Carsandbikes New Reader
6/23/18 1:30 a.m.

I have a budget of about $20K for a new (or new to me) car.  Currently driving a P71, but want something that gets better gas mileage, is fun to drive, and comfortable (I am 6'4" and 235 lbs.) 

I wanted a Fiesta ST or Focus ST, but have heard the Ecoboost engines aren't exactly trouble-free with higher maybe something without a turbo? 

Also considered a Mazda3 or Mazda6.  I even found a CX-5 with a manual transmission on CarMax. 

Any thoughts, suggestions, experiences?

spandak Reader
6/23/18 11:51 a.m.

The new Mazda’s are very satisfying to drive and very economical. Reliable too. They’re a different kind of fun though and it’s probably worth spending time in one to see if you like it. I daily a mazdaspeed 3 and it’s  completely different kind of fun. (Not economical though so I don’t recommend it.)

pres589 PowerDork
6/23/18 12:14 p.m.

I'm your height and a bit lighter and I didn't find the current generation Focus to be that comfortable.  Like the critical distances around the driver aren't quite right and it seemed a bit confining.  Fiesta isn't much better from my brief test drive.

Mazda3 should be about the same but test anyways.  The 6 is quite good; I wish we got a hatch or wagon version here.  

Fitz New Reader
6/23/18 12:34 p.m.

Civic Si or Sport are both pretty interesting on paper, haven't driven either though. Used SHO also if you want something larger. 

Antihero GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/23/18 1:32 p.m.

I wanted the same thing but with a tenth of your budget. I got a zx2, i drive it 4 hours a day right now, gets 35 to 40 mpg, is pretty fun to drive and is comfortable.


Its fast enough to be fun without being too fast to get into trouble with

Saron81 New Reader
6/23/18 1:36 p.m.

I don’t think the ST cars are known to be troublesome. 

I have 88k on mine with zero issues. I work at a pretty good sized Ford dealer and we do not see many problems with them. If that’s what you want, that’s what I’d get. Remember you only hear about the bad ones on the internet. You don’t hear about the tens of thousands of trouble free ones!

DeadSkunk PowerDork
6/23/18 1:39 p.m.

MINI Cooper S, used for your budget.


markwemple UberDork
6/23/18 2:18 p.m.

20k gives you a lot of choices.Will you DIY? What fuel economy target? How old? How many miles? In my world a 996 fits  but that's my world.

dxman92 Reader
6/23/18 10:28 p.m.

If you can find a manual cx-5 in your $$ range, do eet. They are fun to drive (for an SUV), good on gas (routinely got 32-34 mpg in mine), good cargo room and great highway cruiser. No problem putting along at 75-85 mph w/traffic.

Carsandbikes New Reader
6/24/18 3:04 p.m.


I have heard that like many other turbocharged, direct injected engines,  the engines in the Fiesta/Focus ST are prone to oil buildup on the valves over time. 

Reasons why I was considering Fords? 

1.) I owned a 1980 Fiesta and wanted to hope the new one was as good or better. 

2.) For some crazy reason I have found a few Focus ST models that are cheaper than the Fiesta "equivalent".

3.) I am about to move to an area where domestic manufacturers "rule".  Only foreign car dealership within an hour is a Nissan dealership.

4.) I have reached an age where working on my own cars is still fun, but I am old enough to know better than to tackle anything too involved as I can't stick with it for more than a few hours. 

Klayfish PowerDork
6/24/18 4:06 p.m.

What about a 6 speed Honda Accord Sport?  Or if you're OK with an auto trans, get a V6 sedan.  Reliable as gravity, fast, fun, tons of room, daily driver comfy.

STM317 SuperDork
6/24/18 4:42 p.m.

For what it's worth, An Ecoboost Mustang is rated @ slightly better fuel economy than a Focus ST. With the Mustang you get more HP, more tq, RWD, and a longer wheelbase (better ride). Seems like a better all around cruiser than the Focus ST to me...

cdowd Dork
6/24/18 4:51 p.m.

I am about the same size as you.  I bought a 2014 Acura TL with 12,000 miles on it last year.  It is pretty quick.  I drove it for about 11 hours in the last 4 days.  It is very comfortable and I got 30 mpg according to my trip computer.  It was $20k

Saron81 New Reader
6/25/18 7:40 a.m.

In reply to Carsandbikes :

Ecoboost engines don’t seem to have the carbon build up problems that other di engines have. At least we don’t see it (and we see a lot of vehicles!) 

I too own a 80 Fiesta! The Fiesta ST does have a lot of that peppy character. It reminds me of my Rabbit GTI as well. 

You’ll see a lot more Focus’ than Fiestas at dealerships, and they have pretty good cash back rebates on Focus right now, often making the Focus the cheaper of the two. 

chaparral Dork
6/25/18 9:16 a.m.

Brand new Civic Si - stretch the budget a little, or take the cheap lease deal.

Jaynen UltraDork
6/25/18 9:31 a.m.

Be careful about the Focus ST as a bigger dude. The recaros are painful for long distances even for me and I am pretty skinny. I would be leaning towards something like the accord v6 with a stick if its out there

Duke MegaDork
6/25/18 9:48 a.m.

I recommend Ecoboost Mustang as well. A friend has one and it is pretty peppy. And for $550 or so you can install a Ford Performance tune that makes it substantially peppier without voiding the warranty. You should be able to find a nice one for $20k. 

Carsandbikes New Reader
6/25/18 2:18 p.m.

I wasn't crazy about the 4 cylinder Mustang, for no other reason than the exhaust note is just "wrong".

But after doing a bit of research via YouTube, admittedly not the best authority, I have heard nothing good about the 2.3 Ecoboost.  It has an open deck cylinder head design, and at about 20K miles many folks experience head gasket failure and even hydrolock of the number 3 piston. 

I have found 3-4 leftover V6 Mustangs, though with automatic transmissions.

Funny, my bestest cousin (a middle aged woman) has recommended the Accord.  I found one of those, a leftover coupe with a manual transmission, at a Honda dealer....but that was a few months ago and I didn't have the cash then. 

May still go with the automatic V6 Mustang.

chaparral Dork
9/24/18 9:40 a.m.

If you don't need rear seats, you've just described a C6 Corvette.

ultraclyde PowerDork
9/24/18 9:48 a.m.

We have a '14 Mazda6 for those reasons. It's not fast, but it handles well enough to be entertaining in the mountains in stock trim and rides really nicely over long distances. The chassis dynamics feel really good. The engine is a little under powered but the auto trans in it is REALLY good and helps make up for the lack of ponies. Takes regular gas, averages around 30mpg, has all the comfy luxuries. Phone interface kind of sucks, but the onboard NAV is the best I've used.

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