I am looking for a second car to be my commuter car. I’m having trouble deciding! My list of desires are, well actually I want my B210, but since I can’t have that, I would like a small, two-door, hatchback, manual transmission, and fuel efficient. Just like my B210!
Also, it has to have a high safety rating. (UNlike the Datsun…)
On my shopping list are the following cars, in order of how closely they meet my criteria:
Volkswagen Golf TDI 6 speed man
Volkswagen Jetta TDI 6 speed man
Honda Civic Hybrid
MINI Cooper Hardtop (not the S)
Honda Fit 5speed auto
My question is, is there some model out there I am not looking at that I should be? I think, to be worth paying insurance on a second car, that I need at least 35mpg, and I hate car payments so I would want to keep the payment low enough that I could double it each month and pay it off faster. So, the Volvo scores low on cost and mileage, although I love that car.
Most of the hatchbacks available new have four doors, and manual transmissions are hard to find. Also, it’s getting harder find people who know how to replace a clutch properly. I’d consider Smart Coupe ( http://www.smartusa.com/models/pure-coupe/overview.aspx ) or a Toyota Yaris. Smart even has a plug-in electric car now.
I don’t know, SmartCar did not make my list mainly because everyone locally drives Dodge Rams or the equivalent, and although Smart has a good safety rating, it would not fare well against a full size truck.
What about the Fit with a manual? That would be at the top of the cars on your list for me. As for other cars, there’s a Mazda 2 or 3.
Hyundai Veloster. It comes in a manual in both the regular and turbo versions. My SO is getting 35-38 in hers, mostly around town. It splits the difference and is a 3 door. Looks like a 2 door, but a 3rd door on the passenger side allows easy access to the back seat.
Scion xd comes with loads of standard equipment, has good performance.
I have a 2007 Honda Fit Sport with an automatic. It pretty routinely gets 35-38 MPG on the highway, which is where I do most of my driving.
Don’t let the small size fool you; an amazing amount of people and stuff can fit inside.
I’ve had it about 4 years now, and it’s never given me a problem. Can’t recommend it enough.
Good luck in your search.
Thanks for the suggestions…the Fit was low on my list due to looks. I have friends with them and I love the car, but this is a second car. I will keep my trusty friend and workhorse, my Sienna. So I get to be ultra choosy! I have never once had a “fun” car, and now that I am looking 60 in the crosshairs, I think I deserve that. The Veloster…I looked at it, but I just couldn’t get on board with the design, plus it’s quite a bit bigger than I was hoping for.
Maybe I will test drive a Fit, along with the Volvo.
That’s the problem with not needing a car. You get into analysis paralysis.
Fiat 500 Pop with manual transmission.
My neighbor bought one last month, and her last 3 tanks of gas were 41.2, 42.5 and 43.2 mpg.
In addition to the ones mentioned, all of which are better than your B210, I would suggest the Hyundai Accent hatchback and the Kia Rio Hatchback. They will have better mileage, better rust protection, better ride, and better reliability. The Mazda2 is also an outstanding small car.
You can also look at the Toyota Yaris, the most reliable, but it has a poor ride by today’s standards, but as good as your B210.
In fact, almost any new small car, except for the Smart car, is a better and more economical commuter than your B210.
I would skip any Volkswagen; they just do not measure up in terms of reliability and long life. Neither is any Volvo an economical commuter for the long term.
The choice of good small cars is really outstanding these days!
Forget all the European stuff.
Asian, American, yes.
Chevrolet builds the Sonic and Spark. Of the two, I like the Sonic. You should look it up on line if you haven’t already. If you like what to see, arrange a test drive. You can get a 5 or 6 speed manual and either a 1.8L: or turbocharged 1.4L engine.
The Mazda 2 will net you 35mpg on the highway, but if you go slightly bigger, with the Mazda 3 skyactiv, you’ll get 38mpg highway. Hell, if you got a FWD, stickshift CX-5, you could get the same highway MPG as the 2, and have a more substantial vehicle
Fit low on Looks ? For the kind of money you invest in a car, looks would be low on my list. For efficiency, perfomance and reliability, I can always back into the car.
The Sonic will get you mid 40s with no problems if it’s a stick. My Cruze gets low 40’s without much trouble. If you’re so inclined, you can even get one without cruise and with crank windows. A guy out the shop here at work has one like that. Loves the car.
I second the Mazda 3 hatch with the skyactive. I am in the process of looking for a similar car myself, not that many sticks around. If you want more performance and okay with less MPG, then Mazdaspeed3 and Ford Fusion ST are on top of the list.
The Fit is a good car, I just know Honda’s get noisy and the smaller size makes me a bit concerned over safety. It also depends on where you drive the car. My commute is mostly on a major fwy with mostly semi trucks and large SUV’s. My Camry gets lost in the lanes.
What about the Subaru Impreza? That comes in a hatchback…
If you absolutely need 4 wheel drive, the Impreza would be a good choice, but the 4WD feature robs you of fuel mileage; a Sky-Active 2 wheel drive Mazda3 will get much better mileage than an Impreza.
Like @Docnick I’d pick the Mazda 3 over the Impreza if you’re wanting sporty handling. If you need awd, then the Impreza would be a good choice. But I’d avoid the CVT transmission on it.
But a test drive would really be a good idea, you might like the Impreza better.
“But a test drive would really be a good idea…”
It’s the only way to choose a car. When I shop, I rad on line, then test drive up to 5 cars to determine which ones I like best. I narrow the list to 2, then start talking seriously with a dealer. I may take a second drive, too, but only with the final 2.