Help me find a reliable, affordable efficient car.
March 2, 2011 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Used car advice. Family member has about $8000-9000 CAD to spend in Toronto on a used car and is looking to maximize fuel economy and reliability. What are her best options?

Some more details. She can only drive automatic and needs to be able to squeeze at least five people into the car on occasion, one or two is the norm. She's currently looking at a Hyundai and while the dealer assures her it will last for ever I have my doubts.
posted by samhyland to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Pontiac Vibe is basically a rebadged Toyota Matrix. It has the same engine as the Corolla.

The benefits, in my mind, is the reliability of a Toyota with the lower pricetag of a Pontiac. (Check edmunds.com for specific year information)
posted by czytm at 7:26 AM on March 2, 2011


Best answer: Honda Civic. In my experience they can be abused to a far greater degree than most comparable cars and still run well. And the fuel economy is quite good. For that price you are going to be looking some years back, but that's not a big deal with the Civic. Five people will be fine as long as they aren't huge.

On preview, the Matrix/Vibe is also a great option, though I didn't like the sight lines on the car when I drove it. The advantage of that model is that the back seat feels really roomy and it has nice hauling capacity.
posted by selfnoise at 7:29 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seconding czytm. I got a Vibe and am quite happy with it. Bought it at 120 000, now at 150 000, not a single issue. I rented a trailer to move a piano, fitted lots of heavy stuff in the large trunk. Plus the roof rack is also really useful.
posted by ddaavviidd at 7:34 AM on March 2, 2011


Hyundai is ranking very highly in reliability surveys. Hy Elantra Touring is awesome but it's a fairly new model and may not be showing up on the used market yet.
posted by rocket88 at 7:52 AM on March 2, 2011


Seconding Selfnoise. I am on my 4th Honda. My first was an 89 Civic that I retired in 2002 when it had over 200K miles and the A/C just couldn't keep up with another AZ summer. 2nd Honda Civic (a '98) was still running perfectly when I sold it for $500 less than I bought it for, after driving it for 6 years. Both of these Civics averaged 35-40MPG in the city and never, not even once, broke down (other than flat tires and dead batteries).

The last two? We still have them (and expect to for a very, very long time). 2002 Accord (has almost 180K miles... drives wonderfully) and a newer CRV that we are hoping to give to our oldest child when he turns 16. (He is currently 1.)

Check Consumer Reports at the library - They have great (unbiased) information on new/used reliability.

Also, Click and Clack do some car recommending as well... usually in favor of the Civic.
posted by LyndsayMW at 8:01 AM on March 2, 2011


Hyundai is ranking very highly in reliability surveys

It is now, though still not as high as the Japanese. If she's buying a car from a few years ago, with these criteria I'd still make it a Civic. I'd look for an Civic early in this generation - 2006 or 2007 - in her price range. They're much nicer to drive than the Vibe/Matrix in my opinion.
posted by Dasein at 8:28 AM on March 2, 2011


Something like this or this. If it's not covered by Honda's Certified Used warranty, have it checked out by these guys.
posted by Dasein at 9:05 AM on March 2, 2011


Used Subarus give you the best bang for your buck - if you can find one. By "bang for your buck" I mean "Reliability and fuel effeciency." They have the little hatchback wagons or even sedans should seat 5.

Added bonus: all wheel drive will help with those Canadian winters.
posted by getawaysticks at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2011


Subarus actually don't have terribly good fuel efficiency because of the AWD system. A civic beats the hell out of the Impreza in fuel efficiency, for one example. The current Impreza's rated MPG is actually at or worse than something like a RAV4, which is.... bad for a car that size.

That said they are damn solid in the reliability department, though the ones made in the earlier half of the last decade have some engine issues in some models; check consumer reports if you are concerned.
posted by selfnoise at 11:00 AM on March 2, 2011


getawaysticks, in my experience Subarus are gas hogs compared to Civics, because of the full-time AWD. As for the winter, I have two words for you: Blizzak WS70.
posted by Dasein at 11:02 AM on March 2, 2011


I am super happy with my Toyota Yaris, I believe a four or five year old one is within your budget. have a look too at Lemon Aid books from the library.
posted by saucysault at 11:30 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Add me to those recommending a Honda Civic. I have a 1998 Civic that I get serviced once a year, replace what they tell me to replace, and I've never had a thing go wrong with it. In thirteen years. I only drive about 7,500 kms annually, which has probably helped matters, but it's still been an amazing little car.
posted by Georgina at 9:45 PM on March 2, 2011


Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I'll pass this advice on to her. My gut was saying civic and it looks like you have overwhelmingly confirmed that feeling.
posted by samhyland at 8:29 AM on March 3, 2011


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