What could replace my beloved Festiva?

OK, I admit it. I LOVE my '90 Ford Festiva. My parents bought it for me for $600 when I was in high school, and it’s been a faithful companion to me ever since, even bringing me from Indiana out to Oregon a few years back. However, now that I’ve graduated college and am well-established in my job, my loved ones are beginning to question why I am holding on to this car, which is so lacking in safety features and generally not all that presentable - especially since I was in a car wreck in Fall. My problem is, I love my car. A lot. It meets my needs (except for those pesky safety features) perfectly:

(1) Fantastic gas mileage (~40+ mpg)

(2) Super reliable

(3) Cheap and easy to maintain

(3) Compact

(4) Manual

I also like the hatchback.

So, does anyone have a car they absolutely love that would fit these criteria? In my mind, other than safety concerns, my car is perfect (plus we have a history!). I’d hate to be disappointed by my next car.

I’d be looking for something used and not too pricey - remember my needs are pretty basic.

Thanks in advance!

This is a tough one. They just don’t make many simple, cheap cars anymore. The safety features your car lacks have made newer cars larger and heavier and the gas mileage suffers. Keep this in mind; the most important safety feature on any car is the driver. All that other stuff guarantees nothing.

Have you looked at a Hyundai Accent hatchback? That’s about as basic as it gets these days. Other possibilities are the Toyota Yaris hatchback or the Scion xA.

I’d say MIni, but they take premium gas and they’re not really cheap.

If you can live without the hatchback a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla are excellent choices, as is the Geo Prizm.

Good luck.

Don’t make the same mistake one of our posters made awhile back. Take the car out for an extended(more than 5 miles) test drive to see how you’ll like it.
Your fuel mileage requirement rules out most, if not all makes and models assembled in the last decade, unless you went with(or could find) the older Honda Insight hybrid or a VW New Beetle TDI.
One of our more regular posters has a TDI and claims to get 40~50 in the city and 50~60 highway.

The Yaris sounds like it would be a good fit (pun fully intended). But I hear they aren’t nearly as good as the pinnacle of automotive design that is the circa 1990 Suzuki Swift.

I would add the Nissan Versa with manual shift; it’s extremely versatile and also reliable.

Consider the 2005-2007 Toyota Matrix. The earlier ones (2003-4) have bearing problems with the manual trans. The later ones don’t have the versatility.

Actually, of the very small fuel-efficient cars, Consumer Reports rates the Versa on the bottom of the reliability scale. Not that it is unreliable, but the Fit, the Yaris, and the Accent all have considerably better reliability than the Versa.

Given the negative reviews of the Yaris, and the relatively low reliability of the Versa, if I was in the market for a car in that category, I would be looking at the Fit and the Accent.

I would say the Honda Fit.

If you like your Festiva so much perhaps you should invest in having a body shop take out a few of the dents and dings and get a nice new paint job.

It won’t answer the safety concerns, but you can make it more “presentable”. The Festiva was a good little car. Maybe you should just fix it up and keep it for awhile longer.

In a few more years there will be a lot more choices in small cars. Some of the good ones now, like the Honda fit, will be on the market as used cars too. Hatchbacks and small wagons (called something other than wagons such as mini crossovers) will become popular. All those SUV’s buyers of the past will miss their “lifegates” which are really the same as hatchbacks. On big cars it is a liftgate, and on a small car its a hatchback; otherwise same thing.

Agree with you VDC, but OP is going through withdrawal symptoms, and is looking for a resonably good car that has a feel reminiscent of the Festiva which was a so so Kia econobox. I recommended the Versa Hatchback in addition to the ones suggested.

Th Nissan Versa HATCHBACK has average reliability and is RECOMMENDED by Consumer Reports. The Versa sedan is basically a Renault and has some faults. Agree the Fit is best in class and my wife can’t wait to get her hands on one.

In the long run I would go with fixing the car you have up.
1.) It will be cheaper then a new car.
2.) You can do it a little bit at a time.
3.) You will end up with a car that no one else in the world has and is an expression of you and who you are.

Now as to the safety issues, the best safety goodies you can add to that car would be a good set of racing seats and a 4 point harness.
As someone that has worked as a firefighter I can tell you that every wreck I have been to where 4 point harness have been in use, the people in the wrecked car with a 4 point harnesses were in a LOT better condition then the people in cars with airbags. So airbags are not all there cracked up to be. lol
Also I was in a head on @ about 45mph with a rather large ford truck (F350 long bed) in my festiva, and the funny thing is I drove my car home, the truck on the other hand had to be towed… that to me says that the festiva is a very safe car, so don’t let your friends trip ya out about not having air bags, they do make cars safer but are far from the end all be all of safe.

We hope you haven’t succumbed to the pressures yet!
Don’t listen to them!
If it doesn’t bother you, why should you care if it bothers them?
Let others buy the cars they want, and you keep the one you want.

We own a 1993 Festiva. It’s a car.
We like a number of things about it,
including the hatchback, its smallness,
but a lot of room inside for its size,
and so on…

We’ve learned there is no such thing as a perfect,
have everything, please everybody car.
New or old, big or small, a car is a car.
Keep the car if you like it,
and offer the others a ride,
in YOUR Festiva,
to the lake of their choice
so they can “go jump in it”!

Happy inexpensive motoring!

The Purple and Green Guys!