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Fun, reliable and fuel efficient car with cargo space

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

jfrench

I haven't owned a car in 10 years (been getting around by bicycle). My body is starting to complain, so I'm looking for a daily-ish driver to get me around town (Austin, TX), out on occasional camping trips, and maybe a long road trip or three (family in Seattle).

I'd like to be able to fit my bicycle inside, so hatchbacks are particularly appealing. I'm mechanically inclined, so I'll probably learn to do my own maintenance and repairs when possible.

I've lusted after VW Golfs for years - love the look, and I had a blast driving both an older manual, and newer automatic. But it looks like the older ones suffer from reliability issues, and the newer ones are out of my price range. So now I'm looking at the Mazda 3. Curious to hear other suggestions!

Things I care about:

- gas mileage / overall cost of ownership
- fun to drive (comfort and handling)
- sporty looks
- reliability and vehicle lifespan

Thanks in advance!
Jesse

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

Need minimum of 2 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 15 years

Maximum price: US $ 5000

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Response from AcuraT

11:55 am October 6, 2018

Mazda 3 is a very good choice and is fun to drive, much more reliable than the VW. Another model to look at which is very economical is the Toyota Prius, but won't be as much fun to drive as a Model 3 but is a little more reliable than Mazda (not by a lot). Plus buying used you can get a reliable one that is a few years old pretty easily.

Best of luck!

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Response from LectroFuel

6:11 pm October 6, 2018

The new and old Golfs were pretty unreliable. The Mazda3 is probably the best choice, especially with five grand. If you ever drive where they salt the roads, only get a Mazda3 2010 or newer. The first gens rusted easily. The Mazda3 has a stiff ride, but it is engaging.

I would skip the Prius unless the HV battery was replaced with a new one recently. The engines are bulletproof though. It doesn't check the box of needing to be fun, but can fit a lot of stuff in the trunk and it is fuel efficient and reliable. The ride is soft and handling is very disconnected from the road. Get a 2004 or newer with side airbags. High mileage newer ones are also very good because age hurts the Prius more than miles.

The Honda Fit is reliable like the Prius, but more engaging. It is much less refined however. MPG is not as good as the Prius. You need to take a look at the inside of the car because the outside gives you the wrong impression of how much space there is inside. Not a good car for long highway drives as road noise leaks into the cabin a lot. Easy to park.

The Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, and Kia Soul should also be looked at if you don't like the ones mentioned so far. The Matrix and Vibe might even be better for you than the Fit. The Matrix and Vibe are the exact same car with different badges made at the same factory.

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Mazda Mazda3
Toyota Prius
Honda Fit
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