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  1. #26
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    My wife drives a Mini Countryman and loves it. Drives well and is pretty fun. She unfortunately has run flat tires which are a little rough riding. It does well in the snow, but in Central Virginia we don't get a lot so not a very good judge of that. With seats down it has a surprising amount of space for stuff. It has been very reliable although repair costs on things can be a little pricey. She had the coolant container thing (not a car guy so don't know the technical name) and they said the repair cost would have been around $900 if it wasn't under warranty.

  2. #27
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    You canít go wrong with a Subaru! And the Crosstrek isnít a boring car for elderly...

  3. #28
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    can't get a lower maintenance car long term than the Fit. And drives much nicer than the usual POSeconoboxes. Maybe not as nice to drive as a VW, but then VW is the worlds worst brand for long term reliability (I got burned owning one years ago)

    I'm considering buying cheap old Fit for my vacation home, as the rental car fees are really adding up.
    Faith is pretending to know things you don't know

  4. #29
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    +1 on Mazda3. I'm currently driving a 2006 2.3L hatch version. I only payed 5K for it, and it is very reliable and fun to drive with a 150hp and good handling. I've driven VWs and have always been underwhelmed at how they drive. Also never been a fan of the sloppy feeling of Honda cars and the dead feeling of Toyotas. The Mazda3 handles better and it is just a better car overall than other cars in its class.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    There's actually two REALLY nice Elements that I see around my neighborhood that make me wonder why they were discontinued. I even did some research on them just for giggles. An Element would check a lot of boxes for my wife and I for all the reasons you listed - if we didn't already have a super nice 91 VW Westfalia campervan.
    The Element was discontinued as CR-V sales was beating it and it was more niche of an SUV than others.

    Not sure if you're looking specifically at newer/off-lease cars or specifically at price, but I am surprised no one has suggested a Toyota Matrix. Its a hatchback based on the Corolla and came with optional AWD. For "just a car" I don't think you can beat that. If you want something newer and without the AWD, you can find a Scion iM.

  6. #31
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    Thanks for the all the input everybody! I decided to up my budget and order a 2018 Crosstrek.

    I had the epiphany that, with the loss of my Pathfinder, if my usual backcountry ski partners aren't available I'll have a hard time getting to some snowy trailheads if I bought the Fit or Golf etc. and our Alltrack is too nice to beat up with regular off road use during the summer - although it did surprisingly well following my friend in his old Forester yesterday.

    Small pickups are overpriced here and I really don't like driving them.

  7. #32
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    My wife has moved from a 10 y.o Forester to a Crosstrek Limited in Hyper Blue last year and she LOVES it! The AWD from Subaru is one of the best in the market. She wanted to have a safe car (also with stock HID lights) with AWD and wanted to avoid any car for elderly (Subaru Forester), soccer moms (mid size SUV), etc...

    If you want to have a better look for your Crosstrek look at the grey front/side/rear spoiler. Change the rear plug to the Sti. Change the color of fog light. Etc...

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_mm View Post
    Change the color of fog light. Etc...
    Glad to hear another endorsement.

    As luck would have it, I got to test drive one during our latest snow storm so it was great to see how well it did navigating 7-8 inches of chopped up snow - no need to use momentum to get through the deeper stuff, just relax and let the AWD do it's thing. And that was with less than optimal tires.

    I'm thinking of the Premium in either white or "cool gray khaki". The only eventual changes I see me making would be to put smaller wheels on it to fit light truck tires with taller sidewalls and aluminum skid plates.

  9. #34
    Matnlely Dregaend
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    We looked at the Crosstrek, it was too small and had too big of a blind spot. Wound up with a 1.5T Honda CR-V, which doesn't have nearly the awd capability but man is it awesome on gas on the highway (can get 35mpg cruising!). Too bad it has adaptive cruise (super annoying to use).
    ďBicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.Ē - Susan B. Anthony 1896
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  10. #35
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    Best "it's just a car" for under $15k?

    Yepp the Crosstrek has a small trunk indeed. Not a car for a family. And yes great AWD with Subaru and ok with gas but nit the best in class. It is also because of the AWD. I tested the adaptive cruise on the Crosstrek and I pretty much like it (my wife dislike it however).

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.R. View Post
    Mazda 3 Hatchbak if you willing to leave to go with 2 people/1 bike or 3 people/no bike.

    Fun/Easy drive, reliable transportation.
    I've got a MINI and a Mazda 3. Both would be good choices.

    MINI is much more fun to drive. Maintenance costs are higher. Will hold two people no problem, or one person and one road bike.

    Mazda 3 is just plain transportation, a bit boring, cheaper to maintain. I've never hauled a bike, as mine is not a hatch back. Good basic car.
    To those in uniform, both present and past, who have protected my freedoms, I thank you. I've had a good life so far.

  12. #37
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    My wife and I started driving CR-Vís when they were first introduced. For many years we both drove one until ultimately trading one in on an Odyssey (grandchildren and parents need seats).
    Now our one car is a CR-V. I smile as I put my bike in the back using a front fork mount while watching Subaru owners trying to wedge their bike into their vehicle.
    Yes I am a Honda snob (smiley face here).

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by MerlinAma View Post
    (...)
    Now our one car is a CR-V. I smile as I put my bike in the back using a front fork mount while watching Subaru owners trying to wedge their bike into their vehicle.
    Yes I am a Honda snob (smiley face here).
    LOL
    Let me guess your bike is a Giant, right?

  14. #39
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    Good luck with your Subaru! I had an Outback before my current Element. It was great, amazing in the snow. I will go find another Element after this one. I love it. The engineering is fabulous. It sucks in the wind on a highway... Badly. Itís an ďactiveĒ driving experience, haha. But is so versatile itís amazing. For XC Skiing I can put one. Rear seat up and the other rear seat down flat like a bench so I have a little bit to gear up in. It has its downsides, as mentioned, the clamshell doors are funky to live with. The blind spots are huge, itís a cat eye mirror must. And my back seats are mostly up so I canít see anything out my rear windows. But I have fit 3 people and a fully electric hospital bed, mattress and all, in that car!
    To date, philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.

  15. #40
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    My wife just pointed out that we get VIP pricing on Subarus since we are IMBA members. That seals the deal for me.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    There's actually two REALLY nice Elements that I see around my neighborhood that make me wonder why they were discontinued. [/I]
    They didn't sell well. while some of the features appeal to many, the fact is, that it was jus t a Honda CR-V with different styling. They even used the same 2.4 liter engine, but the Element weighed more... meaning it didn't accelerate as well and it got lower gas mileage. moving the back seat further back didn't help cargo capacity either. However, you have a true collectible. I haven't seen a 1991 Vanagon Westfalia in ages. That was the last year they made them. Awesome!

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