Can you recommend a reliable small car with excellent fuel economy?


#1

I’m looking for a reliable small car, mostly for tooling around town, you know, for running errands like grocery shopping, medical appointments, visiting friends, etc. Maybe short trips up to 300 miles. Must have excellent fuel economy.

I’m looking for a 2013–2015 model used car. Something like the Honda Fit. Any others come to mind?


#2

I know this falls outside of your range, but our 2012 Camry LE 4cyl. got 36.4 mpg hwy. (constant 70+ mph) and regularly 27+ around town.


#3

The Prius is top rated in fuel economy by the EPA/DoE at fueleconomy.gov for 2013-2015. It is also a very reliable car. Would a hybrid work for you?


#4

Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra all good cars with good gas mileage


#5

Since it sounds like the OP isn’t concerned with carrying passengers, I think that he should consider a Toyota Yaris.

While the Yaris does not equal the Honda Fit in terms of driving dynamics, it is extremely economical, and it is one of the most reliable vehicles on the planet. I wouldn’t want to take long trips in a Yaris, but for around-town hops it would be a very good car to consider, and a 300 mile trip would probably be tolerable.


#6

The Hyundai Accent is an often overlooked car. As are the Kia Rio, and the Mazda 2. The toughest little car is the Toyota Yaris; several of my relatives have them and they are reliable and seldom need repairs. I would stay away from the Chevy Aveo, the Ford Fiesta, and any Chrysler product.


#7

I had a Toyota Vitz (Japanese Yaris) as a long term rental. It was comfortable but underpowered. For the part of Japan I was in, low power was not an issue. Cargo capacity is small, even with the rear seats folded flat. Note that the Vitz uses a smaller engine than the US Yaris, but I would expect poor acceleration here, too. Test drive a Yaris and see if the comfort, power, and road noise are acceptable for the type of driving you will do.


#8

Pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Preview at your local bookstore and you’ll be able to see all of them, as well as comparative data well beyond what any of us here are capable of providing and far more unbiased to boot!


#9

Yaris has lousy bang for the buck

A tin box of a car, and the fuel economy is not outstanding, considering its tiny size

And on top of that, you’re paying dearly for the car, because it’s a Toyota


#10

If you want a used car I would consider a Kia Reo. Used 2015 Hondas and Toyotas will cost you almost as much as a new on, so you are better off buying them new.


#11

Mazda3, 2012 or newer, will have the SkyActiv engine. Fun to drive, reliable and excellent fuel economy. Backseat is a little cramped and the trunk is not that big but that is what a small car is all about.


#12

I’d look at one of the compact Kia or Hyundai cars. I suspect those will be cheaper than the equivalent Toyota or Honda cars. If this were me, I wouldn’t consider any of the subcompact cars, as the tradeoffs aren’t worth the small improvement in fuel economy in my opinion.

It doesn’t sound like you drive enough miles to make up the higher purchase price of a hybrid, so I’d rule that out (unless your goal is environmental instead of financial).

If your focus is excellent fuel economy, you will be giving up performance, making maneuvers such as merging and passing more of a challenge, of course.

For the best fuel economy, make sure to keep your tires properly inflated and keep all maintenance up to date.


#13

I would agree with the Yaris if you were buying new. You should price the new though since it might be okay. A friend who drives as a courier has close to one million miles on the Yaris with only regular maintenance, can’t beat that.

If buying used, I second a Kia or a Hyundai. The Elantra has decent ride and plenty of one year used ex-rentals with 30K miles on them for around $10K around here.


#14

The OP is looking for a run around vehicle, not something for track days.


#15

If the OP’s 300-mile trips involve hilly two-lane roads (like the 300-mile trips that I take regularly to visit my dad), he might be stuck behind a truck for miles because of not being able to pass safely in the passing zones. It’s a valid tradeoff to consider that has nothing to do with racing.


#16

CR also has a used car book, and they recommend Best Bets.


#17

I know you’re probably hung up on used, but you might consider a left over new 2016 model that’s still on the lot.
Often times, the dealership will charge as much, if not more, for a used 1~3 year old used car- which is what you’re looking at- if you look at all the numbers. If you’re financing the car, you can usually get a better interest rate on new vs used.

That said, since you’re looking at the Fit, your other options include the Ford Fiesta or Focus hatchback, the Mazda 2 or 3 hatch, Chevy Sonic, Scion xB, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Matrix. Any of those should provide you with several years of reliable transportation.

You might also look into renting one for a weekend to see how you like it longer term vs a dealership test drive.


#18

Not only that, but the interest rate on a new car loan might be lower and a longer duration loan might be available lowering the monthly payments. There might even be a “0%” loan available. It’s definitely worth checking out. You’ll also be able to break the car in properly, critical IMHO. I’ve seen evidence of some real neglect, abuse, and even accidents, on late model used cars.


#19

Mazda doesn’t sell the 2 in the states anymore. Also, you won’t be getting a Toyota when you buy a Yaris Just like that arrangement with fiat, Mazda is making the 2s, then glues the yaris label on the trunk and ships them to your local Toyota dealers.

Also worth mentioning are the 3 banger Mitsubishi mirage and Ford fiesta. I would buy the latter as it has a hatch and a turbo


#20

Then what is the point of buying a Yaris at all?

Sounds like you’re literally buying a rebadged Mazda, and paying Toyota prices for it

May as well buy a real Toyota, one that was actually built by them