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Old 03-31-2008, 01:57 PM   #1
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Advice on car model to buy

I am looking at buying a new (new to me) car. Provided finances work out.
I would prefer to get a 4 door, but may consider a hatchback.

Primarily used for my job to deliver newspapers 13 mi daily EXTREME city driving.
Transport my 3 kids to school (thus the 4 door)
Also on some days to drive to my regular job about 26 mi round trip commute (25% City 75% highway)
More room the better for my job as I will be using a Ford Taurus on Sundays to accommodate the larger paper, I may be able to squeeze this into a decent sized sedan. I sometimes transport extra kids.
I am looking in the 2-3k range. 5 speed manual. Must be very reliable. I have read thru many threads here and also examined the govfuel economy site
What I am finding so far are the following cars:

Saturn SL1 SOHC around '99 MPG 25/36 - I like these, seem reliable and I am finding decent ones for around 2k. Decent size and I think they look good. Heard some stories of weak heads.

Mitsubishi Mirage 1.5L around '99 as well. MPG 28/36 Once again good size and good MPG. Hard to find the right model, I know nothing about these and don't know reliability. Also heard that smog is tough sometimes (Im in CA)

Honda Civic 5th gen '92-'95 - here is where I have some questions.
Great car, great MPG with the right model. May be a little small for my needs. High miles, or high price. Its a Honda and an old car. Reliability on a 160k mi?
Trying to decipher the correct model -
I am only looking at 5 spd manuals. They have three listings for that model/engine on the gov MPG site. The problem I am having is that they do not list the body style or # of doors on this site. The HB VX is listed separate. The better two MPG list the engine as 8 valve.
33/41
35/41
29/36
However according to Wikipedia, it does not seem that the 8 valve was an option on the 4dr sedan.
'Sedan: Trims available in the sedan body style were the DX, LX (EG8) and EX (EG9).'
'All DX and LX models used the D15B7 a 16 valve non-VTEC engine rated at 102 bhp and near 100 Ft/lb. torque. '
So I think that the best Sedan would be rated at 29/36 ?

Which leads me to the 6th generation Civic 28/35
A little bigger and newer, but will cost more, most are out of my price range.

Others considered - VW Jetta diesel, Honda Civic hatchbacks, Geo Metro/Swift, Dodge Neon, Ford Aspire
Thoughts and other suggestions ?
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Old 03-31-2008, 03:29 PM   #2
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how come toyota corollas never get mentioned on this site? I'm pretty sure they get better mileage than the saturn and mirage. Reliable no nonsense cars. The honda civic hatchback of course is two doors. Putting the seats down affords quite a bit of room for newspaper delivery I would imagine. I've hauled quite a bit of stuff in my VX.
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:15 PM   #3
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razmataz -

If you lean towards the Saturn, also look for the mini-wagon, an SW# like mine. That should give you more space for the Sunday papers (these were postal vehicles in Japan from what I hear). But, they are harder to find in manual, .

If you get the Saturn, I will also show you how to do the "Manual Fan Radiator Switch" mod, because you will need that for stop and go. This will protect you from overheating. You will also need to keep a quart of motor oil and coolant in your trunk. That sounds bad, but it's all part of keepin' an old Saturn going. Go check out www.saturnfans.com for more info on the S-Series.

As 1993CivicVX says, the Toyota Corolla/Geo Prism are also good choices. The Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix might cost more because they are post 1999, but they are also great family+hauling capacity choices because they are also mini-wagons with Corolla drivetrains.

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Old 03-31-2008, 05:09 PM   #4
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Aspires probably need avoiding due to cost of parts, Escorts are good value though, cheap to buy, cheap to fix and reliable. They share the same platform as the Mazda 323/GLC/Protege which also might be worth considering. Escort wagons hold a lot, like a washing machine... Focus wagons are even bigger.
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Old 03-31-2008, 06:10 PM   #5
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gas sucks

Get yourself a VW diesel na or turbo. Mileage far better than gas and longevity of engine parts.
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Old 03-31-2008, 06:20 PM   #6
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I really like my 94 Escort wagon. It holds as much as our 07 Mada5 with the seats down, but gets better economy. Regardless, get a wagon version of whatever you decide on. There's virtually no impact to FE with a huge space gain.
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:31 PM   #7
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A friend has the '95 Toyota Corolla/Geo Prism and loves it, in the winter he gets down to 32-35mpg, summer 40-42, it's a 4 door car, easy to work on, cheap parts, needs very little work, and is cheap to buy because teenagers don't think they are cool.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razmataz View Post

Honda Civic 5th gen '92-'95 - here is where I have some questions.
Great car, great MPG with the right model. May be a little small for my needs. High miles, or high price. Its a Honda and an old car. Reliability on a 160k mi?
Trying to decipher the correct model -
I am only looking at 5 spd manuals. They have three listings for that model/engine on the gov MPG site. The problem I am having is that they do not list the body style or # of doors on this site. The HB VX is listed separate. The better two MPG list the engine as 8 valve.
33/41
35/41
29/36
However according to Wikipedia, it does not seem that the 8 valve was an option on the 4dr sedan.
'Sedan: Trims available in the sedan body style were the DX, LX (EG8) and EX (EG9).'
'All DX and LX models used the D15B7 a 16 valve non-VTEC engine rated at 102 bhp and near 100 Ft/lb. torque. '
So I think that the best Sedan would be rated at 29/36 ?

Which leads me to the 6th generation Civic 28/35
A little bigger and newer, but will cost more, most are out of my price range.
On http://consumerguideauto.howstuffwor...da-civic-4.htm it lists the following models for a manual

CX: 42/46
VX: 47/56
DX/LX: 34/40
EX: 29/35

The EX model is the only one that comes in a 1.6L engine. All others are 1.5L.
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:08 PM   #9
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Toyota Corolla, best bet for your money every time.
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