Heyo, I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts on comparing hatchbacks out there. I’m in the market for something fuel efficient (I was initially also looking for AWD, so kept coming back to Subarus. However I’m not convinced having AWD is absolutely necessary where I’m moving). I’m also looking to buy used, so it’s often 5-hr-old models or a bit older that fit my budget. My lifelong tendency has been to trust honda and toyota first and foremost. Can anyone with knowledge or experience offer up any opinions comparing hatchbacks? Such as the Fit, Matrix, Versa, etc? Thanks a bunch!
My current car is a 2007 Honda Fit. I bought it in 2009 with 56K miles, and today it has around 130K. It consistently gets in the mid to upper 30s on MPG, and I’ve never had a problem with it since I’ve owned it. It’s amazing how much stuff you can fit into it, for such a small car. I have some family that just bought a 2012, I think it is, and they love it too.
What’s your budget?
The Fit is an amazing practical hatchback,the only dig would be that without a telescoping wheel it was difficult for my mom to get a really comfortable seating position. I know several Matrix/Vibe (Pontiac Vibe is the same car) as well as a few Versa H/B owners. The Matrix is really well liked but some of the Versa owner’s aren’t as happy with the cargo room with the seats up.
The Fit Sport is generally more fun to drive than the basic but at the cost of a harder ride.
Look at a 2011 Ford Fiesta hatchback.
Isn’t the Prius available as a hatchback? If so, that should be one to consider. Used ones are reasonably priced I think.
Trust Honda and Toyota first and foremost.
I’d go for a Fit. Almost did.
My suggestion is to [ick up a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore, then watch all the local used car listings and let the CR magazine combined with a good once-over by a trusted shop be your guide.
I too am inclined to go with Honda and Toyota based on my own experiences.
Don’t make any assumptions based on budget. Look at the numbers carefully. There are a lot of choices out there now that might even be less expensive new than 5 year old used cars. Remember that you can get longer loans with new vehicles. IMHO a one year longer loan with comparable monthly payments on a new car that you’ll probably own for five years longer than you would had you bought a used car might be a better deal that buying the used car.
Add Mazda to the list. I would steer you away from Ford, but I am biased. Bought a 5sp Focus recently and the quality was not there. I had gotten a good deal on it and sold it just loosing on Tax. Both Focus and Fiesta automatics are even worse due to their dual clutch AT (DCT).
The problem in the current market is that it is difficult to get a good deal on a 5 yr old car, unless it has over 100K miles or is a salvage title. The used car market is crazy. On a new car, you can sit at home and e-mail away until you get a good deal with significant amount off MSRP. There is no mystery as far as checking the car out either.
A CPO Prius might be a good deal. I have considered a few with around 36K miles/3 years old around $16-17K.
I’d concur in adding the Mazda3 to the list, especially if you like a car with crisp handling. The only real negative of the Mazda3 is the somewhat cramped rear seat. Otherwise, this is a lovely car, handsome, reliable, comfortable in front, and nively equipped.
The Fit is simply amazing. You can’t believe how much space there is inside such a small car. Negatives are the homely dashboard and a somewhat bouncy ride and loud road noise that get bothersome on long trips. It’s a perfect city car and ideal for shorter commutes. It’s a super car for a college kid because it can carry four six-footers and a few dugfel bags.
The Matrix/Vibe are just raised hatchback versions of the Corolla. They raised it a few inches to look more like an SUV, but most of them sold were fwd only. Still, a very reliable car with plrnty of room for four adults and their gear. Unfortunately, the homely dash is molded in homely silver pladtic and seems to have been designed by somewhat who designs boomboxes. Durable, but ugly. But the car is highly recommended.
Also made by Toyota are the Scion xB and the xA/xD. The first xB was that tiny thing shaped like a full-size van, but half the size. It was surprisingly roomy, but only useful as a city car. On the highway it had a bouncy ride and got blown around by every gust. About six years ago they redesigned it to its more recent form. Some think it looks like a hearse. It’s shaped like a station wagon without windows aft of the back side doors. It’s s sober place inside, even drab, but it seems well made and is exceptionally roomy, especially in the back seat. It us about as roomy as the Matrix and Vibe, but not as tall. Also more powerful. I like the xB for its many virtues and think it’s worth a look. The xA and its suvcesdor, the xD are relared to the Yaris and are about as unimpressive. They’re even uglier than the Yaris, but the squarer styling makes them feel airier and improves the visibility. Still hard to get excited about.
The Nissan Versa is a cheap car thst feels cheap. It was based on an older Sentra and had that Sentra’s wall of shiny black plastic for a dashboard. This applies to the older Versa, btw. The one that came out last year feels even tinnier, with fewer amenities. The older Versa could just barely suffice as basic tranportation with the Aveo, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, and Hyundai Accent. The current Rio and Accent are much more spacious and better equipped. The Aveo has been replaced by the equally unibspiring Spark. The Fiat 500 has joined the unimpressive ranks. The Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta are as small as these others, but the Fiesta is too stylish and well equipped to fit in and the Mazda is too well made and attractive. It doesn’t have a lot of extras, but what it includes works very well. It’s what good inexpensive transportation should be.
Among domestic brands, the Chevy HHR of a few years ago was basically a wagon or hatch of a Cobalt. Compared to the Cobalt it had a far more comfortable back seat and lots of cargo space. Most of these seemed to end up in rental fleets so look for outlets if you’re interested. Last I knew they were stilll selling cre. It’s a painless way to buy, and the prices are credible. They might have something else you’d like, too.
Thanks everyone for such thorough thoughts!
@MarkM, my dad has Scion xA he loves, but since they were discontinued, they seem quite few and far between.
My mom is also a big fan of her Fit, but was slightly disconcerted by the recent newer crash test ratings (as am I, at least just a tad).
I originally was also looking into a Prius, but have been advised to consider the downside of hybrid battery when A: driving it across the country (as I plan to do) in order to B: live in a fairly rural place (western Montana) for a few years. Any further thoughts on that from prius fans?
I’m trying to keep my budget around 10k, so a bit limited @shadowfax.
The Prius is good for lots of stop and go traffic. If you’re living in a rural place it has no real advantage, I wouldn’t get one (and I own a hybrid).
As I said in the other post, she’s moving to Missoula so forget the Prius, Rio, etc. In my view its back to AWD Subies and maybe with winter tires. Thats a place for 4WD trucks not itsy bitsy cars.
Have you been there, Bing? Missoula is a big college town, not a mining camp. Any normal car will be fine on the city streets and highways. AWD would be nice when there is extreme weather, but not essential. She only needs a 4wd truck if she plans on driving logging roads up into the mountains. It’s quite possible to live in a place like that and never leave paved roads.
I wouldn’t worry about the Prius. It is a very reliable car and the batteries are not a problem. When they fail it is very gradual as they are made up of multiple cells. The bad cells can be repaired individually. In any case, this is only an ussue for Priuses with a lot of miles on them. I wouldn’t personally buy a Prius because it has poor ground clearance and lousy handling. There are plenty of other cars better suited to a Montana driving.
@Tobinski The xA was replaced by the very similar xD. Both are based on the Toyota Yaris, though with very different styling. They are mechanically quite simple and very reliable. Also low-powered and weak in the handling department. The xB is totally different, more like a Toyota Matrix, with a bigger engine and different suspension. It’s much roomier.
I believe the xB has the Camry drivetrain which should help with speed and power.
It has the same 2.4l four used in various Toyota products. It used to be optional in the Corolla and Matrix. The base Camry engine is different, a more modern 2.5l that is much more powerful than the xB engine (which is more than adequate). I believe the 2.4l used to be the base Camry engine, too.
I always thought the Scion XD was a sleeper and a better buy then the Yaris. With a more boxy shape it is quite roomy, has more standard features and comes with the Corolla motor (1.8) instead of the very anemic Yaris 1.5 L. I drove one and it was quote spunky. (That’s suppose to be a good word, I think). The newerXB. Is huge inside and almost a limo like rear seat. I would think it would make a great taxi cab.
I would buy the XD over the Yaris in a heart beat. The Yaris is the only Toyota product that would make one wonder …why ?
Cool. The xb is always one of those cars that turns my head when I see it go by (I can’t decide it that’s a good thing or a bad thing). Definitely looks much bigger though.
I know I could do a search and find this out fairly easily enough, but since I’m on here at the moment- anyone know how the Matrix suspension and lift off the ground is compared to (on one side) things like the Fit and (on the other) an Outback for example?