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Old 07-28-2020, 11:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Thoughts/Opinions on best potential eco car <$2K

I am planning to start school next summer and will be commuting ~120 miles per day round trip. My current daily driver is a 2013 Ford Edge and it averages about 27 mpg right now, so I am looking for a fuel efficient commuter car to take it's place (and keep the miles off).

I would like to spend around $2,000 dollars initially and I have mechanical abilities to fix or repair something that may need work.

I realize that the possibilities are endless, but I am curious what comes to mind initially as a solid vehicle to start ecomodding with? (Manual trans, Good mpg, reliable and easy to maintain)

Driving conditions will consist of about 60% 2 lane highway (55 mph), 30% 65+ mph and last 10% or so city driving.

I have been mainly searching Facebook Marketplace/Craigslist. Current front runners are 1995-1999 Saturn SL1/SC1, mid-late 90s Honda Civic, late 90s-00s Geo Metro/Geo Prizm

I would appreciate any additional thoughts, thanks!

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Old 07-28-2020, 12:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Back when I drove and hour and a 1/2 each way to get to school, I was driving a Toyota celica. Started with a 88, ended up with an 05. I had no complaints, no real issues with the celicas. Try to schedule your classes only 3 days a week. Subtracting 3 out is hours out of your day 5 days a week and trying to get things done while in college was not fun.

Honestly you might think about upping your budget a tad, seems kind of low to get something reliable.I'm assuming you're discussing selling your ford edge And I think you could pocket some money from that and be able to buy something more in the 4K range. I would suggest stick shift as a definite, low miles and prefer garage kept but slightly older to keep the cost down. If you're gonna keep the ford edge anyway, I would just drive it as I don't think you're actually gonna be saving any money from better MPG losing out on insurance maintenance and purchase price for a second vehicle.

Oh and best of luck with your schooling, hang in there. Also have you re evaluated whether or not the current situation will affect your attending in person plans?
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Old 07-28-2020, 01:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If you donít live in an emissions area the 2000 Honda Insight with the battery disabled is a good eco choice at prices below $2000
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Old 07-28-2020, 02:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Isn't the aerocivic for sale?
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Old 07-28-2020, 03:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Your list already looks good. Maybe add the Toyota Echo to it. I'd avoid anything older than 1996 since OBDII makes diagnostics easier.
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Old 07-28-2020, 03:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Most of the sub compact 1.6 L cars will give you 35 mpg highway. Aero mods would help too. The newer automatics are equal to the 5-speeds. I drove 130 miles per day for a job for three years and my Prizm/Corolla was very reliable. Good winter tires are a wise investment where you are.
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Old 07-28-2020, 03:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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$2k is tough. I second ‘96-up for diagnostics. If you understand how to use it, it makes upkeep and diagnosis remarkably simple considering how complicated these cars actually are. My Civic was $2100 + TTL, and has merely been passably reliable, having had a bad alternator and a cheap (but new) O2 sensor which failed not long after purchase. Most of your Japanese reliability and mileage stalwarts are going to be in the $2-4K range for anything in passable shape. The Echo mentioned above is a fantastic choice, the one I had was fantastically reliable considering the abuse it had taken before it got to me - it was appraised once at $800 cash at a dealer.

I do wonder if an older Mazda Protege or Mitsubishi Mirage might fit the bill. They aren’t the easiest to find, though. Chevy Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires are popular cheap cars in my area. When I worked parts, I didn’t sell a whole lot of parts for them, so they might be underratedly reliable. Their reputation, though, is one less of reliability than of durability. I also occasionally see absurdly cheap Camrys and Accords, which typically need something like a head gasket or a clutch or something along those lines, if you want to tackle a project right off the bat (you probably don’t).
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Old 07-28-2020, 04:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies everyone!

I actually have a 1999 Ford Ranger that I planning to sell for hopefully around $2,000 so that is where I came up with that as starter money. I am okay with going up a bit in price to get something more reliable though.
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmguy64 View Post
Thanks for the replies everyone!

I actually have a 1999 Ford Ranger that I planning to sell for hopefully around $2,000 so that is where I came up with that as starter money. I am okay with going up a bit in price to get something more reliable though.
Shop a bit more carefully than I did and I’ll bet you could come up with a Civic for that. I’ll freely admit I may have overpaid and overlooked a few flaws because mine was both unmodified, and spec’d out more or less in a fairly unicorn fashion, the way I would have ordered one new were I not only 12 years old in 1997 Car is a Dallas native too, still wearing its original dealer badge, so lack of road salt damage probably put an extra premium on its price too. I’m not very sure how salt damage is priced into snowbelt cars.
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Last edited by jcp123; 07-28-2020 at 05:42 PM..
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have had good luck with the 2005-2007 ford focus, with the automatic I was getting 37-38mpg pure highway at 55mph, got about 31 fully loaded at 85+ with f350 airdam installed on the lower bumper

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