Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Looking for a car that's practical, yet fast

I have an ‘03 Honda Civic Si. It has a lowered suspension (the original owner did this, not me). I now live in Washington state, and I think I need something with a higher clearance, something that’ll do well on Forest Service roads, something that I can put a ski rack on. The thing is, I really like my Si, cause it’s fast, and sleek and has a bitchin’ stereo.

I’m thinking a Subaru is what I should get, as it seems to be the state animal, but they’re awfully frumpy, compared to my Si. I want something with some get up and go, that will get the job done. And I’m really not into an SUV.


Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Audi S4, Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.


Edit to add Volkswagen R32

? WRX - Got an awful review here in the test drive section.
? Lancer - Looks fun, but I can’t see it going off road
? Audi S4 - I can’t see it with a roof rack
? Cayenne - Are you kidding me? $100,000+? 13mpg?

I also should have mentioned that I want to buy a used car, and that my budget is under 10K. And a hatchback would be nice.

What about the VW Golf?

I wouldn’t put too much stock in Click and Clack’s review of the WRX-- they mostly just didn’t like the concept of a high-powered Subaru and (IMHO) they just didn’t drive the thing like it was meant to be driven. Since almost all of their complaints were just about how the thing drove, why not give one a drive yourself? It really sounds like the perfect car for what you’re looking for, and there’s plenty of people who are nuts about the things.

Tom and Ray aren’t exactly big fans of any car with sporting pretentions. The WRX is an ideal car for what you are describing. The Evo or Lancer Ralliart would be another choice. Maybe a VW GTI would work as well.

Also the the Cayenne starts at $47k and is rated for 14 MPG city and 20 highway.

Unless you’re talking about serious offroading (for which you need a Jeep or a Land Cruiser, and for which speed doesn’t matter) the Lancer EVO will do just fine off road. It, like the WRX, is essentially a street-legal rally car.

The trouble with any of these cars is that repairs will be more frequent and more expensive. That’s the tradeoff for getting a car that can do what they do.

Yeah, you can completely ignore C&C’s comments, they’re not looking for what you are (also, they looked at a 2003 model - what year are you considering?). The WRX would be at the top of my list. Unless your Si engine has been heavily modified, you’ll find the WRX is MUCH faster. The Si was fast for what it was, but isn’t ‘fast’ in overall terms. Kind of like the GTI was before it got the turbo engine.

I’m reading something with “higher clearance” for forest service roads. Standard suspension Subarus WRX would beat themselves to death. Sorry to burst your bubble, but short of putting air shocks on a sporty car no WRX for you. Approach angle of 15 degrees…yikes. The best choice for the money IMO is an Outback with the V6. RAV V6 is another alternative. They both handle very well given the need for higher clearance and will run with 95% of the rest of the cars on the road, and are quite efficient for AWD high capacity fun vehicles. Both will leave your Si in the dust !

How about returning the suspension to stock?

p.s. Every car today is fast to someone who once owned a '75 Civic CVCC with 53HP.

Yeah, not “off-roading” per se, just driving on dirt roads that are fairly decent, to access a hiking trail or something. My Si would totally bottom out. I’ll also be doing a lot of driving to the ski area, so the AWD in the snow would be good. Thanks everybody for the suggestions.

You’re lifestyle is what good handling compact SUVs (RAV, Forrester,CRV) are made for. To deny them takes the best option off the table.

I’m with Circuitsmith on this one. It’ll be a lot cheaper to simply change the springs out. Actally, I’d just put in some quick struts
It’d be lots cheaper than buying a new car and you’d have a car you really like.

The WRX seems perfect for you.

Maybe a 4 cylinder Toyota Tacoma with a TRD supercharger would do the off road and go fast thing. Or the V6 XRunner

I object to your use of the word “b|tchin’” as it is offensive. How do I know? An overzealous moderator removed my reply suggesting that you should get such a Hummer, and noting that they come in yellow.

The thread is almost two months old and the OP is long gone. Let it go.

the board has been hiccuping lately for some reason, bringing back old threads with no real new replies