QOTD: Best Bare-bones Escape Capsule?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd best bare bones escape capsule

The pursuit of safety can lead an individual down many paths. To a self-defense course. To a gun store. To a withdrawn, frightened existence well removed from the warm confines of relationships and social gatherings. And even to a car dealership.

Yes, owning and driving a car puts you more at risk of dying in a crash than riding the train or bus to work every morning, but in these strange times, a car can be more than just a convenient way to get to work on time (or not). It can be a sanctuary.

Say you want just such a sanctuary. You’re not picky. You don’t want to buy a used jalopy from someone who’s holding back the truth. But you’re not exactly loaded.

Data is piling up that the global populace is ready and willing to change their ways and get behind the wheel of a car — often for the first time — in order to physically distance themselves from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It stands to reason, yet it might not come to pass. However, let’s put all that aside for now.

YOU are now in the shoes of this scared, safety-seeking individual. And you’ll feel especially safe in a vehicle with a warranty, hence your need to buy something with zero miles on the odometer. Now, getting into debates about wildly variable credit scores and financing a bigger vehicle at a lower rate will muddy this exercise, so let’s make some ground rules.

Given your desire for a warranty and new-car smell, the vehicle you’ll be looking for is new. And you’ll be looking to have it satisfy as many needs and desires as possible. You’re still you. However, your price cap in a measly $20k. That’s after destination, but not before tax, admin, other fees, etc. You can cross that MSRP threshold by a handful of dollars, but not a grand or more.

Pretty small list, eh?

Certain auto journos bemoan the death of cheap cars, but they’re still out there, and a vanishing few of these hectoring voices ever actually put their money towards one. If the under-35 crowd really does desire a personal vehicle more than ever before, surely there’ll be an uptick in sales on the affordable end of things. Time will tell.

So let’s hear your pick. There’s a couple of not-hot hatch holdouts in the form of the Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage. The Ford Fiesta’s gone, sadly. Moving up, there’s a new Nissan Versa, and the even fresher Sentra also makes the cut in base form. Hell, Nissan’s Kicks is a contender. So is the entry-level Chevrolet Trailblazer, for that matter. Hyundai and Kia have product they’d like to parade in front of your eyes.

It’s not High Country or King Ranch territory, but it isn’t Trabant, either. What’s it gonna be, B&B?

[Image: Hyundai]

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3 of 65 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on May 05, 2020

    I would rather opt for a bicycle. Bare-bones escape - yes, capsule -not, but I do not want to be squeezed into capsule.

  • VWGolfGuy VWGolfGuy on May 06, 2020

    My wife bought a new 2018 Spark to commute with after grad school. I absolutely love that car. It doesn’t do anything particularly well except fit into small spaces. But it does everything you ask of it without complaint. It looks comical and brings a smile to my face. I will miss that car when it comes time to part ways with it. It has a personality that is absent from other cars, and I love it for that onsite of its flaws.

  • Jeanbaptiste The last time I used AM was in a Park area that said listen to 1300AM for water releases. That was a decade ago.
  • Ronin When you are driving cross country at night, and are totally bored, it's great to spin the AM dial and DX distant stations from hundreds and hundreds of miles away. It's something to do.On the other hand, the CONTENT of AM radio is abysmal. It's a trough of commercial after commercial after commercial. AM radio is destroying itself by thereby making itself unlistenable.
  • Dave M. I think I last listened to AM after 9/11, but the talk radio cesspool took its toll on my mental health. Prior to that I last listened to AM in the '70s....I'm a 20-year XM subscriber; Apple Music also has me in its grip. For traffic conditions I use Waze, which I've found to be highly reliable.
  • Art Vandelay Install shortwave so I can get numbers stations
  • THX1136 Radio World has been talking about this for a few years now. The public perception of AM has done much to malign it. As some have pointed out, there are parts of the country that work well with AM, especially when considering range. Yes indeed, there are options. To me that's what this is more about. The circuitry for AM is probably all on one chip now - or close to it. It cannot be a matter of cost - even at the inflated manufacturer asking price. Making what appears to be an arbitrary decision and reducing choice seems unwise in the area of radio in vehicles.Some have commented that they never listen to AM 'so I'm not missing it'. I'm guessing that many folks don't use ALL the features their many devices offer. Yet, they are still there for those occasions when one wants to avail themselves. Bottom line for me is it should still be an available option for the folks out there that, for whatever reason, want to access AM radio. Side note: Top 40 radio on AM was where all the music I listened to as a youth (55 years ago) came from, there were few (if any) FM stations at that time that carried the format. FM was mostly classical and talk and wasn't ubiquitously available in a portable form - AM was. FYI, the last I knew all stations - AM & FM - still have to have an EAS system as part of their broadcast chain. It's tested by the FCC at least once a year and all stations must be able to pass along the alert messages or face action from the FCC to correct the situation.