Intro!

For those that don’t know me very well, I’m Derek and it’s nice to meet you.

Background:

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let me tell you a little about me. I a true gear-head and always have been. I love cars, trucks, boats - basically anything with an engine intrigues me. With that said, my niche is the off-road side of things, as my pride and joy is a 2001 Silverado (see below) with 40” tires that I lifted entirely by myself, using my own custom front suspension design and fabricating most of the parts for the truck myself.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that this thing does NOT get good fuel mileage. I get between 10-13 mpg depending on how much highway I drive and how bad traffic is (I live in a suburb of Chicago and my girlfriend l

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ives in the city). Not to mention, it’s much less stressful when fixing things on the truck to not have to finish by morning so that I can get to work, if things don’t go as smoothly as planned (since they rarely do).

To remedy this, a year and a half ago, I bought a 1996 Hyundai Accent (1.5L of fury, but had a stick!) for $900 that essentially paid for itself in fuel savings in about 6 months. It had 180k on the clock when I bought it and I logged 23k miles on it over the 18 months I’ve owned it. Mine looked like the sample below (same gross color and everything), except with more rust and cooler hubcaps. :)

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The issue:

The transmission on the Hyundai gave out last night and it’s not worth it to me to spend money fixing it or replacing it.

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Since I planned on buying a car in the next couple of months, I’m just going to fast-track that plan.

The solution?

Now, I was paying rent in two locations up until this month due to switching jobs and having to move as a result. I was going to buy a new car in the next 2-3 months so that I could recoup some of my savings. Unfortunately if I drive the truck 100% of the time, I’m spending close to $450 in fuel per month - and that doesn’t even include tire wear and other maintenance cost. Essentially it’s cheaper to have a small car payment and drive a car than to drive the truck.

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So, Oppo - I need advice on good cars that are enjoyable to drive but don’t have to be the fastest or most enthusiast-type cars. I’m looking to spend $250 or less per month on a 5 year loan - which comes out to about $13k but if the right car comes across my desk I could spend up to $300/mo ($15k) MAX.

I was initially heart-set on a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8L with a manual, but the v6 manuals that are within my price range are extremely few and far between.

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My mandatory requirements are:

  1. 25+ MPG highway.
  2. Manual transmission.
  3. Cruise control (not that many cars come without it these days, but my current Hyundai doesn’t have it, so I’m adding it!).
  4. Reliable and inexpensive to maintain.
  5. New-ish (2010 or newer preferred, but not required).

My wants (in priority order) are:

  1. Quick, but not necessarily fast. Needs to handle well, regardless.
  2. Practical-ish (hatchbacks/wagons get bonus points here). I would like to be able to pack a weekends worth of camping gear for two in it.
  3. NOT enormous (need to be able to parallel park in the city).
  4. 250+hp.
  5. 28+ MPG Highway (getting greedy).
  6. Rear wheel drive (since I have the truck to drive when it snows, I personally prefer RWD vehicles for the extra sporty feel they have).

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So I guess now’s the time where I ask for suggestions! Year (range) and make/model suggestions are appreciated and personal experience or personal knowledge of the particular suggestion are welcomed as well. :)


Thanks, guys and gals!