The 3rd Car #illumedati 1


This should (hopefully) be a relatively short post about The 3rd Car. Famous last words I know.

So, if you’ve read my previous post, Cars, then you know I own two Rav4s. However, I now need a 3rd car.

the-3rd-car

Stock photo from: Pexels


My inlaws will be moving to Hawaii in December and moving in with us, which is great. Family has been and always will be very important to my wife and I.

So far, the two Rav4s have served us well. However, we are going to need a 3rd car. So I figured I would share my current thought process for buying a 3rd car.

Ok, so what do I need?

Well, first things first. I only have a two car garage with a very shallow driveway. My community doesn’t allow parking on the street or in guest parking over night. For this reason, I need a small car, so we’ve moved narrowed it down into the compact, and preferably subcompact, range. This will allow for easy parking in my shallow driveway, or parallel parking if necessary.


So, compact or subcompact then, what else?

Well, now we need to decide on used or new.

Did any evolution of the compact/subcompact segment occur in the last few years? A quick Google search and you can see the most popular subcompact car is the 2017 Honda Fit (US News and World Report). So a 2017 Honda Fit has an MSRP of $15,990 – $21,265. Not horrible for the current generation, but what about the previous generation?


What year did the remodel happen?

The first generation Honda Fit was from 2001-2008 and the second generation was 2007-2014. The current 3rd generation is 2014-Present.

However, if you do another Google Search for “best used subcompact car”, you get 2009 Honda Fit. (US News and World Report)


Why 2009?

Well, in 2009, you got the second generation Honda Fit, but also:

“For the 2009 model year, the Fit received a new 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that reviewers liked a lot more than the one it replaced. Some even called the 2009 Fit one of the most engaging small cars they’d driven in a while. The Fit also has good fuel economy ratings, especially when you consider that it can hold as much cargo as some compact SUVs.” – Source (emphasis mine)

So basically, it got a better engine while keeping most everything else the same. For those who don’t know, Honda Fit’s claim to fame is its “Magic Seats“.

“In one easy move, either of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks can fold down flat and flush with the low cargo floor. And unlike some vehicles, the head restraints don’t have to be removed—they can simply be moved to their lowest position. A unique feature on the Fit is the tall cargo mode, in which either or both of the rear seat cushions can be folded upward and locked into place, providing room for tall items to be placed on the floor. You’ll even find a convenient storage compartment under the driver’s side rear seat cushion.” – From Honda.com


Ok, 2009 Honda Fit if you go used… but what other the other options?

There are a few other options I looked at:

Toyota Prius

Mazda 2

Toyota Yaris iA

Ford Focus

Scion xB


Toyota Prius

The #2 spot is currently being held by the Toyota Prius. My family has always been a Toyota family, whereas my wife really has no preference overall. Although, I think after the 8 years with her Rav4 (and no problems -at all-) she may be a convert. For those who don’t know, the Rav4 up until around the 2009 model year were built in Japan. You can tell if your VIN starts with “JT” = Japan made.

So, for this reason I put a lot of value in the Toyota Brand. While it has had some problems recently, I still have faith in the brand itself. For what it’s worth, according to my research, Priuses have all been made in Japan. Additionally, a colleague of mine has a 2010 Prius in good condition which he would sell to me for a fair price.

2010 Prius Reviews – First Drive and Second Drive (Car and Driver)

For completeness – Another Review (US News and World Report)

My only concern on the Toyota Prius versus the Honda Fit is size. While I think I may prefer the Prius overall, the length of 2010 Toyota Prius is ~175.6″ versus the ~161.6″ length of the 2009 Honda Fit. Now, 14″ may not seem like a lot, but remember one of my primary concerns is the ability to park in a shallow driveway, so every inch matters. He’s gonna come over one day and we’ll see how it does.


Mazda 2 and Toyota Yaris iA

These are essentially the same car, so I will talk about them together. However, please note that I specified Yaris iA and not just the Toyota Yaris, they are different vehicles.

Good writeup here (Cheatsheet.com)

The long and short of it is that these cars will definitely be much more fun to drive based on their reviews. However, because I’m a Toyota person, even though I know it’s just a Mazda 2 underneath the Toyota badge, I’d still opt for the Toyota Yaris iA. Unfortunately, you can’t buy them used really, so I would be looking at around $17000-18000. It’s length is also 171.6″ so a little shorter than the Toyota Prius, but longer than the Honda Fit.


Ford Focus

To be honest, I’ve been kind of surprised by the quality that Ford has put out lately, especially in the compact and subcompact segments. When I was interviewing in Hawaii, my rental was a Ford Fusion which I actually liked a lot. However, for some reason I just don’t like the Focus. Review here (US News and World Report)

Additionally, it’s overall length is 175″, just like the 2010 Toyota Prius. So if I had to choose one or the other, I think I’d still opt for the Prius.


Scion xB

Ok, if we overlook how boxy this car is, it’s actually a pretty good car (US News and World Report). It has a ton of room, that’s for sure.

Its length clocks in at 167.3″, which is the second shortest of the bunch. However, the 2009 Honda Fit still wins out overall I think.


So there is the roundup. For right now I’m leaning toward a 2009 Honda Fit versus a 2010 Toyota Prius.

TL;DR

3rd Car will likely be either a 2009 Honda Fit or 2010 Toyota Prius.

 

-Sensei

What do you guys think? Is there a subcompact/compact car I missed?

Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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About Sensei

A young attending physician trying to navigate the mine field that is life after medical school…


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