Looking for a New Car. Drummers' Advice Wanted

?uesto

Silver Member
Hey all.

My dad and I are looking at some used, recent-model cars since I've had the same car since I started driving, almost five years ago ('97 Avalon) and I'm starting to need something a little more reliable, with a warranty, and that I can transport my drums in with a bit more ease.

I'm looking at some of the hatchbacks including the VW Golf, Mazda 3, Toyota Matrix, etc. as well as some crossovers and smaller SUV's such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, Kia Sportage, Honda Element, Mitsubishi Outlander, etc.

Is there anything you guys can tell me about these cars, as well as suggest anything else in those classes that we may have overlooked or not given enough consideration to?

How do you guys feel about Scion xB's and xD's? I was looking favorably upon those...

Thanks in advance!
 

JimmyTheMonkey

Senior Member
I will chime in for a bit. I worked in the car industry for several years before returning to grad school. Disclaimer: I worked for both Toyota (sales) and Mazda (marketing and racing). I have a bit of a Japanese bias, but then again, most people do these days.

Hatchbacks are the way to go for a drummer. You can fit a lot in there. My drum teacher drives a Scion tC, a small 2 door lift-back, and can fit his full drum kit in there with hardware. You should be able to fit your drum kit in every car you mentioned (assuming you dont have 10 toms or something).

Since you are in FL, I can assume you dont have to deal with snow. That is a big plus, as any drivetrain is acceptable.

Now, whenever a friend asks, I recommend the Mazda3. When I was working for Mazda, I had 6 friends buy a Mazda3 using my Ford family discount in less than 2 years. It's a great car, and I think it's the best hatch on the market. It is reliable by modern standards, but not the very best. It has little issues from time to time, common to most cars, such as thermostats, A/C, etc. Nothing game changing. But I mention it because nowadays people think even small issues with their cars are catastrophic failures. The only things to look out for with Used Mazda3s (and really any car), are making sure people regularly changed transmission fluids (60k cycles max, 30k cycles preferred) and regular oil changes. If the used car has really really spotty maintenance records, or looks shady, stay away. But that applies to most cars.

The Matrix, Rav 4, and CR-V options are also strong. They are all very reliable cars. They are more boring than the Mazda (vague steering, sloppy power and trans, pedestrian styling, etc.). But, if you dont care about having a sporty ride or look, then who cares. They should be a little bit more reliable than the Mazda 3. The Scions are also reliable, but very bland cars (tC and FR-S excluded).

Kia is doing well now, but they had reliability issues in the past, so stay away from models more than a few years old.

Skip the Mitsubishi.

I would also stay away from anything by VW. They are more expensive to begin with, have mediocre reliability, and are much more expensive to maintain. I would especially be weary of this option if you are buying used. VW usually has higher fit and finish initially, and the Golf is a sporty car, but it will cost the most to upkeep of those options. It is also the smallest. I am sure some VW fan will chime in about how they are the best cars ever, but I personally think many German cars are overrated, and people just find ways to justify them after the fact because they paid a premium for them.

All in all, you are on the right track. A reliable Japanese hatchback will do you well. I would buy the Mazda3, but I love sporty cars above all else. Personally, I drive a Mazda MX-5 (I used to race them) for my daily ride and use an old Toyota Highlander when I need to transport drums.
 

JimmyTheMonkey

Senior Member
Two more things to add:

Look at Hyundai cars made in the past few years.

If you are buying used, buying a car still in warranty from a dealer will usually attach a "certified pre-owned" warranty to the car, extending the warranty and giving you a few other benefits, depending on the manufacturer. You will usually pay a slight premium for this
 
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BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I'm a fan of VW cars and have seen a few, I know how well they drive too. I don't own one because the Golf and Polo are too small for me (6'2") but my brother has an 11 year old Polo that is just great, even if a little low on power (just a 1 litre).

With that said, the Mazda 3 is another excellent car. Those are the two I would be looking at myself. Mazda and Ford are deeply intertwined and if I'm right, shares much of the Ford Focus mechanically - which is a car that I really rate. The Mazda 3 is based on the 'International' model of Focus, as far as I know. It will drive very well and be fairly spacious on the inside with a decent reliability record and easy, cheap availability of parts.

Being someone that has owned two Fords and had been around Fords all my life (I have a cousin-in-law that has a collection) I've obviously got a bias but I believe that my bias is fairly justified!

As for Hyundai, they have made big moves in the last four or five years but I wouldn't touch anything older than that. The same is true of Kia. Decent enough cars, with a decent build quality and recent reliability record but they just don't do it for me.
 

larryz

Platinum Member
Hey Questo. I have a 2011 Honda Fit hatchback and it's the best car I've ever owned. I've fit 2 chairs and three rolls of carpet in there, along with a couple of floor plants. It's deceptively big and room inside. A drummers dream car. New for only $15,000. I highly recommend it. You can find a used one for half that amount or even less. The first model year was I think 2008. Let me know if you need any other info.

http://automobiles.honda.com/shop/fit.aspx
 

JimmyTheMonkey

Senior Member
I'm a fan of VW cars and have seen a few, I know how well they drive too. I don't own one because the Golf and Polo are too small for me (6'2") but my brother has an 11 year old Polo that is just great, even if a little low on power (just a 1 litre).

With that said, the Mazda 3 is another excellent car. Those are the two I would be looking at myself. Mazda and Ford are deeply intertwined and if I'm right, shares much of the Ford Focus mechanically - which is a car that I really rate. The Mazda 3 is based on the 'International' model of Focus, as far as I know. It will drive very well and be fairly spacious on the inside with a decent reliability record and easy, cheap availability of parts.

Being someone that has owned two Fords and had been around Fords all my life (I have a cousin-in-law that has a collection) I've obviously got a bias but I believe that my bias is fairly justified!

As for Hyundai, they have made big moves in the last four or five years but I wouldn't touch anything older than that. The same is true of Kia. Decent enough cars, with a decent build quality and recent reliability record but they just don't do it for me.
You are mostly right, with one caveat. The Ford Focus is actually based on the Mazda 3. Mazda designed the chassis and the high-end powertrains. The base engine and transmissions available in both cars are from Ford. Both are fantastic cars, and very similar. It mostly comes down to styling preferences and what kind of deal you get. Although, some Mazda3 models are made in Japan, which is a big plus.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
You are mostly right, with one caveat. The Ford Focus is actually based on the Mazda 3. Mazda designed the chassis and the high-end powertrains. The base engine and transmissions available in both cars are from Ford. Both are fantastic cars, and very similar. It mostly comes down to styling preferences and what kind of deal you get. Although, some Mazda3 models are made in Japan, which is a big plus.
Thank you for correcting me. I'm assuming that the Mazda 3 is the basis for the 'International' Focus? Is there even a difference any more?

I'm a huge fan of Ford manual gearboxes but I'd imagine you'd probably be looking at an automatic in the US. My own car has the 1.4 Ford Zetec unit (probably slightly different from the US equivalent) and it is more than enough to get my car moving, although a slightly larger chassis would be a little more sluggish with a 1.4. A 1.6 would be a very decent engine size for that car - or a 1.8 diesel.

My Fiesta (2005 model, UK) is more than big enough to transport my drums and extra equipment. A Mazda 3 would be a good, comfortable size in the hatchback configuration.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
or a 1.8 diesel.
Nobody does diesel in the US. I'm not sure why. The fuelling infrastructure's there.

I've had two Honda CRV's, & they're superb practical luggers, if not a little uninspiring to look at. Super reliable though, & economical too, in diesel form especially. Doh, forgot the diesel option thing again ;)
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Nobody does diesel in the US. I'm not sure why. The fuelling infrastructure's there.

I've had two Honda CRV's, & they're superb practical luggers, if not a little uninspiring to look at. Super reliable though, & economical too, in diesel form especially. Doh, forgot the diesel option thing again ;)
That's a good point. Automatic transmissions, low-octane (87) fuel, heavy vehicles. Fuel economy is not a priority it would appear!
 

JimmyTheMonkey

Senior Member
Nobody does diesel in the US. I'm not sure why. The fuelling infrastructure's there.

I've had two Honda CRV's, & they're superb practical luggers, if not a little uninspiring to look at. Super reliable though, & economical too, in diesel form especially. Doh, forgot the diesel option thing again ;)
Diesel is becoming more common here, but still unpopular because of the tax system. Gas tax usually makes gasoline a bit cheaper than diesel (opposite of most of Europe where diesel taxes are lower than gas)
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Diesel is generally more expensive in the UK as a fuel but the extra fuel economy tends to make up for it over the course of a year, especially if the car is being used long-distance. Modern turbo diesels aren't particularly lacking in performance, either. My Dad's 2 litre Audi A4 diesel does just fine - although not as well as an Audi A6 3 litre I was in recently...
 

paistemage

Senior Member
I like the Mazda3.

I had a kia,brand new, in first few weeks several things went wrong.

it was a 2004 though.

VW do tend to cost a lot to maintain or fix, I am working in a shop as a mechanic, its the truth.

Depends on the model, some run excellent, but with cars so many variables.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Diesel is becoming more common here, but still unpopular because of the tax system. Gas tax usually makes gasoline a bit cheaper than diesel (opposite of most of Europe where diesel taxes are lower than gas)
Diesel here's about 7% dearer than petrol (gas). Just be thankful you're not having to pay our fuel prices. You guys over the pond get away with super low tax on fuel, & pretty damn cheap drum prices too!
 

JimmyTheMonkey

Senior Member
Diesel here's about 7% dearer than petrol (gas). Just be thankful you're not having to pay our fuel prices. You guys over the pond get away with super low tax on fuel, & pretty damn cheap drum prices too!
Correct. I didn't want to get too specific, but your 7% higher diesel price still makes diesel cheaper in the long run when you take into account the added mileage benefit, especially considering the high cost of fuel generally. Things are not that different here in terms of price discrepancy these days, especially now that we have the low-sulfur diesel. Diesel fuel was very gross in these parts for a long time! The vast majority of the public doesnt know that diesel is a superior or equivalent fuel now.

Sorry I am taking this discussion to a technical level that OP is not interested. Regardless, he doesnt really have any diesel options in the cars he is looking at. Ford and Mazda keep saying they will offer diesel engines for the Mazda2/Fiesta and Mazda3/Focus, but I doubt it will happen any time soon, especially now that they can get 40mph out of the 1.6 gas engines in both cars
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
My vote would be for the Honda Element. A very ergonomic design. Tons of interior room. A lower floor than most SUV's (making loading and unloading easier on the back).​
 

Zickos

Gold Member
In 2003, my wife bought a Chrysler PT Cruiser which, at the time, I thought was the ugliest car ever made. Having said that, when it was time to replace it, we not only bought another, but we bought two. I can get a 7 piece kit with all the accessories or a 4 piece kit with a pair of tympani (25" & 28"). It gets relatively good gas mileage and is very versatile. Unfortunately they are no longer being made so they are only available used.
 
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