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Reliable hatchback

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


So, here is a short background. I've driven the same car since I was 18. I'm 31 now. Its a 2000 Ford Contour and has been very reliable all the time I've had it. Of course I've had to replace/fix things as time has gone on, but its always been reliable until a part just gives up the ghost. The most major repair I've had to have done on it was get the alternator replaced.

What I'm looking for now is a Hatchback that will be reliable and that handles well. I live in Seattle and would like to know when I have to dodge around in traffic in city or on the highway that my car will respond when when I need it to. Extra features are always nice but what I really want is reliable, handles/accelerates well and that I can afford.

I've been looking at the Mazda3, but have been having a hard time finding something in my price range. I've also looked at the honda fit, but am not sure about the handling/acceleration (I hope to test drive one soon to see for myself). I've also thought about the nissan versa, chevy sonic and ford focus/fiesta. I'm really not sure about the focus or fiesta, as it seems like anything from the past decade does not have good reliablility. My brother is very good at finding deals on cars, so I've been having him look, but I've mostly asked him to find a 2012+ Mazda3, and I know thats pretty impossible for my price range (I am able to go a bit above, but would like to try not to.)

Please help me figure out some models/years I should be looking for! I'm reserch savvy but not overly car savvy, and I feel like my trifecta of reliablility, good handling/acceleration and in my price range might not be possible.

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Handling / Warranty, maintenance cost

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 8 years

Maximum price: US $ 8500

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Response from Sea-Dan

10:05 pm September 26, 2017

Mazda 3 is a great car & if you can find that meets your criteria, I'd go for it.

That said, I owned a 2011 Fit in Seattle.They aren't as quick as the Mazda 3 but fast enough to merge on the local freeways. Their rideis louder and rougher (the base model is more comfortable than the Sport),but youcan haul an amazing amount of gear;average over 30 mpg,anditwill last forever.With a little effortyou probably can find a 2011 for under $9,000.I found one that met you criteria on craigslist Seattle.

Since you have had good luck with your Ford Contour (a great, under appreciated car with some mechanical gremilins) you might consider another Ford that sort of flys under the radar. That would be a Ford Focus ZX5 hatchback. They made those till 2007. With some luck & patience you may be able to findone with lessthan 80,000 miles and underprobably under $6K. They generally arereliable, repairs arerelatively low cost.

Best wishes in your car hunt, would appreciate hearing what you end up with.


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Honda Fit
Ford Focus

Response from brucethegolfer

3:00 pm September 27, 2017

If I were you I'd go to cargurus.com and just put in whatever you are interested in.
Then, when the first page opens I'd choose body style.....let's say sedan.
Next window you can modify for price and mileage.
That will give you a selection of sedans regardless of brand.
That will narrow it down for you.
Then if you see something that looks really good, but it is something you have no experience with, let's say a hyundai sonata...why then you do reliability research and check consumer experience.
Good luck and God bless


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Response from LectroFuel

12:44 am September 29, 2017

The Focuses (Foci?) and Fiestas are really unreliable. Engine trouble, tranny failures, much more. You had good luck with your Ford.

The Mazda 3 is a great car and would be my #1 recommendation for you. 2012 is when they altered the engine to get very good MPGs. It is not a fast car though, so if you decide on the Mazda think about the 2.5 4 cylinder which doesn't get the same MPGs as the 2.0 engine, but provides more power. The 3 handles well and is reliable. Lots of road noise though.

The Honda Fit is another good choice. It is tinny though, so being a subcompact, there is a lot of road noise and the ride will probably not be as soft as the Mazda. The ones before 2014 handled well, but were even slower than the Mazda 3. It might make weaving through traffic harder.

Another car that I advise you to test drive before you buy is the 2009-2011 Toyota Matrix. Handled well, very reliable, no frills, large trunk, and it's a hatchback. Downsides are a rough highway ride, road noise, and cheap interior.

If you don't like those then check out the Hyundai Elantra GT, which is the hatchback. Probably doesn't handle well though.

Out of the three I mentioned, the Mazda will probably suit you best. Most comfortable by far.


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Mazda Mazda3
Honda Fit
Toyota Matrix

Response from matthadahemi

3:09 pm September 29, 2017

I have a scion xb since 2011 and have a 130k on it with only regular maintenance done to it oil changes spark plugs tires brakes Etc zero issues with it before that it had a Toyota Matrix same thing zero issues with it


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Response from Sea-Dan

4:21 pm September 29, 2017

The Toy Matrix (and its twin the Pontiac Vibe) and Elantra GT are good additions to your expanding list. I & a friend had 2002 Elantra GTs & found them to bevery good cars - although still a bit short of Honda, Toy, andMazda standards.

I standby my recommendation of the Focus ZX5 if you can find a low mileageone. ConsumerReport rated the 1stgen Foci (up to 2009) quite highly and found them to be above average (3/5) in reliablity (not so later generations). If you can find oneit is likely to be$2 - $4Klessthan other options which if necessarygo be used for repairs / parts.



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