I want a fun, High mpg hatchback!

My favorite car ever was a 1984 Honda CRX. It died many years ago (RIP). I have owned a 1998 Honda Civic hatchback DX since. I drive about 3 miles to work every day, but drive many hundreds of miles on weekends for my hobby. As a result I have 160K on my little Honda. It has been costing me money this past year, ball joints, exhaust manifold, fuel filter, etc. I worry about continuing to drive it to Chicago one weekend, and New Jersey the next. Now I need shocks and perhaps springs.


1. I MUST have a hatchback, I show cats, they can’t go in the trunk.

2. I like to drive manuals and I like a nimble car that accelerates well, and can handle high highway speed.

3. I insist on high fuel efficiency. My old CRX got 40 on the highway, I have been disappointed that my civic gets 36 tops, and is more usually 33-35.

4. I have a sometimes traveling companion who is older and much larger than I. She needs to be able to sit in the passenger seat for 5-8 hours at a time.

I have eyeballed the Volkswagen Jetta sportswagon TDI and the Honda Insight.

Neither of those cars is available for a test drive in my city, I will have to drive to PA (I live in NE Ohio)to test either.


Honda Insight. Honda has a better reliability record.

Since you like Hondas, what about the Fit?

You won’t get 40 mpg, but they have plenty of room inside.

I thought I posted this in the general discussion. How did it end up in repair? And is there a vehicle aside from the two I mentioned that would be suitable or better?

I think there is a Mazda 3 hatchback. Mazda’s are worth a look.

Would a Toyota Prius be a possibility? It’s a hatchback and gets 50 miles to a gallon. A friend of mine has one. I’m 6’2" tall and I am comfortable in either the front or back seat. We frequently have 4 people in the car along with musical instrumets–2 French horns, a trombone and a trumpet. My friend and his wife travel in this car from the midwest to the east coast several times a year. THere should be plenty of room for your cats.

A Mini (base model) would be very fun and very economical, and I (6’5") fit in the front seat, no problem. A Jetta TDI would meet your mpgs, but not what I’d call ‘fun’.

“Fun” is such a subjective criteria-- I think you just need to get test driving. There’s loads of higher MPG hatchbacks out there. There’s the Fit, the Versa, Yaris, the Scions, the Mazdas and the list goes on. The VW’s aren’t the most reliable out there, so if one of the Japanese econoboxes met your criteria for fun, that would be good.

Also a brief note on fuel economy. Go to www.fueleconomy.gov and look up what your old CRX and current Civic are rated for under the new EPA calculations. That should give you a better idea of how the newer cars will perform with your real-world driving.

That’s weird. My Honda Civic gets better mpg than the old estimate and WAY better than the new, and I am not a particularly mpg friendly driver on the highway speed-wise. What makes the EPA think that they are being more accurate?

I don’t particularly like the mini cooper in looks and I don’t think that cats and all the show stuff would fit in one. I am trying to narrow down my test-drive list as the cars I’m interested in are not particularly local to me.

Lets see you want, good acceleration, good high speed driving charactaristics, good handling, a large cargo area and it has to get good fuel mileage. Such a car doesn’t exist. You’re going to have to compromise on one or more of those areas. Neither the VW sportwagen or the Insight are particularly quick, and the Insight isn’t particularly roomy. I would consider a Subaru WRX wagon or maybe a Mazaspeed 3 hatchback, or a Nissan Murano, or an Audi A4 Avant

I loved my CRX…

My traveling companion has a Subaru Outback and when we travel together that is what we have taken for the last year as my Honda is starting to make her uneasy. I found my Civic to be sluggish after the CRX I had before, but after driving her Subaru my Honda seems incredibly zippy. Part of that may be the fact that my Civic is a manual and her Subaru is an automatic, but I hate that loggyness. If I have to compromise the MPG is the last thing on the list that I am willing to compromise on though. Why can’t there be more and better high MPG cars? What are engineers doing with themselves these days?

The VW Golf and Jetta TDI hatchbacks with automatic get the best fuel mileage (30/42). The same cars with manual transmission are a close second (30/41). The toyota Yaris manual is next at 29/36.

The answer is that they’re not really supposed to be accurate in terms of the actual exact figure, they’re just supposed to accurately reflect the difference between cars. I think they revised the figure down so they’d err on the side of delighting people who beat the rating as opposed to annoying people who don’t get it.

See above with the MPG ratings. Newer cars are across the board a lot better than older ones, although safety standards have sort of done away with the class of vehicle the CRX was in. But, say, a Fit should compare very favorably to an older Civic wagon for example.

Though, I will also point out to you an important decision you might have to make. On a lot of the small hatchback cars out there, the automatic actually gets better mileage than the manual (because the manuals are geared lower for more “zippyness”). If you decide on one of these will you go for a slightly less efficient manual? (I would)

Prius is as exciting as a white amana fridge.

Fun is subjective.

Me I would try a Mini out at least, they are really fun to drive. Another fun to drive car is the VW GTI. Honda and Toyota’s as of late are more driving appliances vs the 1980’s connected feeling.

Building cars that have side impact bumpers, multiple air bags, ABS braking, automatic door locks, climate control, etc., and that go 0-60 in less than 10 seconds. All that makes it hard to increase MPG as well.

Mini-Cooper Clubman?

The Speed3 is rated 18/25(the same as the turbo FWD CX-7) and it’s available with manual only. The normal 3 hatch is rated 21/29 and 22/29 for manual and automatic respectively.