Author Topic: Car suggestions for a city family of four  (Read 2905 times)

SimpleCycle

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Car suggestions for a city family of four
« on: November 18, 2017, 05:03:42 PM »
We have a 2003 Toyota Corolla we are considering retiring.  It slips out of 4th gear and we don’t want to spend any more money troubleshooting the issue.  It seems to have reached some sort of maintenance cost tipping point where it costs more to maintain than depreciation would be on a used car.

So we’re probably going to be in the market for a used car (or a new one if that makes sense).  We are considering the MMM holy grail of a Honda Fit.  We’ve ruled out a late model Toyota Corolla because it can’t do a three across car seat install.  But we’re not sure what the options are that we haven’t considered.

Requirements: fits two rear facing car seats with a 5’8” driver.  Fits two forward facing and one rear facing car seat three across.  Has reasonable cargo space.  Prefer a hatchback but not a must.  We don’t want an SUV or a minivan.  We drive 4-6k miles a year, so this is probably the car we’ll teach our two year old to drive in.

I’ll also answer the obvious question that will come up: we don’t want a minivan because of fuel economy and because street parking a minivan is suboptimal.  We might consider a small SUV but I’ve driven a subcompact for the past 22 years and don’t really want to change now.

Edited to add: our kids are 2.5 and 7 months, no plans for more.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 05:06:08 PM by SimpleCycle »

gluskap

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2017, 05:55:06 PM »
Whatís your price range?

lhamo

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2017, 06:25:05 PM »
I can't speak to the car seat issue, but I love my Ford Cmax.   Base model is about 5k cheaper than the Prius new, and I think it has better visibility.   My sister has a Prius and says my Cmax is much "peppier" -- and now that we are both doing mainly city driving our mileage is pretty similar (I'm averaging about 41-42 mpg at just over 16k miles two years into ownership).

I never would have considered a Ford until I test drove a Cmax.   Now I think I will buy them as long as they make them.  I got mine new for about 20k all in (including sales tax and license -- 17k list price, had to take the dealer financing to get an extra 2k off, but paid off the loan with the first payment)

RWD

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2017, 07:10:54 PM »
Would an electric car meet your needs? Some used options are getting quite cheap now.

max924

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2017, 09:18:12 PM »
I have a 2010 Toyota Yaris 5spd sedan and love it. We fit 1 forward facing and a rear facing car seat beside each other in the back, there is room for another forward facing but it could not be one of those big bulky ones (with the 2 car seats in the back my wife can still semi-comfortably sit back there). I am 5'11" with no issues sitting front or back. You can even fit 10 ft pieces of lumber with the rear seats down!! The Yaris is basically the equivalent of the early Corollas like yours.

My parents had a Honda Fit which they gave to my brother who still owns it. Great little car, but for what it is worth my parents and my brother have stated they would not purchase another.

Obviously I am biased but I believe the Yaris is the best bang for your buck. It is the epitome of practicality!

SimpleCycle

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2017, 09:33:56 PM »
What’s your price range?

Under 20k.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2017, 09:36:22 PM »
Would an electric car meet your needs? Some used options are getting quite cheap now.

Unfortunately we don’t have the ability to set up a place to charge one because we live in a condo.  Otherwise I think it’d be a good choice for us.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2017, 09:54:48 PM »
Whatís your price range?

Under 20k.
Cool! That narrows it down to the first model or two, new, of every major manufacturer that sells in North America. Or virtually any car if willing to wait long enough for depreciation to do its thing.

In your shoes, I'd target something in the 6-9k range, 5-7 years old.

RWD

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2017, 09:59:05 PM »
There are lots of good economical choices. Some examples:
Toyota Prius
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe
Toyota Yaris
Scion xA/xB/xD
Honda Fit
Honda Civic

I use Dashboard Light for reliability data, though keep in mind it's not comprehensive (Chevy Volt is not listed, for example).
http://www.dashboard-light.com/reports/Compact.html
http://www.dashboard-light.com/reports/Subcompact.html

Then further research/comparison on fuel economy (fueleconomy.gov) and crash ratings (IIHS).

SimpleCycle

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2017, 10:00:18 PM »
What’s your price range?

Under 20k.
Cool! That narrows it down to the first model or two, new, of every major manufacturer that sells in North America. Or virtually any car if willing to wait long enough for depreciation to do its thing.

In your shoes, I'd target something in the 6-9k range, 5-7 years old.

Thanks, that is helpful.  Honestly I haven’t bought a car since 2004 so other than a quick spin around Craigslist I have no idea about price.  And some people say it can make sense to buy new if you’re looking at a Honda or Toyota, so I didn’t want to rule that out.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2017, 10:09:27 PM »
It's hard to make a convincing case for buying a new vehicle if you drive 5k/year. You would be spending thousands of dollars in insurance and opportunity cost for a vehicle whose odometer will barely reach 6 digits before it starts deteriorating past the point of its useful life.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2017, 04:10:42 AM »
I'll second the C-Max suggestion. I have the Energi model which is a plug-in hybrid and I've spent $33 on gas in 2017, but the regular hybrid seems like a great choice if you can't plug in. We have Clem Fllos three across, so two car seats would be no problem. The 2013s had some weird software issues at first but Ford has fixed them.

sequoia

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2017, 06:30:45 AM »
Pretty much any car manufactures has a model for OP for under 20K in new or used form. My suggestion is to go to local dealers or CarMax and test drive a bunch of these car. One car my fit OP better than others due to sitting position, body type etc.

FLBiker

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2017, 07:12:34 AM »
We just got a 2010 Hyundai Accent.  I thought it would be too small (I'm 6'1" and we've got one kid) but I really like it.  It was ~$6K.  We also have an 09 Corolla, which you could probably get for about the same price.  Personally, I've been underwhelmed by the reliability of the Corolla.  We bought it (too new) in 2012, and I feel like we spent more maintaining it (ie several $3-600 repairs) than my wife's 1999 Ford Explorer Sport.  Admittedly we drove it more, but we didn't drive it that much.

Still, since we'd paid the "Toyota premium" for purported higher reliability, it was a bit disappointing.  Moving forward, I don't think we'd bother.  In addition to the Accent, we also looked at the Ford Focus.

Tester

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2017, 04:14:34 PM »
I can't speak to the car seat issue, but I love my Ford Cmax.   Base model is about 5k cheaper than the Prius new, and I think it has better visibility.   My sister has a Prius and says my Cmax is much "peppier" -- and now that we are both doing mainly city driving our mileage is pretty similar (I'm averaging about 41-42 mpg at just over 16k miles two years into ownership).

I never would have considered a Ford until I test drove a Cmax.   Now I think I will buy them as long as they make them.  I got mine new for about 20k all in (including sales tax and license -- 17k list price, had to take the dealer financing to get an extra 2k off, but paid off the loan with the first payment)

I am looking to buy a Cmax too.
We are a family of three and expecting another baby in April.

Can you tell me if you have the Energi version (it looks like it based on the gas expense :)).
Does the trunk still have enough space to put a stroller - newborn stroller, not the umbrella ones :).
Even more, does it have enough space to put a kid bike?
Right now I have a 2015 Focus hatchback and I can fit my kid's bike in the trunk....


Now about buying them forever - they just announced they will stop making this model :(.
They will make a plug in Escape...

lhamo

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2017, 09:00:08 PM »
I can't speak to the car seat issue, but I love my Ford Cmax.   Base model is about 5k cheaper than the Prius new, and I think it has better visibility.   My sister has a Prius and says my Cmax is much "peppier" -- and now that we are both doing mainly city driving our mileage is pretty similar (I'm averaging about 41-42 mpg at just over 16k miles two years into ownership).

I never would have considered a Ford until I test drove a Cmax.   Now I think I will buy them as long as they make them.  I got mine new for about 20k all in (including sales tax and license -- 17k list price, had to take the dealer financing to get an extra 2k off, but paid off the loan with the first payment)

I am looking to buy a Cmax too.
We are a family of three and expecting another baby in April.

Can you tell me if you have the Energi version (it looks like it based on the gas expense :)).
Does the trunk still have enough space to put a stroller - newborn stroller, not the umbrella ones :).
Even more, does it have enough space to put a kid bike?
Right now I have a 2015 Focus hatchback and I can fit my kid's bike in the trunk....


Now about buying them forever - they just announced they will stop making this model :(.
They will make a plug in Escape...

No I actually have the hybrid model. I was gutted when I saw they are discontinuing them in the US.

ysette9

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2017, 09:17:16 PM »
I love my GTI. If you donít care about having something fun to drive, the ahold is the same shape. Easy to park, hatchback so very versatile, and you can fit three of the correct car seat across the back. We only have two so there is room for another adult in the back.

Blissful Biker

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2017, 10:44:43 PM »
The Kia Niro is breaking records for gas mileage and a new 2017 cost $25K CDN.  We test drove one and will likely buy one in 1Q2018 when we have the full $25K saved.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2017, 03:53:30 AM »
I can't speak to the car seat issue, but I love my Ford Cmax.   Base model is about 5k cheaper than the Prius new, and I think it has better visibility.   My sister has a Prius and says my Cmax is much "peppier" -- and now that we are both doing mainly city driving our mileage is pretty similar (I'm averaging about 41-42 mpg at just over 16k miles two years into ownership).

I never would have considered a Ford until I test drove a Cmax.   Now I think I will buy them as long as they make them.  I got mine new for about 20k all in (including sales tax and license -- 17k list price, had to take the dealer financing to get an extra 2k off, but paid off the loan with the first payment)

I am looking to buy a Cmax too.
We are a family of three and expecting another baby in April.

Can you tell me if you have the Energi version (it looks like it based on the gas expense :)).
Does the trunk still have enough space to put a stroller - newborn stroller, not the umbrella ones :).
Even more, does it have enough space to put a kid bike?
Right now I have a 2015 Focus hatchback and I can fit my kid's bike in the trunk....


Now about buying them forever - they just announced they will stop making this model :(.
They will make a plug in Escape...

I have the Energi model. (I think you got my post mixed up with lhamo's because I mentioned gas cost.)

If you already have the stroller you should test fit it, but our stroller for our twins does fit. It's a Britax CitySelect I think. It won't be a problem to get one that does fit if you don't have one yet.

The cargo space in the Energi is shorter than the hybrid cargo space, but it's still a hatchback. I haven't found the cargo space arrangement to be a problem and our car before this was a Honda Fit.

I've attached my picture of my three-across setup. The back seat is huge for a hatchback - the interior is identical to the Escape, I believe.

ETA: if you're going to test drive one, call ahead and get the dealer to charge it at least partially so you experience the best part, the electric driving. Our local Ford dealership didn't do that, but the country used car place we bought ours did.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 03:58:52 AM by ShoulderThingThatGoesUp »

AMandM

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2017, 04:12:18 PM »
I'll add a new suggestion:  a Hyundai Elantra Touring (which is the hatchback model of the Elantra). I can't guarantee that it can fit three car seats, but I know from experience that it fits two rear-facing car seats with an adult in between.

When it doesn't have car seats it hold a fantastic amount of cargo for a small car.

One downside is that its data is often absent from or wrong in the standard in-store data sheets.  So you have to be careful and check that you're buying the right battery, wiper blades, etc.

CloserToFree

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2017, 05:53:06 PM »
Have you considered the Subaru Impreza Hatchback model?  We're starting to look at cars to replace our 2002 car that's likewise at the end of her lifespan (needs expensive repairs, safety an issue if we keep driving it), and have similar criteria to you.  We test drove a very slightly used 2017 model a couple weeks ago and really loved the way the car felt and drove (compared to say, a Prius, which to me feels like riding in a tin can and is awful to drive IMHO). Brand new it's low 20's (like 22-23k).
https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-subaru-impreza-5-door-first-drive-review

aspiringnomad

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2017, 09:39:21 AM »
Consider a used Mazda3 hatchback. Last year I bought a 2010 for 7k and have been very happy with it.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2017, 05:36:24 AM »
With all the efficient options out there I think it's pretty irresponsible to buy a *new* vehicle that gets less than 30 mpg in the city, like a Subaru. Their safety options are great but widely available from other manufacturers.

Car Jack

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2017, 09:03:32 AM »
I'm really, really surprised nobody picked door #1.  Keep the Corolla and just wind the thing out in 3rd then shift to 5th.  Back in my 20's, I had several cars that had these kinds of problems and just said "who cares?" and ran the car without that intermediate gear.  Thinking back, there were only 3 speed transmissions back in the day.  Heck.....my dad had a Chevy Vega with a 2 speed automatic.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2017, 09:16:30 AM »
I'm really, really surprised nobody picked door #1.  Keep the Corolla and just wind the thing out in 3rd then shift to 5th.  Back in my 20's, I had several cars that had these kinds of problems and just said "who cares?" and ran the car without that intermediate gear.  Thinking back, there were only 3 speed transmissions back in the day.  Heck.....my dad had a Chevy Vega with a 2 speed automatic.

We currently live behind door #1 and have lived here for a year.  You are right that is a perfectly adequate solution, and we might keep doing it until we hit the next major repair.  We're trying to think ahead so it's not an emergency when we hit the next major repair we don't want to do.

jkitiara

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2017, 12:44:33 PM »
I am in a similar situation and I think we're getting a 2016 Honda CRV. Inch for inch it was the same length as the Toyota Corolla (our 2nd choice) which is important as we will be street parking. In the end my husband (who is 6'2") really wanted the CRV purely for comfort. Since we drive about the same amount as you, that mean we're only using it for the occasional weekend trip or doctor's appointment, so the fact that it's slightly worse on gas doesn't bother me too much.

Daisy

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Re: Car suggestions for a city family of four
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2017, 01:53:18 PM »
I started another thread complaining about the maintenance costs of my Mini and thinking it was time to replace it with another hatchback. The options you are considering are exactly my criteria, minus the 4 person family.

Someone suggested buying a used rental car. I saw Hertz had some Toyota Prius C One's on sale. They don't sell Honda Fits. They do have a bunch of Nissan Versas.

My main use would be city driving since I am FIREd now. I won't put too many miles on it either, only for travelling.

The thought of car camping for trips sounds interesting to me and I've been watching YouTube videos of people car camping in their Honda Fits or Toyota Prius's. I haven't seen too much on camping in a Prius C One (I think it is shorter than a Prius).

I keep going back and forth between the two, and also Nissan Versa...buy a pretty newly used one from the rental car companies.

The good thing for the Fit is the seats fold completely flat. You can put a bike with the front tires up straight up, so probably can take quite a few bikes that way. They also have the "magic seat" in the back row. One review said the cargo space was large because the gas tank is under the driver's seat. So maybe more cargo headroom because of that.

The Prius C One is nice because while car camping you can keep the car on to run AC or heater if the weather is extreme. But the seats don't fold flat.

I haven't seen much on the Nissan Versa, but may be renting one on a trip in February.

Part of me thinks to buy it by the end of the year to take advantage of the sales tax writeoff that may go away next year. Even if it doesn't go away, I am not likely to be itemizing deductions next year. The other part of me wants to be patient and pick the right car.

Which one of these models has the best maintenance/least cost to own history?