Car Gifting for Grads

March 4th, 2019

By Don Armstrong

As parents or grandparents, we love all the hubbub graduation brings with it and the perfect gift may be at a nearby dealership right around the corner. In this edition of Bay Area Houston Magazine, we look at a couple of top “gifting” contenders.

Hyundai Elantra
Packaged in a nicely re-sculpted metal jacket, the 2019 Hyundai Elantra comes with a pretty good reputation for reliability. And let’s face it, we want our grads to get wherever they’re going without being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the old family hand-me-down.

Pricing, of course, plays a huge part in this selection process, so with a sticker starting at $17,200, we can already hear the bell ringing.

Even the base SE model has those the “must-have” features such as power mirrors, a rearview camera, height-adjustable front seats, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a 5-inch display and USB port.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, 147-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 29 MPG-city and 38-highway. I taught my 16-year old how to row the gears of a manual transmission so you may consider it too, it could come in handy someday. Add a few dollars to the base price and get the automatic transmission, if you must.

Another “persuader” is its warranty. The 2019 Elantra comes with a 5-year, 60,000-mile certificate.

2018 Mitsubishi Mirage G4

Mitsubishi Mirage G4
The new Mitsubishi Mirage compares nicely to the Elantra on many levels, including mileage, amenities and warranty, but in the affordability category, this Thailander wins hands-down. Starting at a mere $14,795, the G4 gets into pre-owned pricing territory. Do we have your attention?

The Mirage G4 – what Mitsubishians call the sedan – gets several upgrades in 2019, including a touchscreen interface, rear view camera and Bluetooth connectivity, all necessary items for our generation “Z”ers.

Powered by a tiny 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine, the Mirage is rated at 35 MPG-city and 41-highway. A continuously variable transmission maximizes its lowly 78-horsepower output.
The interior is stark compared to what most of us are used to but think how it will be used and abused.

Safety should also be a major consideration and the Mirage passes in all 5 categories.

From someone with experience in “gifting” autos, don’t get anything other than the base model. Your grad won’t know the difference and you can spend the money you saved on a nice, little presentation party.

Bargain Sedans for Bay Buyers

May 1st, 2016

By Don Armstrong

Sedans just may be the automotive deal of the month. As truck and SUV sales continue to soar, Bay Area bargain hunters are snapping up popular, gas-sipping, 4-door cars by the truck load.

Mazda 3

Mazda 3

Mazda 3
The “other” Japanese automaker continues to impress those who may be sitting on the manufacturer’s fence. Yes, Honda and Toyota continue to sell big, but who doesn’t like pulling for the little guy?

The Mazda “3” has been refined to the point that it now easily competes with the mega-makers. We’re talking a sleek, wind-cheating body with an appealing grille.

There are 3 trim levels available, 3i Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Several optional equipment packages compliment the 3 trims.

The interior is well laid out, inviting and comfortable. A touch screen sits atop the dash but you’ll have to use a knob on the center console to control it while the vehicle is in motion. Ugh!

The Mazda 3 offers two engines, a 2.0-liter or a 2.5-liter, both 4-cylinders. The latter boasts 185-horspower. A six-speed manual or automatic is available depending on the model. The smaller power plant delivers an impressive 29 mpg-city and 41 highway and the 155-horses has more than enough oomph to get you up to highway speeds in no-time.

Starts at $17,845.

Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra
Hey, wait, Korea has something to say in this buyer-battle.

Elantra enters the ring in the midsize class. It’s a wee bit larger than the compact Mazda 3, but here is another contender in the bargain fray.

All-new from the ground up, this 2017 model may have you scratching your head, wondering how Hyundai offers so much for so little.

Looking more like its bigger brother, Sonata, the Elantra boasts a large, sharp-looking grille and vertical front marker lights with faux brake ducts.

The interior is straight forward and can almost be stark-looking on the entry-level model SE, depending on options. Bump up to the Limited and you’ll feel like you’ve won the lottery – well, almost. A 7” touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, dual automatic temperature controls and power driver’s seat are just a few of the standard features on the Limited.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter 4-banger that delivers 147-horses and gets 28-city and 37-highway when connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A manual is also available.

Pricing begins at $17,150, $100 less than last year’s model.