How do I find cars with specific features or Do you know what I want?
March 7, 2014 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I want what I want. It's sooo hard to find information on cars that fit the criteria I want. I joined Consumer Reports online, looked at (it ends in 2013), Edmonds and general Google searches and can't find any car research tool to just plug in the features I want. I'm looking for a small to mid-size car/SUV/whatever, AWD or 4WD, 4 cyl turbo or 6-8 cyl, plenty of front leg room with decent leg room in the rear, heated/power front seats (heated mirrors a plus), iPhone/Bluetooth media streaming, audio on the steering wheel, mpg 27 or better, preferably under $30,000 but I can be flexible on that. My last new car was a Subaru Baja and I loved it but had to give it up when I was laid off. I'm now driving a '96 Mercury Cougar which has power galore but looks boring. I like unique looks (I was looking at the Nissan Juke, but no heated/power seats or audio on the steering wheel and a bit tight in the rear leg room dept. Does this unicorn exist?
posted by IpsoFacto to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm actually looking at the Toyota Venza which I believe features almost everything you're looking for. Some of it may only be available in extended packages, but the price is around 32k with V6, AWD, legroom, Bluetooth/audio, and heated seats is something Toyota offers (I have it on my Camry, fair lot of good they do in SoFl though).
posted by Debaser626 at 11:06 AM on March 7, 2014

How about the Hyundai Elantra - the luxury (?) edition has sunroof - heated leather seats and bluetooth/audio on steering wheel. I had two recently and the latest was the 2012 - absolutely loved it. I think at the time it was like 23 - 24K. Has a great warrantly and I thought it was pretty nice looking, fun to drive also great gas mileage. I also thought it was pretty roomy front and back as well as trunk room.
posted by MrsMGH at 11:10 AM on March 7, 2014

The Sportage turbo has this stuff and squeaks in at under $30k and 28mpg highway.
posted by ftm at 11:14 AM on March 7, 2014

We have a 2012 Suzuki SX4 Crossover (the small one, think they come in bigger sizes). It has heated seats, AWD, and a switch to make it 2W or Auto detect, built-in GPS (Garmin), controls on the steering wheel for the radio and bluetooth and seems to have pretty good leg room. Not sure about the engine/mileage, seems to do well (we have a 6-speed). But worth a look, it wasn't that expensive.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:17 AM on March 7, 2014

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring. Might be a little down on your power needs, but it handles wonderfully.
posted by hwyengr at 11:17 AM on March 7, 2014

I'm in almost exactly the same boat (just looking at small crossover SUVs) and been testing a bunch of stuff including the Juke; I agree with you about the legroom. The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid has everything you/I want except power seats (they are heated) and should run right about $30K. [Even though the hybrid gets similar mileage to the regular engine, I've read that it's just a better car overall, with more standard features, more torque, quieter cabin, etc. I only test-drove the hybrid.] The BMW X1 has absolutely everything you want as an option, but it starts at $30K and by the time you add on all the features, it might be more like $40K.
posted by karbonokapi at 11:47 AM on March 7, 2014

Most of Subarus vehicles (Forester, Outback, XV Crosstek) meet your specifications.
posted by axismundi at 11:51 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

2014 Subaru is everyone's car of the year. The premium trim level with all-weather package will get you what you want for about $24,600.

It's also the safest car ever rated (although that is probably the Limited trim level.)
posted by vitabellosi at 1:18 PM on March 7, 2014

The rear seat legroom is causing some of the issues for you. That's going to push into either a bigger car or the bottom of the luxury market where their target customer is older, would have either adult children riding with them or adult friends, and are at a life stage where they might be willing to trade so cargo space for more rear seat legroom. Something like the Audi A4 would have most of what you want but will look kind of bland and be a little over your budget.

I own a Venza, we like it a lot but it is a big car and the gas mileage with the V-6 and AWD is not great. will have some of the tools that you want. They have a car finder that will help to narrow some of your options. I also like their model overviews that will talk about when certain features were added (like when an auxiliary audio input got upgraded to an ipod input or bluetooth streaming) that makes it very useful if you're open to looking at a newer used model (and you should be). They list some pretty detailed specs for each model as well. So if there is a car that had enough leg room for you, you can compare it's measurements to something else though that isn't a perfect substitute for sitting in the real thing.

Lastly, don't get too hung up on heated seats. They can be installed aftermarket for a pretty reasonable cost. I used to sell cars for a living and had one customer (that I can remember off the top of my head) where we had a car that had everything exactly the way she wanted it except for heated seats (she couldn't get heated seats without getting leather seats and a bunch of other options that she didn't want) so we had them installed by some vendor that we worked with. She said that they worked better than the factory heaters she had had in the past and the warranty was better. You can call a local dealership and they should be able to put you in touch with a vendor or two that can install them for you.
posted by VTX at 1:22 PM on March 7, 2014

Oops! That's the 2014 Forester, Premium with All-Weather package. Heated seats, side mirrors, and a bead of heat under the windshield wipers so they don't stick to the windshield. Bluetooth iPhone hook up, steering wheel controls. People seem to like the legroom. The heated seats aren't just the butt, but up into the lower back.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:24 PM on March 7, 2014

CarPoint used to do this (back in the earlier days of the web), but they took down the search feature when they rolled it into MSN. I don't know why, but at least once a year I wish it was back.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:26 PM on March 7, 2014

You know what, strangely, has a search function that might be useful for you?, in particular their "Power Search" function. I plugged in 27-45 combined MPG, AWD and a price of $25-30k. These are the results: the Subaru XV and Legacy. The Legacy will give you more rear leg room; the XV is based on the smaller Impreza (as is the Forester, mentioned above).
posted by Dasein at 1:32 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a 2011 Juke (Manual, FWD) and while my model doesn't have heated seats you can most certainly get them. We actually tried, but couldn't find one for the right price with the manual. I don't know about powered adjustable seats, but heated are available. My model DOES have audio controls on the steering wheel. The base model doesn't. A fully loaded JUKE SV will definitely have most of your criteria, new, for below 30k. And may have power seats. If it doesn't, and your handy, it would be fairly easy to swap out seats from a rogue or altima that do have heaters and power adjustments (from a junkyard probably).

BTW a great car, small, light and plenty of power. Enough ground clearance to be ok in the snow (better with AWD but the system was designed for handling not traction so not the best snow car). I really enjoy the car and find its perfectly sized for me, my wife and two small dogs. I occasionally have rear seat passengers and they say they are fine with the room. They don't want to go cross country back there, but across town is just fine (an hour or two).
posted by bartonlong at 1:48 PM on March 7, 2014

Not sure what Juke you were looking at, but my 2013 has audio on the steering wheel and heated seats too. I have the AWD model, fully loaded, and was below $30K. If you like the car you may want to investigate further.
posted by notaninja at 2:30 PM on March 7, 2014

Current Subarus absolutely do not have good legroom in the front and adequate legroom in the back. Not at the same time anyways.

Try a Rav4. Amazing amount of room inside for tall people.
posted by fshgrl at 2:45 PM on March 7, 2014

Some great ideas here, thank you MeFites!
posted by IpsoFacto at 2:57 PM on March 7, 2014

I am a huge fan of my RAV4! Mine is the base model, but I think the higher end models will have what you want. I bought a 2011 and I remember test driving one with a lot of the options you describe (I pushed every button I could find!). My 4 cyl is quite zippy so their 6 cyl should be powerful enough. Great legroom as well, and my rear seats recline a bit for comfort. Check out the Toyota website and see if you can build a RAV4 with their online tools that has the options you want.

(Now I want a new car!)
posted by MultiFaceted at 3:50 PM on March 7, 2014

Used 325xi.
posted by RichardS at 5:03 AM on March 8, 2014

My 2014 Subaru Legacy meets all your criteria. I love the way the car drives (awesome in the snow) but hate the controls (climate, GPS, etc.). My 6'4" husband is comfortable in both front and back, the mileage is great, the EyeSight feature is fantastic, and the car is very comfortable and easy to drive. OTOH, the cabin noise is unpleasant (I don't listen to music on the freeway because it's too hard to hear) and it doesn't come with a manual transmission (which I prefer). I have the all-weather package and like the BlueTooth.
posted by Capri at 8:10 AM on March 9, 2014

the XV is based on the smaller Impreza (as is the Forester, mentioned above)

The Forester may be "based on the Impreza" but it has a bigger engine, more horsepower and more toque. Having just driven the XV and the Forester, I felt the difference.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:27 AM on March 9, 2014

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