Lesbian ISO efficient/reliable/>~$22k car. Yes, Subarus are on the list.
November 30, 2015 9:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in a fuel efficient, reliable, modern, fun to drive car. Ideally >$22-25k. Doesn't need to be fancy.

I lead a very outdoor-oriented lifestyle: lots of hiking, some camping, road trips to various parks/sanctuaries/refuges. I have a dog and often have her and her friends in the car. No kids, but that could change within the next five years.

I like the Honda Fit like a lot of folks and the consensus still seems to be that the people who love them LOVE them... (roomy/safe/lots of bells and whistles/fuel economy/reasonably priced). However, I've always driven an SUV, so I'm open to considering the CRV. I also like Subarus a lot. I'd also be fine with a Carolla; I'm not sure how that compares to the Fit.

My main wishlist: fuel efficiency, safety, roomy, an easy ride, basic array of fun gadgets (I have to use an external speaker to play my iPhone in my current car -- BlueTooth will be a marvel), sun/moonroof would be nice. Looking for a solid, reliable car. Doesn't need to be fancy.

Size-wise I'm open to subcompact, compact, or small SUV.

Anything else I should consider besides the Honda Fit?
posted by atayah to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you like the Fit, but want more of an SUV feel, try the new Honda HR-V. It's an SUV on the Fit Chassis. We looked at them for Husbunny when we got new cars last week. He was all set until he sat in a fully tricked out Civic with leather and seat warmers and...well, we now have two new tricked out Civics.

But seriously, go see the HR-V, I bet that's what you get!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:56 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

We just got a Toyota Rav4 which has all of the features you mention. It was a little cheaper than a comparable Forester and I felt had smaller blind spots than the CRV. I love it!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:58 AM on November 30, 2015

I like my Toyota Corolla. I'd recommend at least test driving one, because on paper it fulfills your basic requirements. I'd also try a Honda Accord. One thing with the Subaru, your gas mileage is going to reflect the all wheel drive. Do you need it? How rugged is the camping you do?
posted by Kriesa at 10:11 AM on November 30, 2015

Look for a used Mazda CX-5, like a lease return. Great car, similar size/feel/quality to Honda and Subaru competitors.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:17 AM on November 30, 2015

New the Prius C base model is $19k; it gets 53 city / 46 highway. It's pretty hard to beat the Prius C's gas-mileage to price ratio. The car feels pretty roomy inside and has plenty of space in the back to move stuff if you put the seats down.

A couple of year old non-C Prius would also be in your price range, would get better gas milage, and have more room.

I have driven my couple of year old Prius down some pretty difficult dirt roads to go backpacking, but if you get way out in the wilderness on bad roads the Prius just doesn't have all that much ground clearance.
posted by gregr at 10:40 AM on November 30, 2015

We just got the Honda C-RV & love it to bits. We are a 2 adults 2 dog family & it suits us to a T. It's pretty economical, for the type of driving we do it comes in well above what they had on the tag fuel efficiency wise in economy mode. I absolutely love driving it, and I have never been a big fan of driving up until now.

As Ruthless Bunny suggested though the HR-V sounds right up your alley & would have been our second choice but we went for a bit more space.
posted by wwax at 10:45 AM on November 30, 2015

I have the official lesbian-approved solution for this use case: a Subaru Outback.

One thing to look for is the ability to stretch out in the back. I didn't think to check this before I bought my Catbus, but fortunately I and a very close friend can sleep warm and dry in the back. This has come in handy on many cold and rainy car-camping trips.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:53 AM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

We have a Corolla, and it's a perfectly nice small sedan. We also have two 65lb dogs, and they hang out in the back seat fine, but it's a trifle cramped and the upholstery is so very trashed. If we got a different car we'd look seriously at a hatchback or something that has seats that fold down that could give them both room to lie down. (As it is, the amiable but car-nervous collie lies down and her asshole mutt brother sits on her head.)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:59 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

You meant LESS than that price point, right?
posted by intermod at 11:01 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

I agree with restless_nomad on the Corolla. We've had one for many years, and it's great in a lot of ways, but I desperately missed having a hatchback. You are so much more limited in a sedan. Also, seconding the advice to buy used, like a lease or rental return. There was a comment on AskMe awhile ago by VTX that had a lot of useful car-buying info, I thought.
posted by JenMarie at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2015

CX-3, HR-V, or Subaru Crosstrek.
posted by kickingtheground at 11:31 AM on November 30, 2015

We have a Nissan Versa hatchback and a Juke. With your needs I would consider the Juke, and the Rogue too. The Versa hatchback in fact is astonishingly roomy for that class of car. (Caveat: I have an older Versa which I think is higher off the ground and roomier than the current one.)
posted by BibiRose at 11:49 AM on November 30, 2015

Clearance might be a factor to consider. I have a CR-V and Mr. Redstart has a Fit. Some of the small dirt roads around here that lead to trailheads and good dog-walking spots are inaccessible to the Fit because it's so low to the ground, but I go down them all the time in my CR-V. If you're used to an SUV you might be surprised what kinds of roads the Fit can't handle without scraping the bottom. I've directed Mr. Redstart down roads that I was sure would be fine, with no big rocks or anything, and it turned out the Fit didn't have the clearance for them.
posted by Redstart at 12:04 PM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Where do you live? If there is any snow, get a Subaru. The Impreza started getting improved gas mileage in 2012.


A Fellow Queer Person Leaning In to the Stereotype.
posted by lieber hair at 12:22 PM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love my Mazda 3, FWIW. I'm also a long time fan of Subarus, but the Outback has gotten too big and the Crosstrek and Imprezas are a little too cheap on the inside for me anymore. Have you checked out the Forester?
posted by getawaysticks at 1:19 PM on November 30, 2015

If you're outdoorsy enough to deal with dirt roads you should at least look at something suvish. I'm liking my Mazda 3 a lot, so the CX3 deserves a look.

On the other hand, the neighborhood lesbians (and this outdoorsy straight guy) here keep smaller old trucks (Toyota mini pickups) for our outdoors adventures and drive something more practical during the week. An old pickup or jeep isn't the nicest place to be, or especially good on gas, but it's going to be cheap and if you choose wisely nearly bulletproof.
posted by wotsac at 1:47 PM on November 30, 2015

My husband and I have two Mazda 3s, one hatchback and one sedan, and we love them. We can sleep well enough in the back of the hatchback but the taller one of us is 5'8" so we're not exactly giants. They are incredibly fun to drive and have the fun gadgets you're looking for. My mom has a CX-5 which she loves, but it feels large to me in comparison.
posted by notjustthefish at 2:22 PM on November 30, 2015

We have an older Outback and LOVE it-love it. The new Outbacks are really big and boaty though. The Foresters could be an option.

+1 to the people saying to mind the ground clearance and horsepower. The Fit is a great little car, but it's a little car. If you're anywhere near mountains, the little Fits will be hitting the bottom of the car while you're driving down gravel roads or pulling into trailheads. I drove a Prius through a mountain pass during the summer and was thanking my lucky stars that the roads were clear.

Honestly, I think you'll be happier with a slightly sportier higher car or small SUV. Get a hatchback too, if you can, because it makes everything a bit cleaner with a dog.
posted by barnone at 3:37 PM on November 30, 2015

Lesbian with a new Outback, also rocking the stereotype . It's a big car. Really big. Even with two kids in the back. Look at the Crosstrek. If I didn't want to tow a pop up camper that's what I'd have.
posted by Cuke at 4:03 PM on November 30, 2015

You describe pretty much the perfect case for a Subaru Forester or Crosstrek -- dogs, outdoors, etc.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:20 PM on November 30, 2015

Lesbian couple here, currently own a Subaru outback and a Honda CRV. Pre-CRV owned a Honda Fit. We currently have 2 dogs (35 and 50 lbs), and we are adding human babies soon. I suggest driving the Outback and the CRV and pick the one you like. My specific pro/cons for each car are below.

Honda Fit – Loved driving it IN TOWN. Due to the road noise and low profile, I hated driving it on the highway. It did fit our two dogs, but only with the seats down. The way back of the Fit is too small for my medium sized dogs. The fabric in my Fit (2007) was a dog hair magnet. Getting the dog hair out was almost impossible. The Fit does hold an amazing amount of cargo – again only with the seats down. We found it impossible to take the Fit on a road trip with the dogs and our luggage.

Subaru Outback – This is actually my wife's car. She loves it. I love riding in it, don't love driving it. The Outback is a wagon and the front seats are more like recliners – your butt is lower than your knees. I find this an incredibly uncomfortable position to drive in, but wife loves it. The Outback rides beautifully, feels safe on the highway, has great cargo space, and overall is a great car. If I didn't have this (admittedly odd and personal) hatred of the front seats, we would likely be a 2 Outback family. I find the blue tooth connectivity slight less user friendly than the CRV, but it is also a 2012. I think the tech is now better.

Honda CRV – My car. I love it. The ride isn't quite as smooth as the Outback, but it is far better than the Fit. The front seats are more like a straight back chair – your butt and knees are on the same level. For whatever odd reason, this is a far better driving experience than the Outback for me. As with the Outback, great cargo space. Although I think the actual specs are not that different, it feels like the CRV has slightly more room in the way back. We usually take the CRV for road trips with the pups. Outback for trips when pups stay home.
posted by donovangirl at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2015

With a heavy heart, I would recommend against a Subaru. This advice comes from someone who has owned and driven three: a 98 Forester 5-speed (best car in snow ever), a 2002 Outback, and my current car, a 2010 Forester. All of them have been stellar, exemplary cars: very reliable, and moderately cheap to fix.

The reason that I can't recommend them is, simply, the mileage sucks. This is because of the all-wheel-drive all the time, which I've come to see as a design flaw. (To economize on fuel, I've taken to driving like a senior citizen, never revving the engine above 2000 rpm, and taking my foot off the gas whenever possible.) I have come to feel that in 2015, 22-25mpg is just much too little. They're great in snow- there's no denying it. But if your honest with yourself, you really only absolutely require AWD from 10-20 days a year tops. (I live in New England). The rest of the time, you don't need it, and you can't turn it off. When I was in college, the Subarus had on-demand four wheel drive- you just pulled a lever. What I wouldn't give for that now. I realize that with gasoline currently selling for close to $2 a gallon, nobody cares much about this. But in this day and age with climate change, a small car should get at least 40 mpg if not more.

My 98 Forester (the early small version) got the best mileage, about 27mpg. But that's a small car with a 2.5 liter four in it. If it was a Toyota, it would get 35+ mpg. My Outback used to get 22, and my current 2010 Forester gets 25, but only because I drive it very slowly. (I inherited this car from my late Dad, and I really don't care for it- it's too large and blobby. I have 2 kids and no dogs). At a certain point in the mid 2000s, Subaru put in limited slip which routes most of the power to one set of wheels to try and help with mileage.

If you have to get a Subaru, definitely go with an Outback or smaller. It'll be big enough.

I would, however, recommend something else. If you really think you need AWD, get some snow tires for winter and you'll be fine. My kid's godmother is a lesbian, and she's very happy with her new Honda Fit.

Also, for researching real world fuel efficiency, you can't beat Fuelly.com invented by Mefi's own dad Matt Haughey. I use it religiously, and it's also the first place to go to research any car since it has actual fuel usage data.
posted by MacChimpman at 2:37 PM on December 1, 2015

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