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Ups and downs of cars... [Oct. 18th, 2011|03:18 pm]
So, today, I cleaned out my car, and found my title, prior to taking it to a mechanic for the likely writing up of the car-equivalent of a death certificate. It was sputtering and losing power whenever I put the gas down - think, 35 mph on a gentle upward grade on the highway, because any faster made really scary noises with far too much sputtering.

But, no, maybe not. While I *am* losing compression, just like I guessed, my low-compression cylinder is still within the normal range (barely). But, my spark plugs had gotten fouled... presumably because I'm burning so much oil. And the reason the car was running so rough (the mechanic says) is that the computer would cut power to protect the engine. (Greatly oversimplified, I'm sure.)

So, my lovely Akane (yes, I name my cars) might just get the extra 1200 miles she needs to pass 200,000 miles. I find that surprisingly gratifying. She *deserves* 200,000 on the odometer.

In the meantime, I've been preparing for new car shopping. I'm looking at the Honda Fit, and the Ford Focus 5-door. I also think maybe, maybe the Jetta Sportswagen TDI.

Honda is ahead on points - cheapest of the three with ridiculous amounts of room for a small car. Plus, it's *cool*. I want to see if he hidden seat compartment will hide a Walther PPK[1] (not that I *have* a Walther, nor do I particularly want one). The Ford isn't as hauling-friendly as the Fit, but it does have cruise control as an option and it's not much more expensive - plus, hey, support American car manufacturing!

The Jetta is really, really expensive as far as I'm concerned (yes, I'm a successful computer professional who thinks a car costing less than 30 grand is "really, really expensive". I'm weird. And very practical and minimalist.) But, hey, biggest car, most torque, best mileage (but it doesn't beat the Ford by much!), and biggest gas tank. And, I've heard it said that diesels typically outlast ordinary gas engines.

I'd been planning on making a fast, fast decision - probably the Fit, figuring I can pay it off quickly, and then use it as a trade-in if I fell in love with another car in a few years. The Ford is a strong contender, but being able to move stuff is really important. And, the Jetta's about half-again as much.

Now, I might have some more leisure. Anyone have any ideas on other cars that have lots of cargo space, really good gas mileage, or any reason I should run away from any of these cars?

[1] James Bond's favorite gun in several novels/movies.The magic seats are *that* cool and Q-like (or dare I say Q-ute?).

[User Picture]From: desert_dragon42
2011-10-18 10:31 pm (UTC)
I'm a huge fan of Honda. Just basic regular maintenance and they will run wonderfully for many hundreds of thousands of miles. The 2001 Accord I'm driving at the moment was used on Jay's commute between Phoenix & Tucson for 3 years (120 miles each way), and then between Winslow & Flagstaff (120 miles round trip). It has a lot of mileage and few problems. Jay's Civic saved his life and his new Civic is getting a lot of use and has a surprising amount of leg room in the front and back. Plus a surprising amount of room in the luggage compartment (it is a hybrid and there's a battery in there somewhere).
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[User Picture]From: wcg
2011-10-18 11:56 pm (UTC)
If I were in the 5-door hatchback market, I'd look at the Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, and the Chevy Aveo models in addition to the ones you're already looking at. Also, go test drive a Mazda 3. Really. It's great fun, even if you don't buy it.

For cargo capacity, you're not going to beat the Fit in the size range you're looking. It's like Rufo's box.
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[User Picture]From: sfw_dc
2011-10-19 02:27 am (UTC)
Check the gas requirements. I seem to recall eliminating at least one of those from consideration because it required high-test.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2011-10-20 03:13 am (UTC)
I've recently driven a Fiesta, Aveo, and a Mazda 3. I liked the Fiesta best. The Aveo didn't get such great mileage. The Mazda 3 is overpriced.
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[User Picture]From: 64tbird
2011-10-19 01:28 am (UTC)
May I suggest my beloved Toyota Matrix be included in your comparisons?
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[User Picture]From: laurarey
2011-10-19 02:09 am (UTC)
We had some similar needs around cargo. We just bought a Mazda 5 this week. We also looked at the Kia Rio.
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[User Picture]From: sfw_dc
2011-10-19 02:25 am (UTC)
I drive a Fit, and love it.

I've had it 6 or so years now, I think. I bought the first year it was available in the US, so the new ones are little different. I don't have a secret compartment!

I wanted a TDI, but they hadn't been released in the US at that point. With what the Fit hauls, I think I came out ahead.
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[User Picture]From: sfw_dc
2011-10-19 02:28 am (UTC)
Oh, I should add, my father calls my Fit "the Cardis."

Edited at 2011-10-19 02:28 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: 98
2011-10-19 01:32 pm (UTC)
How cold are your winters? Diesels are much more reluctant to start than gas engines as temperatures drop. I think they are not quite as bad as they were and there are ways to mitigate the problem but I would not want the fuss.

Since everyone is mentioning favorite cars in addition to your three, we are fans of our Subaru Foresters, chiefly for the all-wheel-drive, which admittedly means the mileage can't be the best.

Edited at 2011-10-19 01:32 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: 64tbird
2011-10-19 02:42 pm (UTC)
See - the Matrix has four wheel drive and awesome mileage as such and costs much less than Subaru...

I looked at Subarus...looked at everything ... kept coming back to the Matrix...primarily because it fits my gigantic children.
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[User Picture]From: essaying
2011-10-19 03:57 pm (UTC)
Have you looked at the Mazda 3? I've had them as rentals a few times and liked them very much - spirited, comfortable and cute.
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[User Picture]From: sueschus
2011-10-20 05:14 am (UTC)
Check out The Car Pro Show on the radio - here on Saturdays. Web site is carproshow.com. Can email them for recommended dealers and info regarding what's best for what you need. Interesting stuff.
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From: kightp
2011-10-26 04:28 pm (UTC)
Coming in very late here (such is my lack of LJ involvement these days), but: You might consider seeing if you can find any of the models you're interested in via a car rental place. Rent one for a day or a weekend and see how it performs under your normal driving habits (as opposed to taking a dealer model out for a test drive.)

I don't imagine this is one of your criteria, but the Fit is awfully cute. Come to think of it, it looks a lot like the Nissan Leaf. (-:
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