Author Topic: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread  (Read 2310 times)

englishteacheralex

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Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« on: March 06, 2019, 12:06:42 AM »
Yeah so our 2003 Toyota Matrix, purchased for $3300 in 2016 with only 95k miles on it at the time of purchase and 110k miles on it when it crapped the bed...is dead.

We sold it on Sunday for $550.

Pickins are slim on the Honolulu Craigslist, and we need another car ASAP.

We're thinking $5k-$6k for a car with <100k miles is our sweet spot for this go 'round. Any info you can add to the following would be much appreciated:

HATCHBACKS. Two toddlers. Not a lot of miles put on per year.

1. Honda Fit: so freakin' expensive, forget it. Yeah, yeah, they're the best and everything. We can't afford them. Next!

2. Toyota Matrix: WTF I got burned by this one. Anyway all the ones on CL are either way too expensive or way too cheap.

3. Ford Fiesta: These are almost all in the sweet spot but man the internet hates these cars. Opinions?

4. Ford Focus: Same as #3.

5. Mazda 5: We got one already. We love it. Thinking of just getting a second one (there are several in the sweet spot) but it seems weird to have two identical cars.

6. Hyunda Elantra: I have a good feeling about these but there's only one on CL right now and it's being sold by a shady dealer.

7. Kia Rio: What is this weird car?

8. Kia Soul: See #7?

9. Mazda 2: Damn it looks so small, like a toy car almost. But lots of listings in the sweet spot. Maybe it could work?

10. Mazda 3: These seem like a great option but we're not seeing many listings in the sweet spot.

11. Hyundai Accent: Are these any good?

12. Subaru: No. 4WD is dumb in Hawaii.

13. Suzuki: who buys these? Seems complicated to maintain.

14. VW: Absolutely not. Maintenance.

15. Nissan Versa: Nah, my auto mechanic friend said Nissans are complicated and a pain in the ass to fix.

16. Toyota Prius: Scared of the whole battery thing.

17. Leaf: Nope. We live in a condo; can't plug anything in.

Calling everyone with car opinions...

BicycleB

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2019, 01:17:57 AM »
16 might be really good though...I thought battery could be tested before purchase

5 yes!

3, 4: Found
        On
        Road
        Dead

:)

RWD

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2019, 07:52:50 AM »
3/4: Yes, the Fords really are as bad as the internet says. I have a coworker with a Fiesta that he bought brand new and it has had tons of problems (and it doesn't even have the troublesome automatic transmission).

5: I think it is best to have two different cars. Every car makes compromises so two different ones helps cover more use cases.

6, 8: The Hyundai Elantra and Kia Soul should be fine, but not great.

9: The Mazda 2 is really really small. You'd need to drive one to see if it is something you could live with.

10: The Mazda 3 is a nice car.

7, 11: The Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent should be avoided.

16: The Prius is a very solid choice. You should not be scared of the battery.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2019, 08:51:12 AM »
So the Prius, eh? What does one look for in a Prius? We are scared off because our friends had one and the battery died. Replacing it was supposed to be $3500, so they elected to trade it in and buy a new (used) car.

Will a Prius hit our "sweet spot" of a car that has a clean title, <100k miles, and cost $5k-$6k? And if so, is that a good time to buy a Prius--when do the batteries typically die?

Every time I see a Prius I think, man that would be perfect except for the whole battery thing.

One thing about our situation: our condo parking spot is tiny and boxed in by cars on either side. We're borrowing a friend's Mazda 6 sedan right now and it feels like a tank in our tandem space. The Matrix was just right. One of the things we love most about our Mazda 5 is the sliding doors--makes getting kids in and out so much easier in that stupid small parking spot.

bw_94

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2019, 09:13:54 AM »
I recently bought a 2014 Mazda 3 - I'm getting way better mileage than I get with my Corolla. I've gotten about 37 MPG overall since I bought it in early February with tons of city driving and one longer trip. And I don't really do much "hypermiling", though I'm trying some stuff.

That particular year is really highly rated on Consumer Reports and it seems to be really solid. I also like Mazdas because they don't tend to "hold their value" like the Toyotas; therefore you can buy a comparable used one cheaper than a Toyota and then not worry about re-sale value, because you'll be driving it into the dirt, while getting similar utility, reliability, and fuel economy.

rothwem

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2019, 12:42:33 PM »
I think the way to go when shopping in the $5-6k price range is to shop by condition and miles rather than model.  A $5,000 Mazda2 is going to be a newer car with half the mileage than a $5,000 Honda Fit.  So just set your filter on Craigslist for $6,000 max, filter out salvage titles and vehicles with more than 150k miles and then go to town. 

Also, I'm super curious how you killed a 110k mile Matrix in just 15k miles and 2.5 years in an area with no salt on the roads.  The Matrix is just a Corolla hatch, which is a 300k+ mile vehicle with decent maintenance. 

englishteacheralex

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2019, 01:02:51 PM »
Good point about the Craigslist strategy, @rothwem.

Yeah, the Matrix broke my heart and I'm still not over it. It was a manual transmission and it had been making a lot of sad noises for quite a while. Finally it stopped being capable of shifting gears. It coasted to a stop on the side of the road, where we parked it. Our mechanic friend came by to take a look, and he said the only thing to do was replace the transmission, which would be ~$2500. Then we had it towed home. THEN it magically revived, so my husband took it to a transmission shop, who said nothing was wrong with it that they could see. THEN my husband drove it over the Pali (a very steep mountain pass) and it was making all kinds of weird noises and not wanting to shift gears. He drove it home without incident and said we might as well sell it while it's still drive-able because we'd get a little more money that way. Sold it to a mechanic who flips cars for $550.

I kind of wanted to just try to repair it even if the repair would cost $2500, since the engine was just fine, but husband vetoed because he's in the camp that says it doesn't make economic sense to spend more on a repair than a car is worth.

I am heartbroken because that Matrix was supposed to last at least another five years.

Anyway, it's gone so there's nothing to do but find a new car. We have about $14000 cash in our slush fund, which exists to replace cars and large appliances, so we're not too concerned about having to put ~$6k into a car. We're also planning on paying ~$2500 for a living trust this month, and we like to keep enough on hand to replace two big things at once if necessary, so $6k is about our limit on this.

Again, we only drive our cars about 5k-8k miles/year, but we do need two cars right now because of the logistics of our commutes with two little kids.

rothwem

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2019, 01:29:21 PM »
Good point about the Craigslist strategy, @rothwem.

Yeah, the Matrix broke my heart and I'm still not over it. It was a manual transmission and it had been making a lot of sad noises for quite a while. Finally it stopped being capable of shifting gears. It coasted to a stop on the side of the road, where we parked it. Our mechanic friend came by to take a look, and he said the only thing to do was replace the transmission, which would be ~$2500. Then we had it towed home. THEN it magically revived, so my husband took it to a transmission shop, who said nothing was wrong with it that they could see. THEN my husband drove it over the Pali (a very steep mountain pass) and it was making all kinds of weird noises and not wanting to shift gears. He drove it home without incident and said we might as well sell it while it's still drive-able because we'd get a little more money that way. Sold it to a mechanic who flips cars for $550.

I kind of wanted to just try to repair it even if the repair would cost $2500, since the engine was just fine, but husband vetoed because he's in the camp that says it doesn't make economic sense to spend more on a repair than a car is worth.

I am heartbroken because that Matrix was supposed to last at least another five years.

Anyway, it's gone so there's nothing to do but find a new car. We have about $14000 cash in our slush fund, which exists to replace cars and large appliances, so we're not too concerned about having to put ~$6k into a car. We're also planning on paying ~$2500 for a living trust this month, and we like to keep enough on hand to replace two big things at once if necessary, so $6k is about our limit on this.

Again, we only drive our cars about 5k-8k miles/year, but we do need two cars right now because of the logistics of our commutes with two little kids.

Gah, bummer. 

In the future, when your car makes bad noises, take it somewhere to be looked at.  You might've avoided taking basically a total loss on you car.  It sounds like you may have had a bad bearing in your transmission that could've been replaced before the transmission destroyed itself.  Hell, it may have even been something as simple as leaking clutch hydraulics that didn't allow your transmission to disengage all the way. 

englishteacheralex

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2019, 10:16:31 PM »
Live n' learn. It kills me a little about the Matrix and I know we should have gotten it in for a tune up. Sigh.

Ok, we're hot on the trail of this 2007 Prius for $5800. https://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/cto/d/honolulu-2008-toyota-prius-low-miles/6835320515.html

DH went and saw it on his way home. Said it was owned by an ancient Chinese accountant and it's immaculate. Chinese accountant says they replaced the battery last year.

Looks like a winner to me. Any opinions? Never owned a Prius but I've always owned Toyotas.


RWD

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2019, 07:19:15 AM »
Live n' learn. It kills me a little about the Matrix and I know we should have gotten it in for a tune up. Sigh.

Ok, we're hot on the trail of this 2007 Prius for $5800. https://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/cto/d/honolulu-2008-toyota-prius-low-miles/6835320515.html

DH went and saw it on his way home. Said it was owned by an ancient Chinese accountant and it's immaculate. Chinese accountant says they replaced the battery last year.

Looks like a winner to me. Any opinions? Never owned a Prius but I've always owned Toyotas.

It's a little weird that the title says 2008 but the details say 2007. Verify the receipt for the new battery and take it for a test drive. If you're extra paranoid you can have a mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection (my opinion is that this is typically overkill). If you have a mechanically inclined friend you can take with you when you look at the car. That one looks really nice, good luck!

englishteacheralex

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2019, 08:46:45 AM »
It's a 2007. The guy messed up the ad. DH had a good feeling about the seller. He's planning on buying it this morning. Whelp, I guess we're gonna be Prius owners.

Thanks for the referral to the car blog. Very cool. Yeah, we've bought a lot of 10+ year old cars over the years and we never get the pre-purchase inspection. We just stay away from cars from sketchy sellers.

Now to decide whether we need collision insurance...we've never had it in the past, but then again, we've never had a car we paid more than $5000 for. But this Prius is going to set us back $5800! A king's ransom! Wonder if we should spring for collision?

RWD

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2019, 09:33:00 AM »
Now to decide whether we need collision insurance...we've never had it in the past, but then again, we've never had a car we paid more than $5000 for. But this Prius is going to set us back $5800! A king's ransom! Wonder if we should spring for collision?

Get quotes with and without. Whether it is worth it depends on the savings without and how often you expect to crash. If you do get it you'll probably want as high of a deductible as possible. I usually use $2000 deductibles.

BicycleB

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2019, 12:04:10 PM »
It sounds like a car that will probably be super reliable. You can probably drive it until the last kid leaves for college.

I wouldn't buy collision but the post above is right, get the quotes.




Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2019, 01:03:04 PM »
So the Prius, eh? What does one look for in a Prius? We are scared off because our friends had one and the battery died. Replacing it was supposed to be $3500, so they elected to trade it in and buy a new (used) car.

That's because they're viciously anti-mustachian and make terrible life choices. When my Prius battery died at 165,000 miles, I replaced it with a refurbished battery for $1600. I now have 222,000 miles on the car and the replacement battery is doing great. There is no reason to spend $3500 on a new replacement battery for a car that is pretty much fully depreciated, and 165,000 miles is on the low end of what one should expect from an original battery (many people get 200-250K miles). It makes no sense to avoid a Prius based on an irrational fear of the battery. They are unbelievably reliable. Best car I've ever owned, and it's not even close.

ETA: If you're looking at cars in the 10+ years old range, even low-mileage Prii might give you issues with the battery based on age alone.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 01:05:13 PM by Mississippi Mudstache »

Faramir

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2019, 02:31:02 PM »
Prius all the way.  I love mine (2010, 85k miles).  It gets 60 USmpg.  I'm surprised the battery died, in most cases they last the lifetime of the car.  You should calculate the fuel savings over the expected lifetime of the car and compare that to the price difference.

The craigslist advert has been removed by the seller which suggests you may have bought it.  Congratulations (as much as anyone can say congratulations on buying a car on the MMM forum).

englishteacheralex

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2019, 03:40:08 PM »
Yep, we bought it. Husband apparently insured it for collision with a $500 deductible (I get all the emails from Geico). We may have to have a discussion about that when I get home. I'm a little bothered by the new battery at 75k miles. My mom has a 2009 Prius at 120k miles and it hasn't had to have the battery replaced.

I asked husband to get the records of the battery replacement, but the guy didn't have them. Guy said he'd drop them off at our place ASAP. Well, ok, I guess.

Thanks very much for the help, everyone. If anybody wants to chime in about their Prius so that I can have a bunch of confirmation bias, I'd love that.

Rogue

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2019, 06:55:52 AM »
Confirmation bias coming right up!

My parents had a 2004/5 Prius, and that served them well for probably close to 200k.  They had bought new and only just traded it last year towards a new Rav4 because they suddenly decided that they need something else to drive through snow.  I think they were partly scared of the battery stuff (I don't know if it ever got replaced), and they just wanted a new car.

Not quite as confirmation bias-y since it's newer, but just a happy Prius owner:
We bought a 2013 Prius in early 2016 when my passed-down Ford Taurus bit the dust.  I should have looked around more for an older Prius but here we are.  I really like it and intend to keep it going for a long time.

rothwem

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2019, 07:30:03 AM »
Yep, we bought it. Husband apparently insured it for collision with a $500 deductible (I get all the emails from Geico). We may have to have a discussion about that when I get home. I'm a little bothered by the new battery at 75k miles. My mom has a 2009 Prius at 120k miles and it hasn't had to have the battery replaced.

I asked husband to get the records of the battery replacement, but the guy didn't have them. Guy said he'd drop them off at our place ASAP. Well, ok, I guess.

Thanks very much for the help, everyone. If anybody wants to chime in about their Prius so that I can have a bunch of confirmation bias, I'd love that.

Was it the main battery or the 12v auxiliary battery that was replaced?

englishteacheralex

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2019, 05:00:15 PM »
Ohhhhh I don't know...and the guy still hasn't come through with any paperwork documenting the replacement.

My spring break is coming up soon. I'm planning to take the Prius into a mechanic I found who specializes in hybrids to give me a work-up of the car and let me know if anything needs tweaking and what I can expect. We bought the thing so it's pretty much our problem now; after the failure of the Matrix I want to be more prepared this time. If we got a lemon I want to know about it in case we can do some preventative measures.

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Re: Yet another best-of econo-hatchback thread
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2019, 05:09:53 AM »
We have a Kia Soul, a Toyota Rav 4, Toyota Highlander and a Toyota Corolla and I would say Other than the Highlander which we use only to pull our boat all 4 cars are great BUT,  the other 3 cars are more MMM. Yes having 4 is not very MMM but we have 6 people /4 drivers soon 5 and 2 located in different places. I just own them.   The one benefit of the Soul is its a little shorter in length but if your Taller it has more room on the inside and its easier to haul things with.  Usually you can find a bit less than the Toyota's and 200k cars like the Toyotas if you do your regular maintenance.