Seeking input on vehicle purchase

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ObliviousInvestor
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Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Sat May 09, 2015 6:59 pm

Hello, Bogleheads. I'm looking to get some input on our upcoming car purchase. :)

We're currently planning to replace our 2008 Honda Fit Sport. Our primary motivation is simply to get access to improved safety features -- most notably electronic stability control, though better performance in the "small frontal overlap" tests which are now being done would also be appreciated. (My understanding is that a collision of that type is essentially a disaster for Fits of that generation.)

Other than improved safety, features that would be appreciated would be:
1) Good performance in snow/ice.
2) Good reliability.
3) Good mileage. (The idea of getting a new vehicle with worse mileage than our 7 year old vehicle seems kind of lame.*)
4) Higher ground clearance than the Fit. (This one isn't a must, but it would be nice as it would provide access to some additional rock climbing/hiking opportunities in our area.)

We don't have a specific price range, but we are generally not inclined toward luxury brands because we don't especially care about having a high-end interior. The Fit is about as bare-bones as can be, and we've been pretty well satisfied with it in that regard.

One vehicle we've been looking at is the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, so thoughts on whether that sounds like a good fit would be appreciated. Other suggestions are also very welcome though.

*Our primary motivation here is not financial. So given a hypothetical choice between Car A and Car B, with the two being identical other than Car B having a higher price and higher mpg, we would be inclined toward Car B. And that would be true even if the expected ROI on that additional price is low or even negative.

Thanks!
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SleepKing
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by SleepKing » Sat May 09, 2015 7:27 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:Other than improved safety, features that would be appreciated would be:
1) Good performance in snow/ice.
2) Good reliability.
3) Good mileage. (The idea of getting a new vehicle with worse mileage than our 7 year old vehicle seems kind of lame.*)
4) Higher ground clearance than the Fit. (This one isn't a must, but it would be nice as it would provide access to some additional rock climbing/hiking opportunities in our area.)
1) You need AWD. I'm sorry, I not of the opinion that FWD vehicles with 'snow tires' perform as well as AWD vehicles after living my whole life in snowy mid-west terrain. I wouldn't trade our AWD vehicles for anything
2) Don't buy American (sorry, it's true from my experience and most of my friends)
3) I assume you mean MPG. Looks like you want a 4 cyl or hybrid
5) So you need a crossover or SUV-type vehicle. This is a wise idea not only for your 'off road' desires, but going over snow plow made curbs, iced in driveways, etc...
6) No luxury brands and simple interior without all the tech features are fine if you are ok with the basics!

-You haven't stated need for large family, so I assume you can stick with a smaller vehicle.

In no particular order I'd check out the following:
-Toyota Rav 4 LE AWD
-Honda CR-V LX AWD
-Anything Subaru (but you've already explored this option). My wife and I almost pulled the trigger a few years ago on a Subaru, but another baby was on its way and we went with a bigger AWD SUV for increased interior and cargo space. I know many happy people with Subaru vehicles.

Buying one 2-3 years out of a lease would get you the best price if you don't mind buying used. Probably around 20k! Personally, I think you pretty much know what you want. Go for it!

Sleepy

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ObliviousInvestor
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Sat May 09, 2015 7:39 pm

Thank you for taking the time to reply, Sleepy! I appreciate the suggestions.

(Also, you're right that family size is a non-issue. We have no children or plans for children.)
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yesac13
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by yesac13 » Sun May 10, 2015 7:34 pm

If you can wait til June or July...

Honda will be releasing their new small CUV called the Honda HRV. It's basically the CUV sister of the Honda Fit. Same platform. It's a bit taller, similar inside as the Fit and uses the power train of the Honda Civic. It's available in both FWD and AWD versions. Time will tell but I do think the HRV will outsell the CRV!

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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Mon May 11, 2015 9:59 am

Thank you for the suggestion, yesac13! The HRV is definitely one that's been on our list to consider.
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by curmudgeon » Mon May 11, 2015 11:09 am

I've been pretty content with the Nissan Rogue that we bought last fall. The nice thing is that there is a range of quite good vehicles available today. I was down to somewhat subtle points in my decision. Nissan has a relatively longer experience with the CVT transmission in the Rogue/Sentra platform (I've gotten to like CVTs, after 110,000 miles with one in our Sentra). I won't consider vehicles that don't have a spare tire (don't like the "run flat" tires, or having to call a tow for a flat). I wanted a bit more elbow room and seat comfort than the smallest SUVs, but still to have good ease of parking in crowded spaces.

The Crosstrek and the Ford Escape were the closest alternatives I was considering. Both seemed like good vehicles.

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dbCooperAir
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by dbCooperAir » Mon May 11, 2015 12:09 pm

One petty issue that gets at me is buying a car with an interference engine that uses a timing belt, what makes it worse is when same belt drives the water pump, yeah follow the maintenance and all should be good but we all know how that can go.

A interference engine with a timing chain is a step up I think, a non interference engine is even better.

Something about a $50 rubber belt failure that has a possibility of destroying the motor does not make me all warm and fuzzy inside. Yeah its been done for many years, always exceptions to the rules etc, I'm just not a fan.

I tend to look at end of the model year run to see all the issues that creep up, Google Honda Transmissions as an example: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01 ... sist/?_r=0 if you were looking at the end of the model run you may been swayed to something else. With any luck the bad information will be out before the run ends.
Despite a huge recall in 2004 and a class-action settlement in 2006, many Honda owners are still having serious problems with the automatic transmissions of their Accords, Odysseys and Pilots, requiring thousands of dollars in repairs........
I don't mind fixing the little items, for the most part I want the best motor and tranny as I put on a pile of miles and I do my own maintenance.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by tadamsmar » Mon May 11, 2015 12:51 pm

The 2009 Honda Fit Sport has ESC. At least it's optional on the 2009 and I think the Sport trim is the only one that had it.

I actually steered someone toward the Sport trim back before 2012 when it was optional.

Not sure it's the best choice, just saying...

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dbCooperAir
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by dbCooperAir » Mon May 11, 2015 1:08 pm

tadamsmar wrote:The 2009 Honda Fit Sport has ESC. At least it's optional on the 2009 and I think the Sport trim is the only one that had it.

I actually steered someone toward the Sport trim back before 2012 when it was optional.

Not sure it's the best choice, just saying...
This is a good place to look for ESC
http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shopper ... s+with+ESC
By 2007 or so many of the SUV's had ESC as standard equipment, by 2009 many cars joined the ESC ranks.
Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. | -Dwight D. Eisenhower-

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tadamsmar
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by tadamsmar » Mon May 11, 2015 2:53 pm

dbCooperAir wrote:
tadamsmar wrote:The 2009 Honda Fit Sport has ESC. At least it's optional on the 2009 and I think the Sport trim is the only one that had it.

I actually steered someone toward the Sport trim back before 2012 when it was optional.

Not sure it's the best choice, just saying...
This is a good place to look for ESC
http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shopper ... s+with+ESC
By 2007 or so many of the SUV's had ESC as standard equipment, by 2009 many cars joined the ESC ranks.
Is a good place to look, but not completely accurate. No source that I have found is. So it's best to confirm that a used car actually has by seeing the start-up icon and/or the off button.

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dbCooperAir
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by dbCooperAir » Mon May 11, 2015 2:59 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
dbCooperAir wrote:
tadamsmar wrote:The 2009 Honda Fit Sport has ESC. At least it's optional on the 2009 and I think the Sport trim is the only one that had it.

I actually steered someone toward the Sport trim back before 2012 when it was optional.

Not sure it's the best choice, just saying...
This is a good place to look for ESC
http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shopper ... s+with+ESC
By 2007 or so many of the SUV's had ESC as standard equipment, by 2009 many cars joined the ESC ranks.
Is a good place to look, but not completely accurate. No source that I have found is. So it's best to confirm that a used car actually has by seeing the start-up icon and/or the off button.
So true. Edmunds is another place to look, they often will tell you what trim level had ESC in the early years, again as tadamsmar noted best bet is to see it action.
Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. | -Dwight D. Eisenhower-

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David Jay
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by David Jay » Mon May 11, 2015 3:12 pm

I think you would be happiest with a compact SUV for your needs of snow, ground clearance, etc. such as: RAV4, Forester, CRV, Escape

But I don't think any of these taller/wider vehicles is going to get anywhere the mileage of a Fit. Highway mileage is mostly a matter of frontal area (height and width). City mileage is mostly a matter if weight. A compact SUV is taller and wider. And heavier
Last edited by David Jay on Mon May 11, 2015 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by surfstar » Mon May 11, 2015 3:43 pm

As a fellow climber, you should know that almost all climbing and hiking areas have the following 3 vehicles as most common:
Subaru Outback/Forester
Toyota Tacoma

Its almost funny how common they are.


I think the Crosstrek is too small and expensive for what it is. Much better to purchase a Forester for a slight increase in price. Also, for a tiny bit more, an Outback is a larger vehicle (wider, longer, a bit less 'tall') than the Forester, so it may prove a more comfortable ride and also gets pretty good hwy mpg and it likely has a more useable cargo area, despite same sized "capacities" in their specs. *you can sleep in the back of these

So, if I was spending ~$25k, I think my evaluation would lead me to an Outback.

Safe climbs :sharebeer

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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Mon May 11, 2015 3:57 pm

Thank you for the continued input, everybody!

Also, I should add that, for us, smaller is likely better. We both feel more comfortable driving smaller vehicles (because that's what we're used to) and we rarely (never?) have had trouble with cargo capacity.
surfstar wrote:As a fellow climber, you should know that almost all climbing and hiking areas have the following 3 vehicles as most common:
Subaru Outback/Forester
Toyota Tacoma

Its almost funny how common they are.
Indeed!
surfstar wrote:Also, for a tiny bit more, an Outback is a larger vehicle (wider, longer, a bit less 'tall') than the Forester, so it may prove a more comfortable ride
With regard to this comment, do you mean more comfortable in terms of how it feels while sitting in it? (We're both pretty small people, so we've never minded sitting in small cars.) Or do you mean that it actually handles better on the road in some way due to the different size?
surfstar wrote:Safe climbs :sharebeer
:sharebeer
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by surfstar » Mon May 11, 2015 4:31 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
surfstar wrote:Also, for a tiny bit more, an Outback is a larger vehicle (wider, longer, a bit less 'tall') than the Forester, so it may prove a more comfortable ride
With regard to this comment, do you mean more comfortable in terms of how it feels while sitting in it? (We're both pretty small people, so we've never minded sitting in small cars.) Or do you mean that it actually handles better on the road in some way due to the different size?
A longer wheel-based vehicle will ride smoother/more comfortable than a shorter one, especially on longer hwy drives, all other things similar. The Outback may provide a more "car-like" ride and seem quieter too.

If you are happy with smaller vehicles, the HRV may be a top contender. Especially if its just two of you on most trips. We can fit climbing and camping gear into any small car if its just two of us. Add a third (or ground clearance needs) and we take my Saturn Vue (sized similarly to the older Foresters).

A Subaru will get you the AWD you might need, plus added ground clearance. If the cost isn't a big issue, you may get significant functionality out of these (although the HRV may be just fine in those regards too). An Outback/Forester will be safer due to size/weight over an HRV. Otherwise, it may come down to driving them and seeing which "fits" you better, as long as they tick all the "need" boxes off.

Good luck!

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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Mon May 11, 2015 4:36 pm

surfstar wrote:A longer wheel-based vehicle will ride smoother/more comfortable than a shorter one, especially on longer hwy drives, all other things similar. The Outback may provide a more "car-like" ride and seem quieter too.

If you are happy with smaller vehicles, the HRV may be a top contender. Especially if its just two of you on most trips. We can fit climbing and camping gear into any small car if its just two of us. Add a third (or ground clearance needs) and we take my Saturn Vue (sized similarly to the older Foresters).

A Subaru will get you the AWD you might need, plus added ground clearance. If the cost isn't a big issue, you may get significant functionality out of these (although the HRV may be just fine in those regards too). An Outback/Forester will be safer due to size/weight over an HRV. Otherwise, it may come down to driving them and seeing which "fits" you better, as long as they tick all the "need" boxes off.

Good luck!
Thank you for the elaboration! This is much appreciated.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by timboktoo » Mon May 11, 2015 5:34 pm

I bought a 2014 Honda Civic. It's a huge upgrade in terms of safety from my 2004 Civic. The mileage is good and it's enjoyable to drive as well. I haven't driven it much in the snow or ice. If snow is a big concern for you, then I don't think I'd get the Civic. I've heard good things about Subaru, but I don't have any experience with that brand.

I'm a Honda fanboy. They've treated me so well, I can't see myself going elsewhere.

- Tim

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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by NaOH » Tue May 12, 2015 11:18 am

Regarding the Crosstrek, I definitely am unimpressed with the hybrid. The mileage improvement is miniscule, and it's no longer rated for towing. On the plus side however, the hybrid does apparently get more soundproofing (my one complaint about the standard Crosstrek is that it can be rather loud on less-than-perfect pavement), but I think they might have started doing the same on the regular models now as well.

Size-wise, for my wife and I it is perfect. She prefers it being on the small side as she is more comfortable driving a compact vehicle. Mileage isn't spectacular (I average around 28mpg in mixed driving) but for full-time AWD it isn't bad.

Of course, for that matter you could also consider just buying an Impreza hatch if you don't need the extra ground clearance - a bit cheaper and a bit more efficiency in the same package.
Last edited by NaOH on Tue May 12, 2015 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by mlipps » Tue May 12, 2015 12:04 pm

My 2010 Toyota Matrix has traction control and AWD was an option. Keep in mind you sacrifice a good bit of MPG for the AWD. The Matrix also doesn't get quite as good of MPG as the Fit to start with. We average about 32 highway.

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Re: Seeking input on vehicle purchase

Post by BW1985 » Tue May 12, 2015 2:18 pm

Ford Escape. Love it. Great tech, style & drives like a car.
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