Starting the search for a new car

All my previous cars have been pre-2010, so I have no idea what is mainstay for cars nowadays. Are backup cams and TPS common now? I’d like some help picking out a few cars that would work for me. Though this list might seem weirdly particular, but I really just want a small, efficient car with decent ground clearance. I hear Subaru does that well. Chevy Volts sound interesting, but getting a discontinued car sounds like a precarious idea.

Getting into specifics…
• Sedan
• Hatchback
• Coupe

• 2014+

Ride height:
*At least 7in. Needs to be able to handle country gravel roads.

• I only want decent acceleration, which seems to be around 200hp for me.
• Good gas mileage, 20+ on average. Also interested in electric or hybrid.

Read the April 2021 Consumer Reports - their annual car issue.


Nope. What you want isn’t available. The 2015 Subaru Legacy has a 5.9” ride height, and the Impreza has a 5.7” ride height. You won’t get higher than that unless you got to a SUV or pickup. The Subaru Forester has an 8.7” ground clearance, and the 2015 F150 ground clearance is 8.8”. If you want at least 7” ride height, cars can’t do it.

Very few vehicles sold in the US have insufficient power for normal everyday driving . I myself think you should avoid any electric or Hybrid used as you seem to have trouble getting things fixed. I don’t call 20 plus good fuel mileage . Our 2018 Ford Fiesta get 30 + combined and got 38.6 on a 1500 miles trip to the Colorado mountains and back to eastern Oklahoma.

Search the vehicle web lists for something in your price range that appeals to you. Then put that in your search engine and you will have a better idea if it suits you better then a bunch of suggestions from any forum.

Edit: Your heading should read ( Searching for a replacement vehicle ) not a new car.

You’d need to test drive a few things but a Forester or Impreza Crosstrek my 2015 Forester has done just fine on gravel country roads, but performance will depend on what you’re used to.

There are many vehicles that meet your requirements. The popular cars today don’t have a trunk, instead they have a back door or liftgate. These qualify as SUVs by EPA standards, many have car based platforms and powertrains however don’t have to meet the fuel economy requirements of a car.

Many “crossover” SUVs have good road clearance and are capable of better than 20 city MPG.


I drove a 2019 Nissan Rogue a while ago, and I remember liking it. I was surprised to learn that it was an SUV. Now it makes sense from your explanation.

Backup cams have been standard equipment for a few years, and TPMS has been standard equipment for many years.

1 Like

That 2019 might be out of warranty so you might want to move up in vehicle age . I don’t know your budget and don’t need to know. As for SUV or CUV those can both be used for the same vehicle is some cases . So concentrate on what meets your needs . The bad part is that this is a lousy time to be looking at vehicles , used prices are ridiculous and there is a shortage of new vehicles .

Do you not have a relative or friend that has some vehicle knowledge to help you ?

[post withdrawn by author]

1 Like

“. Are backup cams and TPS common now?”

Yes, backup cams have been mandated for a few years now. TPS has been mandated for around 13 years now.

A coupe,sedan, or hatchback with 7 inches of ground clearance, decent power, and 20+ MPG…

Subarus do come to mind. The Forester XT, Legacy 3.6T, and Outback XT fit most of the criteria. The Mini Countryman JCW and VW Golf AllTrack, are also options, but are not known for reliability. The ground clearance requirement along with apparently no truck/SUV being wanted narrows the pickings significantly.

1 Like

7 inches seems overkill for just running down a gravel road. You’ll be crossing a lot of otherwise good choices off the list if you stick with that.

Gravel roads? Not plowed often? Lots of potholes? Why is clearance important?

This Acura that you have spent so much money on has a ground clearance of just a little over 5 inches . Did it handle the gravel roads ?

Also, why did you hide your profile ? Sometimes looking at past threads of a person helps people make better replies .

What ever catches your interest a simple search ( put year of vehicle - brand - model - then ground clearance ) and you will see what the clearance is .

Really depends on how well maintained the gravel road is, i’ve driven on some that you wouldn’t want to take certain cars but the the one my parent’s share is maintained well enough that a Prius or any normal compact has no problem, if a little bumpy.

Ask a simple question and get the 3rd degree, now we need to survey the roads to see if he qualifies for a vehicle with sufficient ground clearance.


My vw rabbit in college did not like 12” of snow. Tires were almost bald. But I never had any issues. My first fwd car and I could not get stuck. I just turned around. Duluth mn in winter was fun

I’d be looking at Rav4/CRV/CX5/whatever Kia/Hyundai fits the bill.

With used car prices currently being very high, a new car may be better. Though few are left, I have seen new 2020s listed for less than a comparable used 2019.


Thanks for all the suggestions!

I’ve been looking on Kelly Blue Book for both new and used cars, and the new cars do indeed seem to be the better investment.

I think my fondness for lists gave the wrong impression; nothing’s set in stone. I really only put 7in as an ideal/preferred height, as cars I’ve driven below that height can sometimes have issues. The roads I have to deal with are mostly fine, but there’s the occasional private driveway that is only a little more than off-roading. The curbs on the paved roads are pretty ridiculous around here as well, so it’s not uncommon to have a 4in barrier in front of my destination. I’d just like to be able to handle those without significant danger of bottoming out my car or getting stuck.

I might just be a biased against SUVs and trucks. My first car was a Dodge Durango, and I remember absolutely hating it. I had a work truck at one point, an F-250 Super Duty, and that thing was a huge pain to park anywhere. I volunteered to use the ‘91 Chevy 1500 with no a/c so I didn’t have to drive it! :rofl: