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Fun, 4 door, reliable daily driver for work

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I am looking for a car that is:

  • 4 Door
  • Reliable: I plan to keep the car for 5 years and around 100,000km
  • Enough room for 2 car seats in the back and a trunk that can fit a stroller/golf clubs
  • Fun to drive. Doesn't have to be overly powerful just a sporty, playful, rev loving car that lets you enjoy driving.
  • I would prefer manual as I regret not getting my last/first car as a manual
  • My max price is $13,000 but I would prefer to be between 10-11K.

The perfect car in my mind is a Civic SI or CSX Type S (2009+), but I have not been able to find one that fits in my price range and isn't well over 100,000km already. I have also looked at the Nissan Sentra SER Spec V but it seems they are not as reliable and the back seat doesn't fold down. I have also been looking at the 2010 corolla xrs and 2012 focus SEL but I am not sure whether they are too beige.

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Safety & braking / Powertrain performance / Handling / Fuel economy

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan / Hatch / Wagon

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Family transporter / Fun toy

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 100000
Maximum age: 6 years

Maximum price: C $ 13000

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Response from mwcten

9:33 pm March 15, 2015

I'd look at a Mazda 3 first. They really have the best power to weight ratio of the economical/reliable compacts out there. They have 2.5l and 2.0l engine options, both are common and they're common as both hatches or sedans.

Secondly, do you need a big-engine spec V/Si/type S etc. etc. car to enjoy your driving experience? I personally find that the fun of driving is more from running the manual transmission, cornering, and flogging a small engine rather than having maximal straight line acceleration capabilities. The bigger engines can kind of Mustang-ify a car; making it heavier, faster in a straight line, but worse in cornering. Granted, sometimes suspension upgrades try to compensate for weight increases. If you find that, for example, the driving experience of a 5spd 2500#, 117hp Honda Fit is sufficient, that will be thousands and thousands of dollars more economical than any of the Type Si-V's of the world.

As an alternate automotive strategy, you could get a cheap SAAB. Get an early 00's $3k turbo 9-3 or 9-5. Sure they're not the most reliable, but just run them untill they die and buy another. Consider them "disposable SAABs". For the price you get a lot of car. Just make sure you can find a good SAAB mechanic locally. If you run the cost numbers over the 6 years you're concerned with, this could be cost competitive if you're savvy about repairs.


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Mazda Mazda3
Honda Fit
Saab 9-3

Response from mkaresh

8:39 am March 17, 2015

The main problem area with a 2012 Focus is the automatic transmission, so if you get a manual transmission that's not an issue. I'm not familiar with the Canadian trim levels, but in the U.S. the one to get would be the SE with the Sport Package. Can you find one in your price range? The previous generation Focus isn't as stylish or as refined, but could be more reliable, and is also fun to drive in uplevel SES trim.

For more rear seat and cargo space, look for a Hyundai Elantra Touring in uplevel trim (leather seats). They're just about the only car their size that was offered in North America. It's a size that's fairly common in Europe, and this is a Euro-market car, and drives like it. I reviewed this car here.

When Hyundai redesigned the Elantra Touring for 2013 they renamed it the Elantra GT, and decided to import the regular wheelbase version, which is the same size as the Focus.

Look for a 2010-2012. The first model year, 2009, has been less reliable.


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Hyundai Elantra Touring
Ford Focus

Response from Member5449

5:44 pm April 9, 2015


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Chrysler 200
Mazda Mazda3
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