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Recommendation for a small car

I am looking for small car recommendations for driving within city for usual work, errands and such. Prefer below -

  • Automatic transmission.
  • Gas or electric or hybrid is fine.
  • Not too low ground clearance. Not too low w.r.t visibility from driver’s seat as well.
  • Preferably 4 door but 2 door is also OK (4 seats atleast).
  • Not looking for anything luxurious but would like all safety bells and whistles - Backup camera, blind spot beep and such.
  • Live in a congested area (US- California) and so small car helps w.r.t parking, turning, fuel efficiency, etc.
  • Given a choice, would prefer quietness inside as opposed to roaring engine noise.

Thanks so much!

A vehicle choice is such a personal matter it makes absolutely no sense to ask a bunch of strangers who all have personal preferences and bias opinions. Besides your wish list is really broad and we have no idea of your budget.

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Fair point but at the same time I felt I can rely upon the experts here:). I am sure folks here would have thought in terms of say, “This ___ car is really good small/mid size city car with good fuel efficiency and comfortable space for atleast 3 adults” upon looking/experiencing friends or family cars in past few months.

Budget is under $30K and ok with new or used (2013 or above) cars.

Kia Niro…

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Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, & Mazda 3 are probably the most popular of the econobox’s in that price range and should definitely be considered as you shop for a new car. If the sedan style like those have sit too low, you’ll have to look at the SUV or transition designs which sit up higher. Sedans tend to ride and handle a little better, that’s the compromise.

Since you prefer an automatic, take a look at the rental car agency sales lots too. You might find one of these cars only 2 or 3 years old for a bargain there.

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With the electronic safety features you want, your car will likely be new. Take a look at a Toyota Prius and see if the features work for you. I would not buy the Prius Prime. The plug in hybrid is too expensive to justify the small increase in electric range. You may have a different opinion, though.

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If cars like the Toyota Yaris ia (mazda 2 sedan sold by toyota) don’t meet your needs then the Kia Niro or the Soul would be something to consider. My dad is looking for most of the same qualities but in a more luxurious trim. I don’t think he’s driven one yet but has circled back to the Kia Niro. He might still end up with the Rav4 hybrid but it’s still early in the search.

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I had a Honda Fit that I loved, and it hits most of your requirements. Give those a try.

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Road noise is terrible in this car

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I would agree with you that road noise was bad in the Fit… but road noise tends to be an issue in most all Hondas I’ve ever been in.

I don’t think there are “perfect” vehicles out there, though, so I have to choose what I can live with. Just my 2 cents.

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My favorite small cars that are also reliable and cheap to operate are the Toyota Yaris, the Hyundai Accent, and Honda Fit. The Kia Rio is also recommended.

Stay away from the Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta.

While I appreciate the OP’s confidence in our collective expertise, I urge him to go to a large bookstore–such as Barnes & Noble–and search the magazine section for the Consumer Reports New Car Buyer’s Guide. This comprehensive publication provides a wealth of information on every model of passenger vehicle sold in The US.

It is divided into categories–such as “small car”–and will supply all of the information that he could possibly need, including historical reliability data on each model, safety features, standard equipment, fuel efficiency, ride quality, maneuverability…and more. Surely the objective information in that publication would be more valuable than random (and incomplete) suggestions from people with unknown agendas.


The OP had a thread in 2010 where they asked what small SUV to buy and never said what they decided on.

With all the manufactures sites and internet searches such as ( small cars sold in U.S.) why would you not do that and make your own list of vehicles to look at.

Several years ago I took the CR new car buyers guide and with a marker I crossed out the things that did not meet our wants, needs and cost. That said the only other opinion that mattered to me was the wife.

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I latest Consumer Reports,which i read in a waiting room, rates automobile reliability. Suprisingly, the Nissan Versa Note (Note is the hatchback; not the sedan) is rated as number one for reliability in its class.This vehicle is often panned by auto enthusiests. I have rented Note’s on two separate occasions, and like it for its room and acceptable performance. You can even get a non black interior. It is a transportation module.

Left over 2017’s at my local Nissan dealer in Ft Myers Fl are shown at $5000 off. MSRP was under $18,000. I would bet similar deals are available anywhere.

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If you’re only doing city driving and can live with relatively short range (100-150 miles) you might think about looking at the Nissan Leaf. The 2018’s should be hitting stores soon, and you can get the top version for less than 30 grand with tax incentives (which are probably going away soon, so don’t wait).

It’s nothing fancy or exciting, but it ticks all of your boxes and also doesn’t require gasoline. You will need to install a charger in your garage, but that’s a one-time cost.

Mazda CX3 is nice and will keep you higher up off the ground.

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The latest Consumer Reports has a warning about sunroofs, particularly in the Hyundai and Kia. You might want to look at it in a library if you don’t get it.

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“The OP had a thread in 2010 where they asked what small SUV to buy and never said what they decided on.”

I did ask about small SUV in 2010 and didn’t think people would be interested in the results.

I ended up with 2010 RAV 4 AWD then - Served my needs but it failed on two factors though - Road noise was high (thin carpeting) and traction on thin snow was much less than my old Accord sedan.


If snow is a factor, and not-too-low seating, check Subaru Forester. Subaru’s AWD system was clearly better on snow when compared to Toyota’s and Honda’s last year by Consumer Reports. CR calls it a compact SUV and rates it highly.

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The April issue of Consumer Reports rates them. Use the library’s copy.

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