It is Wednesday so that means another time for a Mid Week Match-Up (TM)! DT reader TinyFrogs is looking for a commuter in the $5k-$12k range. Find him something good. In his words: Anyway, later this summer I’d like to pick up an efficient, reliable,
and fun-to-drive compact wagohatch of some sort, manual transmission,
ballpark of $5k (cash) to $12k (note). I like sleepers with style. This
would complement an old Xterra that needs more TLC, so no beaters.
Also needs some modern safety. I have a family.
Fit is too small, Legacy is too large. Current car crush of the moment
is the 1st-gen Matrix XRS/Vibe GT, which have the 2ZZ, a 6-speed, a
functional body style, and well over 30 mpg if kept out of lift. I just
saw one with only 87k on CG but it was gone almost instantly. I’ve
given up on finding a Saab 9-2x aero that isn’t molested or
high-mileage. Besides, it leans too heavily on the “fun” and less so on
the “reliable/efficient” parts of the formula. Same with the hot
version of the V50, but maybe a FWD T5? I’m in the mid-atlantic so East
Coast, rust free cars are fair game.
DT’s choice would be the Mazda 3 hatch. The Mazdaspeed version is certainly tempting, but the basic Mazda 3 with NA 2.3 liter inline-4 and 5-speed manual is much cheaper and will be frugal in fuel and maintenance. Here is one in the SF Bay area for $10k.
What do you recommend for TinyFrogs? comments below.