Best car for LA?

Hi all,

I am about to move to Los Angeles (from Tokyo, Japan) and I assume that means I need a car. I have looked around, and weighed the wallet and come up with the following specs:

Age: From 2007 ~ 2010

Brand: Toyota, Nissan, Honda (in that order)

Must have: Hatch back, good safety, ABS, power windows and doors

Budget: 10 ~ 13,000

So, here are the cars I have found that I think might work:

Nissan Versa (current favorite)

Scion xD

Toyota Matrix

Honda Fit

Has anyone ever owned these, or even better, shopped for these and compared them? I?m going to be renting a car for a week after I land in LA, so I want to get as close to a decision before I leave as possible.

Thanks all!


Test drive them all and decide. It really is like picking a wife, what is right for you may be totally bad for me.

In LA, what you need is: Emissions Compliance. An outstanding air conditioner. An above average sound system. Comfortable seats. You will spend MANY hours stuck in bumper to bumper, stop and go traffic…

“You will spend MANY hours stuck in bumper to bumper, stop and go traffic…”

Only if you’re on the freeway. It’s often faster to take surface roads than the freeway at rush hour. I did that many times in West LA. It can be problematic in a tough neighborhood, especially after dark. The driver really needs to know where he is to use this method safely.

Any one of them will be right. The Matrix gets the worst fuel economy but not by much.

I’d stay away from those small, overprice, overweight Toyota.

I rented a Versa for LA commuting for a week. It is relatively huge inside with good gas mileage. Soft touch parts everywhere were nice. It sorely needed ABS as it locked up its rear tire easily well before the front. Then the car would go sideways if you don’t catch it. Unless you get the CVT, the 4 speed auto was a bit rough and too 90s.

Fit is my personal favorite because I like the way it drives. While 5 speed auto is not state of the art, it is one more gear than all the other cars on the list. But if the Fit doesn’t exist, the Versa would be on the top of my list.

And your best defense against vandalism and theft…


Keep it plain ( and dirty )on the outside and no one will look twice.

This practice worked wonders when my 92 Explorer was new and I was working weekends at the bars. Being in the band we were the first ones in and the last ones out, and you know how bar parking lots get about 1am.

This truck was black but was special ordered with no roof rack, so it looked quite drab when dusty and no one needed to know that it also was special ordered with ; XLT pack, JBL premium sound system, positrak and trailer tow etc.

We’d come out to a parking lot full of cops and five break ins…
but they always left my truck alone because it drew no ones attention, for the ten years I took that truck to work with me.

that’s a lot of people’s problems though. They want something flashy, to catch everyone’s eyes.
Some cars I’ve seen I’d smash the windows just because I didn’t like it(ricer cars), not because I wanted to steal anything. But hey, if someone else came along and get in, not my problem.

Your list is one of high reliability vehicles. That’s a good thing. But nobody can tell you what’s right for you or even if the cars on your list will be available when you get there.

My son lives south of LA, has a Scion tC, and loves it.

One caveat: lots of cars out there get souped up, not always correctly, and lots of them get hot-rodded. Be careful. Have anything you look at checked out very thoroughly.

X2 on the Fit.

Lt. Columbo of the Los Angeles Police Department would recommmend a Puegot. He drove his own car rather than a car issued to him by the LAPD. There must have been a reason. Of course, it could be that the Peugot is only suited to police detective work, and since Lt. Columbo seems to be retired, you are probably better off following the advice of the other posts.

(Lt. Columbo was the fictional police detective of the LAPD on a television series).