuki Kizashi might be within your budget because Suzuki no longer sells cars in North America. Fuel efficiency might be a little lower than 27/35, but they are very solid, good-handling cars that would be good for travel. Reliability seems pretty good based on limited data--I'd feel most confident about a 2011-2012 with a manual transmission.


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Ford Focus
Mazda Mazda3
Suzuki Kizashi

Response from markkhoury

9:03 am August 28, 2015

As I was reading your description of needs, one particular car was forming in my head. And then.... you listed it.

You're describing the Honda Civic. Hondas have a minimum of "fun-to-driviness" and are solid reliable. Their downside is their torqueless engine, so don't be afraid to rev.

Failing that, and since you're considering used, go bigger with a 4-cyl Honda Accord.

I would have also mentioned some Mazdas, but Honda's reliability reputation is better (Truedelta will give you the actual stats), and, until the recent Skyactiv engines (not within your budget), not economical for their power.


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Honda Civic
Honda Accord
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