By on June 20, 2017

San Francisco, Image: Wouter Kiel/Flicker (CC BY 2.0)

I will forever remember San Francisco as the only city in America where a woman tried to pick me up. While I am sure that the average TTAC reader is a handsome, impeccably progressive feminist ally who is frequently the subject of overtures from empowered womyn, I’m a hideously ugly creature who walks with a pronounced limp and cannot help but maintain an expression of perpetual annoyance. Therefore, 99 percent of the time I have to actively, if not aggressively, sell myself to any potential paramours.

Except, that is, for that one night when I was drunkenly stumbling down some broad boulevard in downtown SF, feeling very sorry for myself, and an attractive woman in her early thirties, dressed for some sort of banking or C-suite work, walked right up to me and said, “Do you know where the nearest Bank of America is?” Even in my inebriated state I could see that it was three hundred feet behind her, and I said as much. “Gosh, thanks!” she chirped. “So… lovely night, huh? What are you doing this evening?”

“Madam,” I replied with all the 18th-century dignity I could muster, straightening my posture and inhaling deeply behind the lapels of my Brioni coat, “I am attempting to forget a woman from Tennessee.” And I trudged past her. Only the next morning did I realize that perhaps she had already known the whereabouts of the bank before asking. Oh well. Ever since then, however, I have assumed that the relatively low number of even remotely conventional men in that particular city drives women to make desperate choices.

Which brings me to today’s San Francisco treat of a question.

William writes,

I’ve been living in western Massachusetts for the last four years working for the second largest manufacturer of firearms in the U.S. I miss California and I’m sick of the corporate life. The closest thing I have to a brother is offering me an affordable place to stay and a job as a plumber in San Francisco. We can debate the wisdom of this but I’m taking the opportunity to work with my best friend doing an insane job in my favorite city making a lot of money.

This is where we get to you. I have a 2012 Outback that I am making payments on. I’m planning to sell it and use whatever money I have left over to buy a car in California or at least make a down payment. Unlike a lot of the Ask Jack questioners, I don’t have BMW or Porsche money. The question is, what to get? San Francisco is not kind to vehicles. I have a strong urge to get either a used Mini Cooper, VW GTI, Focus ST or Accord coupe. I have contradicting needs here. I want something small and reasonably sporty but at the same time it needs to be able to handle the roads of SF, which resemble WWI no man’s land, and hideous traffic. Also, it is almost a guarantee that it is going to get dented, scratched and broken into.

Sir, let me first congratulate you on dropping out of the rat race. Being a plumber might not be anybody’s idea of a glamour profession but it is a job where one accomplishes actual goals by performing tangible work. Plus, unlike with virtually any “B2B” product in the known world, emergency plumbing work typically carries with it a certain freedom from negotiation. Nobody argues the rate when their house is awash. The only thing keeping me from entering a manual trade is the fact that my joints probably wouldn’t survive a life of honest labor.

Now for the car. As you’ve already ascertained, smaller is better in San Francisco, if only for purposes of parking near places like City Lights (which was where I was headed on the fateful night described above) or at any of the hipper restaurants. If you were completely serious about it, you would get a Smart or a Toyota/Scion IQ, both of which can access a few of the 10-foot spaces that exist in the various urban residential districts around the city.

You’re also dead right about the roads. The last car I drove around SF for any length of time was a McLaren 675LT and, no matter how hard I tried to steer an untroubled path between pavement obstacles, the whole carbon-fiber structure of the thing would periodically shudder like a struck gong. If the old song by Journey regarding the “city by the bay” was based on factual events it would have a stanza about potholes.

So you have to pick a cheap small car that can handle the road. So forget about a Mini or a GTI. Those are remarkably fussy cars that tend to retain an unfortunate amount of resale value near the end of their useful lives. You’d be stuck paying an independent specialist big bucks to work on the thing. Neither car will be truly cheap to run over time. The Focus ST I’m going to eliminate because it has big wheels, low-profile tires, and converted-econobox suspension. It is in no way suited to the Bay Area lifestyle. That leaves just the Accord coupe, but although my fondness for that particular vehicle has been exhaustively documented, I will admit the old ones are overpriced and the newer ones are oversized. I don’t recommend it for this job.

Having eliminated all of your not-so-dreamy choices, I’m going to come up with a kind of left-field choice. To begin with, I’m always a fan of buying used cars that have experienced greater than usual depreciation — especially when that depreciation is a result of bigotry or low information in the marketplace. So let’s think of a relatively small car that has depreciated heavily, can be pleasant to drive, and which was engineered for difficult conditions. Are you ready? It is…

a stick-shift, turbocharged…

Chevrolet Cruze.

That’s right! As I never tire of reminding TTAC’s readers, the Cruze is really just a Daewoo. And if you go to Asia you will see that Daewoo engineers for urban conditions that are remarkably similar to that of San Francisco. The Cruze is a remarkably durable, hard-wearing vehicle that gets no respect in the secondhand market. I’m seeing 2012-3 models with under 50k miles going for eight or nine grand. The equivalent GTIs are half again as expensive or worse — for cars that will likely require more repair, be more expensive to insure, and are certain to incur higher costs when you do repair them.

The only problem is that the Cruze isn’t really that small of a car, and it doesn’t have the hatchback form factor that makes parking such a breeze. But look at it this way: if you buy a Chevy, you won’t get too emotional about touch-parking the thing. Friend, as Hamlet once said, look to’t. The Cruze is just the ticket for your new life as plumber to the Silicon Valley superstars. And while the ladies might not get too excited about the badge, take it from me: if there’s any place in the country where you can meet a girl without a nice car, it’s the place to which you are headed.

[Image: Wouter Kiel/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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103 Comments on “Ask Jack: Are You Going to San Francisco?...”


  • avatar
    incautious

    I visit SF once or twice a year. Prius see to be the choice for a lot of SF population. I have a feeling it’s the combination of size reliability and very high gas prices. Just my observation. Or get a Vespa.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      “I will forever remember San Francisco as the only city in America where a woman tried to pick me up.”

      Are you sure about that? You may have avoided “The Crying Game” experience.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      I live there and dabble in the building trades. My advice to this writer is to get a Tacoma with locking contractor boxes and an overhead rack for holding pipe stock. The plumber I work with is willing to deal with the parking hassle of a bigger truck and rolls in a Silverado 2500. He also has a 2nd-gen Viper, because plumbers here make well into the six figures if they can actually show up sober and do things to the building code, and even more if they know English.

      Stick is fine, y’all are complete kitty cats for not thinking you can daily a manual transmission in SF.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    Okay; I’ll bite. A stick in SF? On those hills? Look at your own cover photo, Man!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Go down a size further. Sonic. Same 1.4T engine and they’re not exactly holding value either.

    I’d probably go slushbox just to make the heinous traffic in that city somewhat tolerable.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Buddy of mine has a Sonic LTZ. Loves the hell out of it, and has done an effective job on selling me its merits.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Sonic vote here too. If it had leased for the ridiculous amount I leased my Cruze for for, I’d have the Sonic in my driveway. Had one for a rental and enjoyed it more than my Cruze.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      This seems good advice. I’ve rented modern compacts between Dallas and Chicago, and of the Cruze/Sonic/Focus/Jetta/Mazda3 group, the Mazda was by far my favorite for Dallas (when you get open roads or have to dart across intersections it’s quick, even in autobox rental form). The Cruze is usually the most pleasantly quiet and solid (although it’s sometimes hit or miss, not sure why I get the odd rattletrap sometimes) but the Sonic really surprised. I really hated the toy-like gauges and it was fairly buzzy, but it handled Chicago stop-and-go with aplomb, and no matter how hard I drove it it always beat mid-30’s in MPG. It also really did feel smaller and narrower for parking, and you could get the hatch, which comes in pretty handy.

  • avatar
    Speedygreg7

    A tight turning radius is absolutely paramount in SF as well as a robust suspension and decent sidewall tires. Sounds like the perfect job for a Subaru Crosstrek. If the turning radius is more than 37 feet, you’ll curse your choice on an hourly basis. Even 37′ is pretty inconvenient. The smaller, the better.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @speedygreg7: Yeah, being able to pull a u-turn to snag a parking space on the opposite side of the street in SF is a good reason for a tight turning radius. I pull that maneuver a lot when I’m there.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If you want women to pick you up you should visit Brazil or Vietnam.

    If you are doing a manual, I’d go for the nonST versions of the Focus or Fiesta.

    If you are doing an automatic, I’d go for a 2.5L Volkswagen Golf/Jetta/Beetle.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Hell, I once got propositioned in New York, right by Carnegie Hall. Of course, the lady was “for hire”…

      • 0 avatar

        Every woman has her terms. For some it’s a ring on the finger, a luxury CUV, and a mcmansion in the suburbs. For others it’s a man with values. For still others you can negotiate an hourly rate.

        Every man’s situation is different but as with cars sometimes renting makes more sense than leasing or buying.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    William never stated why he can’t simply keep the Outback after the move.

    Really, a stick in San Francisco? You have to be a glutton for punishment.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Why? The new ones even come with “hill hold.” As long as you avoid creeping along uphill (takes just a bit of timing, and a realization that you don’t HAVE to move an inch just because the guy in front did, to avoid) during rush hour, a manual is perfectly fine in SF.

      Still, I’d say keep the Outback. It’s perfect for bad roads, for recreational opportunities around SF, for carrying some plumbing supplies during an emergency, and for picking up lesbians for threesomes.

      Then, GET A BIKE! Actually two bikes. One motorbike, one bicycle. The Outback makes carrying the latter convenient. And towing the former on an easy to store Kendon. Two wheels are the way to go around any dense city. Particularly relatively rain free (to anyone not from SoCal) SF. And, then you can pick up messenger bag chicks on the bicycle. And every other chick on the moto. Nothing tingles a spoiled from birth cubicle climber, like a hard man with calloused hands nonchalantly gallivanting around on a dangerous motorbike. Especially one who is not even scared of those evil things called guns…

  • avatar
    SWA737

    Are you sure they weren’t singing about Tampa?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “Are You Going to San Francisco?”

    Not in a million years.

    “While I am sure that the average TTAC reader is a handsome, impeccably progressive feminist ally who is frequently the subject of overtures from empowered womyn,”

    no, not really, and ha! I wish.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Ixnay on the Mini – they are stiff riding cars. Even with the smaller 16″ rims and fatter tires, any kind of road imperfection can be felt… a lot!

    First generation Scion xB is my first thought. Small / fuel efficient. Though they might be getting too long in the tooth, hitting 10+ years old now.

    Maybe a Nissan Cube? Not a good looking car but at least it has some storage/hauling space.

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    A Ford Focus is the best bargain on the road. The issues with the DCT have destroyed the resale value. The good news is that the third redesign of the clutch has likely solved the issues. I recently bought a 2015 hatchback SE with 27k miles with an extended warranty for $12k.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    This is a brilliant recommendation. Chevrolet’s tradition of a soft suspension mixed with Daewoo’s ability to make city cars for crumbling urban infrastructure is a win in such a place. I saw this one coming before the jump, since the Dart is dead.

    The problem will be deciding between the hatchback or the diesel. It’s probably worth it for the quirkiness factor to buy the diesel sedan variation there, plus there’s all sorts of extra virtue signalling credit for having to really hunt around for a gas station selling diesel. He can call it an alternative fuel vehicle.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’ve not been back to S.F. in three decades, Motos were allowed to park on the sidewalks then as long as not blocking anything . I wonder if that’s still so ? .

    I had no troubles driving there with a clutch then .

    You don’t have to live in the city (it’s horribly expen$ive), you can live across the bay or in Sausolito for 1/3 the price .

    I know a rich Lady who lives in Freemont affordably .

    Plumbers make stupid money because most folks are afraid of touching shit .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Plumbers make stupid money because most folks are afraid of touching shit .”

      I’m going with that as the best sentence posted to TTAC this week.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The Russian saying in regards to plumbing being a stable line of work even in hard economic times goes along the lines of “everyone says there’s nothing to eat, yet everyone still seems to sh*t.”

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        All of my buddies who are electricians all have the same joke, “I should have been a plumber. You only need to know two things; sh!t doesn’t flow uphill and payday is every second Friday.”

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      According the to Bureau of Labor Statistics, median earnings for a journeyman plumber is around $52K.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      re: “I know a rich Lady who lives in Freemont(*) affordably .”

      Once a quiet, small town, it’s grown and now has immense traffic problems due to I680 commuters cutting through town to escape the morning/afternoon crush between Milpitas and Sunol. Housing prices have skyrocketed as well.

      *Presume you mean ‘Fremont?’

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Everything in the SF Bay Area is expensive. Living in the East Bay would only slightly lower expenses in exchange for even worse roads and a brutal commute.

      I don’t know if motorcycles can park on the sidewalk (I doubt it), but they still enjoy advantages like lane splitting and parking perpendicular to the curb between spots. With traffic congestion being what it is, lane splitting (or filtering) is a non-trivial advantage. Motorcycles are common enough that the majority of traffic is aware of the practice and won’t give you trouble for it.

      Freemont is “affordable” because it is a sh!thole bedroom community at least an hour from SF during commuter traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Thanx for the replies Fellas .

        Fremont isn’t any shithole ~ She has a nice condo I’d never want (condo UGH) but it’s clean and uncluttered , no bums, broken glass, graffiti, etc.

        Quiet too .

        Notice : I’d not live in SF / Bay area for FREE but it does have it’s merits .

        Any Journeyman Plumber who only makes $52K is incompetent or a druggie .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Fiesta 1.0? Hatchback, used under 10k, reasonably fun to drive, good fuel economy for expensive CA gas?

  • avatar
    skor

    There is only one car I would consider owning if I lived in SF, a 1968, GT Mustang fastback, 390, highland green, with Torque Thrust wheels. I’d drive it around double clutching all the way for no apparent reason, other than to draw attention to my tweedy sport coat and designer mock-turtleneck sartorially attired self.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Cruze and Sonic are solid recommendations. The Cruze with a 6-speed drives very comfortably for being a small car, and it’s roomy as well. Sonic has a great chassis, and they’re even cheaper. Our old plumber had a 1st-gen Scion xB; I imagine that form factor would be best if you need to carry your equipment around and don’t have a work van.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    JB’s reasoning is correct but his conclusion is not. As others have stated, a manual in bad traffic with nothing but hills?

    And as JB stated, the Cruze is not that ‘small’ and does not have a hatch. Plus it may ‘bottom out’ on some of those potholes.

    As a plumber, the OP would benefit from a vehicle that can carry tools, equipment, supplies. And probably one with a hatch and higher ride height.

    Suzuki SX4. Small, cheap, hatch, higher roofline and ride height and available in AWD for those that believe that such a thing is important.

    Barring that, go for a Trax.

    • 0 avatar
      Malforus

      A 2012 Outback would make a great work vehicle in SF. People tend to forget that there is a weird tendency in SF to have weird road transitions that low cars have problems with.

      And the plumber could just drive it from Western MA to CA.

      I mean if you are doing a life transition, fit a nice road trip in there, head to Cedar Point along the way and boom you have a journey worth talking about.

      Plus selling an Outback in SF wouldn’t be too hard since it is another vehicle that meshes well with social signaling.

      That said I have heard talk that the 1.4T in a sonic can be tuned to produce a fun to drive car that people don’t think about.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Most contractors I know around here use Taco with a camper shell. If they want to impress their customers then it is likely an F150 or equivalent.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    A stick-shift? In San Francisco traffic/hills? Was that a serious recommendation?

    Welcome to the clutch-of-the-month club!

    It’s one of those things that is possible for a weekend toy, but would be utter misery in a daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Cruzes have a hill-hold brake system like my Jetta’s. He’d be fine.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Hill-hold means you won’t roll backwards or stall if you don’t finesse it right, but it doesn’t make clutch wear while facing uphill in traffic disappear. A torque converter is much better equipped for this.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Probably more convenient, but not necessarily better. If I understand it correctly, you’d do the equivalent of “riding the clutch” with an automatic, which would probably overheat the transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      phlipski

      I was going to suggest a used Jeep Wrangler (TJ). Easy to park, short turning radius, beefy suspension and cheap/easy to wrench on. However the whole manual transmission in those hills is something to think long and hard about. Plus they’re not exactly cheap used…. But think about dropping that top during the summer time!!

      Alternatively I’d keep the Subie.

      Funny – the last time (only time?) I was hit on by a woman was in San Francisco and I was with my wife no less! She went to the bathroom and the waitress in the wine bar we were in started getting very friendly…

      • 0 avatar
        Rasputin

        phlipski – Wasn’t with the wife, but the same thing happened to me in a Hooters one time. My brother has the same story.
        What studs we are!!

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’m officially disputing the “a Hooters waitress tried to hit on me, so I’m a stud” thesis…because, Hooters waitress.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            It’s almost like a woman was giving you attention in exchange for money. I forget what that’s called.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The one and only time I patronized Hooters, my waitress had a nice butt and lots of missing teeth.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            My Son took me to Hooters for my 50th birthday and there were lots of lovely curvaceous Waitresses, we got the dumb as a box of rocks ‘Carpenter’s Delight’ (flat as a board and easy to nail) one who messed up my order and then kept interrupting us taking……

            I have never been back and don’t expect to .

            -Nate

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Under $20K

    BMW i3 with range extender. Very tight turning radius, dent resistant carbon-plastic body, small on the outside pretty roomy on the inside. Can use in carpool lanes.

    First generation Volt. All the goodness of the Cruze, but with automatic gearbox, eligibility for the carpool lanes, and much better fuel economy.

    Well under $15K

    Ford C-Max. Dirt cheap used. Automatic gearbox. Pretty small on the outside pretty roomy on the inside. Energi version eligible for carpool lane. Very good fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      How is i3 under 20k?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      I just helped my daughter buy a C-Max Hybrid. As a GTI driver, I’m surprised how much I like it. Enough that I’m shopping for one of my own. Her C-Max handles the hills of Tacoma effortlessly, and they’re just as steep as anything SF offers. But the turning circle is surprisingly large, close to 40 feet.

      I read that Jack helped his ex choose a C-Max last year. Can you give us any updates, or a long-term review, JB?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Did some research on this, and it appears manual Cruzes have a “hill hold” feature like my Jetta’s. When you stop on an incline, the brakes engage themselves electronically, and will hold you for a couple of seconds after you take your foot off the brake.

    Very handy feature, but essential in a place like San Francisco. Otherwise, your car will have that permanent “Eau De Roasted Clutch” fragrance.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      Sonic has that too! It was a pleasant surprise when I test drove one, even on the base 1.8L N/A.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I’d still go for the 1.4T. The low-end torque tuned 1.4 works great in the hills of western PA, it should be fine in SF. The 1.4 is rather turbodiesel like in power delivery and for NVH, you don’t want( or really need) to push it past 4500 rpm.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I was thinking something smaller, like a Fit. But perhaps those can’t handle potholes very well.

    Oh, later model Matrix? Not worth much, useful capacity, dead reliable, bang it up and no care.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I had the perverse thought of a Mitsubishi Mirage. The thing’s from Thailand – it’s gotta be tough, right?

      Otherwise, I’d also suggest a Hyundai Accent – they’re cockroaches.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        “Hyundai Accident 3-cylinder diesel!”

        Every time I see the name, it plays in my head. I’d give the Mirage toughness points, but also many penalty points because it’s so bad. I think it’s one of those which should be reserved for situations of desperation.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Base model Challenger/Charger, has meaty sidewalls, extra soft suspension with police car credentials, and you can get them in the low 20’s for 1 or 2 years old.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Literally the worst city car suggestions I’ve ever seen. You should recuse yourself from further embarrassment!

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        I’ve driven through cities on a regular basis with mine, it goes through awful pavement with all squish and no scrape, I’ve never sideswiped anything, and its still smaller than the RX350 and 4Runner in the above picture that SF residents seem to be driving without any issues.

  • avatar
    MudFlap

    Obviously a used wrangler is the best choice. Short wheelbase makes for easy parking, parts are cheap and plentiful. Aftermarket can address any security concerns with various locking storage solutions. Tall suspension and big tires soak up potholes, steel off-road bumpers laugh off parking lot bumps, and you get the benefit of owning a convertible in SoCal.

  • avatar
    strafer

    Couldn’t help but sing,
    “L-O-L-A, Lola. Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lola”

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I was reminded of the time a young lady who propositioned me with: “Wanna boner?”

      It was unclear which one of us was supposed to be in possession of said appendage.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I have to echo the questioning of a stickshift in SF. Seems miserable.

    For urban hellscapes like SF, there are 3 parameters that matter:

    – suspension travel
    – sidewall height
    – length

    Best overall buy would be something like a Honda Fit, but they are hella overpriced. For the money, something like a Chevy THRAXXX, Suzuki SX4 or Mitsubishi Outlander Sport are probably the best moves. I feel like they are all available with a 3rd pedal if you’re that much of a glutton for punishment.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Agree 100% with the first 2 suggestions, which I also suggested. As for the Outlander Sport, sold as the RVR in Canada, didn’t think of it before but it probably also checks all the boxes.

      Or he could go Cube, if it isn’t too bouncy. Also like Nick’s Niva suggestion below.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I’ve always like the look of the Outlander Sport. Kind of a Subaru GL look to the back. If it had a decent power train available it wouldn’t be awful.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Having a stickshift in the City (as the locals call it) is not a problem. Friends of mine have had Subaru RSs, Audi RS4s, Dodge SRT4s and Mustangs with manual transmissions, and they were ok.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I say import a 25+ year old Lada Niva from Canada. You’d solve all your issues, have something to off-road with, and out-hipster hipsters in one fell swoop.

  • avatar
    mcs

    If you go new, check out a Toyota iA. They’re cheap, come standard with a backup camera to help with parking, and the trunk is surprisingly large.

    You’ll need to keep your tools hidden. SF is notorious for car breaks where if they see anything inside, they’ll smash the window to get it. The locals I know are really paranoid about that and would freak out even if I left a USB cable in plain view.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Wow. The Cruze is a nice suggestion.

    If our friend is feeling slightly more adventurous, I’d also recommned a Corolla E100 wagon…or even more adventurous, bring a Highroof Van over from Japan (since it’s 25 years old):

    http://bit.ly/2sPunjN

  • avatar
    nels0300

    If you don’t need speed, Corolla Im hatchback. You’re not going anywhere fast in San Fran anyway.

    Rides good, available with 6 speed manual, hatch has room for plumbers tools.

    Proven mechanicals, MADE IN JAPAN TOYOTA, will last until the sun burns out.

    $17K brand new.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      Alex on Autos enjoyed the iM. I think they’d be a great little commuter, and come standard with radar cruise, collision avoidance, etc. even with a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        Forgot about all of that.

        Also forgot to mention, no turbo and port injection.

        I really think the Corolla Im has to be the best new car you can buy as far as ability to go hundreds of thousands of miles with little maintenance.

        Made in Japan, Toyota, port injection, no turbo, well proven mechanicals.

        Is there anything better?

        • 0 avatar
          Nick 2012

          Only thing better would be a Daihatsu Terrios. I rented one in Costa Rica and loved the little trucklet.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Second the hypothetical Terios in SF situation. Perfect combination of ruggedness with fat sidewalls and compact size. I want to go back just to get to bounce down jungle roads in a Terios again.

  • avatar
    clearance42

    I’ve been keeping a street-parked VW GTI MKVI in Brooklyn for the last 3.5 years while doing a fair amount of both city and greater-metro-area driving. No secret that NYC streets are utterly abysmal. That said, the car has been shockingly livable, with the exception of the frequency of tire replacements. After going through 5 expensive tires in 2 years (fool me 5 times… I’m an idiot), swapped to higher profile all-seasons and haven’t had a problem since. No mechanical issues, no unscheduled trips to the repair shop (I’m aware this isn’t everyone’s experience with this car, however).

    So long as you’re willing to sacrifice some performance for livability with non-OEM tires, the GTI could be a pretty solid choice.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Get an electric car either off lease or lease for not much. eGolf, i3, Soul… it doesn’t matter. There are enough charging stations around and that size/class of car is well suited to city driving.

  • avatar
    tubacity

    Having a vehicle in San Francisco is an expensive pain. Hills, parking, fees. A plumber can seldom take the bus.

    Outback is supposed to have hill holder which was emphasized in Subaru ads in past. Has room for plumbing tools, parts. However, post above correct. Theft from vehicles a problem. Other than difficulty hiding plumbing tools, Outback a good choice for SF. If plumbing becomes a big business, might need a van to hide tools. Not all of SF is full of hills so a buddy in the Richmond or Sunset might report they had no problems with a manual. Plumbing business will take you to hills. Manuals not a good idea on SF hills.

    Parking is a big issue. Zone parking requires permits for more than 2 hrs parking in many areas 6 days a week in some areas. Restricted parking is in effect for regular business hours until 4PM or 7PM depending on zone. Zone parking covers about 25% of SF. https://www.sfmta.com/maps/residential-parking-permit-map

    Penalty is parking ticket. Maybe just a cost of business. There are contractor permits but cost $1167 per annual permit with lots of requirements such as commercial plate, company name and contractor number on vehicle. https://www.sfmta.com/ko/services/permits-citations/parking-permits/contractor-permits

    Parking tickets as a cost of business: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Parking-tickets-by-the-truckload-18-S-F-2615428.php

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I swear everyone crying about driving manuals in SF either doesn’t know how to drive a manual or is inexperienced. It isn’t the end of the world.

    You can generally pace yourself up the hill so you don’t have to come to a complete stop. There is always the parking brake if you end up stopped on a steep part with someone right behind you.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Fiat 500 Abarth. More affordable than other warm hatches, more parking friendly size, and fun.

    I like the first generation Cruze a lot, except for the miserable seats. That said, I see it as more of a highway car. It’s a smallish car that drives like and has the NVH control of a bigger car. I think it would be somewhat ponderous in the city.

    Roads in SF aren’t great, but venture over to the East Bay to see what a bad road really is. Maybe western MA roads are in good shape, but whenever I return to eastern MA it resets my idea of what qualifies as a bad road. Suddenly SF Bay Area roads look well maintained.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    Just Uber everywhere like all the other a-hole transplants. I’m sure there’s an app to have some poor schmuck cart your tools to the job site too.

  • avatar

    Out of lease Fiat 500E. Low mileage CPO units can be even cheaper than a used Cruze.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    $400 / month for a parking space + $3000-4000 / mo for a 2 bedroom apartment.

    Seriously, saving a few grand on a car is not your priority. Maybe a MUNI pass + octopus card + Uber / Lyft?

    BTW, I heard general contractor makes $200k-500k per year if they have good reputation (both as employer and contractor), and the poverty line is around 108k per family per year.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    I would probably keep the Subaru for awhile, living in SF makes my LA living look cheap in comparison. If something new is a must, being in the trades business I would look at a Ford Transit Connect…easy to maneuver and can carry all your necessary equipment safely.

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    My first thought was actually a 1.4T manual Sonic. In SF, smaller size and lower weight relative to the Cruze would be assets. IMO, the Sonic, like the Cruze, feels larger than it is on the highway (partly due to their weight, I suppose), so it shouldn’t be too much of a penalty box. And, hey, you get your choice of ‘short stubby car for tiny spaces’ and ‘slightly longer car with extra concealed storage’.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    As someone who did that move from MA to SF about 3.5 years ago here is are a few points to ponder:

    1. you will stick out like a sore thumb here in a small Chevy. This place is awash with furrin’ cars. Only larger trucks and SUVs are American-badged and I like it that way!

    2. roads do suck here. They’re not as bad as Boston used to be but they’re still surprisingly crappy considering the weather conditions this place has

    3. people that say don’t buy stick because of hills are just no good at driving stick. I drive through SF in a ’72 Beetle with no power steering or brakes and do just fine. In fact, it’s a nearly ideal car for this city – small, old and with massive bumpers

    4. drivers are generally better than in MA. Of course, there are still bad drivers anywhere but the percentage here is generally smaller. Plus vehicles are smaller and more expensive leading to people actually watching the road instead of their cell phone. And they’re really afraid of cops here on top of it all

    5. When you say you’re coming here to make “big money” think again. I believe it was in the last couple of months that it was declared by the city that income of $105K or less per family is considered poverty level. Everything is mad expensive except booze for some reason. It’s cheaper than in MA. Go figure

    Overall, this is a fun town with bad roads, decent drivers and very high cost of living. If you can swing that I think you’ll have a great time here!

  • avatar
    dmchyla

    Cruze owner chiming in. Solid choice, my ’12 Eco has survived 113,000 miles of the worst roads the Midwest has to offer and is still solid. Two caveats: 1. Don’t get an Eco. It’s more of a highway cruiser, has taller gearing and a yawning gap between first and second that would make SF streets less pleasant. Also, they are half an inch lowered from the regular Cruze. 2. Probably not an LTZ either, the 17″ wheels would take away some of the compliance that you want. An LT with 16″ wheels would be fine, and you won’t worry too much about leaving it on the street. Even better, swap out the rims for 16″ steel wheels.

    Sonic would be a great choice too. Probably easier to park.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The South Korean Daewoo Lacetti is one of the most solid vehicles to ever wear a General Motors brand badge (two of the others were the Fremont NUMMI Chevrolet Nova -1984–1988, and the Geo Prizm – 1989–1997.

      General Motors literally can’t make even a halfway decent vehicle by the standards of the rest of the developed world;it’s best offerings hail from South Korea or plants that were really run by Toyota under a “joint operating agreement” that had to make vehicles up to Toyota standards.


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