Although she asked advice from another blog we here at Autoblog won't discriminate against Beth at Mutated Monkeys' plea for some car buying help. Beth seems to be all over the place with her search, but many car buyers these days consider more than one type of vehicle. A small SUV is often an alternative to small sedan etc.

She has lots of requirements. "Basically, I'm looking for the smallest possible car I can find, into which I can still cram all my stuff (groceries, Home Depot runs…), and that can handle ice, snow and highway driving…Being short, the idea of a vehicle that will let me sit tall is appealing."

Beth has dwindled the list down to:
· Toyota RAV4
· Toyota Echo - "because it gets 38mpg"
· Subaru Impreza wagon - "because it has AWD"
· the upcoming Hyundai Tucson - "a RAV4 clone"
· Honda Civic (Hybrid?)
· Honda Element - "though it's ugly"
· Scion xB - "probably not good on the highway, though"
· Scion tC
· Hyundai Accent - "because it's SO cheap"
· Mazda3 - "which I like, but I think it might be too large for me"

The main problem here is we don't have a cash figure to work with but I'll assume Beth is willing to pay for any on this list. First lets cross some off. Forget the Echo. It's not a well-made vehicle even for the money and fuel economy. Hyundai Accent lets throw out because it is so bland and doesn't do anything more than the others. If you think the Honda Element is ugly don't even consider it either and I'd guess that would include the xB too.

First you can't go wrong with the Subaru Impreza Wagon. It's under $20,000 ($18,795 MSRP), has AWD and is pretty sporty even without the WRX turbo. This will be the all-weather warrior. BUT for the same price ($17,105 MSRP) you can get a Mazda 3 hatchback. It has every feature you could want, better mileage and will be as good in the snow as any FWD car out there. And it's much more attractive. Both have the seating positions she's looking for as well.
These would be my first choices to meet all the requirements. Thoughts?

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