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Old 12-17-2009, 02:09 PM   #1
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Buying a new car: go for the highest EPA milage or the highest potential hypermilage?

Well, it's been almost 3 years with the Subie wagon (that I never got over 29 mpg, got disgusted and took another tack toward fuel conservation: I moved into town and parked the dang thing.) And finally I think I'm going to be getting another car.

Budget is small: less than $4500, really closer to $3000, but that's what we have to work with.

90% of my driving now is in town, trips under 5 miles but over 1 (and right now it's too darn cold to walk much of anywhere) and my top speed is usually under 40mph. Once a month or so I'll take a 1-2 hour excursion to the "big city".... which is either on the freeway, or on state roads... 50mph speed limit, with several small towns that require you to slow down to 35mph.

So, as I see it, curb weight is a big deal, I need to seat 4 and a hatchback would be nice. If my speeds rarely reach 55mph I guess aerodynamics are less of a concern.

So having said all that, what are your favorites?

Geo's are almost impossible to find around here (that aren't rusted into swiss cheese), Honda's are super popular with the kids here (there are still kids who just "discovered" the Fast and the Furious movies... Civic abuse is rampant) and Toyota's are rare (no dealer in the area) We have tons of Neons, Cavaliers, and Escorts... most have seen less regular maintenance than a paper coffee cup after the coffee's gone. This is the land of "Piss on Chevy/Ford/Dodge" stickers in the back of truck windows, and anything else tends to be ridden hard and put away wet.

I think it might be a good idea to extend my search out of the immediate area.

The first item to be installed in the new car will be a block heater (this is Vermont folks, it was 3 degrees Fahrenheit this morning), then a scan gauge, followed but an ignition or fuel cut switch for engine of coasting/stoplights.

But that still leaves me with the question of what makes/models to look for.

(really I want a Miata for everyday and a minivan for the once a month I-need-to-carry-more.... but I don't think that's gonna happen)

Any ideas?

Thanks
Mike
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Old 12-17-2009, 02:12 PM   #2
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The car that gets the best mileage also means most potential for hypermiling as well. Instead of focusing on the rust, maybe you should focus on how to deal with the rust problem because all the cars there are going to be rusty.
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Old 12-17-2009, 03:53 PM   #3
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Point #1: Stick Shift. Enough said. Hope you know how to drive one.

I keep hearing good things about Escorts from fuel economy fiends.
And since they don't have any "hotness" for most people, I think you can get them cheap.

Civics are nice - keep your eye out in CraigsList and you might find one that hasn't been molested. HX and DX will get you the best fuel economy, my opinion.
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brucepick View Post
Point #1: Stick Shift.
AAAAAAAMEN. And no more power steering/brakes if I can help it.

Quote:
I keep hearing good things about Escorts from fuel economy fiends.
And since they don't have any "hotness" for most people, I think you can get them cheap.
That's a pretty high likelyhood, there's a strong set of Ford dealers in the area and a fair amount of Escorts to choose from. Did they stop making hatchbacks or am I just not noticing them? The ZX-somethings that have the Taurus design ethic look pretty slippery, if not very attractive IMO, but the rear end seems to drop WAY too fast to hold laminar flow. But what the heck, it's going to be for slow, short hops anyway.

Quote:
Civics are nice - keep your eye out in CraigsList and you might find one that hasn't been molested. HX and DX will get you the best fuel economy, my opinion.
Definitely the most attractive option that I know of so far... even if I would be tempted to flick-drift it all winter long.
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:39 PM   #5
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The car that gets the best mileage also means most potential for hypermiling as well. Instead of focusing on the rust, maybe you should focus on how to deal with the rust problem because all the cars there are going to be rusty.
Rust in this area really varies from model to model, the salt spray is pretty specific in direction and some cars are well sealed there, and some just aren't. Hondas aren't bad, Camary's are great. Saturn coupes are almost impervious (even the metal underneath, they just hold up great around here) but Metro's?

*sigh* They die a quick, holey death. Much worse than most with the same miles/years. Sad, I love the little things. Same with the older Escort wagons (not the hatchbacks, specifically the wagons), there are tons in the junkyards with 60k miles because they rusted past the point where they could pass inspection.
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:36 PM   #6
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Solution 1: Move to California. Rust problem solved.
Solution 2: Come to California, buy dead Metro. Buy rusted out but working Metro at home, combine the two.
Solution 3: Make friends with a welder, fabricate rusted out parts.
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:10 PM   #7
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You'll want 1996 or newer cars for their OBD-II compatibility. The lighter the car and the smaller the engine, the better your chances are for decent hypermiling. SOHC Saturns return some great mileage. Your short commute and cold temperatures are never going to let you see your car's full potential. I'd bicycle in the summer for 5 mile trips.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:06 PM   #8
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My VX started well this morning at 3 deg. I would look for a good vx from the south. It would be worth the travel for a rust free car. If the body is in good shape everything else can be replaced. I parked my truck last winter and drove the vx every day, it was great in the snow.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brucepick View Post
Point #1: Stick Shift. Enough said. Hope you know how to drive one.
This. As far as I can tell it can make up for a 50% disadvantage in EPA rating, or provide a 50% advantage in actual results over an equivalently rated car.

Quote:
I keep hearing good things about Escorts from fuel economy fiends.
And since they don't have any "hotness" for most people, I think you can get them cheap.
And this.

Why do you want to save gas? For the environment/oil supply/not supporting oil-funded terrorist organizations, or for your own savings? If for your own savings, I would say to skip worrying about fuel economy entirely. With how little you drive, sacrificing purchase price/condition/whatever for FE will never pay for itself.

As I understand, Escort parts and repairs are some of the cheapest on the market, so if market value on them is decently low that might be the best choice. However, look at what's on the market with an open mind, look for trends to see what's in high supply and low demand.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:38 AM   #10
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Solution 1: Move to California. Rust problem solved.
Solution 2: Come to California, buy dead Metro. Buy rusted out but working Metro at home, combine the two.
Solution 3: Make friends with a welder, fabricate rusted out parts.

MOM! MOM! He's picking on me! And he used the "C" word too!!!!!
(I used to live in LA, then later in Florida. I miss both, a lot)

Actually I am making friends with a local body shop owner, *maybe* I'll be able to find some help in fabricating the wheel skirts and belly pan. That'd be nice. But I'd like to start with something that's not too far gone. The rust in the Subie2 could be fixed easily, the transfer case that needs a rebuild, the the struts that are shot, the other susp. parts... well it's gonna be 2-3k by the time I'm done. If I liked the car, fine. But... well it's just no fun.

On the bright side, most of the dealers around here get their vehicles from southern auctions, so they do exist.

And I'm still searching for those 2 metros... it's been 3 years, but I ain't givin' up. But this car has to come up quick, i.e. by the new year.
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