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Fuel-efficient short commute car that is comfortable, very safe, and has good reliability with CD radio, USB, auxiliary input

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

rlstites

Looking at Honda Civic and CR-V. Really like the CR-V for roominess and interior as well as pretty good economy.
Wife wants smaller car with better gas mileage and top safety pick. So Civic looks good, but I'm still not sure.
Would be happy with a good used Civic for my wife to drive.
Also looked at Toyota Corolla, Matrix, and Camry. Each of these could work, but the Civic looks like it beats them in mpg and safety.
Mazda3 and MX-5 are also in my consideration because of their improved mpg, but the comfort and style are not completely to my liking.
I have not driven a Mazda yet, though.

I would prefer to not buy a new car as it appears that the years 2004-2010 are good for all of these and only loss is a bit less mpg.

The CR-V for 2013-2015 have improved mpg so we did look at some newer used models and liked them.

I appreciate any responses and lessons learned on any of these cars. Thanks much!

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan / Hatch / Wagon

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Errands about town

Primary Driver(s): Senior driver

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 8 years

Maximum price: US $ 11000

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Response from Snowblaster99

5:09 pm May 9, 2014

I was thinking of buying a SUV, I like the excellent reliability reports on the Honda CR-V, but I would like something a bit smaller, it was suggested to me that I might take a look at the 2015 Honda HR-V. URL for Honda HR-V (below) http://automobiles.honda.com/hr-v/ It looks very sleek and even coupe-like, the rear doors are cleverly hidden. It is based on the underpinnings of the Honda Fit and will come with a 1.5-litre i-VTEC four-port engine mated to a CVT gearbox it is FWD, however, the scuttlebutt is that in the North American market it will be available with AWD and Turbo (I hope so). They say it will be on the road in the in the winter of 2015, the pics and video look cool, but I would like to see one in person so that I can get a better feel of how Big/Small it actually is. As of now Honda is only releasing info on the HR-V in bits and pieces, although if you sign up on their website they will e-mail you further information as time goes on. I hope this is of some help to you in your search :)

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Response from Snowblaster99

6:01 pm May 9, 2014

http://www.autoblog.com/2013/11/20/honda-vezel-hybrid-fit-cuv-tokyo-2013/

Above is an URL for the Honda Vezel it is quite similar to the Honda HR-V and I belive its been on the road in Japan for a year or two, hopefully it would give Honda some time to fix any first year of production bugs that there may be, although, Honda has an excellent reputation for getting their cars right before releasing them.

It would be GREAT if the Honda HR-V came out with the same excellent reliability stats as the CV-R and the Civic!

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Response from mkaresh

12:36 am May 10, 2014

I wouldn't be too concerned about the CR-V's middling score in the small overlap test. This is a new test, and any of these tests covers one possible crash scenario (in this case head-on with a small overlap, most likely on rural two-lane roads) out of a very large number. The CR-V scores well in the other tests.

Both Mazdas (did you mean CX-5?) also score well in the safety tests.

The hatchbacks will get significantly better gas mileage than the crossovers, can't beat physics.

To get good fuel economy in the Mazda3, you'd have to get one with a SKYACTIV engine, which was introduced in the 2012s (and not all 2012s).

I'm personally not a fan of how the CR-V looks or drives, but these things are subjective. If you like it, that's what counts.

The Mazdas are more fun to drive than the Hondas. The main negatives on the 2004-2013 Mazda3 are styling, somewhat cheap interior materials, marginal fuel economy (w/o SKYACTIV), higher than average noise levels (which Hondas also suffer from), and a tendency to rust where the roads are salted (not an issue in Virginia, but watch out for cars that spent some time in the north).

A lot of people like the Honda Fit for its combination of roominess and fuel economy, but it did score a poor in that new test. Worth considering if the car won't often be driven on two-lane roads at fairly high speeds.

The 2009-2012 Elantra Touring didn't sell in large numbers, and tends to be very reasonably priced as a used car. The SE trim is especially nice. This car wasn't related to the Elantra sedan. Instead, it was a car designed primarily for the European market, where it was marketed as the i30 "estate" (British for station wagon). As such, it's has quite a bit more rear seat and cargo room than hatchbacks like the Mazda3--and nearly as much as the CR-V. But it drives like a hatchback, not a crossover. Fuel economy is just okay. It wasn't crash tested in the U.S. In the European NCAP tests it scored okay but not great--better than the European Civic of the same years.

Here's a specs comparison with the CR-V:
http://www.truedelta.com/Hyundai-Elantra-Touring/specs-876-2012/vs-CR-V-110-2012&body_1=18&pt_1=1281&body_2=14&pt_2=141 The Subaru Forester also has a lot of fans. But avoid the 2011, as it's prone to engine problems. And all Subarus have a tendency to get expensive to maintain after 100,000 miles.

Final tip: if your wife really wants one car, and you get her another one, you'll never hear the end of it until the car is gone :)

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Hyundai Elantra Touring
Honda Fit
Subaru Forester

Response from Tim P

3:39 pm May 18, 2014

I did quite a bit of searching a couple years ago for a fun, reliable, efficient long commuter car. I was mainly interested in Hondas and Acuras, as I had two, but was not happy with what was currently available (I also wanted a manual which narrowed the choices quite a bit). Anyway I wound up with a 2012 Mazda 3. It just went to 35K miles, and I've been very happy with it. It's been reliable, confortable and I've averaged 36MPG over that time. (I drive pretty briskly but most is on highways and freeways). The only things I have an issue with are that I'd like the road noise to be a little less and the stock tires are not good in ice and snow. I haven't tried a 2013 or 14 so I don't know how much has changed, but I think the Mazdas are well worth test driving. You may even see if the five door model suits you both. (I've yet to see if it'll be as trouble free as long as the Hondas I've owned, but so far it's only had basic maintenance.)


If you want to go a little upscale I kind of liked the 2004-2008 Acura TSXs I drove, but it may be difficult to find a lower mileage, well maintained one.

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Mazda Mazda3
Acura TSX

Response from rlstites

10:42 am June 2, 2014

Thanks to everyone for their input. It seems like others have considered the cars which I have been interested in and your input was helpful.

However, most helpful and essential was the editor's input: "Final tip: if your wife really wants one car, and you get her another one, you'll never hear the end of it until the car is gone :)"

So finally I have agreed to purchase a Honda Civic as it has the best crash test data, nearly the best mpg, and is very reliable. I still like the Honda CR-V the best but my wife says "so do you want to sell our Sienna to purchase the CR-V? Smile. So a smaller car is what she wants and what I will buy for her use.

Drove a 2012 Mazda3 and did not like the way it drove, the uncomfortable seats, road noise, and the way the console was set up. Just did not do anything for me. I'm concerned about the reliability also.

So for the Civic.... I am actually looking at low mileage 2003-2005 models because I do not like all the electronics of the newest ones and the 2006-early 2009 have engine block issues (google it). There are "Special Edition" 2004-2005 civics which have upgraded radios and some other added value. They are selling for $7-10,000 in the Northern Virginia area so I am waiting for a best price which may be several weeks from now. I also don't mind working on my cars and I can do that on the older ones. The 2013-2014 Civics have great gas mileage too, but their long-term crash tests and reliability info are not really collected yet. Here is a link to a description of the 2005 model and Special Edition: http://autos.msn.com/research/userreviews/reviewlist.aspx?modelid=11429

Thanks again for your help, but ultimately this is what my wife wants so I am choosing the best of the Civics which would work for me. She is fine with buying the 2003-2005 model and our Sienna is a 2006 with 93K miles and is running like new!



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Mazda Mazda3
Toyota Sienna
Honda Civic

Response from mkaresh

12:42 pm June 2, 2014

Sounds good. Just one note: a car that old won't have the aux and USB inputs. I'd also be surprised if it did better in crash tests, but haven't actually checked those stats.

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Response from rlstites

12:56 pm June 2, 2014

Forgot to mention about the auxiliary input. The Special Edition does have that! Also a wise salesman reminded me that I can replace the radio with an upgraded radio with USB and auxiliary input on any Civic. So I am watching for the best buy overall. Currently have one 2005 special edition with all this and only 77K miles, but the price is over 9K so not sure I want to go with that. We will keep watching and searching with the phrase "special edition". Thanks again.

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Response from rlstites

12:59 pm June 2, 2014

Here is a link to some pictures of the 2005 Civic special edition for sale near my home.

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/4487721194.html

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Honda Civic
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