Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
SailorJerry
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:10 pm

Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by SailorJerry » Sat Jun 21, 2014 9:18 am

Hello friends -

I am in the process of moving back to the U.S. after spending the last 2.5 years living in the United Kingdom. While living in the U.K. I have gotten used to the idea of driving in a smaller, fuel efficient, hatchback type car. I think $9+ per gallon of gasoline will do that to a person. Can you guys give me some brand and model recommendations for cars in the U.S. based on these requirements:

- $15k or under (and prefer used over new)
- Hatchback
- Fuel efficient
- Manual preferred
- Will perform well in snow (since moving back to Minneapolis)

Thanks for all of the help! I have been reading these boards daily for the last 4 years and really enjoy the great community and support that is shared.

stan1
Posts: 5910
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by stan1 » Sat Jun 21, 2014 9:29 am

Honda Fit?

NorCalDad
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:14 pm
Location: Northern California

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by NorCalDad » Sat Jun 21, 2014 9:36 am

Used Subaru Impreza Hatchback with AWD. I'm not sure other hatchbacks in that price range will have what you need for snow in Minnesota.

User avatar
ClevrChico
Posts: 1282
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:24 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by ClevrChico » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:21 am

I drive a Honda Fit + snow tires. Works out great. I put seven gallons of fuel in it every now and then.

TareNeko
Posts: 584
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:27 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by TareNeko » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:30 am

MINI Cooper (S)
Ford Focus
VW Golf (though standard models are not very reliable, so get the GTI).

A car's ability to perform well on snow depends on the tires first. So if you're worried about winter driving, I suggest using 2 sets of tires (summer/winter).

User avatar
NORDO
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:03 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by NORDO » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:38 am

I've owned the latest-generation Ford Focus for a couple years now (mine's a 2012) in the hatch config. It's been a great car.

Lifetime, I'm averaging 32.5 MPG driving about 55% city / 45% highway. But it really shines on all-highway drives... I've averaged 45 MPG on a full tank before and can easily hit 38-40 MPG on any highway trip.

Handling and ride are comfortable, it drives reasonably well in the snow, and there's a good amount of room inside when you fold down the back seats (it's completely lie-flat).

Only real negative is the size if you regularly have more than two adults on board - they'll fit fine in the back seat but that's really a better space for kids, in my opinion.

abracadabra11
Posts: 111
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 2:09 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by abracadabra11 » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:58 am

Another +1 for the Fit. I can't speak much to its snow capabilities, but I'm sure it's nothing a set of snow tires can't do.

Spirit Rider
Posts: 8699
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:39 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Spirit Rider » Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:08 am

You have a fair selection of available hatchbacks in the following makes/models. They all are reasonable fuel efficient, the Prius especially. Most of them are available with manual transmissions, but the used selection with be limited (we Americans like our automatics). The FWDs all perform well in the snow, but if you want there are a couple of AWDs.

Here are my recommendations:

Subcompact (FWD)
Honda Fit
Ford Fiesta (2012+)

Compact (FWD)
Mazda 3
Ford Focus (2012+)

Compact (FWD/AWD)
Toyota Matrix (discontinued starting 2014 model year)
Subaru Impreza

Hybrid
Toyota Prius

I might suggest going new car "shopping" for all these models. Then you can actually see and test drive them. However, the danger might be that you end up buying a new one. So only take this advice if you have the discipline to walk away.

mlipps
Posts: 894
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:35 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by mlipps » Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:22 am

Carmax is a great place to test drive all of them with no hassling afterwards. We're very happy with our Toyota Matrix but the Fit is probably the most popular Hatchback currently.

YttriumNitrate
Posts: 1062
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:13 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by YttriumNitrate » Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:30 am

I've been driving a manual Mitsubishi Mirage for the last 20,000 miles or so. So far I've had no problems with it and usually exceed 50 MPG on the interstate. With 74 horsepower and three cylinders, it won't win any drag racing contests, but it's 25% less expensive than the Fit, gets me where I need to go, and can squeeze into just about any parking spot.

I also looked at the Chevy Spark, but it appears that those are having problems with the engines burning oil.

Austex1
Posts: 214
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:20 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Austex1 » Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:31 am

Honda Fit is so great. I've bought my 2009 manual sport model new when it first came out in 2008 and it has been great in every way. It has an ingenious design that allows for more storage than you would ever think. I can get 2 bikes and 2 people inside the interior (no bike racks, nothing outside the car) with no problem. Also holds full-size ski bags, tall plants, etc. Gets fantastic gas mileage. Super reliable. Easy to park anywhere. It's not a Porsche, but it's fun to drive for its class. I have been totally happy with mine.

inbox788
Posts: 5511
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by inbox788 » Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:33 am

NorCalDad wrote:Used Subaru Impreza Hatchback with AWD. I'm not sure other hatchbacks in that price range will have what you need for snow in Minnesota.
Agree, not many options with small/budget AWD hatchbacks. Don't overlook a NEW Subaru Impreza Hatchback AWD, since your price point is close, and depreciation low and harder to find good price on used. Actual costs will be fairly similar. See Edmunds TCO. YMMV.

http://www.edmunds.com/subaru/impreza/2014/tco.html

http://www.edmunds.com/subaru/impreza/2010/tco.html

Depreciation, Taxes & Fees, Financing, Insurance increases for new, but Fuel, Maintenance, Repairs helps offset some of the increase, for a small annual net increase. Remember, you are driving a newer car with newer options.

Plus you have the option to lease a new car that frees up cash flow at the expense of additional finance and fees. Could be less cost out of pocket initially for the first few years.

fareastwarriors
Posts: 910
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:31 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by fareastwarriors » Sun Jun 22, 2014 2:53 pm

Mazda 3. zoom zoom.

dewey
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:42 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by dewey » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:43 pm

Mazda 3. Ours is new, but it is an amazing car. Great mileage. Great driving. Great safety rating. Great reliability reputation. Couldn't be more positive.
“The only freedom that is of enduring importance is freedom of intelligence…”

User avatar
rpike
Posts: 476
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:14 pm
Contact:

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by rpike » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:21 pm

I understand the Honda Fit is the same basic model as what is marketed elsewhere as the Honda Jazz.
I understand that the previous designs did not do too well in the NHTSA's new offset crash tests and the 2015 (out now) addressed this.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:45 pm

Last year I thought I'd replace my coupe with a hatchback, so I did some research. I also prefer manual transmission. These were the hatchbacks I liked that have manual transmission options. Most of them get at least 30mpg on the highway. It's not an exhaustive list, but a place to start:

Hyundai Elantra GT (newer HB model for the Elantra line, based on European Hyundai i30 model)
Hyundai Elantra Touring hatchback (older HB model for the Elantra line)
Toyota Matrix
Ford Focus hatchback option
Mazda 3 hatchback option
Honda Fit
Hyundai Veloster (since this is "sporty", I don't know how it would do in snow)
Hyundai Accent hatchback option
Ford Fiesta hatchback option
Mazda CX-5 (small SUV, but rated 35mpg highway/26mpg city for the FWD manual, the AWD option only comes in automatic)

The list might be a bit out-of-date since I haven't touched the file in a year, but you said used was okay, so maybe this will give you some ideas.

User avatar
MN-Investor
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 9:04 am
Location: Twin Cities

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by MN-Investor » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:12 pm

They've discontinued the Toyota Matrix / Pontiac Vibe (same vehicle), but my husband has loved his '04 Vibe and has >100K miles on it. The Vibe was based on the Matrix, but offered more features for the money. If you're looking for a used vehicle, this might be a good option.

My husband wants a new vehicle and he's pretty much decided on a Hyundai Elantra GT. Their base model is $18,750 (according to their website). The standard model comes with an amazing list of standard features.

I don't know how big you are, but my husband is 6'3" with broad shoulders, and he's very comfortable in both of these vehicles. BTW, we live in the Twin Cities.
The key to success - Save early, save often, invest well.

gkaplan
Posts: 7034
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:34 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by gkaplan » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:12 pm

Honda Fit
Gordon

User avatar
Captain Sensible
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:17 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Captain Sensible » Sun Jun 22, 2014 6:02 pm

I recommend test driving a Fiat 500 Sport. It carries more cargo than you'd think, gets ~38 mpg (US), and the manual is tremendous fun to drive. :D

User avatar
6miths
Posts: 688
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by 6miths » Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:11 pm

We just bought a Hyundai Elantra GT after lots of research. Very happy with it as is a friend who bought one at about the same time. We got the 2013 which has a 1.8L engine. 2014 has a 2.0L with slightly lower MPG. I think the Mazda 3 would be my second choice. Honda Fit is very good but I don't like the styling. Subaru Impreza also a great car. If Honda had a Civic hatchback that would have been our default as we have had a lifetime of Hondas.
'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so!' Mark Twain

SailorJerry
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:10 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by SailorJerry » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:53 pm

Wow! Thanks to everyone for the great responses. I will definitely be working my way through test driving and shopping for the cars on this list in the next month. This is very much appreciated.

mlipps
Posts: 894
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:35 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by mlipps » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:32 pm

I did an analysis 18 months ago when we replaced our Jeep with a Matrix. My spreadsheet is a little out of date, but you might still find it useful. This was my methodology:

-I started with Mr Money Mustache's list of smart cars (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/ ... rt-people/). We wanted a 2007 or newer. I looked up each model & year in the Consumer Reports buying guide & tossed anything with a 3 or lower. A few models didn't have ratings for a particular year, so I mostly extrapolated. For example, the entire Nissan Versa family got scrapped on this test alone.
-Next, I looked at combined MPG from Fuelly.com as available, and the EPA if the car had been tested w/the new (more accurate) EPA testing & didn't have ratings on Fuelly. I cut anything that got under 27 MPG.
-Then, I pulled cargo space w/rear seats down from Edmunds. I eliminated the Scion xD based on this.
-I also pulled the KBB value for the car in very good condition w/12,000 miles/year (this was in November 2012). So, a 2010 was estimated w/24,000 miles, a 2009 with 36,000, etc. This data obviously needs to be updated.

Then, we went to CarMax & got a quote on our trade in, drove the Matrix, the Fit, and the Mazda 3, our main contenders. We hated the Fit because of the weird triangular windows in the front, and the Mazda 3 felt tiny, so we settled on the Matrix.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... sp=sharing

Philociraptor
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 9:22 am
Location: DFW, Texas

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Philociraptor » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:54 pm

This is an AMAZING resource. Gonna use your sheet when I go to CarMax to get a trade-in value on my 2012 Mustang V6 (for a diminished value claim, but I may look around a bit while I'm there). Thank you!
mlipps wrote:I did an analysis 18 months ago when we replaced our Jeep with a Matrix. My spreadsheet is a little out of date, but you might still find it useful. This was my methodology:

-I started with Mr Money Mustache's list of smart cars (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/ ... rt-people/). We wanted a 2007 or newer. I looked up each model & year in the Consumer Reports buying guide & tossed anything with a 3 or lower. A few models didn't have ratings for a particular year, so I mostly extrapolated. For example, the entire Nissan Versa family got scrapped on this test alone.
-Next, I looked at combined MPG from Fuelly.com as available, and the EPA if the car had been tested w/the new (more accurate) EPA testing & didn't have ratings on Fuelly. I cut anything that got under 27 MPG.
-Then, I pulled cargo space w/rear seats down from Edmunds. I eliminated the Scion xD based on this.
-I also pulled the KBB value for the car in very good condition w/12,000 miles/year (this was in November 2012). So, a 2010 was estimated w/24,000 miles, a 2009 with 36,000, etc. This data obviously needs to be updated.

Then, we went to CarMax & got a quote on our trade in, drove the Matrix, the Fit, and the Mazda 3, our main contenders. We hated the Fit because of the weird triangular windows in the front, and the Mazda 3 felt tiny, so we settled on the Matrix.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... sp=sharing

davebarnes
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:06 pm
Location: Berkeley, Denver, Colorado USA

Love our Audi A3

Post by davebarnes » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:27 pm

Over your price range.
Audi A3.
Love it.
A nerd living in Denver

mlipps
Posts: 894
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:35 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by mlipps » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:29 pm

Thanks! I put so much time into it I really want others to get some use out of it before it's obselete!
Philociraptor wrote:This is an AMAZING resource. Gonna use your sheet when I go to CarMax to get a trade-in value on my 2012 Mustang V6 (for a diminished value claim, but I may look around a bit while I'm there). Thank you!
mlipps wrote:I did an analysis 18 months ago when we replaced our Jeep with a Matrix. My spreadsheet is a little out of date, but you might still find it useful. This was my methodology:

-I started with Mr Money Mustache's list of smart cars (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/ ... rt-people/). We wanted a 2007 or newer. I looked up each model & year in the Consumer Reports buying guide & tossed anything with a 3 or lower. A few models didn't have ratings for a particular year, so I mostly extrapolated. For example, the entire Nissan Versa family got scrapped on this test alone.
-Next, I looked at combined MPG from Fuelly.com as available, and the EPA if the car had been tested w/the new (more accurate) EPA testing & didn't have ratings on Fuelly. I cut anything that got under 27 MPG.
-Then, I pulled cargo space w/rear seats down from Edmunds. I eliminated the Scion xD based on this.
-I also pulled the KBB value for the car in very good condition w/12,000 miles/year (this was in November 2012). So, a 2010 was estimated w/24,000 miles, a 2009 with 36,000, etc. This data obviously needs to be updated.

Then, we went to CarMax & got a quote on our trade in, drove the Matrix, the Fit, and the Mazda 3, our main contenders. We hated the Fit because of the weird triangular windows in the front, and the Mazda 3 felt tiny, so we settled on the Matrix.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... sp=sharing

User avatar
joe8d
Posts: 4290
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:27 pm
Location: Buffalo,NY

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by joe8d » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:30 pm

Chevy Spark.
All the Best, | Joe

nordsteve
Posts: 645
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:23 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by nordsteve » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:05 pm

If you end up going new, you'll find that there's no reason to go manual for mileage reasons. Many small cars have gone to CVTs which have excellent fuel economy.

If you go used, you'll want to have quality all season tires with good snow performance -- I've been happy with Goodyear Tripletread in the past.

The earlier poster is right about depreciation -- right now in the US there is a shortage of quality used cars in the 2008-10 range (cuts in auto production during recession), so you should look at new cars as well. In MN, Walser is a no negotiation dealer and you can go on their sites for various makes/models to get a fairly precise idea of what you can get cars for.

DTSC
Posts: 1180
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:47 am
Location: Illinois

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by DTSC » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:13 pm

dewey wrote:Mazda 3. Ours is new, but it is an amazing car. Great mileage. Great driving. Great safety rating. Great reliability reputation. Couldn't be more positive.
+1
My 2012 Mazda 3 with the Skyactive system gets over 40 mph on the highway. Fun to drive. I paid <$25,000 a new automatic model, with all the bells and whistles. A stripped down manual transmission model has an MSRP <$20,000.

I've driven both the Toyota Matrix and the Mazda 3. The Mazda has much more pep. Not much difference in price.

User avatar
bigb
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Love our Audi A3

Post by bigb » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:03 am

davebarnes wrote:Over your price range.
Audi A3.
Love it.
+1
You may be able to find one at the upper limit if your range though. They also have some in as TDIs that will get great mileage.

Chase

User avatar
Tim_in_GA
Posts: 309
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:42 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Tim_in_GA » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:21 am

dewey wrote:Mazda 3. Ours is new, but it is an amazing car. Great mileage. Great driving. Great safety rating. Great reliability reputation. Couldn't be more positive.
YES! I have a 2013 Grand Touring hatchback and love, love, love it. Can't wait to get rid of the stock tires and put on something better - then it will be perfect.

User avatar
tadamsmar
Posts: 7782
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 12:33 pm

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by tadamsmar » Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:07 am

For a safe car, make stability control a must-have feature. A car without stability control has a 50% higher fatality rate.

Given your parameters, it's easy to get but also easy to end up with a used car without it. It was mandated for the 2012 model year, but some small hatchbacks don't have it in earlier years, including some that have been recommended to you on this thread. It's optional on the 2010 Honda Fit (only the Sport package has it, I think).

More on getting a used car with stability control here:

http://epicurusgarden.blogspot.com/2011 ... h-esc.html
Last edited by tadamsmar on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Toons
Posts: 12966
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Hills of Tennessee

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Toons » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:02 am

"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

Andyrunner
Posts: 661
Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 9:14 am

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Andyrunner » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:17 am

NorCalDad wrote:Used Subaru Impreza Hatchback with AWD. I'm not sure other hatchbacks in that price range will have what you need for snow in Minnesota.
Agreed.

I test drove it, loved it but ended up going with an outback for a bigger car. My wife will most likely buy this car come this fall as her Corolla sucks in the Minnesota snow.

Dulocracy
Posts: 2288
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:03 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Moving back to the U.S. - Any ideas on a hatchback car?

Post by Dulocracy » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:10 pm

The Ford Focus is an extremely reliable car. It gets great gas mileage, is inexpensive, and lasts. Manual is an option.
I'm not a financial professional. Post is info only & not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists with reader. Scrutinize my ideas as if you spoke with a guy at a bar. I may be wrong.

Post Reply