By on April 16, 2014

beachsideresident

Steve L., just a short note to thank you for your TTAC articles. They are my favorite at TTAC and I look forward to a new article each week.

Quick question: I noted in your last article you like some of the newer Mazdas. Can you tell me what new Mazda you would consider keeping for your own personal vehicle?

regards, Steve T.

The Other Steve Says:

My personal tastes are probably a quick study in the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

I like weird stuff. Part of the blame lies in the fact that the wholesale auctions are slam packed with the lemmings of modern day transport. There will often be a line of 30 to 60 cars at the factory sales where the same exact model will be offered with minimal changes in features and specs. The strength of rental cars at auctions also skews me away from the common place car, which is why the rolling Big Mac Value Meal that is/was the Chevy Impala doesn’t raise my eyebrows.

What interests me Mazda wise? I like the Mazda 2. If you are careful with the spec sheet, you can get one out the door for under 15k. One of the regulars here bought one recently for less than $14,000 out the door, and made a nice pithy summation of it’s virtues, “The 100HP is plenty. The stereo is outstanding. The controls, shifter, it all works, and none of it makes you feel like you gave up anything.”

A generic popular car is not my thing because every day I’m surrounded by overproduced generic popular cars. What interests me is a Ford Fiesta hatchback. A base Mazda 3 with a stick that I likely won’t see at the auctions for a while. Even the new base Corolla with a 6-speed would interest me on paper because it offers the better engine and shifter of the high end model and cost about $5000 less.

If I had to buy new I would keep it cheap and try to hit em’ where they ain’t. Not because I want the deal. But because I just don’t value touchscreens, over-sized A-pillars, and a car that I can’t maintain myself. The cars I keep at the retail lot reflect my weirdness compared with mainstream consumers. 20% are sticks, and I always seem to have a couple of offbeat ones (Solara V6 /5-speed, green Beetle TDI) on hand that I buy for low prices, due to their lack of mainstream popularity.

Small, stick, powered for real-world performance, and preferably in the last year or two of production. Throw in easy access for basic DIY maintenance, and you pretty much have my perfect recipe for the in-town commuting and smooth Georgia roads I see on a daily basis.

So what about you? What would be the perfect ingredients for your new car recipe? Does anything in particular strike your fancy?

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74 Comments on “New or Used : Tastes Of The Weird...”


  • avatar

    I can certainly go for weird. As in Citroen.

    Seriously, though, Steve, the Mazda2???! I rented one in and around Seattle two years ago, and lets just say if that were all there was to drive, I would have gone back to being a bicycle nut instead of a car nut. I had a wonderful time in the Pacific NW, but I was very happy to get back into my Civic (stick) close to midnight, and feel its wonderful responsiveness as I exited Logan Airport homeward bound. (To be sure, the Mazda2 had a slushbox, but it didn’t exactly handle well.)

    Give me a smallish car with windows you can see out of (the major problem with my 08 civic), a smooth, responsive engine (the major problem with my old ’93 Saturn), good handling, precise steering… I ***don’t*** need anymore power than I have in my Civic, which has the 1.8 liter. And I like a car that’s reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …the gearbox must make a big difference, then: mine has a standard and handles exceptionally nicely in terms of nimble maneuverability…i’ll grant that NVH mightn’t match expectations coming from heavier vehicles with more insulation and comfort-tuned suspension, so that might be where our disconnect lie, but the car handles great from a performance standpoint…

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      SEATTLE BASED MAZDA 2 DEFENSE FORCE ACTIVATE.

      The slushbox is garbage. The five-speed is the best stick under 16k. Period. The clutch is a bit light but easily modulated, and I’ve done 800 mile stints in mine with zero back or hip pain. Best tank is 46mpg, and I’m averaging 38.4 lifetime (http://www.fuelly.com/driver/djsyndrome/2). I paid 13.4k for mine, or about as much as a beat up Mazda 3 with 90k miles and holes in the carpet.

      It handles better than most anything else in the class as well, owing to its light weight. Dropping a gear and whipping around a corner is satisfying for you and terrifying for your passengers.

      It’s dead reliable and has given me zero trouble. Maintenance is cheap, although it does take synthetic oil (what doesn’t nowadays?)

      Problems? Oh yes. There is zero headroom in the back if you’re old enough to have experienced puberty, the lack of a center rear headrest is a bummer, the lack of an armrest is a double bummer, the lock switch is by your junk, visibility over your left shoulder is non-existent, DIY infotainment, zero torque until 4k rpm, engine sounds like a KitchenAid blender filled with marbles, depreciation is Korean-level bad, and taking it over the Tacoma Narrows in the rain walks a fine line between ‘brave’ and ‘stupid’.

      If you can live with those caveats, they’re great cars. That’s why you see them everywhere up here.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        What’s is like on the interstate at 70-80mph? This (and the lack of cruise) is why I’m seriously considering trading in my first gen xB with five speed.

        • 0 avatar
          djsyndrome

          As long as there are no crosswinds it’s fine. Winds + wet roads are another matter entirely – the little 15″ wheels can only hold on for so long.

          FWIW, you’ll need a Touring if you want cruise; the Sport model doesn’t have it.

      • 0 avatar
        Zekele Ibo

        Got my Mazda2 base-model with A/C last year for $15k CAD including the usurious Quebec sales taxes. I’ve got to agree, it’s the best cheap manual hatch in the subcompact class. The auto box ruins the car, and basically any options you add ruin the value – this car only makes sense at the really cheap end of the market. The options prices are stupid too, for example they wanted $1000 for alloys, but you can get the same ones from the parts department for $500 and you still have the steelies for winter tire duty.

        I love mine, it has all the options I need (I’m up front, I don’t need speakers in the back!), and it handles wonderfully. I rarely carry back-seat passengers – I agree there’s not much space back there, but I reckon there’s no point complaining about interior room in a subcompact. :) You mention the armrest – you can get one from Mazda for $200.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      It’s too bad they don’t offer the Mazda2 sedan here. It’s a much more coherent-looking design than the hatchback. I saw one a few days ago, and it was pretty sharp looking.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I rented a Mazda2 last year in Ft. Lauderdale and, except for the slug of an automatic, it was a great small-car to drive. Handling was awesome. Controls, ergonomics and ride are much better than the Hyundai Accent or Ford Fiesta.

      I even stuffed 5 of us — our baby, my 5’1″ beloved, her father, his wife and me — to drive to/from a restaurant for 20 miles. I’m not saying it was a serenely comfortable experience for anyone but my daughter in her seat and me in the driver’s seat, but it did the job.

      I could see owning one with a stick.

  • avatar

    The Mazda3, 5 door with manual. Not a bad ride. Looking to replace my 08 Scion xB and the high MPG is hard to ignore with the new Skyactiv engine.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Someone who shares my views.

    The only thing that I might add is I also prefer manual windows. One less thing to go wrong and less weight. Besides who needs to drive with the passenger (or in a sedan back windows) down if there is nobody sitting there?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I’ve never known a power window to fail in +30 years.

      Also, you get much better airflow if the passenger side and back windows are open.

      • 0 avatar

        I will second that. Open the two windows opposite you, roughly the same amount (in my old Accord, 2 inches would do) and you’ll get a nice stiff breeze at your back. The AC didn’t work the last four years I had that car, and I never bothered to fix it, because this method, in the Boston area, gave me all the cool I needed.

        I resisted power windows when I bought my ’93 Saturn (new). But I’ve had ‘em since I bought the Accord (used, for a ridiculously low price) in ’04. Have never had ‘em break down, and it really is nice to be able to open or close all the windows at will when I’m driving.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          You must have a high threshold for discomfort to last four years near Boston with no AC. It might be more temperate than the south, midwest, or western deserts, but it is not exactly the SF Bay Area either.

          I think summers are uncomfortably hot near Boston. The only way I would consider no AC is if I lived and worked in the western ‘burbs and rarely saw traffic. If you don’t see the need for AC, you haven’t been stuck in one of the tunnels in July.

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            “I think summers are uncomfortably hot near Boston.” Obviously, you haven’t lived in DC, much less anywhere in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, etc. I grew up in DC, without air conditioning. One of the advantages to rear-engined cars, like the VW Beetle is that all of the engine heat was thrown off behind you. Front-engined cars without A/C throw a lot of heat into the cabin, especially toodling along in slow traffic. I agree with the other comments about power windows. I keep my cars a long time and have never had the windows fail. A little silicone spray on the rubber seals makes them go up and down very smoothly.

          • 0 avatar
            Compaq Deskpro

            Really? Summer in Massachusetts feels like a measly 2 weeks in the middle of spring and fall. I open every window, get every cubic inch of hot air on me I can, and never touch the AC.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            DC Bruce and Compaq Deskpro – I didn’t say Boston was worse than other parts of the country. In fact, I said this: “It might be more temperate than the south, midwest, or western deserts, but it is not exactly the SF Bay Area either.”

            What can I say, I hate the heat. If you drive (sit) in traffic and can’t get any airflow, an MA summer is plenty hot enough for me to justify fixing AC.

            I would actually fix AC near SF as well – I need it to defog the windows. I find myself using AC for this so often I’m wondering if I have moisture trapped somewhere in the car.

          • 0 avatar

            I lived in DC for 23 years. I could not go without AC there. I almost never drive in traffic (I work out of my house.) There certainly were a few times when I would have liked AC, and I certainly do use it in the summer in my recently acquired Civic.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            ” I’m wondering if I have moisture trapped somewhere in the car.”

            If you have a sunroof you more then likely have moisture trapped somewhere in the car. I can’t remember having a car with a sunroof (I’ve had 10) that didn’t leak or trap moisture at some point, but I wouldn’t own a car without one, so I guess it’s just the price you pay

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Sunroof is worth looking into.

            Also, I think the drainage from the evaporator is a bad design on my car. Threads complaining of the AC smelling like gym socks when you first start the car (that would be mine) are common enough. Simply clearing and clogs is difficult to impossible since it drains above the transmission.

            It’s a vicious cycle
            1) ac condensate won’t drain from the evaporator
            2) interior fogs up
            3) run ac to keep it clear

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Had to drive the Taurus wagon through the Texas summer last year with no A/C. What I found to be optimal was cracking the passenger side front window a little, and the driver side rear window a little. It would would cause air to circulate around me as it made it’s way across and to the back. Just cracking them about a few inches is all you need; that helps keep the noise and dust down.

          And leave the vents turned off; at 80+ degree temperatures, they just blow hot air anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        I had one fail. It was the regulator rather than the switch or motor.

        Come to think of it, I had one crank down window fail as well. Same issue, the regulator broke.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I could never give up power windows for the airflow benefits alone. Sunroof popped + rear passenger window cracked = supreme comfort.

        And the only window I’ve had go off the rails was also a crank window.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I had a switch fail in my ’89 Taurus SHO and a motor get very slow/weak in my ’88 Accord. Never had a problem with windows in any of the cars that weren’t 10+ years old when I got them.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I had a window regulator break once. And in another car, the window stopped working for some reason (never tried to fix it, so I don’t know what failed).

        However, the number of failed power windows I’ve seen is less than the number of broken manual handles.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “I’ve never known a power window to fail in +30 years.”

        Then you have never owned a GM N or W body.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          This is true. I had one break in an 1.5yo N-body with 17K.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The windows in all my N-bodies (and my sister’s Alero) had a 100% failure rate. They were all coupes so that’s 8 repairs. Then both fronts in the Grand Prix sedan and the driver’s side in my Grand Prix coupe stopped working. Plus the driver’s side front on my Bonneville didn’t work when I bought it.

            So 12 right now, but the windows on the Electra are getting mighty slow (time to drill out some rivets!), so that may be going to 14.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I had to replace the passenger regulator in my Skylark, surprised the driver one still works…the passenger door lock solenoid went bad too.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          W body windows get real slow in the cold, but I’ve never had one fail totally. Right rear in my Sable broke closed, but considering it died at 21 years of age, I did not repair it.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          Nor an early to mid eighties Audi. VW were still grappling with the mysteries of the electric motor on the customer’s R&D time and money. Their fuse strips were throwbacks to late 1890 design too. Amazing.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          H/FWD G-bodies too. And the stupid slider clips in GM B-bodies.

      • 0 avatar
        glwillia

        Clearly you’ve never owned or known an owner of a BMW E36, E39 or E46.

    • 0 avatar

      Being in the used cars biz for 8 years and seeing thousands of cars at various stages on wear and tear, I will say the two biggest misnomers are “Power windows always fail” and “sunroofs always leak.”

      Obviously, I’ve dealt with my share of power window failures, but it rarely exceeded $150 for a complete fix. Of all sunroofs, I’ve only had one leak that wasn’t due to clogged drain channels and it was on a 1994 Thunderbird.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Right on. Power windows seem to be the single most common thing I deal with on used cars bought at auction. These relatively small fixes seem to often be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for a lot of people.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Yeah, they’re not bad. I’ve fixed three. One was when my buddy showed up in town a couple years ago with duct tape holding the driver’s side window up on his ’92 Camry V6 5-speed. It had been in that sad state for a few months and had eroded his and his wife’s opinion of the future of that car, which had been a part of his immediate family for 20 years at that point. He was happy to discover how inexpensive and easy it was for us to replace the motor and regulator assembly. She’s got over 300k miles now. Still going strong, and everything works.

          My brother was in town not too long before that with an ’87 Tercel. Despite lower mileage than the Camry, the manual crank windows on that were barely functional and I had no idea how to repair them. New parts didn’t appear to be available for that.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Like a lot of things, the difficulty of fixing a power window is very vehicle dependent.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Depending on the car, watch for the clockspring when you remove the motor….you could be rendered sterile if the regulator is lying on a bench when you pull the motor…

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The first window that ever broke on me was a crank window (came off the tracks and dropped into the door). Even with power windows, failures are always with the regulator, not the motor. And those motors are not that heavy – crank windows might save you five pounds for all four.

      Also agree with jmo on airflow. Opening the rear windows puts a nice breeze on the back of your neck…much better than being blasted with the wind from having your window all the way down.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I agree that regulators are usually the issue, but there were an awful lot of cars built with shoddy motors with crappy nylon worm gears that had a tendency to strip. I’m looking at you, Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      Rasputin

      Power windows is the one option I *would* want. I don’t like AC unless it is oppressively hot & humid. Most of my early cars were Euro 2-door ragtops of one sort or another. Top down & reach across to crank the passenger window. With the arrival of my daughter, I ended up driving a 4-door Mercury Mistake (I think it was actually named Mystique, but Mistake is the proper name) with crank windows. The passenger crank was a stretch and forget about reaching the rear window cranks. Getting the ventilation I wanted was a stop the car & get out operation. Swore I would never have cranks windows again.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    What I’d want and what I bought are two entirely different things. What I’d want is a mid engined two seater with a reasonable amount of power and a removable roof, sort of an updated Fiat X-1/9. What I bought was a Ford Fusion Energi, which replaced a 2002 Focus hatch that I bought new. Like most of us, what I want and what I need are different.

    Oh, and I also bought a subscription to IRacing, because that’s the closest thing to motorsports I’ll be participating in.

  • avatar
    sco

    Definitely with you Steve. As a long commute guy I want good visability, good mileage, super reliability, ease of maintenance, and maybe a good sound system. 100 ponies is fine and with a stick I certainly wont need turbocharged sophistication (or headaches). But I’m definitely not representative of the average car buyer and while there are many cars of the 2002-2007 vintage that would suit my needs, my new car options are getting very slim. Surprisingly cutting edge cars like the Leaf or Prius may come closer to what I’m looking for than any modern ICE offering.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    “The cars I keep at the retail lot reflect my weirdness compared with mainstream consumers. 20% are sticks”

    How does this business model work out? Do you get repeat customers because you’re known as “the dealer with manuals”? What about the M30 that Murilee found? Something you would put on your lot? What would be the case with that as an example? I ask because 90% of the ones I found were at small dealers. They were always beat, and sticker for $3000+. I suppose you guys have to make something on a car, but it was absurd.

    I prefer weird because there is little reason to NOT get something interesting. The fabled days of disaster cars like the HT4100 Cadillacs are over for the most part. I can use this thing called the internet to get Suzuki parts still. Reviewers point out the most nit-picky things to have something to write about. Nobody ever tests the manual trans version which is always a night and day affair, especially with little cars under 140hp.

    I would be the worst car reviewer ever.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I disagree, I would enjoy your expert opinions and wealth of knowledge. Many reviews are Brand X’s 2014 model is similar to Brand Ys 2014 but longer than Brand Z’s. I would prefer well Brand X’s model is similar to the 1999 Brand Y, but it rides similar to the 1992 Brand Z etc. Personally I don’t drive or own new cars and I don’t care much for almost all of them.

    • 0 avatar
      jjf

      I enjoy your writing and tremendous insight into cars plus their drivers. I can’t see how a review by you could not be good. A series of reviews for old oddball cars would be really cool.

      I’m not in the target demographic that TTAC is trying to attract with the new young writers, but the last review(s) of the Fit were just plain bad. There is certainly a need for talent around here.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I agree with the others, your perpective on a car review would be welcome and refreshing. Especially with unique and weird rides.

      That aside, I have a habit of buying weird or generally unpopular cars at auction too. It’s definitely tougher to turn those cars as opposed to soaking up and trying to squeeze out 4 door, 4 cylinder, automatic transmission cars in neutral colors. For example a yellow, stick shift, hatchback Focus ZX3 recently took 6 months to move. A beige Buick Lesabre, 6 days. Even if you have a preload of customers who like weird rides, there are still fewer of them than regular people looking for regular wheels.

      The clientele looking for the weird cars are, in general, tougher to deal with. They sometimes have high expecations for vehicles that weren’t always meant to meet them. One guy who came 4 hours to buy a 5 speed Dodge Shadow convertible comes to mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Roll a review into a story. You rob a bank then steal a car for a getaway, as you race from the crime scene you start thinking about the car, which impresses you, you get caught, go to jail and think about that great getaway car, for the next 20 years

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Steve i could not agree with you more. I have been importing and shipping cars for over 40 years and in my lifetime have owned over 78 cars. For the record i drive a Mazda Miata & 2011 VW GTI MK6 and i am almost 80 years old. Some cars are for enjoyment and others are just for transportation and for the owners that never had a power window go out you have never owned a Toyota. I still do all my servicing on my own and my wife,s cars.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    CR top rated but not recommended is Honda Fit Sport MT
    Kia Rio sedan EX recommended at no 5.
    Chevy Sonic sedan LT (1.8) recommended at no 6.
    Mazda 2 way down the list at 16.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    I desperately want a Saab 9-5 and an Astro cargo van with AWD

  • avatar
    Bloody-Brit

    Recently bought a new car. My criteria were:

    Four door, spacious.
    Presentable to clients.
    Leather seats (I have young children).
    Fun to drive.
    Reliable.
    Manual.
    Diesel Preferred.

    Pretty soon you realise your options are limited. Manuals tend to be at the bottom of the spec tree. Diesel put the choices down to a Passat, but reliability trumped diesel and the Passat was off the list.

    So I quickly purchased a 2014 Acura TL, as the new TLX’s will have no manual option. The spec is great (you had to buy a good spec to get a manual), the stereo system phenomenal. Economy is not good, particularly as the thing is a blast to drive. The styling is not to everyone’s taste, but heck I sit on the inside not the outside and the inside is a pleasant place to be.

    Performance is terrific, somehow this Q-Car is on no-one’s radar. 0 – 60 in 5.2 seconds. Handling to match.

    Others considered, Mazda 6. BMW, Audi out, been there done that not doing it again, yes their electric windows fail regularly.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    I’d like to be able to buy a new car without TPMS and Stability/Traction control, but oh well.

    I don’t have any issues with a car with power windows/locks/moonroof etc. I don’t mind having bluetooth-even though I hate talking on the phone and driving I do use Slacker/Spotify/Sirius on my iphone so it is nice to be able to connect to the cars audio system without using cords.

    I don’t think cars need Facebook/Twitter/Google/mobile internet, nor do they need a screen the size of the TV I had in my room as a kid. Holy Hell.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      Curious why you don’t like stability control? I know some people are convinced they would never ever need it or they are somehow superior to the system (which is impossible) but the safety benefits are pretty clear. I object to the systems that have ridiculously low limits of intervention or no off button.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim_Turbo

        I actually don’t mind stability control at speed-say hitting deep puddles/slush at highway speed-it works great.

        But during take off in crappy weather I have found a lot of systems intervene too quickly-shuts the power off and leaves you stopped half pulled out into traffic. I usually drive with it turned off, which in my main car just gives you a little more leeway before it takes over. I can’t fully defeat it.

        I’m not an idiot but out where I live there are plenty of wide open corners that are fun to get a little sideways on in the snow-but I don’t do it in a blizzard, and only when I can see that absolutely nobody is around. Some systems don’t allow that to happen, even if it is turned off.

        Been driving 20 years, only been off the road once unintentionally-but that involved bald tires, me wearing downhill ski boots, and some distraction from my female passenger. Not a good combination.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Sounds similar to my experience, there are some systems like Toyota that shut everything down when you think about a corner or others you can’t turn off.

          In my WRX the VDC system would let you get sideways quite a bit before it brought you back in line, and you could always turn it off for real fun in the snow.

          Hard to know that stuff before you buy a car.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          …..I’m not an idiot but out where I live there are plenty of wide open corners that are fun to get a little sideways on in the snow-but I don’t do it in a blizzard, and only when I can see that absolutely nobody is around. Some systems don’t allow that to happen, even if it is turned off…..

          I am so with you!! My Altima’s stability control is a fun killer in those type of conditions. And the inability to spin the tires make it really hard to rock the car out of the snow. Jumping in my ancient Sable I can play on the slippery stuff.

  • avatar
    NeinNeinNein

    Ideal car—the one I own. 2008 Audi A4. Fast, handles great, and has an engine bay that fits up to a V8 that was found in the RS4. I have the 2.0T–so tons of room to work and access items without the removal of too many other things. We’ve had the car about 50K–its now at 103K. A few usual things–a broken TPMS sensor, brake light bulb and a couple ignition coils. Other than that smooth sailing. I sold some floor mats to a guy the other day–same car as mine , but an ’07–he had 100K on his and claimed that since new he’s spent $50 on a part that broke–other than that –the usual maintenance.
    Granted I work on the car, so its much much more affordable than taking it in for reapirs. But Ive had a great experience with the VAG cars Ive owned. Look around, theres a lot of them driving around. I cant see that all the drivers I see are spending a TON of $$ on them. Your mileage may vary.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    I’ll throw one in the ring.

    2013/2014 Hyundai Elentra GT – Base model, 6/spd, w/Touch & Go package.

    Everything you need nothing you don’t.

    decent stereo.
    good bluetooth w/excellent voice recognition system you don’t have to teach.
    push button start/proximity key system.
    garage door opener built in.
    compass
    auto-dimming mirror.

    comfortable seats. decent backseat for kids and good cargo space. I get 32Mpg in mixed driving.
    the stick is a little sloppy, clutch is light and easy though. solid rear axle makes it wander a bit on rough roads. but otherwise a solid car for 17K.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I love the idea of weird cars.

    But unfortunately in the real world I have no time or space to do my own maintenance (and neither of those is likely to change in the foreseeable future), little wish to deal with 90% of mechanics, and the resulting wish for near-perfect reliability.

    Thus I end up with newer cars that are likely to keep working on scheduled maintenance alone through my period of ownership. “Newer” limits “weird” to some extent, although the G8 GXP probably qualifies as weird.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    I like weird. Weird is what they keep getting rid of (PT Cruiser, FJ Cruiser, Honda Element etc.) so that all cars look the same.

    John

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My perfect car is well, my car. 6spd RWD 2011 BMW 3-series wagon. It just does it all. From grocery getting to a track day to a cross country trip. Can fit an assembled gas grille in the back. Quick, more than reasonable fuel economy, and quiet and comfortable. A little spendy, but the best things in life are not free. I plan to be buried in it, since BMW refuses to sell me another one just like it.

    I agree though, life is waaaay too short to drive boring cars. There are too many more interesting alternatives out there at every price point.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    DISCLAIMER: I am the regular mentioned in the article that bought a 2013 Mazda2 for under 14K. I read the impressions listed above. I found some of them accurate and some not so much.

    I won’t write a book but I will say the Mazda2 may be the last car that is known for being a great simple car. No cameras, lane watch detection, bluetooth, nav, etc. It still has the fundamental basics like ABS, traction and stability control, and VVT to give the 1.5L a bit of torque down low. But yeah, its a bone simple Japanese designed and built hatchback and aspires to nothing more. It hangs its hat on the basics being perfect and they are. After 5K miles the only issue I have is the glove box is too much of a stretch from the driver’s seat. I didn’t fine a lack of torque under 3K, in fact quite the opposite. I think putting an automatic in a car like this is criminal so I can’t speak to the auto except it shouldn’t be in the car. I couldn’t cross shop anything as all other competitors were way over 14K out the door.

  • avatar
    heidenseek

    To anyone who is shopping for or has bought a car in this segment recently, was the new Mitsubishi Mirage considered? The reason I ask is, I am looking at cars in this segment and am considering the new Mirage but it seems that any articles/discussions about cars in this segment ignore this car. I understand that this is, considered by most, the ugliest car in its (or any) class and may also have the worst interior in its class. But, the Mirage has one of the best real world mileage figures (in the upper 40’s to lower 50’s with a stick) and it also has one of the best interior volumes. Another thing this car has going for it is a low price. I understand you get what you pay for, but for a car like this I do not want/need things like power windows or “premium” interior materials. The biggest question I have about this cars is the reliability of the new(?) 3-cylinder engine it uses.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    Don’t bother. The Mirage that I test drove sounded like the engine was in the cup holder, the seat sat like a church pew, and the dashboard, on a mild weather day, actualy developed a rattle half way through the test drive. Awful machine. It probably does get better MPG than most and has a lot of equipment but the car itself will get tiring in a hurry.


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