Monday, July 8, 2013

A look into a segment: An affordable hatchback for around town

This post is part of a series of entries looking at one particular segment and body style, and seeing what the state of the market is by using The Vehicle For Me.  This go-round is affordable hatchbacks for around town.

I seriously love hatchbacks and wagons, and so this entry is going to be well-trod ground for me.  Hatchbacks are small, inexpensive, easy to drive, have tons of utility for their size, and can be really fun to drive!  So let's jump right in and see what a prospective shopper might be interested in.

For this scenario, I want to focus on hatchbacks that maximize cargo space while minimizing fuel usage.  This really is a strength for hatchbacks so there should be plenty of options.  To limit the number of choices I'm going to require a maximum msrp of $20,000 and an automatic transmission.  Power doors and locks are also a requirement, because I can't be bothered to manually lock and unlock the rear doors for my kid every time I want to leave the car.  That seems to narrow down the field to about 18 models, which still seems like quite a lot, so I'm going to use the Cargo Space filter to only allow vehicles with 15+ cubic feet and Stability/Traction Control.  That still leaves us with ten models to choose from, but I can't think of any more things to filter on here, since we are only really interested in cargo space and fuel economy, so let's move forward.

For priorities, I'm adding cargo space, highway and city mpg, and fuel capacity, because I don't want to be stopping for gas all the time.  Now let's see what the comparison table gives us!

Link to Comparison Page

Looking at this table, there is a lot to take in.  The two Fords, the Focus and the Fiesta, take 1st and 3rd places respectively, mostly on the strength of their fuel economy and range, which is pretty impressive.  Indeed, the Fiesta, with 39mpg highway and a roomy 12 gallon fuel tank, can go 468 miles before it needs a refill!  That's pretty cool for such a tiny car.  Unfortunately, you will be giving up some interior space, but who knows, may you're smaller than me?  The Toyota Yaris, coming in 2nd, is definitely the smallest, but it makes up for it in city mpg, which will come in handy on those grocery trips.  Further down in the pack we get the Hyundai Elantra Touring, which wins in the cargo space department, but things fall apart a bit in fuel economy, where it slurps fuel more than any other car here.  For people who want a little more interior space and respectable fuel usage, the 5th place Nissan Versa seems like a good choice.

Victory: 2013 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback

I think in this case, the Fiesta wins because I set MSRP plus destination as a priority, and it is the cheapest car on here.  I wonder what would have been first if I had set some other priorities?

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