View Full Version : Choice of street car

02-13-2004, 02:03 PM
Okay, I know this is the wrong forum for this question, but I respect the wealth of auto knowledge that uses this forum (yes, that was sucking up!)
I suddenly find myself needing to do a LOT of highway driving and may easily do 40 to 45,000 miles a year. I'm looking for suggestions for a small car that gets great highway milage per gallon (40+...or the equivalent in kilometers per litre) AND has a powertrain that can stand up to such high mileage. Of course I'm looking to buy a new car...with this kinda miles, I'm thinking of something almost disposable....drive it for three years and scrap it.
Any ideas? My quick research from a MPG standpoint points me toward Suzuki Swift or the Honda Civic VX, etc. I assume the honda would be more durable, but I know nothing about the Suzuki powertrain.
ANY and ALL input appreciated.

02-13-2004, 03:11 PM
With those kind of numbers, I would take a serious look at one of the new hybrid cars, either the Toyota Prius with four doors or the Honda whachamacallit (Impulse, Impact, Imploder?) two seater.

Huge mileage cars from companies that have excellent quality reputations.

Not recommended for towing, however. http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif


02-13-2004, 03:56 PM
Originally posted by rlekun:
I suddenly find myself needing to do a LOT of highway driving and may easily do 40 to 45,000 miles a year. I'm looking for suggestions for a small car that gets great highway milage per gallon

My only thought is that I would get something that doesn't rev too high at speed. I love my Golf, for instance, but it turns 3k - 4k at freeway speeds. I think that would make me crazy if I had to do that too much. Also watch for road noise. My girlfriend's Neon is LOUD on the freeway.

Greg Amy
02-13-2004, 05:05 PM
Hybrid? No way, dude <grin>.

Jetta or Golf TDi, all the way. Beats the hybrids into the ground on REAL WORLD fuel economy, drives on a fuel that's usually cheaper, and has German engineering and quality to boot. The car's driving and interior quality are easily on par with its Audi cousin, and short of pulling into a different fuel pump you'll never know you're driving a diesel (no smells and smoke, very little engine noise). A VW TDi will easily last a quarter-million miles with regular maintenance, and it's a hoot to drive as well!

If you can wait a couple of months, VW will offer the TDi in the bigger Passat, and it'll be a 2.0l to boot.

It was actually a very hard decision for me to choose between the Audi S4 and the Jetta TDi; I like 'em both. But, since someone at the time was paying for my car (job) I took the more-expensive car. To this day I wonder if it was the best choice...


02-13-2004, 05:20 PM
Here's some advice from someone that drives 40,000 miles a year. I went the "throw away" car route once. Never again. If you're driving 45K per year, that means that you will be sitting in a car for 1000+ hours. You'll be eating in it, you'll have a good size CD collection in it. If you get an econo box, you'll be hatin' life in 6 months. Miles per gallon is important, but what about comfort. How many months of winter weather driving do you have? What about AWD? If all you're looking for is dependability and low fuel costs a Corolla, Civic,etc... will do the trick.
Econo boxes have a few bad points:

- Louder interior noise levels ( no big deal for 30 minutes, but 1-2 hours per day, day after day...)

- Lack of comfort features

- Cheap seats

Stay away from the hybrids. The TCO (total cost of ownership) is quite high on high mileage hybrids. And the fuel economy isn't that much better.

02-13-2004, 05:54 PM
I drive 120 miles every day round trip to work and back. I bought two disposable cars, one with 220k on it now and the other with 180k. I would strongly suggest the VW route. I got a Golf (gas). With disposable cars you have to keep in mind that they don't always want to run when you want them to. The VW is kinda like that bunny...it just keeps going and going........

02-13-2004, 06:05 PM
Corolla. Any Corolla. Automatic trans, mid-level trim Corolla. Buy a one year old one from the dealer (most complex part of transaction: what colour do I like?)and let somebody else take the depreciation hit.

I have a 2000, I drive it 135 miles a day through NY metro area rush hour traffic round trip to work, and routine maintenance isn't much more involved than putting gasoline in it. It's simple and indestructable. If my commute can't kill it, I can not imagine one that will.

We call ours "duh!" because you can be brain dead and own and operate one these things. With the kind of mileage you are going to be putting on, any sort of automobile for which driving is a participatory experience (read: fun) is wrong. You just put duh! in D for duh and drive it. It is boring to drive, but it gets you there for minimal cost - I get 32-34 MPG in stop and go traffic with the A/C on.

02-13-2004, 07:16 PM
I feel like I can lend some real world experiences here, as I have been a regional sales rep for over 12 years. Average mileage per year is probably 50-55K.

I've owned.
Protege (good car, loud, bulletproof)
325i (good mileage, comfortable, expensive)
Jetta TDI (98 model)
Excursion PSD
99 Saturn beater (present appliance)

By a WIIIIDDDEEE margin, the Jetta was the best car of these. In fact, it is the best car I've ever owned. Sold it with 98K on it to my uncle who took it from NC to buffalo to LasVegas. It now has 150K on it and even he says it's the best car he's driven.

2nd is the excursion.

The reason is purely as Grega and Zracer put it. Economy and comfort. The saturn is a low cushion front seat. it takes about 2.5 hours for the leg to go numb. The Jetta and the Ex have more chair-like seating positions that are MUCH more comfortable over the long haul. IMHO, the Jetta had a far superior seat to even the BMW. Not more sporty, but after 10 hours to S Florida, more comfortable.

WRT mileage, I got about 48 average MPG and a top of 51 MPG. Air blows really cold, heat blows hot, and the motor has enough torque to get through 5 gears without touching the gas (well fuel really). I added an Upsolute chip and could cut 0-60 in the low 9's. Don't think that baby won't haul the top end either.. With the chip, I saw slightly to the north of 115.

I put one set of tires on, bilstein's changed the oil, and changed the timing belt and fuel/air filters. That's it.

For around 6-8K, I don't think it can be beat. In fact, for me I would buy another used one with 75K on it versus a new Camry/Accord (hell, just about anything).

02-13-2004, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by grega:
Hybrid? No way, dude <grin>.

So Greg, does that mean you won't like the idea of an ectoplasm fueled, multidimensional, miniworm hole-activated matter transmitter?

That was going to be my next suggestion <big grin>.


02-13-2004, 10:42 PM
Cant say much about the hybrids but go Japanese. My life has gotten so much simpler since I've gone completely Japanese with my garage(except for the Ford tow vehicle). I can well remember the days of german ownership with Porsche, Audi and Mercedes. My wife and I spent many hrs together shuttling cars between shops. Now I've had cars that never went back to the dealer in 200k.
Toyota or Mazda would be my first choice. If size is not important, get a low mileage Miata and drive it until it drops. Very low maintenance and fun to drive.

02-14-2004, 12:21 AM
The Corolla is a great car. My wife's daily driver is a 96 Corolla. Besides the ding I gave it will backing the race trailer into the driveway, the car is perfect. No rattles, everything still works like new and 30 miles to the gallon. I would use it as a daily because I'm 6'2" and don't have as much leg room as I like to have.

Greg Amy
02-14-2004, 10:54 AM
<font face=\"Verdana, Arial\" size=\"2\">...you won't like the idea of an ectoplasm fueled, multidimensional, miniworm hole-activated matter transmitter?</font>

Hey, didn't I see one of those during the Super Bowl halftime show...?

02-14-2004, 10:15 PM
I have a 2000 Civic Coupe HX 5sp (non-16V Vtech produced for high MPG). Drive 35K/year, spend 5-7 hours per day in my car. (Cargo Claims Inspector)

Real world mileage worst has been 36 best has been 42. I have never driven an entire tank on the highway.

Someone decided that they deserved my wife's Honda ('99LX 5sp) more than we did. While it was gone, we had a variety of rentals. All of which were in our price range and were purposely rented so that we could treat them as extended test drives without a salesman riding shotgun. None of them, including a Toyota, appeared to be as well made as the Honda. We also test drove a cars at dealerships.

Our replacement was a)going to cost less than $20K b)get better than 30MPG. c)be reliable enough to give us 200K trouble free miles. And I didn't like the style of the new Hondas. The interiors on the less expensive Toyotas were cheaply made.

Turned out we were going to have to lower our expectations a little. Increasing our budget would mean decreasing racing, so that wasn't discussed. We decided that the Jetta TDI was going to be the new replacement. The best interior and mileage of the bunch. But not the same reliability as the Hondas and Toyotas.

The next day they found our Honda, we were quite happy to have it back.

A $5-8K Miata every 2-3 years looks like a great alternative.

I'd stay away from Automatics because of lower mileage and higher maintenance/repair costs. Plus they aren't cool. They belong on motorhomes, full size trucks and Cadillacs. Certainly not on a 120Hp gutless wonder.

The CVT scares me, I just think heat, wear and expensive repairs.

[This message has been edited by Quickshoe (edited February 14, 2004).]

02-15-2004, 07:16 PM
Great feedback. What do you all think about an old (say 1996) MercedesBenz 190 diesel??

Greg Amy
02-15-2004, 08:14 PM
At 40-45K miles per year, your car is your job, your career, your life.

The last thing you need is something that will require any attention outside of starting, driving, and filling up. You want a car that will require ZERO repairs, ZERO additional expenses, ZERO time on your part for maintenance. You do not want to work on it in your "spare" time.

You want a new car with a new car warranty. You want a car that, should something go wrong, you drop it off at the dealership, they give you a loaner, and they call you on your cellphone when it's done.

02-15-2004, 09:52 PM
Originally posted by grega:
Hey, didn't I see one of those during the Super Bowl halftime show...?

No Greg, you saw something else. http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif


02-16-2004, 10:50 PM
MB deisel?

My dad has had a few of them, I think the youngest had 150k when he got his hands on it. Marginally faster off the line than the Toyota Prius, which I think I could out run on my skateboard. Comfortable cars that don't have too many little problems as they get older (window cranks don't fall off etc). However, like most German cars some of the contortions he's gone through to do maintenance are just nuts. Two of the three have had tranny problems at the 250k or so. Some of the parts are priced higher than racing parts, same with labor for someone able/willing/stupid enough to work on them. There's also a 3 liter too. I don't think they do as well on fuel as the TDI's though, they are much heavier cars.

Get something with low interior noise levels. The noise will wear you out without you realizing why you feel tired.

02-17-2004, 12:56 PM
Noise? The thumpin stereo will be the only noise inside! I could run tire chains on dry pavement and I won't hear it. http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/wink.gif