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Fun and reliable car for a collage student

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I live at a university and drive back home(150 miles) during weekends. Currently, I drive a Prius which is a gas saver and very reliable. However, driving with it is soooo boring!
Looking for a fun car, no need for a high HP. I can do some maintenance by myself, it is better to be reliable.
I like 86/brz but they are way out of my budget. My first option now is Miata, but space is a big con for me to consider.Any other choices?

Priorities: Powertrain performance / Reliability & durability / Fuel economy

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 12 years

Maximum price: US $ 10000

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Response from Sea-Dan

4:11 pm May 20, 2018

I suggest looking at two readily available, reliable hatchbacks - the Honda Fit or Chevy Sonic. Both have a relatively fun to drive factor in that they are fairly zippy and handle nicely. Bonus for college student is lots of space for your stuff.

The Sonic with the Turbo engine will be faster thus more fun to drive. The Fit's Magic Seats provide a more spacious / flexible cargo area .

As a former Fit owner I can vouch for the Fit's fun to drive factor, reliablity & good fuel economy - with reasonable driving habits it can easily exceed the EPA mileage estimates. My 2011 averaged 33-36 in urban driving & 38 to 41 highway (need to keep it under 70 mph to exceed 40 mpg). I have not driven the Sonic but it gets pretty good reviews also.

Give 'em both a try & see which you prefer.



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Response from NormT

5:53 pm May 20, 2018

Save your ears from those tin-box economy cars and look at something that is just as good of handling in Motor Trend figure-8 handling test of 26 seconds and brakes shorter with 295 lb-ft of torque. Keep your speeds at the speed limit and you'll see almost 40 mpg highway.

2014 Buick Regal Base For Sale In Fargo | Cars.com

2014 Buick Regal Base For Sale In Fargo | Cars.com

Used 2014 Buick Regal Base for sale at Corwin Honda in Fargo, ND for $10,000. View now on Cars.com.


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Buick Regal
Buick Verano

Response from NormT

5:58 pm May 20, 2018

Or a convertible 2.0T tuneble to 290 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque with GMPP ecu tune. 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line For Sale In Old Saybrook | Cars.com

2007 Saturn Sky Red Line For Sale In Old Saybrook | Cars.com

Used 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line for sale at Saybrook Motorsports in Old Saybrook, CT for $7,990. View now on Cars.com.


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Saturn SKY
Pontiac Solstice

Response from AcuraT

12:03 pm May 21, 2018

Agree with danlisahall as those are pretty good suggestions. Would also consider the Mazda 3 as it is relatively fun to drive, not that expensive, and a good deal if bought used.

A used Regal is not a bad suggestion either, those cars are pretty solid as well.


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Response from Sea-Dan

1:31 am May 23, 2018

I regret to say that I recommended the Sonic without looking close enough. CR gives it pretty go ratings but the ratings here on TD are not so hot. According to TD all Fits are "Best". 2012 - 2016 Sonic "Worst" ! Personally I'd scratch the Sonic unless you really like the Turbo & willing to accept a lower level of reliablity. https://www.truedelta.com/Honda-Fit-vs-Chevrolet-Sonic-reliability-comparison,99-1065 P

Mazda3 as AcuraT suggested is much better - compares well with Fit. https://www.truedelta.com/Honda-Fit-vs-Mazda-Mazda3-reliability-comparison,99-170


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Response from LectroFuel

7:24 pm May 23, 2018

I think the Miata would be a great car for you. It is the one car I wish I never got rid of. If you need space it isn't the car for you.

If space is a concern, look for a 2012 or newer Mazda3. The 2010 and newer ones are also good, but the 2012s and newer have the SkyActiv engine that is more powerful and much more efficient. The SkyActiv engine is the same one used in the Miata. The manual in the Mazda3 feels almost as good as the Miata.

The Fit is my third pick, but it may just be as good as the Mazda3. The cargo room is enormous for the size of the car and the previous generation had good steering feel. The new generation kind of lost it, but it is a little more comfortable and the interior is much better. It will be hard to find the newest generation in your price range.

I would skip the GM cars mentioned so far. I don't know why a Buick seemed like a good suggestion for someone looking for a BRZ.


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Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda Mazda3
Honda Fit
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