I usually do a roundup of cars I tested throughout the year and highlight my favorites. This year I did not review as many cars or I simply reviewed newer models of the same cars. In lieu of a roundup I decided to highlight my new favorite…the Hyundai Elantra.
I’ve had a fair bit of time to get to know the Elantra line this year. If you recall I drove an Elantra Eco for over a week and even had the pleasure of driving it off the line in Alabama and road tripping across the country with my husband. It was an amazing trip…I fell in love with Tennessee and I really developed an appreciation for the Elantra.
This month I also got to road test the regular Elantra (not the eco version) for a week. It felt like home…like my car was brought back to me. While I do prefer the eco and its fuel efficiency, the Elantra has has pretty good fuel efficiency too, 32 city / 40 highway. With a few exceptions it is the same car and I recommend both heartily. While touring the Hyundai facility in Alabama I came to appreciate the company and also the retained value of these cars. The depreciation on cars bothers me quite a bit as a Dave Ramsey follower. This is the only car that might tempt me to buy new…if I wasn’t such a die hard fan of used.
For 2016, the Hyundai brand was named a winner of the annual Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own Awards, recognizing new vehicles with the lowest projected ownership costs. The annual award takes into consideration depreciation, expected fuel costs, finance and insurance fees, maintenance and repair costs, and state fees. I can say with confidence that someday an Elantra will be mine.
I love the sleek exterior and amazing colors (electric blue I am talking to you). I love the interior and all the features including the 7-inch display Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. I love the door handle approach light, Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition, heated seats, and proximity key entry with push button start.
You don’t have to buy a bigger, fancier car just to get the advanced safety features you want either. Elantra makes them an affordable option. Available features such as Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and Smart Cruise Control give you the support to be a safer driver.
I feel good about naming the Elantra as the favorite for 2016.
I adore small cars. I guess I just don’t buy into that typically American ideal that bigger is better. I prefer a small sleek car that whip in and out of parking spaces in flash and maneuver through traffic easy. Small cars usually have better gas mileage and they are more enjoyable for me to drive. And while I do prefer small and compact, the Toyota Yaris is sporty looking as well. It doesn’t scream ‘small because I couldn’t afford a real car’ it yells ‘small because I love sleek, compact, and sporty’.
Oh and the price tag for small and compact cannot be beat. I will probably never ever drop 30 grand on new car. I just don’t think I could do it. Unless it can drive all my kids around on auto pilot, its not ever going to be worth it. The Yaris comes in at 15 grand and that is an amazing deal in my mind and frankly the companies making cars with reasonable prices deserve to be supported.
This particular car has a lot of safety features for those who feel “less safe” in small car. It has nine airbags: a driver and front passenger advanced airbag system, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger seat-cushion airbags, front/rear side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.
It also has an available Pre-Collision System helping you to avoid a potential frontal collision with a forward-facing laser radar and camera that scan the road ahead. If a potential collision is detected, you are alerted with audible and visual warnings. If you don’t apply the brakes and the system determines that a collision with another vehicle is extremely high, the system may automatically apply the brakes. The Yaris can also be armed with lane departure alert. When you start to drift out of your lane, you are notified. And another cool feature is automatic high beams for safe night time driving. It detects the lights of oncoming cars and switches to low beams as you pass oncoming traffic. Pretty nifty!
I don’t personally feel less safe in small car but I know that some do and this car should should alleviate some of that. Toyota has really paid attention to safety.
The Kia Soul is one of my all time favorite cars. It isn’t the greenest, I have my faves when it comes to eco cars, but it is one of my faves for budgetary reasons. It is a very nice and practical car without a huge sticker price. I like Kia in general and have also driven the Forte and the Optima Hybrid, they are all great cars.
It is probably a bit greener that what I currently drive but in general I don’t find this car to be green at all. My gas mileage during the week I had it ranged from 24 to 28 mpg. It was also not as loaded as the previous Kia Soul I drove but the price is also much lower. This car sells for $21,670. I don’t buy new so this car, one or two years old, would probably be at my sweet spot.
As far as look go it is very sharp though I much prefer color on the outside. The interior was very nice though. I love the remote keyless entry, rear camera, touch screen display, bluetooth capabilities, and 10 year – 100, 000 mile warranty. The only drawback was trunk space. I drove the car to Cincinnati for some amusement park fun at Kings Island and to visit Ikea. I had very little room for purchases and spend a some time doing creative arranging. This is hard to avoid in smaller cars though and I am not willing to buy SUVS or mini vans so I get what I can get.
The Kia Soul definitely stays on my favorites list!
And my love for the Prius continues unabated. Every new version that I drive tells me that someday I must own one. Even my husband has come around. I used to get a sideways look of annoyance when I mentioned a Prius, now I get an appreciative nod. My recent week-long test drive of the Toyota Prius Four Touring confirmed for both of us that the Prius represents a luxurious drive, the power to get you where you need to go, and GREAT fuel economy.
Fuel economy is #1 with us so I am happy to report that the 52 mpg they claim on the sticker was right on the money. In a week’s time I never dipped below 50 mpg and I did almost no highway driving. They estimate that with this car you have an annual fuel expense of only $850. That is crazy good and with how little I drive I could probably halve that.
A super nice feature that this particular model has is the Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS). I loved it because I use cruise control whenever I can and with the ICS the car would slow down on its own if the space between me and the car in front of me was too small. When proper clearance was achieved it wold speed up again. How cool is that?
I also have say that the interior of this car was stellar. I loved the dark grey with white accents. The Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging was a new future for me too. All in all it truly felt like a luxury car.
The cons list is short…there is a rear view visibility issue since you are looking through the trunk. Also the trunk contents are completely visible from the outside so no leaving stuff in there. These are not huge issues.
Two big thumbs up for the Toyota Prius Four Touring.
Recently I got to roll around town for a week with the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage. I am already a Mitsubishi fan. Remember how I loved the i-MeEV? Yeah, loved that car. I also really enjoyed the Mirage, even though it’s not an EV. It’s fuel-efficient, and it’s the least expensive car on the market.
For a family on a tight budget the price is important. It sucks when you are in the market for a car and the most affordable options are 5-6 years old. With the Mirage even a family of modest means has access to new if they want it (and don’t mind depreciation). The pricing starts at $12,995 and I will be honest this was not a car loaded with a ton of amazing features. It did not even have a USB port for my phone. But it was very nice car, with great fuel economy, and I think that trumps added luxuries any day. It also have a 10 year/100K powertrain warranty. That is a pretty nice perk for the price. And even though it is small, it seats five so my family could easily fit in this.
The official fuel rating is 37/43 mpg and it lives up to this. It is supposed to be the most fuel efficient gas powered non hybrid car in America right now. We all want to save money on gas but the people who really need the savings cannot buy a 30K hybrid vehicle. This is a nice alternative.
The more features you add the more expensive it can get of course and honestly I would be be upgrading because I don’t want a manual transmission. Yet if the worst happens and our current car tanks, this car is on the short list of possibilities.
Some standard features:
- 1.2L MIVEC DOHC 12-valve 3-cylinder
- 5-speed manual transmission or available Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
- 7 standard airbags including drivers knee airbag
- Automatic air condition climate control
- 6.5″ Display Audio with Smartphone link, Apple CarPlay™, and Android Auto™
With a host of standard features, best-in-class fuel economy and a very affordable price, Mirage ES isn’t just a fun choice, it’s also a smart one.