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Part Two: Car Boy's Quest For New Wheels

Posted by: David Kiley on October 19, 2007

Everybody’s comments are great. Much appreciated.

Some of you think I am a lunatic for cross-shopping a Ford Focus and a BMW 1 Series. I thought I should give short reasons why these cars are on my list.

Ford Focus (2008: The new model has Synch, which ties in my cell-phone and iPod into the car. I’m not crazy about the styling. The truth is that while it still isn’t the Euro Focus, the manual tranny Focus is an under-appreciated fun driver at a great price. Good mpg.

Nissan Versa: Good price. Handy package. Six-speed manual is sweet. Taut suspension makes it a fun driver. Good mpg.

Honda Fit: Top drawer engine and tranny. Tight as a drum. Styling a little stodgy. Good mpg.

Saturn Astra: Haven’t driven it yet. But I like the styling. Mileage could be better.

Saturn Vue Green Line: Im not leaning toward hybrids, but I am considering them. I like this one more than the Ford Escape.

Honda Civic Hybrid: A long-shot for car boy. But it’s on the list.

VW GTI: Goes like stink. Awesomely fun to drive. But I have a slight disconnect betwen the styling, which says $18,500 to me, and the actual $24K+ price-tag.

VW Rabbit: Inexpensive. Taut driver. But who asked for a five-cylinder that hurt mpg? Oy. A car that small should get 40 mpg. I want a new Rabbit TDI…now!

BMW 325ix (2005 used). No defense needed. A sweet car. Among the very best But it doesn’t address my desire to make a fuel economy statement.

Ford Fusion (manual transmission): The manual tranny is the only possibility here. I’m probably considering it for hometown reasons.

Chevy HHR: I like the styling…sort of. Package is good. Price is good. Probably won’t happen.

Mazda3: Sweet driver. The dealer is not terribly convenient to me, though. That’s an issue.

MazdaSpeed3: See above. Only sweeter.

Hyundai Elantra: Long-shot. Good price and package, though.

Toyota Corolla: Call me Sensible Sam. Fuel economy and reliability is the issue here. Not a bad driiver with the manual either.

Volvo C30: Haven’t driven it yet, but I like what I read. Looks good. Not sure I’ll like it after I price it up with options.

Scion xD: Tight. Reliable. Good package.

Scion xB: See above.

VW Jetta TDI: MPG over 40 when it arrives. 40% less carbon output than gas equivalent. Great resale. A real statement. Doesn’t arrive until May. Dealer near me is so-so. VW reliability a serious issue.

BMW 1 Series: Cool. Very cool. Above my price, but I’m considering.

MINI Clubman: Very cool, and a real backseat. Dealer is too far away. That’s a problem for servicing.

Reader Comments


October 20, 2007 12:05 PM

What about the Dodge Caliber? Either the 1.8 liter manual transmission if you want to go economical or the SRT4 with manual if power is your thing....

I think these days American cars are more competitive due to design + quality than they used to be and this comment is coming from a European living in the US.

Interestig stuff by the way, I'm considering buying a new car in the same price range as you are and although I know my priorities/considerations, it's interesting to read someone else's.


David Kiley

October 22, 2007 6:14 PM

The reason the Dodge Caliber is not on my list is that the new Chrysler's--Caliber, Compass and Patriot--have cheap looking and feeling interiors, as well as a dead feeling in the steering wheel. There is also a dead quality in the switchgear and door closures. Did I mention..."dead feel."


October 23, 2007 8:07 AM

[Quote]I want a new Rabbit TDI…now![/Quote]



October 23, 2007 7:31 PM

Herr Kiley,

Dead feel. OK, so you did not like my '08 Accord idea, not even enough to mention it as a no-show. As I said, it was for mature adults--both mentally and physically.

So how about the Civic coupe? Si or not? One thing it has over just about all of the others (can't think of an exception but i'm trying to be PC in this) is RELIABILITY. The bunks at the VW dealers are very hard, the other occupants snore, the grub is terrible, and after two weeks they charge you for bathing in their car-wash facilities. Prior to that a rinse is verboten in an effort to keep the atmosphere as German as possible. The BMV Mini has a lot of problems including gradual spine compression resulting from the harsh ride. But then as you grow shorter, just try to take this to court. I am trying to think of your other possible candidates--the Aveo for one. You have to hand it to Richie W. and Bobbie L. for coming up with that Korean jewel. Very GM.

Kurt Peters

October 24, 2007 11:18 AM

Just bought a 2dr 2007 VW Rabbit with Tiptonic transmission. Has the standard 15" wheels. $16,00, $17,340 with tax, tags etc.

Was planing on getting a Honda Civic till I drove the Rabbit. A lot better visibility, weird blind spots on the Civic. Drove a Versa and a xD too. Sat in the Volvo C30 but it was too much money. There's a six month waiting list for a Honda Fit so that was out.

I'd rather have the torque than the MPG.

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