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Best newer compact wagon?
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ShortcutToMoncton
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Aug 23, 2011, 04:44 PM
 
Alright. I live and work all within a 15-minute walk of anywhere downtown - the proverbial "shit where I eat" scenario, but good - and cars are just such money-losers that I've avoided one for the recent past. But now I'll be getting one later this fall. So since you people are all Car Experts, here's what's on my mind:

If new, somewhere around sub-25 grand. Bang for the buck is of course a must - I'll probably lean towards buying something a year or two old to be honest.
Thinking about wagon type - better for groceries, runs to the dump, dead bodies - and probably snowboard/kayak roof rack accessory capable.
Fun to drive.
Good mileage.
AWD a plus - we have hills + winter.
Reliability of course.
Looks are of course a factor.

Subaru Impreza: been looking hard at. Current generation has fantastic AWD and fun to drive. Looks aren't bad - nothing offensive, understated. Mileage is poor for class. Not the cheapest. Also, the new version coming this fall seems to slightly subtract the driving focus with more space and mileage factors. Haven't seen whether they're upping the price but it seems promising - might be the only one I seriously consider for a new vehicle.

Mazda3: keep hearing it's fun to drive, but have a hard time getting excited about the looks. Looks don't excite me outside and in - trying way too hard to have plastic-y doohickeys and such.

Golf/Jetta wagon: love in theory, and look great inside and out. Price, reliability and mileage are all poor.

Civic: the gold standard. Sigh. Don't really like the interiors. No wagon.

Elantra: the new gold standard. See: Civic. Exterior is blah - hate that "I'm extreme!" line on the sides.

Ford Focus: not sure what to say - isn't it a little smaller than some of the others? I've got nothing.

Yeah. I don't know. I don't want to do my research. Suggest something. Tell me why, and I'll think you're swell.
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The Final Dakar
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Aug 23, 2011, 04:50 PM
 
The subaru seems like the right choice. The poor mileage seems like it could be written off if you're not driving it daily.

Do Civics even come in wagons? Either way, I was recently in the market for a car, and after having driven one for 5 years I wrote them off because they're just too common. It was mind-numbing in some odd way.
     
scottiB
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Aug 23, 2011, 04:51 PM
 
Subaru Forester, 2008 or older. Closest thing to a wagon that has AWD. I don't care for the newer styling (2009+), but YMMV. Finding a true small wagon (AWD or not) is tough. Part of the reason my wife and I have held onto our 2002 Focus wagon for so long. I really don't like small SUVs.
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residentEvil
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Aug 23, 2011, 04:51 PM
 
While not a wagon (but the title says so on almost all SUVs and crossovers though)...

The 2011 Dodge Journey Mainstreet with AWD and V6 fits all your criteria is under 25k. Many upgrade options on the interior including seating (for 5 or 7), stow-go style rears (i got embedded coolers instead) and many sound system options (I got mine with the larger touchscreen 8.4 display).



its billed as a crossover. very roomy up front (see my other threads about that). but coming from large Ram pick-ups and most recently a Durango, i miss the cargo room though. but cost, mileage, and daily use makes up for it. for camping and extended trips, i will grab a roof carrier for the extra room i need.
     
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Aug 23, 2011, 04:52 PM
 
Buy a used Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a hard top.
(yes, I'm being serious)
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Aug 23, 2011, 06:09 PM
 
mitsubishi makes the lancer in hatchback, might give that a look
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 23, 2011, 06:12 PM
 
Yeah, didn't mean to limit it to just wagons - forgot to edit the title before post-and-running.

I also didn't have time to mention the Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Vibe offers. I've driven neither.

The Journey and the Wrangler are almost definitely too much car. It's only the two of us. And their mileage is pretty poor AFAIK - most especially on the Wrangler of course. Plus, I can't imagine that either are that fun to drive on a good road....
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The Final Dakar
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Aug 23, 2011, 06:19 PM
 
Pontiac Vibe?



This question answers itself.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 23, 2011, 06:23 PM
 
Yeah, scratch the Vibe. I meant the Dodge Caliber. Yikes.
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sek929
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Aug 23, 2011, 06:51 PM
 
I've always liked the road feel of Mazdas. Interiors are a bit meh, and the exterior styling is certainly love or hate.

If it were my money, in this climate, I'd get the Subbie.
     
Doofy
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Aug 23, 2011, 06:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
And their mileage is pretty poor AFAIK - most especially on the Wrangler of course.
You don't get the diesel up there? Pretty much as good as a Focus.

Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Plus, I can't imagine that either are that fun to drive on a good road....
Depends on how you want your fun. Higher centre of gravity = more physics at lower speed = less speeding tickets for more fun.
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CreepDogg
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Aug 23, 2011, 07:17 PM
 
FWIW - I'm in the market for a similar car probably early next year. Both the wife and I have Minis, and we want one car with a little more room, but have grown to love the hatchback form factor. So one Mini is going to get sold. (And yes, unfortunately at this point in our lives we each need a car.) Want to get something that averages in the 30s for MPG. AWD a plus but not required, and I don't want to sacrifice much mileage for it. At this point, I've narrowed it down to either the '12 Subie or the '12 Focus. Getting something new is not a requirement, but the redesigns on both those cars make them so vastly better than their predecessors that I'd strongly prefer those newer versions.

I've driven the Focus and like it but am concerned about reliability with the DI engine and newish-design dual-clutch tranny. I'll drive the Subie when it comes out as well. I've had a couple of other Subies and really liked them, except the mileage really (REALLY) sucked. It's good to see they're working to address that in recent designs.

I also considered:

- Recent model VW Golf (probably TDI) - same concerns about reliability, etc.
- Recent model Acura TSX Wagon - probably a little bigger than I need/want and mileage not quite up to others
- Chevy Cruze - no hatch (at least here)
- Honda Fit - too dumpy
- Nissan Versa - ditto
- Mini Countryman - too expensive

Of those, for your needs, the only serious one I didn't see mentioned is the TSX wagon - that might be a possibility for you if that sort of thing floats your boat (and assuming those are available up in the Great White North...). Good luck...
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 23, 2011, 07:19 PM
 
No diesel. Welcome to North America.
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 23, 2011, 07:22 PM
 
Nope, we don't seem to have TSX wagons up here. Wondered why I'd never seen one.

I'm also interested in driving the '12 Impreza. Will probably compare to a '10 model at the same time.
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Aug 23, 2011, 07:59 PM
 
I was under the impression that AWD and high fuel economy were mutually exclusive, kind of like looking for a laptop that's light-weight AND has a huge screen. Can someone school me?
     
sek929
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Aug 23, 2011, 08:27 PM
 
The added friction of an AWD system definitely impacts MPG, no matter the vehicle.
     
residentEvil
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Aug 23, 2011, 08:41 PM
 
i've had my above Journey for 6 weeks. getting 22-24 city. that's a huge improvement over the 14 in my durango. haven't been any distance to get it going highway for an extended period of time. those numbers are better then sticker though so i expect to hit upper 20s and maybe even hit 30 for a tank on the highway.

and yes, the AWD is stickered at less then the FWD model.

coming from trucks or a large SUV; very sporty drive. it corners very well and has good pep off the line. what i do miss though, that i had in all my hemis, is that merge on the highway/punch it to 90+ by the end of the ramp. this does not happen in the V6. it does however, have autostick; so you can manually change gears to make a quick pass if needed.

but like you said, you didn't want to research and wanted to hear other people's purchases...that was mine.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 23, 2011, 09:33 PM
 
Yeah, that MPG is actually not much worse than the current-model Impreza, really.
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Aug 23, 2011, 09:48 PM
 
Subarus are not famous for low mileage, in my mind it's always been a tradeoff for reliabililty and AWD. The impreza is too small for me but it sounds exactly what you need.

Is the Ford Escape too big for you? I've heard some good things (mileage being one) and thought I'd test one out soon.
     
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Aug 23, 2011, 09:55 PM
 
Fords are built like crap at the moment. Avoid if at all possible!
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Aug 23, 2011, 09:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
I was under the impression that AWD and high fuel economy were mutually exclusive, kind of like looking for a laptop that's light-weight AND has a huge screen. Can someone school me?
Well, it's all about trade-offs and balance. All else being equal, yes, of course AWD will negatively impact fuel economy. But when you're talking about 2 different cars w/2 different drivetrains, an AWD car can approach a 2WD car if other trade-offs are made.

Case in point for the options I'm looking at. Sticker MPG for the Focus (FWD, DI 2.0 4, Dual-Clutch Auto) is 27/37 (well, for the one I'm looking at anyway). Sticker for the Subie (AWD, 2.0 4, CVT) is supposedly 26/36. Not a big difference to get AWD if I otherwise like the car better.

From the early returns I've read, the trade-off with the redesigned Subie is that they put a smaller engine in (2.0 vs 2.5) and replaced the antiquated automatic transmission with a CVT. They also reduced weight somewhat. End result is the car is a bit slower but gets a pretty dramatic uptick in efficiency. My friend has an Outback with a similar drivetrain (albeit bigger engine and bigger overall car) and he has been getting in the upper 20s with it - something my old Outback would never touch.
     
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Aug 23, 2011, 10:25 PM
 
The 2012 Focus is excellent in every way, except being a bit pricy for the class. On of my mom's friends actually just traded her Audi A3 for a Focus and likes the Focus better. The Subaru Impreza is totally new for 2012 and will get a lot better gas mileage than the 2011. The Elantra is probably the best blend of value, mpg, and quality.
     
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Aug 23, 2011, 10:39 PM
 
Subaru. Legacy Outback Wagon, Forester or Impreza. I have the Legacy Outback Wagon. LOOOVE it.
     
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Aug 23, 2011, 11:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by boy8cookie View Post
mitsubishi makes the lancer in hatchback, might give that a look
very awesome car to drive, if i don't say so my self!
     
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Aug 23, 2011, 11:25 PM
 
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 24, 2011, 06:15 AM
 
Yeah, damn. That new Focus looks good.
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Big Mac
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Aug 24, 2011, 06:23 AM
 
<my own thoughts>The Focus is so small though. I don't know if I could feel comfortable in a car that small. And why go with the Focus over the Fiesta if small Fords are on your plate?</my own thoughts>

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Aug 24, 2011, 08:12 AM
 
Because the Focus is bigger than the Fiesta and gets roughly the same mileage? No AWD if I'm not mistaken.
     
Big Mac
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Aug 24, 2011, 08:19 AM
 
Ah, I see.

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Aug 24, 2011, 08:33 AM
 
<--- has another new Ford back in the garage this week. Seriously guys, they're built like crap these days.
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Aug 24, 2011, 08:43 AM
 
Avoid the VW. I know several people with them and they all loved their VWs - for about 2 weeks. Then all manner of problems cropped up, mostly due to poor build quality.

I'd go with the Subaru Forester, or maybe the Outback if you can squeeze a few more $$ into your budget.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 24, 2011, 09:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
<--- has another new Ford back in the garage this week. Seriously guys, they're built like crap these days.
Really? I haven't heard that. I would have thought they improved their quality...?
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scottiB
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Aug 24, 2011, 10:35 AM
 
New Fords built in North America on are near or on par with Toyotas and Hondas for reliability.

Car reliability, most reliable cars
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Doofy
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Aug 24, 2011, 10:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Really? I haven't heard that. I would have thought they improved their quality...?
Fit and finish is better, but reliability is down.

Look at that link scottiB posted - it's measuring "reliability" of 2010 models, FFS. How do you measure reliability of 2010 models when we're only halfway through 2011? You can only predict reliability with cars that young.

In my experience (and I've got three of them), Ford reliability is down since about 2004. Mechanicals (engine, gearbox) mainly - interior lasts well enough.
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Aug 24, 2011, 11:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
<my own thoughts>The Focus is so small though. I don't know if I could feel comfortable in a car that small. And why go with the Focus over the Fiesta if small Fords are on your plate?</my own thoughts>
The Focus doesn't feel too small when you're in it, and the boot is actually quite large. The Fiesta is big in front, but the rear seat is pretty much unusable and there isn't a lot of space in the back.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Because the Focus is bigger than the Fiesta and gets roughly the same mileage? No AWD if I'm not mistaken.
Yes, and if you spec a Focus and Fiesta about the same, they are pretty much the same exact price.
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
<--- has another new Ford back in the garage this week. Seriously guys, they're built like crap these days.
Maybe your German-built Fords in the UK.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 24, 2011, 12:16 PM
 
Focus is FWD only right? Have no problem with FWD but AWD would definitely be better in winter. At this point, I'm basically waiting for pricing on the 2012 Impreza - which I assume will at least be in Focus class - and road comparisons of the two, which I'm sure will start cropping up once they're both available.
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Aug 24, 2011, 12:28 PM
 
     
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Aug 24, 2011, 12:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Focus is FWD only right? Have no problem with FWD but AWD would definitely be better in winter. At this point, I'm basically waiting for pricing on the 2012 Impreza - which I assume will at least be in Focus class - and road comparisons of the two, which I'm sure will start cropping up once they're both available.
Yes, FWD only for the US. The 2012 Impreza's pricing is exactly the same as the 2011s.
     
Laminar
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Aug 24, 2011, 01:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
In my experience (and I've got three of them), Ford reliability is down since about 2004. Mechanicals (engine, gearbox) mainly - interior lasts well enough.
Nothing like a sample size of three to use as evidence for broad, sweeping statements.
     
Doofy
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Aug 24, 2011, 01:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Nothing like a sample size of three to use as evidence for broad, sweeping statements.
Pays yer buck, takes yer chance. Don't let me sway you.
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Aug 24, 2011, 02:08 PM
 
Well, for me, I've noted my concerns about the reliability of the newish-design engine and tranny, but I will say that I'd expect the Ford to be at least as reliable as the Minis, and likely considerably cheaper to fix if/when things do go wrong. YMMV.
     
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Aug 24, 2011, 02:14 PM
 
Mini is the least reliable brand in the US. Ford is right in the middle, with Audi, BMW, Toyota, and Hyundai.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 25, 2011, 08:36 AM
 
Yeah, I also hate buying the first version of a major redesign, but, well, we'll see. In theory, both the Focus and the Impreza look like such great improvements over existing versions that it's hard not to be optimistic.
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Aug 25, 2011, 11:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Do Civics even come in wagons? Either way, I was recently in the market for a car, and after having driven one for 5 years I wrote them off because they're just too common. It was mind-numbing in some odd way.
Civics used to come in a hatchback, but it went away (in NA, at least) when the Fit came. I have a Fit and love it. Great fuel economy, and the interior is like a tardis - I can fit way more stuff in it than I thought possible. Though I wouldn't call it "peppy" or a "fun" car - it's my commuter/take the kids to and from daycare car. Plus the maintenance windows are quite long. I drove it almost 12000km (7500 miles) before it needed its first oil change.
     
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Aug 25, 2011, 12:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Yeah, I also hate buying the first version of a major redesign, but, well, we'll see. In theory, both the Focus and the Impreza look like such great improvements over existing versions that it's hard not to be optimistic.
Ditto. The Minis we have are almost literally the last ones of their design off the production line, so it was the exact opposite. I've been happy with their reliability so far - no significant problems in 4-1/2 to 5 years. For them, I actually liked the older design better than the new design. Now I'm in the opposite situation.
     
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Aug 25, 2011, 12:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Elantra: the new gold standard. See: Civic. Exterior is blah - hate that "I'm extreme!" line on the sides.
I'm glad I'm not alone in hating that line.

I don't have any personal experience with the subaraus, but I've never heard anything bad about them.
Have you driven any of the cars you listed? I only noticed comments about their interior and exterior looks, but you might be able to check some off the list the first time you get behind the wheel.
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The Final Dakar
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Aug 25, 2011, 12:27 PM
 
Yeah, the 2012 Civic is abhorrent to look at. It came up during my car search this summer and I about retched when I saw the preview photos.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Aug 25, 2011, 12:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by SSharon View Post
I'm glad I'm not alone in hating that line.

I don't have any personal experience with the subaraus, but I've never heard anything bad about them.
Have you driven any of the cars you listed? I only noticed comments about their interior and exterior looks, but you might be able to check some off the list the first time you get behind the wheel.
I've driven most of them at various points in years, but none in back-to-back tests, you know? So the next step will be to do that. I just hadn't bothered yet because the Focus/Impreza weren't available. (I'm not a terribly big fan of the Fiesta to be honest, but I dunno.)
Oddly enough, I'll need a car to get to the car dealerships here. Funny, that.
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Aug 25, 2011, 02:04 PM
 
I can confirm what was previously mentioned about the Fiesta -- almost no rear space (but I just registered a 42.9 MPG on a recent 4-hour trip). It's a ton of fun to drive, though.

I can't stand the 2012 Civics (or any from the last few years, honestly). I previously owned two that I loved. According to what I'm reading from the OP, the Suburu seems like the natural suggestion, wouldn't it?
     
The Final Dakar
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Aug 25, 2011, 02:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
It's a ton of fun to drive, as well.
Eh?

Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
According to what I'm reading from the OP, the Suburu seems like the natural suggestion, wouldn't it?
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