A smaller car with great gas mileage?
January 21, 2013 7:41 AM   Subscribe

It's time for me to get a new car. I'm leaning towards a smaller car. What should I get?

Right now, I drive a 2000 Honda Accord. It's not a bad car, but a bit too large for my needs.

The criteria I'm looking for (in order of importance) are:

- Fuel economy
- Leg room
- Low mileage, if it's a used car
- How it drives
- Aesthetics such as color

So far, I'm looking at the following cars:

- 2013 Hyundai Accent
- 2011 or 2012 Honda Civic
- 2011 or 2012 Toyota Yaris
- 2011 or 2012 Toyota Camry
- 2011 or 2012 Toyota Corolla
- 2011 or 2012 Scion xD

Are there any cars I'm missing? Do any of you have any experience or advice related to the current cars on my list? Any input is appreciated.

posted by reenum to Shopping (55 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
How about the Honda Fit? Still in the Honda family, but small. Great headroom, and gets great milage. Can be had new for around $15,000.

I'm a Honda person. Husbunny, who is an actuary for an after-market warranty company says only a Honda or a Toyota is a Class 1 automobile. Eschew the Hyundai.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:46 AM on January 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Honda Fit?

I also think the Camry will be about the same size as the Accord you already have.
posted by czytm at 7:47 AM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a 2010 Corolla, my fiance has a 2011. They are great cars. Very comfortable. Drives great. Mine is a stick shift and I get better fuel economy than he does with his automatic, but his is still really good as well. Great great car. When my lease is up I'm going to be buying it out because it is so reliable, nothing has ever broken on it, and it is so nice to drive.

That said, I had looked around at cars last summer (considering a hatch back for bike-transportation reasons) and the Honda Fit is a killer car. HUGE amount of storage, nice ride, felt really peppy and responsive. It also comes in some fun colours.

In summary: Get either a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Fit.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:49 AM on January 21, 2013

A Camry is not a particularly small car. A Prius is about the same size (maybe a bit smaller?), is extremely comfortable/lots of leg room, and gets GREAT mileage (~58 MPG city, 42 or so highway). Have you considered one?
posted by RRgal at 7:52 AM on January 21, 2013

Most of the cars on your list are bigger than your current car.

If fuel economy is your top priority and you want to do better than your current civic, you should be looking at hybrids, or maybe a VW Golf TDI.

Since "price" doesn't list as a factor at all, why not the new smaller Prius?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:53 AM on January 21, 2013

If I was car shopping it would be a Fit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:53 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Consider a Volkswagen Golf TDI (diesel). The gas mileage on the diesel is amazing. I get 42 highway, 35 in town with my 2012. The legroom (and headroom) is also much better than I saw in the Fit and the Yaris, particularly for my tall husband who finds my Golf very comfortable and did not find the Fit or Yaris comfortable.

The downside is the cost of diesel over regular gas, but after comparing the fuel economy with some of your other options, you will likely still come out ahead. (My comparison was with my 2003 Civic and I came out way ahead on the diesel.)
posted by dayintoday at 7:55 AM on January 21, 2013

This is a personal opinion so take it with a grain of salt (also when I was looking at cars it was 2008).

I've tried all those cars (again in 2008) and found that comfort wise the Civic was far ahead of it's competition (Scion felt like a matchbox car, Corolla handling was a bit akward to me).

I always recommend the Civic, but test drive all and make your decision.
posted by pyro979 at 7:56 AM on January 21, 2013

I switched from an Accord to a used 6-speed Cooper Mini S and love it. Mine cane with leather, heated seats, Bose stereo, four extra wheels (for snow tires) and other extras for your same budget with no Honda premium If you put down the back seats it fits a lot of gear. Lots of legroom although I never have anyone in the back seat. About 32 mpg and very fun to drive. They're plucky little cars and other Mini drivers wave to you.
posted by carmicha at 7:59 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Out of all things on your list, I'd go with the Civic. It's a Honda. Very dependable.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:01 AM on January 21, 2013

I drive a 2007 Ford Focus. No problems with it yet an it gets very good mileage - I can squeeze out 41 on the highway, about 32-34 city.
posted by lharmon at 8:04 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mazda 3 hatchbacks are pretty groovy... and my dad's driven Mazdas for years, neglected 'em like he was making a conscious effort to do so and they kept on going.
posted by ambient2 at 8:11 AM on January 21, 2013

Volkswagens are great, but don't get a TDI unless you're really into your car and don't mind shelling out for the maintenance.

(I really, really want a Golf TDI, but based on your list, not sure I'd recommend it).

It sounds like the Honda Fit would really suit your needs.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:15 AM on January 21, 2013

Honda Civics get better mileage than Honda Fits. Toyota Yarises can have weird side views and total much more easily than the others on your list.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:18 AM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: RRgal, I looked at the Prius, but it seems a bit out of my price range.

I tried sitting in a Honda Fit this past Saturday, and there was not nearly enough leg room for me. It was a 2009 model though. Do the newer models have more leg room?
posted by reenum at 8:23 AM on January 21, 2013

My dad and cousin both have new/recent Hyundai Accents and love them. Both commute >25 miles each way 5 days a week and claim highway gas mileage of around 40 mpg.

Mazda 3s are pretty comparable to the Hyundais. I absolutely adore my 2010 Mazda 3. Just make sure you don't get the iSport -- it has a bigger engine, smaller tires, and drives like nothing else, BUT that bigger engine means a lowered fuel economy. The iTouring has the smaller engine and is also nice, the interior is almost identical to the Huyndai, and the fuel economy is comparable as well.

A hint, if you have decent credit, is that Mazda seems to do their best sale in February/March. I got mine new with a 0% APR loan -- the used cars they were selling would have cost me more in the long run, as they didn't have 0% loans on the used cars. Not sure what other dealers schedules are like for these kinds of sales.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:27 AM on January 21, 2013

I think the Focus and Mazda3 are finally the same car, but neither really gets into the mileage ranges that the xD/Fit/Yaris does. Mazda3 is great to drive though -- I'm sure my old Prelude was actually a quicker car, but the 3 does a great job of feeling zippy at boring city speeds.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:32 AM on January 21, 2013

RRgal, I looked at the Prius, but it seems a bit out of my price range.

It might be helpful if you mentioned what your price range is.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:33 AM on January 21, 2013

My wife and I have an 09 Scion xD and a 2010 Toyota Matrix (same underpinnings as a Corolla but with a hatchback) and while I find them to be comfortable, reliable and efficient, I would definitely say neither is at all fun to drive in base model version. They both have numb steering, typical econobox suspensions (rear is torsion beam, as opposed to the more responsive independent suspension Honda uses on the Civic, Accord, etc.), rattly, cheap interiors and wheezy little motors coupled to bottom-of-the-barrel automatic transmissions whose sole function as far as I can tell is to keep the RPMs as low as possible at all times in the name of fuel efficiency. I've driven a base Fit and it was a lot more fun, despite having a smaller engine, but low-mileage used Fits are a lot more expensive than comparable models from Toyota, Hyundai, etc. I'd echo the other recommendations for Ford Fiesta/Mazda 2 if you're looking for something a bit more fun than Toyota's appliances.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:36 AM on January 21, 2013

I drive a 2012 Mazda 3 sedan on my crazy 70-mile commute and I consistently get about 40 mpg. It is small and easy to drive, but I can fit a lot of stuff into it when I need to. I have iGrand Touring with all the interior amenities and the smaller engine.

The leg room is great in front, but can be a little tight in back. I don't have grown-ups in the back seat very often, so this isn't an issue for me.

Mazdas are fun cars to drive, which translates into a less cushy suspension among other things. Highly recommended.
posted by jeoc at 8:41 AM on January 21, 2013

If I were looking at Priuses, I'd also consider the Chevy Volt. But both are bigger than your Civic, I think.
posted by zippy at 8:49 AM on January 21, 2013

Mr. BlahLaLa is 6'1" and sits just fine in our 2013 Fit. Maybe check out a new one. I'm amazed by how roomy it feels inside when from outside it looks so tiny.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:58 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: I got the 2013 Accent hatchback and couldn't be happier. It's actually quite roomy on the inside despite the small frame. Gas mileage has averaged around 32-33 mpg driving around in Los Angeles traffic, so depending on where you are it might do better for you.
posted by fishmasta at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2013

Here's another vote for a recent Fit. I just got a 2013 model and at 5'10" I'm totally comfortable. I could easily move the seat back more if I wanted, there's tons of head room, and the car is wonderful to drive. All my friends who have driven it have also been enthusiastic about the comfort and handling, and the hatchback area can't be beat -- it's the only one I found that creates a completely flat area.

If you test sit in a Fit again, make sure to try all the seat adjustments and raise the steering wheel, too. I have a friend who lowers the steering wheel when he borrows the car, and that makes me feel like I have no leg room.
posted by ceiba at 9:12 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I drove a new 2007 Toyota Yaris hatchback for a bit.

Pros: Fantastic mileage, surprising leg room front and back (from a 5'9'' lady and a 6'4'' dude), zippy and fun to drive.
Cons: After a few months, it sounds like squirrels are running the engine and the seats are not comfortable for long (3+ hours drive) and it somersaults frontways when t-boned by a minivan. (But it should be noted that the best bonus of all is walking away unscathed becaus of excellent safety features.)

If I were back in the small car market, I'd consider a Yaris sedan or something that feels just a bit sturdier.
posted by mibo at 9:17 AM on January 21, 2013

My uncle is 6'5" and he LOVES his Fit. (I think they have a 2010.) He is freekin' giant, and it is one of the cars he has been the most comfortable in. They were going to trade for something roomier but they didn't find anything they liked as much.

If I were you I'd try a Fit again, maybe a newer model, or maybe just mess about with the position of the seat and steering wheel to see.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:28 AM on January 21, 2013

N'thing the Fit. They are relatively inexpensive new, and such great cars that finding a good one used might be difficult. There is not only room in the front seat, but excellent leg room for passengers as well (something that many econo-boxes sorely lack). Echoing what the posters above say, the storage capacity of this model is astounding - everything fold flat and low, or you can fold up a back seat for a tall item - like 3+ feet tall!
posted by dbmcd at 9:31 AM on January 21, 2013

I have a friend who's a leggy 6'5" and drives a Honda Fit. Did you take time to adjust the seat enough?

Now that I think about it, I have three tall friends who love their Honda Fits. Maybe give it another shot?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:40 AM on January 21, 2013

The Carolla is the greatest and the most fuel efficient car I've ever known in the price range you're looking at. It's roomy without feeling ultra wide, it's plush and luxurious feeling even with basic features, and it is honestly such a safe, safe car that even my friends with Maseratis and BMWs are in love with how wonderful it is. Go with a Toyota, and make it a Carolla.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:46 AM on January 21, 2013

Another vote for the Honda Fit! I second the comment that the adjustments can make a big difference in how it feels, space-wise. The quality, safety-features, storage space, and ease of parking are phenomenal. But most of all, the FUN OF DRIVING this little rocketship cannot be overstated. The sports edition feels like a V8 packed into a Beetle, with Indy 500 handling.
posted by ravioli at 10:03 AM on January 21, 2013

I think the Focus and Mazda3 are finally the same car, but neither really gets into the mileage ranges that the xD/Fit/Yaris does.

Actually, Mazda has a newer engine in the 3 now, and it's supposed to get up in the 38-42 highway range, which is actually higher than their super-economy model Mazda2 that's in the same class as the Fit and Yaris.
posted by LionIndex at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2013

I drive my mother's 2008 (?) Fit occasionally, and while it is amazing and zoomy in the city, it is AWFUL to drive on the highway for longer trips. It is an automatic, and it is really hard work to keep to the speed limit in that car. This might be something that is corrected in later Fit models, but if you are thinking of buying one a few years old, be sure to take it on a decent test drive on the Interstate if you think you will ever be doing any road tripping in it.
posted by Brody's chum at 10:11 AM on January 21, 2013

Another vote for the Honda Fit --- I'm currently driving a 10 year old car; while I'll keep my current car as long as I can, the Fit is what I'd get if the worst happens and I need a replacement. Sure, it's not the most high-powered car around nor is it particularly stylish; but it's actually surprisingly roomy with great gas mileage, plus (per Consumer Reports among others) it's the most reliable compact car out there.

There are other gas-powered cars with equally-good mileage, for instance the Smart Car and the Mini Cooper. But while the Fit gets it's high mileage on regular gas, the Smarts and Minis require more-expensive high-octane fuel, plus maintenance on both is more costly AND more frequent. Don't forget to take a look at some of the smaller Fords: they're getting very good reviews nowadays. And, of course, consider a hybrid --- but if you do, make sure your mechanic can work on it!

(I'm afraid I personally refuse to consider any Toyota vehicles, new or used; it seems to me that the company has been coasting on their reputation for quite a few years now while their product quality has dropped drastically --- YMMV, of course.)
posted by easily confused at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2013

I have a 2012 Fit and love it to pieces. We don't feel cramped in it at all, and we're a family of four, though admittedly not people of great height. Zippy acceleration, great mileage, and my god they aren't kidding with the name, the cargo space is incredible. Also my red one is super-adorable.
posted by Andrhia at 10:48 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: I have a 2012 Accent and I love it. I bought it because it was the cheapest most fuel efficient car at the time. I was pleasantly surprised at how solidly it was built, well it drives and how much room it has. I have 30,000 miles on it now, and have had zero trouble with it.
posted by gjc at 10:56 AM on January 21, 2013

When you're at the Honda dealership re-checking out the Fit, test-drive the Insight as well. I adore my Insight and it's the first car I think of when someone says "small and great gas mileage".
posted by hydropsyche at 10:57 AM on January 21, 2013

My husband is over six feet, and I am a little over 5 feet, and we both feel very comfortable in our 2011 Fit. We love the little car and consider it to have a bit of Tardis magic.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:57 AM on January 21, 2013

I just bought a Honda Fit last week and I'm really pleased with it so far. I got the Sport trim because the base model was a little too bare bones for me (no floor mats!), so that's closer to the neighborhood of $18k.

It's amazingly roomy for its size, with great leg room in front and back, and so far I'm getting about 27 mpg for city driving. Aesthetically, I think it looks like a larger Mini or Fiat 500 (the latter of which I really had my heart set on for awhile, sheerly based on looks), and the 2013 Sport version comes in a dark metallic plum color.

My only quibbles are minor: I'm not ecstatic about the instrument panel and the sound system, but they're both things I'm sure I'll get used to. Also, the seats come with built-in lumbar support, which took a little getting used to (I like it now, but the first few days it felt a tiny bit weird), and they only adjust forward and backward; there's no tilt or height adjustment. That's not a problem for me, but they might be things you care about.
posted by scody at 10:59 AM on January 21, 2013

I'm you! I've had a Honda Accord and a Honda Odyssey van, but don't really need a big size now that my kids aren't in the car with me much (old enough to drive themselves).

I drive a Honda Civic now and LOVE it. Favorite car ever. I get much better gas mileage with this than any other car I've ever driven, and it handles really well, plus it's just a fun car for me because it feels like I'm sitting in a spaceship (more on that in a minute).

Fuel Efficiency
Okay, so: the Civic, as you might know already, comes with a "green" button. The idea is that with the green function on, the car maximizes fuel efficiency. In practice, what happens is it steadies out highs and lows to keep you more consistent (steadily increasing speed instead of flooring it, etc.) It also tells you what your MPG is based on the speed and other factors. I pretty much keep the Green option on all the time except when I'm getting on the interstate and need to accelerate quickly, but could probably leave it on then, too.

The Green option doesn't keep you from doing anything, just offers a slight resistance to pressing the pedal all the way down immediately, to remind you that you're not driving optimally for max fuel efficiency. I don't gun my car anyway, but whether that Green option is a factor or not, I'm happy with how much I save on gas. I get high 20s to low 30s per gallon now consistently, and I have to do a lot of around-town, stuck in traffic driving.

Leg Room
I'm 5'9" and leggy, and there's plenty of leg room. My 6'4" spouse also has no problems driving my car.

I have the black Honda Civic, and it looks sharp. You can get optional spoilers and all that, and there are sellers on eBay if you want any of the chrome add-ons that will be cheaper than the dealership. I have a moonroof, just because I wanted one and like the look, and it helps me keep the car cool (black car in Florida meant cooling it was important). I can open the moon roof to air out the car quickly or leave the moon roof vented on sunny days to keep it from getting too hot inside. I also found out by accident that if you have the moonroof vented but the sliding panel on the inside cabin roof mostly closed, because the openings are on opposite sides, the inside cabin does NOT get really wet even when a surprise thunderstorm hits and you can't get back to your car for a while. Good to know!

We tried out the Hyundai, and although I liked the outer aesthetics of that car better than the Civic initially, I can tell you that the visibility of the Hyundai sucks. The back view is really limited and you've got HUGE blind spots on either side that you just don't want. Drive it and you'll see what I mean.

You can get the hands-free blue ray and link your iPhone (Android, whatever) up super simply too, which lets you access voice commands, the whole enchilada. Standard features included streaming from my phone, which was a big plus.

What I Love Best About My Civic
My inside dashboard looks like a spaceship! Seriously, I smile every time I sit in the driver's seat. This wasn't something I knew I wanted untilI had it, and it is AWESOME. A big, brightly lit display highlights my speed and the stuff I need to know while I'm driving, and it is situated at eye level right out under the windshield, which is genius.

Imagine it like this: Say it was the future, and we all had chips in our brains instead of cellphones, that let us access data instantly while we were just going about our day. Naturally, you look straight ahead while you are navigating, so where would the most convenient place to display that data be? You'd want it on that bottom left of your visual field, where it wouldn't block that visual field, but you could see it without having to look down and take your eyes off where you were going, right? That's how the dash is set up in the Civic. Just smarter and more intuitive than any other setup I've seen.

Mine lights up bright blue (spaceship!), but you can choose red or green if you want. The data is sized well for eyes that have trouble seeing small, dimly lit numbers up close (I'm only 46, but after LASIK my close up vision is not as good, and that's what happens naturally to your vision as you age.) Believe me, you'll be thankful you don't have tiny, dim numbers and letters to make out while you are driving!

You can also personalize what info shows up from your phone when it is connected, which is cool.
posted by misha at 11:04 AM on January 21, 2013

Oh, and as to how the Fit drives: it's quite zippy for a 4-cylinder, and definitely has more power and responsiveness/nimbleness than my previous 4-cylinder (a 2005 Hyundai Elantra, which always feel a little sluggish to me). It's not a super-cushioned or silent drive; it's not rough or loud, but you do feel the road as you're driving. That's something I actually like in a car, but if you're looking for something that feels a little smoother and more insulated, you might prefer a Civic.
posted by scody at 11:05 AM on January 21, 2013

My mom seems pretty happy with her Chevrolet Cruze Eco. Of course with my mom the fact that you get the best mileage with the manual transmission was a bonus, you may not consider it a bonus.
posted by ckape at 11:06 AM on January 21, 2013

Another vote for the Fit. I only got mine because my Civic (2005) was flattened by Hurricane Sandy, but now that I have the Fit, I love it. The salesman told me they don't make many Fits b/c few people want to buy them, but judging from how many I pass on the highway every day (and this thread!) I think he was wrong. I find it quite roomy, though I am not very tall, but a tall friend who I drove around recently expressed interest in test driving one. The 2013 model has a fuel mileage indicator. (Though maybe every car has this now? I don't know.)

Compared to my Civic, the Fit is easier to park and turn and it holds a LOT more stuff (which was my main reason for getting it.) It also struggles less getting up hills and is just more...peppy. (For lack of the proper term.) I have minor quibbles like scody (no arm rest; tall water bottles tip over in the center cup-holders; you can't turn the headlights completely off) but generally I recommend it. (And since you mention aesthetics, mine is dark grey and everyone thinks it's very cute.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:12 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: Hyundai Elantra (one above the Accent, roomier, similar fuel economy; I have a 2005 and it's holding up well)
Kia Rio/Forte/Soul
Ford Fiesta/Focus
Chevy Sonic/Cruz (I've had Cruz rental cars and they were pretty darnned nice)
Dodge Dart
Fiat 500 (might be too small for you)
Nissan Versa/Sentra/Juke

I suggest going to the owner forums for any of the cars you are seriously interested in (Google "Elantra forum" or whatever model you're interested in). The fanboys for the different models tend to be simultaneously enthusiastic and brutally honest.
posted by Doohickie at 11:20 AM on January 21, 2013

I have a 2007 non-turbo, manual transmission Mini Cooper. It has plenty of power. I honestly dont see how a turbocharger could be justified on this car.
It gets 40-42mpg. I have put 160k on it, and has proven to be completely reliable.
As far as handling around curves and so on, I dont think there is a better performer in the consumer market, heaps better than Hondas - I have had a civic and an accord, and there is no comparison.

The front seats go plenty far back for the long legged, but in that case there is no back seat.

with the back seats lain flat, the cargo space is surprisingly large, making it into a decent little panel truck.
posted by Abinadab at 11:32 AM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: As far as price range, my max is $18,000.
posted by reenum at 11:33 AM on January 21, 2013

I havent looked at prices recently, but in 2007 I paid 18,000 for my mini cooper, brand new.
posted by Abinadab at 11:35 AM on January 21, 2013

I'm not a fan of the Fit, despite generally being a Honda fan and liking the idea before I actually drove one. I'd go for the Mazda3. A friend of mine has one and I find it reasonably good to drive. The Fit doesn't have terrible handling, but it is slow as a dog (even the Sport model), which really sucks for highway merging and other tasks that require the occasional not-mileage-friendly maneuver. It is peppy and responsive compared to an old Ford Fiesta or some bicycles, depending on the rider, though. It's got plenty of legroom, at least for the folks that either have short legs or don't mind their knees being at chin level.

I would continue to stay away from Hyundai. Somewhat less reliable, I've heard stories of them being assholes about the warranty (most manufacturers understand that they can't invalidate warranties for inconsequential breaches), and they just generally seem to be a bit behind in the "go" technology. Interiors have gotten a lot nicer in the last few years, though.

FWIW, there are a raft of decent certified used Corollas in your area. You can buy the Toyota extended warranty for anything that's still under the 3 year/36k factory warranty. I got 5 year/100k for under a thousand bucks when we bought a RAV4 a couple of years back.
posted by wierdo at 12:27 PM on January 21, 2013

I think the Focus and Mazda3 are finally the same car

Having just finished the smaller car buying process, this is not accurate. The Mazda3 feels solidly built, is incredibly fun to drive, and is a completely different driving experience than the Focus, which is like driving a tired refrigerator. There are two versions of the Mazda 3, one that has 40 mpg (Skyactiv) and one that is extra-zippy (2.5). I went with extra zippy, but the skyactiv version would fit your criteria, and was also markedly more fun to drive than anything I test drove. I'm 5'9" and have plenty of leg room (my friend who is 6'4" was ok with the leg room, but a little cramped height-wise). I freaking love this car -- it's well designed, attractive, and I feel like I'm driving a sweet little spaceship. When I bought a few months ago, Mazda had great buyer incentives for new and used sales.
posted by *s at 12:55 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

In your price range, your choice of new rides will likely be: Honda Fit / Toyota Yaris / Ford Fiesta / Mazda 2.

If you want to go slightly used, then yeah Civic / Corrolla / Focus / Mazda 3.

None of these are terribly "fun to drive", but they gave good mileage, great reliability (generally), and relatively high marks on safety.

I don't really like Toyota vehicles, but a used Corrolla is probably your best bet, or a tie between a new Fit and Yaris.

Good luck! Let us know what you choose.
posted by NYC-BB at 1:04 PM on January 21, 2013

The new Prius C, while at the top of your price range, rings in at a whopping 53 mpg. I found it to be a zippy little car with great leg room and decent cargo space (back seats fold nearly flat). It remains on my short list, as my spouse and I search for a new vehicle using criteria very similar to yours.
posted by kayzie at 1:59 PM on January 21, 2013

I'd look at a Prius. Maybe a 2010 Prius? I have a regular Prius, which has a great turn radius, is small enough to park easily, and the hatchback makes it fit all manner of things. Also, because of the way the console is designed, it feels very open and roomy when you drive it.

(My 2011 Prius III's dealer trade in value was $18k in December, without negotiating. I didn't do it. But it also had dinged up front and back bumpers. So, yes, it's probably above your price range.)
posted by ethidda at 2:12 PM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: Is your goal to save money on fuel by buying a more efficient car? If so, how much do you drive?

Suppose you buy a 50MPG car instead of a 25MPG car. That means that every 100 miles, you'll save 2 gallons of gas (100 miles / 25mpg - 100 miles / 50mpg = 2 gallons). If gas is $4/gal and you paid a $4000 premium for the more efficient car, you have to save 1000 gallons of gas, which you will do over 50000 miles.

All numbers are rounded to make the math easy, but you can work them for the Prius C vs the Honda Fit too:

Toyota Prius C 2013: $19,080 MSRP, 53 city, 46 highway
Honda Fit 2013: $15,425 MSRP, 27 city, 33 highway

(100/27 - 100/53) = savings of 1.8 gallons per 100 miles of city driving
(100/33 - 100/46) = savings of .85 gallons per 100 miles of highway driving

Me, I don't drive enough for the efficiency of a hybrid to save me money, though this was comparing a (new) 2008 Honda Fit to a 2008 Toyota Prius; the Prius C obviously closes the price gap somewhat and it might just have the lowest (purchase+fuel) cost over a decade for me.

As it is, I'm another satisfied Fit (Sport) owner.
posted by jepler at 4:01 PM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: So far, I've test driven a 2013 Hyundai Accent, 2011 Toyota Corolla, 2012 Honda Civic and 2011 Honda Fit.

The Civic is the leader by far.
posted by reenum at 6:04 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I previously drove a Civic and now I have a Fit. I have been very happy with both cars. I bought the Fit because it seems a bit roomier than the Civic and it is easy to carry stuff in. I'm tall for a woman and I thought the Fit has better head and leg room than the Civic but maybe it depends on how long your legs are compared to the rest of you. But the Civic is a nice car too and I had my old one for 13 years.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:52 AM on January 22, 2013

Response by poster: Hello all,

I ended up buying a 2013 Hyundai Elantra. I love it so far!
posted by reenum at 7:56 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

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