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Old 05-12-09, 09:01 PM   #1
DesnaePhoto
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Have to buy a car -- suggestions?

So the insurance has totaled out my car from the recent accident. (Everyone is ok). Really stinks, as it was paid off and runs great. But I can't fix the damage myself so I need to find a car. My thought is to take a new approach to car shopping -- let's put what matters FIRST: Carrying bikes and gear.

I already have a thule roof rack and will be able to carry 4 bikes (and wheels) on the roof of whatever I get. What vehicles do you think would be best, and worst, for hauling bikes and the associated gear. Figure 1, 2, and more than 2 people traveling together.

Smart Cars -- seems throwing bikes on top would defeat their efficiency. Never mind trying to carry gear.

Truck, SUV, Car?

Let's NOT have the "Why have a car?" discussions. I only drive 1-2 days a week already (commute to/from work). Renting weekly is not an option.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
Thanks
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Old 05-12-09, 09:28 PM   #2
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Chevy HHR. Good gas mileage and lots of room for bikes in the back.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:34 PM   #3
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I say Mazda 3 or a Honda Fit.
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Old 05-12-09, 10:11 PM   #4
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How much do you plan on spending? If you can carry 4 bikes I take it you need to take up to 4 people. So a sedan at least. The Smart doesn't carry more than two and two bikes will be hard to put on top.
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Old 05-12-09, 10:16 PM   #5
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If you plan on carrying four bikes, four people, and associated gear for four people, you're probably looking for a four door truck, an s.u.v., or a station wagon. You could look into Subaru's, as they have at least a coolness factor about them. I have a Jeep, and it seems to work pretty well.
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Old 05-13-09, 08:05 AM   #6
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a wagon of some sort, that way if you're only carrying one bike (or two?) you can just throw it in the back. Subaru or Mazda? A roof rack on an SUV might be a pain to get bikes on and you definitely won't be fitting in any garages or drive-throughs.
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Old 05-13-09, 08:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
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If you plan on carrying four bikes, four people, and associated gear for four people, you're probably looking for a four door truck, an s.u.v., or a station wagon. You could look into Subaru's, as they have at least a coolness factor about them. I have a Jeep, and it seems to work pretty well.
Agreed, but keep in mind that SUVs include compact SUVs. Minivans can also be added to the list, and even a regular van. Personally, I have a Honda CR-V. The Element is an even more practical choice, but I wanted a sunroof for the driver, not the sleeping compartment (and I'm not interested in a roof rack). The Scion xB and, I think, the new Nissan Cube are in the same category as the Element.

The base post doesn't have enough information to go beyond the general categories. The Fit is a great little car, but it may not work for people who are tall or if all four passengers are adults. Similarly for the Nissan Versa or other small, boxy hatchbacks. If "gear" means a week's worth of camping, with tents, sleeping bags, etc., that requires more storage than day trips or weekends at a motel. Budget and other uses all factor into the decision. $20K and $30K get very different vehicles.

Subarus might be cool in Iowa, but around here, they're just workhorses that are popular in winters because of the four wheel drive. They're probably the wrong choice for Florida.
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Old 05-13-09, 08:23 AM   #8
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You can get some pretty good deals......

Here in Indiana, some of the new cars are so promoed down in price that they are very nearly lower cost than a premium used car.

I drive a Lumina Van, myself, and just took the seats out in the back for our bikes, etc. It gets around 30 on the highway, and 21 in town if I drive conservatively, and it's comfortable. Repairs can get pricey though ($500.00 for a wiper motor, parts cost....not installed! The control circuitry is integrated into the motor and cannot be transferred to an aftermarket replacement motor.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DesnaePhoto View Post
So the insurance has totaled out my car from the recent accident. (Everyone is ok). Really stinks, as it was paid off and runs great. But I can't fix the damage myself so I need to find a car. My thought is to take a new approach to car shopping -- let's put what matters FIRST: Carrying bikes and gear.

I already have a thule roof rack and will be able to carry 4 bikes (and wheels) on the roof of whatever I get. What vehicles do you think would be best, and worst, for hauling bikes and the associated gear. Figure 1, 2, and more than 2 people traveling together.

Smart Cars -- seems throwing bikes on top would defeat their efficiency. Never mind trying to carry gear.

Truck, SUV, Car?

Let's NOT have the "Why have a car?" discussions. I only drive 1-2 days a week already (commute to/from work). Renting weekly is not an option.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
Thanks
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Old 05-13-09, 08:51 AM   #9
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get the car you *need* when you can't do anything else.

that means something that will get through the worst snowstorms (if you have those where you live) and haul gear. don't get the automotive equivalent of a bicycle.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:10 AM   #10
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Depends a lot in where you live. Like the comments on the Subaru because of the "all wheel drive" system on that Subaru Forester or that other Subaru looking station wagon.

The Thule that can hold 4, does that mean you really need to carry 4?
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Old 05-13-09, 10:14 AM   #11
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I always buy used cars and recommend them to most car buyers.

I dislike SUV's and think you can almost always get something safer, more fun to drive, more energy efficient. My favorite car type is the station wagon. I have a 2002 VW Passat station wagon, which is a bit pricey but very comfortable for family trips. When I'm taking a bike a short way and don't have passengers, the easiest thing to do is to fold the back seats down and toss the bike in the hatch. I don't even have to take off a wheel. I've carried two or three bikes simultaneously this way.

My second favorite type of car is the hatchback. I've had three Saab hatchbacks which are about as roomy as station wagons. My wife has a 1998 Honda Civic hatchback. It's a tiny car. When the back seats are folded down, it has room for an enormous amount of luggage. She has even managed to transport my daughter's upright bass in it.

My gut feeling is that the Ford Focus family of models offers a nice compromise of value and function. I haven't researched it, though. They have a hatchback and a wagon.

If you want lots of room and luxury, I think nothing beats a minivan. They're kind of out of style these days, giving way to the SUV. But they drive much better. I've never had one, but I rent them occasionally. I think they're more of a luxury car than a Lincoln Town Car. They're great. But they're expensive, and the gas mileage is no better than an SUV's. And for some reason, they depreciate extremely rapidly.
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Old 05-13-09, 10:53 AM   #12
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I have a Dodge Caravan mini-van. With the rear seat out (and chucked in a dumpster), I can carry two bikes. If I removed the middle seat, I could haul more.
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Old 05-13-09, 08:06 PM   #13
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I have my Smart Car but I load my bike and gear in and make it a one seater. I do have a friend that has a roof rack on his Smart Car and puts 2 bikes on top. When I went to buy my Smart Car I made sure my bike fit inside first, I've always put my bikes in my cars. To carry 4 bikes and 4 people I would lean toword a Subaru wagon.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:20 PM   #14
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Taurus wagon? Can be AWD.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:25 PM   #15
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Just bought myself a Jeep Wrangler. Fun to drive, takes a hitch rack, and I can put the top down on those long summers. What's not to love about it?
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Old 05-13-09, 10:33 PM   #16
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Go with a wagon or mini van. You can put the bikes inside, on the top or in the back and still have enough room inside to sleep if you chose to.
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Old 05-13-09, 10:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
Chevy HHR. Good gas mileage and lots of room for bikes in the back.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidonabike View Post
I say Mazda 3 or a Honda Fit.
+1 +1 +1

Those are all good choices, and for the same reasons. Before I saw those, I was thinking Honda Fit. One sleeper that is a fairly recently launched vehicle in the U.S. to look at is the Hyundai Elantra Touring. It's based on the Elantra but styled better than the current sedan. I own a last-generation Elantra and it's been a good car for me. In Europe, the Elantra Touring is sold as the i30 wagon.

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Old 05-14-09, 03:34 AM   #18
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I vote for the principle of getting only what you need.
Occasional people plus bikes: Small car or wagon plus roof rack.
Infrequent snow: Front-wheel drive plus an extra set of four rims holding snow tires. Swap seasonally. Or do without - drive slowly and short distances only or stay home on snow days. Always pack suitable shovel(s) just in case.

Last edited by duffer1960; 05-14-09 at 03:38 AM.
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Old 05-14-09, 03:44 AM   #19
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Quote:
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I vote for the principle of getting only what you need.
Occasional people plus bikes: Small car or wagon plus roof rack.
Infrequent snow: Front-wheel drive plus an extra set of four rims holding snow tires. Swap seasonally. Or do without - drive slowly and short distances only or stay home on snow days. Always pack suitable shovel(s) just in case.
Strongly agree. If I ever need a car again, that's what I'll be doing.
Get the minimum. You can always rent that 14 passenger van for the family reunion two years from now. You probably can't make good use of it regularly.
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Old 05-14-09, 09:10 AM   #20
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My wife has a Subaru Forrester and it's a perfect vehicle. It's all wheel drive, so we feel safe in inclement weather.

It gets decent gas milage for the type of vehicle it is.

You could easily fit four bikes on the roof, 4 people inside and have space in the back for everybody's stuff, within reason. It's not a full on SUV, but it holds its own. It's also not so high that taking bikes down from the roof is pretty easy.

We have had nothing but good experiences with this vehicle. Very little problems and it's been driven a lot in the four years that we've had it so far. It's just a well made vehicle.
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Old 05-14-09, 09:19 AM   #21
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subaru wrx, mazdaspeed 3, 4 door civic si (only if you can drive a stick), mazda cx7, maybe an older s10/ isuzu/ danger ranger...
if you're going to have a car, you might as well have one you can have fun in while carrying your bikes.
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Old 05-14-09, 09:23 AM   #22
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Whatever type or size vehicle seems right for you, I'd suggest also checking into long-term reliability as part of your decision making process. If you don't subscribe to Consumer Reports, you can stop by the library and have a look at their annual car issue. They rate both new and used vehicles every year.

If I did not have the money to pay cash for a vehicle, I would only consider buying used, at least 2 to 3 years old so as to take advantage of the initial depreciation.

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Old 05-14-09, 10:12 AM   #23
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My 2003 Honda Civic got 41mpg recently on a trip to DC. Averages 28-30 on regular everyday driving. It has 120k miles on it too.
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Old 05-14-09, 10:13 AM   #24
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VW TDI wagon.

If you want to carry four bikes and four people you should get a car with a cargo carrying capacity of at least 1000lbs. Take the gross vehicle weight rating and subtract the curb weight. That'll give you the car's ability to haul cargo.
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Old 05-14-09, 10:17 AM   #25
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used station wagon or minivan. Check your pride at the door - its just a vehicle, not something that provides you identity.
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