What's a Honda Fit, only very quiet, a hybrid, and costs $9.99?
March 23, 2018 8:56 AM   Subscribe

The lease on our very ostentatious base model Civic is up in August, and I now have a 20 mile highway commute instead of a 7 mile surface road commute. The Civic is so, so loud on the highway. Metafilter car people: what if a teeny, late-model luxury car, that is maybe also a hybrid?

Absolute top of spend is $30k. I am agnostic on transmission. I don't need much backseat space, but prefer a hatchback because I carry things. Reliability is extremely important -- my Subaru was a nightmare from that perspective, and I remember my parents' 90's era Volvos with great ill will. Is there an obvious candidate here?

Location is the US, by the way.

(Probably irrelevant other info: We also have a 2009 base model Prius, which I'd like to exchange, eventually, for a larger family hauler of some sort, since we have two school age kids and a mid-size Husky mutt. It is sparkly beige, smells odd, has exactly zero straight panels on it anywhere, and is crazy loud on the highway. However, it is paid off and requires minimal maintenance, so it's a monument to our cheapness and reluctance to replace anything, ever, that is technically working. Unlike our recently deceased dryer, it is not obviously held together with zebra-striped duct tape. We are, perhaps, living wrong.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur to Travel & Transportation around United States (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also: maybe there is a middle ground that is better insulated from road noise? I don't need diamond studded rims or a place for my falcon to hang out. I can even skip the inlaid mahogany. I do, however, require automatic door locks and power windows.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:58 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you looked at all electric cars? Even a base model LEAF is pretty darned quiet. We have a 2014 BMW i3 which probably doesn't work in your budget, especially since it's been in the shop a little more than a car should (we bought it as "BMW Certified Preowned", I think we paid $33k in 2016, including all maintenance through 2020, but it has been in the shop a bunch. Although some of that is probably the range extender related).

Try driving some of the electrics, and remember that there are state and federal subsidies to help manage the sticker shock.
posted by straw at 9:12 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a VW golf, and I love it. The base model is about $20K, and I think it feels like a much more expensive car. You can get an electric model as well, for about $30K. I think it's very quiet on the highway, but I was upgrading from a 1996 Camry, so my baseline was pretty low.
posted by mercredi at 9:18 AM on March 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

Second VW Golf; it'll be quieter and generally better to drive, and about as reliable, with the downside of more expensive maintenance and repairs.

You are living correctly :)
posted by Kwine at 9:38 AM on March 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Dropping back to add that our neighbors, who were in the same boat as us with the VW TDI issue, decided to go from a Fiat 500e to an e-Golf rather than eschew VW for their perfidy with the diesels (as we did), and are super happy with the e-Golf.
posted by straw at 9:41 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

New Prius's are much quieter than early models. The "C" body also has a lot more headroom and cabin space.
posted by French Fry at 10:06 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Prius C is a good reliable little car. Not the softest or quietest.

Lexus CT200h is a "luxury compact hybrid". Look for them coming off lease.
posted by nickggully at 10:19 AM on March 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Is your problem engine noise or road noise? If it's the latter, Toyotas are pretty famous for rolling loudly. When I bought my Corolla, that was one of the common complaints I came across. The engine noise is not bad, and I suspect there would be even less with a hybrid/electric, but I do occasionally notice the road noise when I'm on the highway.

You might take a look at the Hyundai Veloster. I rented one once and liked it. It's a hatchback, and while it's not a hybrid, it got great gas mileage.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:25 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding electric, given the 20 mile commute. Between the lack of engine-noise and the highly-efficient low rolling resistance tires that EVs use, it's hard to find anything quieter on the road.

We just returned a Fiat 500e after a 39 month lease. We replaced it with a (leased) e-Golf, and also considered the Chevy Bolt. With all of the incentives applied, we'll end up paying about $11,500 total to use the car for three years/30,000 miles, at which point we can (but likely won't) buy it for $11k.

There are TONS of 500e's that have just come off-lease (because of a Fiat lease promotion at the end of 2014 that involved a very high buy-out price at the end of the lease), and around here it's easy to find a used one with 10-15k miles on it for $10-12,000.
posted by toxic at 12:08 PM on March 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

The second generation Volt is very, very quiet on electric mode. In gas mode, it is merely quiet. If you can get the tax credit the base model will be right about at the top of your price range. It is very refined and rides well. Reliably started out iffy but seems to be improving.

The Cruze actually gets gas milage just as good on the highway, and it's almost as quiet. It's also half the price. Well, a bit more if you get the hatchback, which also looks quite roomy. I wish my Volt had that hatch.
posted by doomsey at 1:23 PM on March 23, 2018

Whatever you do, do NOT get a Mazda 3 or Mazdaspeed hatchback. I have a 2014 model and it is the loudest car I've ever driven (my previous vehicles have been a Toyota Camry and an FJ Cruiser, a Mitsubishi Galant, and an Acura MDX, the latter of which was the quietest of the lot.)
posted by Everydayville at 1:37 PM on March 23, 2018

Seconding the Lexus CT200h, especially if electric car infrastructure is not top notch in your area. Toyota reliability and, if owner forums are to be believed, much quieter than a Prius. If we'd had a bit more money to throw at a car, we would've gotten that instead of our Fit. (Which also fits your needs and is crazy cheap to finance, and much quieter than the Toyota hatchback it replaced.)
posted by inky_the_pinky at 2:21 PM on March 23, 2018

I LOVE my Fiat 500electric!! Bought an off-lease one with 30K miles for about $8000. I get about 87 miles from a charge. My husband installed a charging station (220V) and it takes only 4 hours to charge, so you can just plug in when you get home from work. Back seats lay down for surprisingly roomy carrying. Plus it is freakin' adorbs and so, SO fun to drive. It is quiet and I don't even feel 70 mph. In fact, because electic motors are super quiet and all torque, it's easy to get going a little TOO fast with no engine noise to alert you. I'm waiting for my first speeding ticket.
posted by SinAesthetic at 2:35 PM on March 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Low mileage first gen Volts run around 15-18k used (basically comparable to a civic of similar vintage /mileage), and are very insulated against outside noise and run quietly. With that commute you'd probably need to use just a little gas unless you can charge at both ends though.
posted by reptile at 4:39 PM on March 23, 2018

We have a Lexus CT200h. I see you marked one as best answer.

It’s a very quiet car and we are glad we chose it.
Doors close with a satisfying clunk, steering & suspension is tight, and controls are smooth. Even the interior stitching is nicely done.

Cons: It struggles a bit to get up to speed (similar drivetrain as a Prius). But all my past cars have been sports cars so...grain of salt.
That’s about it.
In 5 years it’s never needed anything other than regular maintenance, and Lexus service is well known as exceptional.

I’m really surprised they stopped making them.
posted by artdrectr at 1:05 AM on March 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So on everyone's recommendation I test-drove a 2014 CT200h, and loved it, although I am holding out for a model with a reverse camera. (Apparently it wasn't standard, at least until 2015.) I'm not going to buy until June or so, and I have some more test drives to do, but this is the clear front-runner!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:54 AM on April 23, 2018

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