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Rogue Assassin
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As many of you know, we've been searching for a commuter car for Suzanne and I to share. Something that gets 30+mpg on the highway, but doesn't feel like an econobox. We're going to be ferrying my step-daughter back and forth to school about 15 miles each way, each day, and Suzanne works about 15 miles from our house. We figure that the new car will rack up 70+ miles every day.

We've looked at the Golf, at used Golf TDI's (they're no longer for sale in NY), and the usual assortment of Japanese models. We'd love to purchase a Golf 1.8T, but its reliability has been so dreadful, we've decided it just isn't worth the aggravation.

We talked about the A4, but the mileage isn't so hot. We'd love to wait for the A3, but that means driving the Explorer (and its 13mpg) for longer than we'd like, and of course, since it's based upon the Golf platform, we can expect the same reliability issues.

The Volvo S40/V50 is really attractive, but the mileage isn't as good as the 3, and we'd be paying 10 grand more for a car that's built on the same platform.

The Saab WRX :wink: is a contender, but I hate the plasticky instrument panel. However, we will test drive one soon.

Anyway, I test drove the Mazda3 5-door yesterday. What a blast! Solidly built, very flingable, and nicely done inside. More than enough power, and a terrific 5-speed gearbox. The brakes are very responsive and linear (none of the patented VW mushiness). And the biggest freakin' glove box in all of car-dom. It's huge! I've always been a sucker for 5-door hatches. The more I look, the more I like.

So unless the Saab knocks me over, it looks like we'll be adding a Mazda3S to the stable.
 

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I looked at the Mazda 3S as well before purchasing my Focus SVT. Definitely nice, but to give up the $4000 that Ford was giving on the car was too much to ignore. Plus, the salesman went into painfully annoying details about what zoom zoom means. I thought I was going to have to strangle him.

Good luck, but if you can stand the Focus give it a look to. Incredible handler, very cheap, and if you can get the 2.3 PZEV motor in the 5-door that thing is a pretty good motor.
 

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Mazda 3 is, indeed, a great car. :thumbup: You are basically buying an European-based sports sedan/hatchback sold at a Japanese econocar price. The chassis rigidty, body stiffness, door closing sound, handling/ride compromise, interior materials and driving feel are really European. It also got the personality that lacks in other Japanese econocars. 8) 8) I don't think you can buy a better car than a 3 hatchback, regardless of price. :beer:
 

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DenimA4CVT said:
You are basically buying an European-based sports sedan/hatchback sold at a Japanese econocar price. The chassis rigidty, body stiffness, door closing sound, handling/ride compromise, interior materials and driving feel are really European. It also got the personality that lacks in other Japanese econocars. 8) 8) I don't think you can buy a better car than a 3 hatchback, regardless of price. :beer:
Well, the 05 Focus is the same chassis, no? And its "Volvo tuned" for their S40.
FWIW, I'd get the Focus and pocket the diference ... unless you could get a New Beetle TDI at a great price. (the NB is supposed to be the best built of the trio)
 

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I absolutely love the Mazda 3 and think it's the best value on any compact car.

I rented one in Chicago for a week and was very surprised. I originally requested a Mazda 5 at Hertz but when I got there they were out of them. Hertz tried to talk me into a Chevy Cavelier, which I was surprised that was their comparible subsitute (midsized). I asked what they had interms of imports and they only had a Corolla and a Mazda 3, so I jumped on the 3.

For a base model Mazda 3 sedan, I was impressed with the number of features, the quality of the interior, the sporty European looks, and how fast and responsive the engine was. The ride and handling was very sporty, firm with lots of driver input and did well in the corners. It had the automatic transmission with manual mode and suited the engine perfectly and felt fast.
If the base model and engine was that good, the higher line model with the large engine should be sweet. I priced a loaded Mazda 3 with the larger engine and it came to just above $20,000 -- which included Xenon lights and a navigation system. I'd gladly take the 3 over any car for that price and over any American car for twice that.

The only faults were the lack of a trunk button on the key fob, the back window shelf was hard plastic not fabric, and the amount of road and wind noise was a little much (about the same as a Passat).
With this car, along with the 6 and RX8, Mazda has an awesome model line up -- Nissan watch out!
 

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Not that I hate the Mazda 3 (I actually do like the car a lot), but I'll just throw this out in case you haven't looked at these. And not that I could *EVER* imagine you driving this, but:

Scion xB. 1.5L box making 108 horsepower. Not too bad, considering its only 2400 lbs. $14k base price. Aerodynamics of a box, yet still capable of achieving 31/34 mpg. A bit quirky though. hehe. And yeah, it'll probably feel like an econobox.

Another idea would be a Toyota Matrix XRS. You'd be shelling out close to $19k, but you'd have a little more zig. 170 hp mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. 2800 lbs. The XR and base models come with the 130 hp engine with only a 5 speed tranny, and 100 less pounds of weight and the base price drops down to a low $15k.

Let us know how it goes. Good luck in your search!
 

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stealthx32 said:
Scion xB. 1.5L box making 108 horsepower. Not too bad, considering its only 2400 lbs. $14k base price. Aerodynamics of a box, yet still capable of achieving 31/34 mpg. A bit quirky though. hehe. And yeah, it'll probably feel like an econobox.
I agree with Stealth,

I would take a look at both the xA, and xB. Again, they may not be your style, but they are quite worthy competitors.

with the engine, again, don't let the 108hp rating fool you, the xB is 2400 lbs, and the xA is 2300 lbs. So they are moving 400 and 500 lbs less respectively.

Gas Mileage is another plus, the xB gets 31/35 and the xA gets 32/38, the 3 is getting 25/32.

As far as interior room goes, the both the Scions are quite comparable to the 3.

the xA is almost inch for inch the same for interior passenger space. Its only downfall is a smaller trunk then the 3, 12 ft^3 -vs- the 17 ft^3 in the 3.

The xB has 7 more inches of head room, and 2 inches more rear leg room, and 4 inches more front leg room as compared to the 3, and has 21 ft^3 of trunk space.

Just another option.

-Nick
 

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DenimA4CVT said:
Xa and Xb are a grade below Mazda 3. If there is a Mazda 2 available on our shore, its a more appropriate competitor to the Scion boxes. :shock:
what about them is a grade below?

yes I know you can't get HID's Leather, or Navi in the Scions.

But base to base, they are quite nice cars. The interiors are very well put together

And the leather and Navi inthe 3, are not that great.

-Nick
 

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I like the new Scion coupes. They look nice, are really cheap, and have toyota quality. You can also buy them with parts installed from TRD. A 200hp supercharged Scion can be bought for around 20 and comes with a nice factory warranty.
 

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Over the years, I've always thought that Mazda had some under-rated cars in their stable. We had a '92 Mazda Protege that went a 185,000 miles before reaching the point of no return. :thumbup: for the 3!
 

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Doing the math: If you drop $20K on a new car, it will take roughly 2931 days to recover the cost of the new car in gas mileage improvements if you go from 13MPG to 30MPG assuming $2.00 per gallon for gas and traveling 70 miles per day. Factor in the cost of the constant repairs on the explorer and you probably break even in the first two weeks. :lol: :poke:
 

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Lisa Simpson
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Jamie, only you would use "smitten" in a thread title. :p

The three is nice.

Our 02 TDI has not been perfect (window regulator disease did strike us), but it is far, far better built than our MkIII was. The drivetrain is also far better.
 
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