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  1. #1
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    Best "it's just a car" for under $15k?

    In the vein of Systemshock's car thread...

    I was in the middle of a fender-bender sandwich yesterday which will likely spell the end of my 18 years piloting a vintage Japanese SUV. There's a chance I'll take the little bit of money the insurance gives me and keep rolling it, dents and all, but it's really at the end of its safe useful life.

    So, all I need is something that has low maintenance costs and that is good enough in the snow for my wife to drive 2 miles to her work on days when I drive our VW Alltrack to the ski hill.

    Most of the time it will sit in front of my house when I ride my bike to work. It would almost never leave a 15 mile radius of my house. I would like it to fit 3 people and one bike inside. I'd like to keep it around $15k.

    A used Subaru Crosstrek is the front runner. Yes, I've driven one and I know it's a dog - but not compared to the 94 Pathfinder it would replace.

    Mini Coopers seem pretty cool too and I could be flexible with the bike-in-car wish.

    I don't know why, but American vehicles just don't appeal to me. Well, maybe a Jeep Wrangler if it wasn't all pimped out with ridiculous tactical gear. I thought a Focus hatchback might be nice until I rented the base model sedan.

    Any other suggestions? Have fun.

  2. #2
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    Used Miata manual

  3. #3
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    Honda Accord/Civic
    Toyota Corolla/Camry
    Don't knock the Ford Fusion
    Mazda 6

    Certified Pre Owned on those, especially on the older end of the spectrum, should be under that $15k
    I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?

  4. #4
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    I just learned my local Audi dealer has a 2013 Mini Cooper Pacemam John Cooper Works edition on the floor for $23k. More than I want to spend, and maybe more car than I really want to live with, but...

    I think I might have fun shopping.

  5. #5
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    Since you have a VW already I would get a used VW Golf(1.8t)(2.5L), Rabbit(2.5L). Very reliable and lots of fun to drive. I would stay away from the GTI model because of the reliability of the 2.0 engine. Hatchback has almost as much room inside as your Alltrack, ok in snow with all season tires.
    "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

  6. #6
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    I have a first gen 2006 mini cooper S. FYI With rear seats down and the bike front wheel off and the passenger seat moved up I can fit one road bike inside the car. There is no room for a passenger though.

    I love the mini.. I call it my little go kart. Great city vehicle. Not so great for longer haul trips, say over 2-3 hours.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by davelikestoplay View Post
    I love the mini.. .
    How has it been reliability/maintenance-wise?

    I once spoke with a woman who said hers was surprisingly good in the snow. Do you have any snow driving experience with yours?

    Realistically, the Paceman is out. There's just too much functional overlap with our VW but a regular Mini would be great as it would fit in my undersized driveway rather than parking in in the street. A " city vehicle", as you called it, has some appeal as my town gets more and more crowded.

  8. #8
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    My wife likes her Hyundai Elantra GT. It'll fit 2 adults and a bicycle. We've had no issues with it but only about 16,000 miles.
    Too old to ride plastic

  9. #9
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    I am in Ottawa Canada, so with snow tires it performs fine in the snow. With the traction control and the relatively thin tires I am fully confident in winter driving. No real issues with reliability, however it is a second car, so it only has about 50,000 km in total mileage over the 10 year life, so we are probably not the best data point for your reliability question. Another benefit is I can almost always squeeze into any parking spot...

  10. #10
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    Honda Element? Short wheelbase = good city vehicle, awd variant + a/t tires = super capable snow performer, plenty of headroom = can store bike(s) inside standing up without wheel removal, rear seats have miles of leg room.

    Drawbacks: it drives like a bus (but it has a great personality). Back seats can only fit 2. Behind rear seat storage is on the slim side. Clamshell rear passenger doors.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by beeristasty View Post
    Honda Element? Short wheelbase = good city vehicle, awd variant + a/t tires = super capable snow performer, plenty of headroom = can store bike(s) inside standing up without wheel removal, rear seats have miles of leg room.

    Drawbacks: it drives like a bus (but it has a great personality). Back seats can only fit 2. Behind rear seat storage is on the slim side. Clamshell rear passenger doors.
    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.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by davelikestoplay View Post
    No real issues with reliability, however it is a second car, so it only has about 50,000 km in total mileage over the 10 year life, so we are probably not the best data point for your reliability question.
    The reviews I've found aren't really favorable but I would probably be putting about the same annual mileage on it as you have and that gives me some tolerance to have an "unreliable" but fun vehicle - as long as it doesn't break the bank.

    My "daily driver" only sees about 4,000 km (3,500 miles) per year.

  13. #13
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    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.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    Used Miata manual
    I miss mine...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    Used Miata manual
    Have a 92 still running strong. Can't kill it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    Any other suggestions? Have fun.
    Not a Jeep.

  17. #17
    Beetpull DeLite
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    A '14-'16 Mazda3.

  18. #18
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    my wife bought a brand new, off the lot Chevy spark with a manual transmission (2014 after the 2015's came out) for under 13,000 with a brand new car warranty. She gets 42 miles per gallon EVERY tank (and she is HORRIBLE when it comes to jack rabbit starts and revving the engine and slipping the clutch) It is a commuter, and personally I dislike it but she loves it.

    Looks like a roller skate
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  19. #19
    Seat's not level
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    A friend just bought a brand new 2017 VW jetta for just over $15K - with a turbo.


    https://www.tynansvolkswagen.com/sea...&Trim=1.8T+SEL
    Last edited by Chain; 12-28-2017 at 01:46 PM.
    Bad decisions make great stories - JP

    Spring is here... snowflakes are melting.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    Used Miata manual
    ^This!

    Also, a used Kia Soul Turbo 1.6T: Great city cars with a lot of space in the back.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keoki View Post
    ^This!
    I don't think a Miata is going to cut it for our winters. My friend has one and she parks it every fall. Oddly enough, we don't have a Mazda dealer here so we don't see many come up for sale either. It's too bad because the 3 looks like a nice car.

    TOG and Chain bring up a good point that I probably shouldn't rule out something brand new but I would need to see what's around. I'd rather have something a little nicer albeit older than what I think I can afford new.

    Between the 2 feet of snow in town, and the single digit temps, I haven't taken much time to shop around yet. I'll start looking this weekend.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    I don't think a Miata is going to cut it for our winters. My friend has one and she parks it every fall. ...
    I don't know where you are, but here in the midatlantic I had one for several years. Real snow tires make a huge difference. Put 'em on at Thanksgiving, and Take 'em off in March or so.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10ae1203 View Post
    I don't know where you are, but here in the midatlantic I had one for several years. Real snow tires make a huge difference. Put 'em on at Thanksgiving, and Take 'em off in March or so.
    I'm in Montana and run snow tires 6 months of the year.

    Our winter roads are usually better than many would assume but they do stay snow-packed / icy for long stretches of time. Like you say, good tires make a difference in that but low clearance + 2WD can be a challenge during the occasional times when there's 6"+ of snow on the roads and the plows haven't come out - which can take a week in the "suburbs".

    In the end, I don't think a 2-seater is going to be practical enough for us but I'll talk to me friend about it - IF I see any Miatas for sale here.

  24. #24
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    I began my search and there are three contenders so far.

    - a 2016 VW Golf S with only 6k miles at the same dealer that I bought the Alltrack from. It's really nice and within my price range. It's probably the front runner but I'm not sure I want something so similar to what we already have.

    - A 2018 Honda Fit. Only a little over my price range but with factory warranty etc. Kind of a neat little car but maybe just not cool enough.

    - Subaru Crosstrek. There's a hybrid in my price range that seems great on paper. I just don't know much about the hybrid model. There are a couple others too but a bit more than I wanted to spend - might be better off to just get a new one.

    I'm finding too many horror stories about Minis to feel comfortable getting one of those without a warranty now.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    I began my search and there are three contenders so far.

    - a 2016 VW Golf S with only 6k miles at the same dealer that I bought the Alltrack from. It's really nice and within my price range. It's probably the front runner but I'm not sure I want something so similar to what we already have.

    - A 2018 Honda Fit. Only a little over my price range but with factory warranty etc. Kind of a neat little car but maybe just not cool enough.

    - Subaru Crosstrek. There's a hybrid in my price range that seems great on paper. I just don't know much about the hybrid model. There are a couple others too but a bit more than I wanted to spend - might be better off to just get a new one.

    I'm finding too many horror stories about Minis to feel comfortable getting one of those without a warranty now.
    VW Golf is the most fun to to drive and own between those three. The new 1.8l engine gets very good fuel millage, peppy and very reliable. It is also probably VW certified with good 2 year warranty
    "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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