I’m following up on this Piston Slap episode: soon after the column, a family member needed a car temporarily for work. He ran the Satan Fe for 7000 miles and to 3% brake pad life last fall without a hitch. After that, the Satan Fe didn’t seem so devilish but it was still one more Hyundai CUV than I needed. I decided to hybridize your advice with my ambitions. I got the ridiculous offer from Carmax (they told me it would head straight to auction). Then I put a funny and honest listing on Craigslist (“Korean snowmobile…I mean 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe”). I started at $500 below the local rate and I slowly dropped the price.
At first all I got were emails of the “cool ad” and “I’ll trade you a 1998 Accord with bad paint and 220k” variety. One guy would only communicate via text messages even though we live in the same town. There was also a sob story asking me to donate my car so “Mom doesn’t need to drive me to magnet school anymore”. Craigslist!
As the price came down, I became resigned to keeping the car as a beater. On cue, the winter weather and interest in the Korean snowmobile both got serious. A couple of weeks ago, someone paid for a PPI and bought the car for nearly double what Carmax offered. The buyer had been looking for a while and knew my car compared favorably to other options in the price range. I got decent money but don’t feel like I ripped anyone off. What a relief.
Gas prices are peaking again and I just unloaded our most efficient car. Any thoughts from you or the peanut gallery on what has a good mix of reliability, enjoyability, safety, and efficiency in sub $10k manual transmission hatches and wagons? I’m thinking about the Vibe/Matrix, Impreza/9-2x, V50/3/Focus, Xb, Elantra Touring segment but I have never driven any of them. Yeah, there’s a Hyundai in that mix.
Since this is a Piston Slap follow-up, I will stick with the “reliability” and cost effectiveness portion of your follow-up query. My favorite of the grouping you mentioned is the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe, because Toyota parts-service is cheaper/involves less labor/easier to diagnose than anything from Subaru or Europe. The Focus, xB or Elantra? Not bad choices, either.
Of course, you must test drive these machines to see what you actually like. And, when you like something, find an example with a host of service receipts.
The plus side? Compared to the parts concern I mentioned in the previous Piston Slap about older Hyundais, odds are the newer ones in your price range are probably better. Probably. Tell us what you think, Best and Brightest.