Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

New car recommendations

I find that I’ve reached sort of a dead end with my new car search and could use some advice.

I currently drive a 2007 Honda Civic (145,000 miles). I’m thinking about getting a new car this year because I do a lot of driving and am worried about breakdowns. I make a 215-mile trip twice a week, mostly highway driving, with my young son, and then an additional 200 or so just getting other various places. So, around 650/week.

What I’m looking for is:

  1. Reliability
  2. Good handling in snowy/icy weather
  3. Good gas mileage (at least 30 MPG)
  4. Comfortable
  5. Under $28K
  6. Not a lot of road noise

Initially I was looking at the Prius. Seems like a pretty good deal, great gas mileage. I’m not so clear on how they deal in the snow - I’ve read conflicting reports. However, I recently drove a Camry as a rental on a trip and really liked it. Problem is, the Camry averaged around 27 MPG highway, and the Camry Hybrid is a little too expensive. I confess that I don’t even know where to look with regards to non-Toyota/Honda cars - that’s all my family has ever owned. I like my Civic but I find it very uncomfortable on long rides, which is why I’m not looking at the Civic Hybrid. Also, have winter tires on it now which makes it incredibly loud, which I find annoying, although I prefer the safety to the noise…

Any recommendations or suggestions of other brands to try to research? Or are there people who feel strongly that the Prius or the Camry might be the right fit?

Call me biased, but how about an Accord, or 4 cylinder Acura TSX?


I seconod the new (2013) Accord 4 cyl. Roomy, comfortable, and you should get 30+ mpg highway driving. But take a Looooong test drive first to see how you like it.

Mazda CX-5 gets pretty good reviews. You can get a GT with AWD for about $28k

The new Ford Fusion with an Ecoboost engine gets 23 city 36 Highway, and 28 combined. Not to shabby for a mid size car with so much comfort.

You know, I don’t know why I didn’t even think of the Honda Accord, but I will definitely look into it and give it a test drive. I was intrigued by the Ford Fusion - our local dealer doesn’t have any in stock yet, but hopefully soon.

Find out what the gas mileage is for family sedans here:

The Hyundai Elantra at 28 city, 38 highway and 32 average.The Accord 4-cyl. is 27/36/30.

The new '13 Accord 4 cyl motor is very nice, good power, quiet, smooth, and very efficient. With your highway driving a hybrid isn’t really that advantageous for you. For sure check out the Accord.

I have an '03 Civic and road noise is high on the Civics. I put Michelin X-Ice 2 winter tires on my Civic this winter and they are very quiet. So, if you get winter tires on either a new Civic or Accord go for the X-Ice and you will not have all the noise.

In general I really like Civic’s for longevity and mpg, but the new Accord gets very close to the Civic in mpg and should be more comfy for longer trips.

How about a new 2013 Subaru Impreza? That car seems to fits all of your needs.

Well, except for the road noise part. In that case, maybe consider a Subaru Legacy.

Canry’s aren’t bad either. The gas mileage you got on the rental is low for hwy miles. I have a 4 cylinder 2005 and average 31-32 in 70% hwy/30% local driving. I just take it easy on the gas pedal. It should be more quiet than the Honda products.

@ParrotsandPotatoes stay away from the Prius. If you think the Civic is uncomfortable on long drives, the Prius probably won’t be better.

At the least, being one of the top sedans recomended by CR, the Honda Accord deserves a try out. CR says that highway mileage, which you seem to be doing plenty of, is as high as 40 mpg…and you will save a few grand over a comparably sized hybrid. The new ones are quiet and they all have that Asian myth reliability.

I really like our new Hyundai Elantra, because Hyundai gives plenty of features for the money. Their next size up (Accord competitor) is the Sonata, also a fine car, with the Elantra being a Civic competitor. I also have quite a bit of experience with Priuses and think highly of their efficiency, though I dislike the limp ride. Being San Franciscans who commute by public transit, a Prius just wouldn’t pay for itself for us or we probably would have bought one. Less than five thousand miles per year will do that. For you, it might be different. We used them often as ZipCar members and routinely got 45-50 mpg, but we don’t drive aggressively and don’t use AC much. That included quite a few trips to LA at a steady 65-70 mph on US 101. Plus city driving.

Hybrids have more of an advantage in city driving, but still have advantages on the highway. For a car of its size, the Prius has a small, low-powered engine designed for maximum efficiency instead of power. It’s also very slick, and aerodynamics pays off more at high speeds. Hybrids are still rated for higher gas mileage than cars of the the same size in highway driving, but the advantage is a lot smaller than in city driving I routinely took Mazda3s and Honda Fits on the same kind of trips as the Prius and got 7-10 fewer mpg than in the Prius (that was not the newer, more efficient SkyActiv Mazda3.) You’ll have to make calculations based on your own mix of driving, but I’d be surprised if you don’t find the Prius as cheap to own as any other mid-sized car. Consumer Reports rates it as one of the the cheapest cars per mile to run. Low depreciation accounts for part of that.

The 2014 Mazda 6 is rated 26/38 if you’re interested in cars rather than small SUVs

Prius will be ok in snow as long as you use snow tires like Bridgestone Blizzak brand.

My parents own a Prius, they driven it 150,000 miles so far without any major repairs, just general maintenance. It’s the most economic car they have owned because of fuel efficiency, and reliability as well.

@ParrotsandPotatoes how about a Ford Fusion Hybrid? Consumer Reports likes it quite a bit.
CR’s ratings are 39 overall, and 35/41 mixed.

The new Fusion is still a bit unproven, but it is a gorgeous beast that feels more luxurious than competitors. I hope it proves to be as reliable as the old Fusion, but it’s a completely different car. Ford has been having problems with their ‘infotainment’ systems in recent years. That’s the nav system/audio/Bluetooth - basically, all the features tied to the big LCD display in the center stack. Those flaws are more irritating than serious, and potentially fixable with firmware updates.


When did I ever say anything about a Prius? I was suggesting Subarus!

@ParrotsandPotatoes I’m quoting you.

Initially I was looking at the Prius. Seems like a pretty good deal, great gas mileage. I’m not so clear on how they deal in the snow - I’ve read conflicting reports.
Or are there people who feel strongly that the Prius or the Camry might be the right fit?