By Mark G. McLaughlin
Smart drivers know that a car that gets good mileage, performs well, and does the job it is purchased for is the best kind of car. Such cars are often dismissed by sports car enthusiasts, luxury sedan owners, and truck drivers as “practical” cars, but those are the kind of cars that most people, especially those on a budget, are looking for. Here are just five of the most practical cars that practical people will find at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.
2018 Chicago Auto Show
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60616
Date: February 10 – 19
Time: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day except the last (8 p.m. on Feb. 19)
With a base sticker price just over $14,000, the Ford Fiesta remains, as always, one of if not the least expensive new cars on the market. It is a small car, a true subcompact, and as such it does take nine seconds to get from zero to 60, but for stop-and-go city driving, it is hard to beat. It is an ideal car for a single driver or couple, and its six-speed dual clutch automatic performs very well. The Fiesta is also very easy on the gasoline, as it gets up to 37 mpg highway (and 26 mpg city).
The Subaru Impreza is a dandy little car. This all-wheel-drive vehicle has just over 20 cubic feet of storage (and over 50 cubic feet with the back seats down) and gets a very respectful 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway (up to 38 in certain models). Its continuously variable automatic transmission is especially frugal on gas, it handles well, fits into tight city parking spaces easily and, new this year, its headlights come on when the windshield wipers are turned on. At just under $20,000, it remains a very good buy for the buck.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet built its reputation on good cars that made good sense to buy and drive, and the Chevrolet Bolt is just that kind of car. The electric engine Bolt goes an astounding 238 miles on a single charge and with 200 HP, it can hold its own on the highway. The Bolt seats five, comes with 10 airbags and earned a 5 out of 5 from Car and Driver magazine. While a tad pricey at $36,000, what the buyer pays in car payments they will make up for by saving on gas.
Toyota bills its Avalon as an “entry level” luxury car. That means buyers get just enough bells and whistles to make them feel like they are driving a luxury sedan, but for a much more sensible price. The Avalon in that sense is a bargain, especially in the hybrid engine configuration. It has a roomy interior, seats four comfortably, has 16 cubic feet of trunk space and gets up to 30 mpg (40 for the hybrid version). For those who want a car that is practical yet still offers a taste of luxury, the Avalon at around $38,000 is a solid choice.
The Honda Civic has a long reputation for being one of the most practical cars on the road. Since the 1970s, it has been the go-to car for those concerned about price, gas mileage, maneuverability in town and all of the other things that went into the design of this sub-compact line. The little car that could, however, has grown up a bit. While still comparatively compact, it is significantly larger than its predecessors and is now a mid-size car (if barely). Even in its beefed-up state, it is still noted for its fuel economy (up to 40 mpg on the highway) and its ease of handling and parking. The Civic comes with two engine options and body options, hatchback or coupe, and although there are six levels of trim and extras available, the base model is perfectly practical and starts at under $19,000.