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Old 10-27-2019, 07:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question What will be the Ultimate North America Econobox of the future?

It's almost 2020. Right now the current MPG champions that can be had for a low price and deliver ultra mileage are of course the G2 Geo Metro and the G1 Honda Insight, with all its problems. But they're getting old, their fleets are dwindling, and newer used econoboxes are dropping in price faster and faster as Americans and Canadians keep buying larger vehicles.

Through the years:
G1 Jetta Diesel 1.8L
CRX HF 1.5L
G5 Civic VX 1.5L
G1 Geo 1.0L

Current:
G2 Geo 1.0L
G1 Insight 1.0L

Future??
G4 Micra 1.6L (Canada) // Versa (US)
G2 Prius 1.5L
G2 Insight
G6 Mirage 1.2L
Prius C 1.5L
G1 Leaf 80 kW
G2 Volt 1.5L

I think the defining characteristics are going to be:
- Commonly available for less than $4000
- Engine < 2.0L
- Easy to either ecomod or drive better to get better fuel economy
- Low coefficient of drag

I've only got experience with the G2 Insight, but as an example their prices are bottoming out. I've seen them sell for $2000 or $3000 with still functioning hybrid systems and under 200K miles. The one I had also had a very easy time beating the EPA estimate after I did only a couple mods to it.

What cars are going to take the torch?


Last edited by Natalya; 10-29-2019 at 11:48 PM..
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Old 10-27-2019, 07:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've seen so many older hybrids still on the road, even with huge wheels.

I think the Leaf is our ecomodder torch bearer. Being able to use the newer pack is an amazing gain for someone who can do it.

If you search the continental USA, Bolts look like they're going to be under $15k soon though!
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Old 10-27-2019, 08:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'd probably bet on the Mirage for its conceptual similarity to the Metro/Swift and the Prius C for its compactness and some technical improvements over the 1st and 2nd generations of the standard Prius.
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Old 10-29-2019, 03:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalya View Post
Future??
G4 Micra 1.2L (Canada Only)
G6 Mirage 1.0L
The Micra in Canada actually has the same 109 hp 1.6L HR16DE engine that its U.S. stablemates (Versa sedan/Note) used. (The 1.2L triple was available in Europe/Japan, either supercharged or naturally aspirated.)

It's not terribly efficient, but you can hypermile those cars to ~50 MPG US with a bit of effort.

I saw 47 mpg / 5.0 L/100 km over 766 miles / 1234 km in a base 5-speed Micra using just basic ecodriving techniques. A Versa Note should do as well. It's only slightly heavier, but more aerodynamic.

---

Similarly, the Mirage uses a 1.2L triple in North America; the 1.0L was only available in Europe & Japan.

Quote:
What cars are going to take the torch?
My money's on the Mirage as well. It's the Metro's spiritual successor.

Mitsu is a struggling brand, and some of its cars depreciate like crazy. As a result, we've already seen prices as low as ~$1800 for high mile 2014 & 2015 Mirages.



MPG is comparable to the Metro (in the 50's without trying too hard; 60's with a bit of effort.) The engines are bulletproof; the CVT's less so. (Of course, everyone here would get the manual, right?)

I missed out on a $1750 Mirage a couple of weeks ago with ~235k km / 146k miles on it. (Another forum member had dibs, and bought it.) Aside from tires and some cosmetic issues, there was nothing wrong with it.)
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Old 10-29-2019, 04:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Of course, everyone here would get the manual, right?
I'd actually not disconsider an automatic...
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Old 10-29-2019, 05:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think the Mirage is the Metro's closest spiritual successor, but I think it's lower sales numbers will keep it from being seen as such by the average person. The Prius is my pick to take its place as the cheap, MPG king to the common man. We'll have to see what happens with battery failures as they continue to age.
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Old 10-29-2019, 07:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That's the problem with cheap, old Prii - the battery question. Once they get to "econo"box age/price levels, it's more of a gamble than a plain ICE vehicle.
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Old 10-29-2019, 11:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Considering that old worn-out batteries would become an issue preventing the Prius from becoming the car of choice for a penny-pincher, it's scary to think that Americans would soon be forced to look for the least oversized mall-SUV...
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
That's the problem with cheap, old Prii - the battery question. Once they get to "econo"box age/price levels, it's more of a gamble than a plain ICE vehicle.
How hard are the G2 Priuses on their batteries? They must not eat them like the older Honda hybrids.

G2 Insights can go for over 200k miles on the original battery as long as they get all 3 software updates.
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Old 10-30-2019, 09:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalya View Post
How hard are the G2 Priuses on their batteries? They must not eat them like the older Honda hybrids.

G2 Insights can go for over 200k miles on the original battery as long as they get all 3 software updates.
The G2 Prius is very easy on the battery. The G3 is slightly harder on the battery. My mom's 08 Prius she bought with 98k miles still has the original battery, and running Dr. Prius specs on it show it to have excellent life (~120k miles currently).

The Prius has a much more efficient and effective battery management system than the G1 Insight, not sure about the comparison to the G2 Insight. The Prius has 2.5-3x the regenerative braking power of the Insight, so the batteries stay charged better, and the car actively seeks a 62% SOC, and will very slightly use or charge the battery until it gets there. You can use more of the charge when needed, but since it seeks such a good SOC range, the batteries last for a long time.

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