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Fuel-efficient small commuter car

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I drive 25 highway miles to work in a Toyota Echo and wish they still made it! Looking for similar size, 4-door or hatchback. Key factors are price and fuel efficiency. Need to stay under $10,000 and would like something that isn't hugely expensive to repair. What I've seen so far online and would consider are Nissan Versa, Ford Focus or Fiesta, VW Beetle, Toyota Yaris or Prius, Honda Fit. Do not want a Corolla. Maybe a Hyundai? Any pros & cons would be welcomed!! Thanks.

Priorities: Fuel economy / Price or payments / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 2 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 75000
Maximum age: 11 years

Maximum price: US $ 10000

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Response from jasonmreece

1:17 am May 28, 2017

I would highly recommend taking a look at the Mazda3, Honda Fit, Honda Civic and possibly the Scion xD. All of them are reliable, safe, economical (28+ mpg) and relatively nice to drive.

The Mazda3 is my personal favorite. For $10k, you could easily find a nice 2nd-generation (2010-2013) model. The 2010-2011 with the standard 2.0L engine averages about 28mpg and the 2012-2013 with the 2.0L "Skyactiv" engine ups that to 32mpg.

The Honda Civic and Fit are both great cars, but the Fit is my favorite of the two. I like the hatchback versatility and the car's design (the seat-folding configurations, space utilization, etc.) are ingenious. It's the more economical of the two, but either one is great on gas and rock-solid reliable.

I mention the Scion xD since you are already a Toyota owner. The fuel economy and reliability are competitive with the other cars I mentioned, but it isn't quite as nice as they are. Still, it's a solid choice if you're wanting a Toyota product.

Of the cars you mentioned, I would strongly recommend that you avoid the Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta/Focus and VW Beetle. The original Versa (2007-2011) was actually a pleasant little car in most respects, but it has not been reliable over the long haul. The current Versa (2012-present) is just a cheap, noisy, slow and generally unpleasant vehicle. It has also been less than reliable.

The Ford Fiesta and Focus are also very likable cars on the surface. But reliability issues have plagued both cars from day one, particularly problems with the automatic transmission. If you are considering a manual transmission, they might be worth a look, but that would be the only exception.

The VW Beetle is slightly more reliable that the other three, but nothing like a Honda, Toyota or Mazda. The year models that would be in your price range typically have the 2.5L 5-cylinder engine, which isn't very fuel efficient.

As for the Toyota Yaris and Prius, I'm just not a fan. The Honda Fit is exponentially better than a Toyota Yaris of the same year model. It's not that the Yaris is that bad, just that the Fit is that good. The Prius is purely a personal prejudice- I just don't care for them.


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Response from lisaferr

1:09 pm May 31, 2017

If you were happy with the Toyota Echo, why not go with the Toyota Yaris? I have a 2008 manual transmission and have as yet to take it to a repair shop. This is my 3rd Toyota. One was replaced due to wanting air conditioning and the 2nd one was badly crashed. There is nothing like Toyota reliability!

My mother has also owned two Toyotas. The first was replaced for the same reason I did. Did not have air conditioning. She is still driving her 1996 Tercel. Too bad they don't make that car anymore but Yaris is a good replacement. Her only repair on the older Toyota was brakes but that is to be expected for a car that old. I believe it was a 1970-ish so it lasted her more than 20 years and driven often between Colorado and California. A man that I work with was still driving his Toyota with 250,000 miles on it.

If reliability is your most important criteria, Toyota is the only way to go. It also has excellent gas mileage. I always buy the bottom of the line Toyota as I prefer not to deal with all the bells and whistles that seem to always be what breaks down in any make car, even the expensive ones. I hear folks at work all the time talking about automatic keys, electric windows, etc. breaking down and costing a lot to have repaired. My friend, Leila, paid $600 dollars for a new automatic key device! Hearing that really turned me off to those kinds of accessories. Personally I am not concerned with how pretty a car is. What is most important to me is having a car that spends little to no time in a repair shop. I'll be a Toyota owner for life.
FYI I am very hard on cars. I am not good about oil changes and maintanance. I drive my Yaris like it is a hot rod...the reason I always choose a manual transmission over an automatic. In spite of the poor care I take of my Yaris or previous Tercels, they keep going and going even better than the Energizer bunny. ;)


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Toyota Yaris

Response from LectroFuel

1:54 am June 15, 2017

The Ford Focus and Fiesta are notorious for transmission failures. Definitely not those or the Beetle. The Versa is a really chintzy car with average to below average reliability. The Yaris is reliable, but not nice in any way. I best car you mentioned was the Prius. I have a 2005 with 250,000 original miles and a 2016 that I love. I just replaced the battery in the old one for $2,200. That's the downside to used Prii. They are reliable until the battery eventually fails. The Prius is fast enough for almost anyone. I drive mine really hard and I haven't had any powertrain problems except for recalls. I get 42 MPG in my 2005 and 57 MPG in my 2016. :) The driving experience is much better on my 2016 than my 2005, so keep that in mind when wanting a fun car. The Honda Fit's a great car. It's a fun car to drive, but listen for road noise. It can get annoying, but most cars in this price range are like that.

The Mazda 2 is a great car that no one has mentioned! It's fun and has good MPG and reliability The Mazda 3 is also a good choice.Good luck!


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Response from bellkates

8:16 am June 15, 2017

No one has mentioned Chevy Aveo or Mini Cooper. Are those worth considering?


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Response from LectroFuel

12:44 pm June 16, 2017

You should definitely avoid the Chevy Aveo and Mini Cooper. The Aveo is just a terrible car that is probably falling apart and the Mini Cooper is a fun car but it is unreliable.


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Response from NormT

8:26 am July 7, 2017

The 2017 Chevy Spark LS is being advertised for $9,XXX brand new with full warranty on the internet.


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Chevrolet Spark
Chevrolet Sonic
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