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commuting, comfort, practical. easy to maintain

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Don_Taco

I want a practical car that I can both commute in town and occasionally take on road trips. I live just outside the city - my commute is about 10 miles but I also like to camp and getaway for weekends and such.

I drove a Volkswagen Golf for over 15 years and loved it. What I didn't love is the upkeep. It seemed like after the 5 year mark, every year or so I would have an $800 repair that needed to be done.

I loved the hatchback, though. Loved the look, how it handled - just about everything but the cost when something did break down.

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Warranty, maintenance cost / Cargo capacity

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 30000
Maximum age: 5 years

Maximum price: US $ 14000

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Response from NormT

11:28 am March 21, 2018

The Buick Encore has a 4 year 50,000 mile warranty and offers AWD. Find one used near you and enjoy thr piece of mind of the remaining warranty.

2014 Buick Encore Convenience For Sale In Farmington | Cars.com

2014 Buick Encore Convenience For Sale In Farmington | Cars.com

Used 2014 Buick Encore Convenience for sale at Dakota Motor Company in Farmington, MN for $14,995. View now on Cars.com.

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Buick Encore

Response from danlisahall

2:50 pm March 21, 2018

Your questions are dejavu. Seems like all of us want that car!

You have nailed the VW Golf conudrum: great little car in all regards except reliablity. Supposedly the newer ones (2015+) are more reliable, but since they are only 3 years old, the jury is still out. Reading VW forums gives the impression of improvement, but still there are those who seem to have troubled vehicles. May be hard to find a 2015+ Golf in your price range.

There are number of other hatches to consider:

Smalll Honda's typicallly are quite reliable, fun to drive and get great mileage.Honda Fit is a poor man's Golf, great car, just not as refined but well withing your price range. I owned a 2011 for 6 years, was a fantastic car except for rough ride and noise. You might be able to find a Honda HR-V in your price range too.

When it comes to reliablity, the newer Kias are pretty close to the top and overall are nice cars to boot. Forte5 & Soul have different characteristics and are worthy of test driving. On the con side, the Kias won't ride and handling may not be quite as refined as the others mentioned above but still are nothing to sneeze at. Mileage may also fall short of above models unless you get the hybrid Niro of Soul EV. Actually if you rarely take long trips (over 100 miles) or have another vehicle for that, the Kia Soul EV lease is a huge bargain at about $180 / month.

The new Subaru Impreza is also a good option and new ones are available for $190 / month lease. With leasing you can try it for three years then decide if you want to buy it.

Bottom line: You probably are not gonna find a better all arouind car than the Golf. Anything else will just not quite be up to par in comparison. Otherwise, look hard at the Fit or Kia hatches. Consider the Impreza if you think AWD will be handy for you.

Happy shopping, keep us posted.

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Kia Forte
Kia Soul
Honda Fit

Response from AcuraT

3:58 pm March 21, 2018

All of the above are pretty good suggestions. For the best driving experience that is more reliable, the Mazda 3 (all are hatchbacks) is probably what you want. The Zoom Zoom commercials are true to their word. For the Japanese, they are the most enjoyable cars to drive. The new Civic type R is also a lot of fun to drive, but it is only in its first year in America and is out of your price zone.

The Encore is an SUV so it won't drive like your VW at all. It is a good car to drive, but it is much higher off the road so it cannot handle in the same manner (but very reliable). The cars danlishall also meet you need and are very reliable, but I don't believe they are as much fun to drive.

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Response from NormT

6:14 pm March 21, 2018

The Buick Encore Sport circled the figure-8 course in 27.8 seconds and the Golf TDI did in 28.3s in Motor Trend testing. The Encore only brakes from 60 mph 2 feet longer than the TDi. It is one of the better handling cuv's and offers turbo-4 torque that can see almost 40 mpg from it's 1.4T engine. We had leased one in 2013 and nicknamed it "Squirt" it was so nimble and easy to park.

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Response from LectroFuel

8:49 pm March 21, 2018

I agree with AcuraT that the 2014 and newer Mazda3 is a great choice. We bought a 2015 i Touring Sedan for my son in December for $14,500 (20k miles) and it is truly a fun car. It isn't quite as nimble as my old Miata, but it comes very close. By the way, the Mazda3 Sedan has been available since 2004. It isn't as desirable, but it was a few grand cheaper with the same amount of features and is still beautiful. One benefit is the Sedan is 100 lbs lighter than the Hatch. It has the best quality interior in a car cheaper than $30k, beating out the "luxurious" Buick Encore (the Mazda3 won an award from Road & Track for that). The ride could be softer, but you have to trade some comfy ride for handling. Road noise is also louder than its competitors. Overall, if you want reliability, fun handling, styling, and a nice interior with tons of features, this is the perfect package. Cargo space in the Sedan is significantly smaller than the Hatch. It will give you almost-GTI handling, but without the headaches. You might miss the German feel, too. Mazda's CPO program comes with a 7 year/100k mile powertrain warranty and a 1 year/12k mile bumper to bumper warranty. These Mazda3s are right in your budget.

All of danlisahall's suggestions were good, though I've never been a fan of the Forte. I don't think you'd like the Forte coming out of a Golf. I've heard that the previous gen Fit is fun to drive and the latest one isn't. The amount of stuff you can fit in a Fit is astonishing and it is super easy to maneuver.

Norm, the figure-8 course measures grip, not really handling or steering feel. The results could be because of tires or safety aids. What the driver actually feels is what matters.

As C&D put it, "In any case, it's clear that getting pinned against the seatback isn't part of the appeal with these vehicles. But on other portions of the dynamic scorecard the all-wheel-drive Encore acquits itself pretty well. Brisk maneuvers bring an abundance of rock 'n' roll, but the steering is reasonably quick (2.8 turns lock-to-lock) and more tactile than some. And the payoff for suspension tuning that favors compliance over roll stiffness is ride quality that's benign even on washboard unpaved roads. We weren't able to document grip for this Encore due to snowy weather conditions, but expect it to be similar to the so-so 0.81 g recorded by the front-drive model. On the other hand, its 166-foot stopping distance from 70 mph is among the best in the class."

Consumer Reports said "The Encore's small footprint makes it highly maneuverable and easy to park in tight spots, but agility in everyday driving falls short. No one will confuse the Encore with a Mini Countryman or a Nissan Juke. Handling is sound but unexceptional and the tall and narrow stance take away from a sporty feel. Turn-in response is reasonably prompt and body lean is fairly well contained. The steering is well weighted and conveys a hint of feedback."

Motor Trend said, "The Buick's cushy ride is great under normal circumstances, but the subcompact does not like to be pushed too hard, thanks to the high amount of body roll, making the Encore not very fun to drive. However, the crossover still fared well in our figure-eight handling test. It took the Encore 27.8 seconds to lap the Motor Trend's figure eight, slower than the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic's time of 27.0 seconds but faster than the 2016 Honda HR-V AWD's 28.0 seconds. The 2013 Encore with the standard 138-hp engine took 28.2 seconds to lap the figure eight.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA250 and Audi Q3 have starting prices in the low $30,000's because those are true premium crossovers with plenty of luxury and performance. The Encore just isn't. The nonpremium powertrain, aggressive start/stop that rattles the crossover, lack of fun handling dynamics, lack of standard leather upholstery and a front passenger armrest, and tiny rear seats that significantly diminish front seat room when folded down makes it a premium hard sell."

I thought you were a driving instructor. A car can put up good grip numbers, but that doesn't say anything for handling as these three reviews prove. They liked that it was maneuverable in a parking lot, but handling at driving speeds was bland and squishy. There is a reason Buicks don't compete with the GTI or Mazda3;they are tuned for comfort, not handling. Nothing is wrong with that as long as you don't compare them to cars that are meant for handling. You actually can't get much farther apart from a GTI and an Encore in terms of handling when comparing the same size car. Try to recommend cars with some thought, Norm.

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Mazda Mazda3
Kia Soul
Honda Fit

Response from NormT

9:44 pm March 21, 2018

The Encore is within a second of the Mazda3 in figure eight testing, the economy hatchback is really that slow and doesn't even compete with sport orientated hatchbacks like thr GTi.

The figure eight is the whole package as I mentioned this before to you personally . It test accleration, transmission shifting, sway bar and shock tuning, brakes, tire compound and bushing density. Imagine accelerating in and straight line and having to braking and slow for a right turn, feeding in throttle for exit to accelerate again in a straight line and having to brake for a left hand turn and accleration out of it. This taxes the whole suspension morr than one would see on the street and it takes into account the extra weight of the driver. This is not just a lateral accleration test.

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Response from danlisahall

1:50 am March 22, 2018

I would second the emotion that you might find the Kia Forte5 falls short on handling post GTI but it is near the top for small hatch comfort.

VW seems to have exceptional juju as they have figured out how to build a car with both great handling and great comfort. Mazda is not far behind except for the higher noise factor.

Likewise I second the emotion on the Mazda3. Only drawback I see in it is that the interior feels tight & hatch area not all that large.While there are a fair amount of Mazda3s out there, for some odd reason they just haven't seemed do as well in the American market as the Hondas, Kias, and Toyotas (based on what I see in Western WA; not actual sales numbers). Not sure why that car doesn't pop into my mind more often.

One more thought regarding the Honda HV-R is that it is also avaialble for a 3 yr lease at $189/mo.($180-$190 seems to be the current threshold for good lease deals). Leasing isn't for everyone but has some advantages, especially for low initial costs. If you like it after 3 years you can usually purchase it for a reasonable price.

While some are better than the others, there really there is not a bad car in the bunch My suggestion: have a fun weekend and drive 'em all then start wheeling and dealing on the two that best suit your fancy. Drive on!

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Honda HR-V

Response from AcuraT

9:08 am March 22, 2018

The Encore Sport has a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds
The Mazda 3i has a 0-60 time of 7.0 seconds

These results of Car and Driver.

The Encore Sport is better than the average Encore, I give Norm that, but to call the Mazda 3 slow means the Encore Sport is a tortise as it is still almost one second slower to 60 mph than the Mazda.

Like I said, the small SUV cannot handle (or accelerate) like a well done hatchback - which is what your VW was. Test drive both and you will see the difference.

Sporty small car from GM? I would go with a used Buick Verano turbo. That thing was very fast and the handling comes closer to the Mazda 3, but it was not a hatchback.

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Buick Verano

Response from Don_Taco

10:56 am March 22, 2018

Thanks for the input, folks! I am in the process of setting up a test drive at one of the local Mazda dealerships to check out the Mazda3 hatchback.

There is also a Kia Forte on the other side of town (Twin Cities area) that I'm going to make an effort to try out as well.

I have already test-driven a Honda Fit, a Hyundai Elantra GT and a Suburu Impreza.

The Fit was the first car I had driven after the Golf and I was not impressed. I actually really liked the Elantra GT. The Hyundai guy did his best to bad-mouth the Suburu - "google 'Suburu head gaskets'" he said. I did and he's not wrong.

Later that day I test drove a Suburu Impreza that had seen better days. It had 60K miles on it so probably it wasn't the best representation of what they're all about. Only "high-miled" Suburus are in my price range so I don't think I'll be going that route.

The Hyundai is attractive to me because of the warranty and price point as well as the interior styling. I'm not a power fiend or anything - so the lack of "zip" didn't particularly bother me. I simply enjoyed the comfortable, "solid" feel of it compared to the Fit I had tried, and it seems like Hyundai's reliability is trending up. (I drove a 2017)

That being said I may have to re-visit the Honda Fit. I've been driving a Honda Civic Coupe that I initially hated but has grown on me a little. The impracticality of the two-door is the number one reason I'm selling it and looking for these hatchbacks. Honda's reputation for what my priorities are are hard to ignore.

So basically I need to check out Mazdas and Kias for sure. The one I haven't heard about is the Chevy Sonic. Style-wise it's up my alley, but I'm apprehensive about Chevys in general.


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Honda Fit
Hyundai Elantra GT
Subaru Impreza / Outback Sport

Response from AcuraT

1:10 pm March 22, 2018

Elantra GT is a good choice as well. It will be reliable and it does have along with Kia the longest warranty in the industry. They do last a long time. Generally not a very exciting car, the GT is the exception in the Elantra lineup. Even Consumer Reports likes its reliablity, scoring a 4 out of 5 (or above average). I looked on this site but unfortuantely they don't have the reliablity for this car (only on two old models).

The Chevrolet Sonic is made in South Korea just like the Elantra GT. It is made by what is called "GM South Korea" otherwise known formerly as Daweoo. GM bought it out a long time ago and now it is one of GM's most reliable divisions of the company as they adopted the six sigma methodology and improved their quality greatly back from the Daweoo days (I know this as I was involved in the early 2000s with GM's charge on quality as a consultant).

Consumer Reports gives the Sonic a 3 out of 5 or average for quality, so slighly lower than the Elantra. GM has cars that are very reliable, and others that you cannot touch. This is in the middle - it should run pretty well. Sonic scores #3 out of 13 small cars (beat by a small margin by the Toyota Yaris iA and the Honda Fit) so it actually is pretty highly ranked by them. It is not going to be very sporty, however, and if that is still important to you the Elantra is a better bet. Still think the Mazda 3i you will like like the Elantra, however.

Good luck

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Response from NormT

1:19 pm March 22, 2018

"The run to 60 took 7.9 seconds with 87 mph showing on the speedometer during the 16.3-second quarter-mile sprint. You're justified blaming tall gearing for some of that languor, but without it, the stick-shift 3 i wouldn't earn the 40-mpg highway EPA rating essential for competing against compact-class competitors, hybrid or otherwise." Car and Driver 2014 Mazda 3i 2.0l review. And that is with lighter 16" wheels and not Encore's standard heavier 18" with 215 mm width rubber. Otherwise it would be really slow.

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Response from NormT

1:42 pm March 22, 2018

A coworker commutes with his sonic 1.4t and loves the car. He has a set of winter tires and the ecu tune makes it enjoyably quick as a Fiesta ST or Si een with 50,000 miles on it. Now his wife just bought a Sonic RS hatchback and he said the handling blows his car away!

Here is an older test from 2012 or so and you can see the Sonic LTZ finished 2nd place.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic vs., 2011 Honda Fit, 2012 Hyundai Accent, 2012 Kia Rio5, 2012 Nissan Versa, 2012 Toyota Yaris - Comparison Test - Car and Driver

2012 Chevrolet Sonic vs., 2011 Honda Fit, 2012 Hyundai Accent, 2012 Kia Rio5, 2012 Nissan Versa, 2012 Toyota Yaris - Comparison Test - Car and Driver

B-segment cars are the automotive equivalent of appetizers, so to find out which is the most delectable, we gathered six and took them on a culinary road trip. Read the comparison test at Car and Driver.

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Response from danlisahall

2:49 pm March 22, 2018

Taco Don: Your doing your home - way to go!
Like you I have never been much of a GM fan. However, CR rates the Sonic fairly - #3 amoung subcompacts - right behind the Honda Fit. The Fit gets better MPG 33 overall vs 28) reliablity is similar (to my surprise!); you might want to check the True Delta reliablity ratings.
www.consumerreports.org/cars/types/new/small-cars/ratings?categoryName=Subcompact%20cars

Elantra GT: Nice car worthy car, I had a 2005 Elantra GT for about 3 years and was happy with it.


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Response from LectroFuel

7:43 pm March 22, 2018

The Sonic will probably be a little quieter than the Fit, but you'll be giving up some reliability and the Fit's magical cargo packaging. Plus, the Honda resale value. I'm not a GM fan either.

If you are considering subcompacts like the Fit and Sonic, the Scion iA and Toyota Yaris iA are worth driving. They are not the most refined because they are subcompacts, but they come with a lot of standard features such as low speed automatic braking and a touch screen. They are just Toyota-badged Mazda2's imported from Japan I believe. They are reliable and engaging compared to the Elantra GT or Sonic. The engine is under powered though. The Scion iA turned into the Toyota Yaris iA when Scion left, probably increasing resale value. They are sedans; not sure if that's what you are looking for. I'm a fan of hatchbacks myself.

I will forever remember the rental car I got after my Miata was rear-ended. It was a 1999 Daewoo Lanos. It was the biggest piece of junk car I have ever come across and I happened to rent it. When going over 50 MPH, the steering wheel would wobble and the plastic on the dash started to vibrate out of place. Something had to be wrong with it, but it only had around 10k miles. Wow, GM has come a long way!

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Toyota Yaris iA
Scion iA

Response from NormT

8:37 pm March 22, 2018

Looking at cars.com the 2018 Sonic is around $10-11K with $8k off MSRP and in 3 years later in 2015 under 40k miles for $9k. The Fit is $15K and $10K for 2015 with 40K miles.

So the Honda really loses allot of value in just 3 years. The Chevy hardly loses any value.

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Response from LectroFuel

1:02 am March 23, 2018

You need to add in the MSRP to the starting price because no one's actual purchase price is the same. So the Sonic is $18k MSRP new and is worth $9k after 3 years, losing half its value. The Fit, after 3 years, loses $2k and $7k (two examples) according to you since the MSRP is about $17k. I don't see how the Sonic holds its value better because the numbers you just showed us prove that the Fit holds its value better. By the way, the top three resale values for 2018 are the Toyota Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner according to KBB. The top brand for resale value for 2018 is Toyota. The 5 year cost to own a similarly priced Sonic is also $3,000 more than a Fit.

The Fit has earned the "Best Resale Value Award" in the Subcompact class by KBB for the last 4 years in a row. "Honda calls it the 5-door car with attitude. We call it the yardstick against which all other subcompacts are measured, including the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa and Chevy Sonic." 2nd place goes to the Toyota Yaris and 3rd is the Hyundai Accent.

Fit Resale Value at
36 months:47.7% (of original value)
at 60 months:31.6%

Kelley Blue Book

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Response from NormT

7:17 am March 23, 2018

KBB is blowing smoke up your ads and you love it! No one pays MSRP so the theory is just that and besides use your head and see what people are paying and and selling a certain model for, you'll find those awards for resale are false not even close to what the market is doing.

It helps to read between the lines to see the real story and not be so gullible. Unless you don't have to worry about the cost of things then the cars I recommend are still award winning.

The Sonic loses 10% in 3 years where thr Honda loses 33%. Simple math!

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