Which new car would you buy?

Last week via email, reader David Hatch asked:

If you were going to buy a new car, what would you get do you think?

I wrote a short email reply…then decide this topic is worth a deeper dive (of only for my own personal edification).

You see, Kim and I have been talking about cars lately. Mine is fifteen years old and hers is over twenty. Although both are running fine, we realize that we'll have to replace one (or both) of them in the near future. When we do, what will we buy? What kind of new car is right for Kim? What kind of car is right for me?

Let's start by looking at the cars I've owned in the past.

Every Car I've Ever Owned

I am not a car guy. Even though I can appreciate nice cars, I don't have any desire to own them. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because my parents never had nice cars when I was a kid. They had practical, serviceable vehicles that got the job done.

During my 33 years of driving, I've owned five cars.

In high school, I inherited my father's 1980 Datsun 310 GX. I drove that little red beast until it died during my senior year of college. I had a lot of fun with the Datsun, but I treated it poorly. The best part about this car was that I could perform a lot of the maintenance myself — even though I don't have much mechanical knowledge. (Driven from March 1985 to March 1991 — six years.)

After the Datsun died, Dad bought me a $1000 Ford Tempo as a college graduation present. It was a POS from the start. I drove it for less than six months before giving up on it. (Driven from March 1991 to September 1991 — six months.)

When I landed my first job (which turned out to be the worst job I ever had), I also bought my first new car: a 1992 Geo Storm. Naturally, I bought it on credit…before I'd even received a paycheck. I loved that $12,000 car the entire time I owned it. (Driven from September 1991 to December 2000 — 9.25 years.)

On 01 December 2000, a semi sideswiped my Geo Storm on the freeway during morning traffic. The car spun 360+ degrees before striking an overpass guardrail, deploying the airbag. The car was totalled; fortunately, I wasn't hurt.

The left side of my Geo Storm (after accident)

After the accident, I purchased a brand-new 2001 Ford Focus from a friend who worked at a local dealership. I paid $15,000. I hated that car from Day One. It was awful. (I should have read the Consumer Reports reviews before buying; I would have steered clear!) I bought that vehicle with a loan too. (Driven from December 2000 to April 2009 — 8.25 years.)

In 2009, after years of dreaming about it, I realized I could afford to buy a used Mini Cooper. By this point, I'd been writing GRS for three years, so I put my own advice into practice. I shopped around. I bought used. I paid $15,000 cash. I've owned that 2004 Mini Cooper for more than nine years now. In fact, as of this month, it's the car I've owned longest in my lifetime.

J.D. and his Mini Cooper

As you can tell, when I buy a car, I tend to drive it for a long time. I rarely (if ever) get the new car itch. I wish I could say this was because I'm rational about my car-buying decisions, but that's not it. I'm just not a car guy. (Computers, though? Well, I want to upgrade my computer every year. I am a computer guy.)

But David didn't ask about the cars I've owned in the past. He asked what car I'd buy new.

What Kim and I Own Now

Kim and I have been thinking about this question for a couple of years now. Neither of us is eager to buy a new vehicle, but from a pragmatic perspective, we're both going to have to do so relatively soon.

  • I currently own the afore-mentioned 2004 Mini Cooper (with roughly 150,000 miles) and a 2016 Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle.
  • Kim owns a 1997 Honda Accord (with roughly 240,000 miles) and a 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle.

Both of our cars run about like you'd expect. Kim's is very reliable and never has major maintenance issues. It also has air conditioning that works. (The Mini has a coolant leak that I'm unwilling to pay to have fixed, so we no longer use it for long summer trips.) I've had to spend a few thousand to repair the Mini over the past couple of years, but it's running fine at this moment.

“I've been setting aside $600 per month in my car fund,” Kim told me the other day. Before our RV trip, she was saving for a new car, but she cashed out that money to help pay for our travels. “I have about $12,000 saved now. That's not enough for a new car — especially not for a Tesla Model 3 — but it's a start.”

“You plan to sell your Honda to the girls at some point, right?” I asked. We know two sisters who should be getting their licenses soon. Kim has promised them they can have her Honda for $500.

“Yep,” Kim said. “That's the plan. But should I do that if I don't have enough saved to pay cash for a new car?”

“That's a tough question,” I said. “You could always drive my Mini Cooper to work. I don't use it much during the week. And for about half the year, I could ride my motorcycle instead. I'm not sure what I'd do during the winter.”

“Well, are you still thinking about buying a beater pickup?” Kim asked. Since moving to our country cottage last summer, we've come to realize that our lives would be much easier if we had something that would let us haul lumber and ladders and dirt and gravel and plants and furniture and so on. I'm hoping to find a small pickup that runs well priced at a few thousand dollars.

“Yes, I still think the pickup is a good idea,” I said. “And that could certainly be my winter ride.”

“I guess we don't have to make any decision yet,” Kim said. “We don't have to decide anything until one the girls learns how to drive.”

What Kind of Car Would I Buy?

Although I spend most of my road time in vehicles that are fifteen or twenty years old, this year I've had a lot of exposure to modern cars.

During both my trip to Florida in January and my trip around the Southeast in April, I rented a car. I've spent four weeks of 2018 essentially test-driving modern mid-sized sedans. They all feel like they're from the future. (I think I had a Nissan Versa for one trip and a Hyundai Elantra for the other.)

I'll admit: I like some of the new features. Back-up cameras are kind of cool. Sound systems that automatically pair with your phone are awesome. I like the whole keyless thing, too. (The other night, Kim pointed out that her car was so old that we still have to hand-crank the windows!)

While visiting Nashville in April, a friend gave me a ride in his new $150,000 Mercedes. Holy cats! The interior of that thing was like the U.S.S. Enterprise (the fancy Picard-era Enterprise, not the utilitarian Kirk-era Enterprise). I have no desire to own a luxury automobile, but I can certainly appreciate the design touches.

If Kim were to buy a new car, she'd buy the Tesla Model 3. She's a fan of electric vehicles. If she can't afford a Tesla when it comes time to buy a new car, I suspect she'll end up with a Honda or Toyota hybrid. (I'm not sure, though. I haven't asked her.) She just wants a comfortable, reliable car to get to and from work, and for us to use on long road trips.

Me? Well, I've delayed answering this question for more than 1000 words because I don't really know which car I'd buy if I had to buy a new car. Let's think it through together.

  • I prefer smaller cars. I have zero desire to own a modern truck or SUV. I don't want a minivan. I don't want a large sedan. I like vehicles with small footprints. They're easier to park, fuel efficient, and generally more agile.
  • I like something a little sporty. I'm not a fast driver, but I do like to be able to accelerate now and then, either to overtake another car or to enjoy twisty country roads.
  • I want a car with ample cargo space. As I mentioned earlier, I haul stuff all the time, so I want a vehicle that lets me carry stuff from the hardware store. It'd also be nice if I could transport a kayak or two. (Believe it or not the Mini has decent cargo room. It certainly has more usable cargo space than Kim's Accord.)

Based on this, I'd focus my search on three classes of vehicles: compact pickup trucks, compact cars, and subcompact cars.

Unfortunately, compact pickup trucks are a dying breed. Yes, Ford is bringing back the Ranger in a few months, but currently there are only five options in this category. The only one that gets good reviews is the Honda Ridgeline, and that costs $30,000 — or more.

There aren't many options in the world of subcompact cars, either. Most of those options also get poor reviews (and low customer satisfaction scores).

There are plenty of choices in the world of compact cars, however, and at prices that don't scare me. Both the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Prius are highly-rated and affordable. That said, if I bought a compact car, I'd probably pursue a Mazda 3 or Hyundai Elantra. Plus, I'd have to consider the modern Mini Cooper. (My ex-wife's boyfriend is a mechanic and fellow Mini fan. He's warned me that newer Minis are both larger and less reliable, so I'm skeptical that I'd choose a Mini again. But I do love mine.)

Cars I Might Like

The Bottom Line

So, which new car would I purchase? Honestly, I don't know. I don't want to buy a new car, and I hope I don't have to make this sort of decision for many years.

Having said that, I am absolutely in the market for a beat-up but reliable pickup — preferably a compact pickup. Something like this seems perfect:

A Pickup That Tempts Me

As a wildcard, I suppose a used Subaru Outback might be a smart choice for me also. (Actually, a Subaru Outback would be an excellent choice for our current lifestyle.)

The older I get, the more I view vehicles as tools. They're not status symbols for me. I don't get an adrenaline rush from a souped-up sports car. Right now, I want a car that runs reliably, allows me to haul stuff, and doesn't take up a lot of space. That's it. (Except when we take long road trips — which happens two or three times each year — I don't care about comfort.)

Realistically speaking, here's what I expect will happen:

  • One of the girls will get her license in the next year. Kim will sell the Honda to her for $500.
  • Kim and I will pool money to buy her a new car. It won't be the Tesla Model 3 that she wants so badly. It'll be a Subaru Outback or a hybrid Toyota or Honda.
  • I will continue to drive the Mini Cooper until it is well and truly dead. At that time — or perhaps before — I'll buy a beater pickup for use around the homestead. (Yes, we may end up having three cars at some point — but only for a little while.)

What about you? If you had to buy a new car, what would you buy? Why? What features are important to you? Are there certain makes or models that you prefer? Refuse to consider? And based on what I've told you here, what kind of car would you recommend for me?

More about...Transportation

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

62
Leave a Reply

avatar
newest oldest most voted
Eddie
Eddie

My June 2006 Prius is still chugging along at 16X k miles. Until 18 months ago it was pretty much oil, tires and maintenance, but then the drive battery died abruptly; fortunately I found a guy that was able to rebuild it for a lot less than the new dealer batteries. The paint is looking pretty shabby in spots and its not nearly as peppy as it once was. Otherwise… it’s been very reliable. What do I want next? Reliable affordable EV. Since Toyota missed the boat on EVs, I have to look elsewhere. Lately I’ve been considering the Kia… Read more »

Bambam
Bambam

I really like my Leaf. I live in New England so the thermal management thing isn’t that much of an issue for me.

My comment is below. If I were to buy a new or newer car, I would definitely check out the Bolt or the newer Leafs. I think I’m pretty much done with the weekly trip to the gas station forever.

Manuel
Manuel

I’m with you. I own a 2007 Prius (bought new October 2006, $26k) and it has over 175k on the odometer now. The only major repair it ever needed (besides me scraping the passenger side and having to pay for that…) was a new catalytic converter at $2.4k. First set of new brakes after 160k miles and other than that, just tires, oil and filters at regular intervals. I am hoping to get over 200k out of it, maybe even 250k. The paint is shot at this point, and I would forgive it if it decided it’s old enough now,… Read more »

Nicholas Shields
Nicholas Shields

Nice

Elaine
Elaine

I have a 2012 Honda Fit and it ticks most of the boxes you mentioned: small, reliable, can accelerate when it needs to, a surprising amount of cargo space for the size. Also really great highway gas mileage. Not exactly a “car of the future” (Bluetooth? What’s that?) but it certainly gets the job done.

Elise
Elise

I used to have a 2007 Honda Fit and I loved that car! I hauled many plants, gravel, kayaks, surfboards, lumber, etc with it. It had great cargo space, super reliable, small and fantastic gas mileage. I bought a Mazda Miata and ended up selling the Fit for 5k. The only reason I sold it is that I got married and we really didn’t need the Fit since he’s got a Focus ST. I’d still recommend the Fit over the Focus, though the Focus is much fancier and has more pep.

Mrs Random
Mrs Random

We have a 2017 Honda Fit and love it. It’s got an amazing amount of cargo area, and gets good mileage. We find it comfortable and fun to drive. So far, so good – no mechanical problems.

Robert
Robert

I’ve done much the opposite of you, getting a different used car every few years. I like to buy them heavily depreciated, then sell them at not much of a loss. I get the itch for a different car pretty often. I wrote about it here: https://rskelton.com/drive-cool-cars-on-a-budget/ That said, I’d look into the Focus ST or RS as a NEW car, or similar hatchbacks available in a manual for under 30k. Practical, spacious, sporty, semi-affordable. I’ve owned NEWer cars (currently have a 2016 Corvette), but could never deal with the depreciation right off the lot. New cars are a terrible… Read more »

Ron C.
Ron C.

Robert, I had a Fiesta ST (the Focus ST was a little more than I needed) that Ford ended up buying back from me only after filing a Lemon Law claim. The car was the most fun car I’ve ever owned and felt solid on day one, but there were a TON of unresolved issues.

And for the record, you’re driving one of the best looking cars on the road hands down!

Bambam
Bambam

I am driving a 2011 Nissan Leaf that I bought used last year, then had the battery replaced under warranty. My lack of preparation actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because if I would have had more knowledge about battery degradation, I might have passed on it but totally lucked out with the warranty. 95% of my driving is within a 30 mile radius of my home, so it was an excelllent choice for me. Charging it in a 120 volt outlet in my garage a few times a week added $20/ month to my electric bill… Read more »

Charles
Charles

2017 or 2018 VW Golf Sportwagen. Small(ish), turbo, FWD or AWD, and it’s a station wagon. Base models even come with stick shift!

S.G.
S.G.

I’m on my third car: 1999 Mazda Protege (2000-2003) I “sold” it to my sister when I got married. At 6’8″ my husband couldnt drive it comfortably. 2001 Explorer (2003-2012) I loved that car. I replaced it because our family was growing and one of the backdoors stuck a lot, foiling the kiddos. Plus I couldn’t carpool. 2012 Odyssey (2012-present) It’s a boat but fits half of a girl scout troop. I’m stuck with it for at least a few more years. I like the automatic doors for really small kids. Next Dunno. Nothing small, we just don’t fit comfortably… Read more »

Mr. Pop
Mr. Pop

I think this is a great example of somebody asking the wrong question. The depreciation is beyond terrible for any new car, so you’re gonna get hurt no matter what you chose.

As far as used, Honda or Toyota for me…that ’91 4×4 is pretty sweet!

L
L

If you want small look at the Mazda 3. I am in my car commuting every day about 2 hrs (32 miles each way horrible traffic area). I don’t love the NAV so I just use my phone.

Joe M
Joe M

I mostly just view my car as a tool to get from point A to B as well, but I’m not going to buy a Chevy Sonic or something hilariously small. A few months ago, I got rid of my 2010 Ford Focus. It was one of the last years of that body type and was super reliable. I only had 135,000 miles on it, but it had rust that started and spread rather quickly over the last year, to the point that I wanted to get rid of it. I decided to spring for a 2018 Honda Civic with… Read more »

Mark
Mark

I am a big fan of my 2012 Camry hybrid. 40 miles per gallon. Cheap to own, cheap to insure, cheap to maintain. Do not just look at the cost to purchase. The cost to maintain and insure and milage are just as significant, especially when you keep a vehicle 10-15 years. You can not discount the safety features of newer vehicles. As a medical professional I prefer larger vehicles as accidents end up being a physics equation, so mass and size count. There are more deals on used full size pick up trucks rather than compact trucks. Consider purchasing… Read more »

Sheila
Sheila

Love our Leaf for around town and our Subaru for long trips, especially since we go to the mountains a lot. I’d like a car that will ‘help’ me change lanes because I have some neck mobility issues. Any warning systems would be great.

Dave
Dave

I own a 2017 Mazda3 hatchback. Best car I have ever owned (Better than the 2011 BMW 3 series sedan I owned before). Great value for the money, sporty, practical and I like the styling. It has been in a rear end collision which was covered by insurance and has had no impact on the car frame or performance to date. Good you have it under consideration. I also owned a 2005 Mazda3 sedan until I bought the 2011 BMW. The 2005 Mazda3 was also great and a solid value.

Tina in NJ
Tina in NJ

My first car was a 1988 Mazda 323, bought new. A year later, we skidded on black ice. It died, we didn’t. I’ve been buying the current version when needed for the last 30 years! Great little car. It does the job.

Kiwigirl in LA
Kiwigirl in LA

I just sold my used 2010 Mini cooper and your ex-wife’s significant other is correct, that later versions are a POS. I could and did run through all my oil in my car every 4 months. No leak either, apparently its a design flaw coupled with thinner oils. Shout out for the Honda Fit, small, economical, low maintainence. Very happy.

MB
MB

I am one who buys new and keeps for 10 or 11 years. The last 2 times I have bought a car it is because I have passed down my car to my kids. (Or bought a used car for my kid). I currently drive a 2017 Honda CRV. I love it. I like a higher profile vehicle. It replaced a 2010 Toyota Prius. My 18YO is driving it. It is probably close to 150K miles. It had better get him through college. He has not taken as good care of it as I’d like. But it is amazing how… Read more »

Ron C.
Ron C.

I was in the same dilemma recently. I was “too smart” to buy another new car, but after running the numbers…again…and again…I bought a new 2018 VW GTI for $24,400. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Edmunds has a “True Cost to Own” calculation that lets you factor in insurance, maintenance, depreciation and repairs, etc. A new 2018 GTI cost about the same over five years as a 2015 GTI. Hard to believe, but true. With many cars you actually come out ahead buying new. Again, hard to believe, I know. I spent hundreds of hours (a couple… Read more »

Luke
Luke

J.D. – a bit off-topic, but what do you happen to know, if anything, about P2P car-sharing? We currently live in the NYC without a vehicle, so having a car is more of a hassle than an luxury, between constant re-parking (+costs) and limited use. We plan on buying our first home in the suburbs in the next year – but close enough to public transit to make us think twice about buying a car. I need to run the numbers, but I came across an interesting idea – which is P2P car-sharing. Using a Zipcar or Cars2go can be… Read more »

JanBo
JanBo

Here is an off the wall thought. I bought a Mustang convertible from my sinking fund three years ago. Just fun. I put the top down when I need to haul something (wood, cribs, bikes). It gets 32 mpg on the road and 29 in town. There is nothing, short of riding a motorcycle, like putting a top down. Not a hybrid, but I love it. Our next car will be a self driving electric. We figure we have five to seven years. Sinking fund is filling as I type. Go Tesla!

Ris
Ris

I inherited a gold 2005 Volkswagen Jetta about 7 years ago and man, I love that car. The fabric is falling down from the roof and the trunk only opens manually with the key and instead of bluetooth it has a factory cd player (remember those?) but it was FREE and it has 63,000 miles on it and I hope I can get away with driving it for another decade or so. To me, cars are just tools to get me and my junk from point A to point B.

Joe
Joe

We have the Mazda 5, a small minivan. It’s perfect for us. Mazda stops making these so I don’t know what to buy at this point.
Maybe self driving car will be ready before we need the next car. That will make life much easier for us.
Once our kid is off to college, I want a convertible. A Mazda Miata. 🙂

Kelly
Kelly

LOVE our Outback- lots of cargo space but doesn’t feel too big- rides like a car. We went new because used were comparatively expensive. Decent gas mileage, and low maintenance costs. At least check it out if you haven’t already..

freddy smidlap
freddy smidlap

i had the ranger equivalent made by mazda. it was a 1995 b2300 that i sold in 2000 for 500 bucks because i didn’t want to haggle or advertise. it was still going strong but they don’t sell them in the u.s. any longer. we have 2 mazda 6’s, a 2005 and 2014 bought new. i wish with the newer one i had bought the 3 hatchback. neither one has had any problems, so that’s 23 years of mazda cars without issues. all that being said when we replace our older car we’ll consider a mercedes metris van. it’s a… Read more »

RH
RH

MMM would probably give you a talkin’ to right now, especially the part about wanting a truck for a one acre property to haul dirt and flowers.

Colleen
Colleen

I went against all the rules of personal finance and bought a new Honda HR-V in June. I had been driving a 9 year old Honda civic that was great, but was about to need thousands of dollars of maintenance and didn’t have AWD. I live in New England in the snow belt on a hill, so AWD was starting to become more and more necessary. I’m also not savvy with cars, and I’m the only one I know who does my commute, so having a new car keeps me from worrying about breaking down. I did take out a… Read more »

Cori R
Cori R

I would consider a Chevy Volt, honestly. I bought a 2015 model for less than $16k earlier this year and honestly, it’s the best car I’ve ever driven. All the benefits of electric for your daily commute and normal shopping, but the flexibility of gas for those long road trips. Depending on the temps, you can get between 40 and 50 miles of electric range and since they don’t draw a lot of power, they can plug into a standard 12A circuit. It takes about 10 hours to recharge fully from empty, so a faster charger is nice (4 hours)… Read more »

Sequentialkady
Sequentialkady

My car criteria: Must get above average ratings in reliability and safety, must get at least 25mpg city and 30 mpg highway, must have a manual transmission or an automatic whose shifting doesn’t drive me batty. Any electric car has to have a range of 150 miles, minimum. Because of my bad back, I need a car with a certain ride height to ensure I can get in/out of it. Even the average non-sporty sedan with the seats bumped up as high as they go is usually too low for me on a bad back day. :/ I currently drive… Read more »

John
John

Have you considered a hitch / trailer instead of a pickup?

The pickup is really useful when you need it but this is likely a very limited amount of time. With a trailer, you can get the economy of a smaller car but still have flexibility to haul larger items.

I use a harbor freight trailer with my older VW Passat. I do need to keep an eye on the overall weight in the trailer but this is also true for a small pickup.

Plus, no Oregon tags are required for smaller trailers…

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski

I would not buy a new car at this point in my life. I have three cars, all of them work pretty well. If they all caught fire simultaneously and I was *forced* to buy a new car, I would buy another F-150. As much as they are big and expensive and get poor fuel economy, they’re SUPER versatile and super comfortable. I can take my whole family anywhere, comfortably, I can tow my boat, I can drive it on the beach, I can haul stuff to the dump. I know full-size pickup trucks don’t have a very stellar reputation… Read more »

Denise D. Young
Denise D. Young

So, I had a Ford Tempo back in high school and wow, were they terrible cars. By the end the mechanic couldn’t even figure out what was wrong with it, but let’s just say it broke down all the time. Hubby had a 2000 Ford Focus and we nursed that thing through 14 years and nearly 190,000 miles–somehow. It needed a lot of maintenance and expensive repairs. We had–and loved–a Toyota Yaris that we kept for 7 years. It only had 69K on it when a tree fell on it in the middle of the night and totaled it. Thankfully,… Read more »

Bonnie
Bonnie

I’m still driving my 2005 Toyota Corolla that was purchased new. It looks every inch of its years and then some, but it still drives fine, even at 220K miles. I’m hoping to keep it for at least another year or two and then will likely buy something a bit bigger–we have a kid now, and I’d like to have something more comfortable for longer road trips, etc., in the future. Toyotas have been good to me (this is my second one), and so it’s very possible I would get a RAV4 (or even one of the Corolla hatchbacks), but… Read more »

Elaine
Elaine

Shoutout for the 2005 Corolla! That was my first car and I only lost it a few years ago (no fault of the car; a hail storm took out the back window and punched a bunch of holes in the interior). I’m still mourning that car and I know it had at least another 50k miles left in it.

Mark
Mark

I saw a previous commenter allude to this – be sure you aren’t paying a premium for a used car! What I mean by that is – the last two vehicles I’ve purchased, I found I paid the same for the new as for a 1 or 2 year old model. This is common for Hondas and Toyotas. Last year we bought a 2018 CR-V. I looked into a 2017 and it would have been less than $1000 cheaper, and they all had at least 15k miles on them. People just don’t get rid of 1 or 2 year old… Read more »

Bekke Hess
Bekke Hess

Actually, in March i traded up my 2015 Honda Fit for a 2018 Kia Niro as i will now be going back and forth between homes in CA and AZ. The Niro has more cargo space, is very comfortable to drive and gets 60mpg. I got the first upgrade, without all the bells and whistles, but it has what i need.
The Fit was also a good car, but my needs had changed. Also, the new car is white with gray interior, so cooler for hot drives than the silver and black Fit.

Sequentialkady
Sequentialkady

You’re making me seriously want a Niro, even though I don’t need it … yet.

Bekke
Bekke

I noted in your previous post that ease of ingress/egress is important, and the Niro is just about perfect for me. The Mazda CX5 was too high, Hyundai Ioniq too low. Hyundai Kona is nice, but not enough cargo space, and not great gas mileage. Their Tucson was just about right, too, except lower mpg than the Niro, and just a bit too big.

Allison
Allison

My husband drives a 2003 Nissan Frontier which we purchased in 2010 for cash. It’s a great truck and we’ve been very happy with it! We just started saving for its replacement since it’s now 15 years old. So far we have $2000 or so saved. We plan on buying another truck, either a Tacoma or another Frontier. We’ll see!

Dani
Dani

We have a 2013 Kia Soul and have been quite happy with it. It has a lot of room for its size, and the shape makes it relatively easy to park in the city. Gas mileage is decent. It’s fairly new still so can’t comment on longevity, but so far no issues and Kia does have a pretty good warranty. I hated the boxy look when we bought it, but it’s grown on me and now I think it is pretty cute.

Bekke
Bekke

I loved the Soul, despite the boxiness. But, the cargo space was less than i needed and gas mileage not near as good as the Niro; but a great choice!

SANDI KETCHPEL
SANDI KETCHPEL

I’d look at a Mazda CX-5. We have four in the extended family, and no issues at all. Fun to drive, hatchback/small CUV – a good choice, IMO. If you really want a hybrid, the Toyota RAV-4 hybrid would be one reasonable choice. The Chevy Volt is a hatchback with 40+ mpg, a plug-in hybrid. And yes, the Chevy Bolt, all-electric is also now on the market. My DH has one, and can get 225 mile range easily. You might still need to rent something for a longer road trip, but it can seat 5, and with a roof rack,… Read more »

T'pol
T'pol

I just got a Ford Kuga (Escape in the US). Blogged about my decision process if anyone is interested: http://frugalistanbul.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2018-07-15T21:38:00%2B03:00&max-results=7&start=7&by-date=false

Elle
Elle

After driving a Nissan Maxima for 17 years (and saving $ the entire time), I purchased a 2016 Mercedes C300 4matic. Yes, I paid cash. LOVE this car. Highest rated for safety 2 years running-this was important to me since I drive cars a long time. It has almost 14k miles now. This baby is FUN to drive 🙂 I’m 57 and this well could be the last car of my long life. Writing that check isn’t for everybody, I know. But saving that car payment after it was paid off ($300/m) for 14 years adds up and there was… Read more »

Jacob G.
Jacob G.

A couple years ago I bought a 2016 Mazda 3 after a lot of research and comparison. I considered a Prius or other hybrid, but the only real advantage was the better fuel economy, and with that much higher a sticker price combined with that I don’t use a lot of gas to begin with except on long trips (where the Mazda 3 gets great gas mileage – it usually clocks in at 41-42mpg+ on highway), as well as that I just like the sportier look and feel of the Mazda, that’s what I went with. I’ve only had it… Read more »

CanTex
CanTex

I’d look for a gently-used Toyota Tacoma pickup, lovingly called Taco by its fans. They’re made in San Antonio (mostly) and you’ve got Toyota reliability. Me, we’ve been buying Hondas and Acuras for 20 years because of their reliability and driving dynamics (fun to drive), then our sons wait for us to get tired of them.

Steve Beilstein
Steve Beilstein

I remember when you were talking about getting the mini. That truck is nice. I have a 1992 2wD toyota hilux which will probably never fail. Consider a ford Fiesta ST for the value alone, it might be a little more sporty than you want though.

Mike
Mike

I am driving a 2007 Bmw that I bought used last year. I’ve only had it one year so can’t really comment on long-term reliability yet, but I’ve loved it in general.

Jim
Jim

Hello, I currently drive a Mazda 6, so i would recommend the Mazda.

Dawn
Dawn

I’d buy a Toyota RAV4 hybrid (I’ve had 2 RAV4’s and they have all be great) or the smallest Mazda SVU. My first new car was a Mazda 323 and it’s a close second to my favorite car, the RAV4. I keep my cars for +/- 10 years.

Matthew
Matthew

Even though trucks have gotten gregariously larger than decades past, its a hard value proposition to ignore if you consider the non-luxury trim levels. Comfortable seating for 4, utility, and even reasonable gas mileage these days. The best kicker? Trucks retain value to an absurd degree, so even if you drive it to 200k+, you can still sell it for decent pocket change afterwards. With that said, its really different strokes for different folks. Our criteria was crash safety, safety features, space/utility, and mpg…in that order. That lead us to a 2016 Subaru Outback. High crash ratings, best safety features… Read more »

JS
JS

I have a 2013 Mustang GT Premium. It’s my second one; my first was a 2000 GT. Both black, both manual transmissions, both optioned out pretty well with leather and a decent stereo. I am a car guy. Life is too short to drive something boring. So I buy something that I know I’ll be happy with for a long time. Despite the perception that this may be somewhat extravagant, it pays off in that I’m not pining for something different a year after purchase. As an added bonus, it’s a pretty reliable car that’s relatively cheap to run once… Read more »

Chet
Chet

I love my 2016 Honda Accord V6 Coupe. This replaced my 2003 Accord V6 Coupe, and even with a larger V6 motor, the current Accord gets better mileage. Too bad Honda has discontinued this combination, after 2017…no more V6 in Honda Accords. Not smart.

Mo
Mo

I drive my dad’s 2002 Chevy S10. When I started driving it in 2011 after my dad died it had 28000 miles on it. its got about 72000 miles and I have not had too much in the way of major repairs. Brakes, muffler, Brake lines due to parking outside on gravel. We have snow and salt here so it takes a beating. I also had a Mazda 3 and loved that car till it finally gave up the ghost with 233000 miles on it. I loved that car and would buy another one in a heartbeat. My son had… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

If you get serious about the Subaru Outback idea, take a look at the Subaru Crosstrek. It’s just as highly rated by Consumer Reports and is a touch smaller (and cheaper). It’s considered a subcompact SUV. It also comes in manual. 🙂

CookGardenSew
CookGardenSew

We just walked through this exact decision. We ended up with a new Outback. We looked at several used ones and decided on the new one because the price difference was minimal (ours is one step up from the bottom model). We walked in prepared to pay cash, but the new models had 0% financing so we decided to let a chunk of the cash grow in the bank with automatic payments setup instead. We traded in a 10+ year old truck, so now we get better gas mileage and the Outback is far more nimble for everyday driving and… Read more »

Josie
Josie

When my 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid was totaled by someone merging into me, I knew I wanted an accord hybrid again. I test drove a model year older with 12k more miles and it was still more than my insurance payout. I also test drove brand new. I expected to make the “responsible” choice and get the used, but the increase in trunk size alone (more than doubled by shrinking the batteries) made my husband and I seriously consider the new one. We decided the lane-keeping assist and a few other safety features were worth the upgrade, in addition to… Read more »

shares