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Maintenance free, fuel efficient, fun car for my daily drive to and from work

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

ahamii

Less than 80k miles, no accidents if possible, a vehicle with utility (hatch, folding rear seats), front or all wheel drive, I've looked at mini clubman and countryman, fiat 500 sport & abarth, ford focus/Fiesta ST, audi a4/a6 avant.

Priorities: Fuel economy / Warranty, maintenance cost / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 2 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 10 years

Maximum price: US $ 10000

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Response from LectroFuel

12:53 am October 18, 2017

You will still have to do maintenance on every car. This website is not Autotrader where you get car listings. Many cars fit your criteria. Can you elaborate on the details?

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Response from ahamii

9:08 am October 18, 2017

Thanks for your responseLectroFuel,
I know I'll have to do regular maintenance (brakes, tires, rotations/balance, fluid changes, tuneups), what I'm concerned about is costly repairs due to automaker defects that werent addressed during warranty period. I don't want the burden of a new car payment at the same time I don't want the surprise of major engine repairs that could potentially exceed the cost of the used vehicle.

What I want are reccomendations on some reliable, somewhat fuel efficient vehicles that typically don't require major engine repairs. Hope thats the detail you were asking for :)

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Response from LectroFuel

8:33 pm October 18, 2017

I'm not trying to be negative, but all of the cars you mentioned are unreliable and/or expensive to repair. Fiat is the most unreliable brand in North America currently and has been for several years along with the other Chrysler brands. Minis are unreliable and expensive to fix (made by BMW). The Ford Focus has had a lot of transmission failures, although the previous generation (2nd gen, the most cheap feeling) was more reliable. I still wouldn't buy one. The Audis are iffy with reliability and are expensive to fix.

I'd go with a 2009-2011 Honda Civic Si. It's pretty fast and sporty, fun to drive, cheap to maintain, reliable, and practical, especially if you get the sedan. They got a mild refresh in 2009, but 2006-2008 were good too. The problem is there is no hatchback. Also has a loud cabin with road noise.

The 2010-2013 Mazda 3 is one of the most fun to drive compact cars. It's slower than the Civic Si, but it's efficient, reliable, cheap to fix, and a good value. The 2010 was the redesign year. The 2011 added standard ESC, which is important to have. 2012 added standard blind spot monitoring to Touring and Grand Touring models and a much more fuel efficient engine. For these reasons I'd get a 2012. Also comes in a hatchback. Road noise is pretty loud inside, but the lack of sound deadening improves handling. If you want a quieter car that's what the Corolla is for.

The Honda Fit could be an option. It isn't as comfortable as the Civic or Mazda3, but there are loads of space inside and has nimble handling. It could feel a little tinny because of the road noise. Really cheap to buy and fix, reliable, doesn't look cheap and depressing like most subcompact cars.

If you need AWD look for a Subaru Impreza, but they have very low depreciation so it'll be hard to find a newer year.

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Mazda Mazda3
Honda Fit
Honda Civic

Response from Suppin

2:13 am October 19, 2017

So if you're worried about maintenance and reliability. Just give up on anything with a Turbo charged engine. You'll have to do more frequent oil changes and use Synthetic oil all the time. Even then quite frankly there are more moving bits and that equates usually to less reliability. If you're willing to "row your gears" you can save maintenance costs of servicing the automatic transmission, get a more reliable car, and have more fun driving (and sometimes get better mpg). True enthusiasts always drive manual, or at least they did until those flappy paddle gearboxes showed up.

Maybe you want a Mazda 2 or a Mazda 3 ? In Manual transmission is the best, but automatics are fine (although they do cost a bit in terms of power and driving experience). Both are fun to drive. I actually like driving the Mazda 2 more as it feels much more like a go cart (and is noisier and buzzy). I also agree the Honda fit is worth a look. You want 2009-2014 generation. They have loads of roam, very reliable, but can have a lot of road nosie, and tend to be a little underpowered. This revision escapes the CVT, which is good since the 5 speed automatic transmission is solid and proven (old tech, but hey it's built solid). Of course once again going manual adds to the fun if you are able and willing.

Alll 3 will provide you will a reliable ride and all 3 are handsome in my eyes.

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Mazda Mazda2
Mazda Mazda3
Honda Fit

Response from ahamii

12:41 pm October 19, 2017

HeyLectroFuel,

This is exactly the type of feedback I was looking for. It didnt come across negative in any way. I wanted honest real answers. I'm conducting the following searches now based on your reccomendations:

2009-2011 Honda Civic Si
2010-2013 Mazda 3
Honda Fit
Subaru Impreza

I'm leaning towards the Mazda 3 Sport w/Hatchback. I'll keep you up to date on what I find.

Thanks again,
ahamii

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Response from ahamii

12:50 pm October 19, 2017

Hey Suppin,

I'm adding your advise to what i got from LectroFuel. As an Audi owner for the last 10-15, yes I'm worried about maintenance and reliability. As you suggested I'll be moving away from anything with a Turbo charged engine. In replying to LectroFuel's comment, i started searches for the following vehicles:

2009-2011 Honda Civic Si
2010-2013 Mazda 3
Honda Fit
Subaru Impreza

But for the price and mileage I've been seening I'm leaning towards the Mazda3 Sport w/hatchback. I really appreciate all the great feedback and reccomendations. I'll keep you guys in the loop on my final purchase decision.

Thanks,
ahamii

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Response from Suppin

6:27 pm October 19, 2017

Hi ahamii,

Your list is very good, but I'd like to add a few comments

I like the Civic SI as well, but finding one of decent quality and low mileage for your price range might be difficult.

The Mazda 3 is a very solid choice as well, and there are many good examples for you i should hope.

The Subaru Impreza i don't know a whole lot about, but I usually shy away from AWD cars just because there is usually an extra set of differentials in the rear that need servicing. That said the impreza has shown itself to be pretty reliable so should be fine.

Now I know you were considering the Fiat 500, which is honestly a tiny go cart like car. That is why I recommended the Mazda2. The Mazda2 has a similar feel although completely different looks. I would recommend you try to find a used dealer to take a test drive. they are very tossable.

So my advice... go to carmax or some other big auto dealer, take them out for test drives, and decide whether you'll be happy in them. Then go back to the spreadsheet and see where that leaves you. Sometimes the right choice on paper may not be the best choice for the individual. You already have yourself a solid list that hits all the "good" data points you were asking for. Why not make the "real choice" based on your aesthetic desires and driving happiness now that you've removed the "duds".

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Response from LectroFuel

1:00 am October 20, 2017

The Fit will be more practical than the Mazda2 and still is fun to drive though not as tossable as the Mazda2. Keep in mind they aren't as fast or comfortable as the Mazda3, Civic, and Impreza. Still good cars though.

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Response from ahamii

8:16 am October 20, 2017

Good Morning! Your feedback has been awesome and has helped narrow my decisions regarding some reliable vehicles. While doing a search a 2008 volvo c30 popped up in my search parameters. Wondered what LectroFuel & Suppin thoughts are regarding this volvo.

Thanks again guys,
ahamii

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Response from ahamii

8:18 am October 20, 2017

Response from LectroFuel

8:08 pm October 20, 2017

I feel like a 2008 Volvo will not have much life in it. It has a five cylinder engine that also is turbocharged. I'd get a 2010 or newer VW Golf 2.5, which is not turbocharged, over the Volvo. The VW Golf is still less reliable than the Japanese brands but it would be a comfortable option with a European feeling like the Volvo and versatility. Gas mileage isn't great with the 5 cylinder Golf but it makes an interesting engine note. Repair costs for the Volvo will make it a money pit I'm guessing because it's a Swedish brand and they haven't made the C30 in 4 years. Hard to find parts. The VW could be expensive to fix but less than the Volvo.

I've never liked the Yaris. Cheap-feeling, noisy, tinny, and is one of the few cars still with a 4 speed auto. If you wanted a sporty or driver-involved car you would be disappointed. A Honda Fit is like a Toyota Yaris but it does almost everything right. The Yaris is super reliable however like the Fit.

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Response from Suppin

11:25 pm October 20, 2017

So adding the C30 and the Yaris.

The Yaris is practical. Fuel efficient. Underpowered. buzzy. BUT it is reliable, and a solid commuter. Do you want something that will get you from A to B without drama. Do you not mind that it has all the character of a Potato? Well then the Yaris is for you.

Keep in mind I _like_ the yaris. I think the Yaris is a great car to give to a teenager. It's reliable and solid enough to survive some abuse, and slow enough so they don't get into too much trouble.

The C30 is... ... .... well lets cross that one off the list. It will be more troubles and headaches than you care for.

I disagree with LectroFuel about the Golf. The Golf, and rabbits have had transmission issues in the past. enough that I don't trust it, and failure will result in a very expensive repair bill. The ONLY way i can recommend it is avoiding the automatic or triptronic transmission. The only friends that haven't had large bills from their vw are those that opted for the simple and less complex manual transmission and the 4 cylinder non turbo 2.0 or 2.5

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Response from LectroFuel

12:50 am October 21, 2017

I agree the with Suppin that the Golf is unreliable and expensive to fix but I was just saying it would be better than a discontinued Volvo and still is European. I was a little harsh on the Yaris. I personally like more interesting cars and it seemed like ahamii was going in the opposite direction of the Si, Audi a4 avant, Focus ST, etc with the Yaris.

Think of the Yaris like the Geo Metro (Google it if you don't know) of cars today although not nearly as uncomfortable as the Metro. The Yaris gets you from point A to B reliably but comfort, refinement, and fun are not in its best interest. It's almost as close as you can get to an "econobox" and as far as you can get from a Focus ST. The Honda Fit is just a better and more refined econobox IMO.

The Yaris uses the 1NZ-FE engine which was first used in 1997, so two decades old. It was a great engine back then (I have a hybrid varient of the engine in my 2005 Prius), but 20 years later everything has passed it.

I'm really interested in hearing what you buy!

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Response from Suppin

2:17 am October 21, 2017

So you want something with hints of a European breeding? How about the Hyundai Elantra GT? (Non turbo version with the 2.4).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyundai_i30
The Elantra GT was designed byThomas Burkle at the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Centre in Germany. It has a pretty European look (IMHO), and is pretty handsome. TrueDelta shows the repair rates to be fairly good. Honestly the Mazda 3 is a better overall car, but if you must have something with European roots, this is going to much better overall compared to the Volkswagen Golf.

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Hyundai Elantra GT

Response from LectroFuel

1:11 pm October 21, 2017

Watch out for the harsh ride in the Elantra GT. I've always thought it was a nice looking car; very spacious inside and a fantastic value. Might be hard to find one under $10,000 since they came out in 2013. I've read the 6 speed auto is slow to respond so I'd go with the manual. In 2014 they added a lot more HP to the 2.4.

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Response from LectroFuel

2:12 pm October 22, 2017

Response from Suppin

6:25 pm October 22, 2017

Hyundai and Kia warranties are not that great for the 2nd owner. The Hyundai's and Kia's when buying from "CPO" Hyundai and Kia dealers, you get the full 10 year 100k mile warranty. IF you buy it from another other dealer, or a third party then you only get a 5 year, 60K mile warranty. So yeah... grain of salt.

Still reasonably reliable cars warranty or not.

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Response from NormT

6:33 am October 23, 2017

Don't think that turbocharged engines are the only ones recommending synthetic oil. Our 2012 Forester required 0w20 synthetic at $9/qt and was NA 2.5l. Maybe using synthetic they were thwarting oil consumption by kicking down the road out of warranty.

Yes, read the fine print on Kia and Lexus warranties. They are either not transferable or or cost to transfer.

I would lean toward a small turbo-4 for any elevation driving or long distances. They can breath better at higher altitudes and ate super efficient at highway cruise.

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