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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/7/22 7:26 p.m.

Time to play this forum's favorite game: What Car? (We really need a theme song here and, yes, I purposely capitalized Car since it's now a proper noun.)

First, no, not for me.

The basic desires:

All-wheel drive. (This is pretty much non-negotiable.)

Smaller SUV/wagon-type body. 

Automatic transmission. 

Not much interest in a hybrid or EV. 

New or nearly new. Not looking for any surprises. Think new car dealer or Carvana.

We realize now is a terrible time to buy a car. Mazda CX-30 (nicest interior) and Kia Seltos are leading the pack with Subaru Crosstrek as a wildcard. Chevy Trailblazer looks intriguing as it's a few bucks less--but then you have to find one. 

What's important? Nice interior, modern safety, all-wheel drive. No towing planned. 

No matter what, seems like it's a $30,000 purchase. The trick is just finding something on a lot at MSRP. 

What are we missing? 

 

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/7/22 7:34 p.m.

I love my Renegade.  It's comfortable, a good size, and in 66,000 miles hasn't needed anything. The awd works great and is lockable for mild Offroad driving. It is a much nicer trucklet than I expected. 

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
1/7/22 7:35 p.m.

I read a "Top Ten" list of CUVs someplace earlier this week and the Hyundai Kona was number two, right behind the CX-30. It's at the top of my short list should I give up on cars with clutches and need an appropriate old man's car. I often question people on why they think they need AWD. Most vehicles don't use the AWD until the front wheels are slipping and most of my friends never get there anyway.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
1/7/22 7:39 p.m.

Given who I work for, the Escape.  We've had one for few lease cycles, and really like them.

Although, I see you can get the smaller Ecosport as an AWD, too.  And it's listed at less than $30k.  Never driven one, but should have when I got my fusion.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/7/22 7:40 p.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Good question about the need for AWD. In this case, picture lots of wet gravel and dirt mountain roads. So not rock crawling but still slippery. 

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
1/7/22 7:43 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Then the Kona would work. The Kia Soul was also high on that list, but it's not available with AWD.

eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
1/7/22 7:46 p.m.

My wife has a 2020 Buick Encore GX, and I have to admit, it's really nice. Well equipped, good fuel economy, quiet. It has the 1.3T and the 9 speed transmission. So far, so good. 

scottdownsouth
scottdownsouth HalfDork
1/7/22 7:49 p.m.

Infiniti  EX35 . Available in AWD and is a g37 In wagon or hatchback  or SUV or whatever disguise. 

Sonic
Sonic UberDork
1/7/22 7:49 p.m.

Mazdas seem to always be at the top of the other auto magazine comparison tests of these sorts of cars.  My mom has a 2017 CX-5 and my dad has a 2021 CR-V.  They are both excellent but the Mazda is better to drive and better looking.  It actually really impressed me at how good it is to drive.   Plus, I like to support Mazda as the plucky underdog that tries to support grassroots motorsports in general. 

 

For what you are looking for the Mazdas definitely have the class leading interiors and the higher trims have all the latest safety features, which is one reason we got one for my mom as she needs that stuff.  Per Kieth the AWD systems are superior to most others too.  

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/7/22 7:50 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

I would spend the extra money and get an escape. We test drove an Ecosport when we got the Jeep. It felt much cheaper than our 500 which is quite a feat for something built in a factory. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/7/22 8:03 p.m.

My wife's Mini Coutryman S is awesome, I'm a huge fan. Very comfortable interior, quick and nimble. At 6 feet tall and 200lb I fit comfortably in the back seat. Actually taking it to a track day tomorrow. The ALL4 is AWD.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/7/22 8:06 p.m.

I've been test-driving 2018-2019 CPO Escapes lately, looking for AK1's Forester replacement. SE and SEL feel pretty underpowered with the 1.5L 4-cyl EcoBoost (165hp iirc?), and are around $21-24k here in metro Detroit.  Titanium trim level gets almost +100 hp due to the 2.0L EcoBoost, but comes at about a $3-5k premium.

I got my loan approval today and will be picking up our 2018 SEL on 1/10. "Gold" certified gets 12/12 bumper to bumper from purchase date plus 7yr/100k powertrain from original in-service date.

is it wrong that I bought winter wheels and tires for it 2 weeks ago? laugh

eastpark said:

My wife has a 2020 Buick Encore GX, and I have to admit, it's really nice. Well equipped, good fuel economy, quiet. It has the 1.3T and the 9 speed transmission. So far, so good. 

I shied away from the encore due to its Korean roots.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/7/22 8:19 p.m.

Honda HR-Vs are remarkably nice, I'd give them a look.  It is essentially a Fit based SUV with the 1.8l engine that Civics had for a few generations.  The all wheel drive models keep the twist beam axle, which I find to be interesting on an engineering level.

There is a new model in the wings.  The US only ever got the second generation version of the trucklet, so far, the home market is on the third generation as of MY2021.

 

Mind you, I'm the nerd who was going goo-goo eyed over the CR-Z that a customer brought in a couple days ago, which is more or less a hybrid Fit with a CRX like body shape smiley  I like Fits...

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/7/22 8:21 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Good question about the need for AWD. In this case, picture lots of wet gravel and dirt mountain roads. So not rock crawling but still slippery. 

I live at 1000 feet with one mile of dirt roads to my house in one direction and five in the other. I can count on one hand the number of times in twenty years not having AWD mattered. My Mazda 2 has handled it all rather well in the rain, snow, and mud season. Good tires make the difference. AWD is overrated IMHO.

That being said I would find a used CX-3 to replace my 2 if I could swing it. But I don't need a lot of room and I like the looks.

Get a CX-5 or 30!

I'm not much help am I? LoL

No Time
No Time SuperDork
1/7/22 8:28 p.m.

I've seen the Kia Seltos and Kia Soul suggested, but not the Sportage. 

We looked at the Seltos and the Sportage in May and went with the Sportage. 10k miles on it and still happy with it. 

Fuel economy isn't great, around 20mpg around town and 26-27 on the highway. We're averaging about 22-23 mpg per tank with mixed use. 

dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/7/22 8:31 p.m.

Have you looked at the Rav4/CRV or are those too big?

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
1/7/22 8:34 p.m.

Fascinating that there is one Honda vote  and no Toyota.  

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/7/22 8:51 p.m.

We had my sister's 2016 Crosstrek for a while. I wanted to love it after putting a bunch of miles on a 2.2 Legacy, and it's was a nice car but a serious dog, even with the manual trans.

I'll put in another vote for tires over AWD but get it.

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/7/22 9:03 p.m.
John Welsh said:

What's the story on the new CorollaCross?

https://www.toyota.com/configurator/build/step/model/year/2022/series/corollacross/

Never heard of that. Looks like a mini highlander. 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
1/7/22 9:14 p.m.
Wally (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to alfadriver :

I would spend the extra money and get an escape. We test drove an Ecosport when we got the Jeep. It felt much cheaper than our 500 which is quite a feat for something built in a factory. 

When I was looking, they seemed more of a tall Focus, as opposed to an actual SUV/CUV- which is one reason I didn't bother to look at it.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
1/7/22 9:18 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Good question about the need for AWD. In this case, picture lots of wet gravel and dirt mountain roads. So not rock crawling but still slippery. 

When on said wet dirt road in the mountains- do you need to look cool, or get the job done, hauling the moonshine off the mountain?

If looking cool is important, that kind of narrows it down to the Bronco or Jeep (whichever version).  

If you are carrying moonshine, then an Escape like vehicle in a very neutral color is probably more important.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/7/22 9:22 p.m.

I'd probably add a few thousand for the $30k estimate and go with the Turbo CX-5.

I had a regular CX-5 a few years ago, as a loaner, and it felt like if you had it loaded with adults and or camping gear, it would be pretty weezy on the highway or in the Mountains 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/7/22 9:25 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

Valid question. Mostly going to kinda remote places up in the mountains to go hiking. So no need to impress, but doesn't want to worry about getting in a bad situation. But nothing's set in stone, either, so this is all very helpful info. 

Thanks, everyone. 

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