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#307410 - 05/20/10 12:48 PM Small Car recommendations...
Adrian Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 6613
Loc: It's all about the location.
I've decided to start looking at buying a small car, probably an '09 or an '08 with low mileage, preferably stick shift, something in the $15-20K range. Reliability would be at the top of the list, after that being(equally)...fun to drive, economy, and comfort. My short list would include the Mini, Civic and perhaps the Mazda 3. Any thumbs up or horror stories on these vehicles out there? any other good small cars I'm overlooking?
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#307413 - 05/20/10 12:52 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: Adrian]
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16279
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
The Mazda 3 is very fun to drive. Move it up your list. \:\)
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"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#307414 - 05/20/10 12:53 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: pmbuko]
Adrian Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 6613
Loc: It's all about the location.
Do you have one, Peter?
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#307415 - 05/20/10 01:00 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: Adrian]
MarkSJohnson Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 10899
Loc: Central NH
Murph was discussing a Mini not all that long ago. I seem to remember something about parts/service being problematic as far as price goes...
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#307416 - 05/20/10 01:00 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: Adrian]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8290
Loc: Tacoma
I'm interested in the conversation, too.

But I need a sunroof. \:\)

I looked at a Scion tC. Don't love the design, and I know they are coming out with a complete revamp for 2011. Plus, it is apparently ungodly expensive to insure. It was pretty cool, though.

Also sat in a Hyundai Genesis coupe. Very nice, but a little more money. Same with a Nissan Altima.

Did not like the Kia Forte Koup. Seemed cheap.
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#307421 - 05/20/10 01:21 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: MarkSJohnson]
Adrian Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 6613
Loc: It's all about the location.
Mark, Andrew sent me a very in depth review of his Mini via pm and basically summed it up this way:

positives....good fuel economy, excellent handling, roomy up front, decent power for it's size, overall fun to drive, handles well in winter with caveat below...

negatives....low mounted fan on hydraulic steering pump prone to getting jammed up if driven on snowy roads possibly causing failure of the pump ($$), requires 91 Octane

In summary, he and his better half said they would definately buy another one, probably one of the more powerfull models.
_________________________
Half of communication is listening. You can't listen with your mouth.

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#307423 - 05/20/10 01:25 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: tomtuttle]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3448
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
I've driven a Mazda 3. I'm not a fan of front wheel drive cars, but what ever Mazda did with the differential design made it one of the most stable FWDs I've ever driven. Still it prefers to understeer when pushing it (too) hard through a corner.

Tom, get a Miata. Largest sunroof you'll find. \:\)
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Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K, PDP-5020FD, DV-79AVi
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#307424 - 05/20/10 01:43 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: Adrian]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
Civics are fine, but what about a Honda Fit?

A co-worker has a 2007 and really likes it. He commutes to work daily and has racked up about 120,000 miles since he bought it new in '07. Nothing has broken. And he's even a bit nutty and will take the thing semi-offroading on camping and fishing trips. Other than gas, just scheduled maintenance, front brake pads, and a set of tires. The interior has a few squeaks and rattles, but the engine and transmission are still going strong. I've ridden in it plenty of times and it's a decent little car. It's not a sports car but it's zippy (his is an auto - manual would be better), gets good gas mileage, but has a great amount of cargo & passenger space for its size. Here in the US they're about $15k, brand new. As a small, inexpensive, reliable, good-mpg commuter car, it's just about perfect, IMHO.

My sister has a 2005 Scion TC. I think it has about 70k miles on it now. She has not had any trouble with it, though she does complain that it seems to go through tires quickly. It's actually her second TC; the first one was totalled when someone T-boned her at 30mph. She walked away from it unharmed. I don't recall her commenting on high insurance rates, but she's a she, so YMMV.

Mazda3's are nice cars too. Never owned one, but I've come close to buying one, twice. Previous generation and the new current generation. They drive well and are decent-handling little cars for the money. Good MPG and I think they're fairly reliable, though I don't know for sure. MazdaSpeed3's are a riot, but probably not what your'e after. ;\) One caveat - the higher-speced Mazda3's may have the premium stereo, which is Bose. Good luck with that. \:D

What about a Subaru Impreza? I used to have an Impreza WRX and it was a great little car. The regular Impreza 2.5's aren't as crazy-fun, but they're still nice cars. Not the best MPG in their segment but Subie's are generally quite reliable and you do get AWD, which might be handy for those arcic Canadian winters up there. ;\)

I've test driven Mini Coopers. While they handle well and are fun to drive, the regular Mini's aren't exactly speed demons. Cooper S's are *much* better, as far as fun-to-drive-ness. But do check insurance rates. If you are thinking about a used Mini, make sure you've got a Mini dealer nearby. Not that Mini's are unreliable (I don't know), but you will likely need a dealer sooner or later. Mini dealers are few-and-far-between in some parts of the world. Not only can they be a pain to get to (gotta take a day off work, etc), but it also means they can charge whatever they want becuase they have no competition from other Mini dealers. They don't allow Mini dealer's on every corner as you'll find with Honda, Toyota, Ford, etc dealers.

I used to own a Saab that required a 200-mile (round trip) drive to get it to the dealer. I convinced myself it wouldn't be a big deal when I bought it. Turned out to be more of a PITA than I thought. Never again will I buy a car whos dealer is more than 30-40 minutes away.

The best advice I could give is that for whatever makes/models you're interested in, find their respective forums online. Every car model has an enthusiast website (or two or twenty) where owners will discuss and gripe about their cars. Do a little lurking. Look at the FAQ's for common complaints and/or problems. In an hour, you'll know more about the car than any salesman.

Good luck with whatever you chose!
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#307427 - 05/20/10 01:55 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: Adrian]
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16279
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
I don't have one, but my brother does, my boss does, and a coworker does. All three love their cars.
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#307429 - 05/20/10 01:58 PM Re: Small Car recommendations... [Re: PeterChenoweth]
Adrian Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 6613
Loc: It's all about the location.
Thanks Peter. You make a good point about the number of Mini dealers, there are quite a few in S. Ontario, but scattered around the province. I've also heard that Subies are a little hard on fuel compared to it's counterparts, but are generally quite reliable. I never really thought of the Honda Fit, I'll check them out. More than likely they use the same engines as the Civic(?).
With the Mazda 3, I've heard mixed things from people I know who've owned them. They're either in love with their '3' or they've had what seems like an inordinate amount of problems with them. One of my neighbours has had several clutch failures, but I'm leaning towards the belief that it's her driving style, or lack thereof.
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Half of communication is listening. You can't listen with your mouth.

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