Can anyone suggest a car?

My wife and I were driving our 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid and 2003 Mazda MVP minivan on our move across county. Unfortunately the Mazda decided to overheat an hour south of Rapid City, SD in between towns. After wasting hours trying to get it to stop overheating, the check engine light came on. We didn’t know who to call for a tow, so we called the police and they get a tow truck. We were in the middle of nowhere and the mechanic had like a 3 week backlog and we needed to continue on our journey, so we said screw it and gave the car to the tow guy.

We don’t know anything about what cars are good, what prices are good, etc… If we want a smallish car that is fuel efficient, reliable, and can handle steep roads, does anyone have any suggestions? Honda Civic? Toyota Corolla? Anything else? We’d like to spend under 25K. In general we don’t need anything fancy.

Unfortunately there isn’t anything quite like a Mazda MPV on the market right now, but it sounds like you don’t really care about that too much.

I think the Mazda 3 is a fun little car. Good gas mileage. I’d put it up there with a civic or Corolla.

My wife started looking at the Mazda 3s. I hadn’t ever heard of them, but maybe something to look at.

Yeah, we’re not looking for another minivan.

I was eyeing a CX-30 the last time I was at a dealer, nice small SUV. $25k is possible with the proper trim picking.

I’ve owned two Mazda 3 hatches in the past, that were fantastic for 95% of the driving a person would do, but sucked ass in the snow.

Hmmm, don’t think I want my ass sucked in the snow (or sun for that matter) :-)

Go for a car that has a good performance/repair history. Something like the Toyota Corolla. They been making that model forever.

It doesn’t have any kick. Don’t expect to hit the gas pedal and it becomes a race car.

They are super reliable and perfect for getting around locally.

My wife just leased a CX-30 in its sexy red color. Super nice car. We also used to have a Mazda 3, and can concur that it was terrible in the snow. The CX-30 is an entirely other animal w/ AWD. She’s inclined to keep it when the lease runs out, but we’ll see in 3 years…

Do you think the Corolla can handle steep roads well? It seems to have less pep than a Civic from what I see online. Do people think a Civic can handle steep roads well?

I’m not looking for a sports car by any means, but I just don’t want to struggle going up a mountain road.

No. No no no no no. Former Mazda 3 owner (Mazdaspeed) and I paid Thousands with a big T in repairs over the life of a pretty standard car. But what gets me is that the Mazda dealership and requisite techs would waste time and money and not find solutions to problems for 3+ visits. I’ll contrast this to Toyota, Honda and even my current Kia where I’ve had VERY little repair costs beyond standard wear and tear and maintenance and been quite happy with services. IMHO, Mazda has great design and poor follow-through and lifetime for cars. It literally amazes me they get a high consumer reports score.

Look around, test drive, look up owner reports. Even if you do choose Mazda, no manufacturer deserves your business unless the car, drive and feeling from the dealership rings all the bells for you.

Was yours a turbo? Mazda never really figured out turbos from what I’ve seen.

But I haven’t had many problems with my CX-5 or my Mazda 3 beyond normal wear and tear. YMMV of course.

As someone who has owned both cars, they have had no issues with any terrain for me. However, I live in Ohio, which does not have the most textured landscape in the US.

I owned both Civic and Corolla. Had my Civic for 17 years. I think it had a bit more zip to it than my Corolla.

I would take a test drive up a steep hill to get a feel in both cars. Do modern cars have 1st gear anymore?

I’ve been watching a lot of Initial D lately, so as far as I can tell, what you want for uphills is an RX-7:

I had a co-worker who had a Speed3, and they also had lots of issues after 4-5 years, they sold it after the 2nd big repair bill. Maybe that is why they don’t make Mazda Speed versions of their cars anymore?

Other than wear and tear on the Mazda’s I’ve owned (brakes/tires/wipers/filters), the only repair I had to deal with since 2004 was a bad fuel mix sensor on a Mazda 3 hatch back in the mid 2000’s, which they told me I caused by topping off my fuel tank too many times. When the fuel nozzle clicks off, STOP putting gas in, even if your entire body wants you to round up the total to an even dollar.

Mazdaspeed’s were emphatically not indicative of run of the mill Mazdas. They were torque-steering monsters of excess, wicked fun but hardly the epitome of the solid econobox experience.

There are so many resources online today that buying a car should be 90% research and like 10% actually going in and closing the deal, if you have time of course. Right now sucks as a car buying window, though, because of shortages, COVID, and the vagaries of the American dealer network among other things. Still, there are deals if you can buy off the lot, don’t care what color you get, etc.

You might consider a short-term, low-mileage lease (or a three-year financing deal if you can swing it) to give yourself some time to really think about things, especially as more and more EVs are coming on line. If you absolutely have to have a car right now, that might be the best choice rather than locking into a five or six year finance deal at this point.

Cars themselves, though, really, if you are not a weirdo fanatic like me, and you are like normal people and want a good, reliable, comfortable appliance, your choices are legion. I have had great success with FWD cars in Vermont winters, as well as AWD; I really don’t think you will be stuck in the snow in a FWD car with snow tires (always the tires). If you are really concerned about weather, check out things like the Subaru. Damn near any model will do, though it doesn’t look like you’d want the WRX/STi hotrods. But these days, Kiia, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota–all solid. The Civic is a fabulous small car, usually winning all sorts off awards over its rivals, but you cannot go far wrong with that or a Corolla or whatever the Koreans are calling their similar cars these days.

It’s a bad time to buy a car right now with the chip shortage. Low inventory means you’re probably paying MSRP or above depending on the vehicle. As for Mazdas, I’ve driven a Mazda6 Touring since 2014 and haven’t had any engine problems. Before that I drove a Mazda3 from 2006 to 2014 and had no complaints. I haven’t driven in the mountains so can’t give any input on performance there. It might be bigger than you’re looking for but it appears on CarGurus site there’s a red Mazda6 Sport for sale at the Rapid City Mazda dealer for 26190. That doesn’t include the $750 owner loyalty rebate for Mazda owners. There’s also 0% financing or a $1000 customer cash so that can save you some money off MSRP.

It’s the final model year for the Mazda 6, cars are dying off in America.

I owned a Mazda 6 sport back around 2013 , was a great car. Only sold it because I missed having a hatchback.

These days, if you anticipate snowy roads, and for steep roads, I tend to recommend Subarus. Half the cars around here in the Berkshire/Adirondack/Catskills country are Subarus. They aren’t the most fuel-efficient, but they aren’t bad. High clearance and All-Wheel drive.

I drive a Cross-Trek from 2015 and it is going just fine. Depending on how much you want to spend, you might look at Foresters or Outback if you want the station-wagon style. I don’t know much about their sedans and rarely see them.

At the risk of P&Ring a fairly innocent thread, I’d point out that buying a Toyota could be problematic (as the kids say) from a “who do I want to support” angle.

But then, pretty much everything is problematic if you look close enough.

Co-worker has a 2021 Crosstrek, its a damn fine car for the price.

TFL bought one to use/test. They like it for normal every day driving.