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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: MMMdude on June 08, 2014, 03:19:00 PM

Title: Best hatchback out there
Post by: MMMdude on June 08, 2014, 03:19:00 PM
On the fence about upgrading my vehicle.  IN the meantime I'd like to start researching in case my car bites the dust. Yes, I'm leaning towards new as difference between new and used in my neck of the woods is about 3-4K in this segment.  Not enough to warrant used IMO.  Plan to keep 12 to 15 years.  My current car is 14 years old

We are pretty much settled to getting another hatchback for a few reasons.  Has almost same utility as an SUV but gets way better gas mileage.   Have two dogs and we can put the kennels back there or the pooches like the extra room on road trips.  Easier to put stuff back there due to the lower height (stuff like mountain bikes).  We plan on doing at least 1 or 2 road trips per year in whatever we buy so want something decent on the highway in terms of not having excessive road noise (big pet peeve in my existing car - Celica) Here are some of my preliminary thoughts.

Focus - as far as I know it's the #1 seller in the world.  New model has some decent styling and they appear to be leading the pack in features such as Mysync and they auto parking thing.  Kinda leaning towards this now.  About $22K Cdn out the door pricing for basic package

Mazda3 - Nice styling in this new model year, but I really dislike the HUD in the new interior.  Focus gets slightly better mileage

Impreza - AWD would be nice in our wintery climate but fuel consumption is fairly poor

Matrix - same1.8L engine on my car which is excellent on gas.  Pretty damn roomy.  They are abit long in the tooth now, and I believe there is just one year left before being discontinued.  I believe this is a MMM approved car.

Veloster - Pretty cool looking, but not super practical I would think in terms of fitting stuff in there

Elantra GT - don't know much about this. 

Fit - perhaps too small.  Amazing gas mileage.  Worried about road noise though

Fiesta - I think this would be a bit small for road trips

Would like to hear feedback from other hatch owners.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: CarDude on June 08, 2014, 03:47:16 PM
Of the vehicles you listed, I'd recommend the Focus. Good mileage and quite safe, as far as small cars go. You might also want to consider the Prius, which is in the same size class.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: darkspork on June 08, 2014, 03:59:18 PM
I think the Focus has gotten a lot of bad marks for issues with My Ford touch, the automatic dual clutch transmission and people seem to think they're pretty low on rear legroom.

I'm not sure about the newest Mazda 3, but there were a lot of complaints about the first Skyactive cars getting nowhere near advertised fuel economy.

I think the Matrix is a pretty good car, just understand that they really need snow tires. I had the 1st gen Pontiac Vibe an it was nearly useless in the snow on all season tires.

I'm also considering the Fit, but have the same concern about noise and long trip comfort. The 2015 model may be better in this regard but will also cost more than a 2013.

The Veloster didn't rate too well for reliability as far as I could tell, but the Elantra GT appears to be fine.

The 2014 Impreza appears to have a higher than average repair rate (42 successful repairs per 100 vehicles per year) according to truedelta.com.

Somebody will surely chime in with actual advice, I'm new to the MMM world.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Jack on June 08, 2014, 04:15:44 PM
I used to have a Hyundai Accent hatchback (a tree fell on it, or I'd probably still have it) and was very happy with it. I would have no hesitation choosing an Elantra GT (or another Accent) if I wanted a "normal" hatchback car.

I would also suggest looking into the diesel (that part's important) VW Golf, or maybe one of the Prius variants.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Left on June 08, 2014, 04:18:41 PM
I recently got an outback, not mustachian i know... but I like it which is all that matters to me. It's more expensive the the others on list but have you considered it? Not sure if it is right for you or not.

I have a basis against the focus, my sister had one a few years ago, engine broke down after 5 years and it wasn't even that high of mileage (140k or so I think). My 15 year old camry has over 200k and engine is still solid. And I dislike how ford "focuses" so much on the music hookups of their focus and not so much the transmission/engine.

For toyota, the yaris is a feather weight version of the matrix. About same size but smaller engine
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: zataks on June 08, 2014, 04:39:54 PM
Had a 06 matrix for 8 years before it was destroyed by an Infiniti on the freeway.  Great car, great mileage if I kept my foot out of it (I had the 2zz motor which was a little zippier).  Note that only the base model has a 1.8L engine now, the other trimlines come with the 2.4L.  Still I good motor AFAIK.

Upon it's destruction I moved to an Impreza WRX hatch (unmustachian, indeed.  prior to MMM for me but it's a fan********tastic car).  For the purposes of being a hatch though, it's the same as the Impreza I think and very comfortable and roomy inside.  Compared to the Focus of the MY, you will likely notice significantly reduced creature comforts/interior quality.  Or so I have read on Subie owners forums, I've not been in a new Ford but do know that the interior of my WRX is bare bones for a new vehicle (which is what I wanted but pickier and/or older folks seem to not like this).
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: mlipps on June 08, 2014, 04:44:15 PM
I did an analysis 18 months ago when we replaced our Jeep with a Matrix. My spreadsheet is a little out of date, but you might still find it useful. This was my methodology:
-I started with MMM's list of smart cars. We wanted a 2007 or newer. I looked up each model & year in the Consumer Reports buying guide & tossed anything with a 3 or lower. A few models didn't have ratings for a particular year, so I mostly extrapolated. For example, the entire Nissan Versa family got scrapped on this test alone.
-Next, I looked at combined MPG from Fuelly.com as available, and the EPA if the car had been tested w/the new (more accurate) EPA testing & didn't have ratings on Fuelly. I cut anything that got under 27 MPG.
-Then, I pulled cargo space w/rear seats down from Edmunds. I eliminated the Scion xD based on this.
-I also pulled the KBB value for the car in very good condition w/12,000 miles/year (this was in November 2012). So, a 2010 was estimated w/24,000 miles, a 2009 with 36,000, etc. This data obviously needs to be updated.

Then, we went to CarMax & got a quote on our trade in, drove the Matrix, the Fit, and the Mazda 3, our main contenders. We hated the Fit because of the weird triangular windows in the front, and the Mazda 3 felt tiny, so we settled on the Matrix. But, I don't think it will solve the road noise problem you have with your Celica, so make sure you test drive it if that's important to you!

Good luck!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ao1XSBz4nTP3dEVnT3ZTQm5qbnRfbld1NEpqaEdkMnc&usp=sharing
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: darkspork on June 08, 2014, 04:49:25 PM
I used to have a Hyundai Accent hatchback (a tree fell on it, or I'd probably still have it) and was very happy with it. I would have no hesitation choosing an Elantra GT (or another Accent) if I wanted a "normal" hatchback car.

I would also suggest looking into the diesel (that part's important) VW Golf, or maybe one of the Prius variants.

The 2.0L diesel VWs have a high rate of HPFP (high pressure fuel pump) failure, which is an expensive repair. MMM specifically advises against buying these cars. If they were more reliable, I would have bought it over my similarly unreliable GTI. Modern diesels are very complicated and don't make much sense financially when a gas engine with similar technology can achieve similar fuel efficiency (The Chevy Cruze and Dodge Dart are examples of this). I think, as has been said, the Prius is a better bet for a high efficiency vehicle.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: GRSConstruction on June 08, 2014, 08:11:03 PM
The best thing to do is go drive each car. I'm not a big fan of domestic cars. I have a 2014 Mazda CX-5 with the 2.5L SkyActiv motor. I actually love it. It is a great motor in my opinion. I average 26.5mpg in it. It is the front wheel drive version. If you went with the Mazda3 with the 2.0L skyactiv platform you'd probably easily average 30mpg+, there are people getting up to 40mpg hwy. I would google search reviews on each car too. The 2014 Mazda3 is very well rated. I'm also a Subaru fan, so I think the impreza is a good car. I don't think you'll find another all wheel drive hatchback that can has 27/36 mpg ratings. The Honda Fit is only rated at 28/35. I don't have experience with any of the other cars listed. I've read a lot of mixed reviews on this Focus. I'd personally recommend the Mazda. You get the most bang for your buck so to speak and they are at least sporty and fun to drive. Just my two cents.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: iwanttobelive on June 08, 2014, 08:14:25 PM
I bought a high millage Toyota Prius this last fall for a very discounted rate (people don't want them with high millage), 10K miles later (I have a very long commute), its running great and im getting 45-55 mpg. It sure is better then my 15 mpg SUV I had before it. Prius is a great hatch ,lots of room for stuff and people.

I've seen them go for $5K-10K with high millage. That would be my recommendation, if you feel comfortable trying to fix any issues. Third party battery swaps aren't that expensive and you can replace individual cells your self if you know how to use a socket set and volt meter. I haven't had to do anything to mine. I am planning to keep mine for 300K miles.

I'd suggest, +90K miles or more, 2004-2009 Prius. Have it checked out by a mechanic, or do it yourself if you know what your doing. Its going to be in the $5K-$10K range.

(http://files.conceptcarz.com/img/Toyota/toyota_prius_nyc_03_dv_03.jpg)
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: CarDude on June 08, 2014, 08:19:35 PM
Yeah, it's not officially on your list, but I do think a Prius would be a better choice than a Focus, and you can find them used rather easily.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: theSchmett on June 08, 2014, 11:29:22 PM
We love our Fit. We shopped the Matrix too, in 2010, liked it, but was a few thousand more. Fit with the back seats down is surprisingly spacious. Road noise? Sure... But maybe that's tires too. We replaced the OEM ones with Kumho Ecstas and I think it got worse but who can tell?!?!

Mileage could be better, and likely is on a newer model.

 
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: horsepoor on June 08, 2014, 11:52:46 PM
DH and I both drove 2009 Honda Fits for a few years.  They consistently got 40 MPG, so they were rockstars in that department, and also in the cargo department.  It is surprising how hand it is to be able to fold UP the back seat and put tall crap behind the front seats.  And the back seats fold down FLAT whereas many hatchbacks have a weird lump or angle when the seats are folded down.  There is a LOT of cargo room there. 

However, I found that mine had a certain flimsy feel to it, which was born out when it started to make creaky noises about 6 months after moving into our house that has rounded curbs at the sidewalk.  DH traded his in for a Toyota RAV4 which was subsequently T-boned by a Chevy Suburban, and he  firmly believes he would not have walked away from that crash with nothing but sore ribs had he been in the Fit.  Now he drives a 4-cyl Outback and it's a nice compromise between the 2 (he's a skier, so the AWD thing is important).  It tends to get in the upper 20's, up to 30 on road trips.  I have been driving a Honda CR-Z for over 2 years now, and being built on the slightly beefier Civic platform, it does not seem to have the issues with the curb that the Fit had.

Prius does sound like a good option for you.  When I owned the Fit, I took a Prius from Boise to Lake Tahoe for work (~8 hours each way) and it was definitely a quieter, more comfortable freeway ride than the Fit.  The cargo space isn't as cavernous, but overall it's a more comfortable vehicle, and possibly has more back seat leg room (not sure on that point though).
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Travis on June 09, 2014, 01:53:41 AM
I don't know about the interior space of the hatchback Focus, but I've had the same sedan Focus since 2003.  It has about 120,000 miles and the only maintenance it has needed is the routine 30, 60, 90,000 stuff.  It gets 30-34 mpg on the highway and my only real complaint is the lack of leg room.  Since my son is the only one who rides in the back it isn't that big of an issue, but the front seats can feel a little cramped on long drives.  I'm on the fence about buying another when the time comes because I also want a hatchback, but I find it reassuring that the sticker price for the base model hasn't changed in over 10 years.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Strawberrykiwi75 on June 09, 2014, 02:34:07 AM
What about a Suzuki? I have a Swift and it's surprisingly roomy, comfortable and economic to run.
Another option if you want something bigger could be the SX4. My aunt has one and it's very roomy.

Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: agent_clone on June 09, 2014, 02:41:54 AM
What about a Suzuki? I have a Swift and it's surprisingly roomy, comfortable and economic to run.
Another option if you want something bigger could be the SX4. My aunt has one and it's very roomy.
If their worried about the size of the Fit, I believe the Swift is smaller inside.  From memory the boot was smaller.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Left on June 09, 2014, 04:34:16 AM
Quote
About $22K Cdn out the door pricing for basic package
Are you in Canada? how close are you to the US? I read this article on someone buying a US car and importing it to Canada, MMM posted on it so I saw it when googling :D

http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/subaru-outback-financial-details/ it's for an outback but I don't see why it couuldn't work in your favor for whatever car you want but I'm not sure how much savings it would be for a used car :S I don't know Canadian market

edit: if you are in canada... I haven't done the research but wondering how prius batteries do in the cold winters there if left outside
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Jack on June 09, 2014, 10:08:44 AM
I would also suggest looking into the diesel (that part's important) VW Golf...

The 2.0L diesel VWs have a high rate of HPFP (high pressure fuel pump) failure, which is an expensive repair. MMM specifically advises against buying these cars.

I'm well aware of that (and almost mentioned it, but decided not to be too verbose... I guess I should have). The reason I feel comfortable suggesting a VW TDI is that the OP said he wants to buy new, and the 2015 models have a different engine than the 2009-2014s (the new engine has started using DEF instead of a regeneration cycle) that should hopefully not suffer from the same problems. I would certainly not recommend a 2009-2014.

Had the OP not specified "new," I would have recommended a 2006-or-older TDI, which are much better. I would consider one of them to be the best option overall, even somewhat better than a second-generation high-mileage Prius.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: greaper007 on June 09, 2014, 10:37:24 AM
I used to have a Hyundai Accent hatchback (a tree fell on it, or I'd probably still have it) and was very happy with it. I would have no hesitation choosing an Elantra GT (or another Accent) if I wanted a "normal" hatchback car.

I would also suggest looking into the diesel (that part's important) VW Golf, or maybe one of the Prius variants.

The 2.0L diesel VWs have a high rate of HPFP (high pressure fuel pump) failure, which is an expensive repair. MMM specifically advises against buying these cars. If they were more reliable, I would have bought it over my similarly unreliable GTI. Modern diesels are very complicated and don't make much sense financially when a gas engine with similar technology can achieve similar fuel efficiency (The Chevy Cruze and Dodge Dart are examples of this). I think, as has been said, the Prius is a better bet for a high efficiency vehicle.

Completely agree.   My 03 2.0l Golf hasn't necessarily been a mx nightmare, but it has had some part go bad almost every year for the last 11 years we've owned it.    My 07 Civic Hybrid on the other hand, has been relatively mx free for the 92,000 miles we've driven it.    We did have to replace the IMA, but it was under warranty and free.     Even if I did have to replace it with my own money, it would have been less than the money I've spent on the golf over the years and I do all my own mx.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: galliver on June 09, 2014, 01:27:30 PM
Commenting to get updates, this is informative. Facing a similar decision soon, especially interested in experiences with Mazda 3, Honda Fit, Prius, and Hyundai Accent and Elantra.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: darkspork on June 09, 2014, 03:13:08 PM
I would also suggest looking into the diesel (that part's important) VW Golf...

The 2.0L diesel VWs have a high rate of HPFP (high pressure fuel pump) failure, which is an expensive repair. MMM specifically advises against buying these cars.

I'm well aware of that (and almost mentioned it, but decided not to be too verbose... I guess I should have). The reason I feel comfortable suggesting a VW TDI is that the OP said he wants to buy new, and the 2015 models have a different engine than the 2009-2014s (the new engine has started using DEF instead of a regeneration cycle) that should hopefully not suffer from the same problems. I would certainly not recommend a 2009-2014.

Had the OP not specified "new," I would have recommended a 2006-or-older TDI, which are much better. I would consider one of them to be the best option overall, even somewhat better than a second-generation high-mileage Prius.

I really enjoy the torque of diesels and they are fantastic when they work right, but any way you slice it, it's a luxury (in the United States at least). Modern diesels are very complex and the complexity has been added years ahead of when they'll have it reliably sorted. The only way you can make financial sense out of buying a diesel car is if you drive an unusually high amount of miles every year. Trucks are a different story, but you still need to tow or idle a lot for it to make sense. I haven't heard anybody with a Diesel newer than 2006 comment about how reliable their engine has been.

My experience with DEFs:
Once I had a job where I had to drive many full size pickups, and the ones with the DEF were the absolute worst. If the computer decided the exhaust filter was too dirty, the vehicle would go into limp mode. It wasn't just one of the trucks, it was all of the ones with DEFs. From what I gathered reading about diesels offered in Europe, the DPF is essentially a wear item. Although they initially have lower road taxes, they're expensive to keep on the road.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: MMMdude on June 09, 2014, 06:29:34 PM
I should also mention we are thinking of a smaller SUV too.  I guess stuff like Mazda CX-5, Buick Encore I believe, can't remember the others.

ONly thing is that it seems these only have slightly more room than a hatchback and of course get crappier fuel economy + higher initial purchase price . 

Anyone have real world experience of costs of operating a small SUV vs hatchback?
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: DollarBill on June 09, 2014, 07:36:19 PM
I had a Golf TDI (2003ish) and had problems with MAF sensor and turbo. Great gas mpg's but won't deal with it again. I have a 2012 focus hatchback but with a manual wouldn't go with the auto...too many problems.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Rezdent on June 09, 2014, 08:00:24 PM
I just spent a rather exhausting weekend buying a car (mine was totalled).  Surfed Hundreds of listings, visited dozens of cars and test drove 25 of em.  It came down to either a Scion or a Fit.
I ended up with a 2012 Honda Fit with manual tranny.  I can fit 2 bales of hay with the back seats down.   Should get great gas mileage.
If comfort and noise are important to you I'd suggest test driving a Scion.  (These weren't important to me.  I just.turn.up.the.radio.and.drive.  What noise?).  But I have to say that the Scion was luxuriously comfy and handled very well.  I had to pry my DH away from it.  The only thing missing was a catheter.
If you're considering new because the price difference for used isn't attractive enough for you but you have time to wait:
I heard from several sources that the used market is tight right now and that is causing the prices to be high.   There are supposedly a lot of leases that are coming due soon and will put more inventory out there.  That *should* drive all used prices down.  I would've waited but not possible in my situation.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: LifestyleDeflation on June 09, 2014, 08:28:29 PM
+1 for the Honda Fit- if you're driving conservatively and mostly highway, it's not hard to break 40mpg. This thing is amazingly spacious- I've fit myself, 3 friends, and all of our snow gear and sleeping bags for a weekend trip, including skis and snowboards IN the car with no rack. I'm currently actually living in my fit with a custom twin sized bed I made that slides out when the seats are down.

I could talk for days about how much I love this car, but here's some bullet points:

- Amazing amount of space for such a small footprint
- Reasonably cheap and hold value very well.
- Great gas mileage and fun to drive (definitely go manual)
- Super reliable- I've put miles 40-100k on this guy with no mechanical issues whatsoever (I've been keeping up with scheduled maintenance of course)
- Tons of utility. Go look up pics or a video of the different configurations if you haven't already seen them.

Anyway, best of luck finding the right car for you!
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Blue girl on June 10, 2014, 12:12:19 AM
I bought a 2012 focus HB after my 05 corolla sedan was totalled earlier this year. I had wanted something with fuel mileage similar to the corolla, but have to say, the focus has been disappointing so far. The fuel mileage is no where near the corolla and we just had work done on starter and clutch. It's all under warranty so at no cost, but this car has not been heavily used by previous owner orus so it makes me question the reliability of these cars.

Also the corolla was a BEAST when it came to packing stuff in trunk and back seats. I'd thought for sure then the focus, being a hatchback, would allow me to fit even more stuff, but it fell really short in that department too. (I go garage sale-ing every weekend for fun, and do regular cross border grocery trips with other people, so having lot of storage is important).

Edit: When the focus was being serviced, we asked the dealership why the fuel mileage was no where near what was advertised for that car, and whether there was something wrong with the car.. Their response was that the government's testing/ratings tend to be overly optimistic about the preformance... (????). 

Edit #2 :) Also wanted to mention safety  -- if that's important to you, the focus is one of the safer vehicles in that class. After my accident earlier in the year, I would never get a subcompact or older car with less airbags no matter how attractive it is.

The focus also seems to depreciate a lot -- I bought mine with <40k kms, sports package, longest extended warranty possible, AND maintenance package for <$14k. As you had priced out, basic focus HBs are around $23k, this means that in 2-3 years, the previous owner (I bought privately) lost out on over 10k (as he had to pay extra for sports package, extended warranty, and maintenance package). If you  have time, I'd wait and keep your eyes out for a good deal.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Cromacster on June 10, 2014, 08:16:10 AM
'13 Elantra GT  I really like it.  Overall, I average around 39mpg, on the highway I regularly get 45-50mpg going 63mph.  Even going 72mph I average around 43mpg on a relatively flat highway.

Reliability I've only had it for about a year, so I can't speak to much to that except that I have not had any issues.

Depending on which model you are looking at, not all models come with completely flat fold down rear seats.  Mine has about a 3in ledge, though the seats do fold completely flat, just not flat with the rest of the trunk.  The package that has a true flat cargo area makes up this 3in by adding storage and rasing the cargo floor.  I have also seen some people build their own storage/platform to make it completely flat when the seat are down.

Dogs Depending on what size dogs you have you might be tight for space fitting two crates in there.  I have a German Shepherd and I had to custom build a crate that fit the dog, that also fit in the car.  Final dimensions were 26x26x38.  I also had to remove the "70" rear seat for this to fit and build a small platform for where the seat was.  Though I could easily fit smaller crates if I had beagles or something of the like.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: hexdexorex on June 10, 2014, 08:33:40 AM
http://www.fuelly.com/car/

Is a great resource when trying to find the real MPG of a car.

Ford is notorious for inflating mpg numbers...their cmax (which was supposed to be a prius killer) advertised 47/47. Hardly anyone has been able to get over 40 mpg with it....

Elantra went through the same issues...having to actually give people gift cards because their mpg numbers were off by a huge amount.

With that being said all midsize sedans seem to get around 30 mpg so its not a huge deal which one you choose.

The new honda fit is supposed to average 36 mpg and often hondas average mpg numbers are deflated (the civic is a good example)...so i can see it getting 39 average.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: horsepoor on June 10, 2014, 08:59:48 AM
The Honda mileage estimates are deflated by quite a bit.  My manual CR-Z is estimated 31/34 and I am getting 39 combined during winter, and have been hitting 43.5 now that summer is here, and I've tweaked my driving (not hyper-mileing, just shifting earlier and coasting a bit more).

DH and I easily hit 40 mpg combined driving with our 2009 FITs, so if the estimate on the new one is higher, I'd guess that 43ish is possible.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: ketchup on June 10, 2014, 10:16:39 AM
What about a Suzuki? I have a Swift and it's surprisingly roomy, comfortable and economic to run.
Another option if you want something bigger could be the SX4. My aunt has one and it's very roomy.
If their worried about the size of the Fit, I believe the Swift is smaller inside.  From memory the boot was smaller.
Definitely is a bit smaller than a Fit.  I have a 1999 Metro, which is the same as a Swift but with a different badge.  Like the Fit though, for how big they look, you can pack a lot of stuff into them.  Mine got two people and three dogs (one adult Australian shepherd, one 14 week old Australian shepherd, and one 7 week old Australian sheperd) plus cargo on a 1000-mile each way roadtrip last week.  Drove some insane 70-75mph stretches plenty of the way there and still averaged 45MPG across five tanks of gas.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Jack on June 10, 2014, 10:38:10 AM
I had a Golf TDI (2003ish) and had problems with MAF sensor and turbo. Great gas mpg's but won't deal with it again. I have a 2012 focus hatchback but with a manual wouldn't go with the auto...too many problems.

I have a 1998 Beetle TDI (same chassis and engine as the 2003 Golf, just rounder), and I love it. I'm having to replace the transmission, but at 16 years and 200,000+ miles that's not unreasonable. I admit, VWs require some maintenance, but it's worth it. I guess you have to be a "VW person" (or in my case, a "diesel despite it being a VW person") to understand.

The Honda mileage estimates are deflated by quite a bit.  My manual CR-Z is estimated 31/34 and I am getting 39 combined during winter, and have been hitting 43.5 now that summer is here, and I've tweaked my driving (not hyper-mileing, just shifting earlier and coasting a bit more).

That is completely terrible. Honda should be ashamed of itself for making a similar car that's so much worse than the original Insight (which was like the CRZ but made of aluminum and got 70+ MPG).
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: DMoney on June 10, 2014, 10:41:34 AM
+1 Honda Fit

We LOVE ours.  I've been astonished by how much we can "fit" in it.  Fun to drive. Easy to park in our urban setting.  Good gas mileage.  I hear the 2015 is supposed to have even better mileage.

We had a hitch installed on ours for our bike rack, which makes packing the bikes a breeze.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Jack on June 10, 2014, 10:49:33 AM
Since we're talking about some cars that are pretty old, here's my subjective list of the best hatchbacks ever made:


I would pick any of these (except maybe the Metro) over any brand new hatchback.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: horsepoor on June 10, 2014, 11:47:54 AM

The Honda mileage estimates are deflated by quite a bit.  My manual CR-Z is estimated 31/34 and I am getting 39 combined during winter, and have been hitting 43.5 now that summer is here, and I've tweaked my driving (not hyper-mileing, just shifting earlier and coasting a bit more).

That is completely terrible. Honda should be ashamed of itself for making a similar car that's so much worse than the original Insight (which was like the CRZ but made of aluminum and got 70+ MPG).

Eh, it's a different market niche for people who miss the CRX/want an efficient, yet FUN car.  Have never driven an Insight, but it's definitely a smaller, less powerful, and flimsier vehicle.  I agree that there should be cars on the market today getting at least as good, if not better, mileage than the original Insight, but I don't think that the CR-Z is necessarily the one car that should do so.  I bought the CR-Z in large part because it is built on the Civic platform, which is a little heftier than the Fit platform.  Toyota has certainly sold the most volume in the hybrid market, yet the Prius C is still a good 12 mpg off from the Insight's economy.  Why on earth to Smart cars, or the tiny Scions, for instance, not get massive MPGs? 
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Jomar on June 10, 2014, 12:39:43 PM
Quote
edit: if you are in canada... I haven't done the research but wondering how prius batteries do in the cold winters there if left outside

I live in Winnipeg and virtually every taxi cab in the city is a Prius. Whenever I'm in one I ask the cab drivers about problems, but they never have any and always love their cars. A lot of these cars have over 300,000km and are running fine. I've seen them as high as 600,000km!
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: hybrid on June 10, 2014, 02:07:19 PM
Commenting to get updates, this is informative. Facing a similar decision soon, especially interested in experiences with Mazda 3, Honda Fit, Prius, and Hyundai Accent and Elantra.

We own a 2005 and a 2010, and have owned five Mazdas dating back to 1991. The 1991 Protégé went 247,000 miles and could have gone longer, the engine was fine when I finally got rid of it. My 1996 Mazda B2300 pickup is still in service 171,000 miles later (really a Ford Ranger with a few Mazda parts). Our 2001 Protégé met an untimely end on the highway (totaled by another driver) and was replaced with the 2005 Mazda 3, 122,000 miles and still going strong. My 2010 Mazda 3 replaced the 91 Protégé and has 46,000 miles.

We love, love, love our Mazdas. Great repair records (I never get them serviced at the dealer), only OK on gas though. I am striving to drive a lot less these days, and our commutes got a lot shorter back in 2008, so the fact that Mazdas last a really long time is a big plus in my book. My 2010 should be going strong in 2030. Seriously.

As for fun to drive, oh hell yeah. Really fun to drive. Mazda 3s are sporty for what they do. Am I allowed to say that here?

The 05 is a sedan, the 10 a hatchback. I much prefer the hatchback, so much more versatile and still a blast to drive with a six speed manual and a fair number of ponies (2.5 L instead of the 2.0 L) under the hood.   
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: ketchup on June 10, 2014, 02:27:59 PM
Since we're talking about some cars that are pretty old, here's my subjective list of the best hatchbacks ever made:

  • 1999-2006 Honda Insight
  • 1989-1991 Honda CRX HF
  • 1999.5-2003 VW Golf TDI (or 1998-2003 VW Beetle TDI)
  • 2004-2006 VW Golf TDI (or '04-'06 VW Beetle TDI)
  • 2004+ Toyota Prius
  • 1989-1994 Geo Metro XFi (or Suzuki Swift equivalent)

I would pick any of these (except maybe the Metro) over any brand new hatchback.
I already have one, so it's kind of cheating, but I'd still rather have my '99 Metro over any new car.  Once I add A/C (for the girlfriend and for the dogs, parts will be around $125) and do a few more MPG-enhancing modifications/upgrades, it will be in my mind pretty much the cheapest per-mile cost possible, while still making the girlfriend happy (without A/C that part is a stretch in June).
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Trudie on June 10, 2014, 03:23:32 PM
We have a 2007 Honda Fit and absolutely love it.  It's perfect for how we use it... short trips (no highway driving) and hauling stuff -- our truck.  We can haul bikes in it.  The gas mileage is great.

Check re-sale values as well.  The FIT has depreciated more slowly than a lot of its counterparts.  Maybe this doesn't matter to you if you plan to get it and drive it until it collapses (the smart move) but I am struck by the fact that the Hyundai Sonata I have that is two years newer is worth a few thousand less.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: DollarBill on June 10, 2014, 06:26:57 PM

The Honda mileage estimates are deflated by quite a bit.  My manual CR-Z is estimated 31/34 and I am getting 39 combined during winter, and have been hitting 43.5 now that summer is here, and I've tweaked my driving (not hyper-mileing, just shifting earlier and coasting a bit more).

That is completely terrible. Honda should be ashamed of itself for making a similar car that's so much worse than the original Insight (which was like the CRZ but made of aluminum and got 70+ MPG).

Eh, it's a different market niche for people who miss the CRX/want an efficient, yet FUN car.  Have never driven an Insight, but it's definitely a smaller, less powerful, and flimsier vehicle.  I agree that there should be cars on the market today getting at least as good, if not better, mileage than the original Insight, but I don't think that the CR-Z is necessarily the one car that should do so.  I bought the CR-Z in large part because it is built on the Civic platform, which is a little heftier than the Fit platform.  Toyota has certainly sold the most volume in the hybrid market, yet the Prius C is still a good 12 mpg off from the Insight's economy.  Why on earth to Smart cars, or the tiny Scions, for instance, not get massive MPGs?

That's marketing at it's finest.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: DollarBill on June 10, 2014, 06:53:03 PM
I bought a 2012 focus HB after my 05 corolla sedan was totalled earlier this year. I had wanted something with fuel mileage similar to the corolla, but have to say, the focus has been disappointing so far. The fuel mileage is no where near the corolla and we just had work done on starter and clutch. It's all under warranty so at no cost, but this car has not been heavily used by previous owner orus so it makes me question the reliability of these cars.

Also the corolla was a BEAST when it came to packing stuff in trunk and back seats. I'd thought for sure then the focus, being a hatchback, would allow me to fit even more stuff, but it fell really short in that department too. (I go garage sale-ing every weekend for fun, and do regular cross border grocery trips with other people, so having lot of storage is important).

Edit: When the focus was being serviced, we asked the dealership why the fuel mileage was no where near what was advertised for that car, and whether there was something wrong with the car.. Their response was that the government's testing/ratings tend to be overly optimistic about the preformance... (????). 

Edit #2 :) Also wanted to mention safety  -- if that's important to you, the focus is one of the safer vehicles in that class. After my accident earlier in the year, I would never get a subcompact or older car with less airbags no matter how attractive it is.

The focus also seems to depreciate a lot -- I bought mine with <40k kms, sports package, longest extended warranty possible, AND maintenance package for <$14k. As you had priced out, basic focus HBs are around $23k, this means that in 2-3 years, the previous owner (I bought privately) lost out on over 10k (as he had to pay extra for sports package, extended warranty, and maintenance package). If you  have time, I'd wait and keep your eyes out for a good deal.

What's your MPG's? I'm getting 32-33 per fill up. That's in town not hwy. Was the clutch work on an automatic? I have 65K on my manual and no problems. The automatics are a manual trans but with two electric clutches that shift like an auto but have many problems. The starter does fail not too bad. I feel like I have lot of room when I lay the seats down. I think a lot of owners don't know the back seat bottoms pull up so the back seat lay down flat. Most don't pay the MSRP, lots of incentives out there. I do have a smell of antifreeze that I can't find a leak yet but from what I read it has to do with the thermostat housing (easy fix). Even new cars will have problems and I think most get pissed because they cot a lot. I've had many cars over my life time (many beaters) and most of the problems were a quick fix...never had catastrophic damage (knock on wood). I've seen some people get rid of a car because of a dead battery. I once sold a truck with 25K miles for a truck with 270K miles and I preferred to drive it on road trips. I'm a mechanic by trade and do all the maintenance, wonder if that makes the difference. Believe me I'll be the first to post if I think something is crap. So far I only see the automatic is a problem, they need to fix that. I'm tickled pink with the manual. Hope I don't regret chiming in :). I'll put many more mile over the next year so I'll report back or make a new thread. 
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: dodojojo on June 10, 2014, 08:11:30 PM
I haven't owned a car in 10 years and didn't know much about them when I did. 

I have done some preliminary car comparisons over the years as I contemplated ownership once again. The thing that struck me was how little gas efficiency has progressed.  Granted there are the hybrids but shouldn't a small car like the Fit do better than 28/35 mpg?  Weren't the little cars in the 80's getting the same or better mileage?

Anyhoo, a small hatchback would be my ideal car if I should own again.  It seems like Focus/Fit/Prius/Madza3 get the best reviews.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: DollarBill on June 10, 2014, 08:20:05 PM
Quote
I have done some preliminary car comparisons over the years as I contemplated ownership once again. The thing that struck me was how little gas efficiency has progressed.  Granted there are the hybrids but shouldn't a small car like the Fit do better than 28/35 mpg?  Weren't the little cars in the 80's getting the same or better mileage?

YES!! But we still give in to hype.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: alsoknownasDean on June 10, 2014, 09:15:54 PM

I haven't owned a car in 10 years and didn't know much about them when I did. 

I have done some preliminary car comparisons over the years as I contemplated ownership once again. The thing that struck me was how little gas efficiency has progressed.  Granted there are the hybrids but shouldn't a small car like the Fit do better than 28/35 mpg?  Weren't the little cars in the 80's getting the same or better mileage?

Anyhoo, a small hatchback would be my ideal car if I should own again.  It seems like Focus/Fit/Prius/Madza3 get the best reviews.

The little cars are no longer as little as they were. A modern Chevy Cruze is a similar size to a Toyota Camry from 25 years ago.

Compare a modern Corolla or Civic to a 1980s model. Different size altogether.

That said, safety, refinement and the like have markedly increased over the years, and they're cheaper in real dollar terms.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: horsepoor on June 10, 2014, 09:42:14 PM

The Honda mileage estimates are deflated by quite a bit.  My manual CR-Z is estimated 31/34 and I am getting 39 combined during winter, and have been hitting 43.5 now that summer is here, and I've tweaked my driving (not hyper-mileing, just shifting earlier and coasting a bit more).

That is completely terrible. Honda should be ashamed of itself for making a similar car that's so much worse than the original Insight (which was like the CRZ but made of aluminum and got 70+ MPG).

Eh, it's a different market niche for people who miss the CRX/want an efficient, yet FUN car.  Have never driven an Insight, but it's definitely a smaller, less powerful, and flimsier vehicle.  I agree that there should be cars on the market today getting at least as good, if not better, mileage than the original Insight, but I don't think that the CR-Z is necessarily the one car that should do so.  I bought the CR-Z in large part because it is built on the Civic platform, which is a little heftier than the Fit platform.  Toyota has certainly sold the most volume in the hybrid market, yet the Prius C is still a good 12 mpg off from the Insight's economy.  Why on earth to Smart cars, or the tiny Scions, for instance, not get massive MPGs?

That's marketing at it's finest.

Creating a product that a very small percentage of the market wants to purchase?  I think marketing at its finest is getting people to buy fully loaded SUVs that are way beyond their needs and cost a ton to fuel and maintain.  I doubt the CR-Z is really a cash cow for Honda, as few of them as I see on the road.  The other vehicle I was considering was the Mazda3 hatch with SkyActive, but it was missing the driveability/fun factor that the previous Mazda3 hatch has, and was very similar in price to the CR-Z.  Just like the OP, I went through a process of weighing operating cost against personal preferences, and at the end of the day, I'm happy with the vehicle I chose, whether that makes me a consumer sucka at the mercy of marketing or not.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Balance on June 10, 2014, 11:20:27 PM
I really like the Subaru Impreza.  I think consumer reports ranked it #1 overall in it's class with the Focus way below it (they felt the Focus had the worst reliability).  The Subaru is very safe especially with the AWD if you have wet/icy road conditions.  The gas mileage isn't that bad as it is 36 mpg highway. Starting price new is just under $18,000.  We don't own an Impreza but I really wanted one.  We drive a 2012 Prius as our family car ($24,000 OTD price).  It definitely has great gas mileage and surprisingly a lot of room but from a safety standpoint it just doesn't have the immediate horsepower to use evasive driving if something bad was about to happen right in front of you. 
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: pdxvandal on June 10, 2014, 11:41:28 PM
I just bought a 2005 Ford Focus hatchback on Craigslist for $4k. Dealerships seem to charge $6-7k for the same car. Besides it being a little rattly/noisy on the road, it drives and handles well. And easy to park! I can also fit my bike in the back, as long as I remove the bike's front wheel. No major maintenance issues in its past (knock on wood). It's has a manual tranny. Oh, and I have a 4-year-old who loves to ride in the "blue car."

It has 137k miles and hope to make it last at least another 60-70k. After owning Hondas, Hyundais and Toyotas in the past, I've been satisfied enough (although love Hondas and Toyotas still). Bottom line is American automakers have been making better cars the past 10-12 years. I NEVER considered them until recently. But I see no reason to spend over $8k on any hatchback.

Good luck.

Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: CarDude on June 10, 2014, 11:49:57 PM
I really like the Subaru Impreza.  I think consumer reports ranked it #1 overall in it's class with the Focus way below it (they felt the Focus had the worst reliability).  The Subaru is very safe especially with the AWD if you have wet/icy road conditions.  The gas mileage isn't that bad as it is 36 mpg highway. Starting price new is just under $18,000.  We don't own an Impreza but I really wanted one.  We drive a 2012 Prius as our family car ($24,000 OTD price).  It definitely has great gas mileage and surprisingly a lot of room but from a safety standpoint it just doesn't have the immediate horsepower to use evasive driving if something bad was about to happen right in front of you.

Horsepower aside, the Impreza definitely has a better frontal design than the Prius. I looked at a head-on collision (http://thecarcrashdetective.blogspot.com/2014/05/laura-anne-laplante-26-in-chicago-il.html) between the two last month, and structurally, the Impreza did significantly better in protecting occupant space. A big part of why, I suspect, is because the Impreza has a good small overlap score, while the Prius didn't even have a score until very recently, and it's just acceptable in the newest Prii.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: frugaldrummer on June 11, 2014, 12:05:04 AM
I bought a 2009 Toyota matrix new. Previously I owned Hondas and I expected similar reliability from a Toyota. Although it's only a N of one, I have to say I've been very disappointed.
Although the space is great (can fit my whole drum kit in the back, one of my requirements) and it drives fine, repairs have been an issue. All regular service done on time and at the dealership. Needed a new water pump at 64k miles (conveniently just out of warranty). Weird electrical problem at 85k requiring replacement of fuse box. New clutch at 95k, electrical problems afterwards, they h ad to replace another part (they covered that).  Then 3 months later whole synchro had to be replaced, almost $4k. (I have driven stick shift cars for 42 years and never had a problem with this part before).

My old Hondas were much more reliable. My coworker has a vorolla (same chassis I think) and has had endless brake problems with it.

I think I'll go back to a Honda next time.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: RetiredAt63 on June 11, 2014, 06:13:10 AM
Dogs - take the crates with you when you go for a test drive, and see how easy they are to put in the back. Then see how much they block your rear vision when you are driving.  My dog told me to tell you that your dogs' safety and comfort should be your first priority.

I am happy with my 2010 Mazda 3 Sport hatchback, but I was happy with my Subaru Legacy hatchback, and way back when I loved my Saab hatchback, because there was no lip at the back and it was easy to slide things in and out, no lifting.  It had the best capacity too. Unfortunately they are now waaaaay out of my price range.  I guess any decent hatchback will make me happy.  Sedans are so useless in comparison.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: Jon_Snow on June 11, 2014, 06:24:20 AM
My sister recently bought a new Ford C-Max hybrid.... she is not a car person at all, but she loves it. Have to admit, I was able to take it for a spin and was impressed.

Title: Mazda 3 user report
Post by: babysteps on June 11, 2014, 07:57:09 AM
I did an analysis 18 months ago when we replaced our Jeep with a Matrix. My spreadsheet is a little out of date, but you might still find it useful. This was my methodology
...
Good luck!
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ao1XSBz4nTP3dEVnT3ZTQm5qbnRfbld1NEpqaEdkMnc&usp=sharing

mlipps has great advice imo!
also, last time we got a car, Edwards dot com had decent life-of-vehicle cost estimates (including maintenance, insurance & depreciation in addition to gas).

Definitely test drive your finalists - a *real* test drive, not just around the block - hard acceleration vs. soft (with any mpg stats monitored); aggressive downshifting & braking, up & down hills, cornering, parking/backing up, merging on highway, stop & go, etc - can easily fit all this in a 10 or 15 minute stretch but the salesperson might be surprised, apparently most folks choose 'around the block'.

If you do get a new car, once you decide on the make & model you can do an aggressive internet search to find what you want at the best $, usually your local dealer can either match or actually get you that exact car by swapping with the other dealer if it's within a given distance (depends on dealer, but up to 500 miles is possible)

We have a Mazda 3 hatchback and love it.  Manual skyactiv transmission (this is our second M3 hatchback, our first didn't have skyactiv so was much lower mpg).  Our mpg is low-mid 30s in town and high30s-low40s highway.  Easy on acceleration and you could beat those stats; hypermile and you could likely obliterate them! If you don't care about "sporty", this may be more engine than you need, could get even better mileage or lower purchase price with a different car.

Likes: great gas mileage, great "drive" feel, roomy (plenty of back seat leg room vs. many hatch's, w/all seats but driver folded can fit several pre-hung doors and/or 8' lumber, will *not* fit 4'x8' sheet goods inside). 

Dislikes: minor, but we love everything else so why can't they perfect these too?  installed TomTom gps is ok but interface is worse than older Mazda installs (no reason imo to seek installed GPS); total of 4 things to reset each gas refill if you want by-the-tank info (how about a 'reset all mileage' choice?); fine on snow but must be more careful than you'd expect on ice as torque is relatively powerful in low gears (we have snow tires)
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: bomgd3 on June 11, 2014, 08:29:56 AM
I just upgraded from a Honda Fit to a Ford Focus.  I loved the handling and utility of the Fit.  Its ability to carry cargo bordered on the ridiculous.  It was a tin can though - super loud on the highway, crappy ride on bad quality roads, and picked up door dings in a stiff breeze.  I think the cost of bodywork really added up over the years!  The Focus is a larger car, yet has less room for cargo and the back seats don't fold flat.  Also, there are no special considerations for tall or long cargo like the Fit, which is turning out to be a pain now that I am moving.  The Focus is much more comfortable and refined though.  It feels much safer as well.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: exceljunkie on June 11, 2014, 09:25:34 AM
My 15 year old camry has over 200k and engine is still solid. And I dislike how ford "focuses" so much on the music hookups of their focus and not so much the transmission/engine.

I love our 15-year-old camry also! Hoping it makes it to at least 200k miles--we bought it at 96k miles, and it now has 170k. It is our primary car, though it wouldn't be too catastrophic if we needed to rely on public transport for a week or two, but had to replace the evap system (around $2000) last year. We decided to do that because we couldn't get a comparable car for $2000, and now we have a brand new evap which hopefully will last a while.
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: eyePod on June 11, 2014, 09:43:59 AM
I love my 2006 Scion xB. Road noise is my one big complaint. Other than that, I'd avoid the newer models. They're bigger and have worse mileage. Their sales tanked when they "fixed" things from the older model. I'm guessing that you don't want that kind of car though since it's not on your list!
Title: Re: Best hatchback out there
Post by: rocksinmyhead on June 11, 2014, 10:19:00 AM
okay I'm going to comment before I forget what I was going to say, and then go back and read everyone else's comments...

you didn't have the Nissan Versa on your list, I bought mine new in 2012 and totally love it.

Pros:
- cheap as hell
- good interior space for a hatchback, I notice when I compare it to other hatchbacks it looks pretty tall from the outside
- have driven it in a few Tulsa ice storms with regular tires with no issues

Cons:
- back seats don't fold down to be actually flush with the "trunk" space. this doesn't bother me, but sounds like it might be annoying for your uses? (dogs etc... we only have one so he just rides in the back seat)
- you might find road noise to be an issue. I don't notice it because my previous 17-year-old vehicle had a rear door that didn't actually shut 100% and that was definitely louder. we have taken the Versa on multiple 10- to 16-hour road trips and it doesn't drive us insane or anything, but I do think it is probably on the loud side.
- I find that gas mileage is not quite as amazing as I hoped, but then again I do like 90% city driving.

also, I know you have already made this decision but I just wanted to say good choice because hatchbacks are AWESOME! here is mine with one of those backyard storage container things in it last year:

(https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/t1.0-9/11573_963529617162_1545383191_n.jpg)

I was so proud.