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Small car with big cargo space

Hi! I live in Seattle, drive 30+ miles daily to work. I need a small car or SUV, easy to park, good gas mileage (30 highway mpg would be lovely). BUT I have 2 teenage drivers, one of whom has a 3/4 stand up base (think Charles Mingus) that we need to haul occasionally. I tried the car search, there were too many answers! Any suggestions?

Any small hatchback should do the job quite well. If it were my money I’d suggest the Nissan Versa. It’s nice to drive, has lots of space and is good on gas. It’s also cheaper than the equivalent Toyota Yaris and built better than the Chevy Aveo.

Save That Little Car For Commuting To And From Work.

Sooner, rather than later, you’ll need another car or two for the teenagers. Face it and get the first one now, something large enough to carry a Charles Mingus Base, or is it a Bass you’re talking about? Who the heck is Charles Mingus?


Scion xB would work.

Do you have to haul the stand-up AND the two teenagers simultaneously? The little hatchbacks like the Versa, Fit, xB, etc have good cargo space with the seats folded down, but usually not so much with them up.

I’d just bring the bass and the kids to the dealer with you and try it out.

These maybe a bit short on the 30 mpg highway criteria, but get decent mileage for the room. Chrysler PT Cruiser, and Chevy HRR (or is it HHR) are essentially mini wagons and the seats can be configured to carry all kinds of loads.

Who the heck is Charles Mingus?

He was a gifted jazz bassist.

There is quite a choice these days, in addition to the ones mentioned (Versa, Fit, Yaris, Scion), I would look at the new Nissan CUBE. It really is a square box on wheels, big windows, easy to drive and park. On a Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe, the front passenger seat also folds down, so you can carry a stepladder, surfboard or other very long and bulky item.

Happy shopping!

My dad and his Epiphone double bass fit in his focus zx4, from Texas to Ohio and back.
But, like the others wondering here, how many people ride with the bass ?

My old 92 Exlporer would fit me and the drummer, electric bass guitar, two amp heads, four speaker cabinets, two floor monitors, 5 piece drum kit, mic stands, light boxes, and cable/gear crates etc.
Yet I could never hope to get all that into my 06 Escape.

When car shopping , take the bass with you.
With the bass body toward the rear and the neck facing forward there should be room for people on both sides of the neck.

Wow, you folks are great! I actually have a 2003 Toyota Corolla, which I love, but no way will the bass fit in it through the back seats. So, I bought a used PT Cruiser last year, which is the perfect size, but has less than optimal mileage and is not in great shape. So I’m thinking of getting rid of both cars and living with just one. (We have two scooters the 3 of us share for shorter rides around town). The bass also fit well in my old Forester, but the new ones gets 20/26 and I will probably be looking for a used car which may get a little less (why ask my 17 and 20 year old kids to be too careful with the paint job). I’d like to be able to 5 adults OR 2 adults and a bass; it would be but less desirable to only fit 1 adult and the bass. And we’ll definitely take the bass with us shopping. Thank you!

A Car + Hitch + Small Covered Trailer = Bass + 5 Adults (- Bass - 4 Adults = 30MPG)


My parents have a 1st gen Fit and I love the way it drives and hauls. Versa is good too if it isn’t a manual, which was way too clunky, and it has no standard ABS. Cube is just a boxed shaped Versa w/ worse mileage. Matrix is boring drive and harder to park, but definitely bigger than either of those. The current Scion xB won’t get 30, xD is way smaller than the Fit inside, and so is the Yaris. Elantra Touring is bigger still, but mileage is worse. If you think 30 on the hwy is blissful, try the Jetta TDI wagon.

I think that any small hatchback will do the trick.

Here’s a funky notion, keep the PT AND Corolla and hand down to the kids and get yourself a nice newer vehicle.

Look at a new Pontiac Vibe. It’s a Toyota underneath the Pontiac badge, so you should be able to score a new one for quite a bargain. Plus, the 1.8L engine gets 32mpg highway I believe. Fold the front seat down if need be and you got tons of extra room in there.

Lots of good ideas. I can’t afford 3 cars (look at insurance rates) and I live in the city with an easy way to park only one car (the other gets towed if it is not moved every 3 days). The trailer is an interesting idea, I could haul the scooters in it too. What do you think about a Ford Escape Hybrid- there seem to be several 2006, 2007, and 2008 models for sale at decent prices around here, with 30 to 40 K miles on them. I’ll definitely look at the Jetta.

1.8 liter Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix, the best little hatchback on the market. Versa, Fit, Yaris, Cube etc are nice, but don’t have the room you you are looking for. Vibes and Matri are Corolla wagons, you will find it to be quite familiar.

Honda Fit. Take the bass to a dealer and see how it “fits”.

The Honda Fit can probably fit it (no pun intended). Also check out the Matrix/Vibe.

I’m not saying that everyone should buy a Fit, but these small cars designed for an island country have a lot more room than you think. This is what I stuffed into my 1st gen xB, and I still had room for another person. The Fit is even bigger than my box on the inside. I can park my box in San Francisco in places where a Matrix cannot.

I also like to point out that the Kia Rio has a 5yr/60k mi warranty. It’s worth a look.

Funny. My wife drives a first gen xB. It is a great box. I’ve found that the vibe is longer in it’s cargo area, but the xB is taller. My wife and I are big hatchback fans, why would anyone ever want a trunk? pfff…