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Super fuel-efficient car for tall driver

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Looking for a super fuel effecient car for a new job which will require me to drive about 500 miles per week, mostly highway. I'm about 6'-4" so headroom is critical. Car will mostly be driven by me alone for commuting, but could be used for family use on the weekends with up to 3 passengers. I tend to keep my cars until they die, so looking for something that is extremely reliable. I live in New England where snow is an issue in the winter, so need front wheel drive or better. I prefer hatchbacks or wagons to sedan for cargo space (do a lot of DIY projects on the weekend with the family).



Priorities: Fuel economy / Front seat room / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 30000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: US $ 20000

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Response from NormT

9:43 am November 17, 2017

With wintertime snow of the northeast I would stick with AWD if you have some hills otherwise FWD should be fine. There is only a 1-2 mpg penalty for AWD on a turbocharged car or cuv today. If cold temperatures are common Iin'd stay away from batteries unless you have a heated/attached garage. The battery powered cars do not fair well in colder climates.

The most efficient AWD I have owned was our 2013 Buick Encore. It could see almost 40 mpg at 60 mph over a full tank of fuEl on my 118 mile commute. So that included a few cold starts but it was very efficient. Even traveling on PA-80 at 95-105 mph the fuel economy only dropped to 28 mpg.

We were returning from a college football game out of state and made a quick stop at Ikea. With the splitting folding rear seat along with the front seat folding flat and my wife sitting behind me, we hauled a 10-foot wide wall cabinet in their flat -pack setups with ease.

My inlaws just picked up a 2015 Encore AWD for $15,000 with 17K miles. They say they are enjoying it and are seeing 26 mpg all city.


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Buick Encore

Response from mspina14

11:28 am November 17, 2017


I hadn't considered the Buick Encore. I started driving in the 70's, mostly my father's American made cars. Still haven't gotten over the quality issues American cars had back then! But I know American cars today are mostly now on par with the imports.

I am considering the Ford C-Max and the Kia Niro. But I will definitely add the Encore to my list and do some research on it.



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Response from LectroFuel

11:31 pm November 17, 2017

I would strongly suggest not going with the Ford C-Max. Those cars are unreliable. I wouldn't go with any new Fords for that matter. The Kia Niro seems like a nice car, but no one has any reliability data on it yet, being very new. If you decide on the Niro, take a look at the Hyundai Ioniq with which it shares parts with.

If you are looking to keep your car until it dies, it may be a good idea to avoid turbocharged engines as they require additional maintenance and can fail. They are much better than the turbos of 20+ years ago, but still, they are another thing to break.

Buicks are generally reliable, but FYI NormT only recommends GM cars (seriously) and is biased with his answers. Buicks are pretty good cars, but the Encore does have a turbo and you are paying for a luxury badge that doesn't have the best reputation.

If you are thinking of a front wheel drive hybrid, go with the Prius, which has the best reputation of any hybrid car and some of the highest owner satisfaction ratings. My 2005 Prius has 250k miles and has had minimal problems. Most reliable car I've ever owned (I'm keeping it until it dies). My 2016 Prius I got last year is a really good value. You could maybe find a Prius for under $20k. My 2016 gets 56-58 MPG with my lead foot. With light acceleration, you can get 60+ MPG easily. I live in Southern CA where the temp is usually 75 degrees, so I have little experience in the snow with the Prius, but I do know that the Prius' powertrain and battery do hold up to tough and cold winters. My uncle owns a 2010 Prius and lives in a place that snows a lot. He says it's fine for driving in the snow (and he also has a Subaru). If you get a Prius, the 2016 was the big redesign, while 2012 was the refresh for the previous generation. At least get a top trim 2012 I'd say because those years saw 54 MPG at least. They are very roomy, comfortable cars. The ones before 2016 were not that fun to drive, but that's not the point when driving in the snow. The Prius is one of the only cars where you can easily exceed the EPA mileage rating; many owners are seeing 65+ MPG. Hybrid powertrains do in fact perform well in the snow. The only impact with a hybrid in the snow is maybe a 2-4 MPG hit. If you could get a 2017 Two (bottom of the line), you would get all the active safety features standard (added for 2017 as standard), a nice standard features list, and a good driving experience.

Other FWD cars worth taking a look at are the 2016 Honda Civic (fun and comfortable, pretty reliable), 2016 Toyota Corolla (because all safety features are standard, reliability is top-notch), and the 2014+ Mazda3 (fun and reliable).

For AWD, look at the Subaru Crosstrek (good in the snow), 2016 Honda HR-V AWD (good value and features for money), and Mazda CX-3 AWD (fun to drive, may be a little cramped inside). All the cars I've recommended are reliable.


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Toyota Prius
Honda HR-V
Mazda CX-3

Response from NormT

8:14 am November 18, 2017

Personally I would stay away from Prius as Toyota is being sued for poor battery perfoemamce in cool weather. Owners who live in areas that the climate drops below 55?, so does the battery life.


Toyota has been subject to Sudden Acceleration lawsuits with many recalls and technical service bulletins to fix software and hardware that are still ongoing over the last decade. In the end they had to pay multi-millions and CEO Lent blamed it on operator error. Nice they blame the owners, huh?

Before I married my wife her family had altready switched from their Toyota loving Camry's to Ford Escapes and Fusions. Most are on their second leases and are releasing Ford again they like them so much. Plus I showed them online prices from dealerships around the country via cars.com and they have gotten another $3,000 off their already negotiated price.

One Aunt traded her 1994 Camry for a Forester and is mad she did. She says the 2016 Forester rides rough, is noisy, and finds the seat uncomfortable after 15 minute ride. That is about what I would have said about my wife's, then girlfriend, 2012 Forester 2 5l. Unfortunately at 19,000 miles it ran low on oil due to oil consumption so I topped it off with almost 2 quarts of oil and that continued until we traded it before having to replace the cheap tires at that mileage. It also had a cracked winshields that effects all Subaru's. We received our class action suit letter for oil consumption after we had already picked up a 2015 Game Terrain AWD. We have 45,000 miles on the Terrain and it has only returned to the dealership for the free oil changes and she says that it is her favorite car, ever.

Japanese fanboy like Electrofuel will not tell anything but Japanese cars are great having only owned nothing else. That is really an older thought process when you read between the lines.


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Response from mspina14

10:41 am November 18, 2017

Thanks Guys.

Funny how we all develop loyalty to specific products or manufacturers over the years. I haven't owned an American made car in about 25 years. I've owned VW's, Honda's, Subarus, and Kias. I've had good experience with some, and not so good experience with others. I bought a new 2001 VW Passat with a manual transmission (a notoriously problematic car) that I drove for 230,000 miles over 12 years without many problems and loved it. On the other hand, I've owned several Subarus that have suffered from blown head gaskets and multiple CV joint/axle/bearing problems, though they are phenomenal in the snow.

I test drove a Kia Niro yesterday. I liked it a lot. Nothing special, but seemed like a solid car with great gas mileage. Interior was a little spartan and, because it's a new model, reliability is an unknown. Also, might be hard to find one for under $20K.

I've test driven Prius's before. Nice cars. My only problem is the 15 inch wheels. I had a Honda Insight with 15 inch wheels about 5 years ago and almost hydroplaned into a guard rail on the highway during a rain storm. Very scary experience. I test drove a Prius V (has 17" wheels I think) a few years ago, but I couldn't get comfortable in the driver seat. I have a bad back and am 6'4". Even with the lumber support in the V, my lower back was not well supported so I passed.

Has Toyota improved the support in their seats recently? If so, I'd test drive another Prius.

I am going to test drive a Ford C-Max today. Will provide feedback.

Thanks for all you suggestions.



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Response from LectroFuel

7:23 pm November 18, 2017

The Ford C-Max is not a very reliable hybrid, but I've heard it is one of the more fun ones. Has a more stiff ride, better handling, and acceleration than the Prius. Also, it is a little older-feeling and does not have any of the advanced safety features even the Prius had in 2012. Prius will last to over 250k miles while the C-Max probably to 150k before a major problem. My first HV battery died at 243k miles.

I've heard mixed reviews about the Prius' seats. My 2016 fits me pretty well with the power SofTex seats with power lumbar and I'm average sized 5'8". My 2005 has 4 way manual cloth seats and they are also perfect even though they have minimal adjustments. The 2010-2015 leather seats were pretty good for me. The 3rd and 4th gen seats are definitely controversial, so I would take a longer test drive of a Prius with power lumbar adjustments and SofTex. They have changed them little by little. The Prius v (the wagon) has had a lot of complaints with the seats, probably cost-cutting.

Yeah, we do have our favorite brands (well, NormT only has one). I've had bad experience with American cars, specifically Ford. My 1990 Ford Taurus did turn me off of American cars for the next 25+ years. I bought it new and it had a major problem every month (3 transmissions, 2 new ECUs, 3 engine mounts, it would chug up hills and die etc.). I traded it in for my beloved Miata just 4 years later. I've had great experiences with every one of my Japanese cars, so why should I go with the big 3 domestic brands? Norm has had good experiences with GM despite their lower reliability ratings compared to the Toyota, Honda, and Mazda. I did own a '69 Camaro RS as my second car, which overheated (my stupid mistake), but I loved it. My 2000 Jaguar S-Type, which I knew wouldn't be reliable, was based on a Ford platform and had a lot of electrical and water pump problems; other than that I liked the car. Also had a 1986 Buick Park Avenue; very comfy, loved it even though it was a grandpa car, but the A/C would not staying working for more than 6 months. It would always break. Overall, I haven't had the best of luck with American cars and I'm going to test my luck again this year with the Tesla Model 3, which I know will have problems.

I just rented a 2017 Ford Escape SE 2.0L twin turbo this week (Toyota gives free rentals) and liked the acceleration (245hp) and torque, hated the fact that when I took a turn at a normal speed, I literally thought I was going to flip the car. That was a deal-breaker. I liked the seat comfort even though they were cloth. It was not well-equipped for the money, either, after configuring it online.

Here is an interesting article about Prius-driving in the snow:https://www.cars.com/articles/how-does-the-toyota-prius-handle-winter-1420692904443/


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