I need a car for potholes and floods. What should I buy?

Elaine lives in The Big Easy and her Hyundai Accent Hatchback is a little worse for wear. She wants to replace it with something that’s also easy to park, but also has better ground clearance for New Orleans’ worn and wet streets. What car should he buy?

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Here’s the script.

Looking to replace a 2016 Hyundai Accent Hatchback that has seen better days. Living in New Orleans, I need something with high ground clearance (to avoid flooding AND potholes) but also reasonably priced. My auto repair experience goes back to replacing windshield wipers, so anything that requires little maintenance or is easy to roll into the garage is best.

A nice size trunk would be good for tossing in gear bags for my girls recreational soccer team or pickups for large orders from Sams, but otherwise nothing special. Ground clearance is the main factor for me. I’d also prefer something a little low-key as car thefts are quite common in the city.

I have a budget of up to $30,000 but no EVs as I have nowhere to charge it.

Fast facts:

budget: up to $30,000

location: New Orleans

Daily driver: Yes

want: Ride height, reliable, not flashy

Does not want: Or this

Expert 1: Tom McParland – The benchmark for a reason

photo: Steve Dasilva/Jalopnik

Getting a small hatchback with little lift isn’t much of a challenge, but the devil is in the details. Many automakers offer similar products at this price point, but you’ll want to dive into the specs to see which one offers the best combination of height and cargo space. The Subaru Crosstrek boasts the highest ground clearance of the bunch with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. However, its 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats isn’t super generous compared to the new Honda HR-V.

You really can’t go wrong with Subaru, however, has an updated model that will soon hit showrooms. It’s not a “fun” car, but it will do the job you need it to do well. With a starting price of around $25,000, getting one in your budget shouldn’t be a problem, but you might want to stretch your dollars a bit and go for the Sport model with the larger 2.5-liter engine that gives the little crossover a little more cheerfulness to pass on the highway. Add a sunroof to the Sport and you’re $31,000 short. If you don’t want to wait for the 2024 car, the current model isn’t drastically different, and you can score one in plain color right now.

Expert 2: Jose Rodriguez Jr. – Try the Corolla Cross…trek

Image for article titled I need a car that can handle the potholes and flooded streets of New Orleans!  What should I buy?

photo: Toyota

Cheers to you in NOLA, Elaine, home of the best food in America. I was hanging around Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish as a child and often visited New Orleans with the family! I understand why you want clearance, but since you’re in the city, I’d recommend something like this 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross than, say, the Toyota Tacoma, which has a generous 9.4 inches of ground clearance.

Also a quick disclaimer: Toyota will release a Corolla Cross Hybrid in the near future, but we don’t know what the prices will be for the new hybrid.

In any case, Corolla Cross has the same ground clearance (8.1 inches) as Toyota Rav4. Toyota designs Corolla Cross considering the higher ground clearance and seating position as well as the difference between cross and the regular Corolla is spot on. But the Cross is still a Corolla, which means you’ll have a reliable and unassuming vehicle that will hold all your kit and groceries.

A new Corolla Cross starts at around $23,000 (excluding shipping), so you’ll be within budget. I recommend going for a higher trim such as the XLE, and I highly recommend going for an AWD model. They will send up to 50 percent of available torque to the rear wheels, making the Corolla Cross feel dynamic and capable. You’ll also appreciate the better traction when it’s raining in Cajun Country. Good time!

Expert 3: Andy Kalmowitz – Add some Zoom Zoom to your life

Image for article titled I need a car that can handle the potholes and flooded streets of New Orleans!  What should I buy?

photo: Mazda

Elaine, both vehicles recommended by my colleagues are excellent choices. Really, if I could go into this post and give my recommendation sooner, either of these two would be my top choice. But here’s the thing: they beat me to it. So we get a little creative. I give you Mazda CX-30.

I haven’t driven this exact car, but I have driven its bigger brother CX-50. It’s an excellent vehicle, and from everyone I’ve spoken to, the CX-30 has much of the same charm and capability. One thing absolutely has an advantage over the first two vehicles is its appearance. The CX-50 is a beautiful little crossover. It certainly feels more premium than its $22,000 base price suggests.

I wouldn’t be too surprised if it also handled better than those other cars, as that’s the Mazda way. This probably matters to you since you’re asking Jalopnik what car you should buy. Unfortunately, this good handling means you lose a bit of ground clearance. It only has 6.9 inches of ground clearance compared to the other two cars’ 8.1 inches, but that’s really good. I promise. It’s still more than enough to handle the rough roads of New Orleans.

And Elaine, my dear friend. Buy a Crosstrek or a Corolla Cross, but if you don’t want to do that, buy a CX-30. Either way, you won’t regret it.

Expert 4: Colleen Woodard – Be the Queen of Anonymity

2019 Honda CR-V

photo: Portal Ford

Elaine, I’d like to suggest something interesting like the previous generation Infiniti QX50 I found near you or a 1990 Suzuki Jimny. But something tells me you don’t really want a luxury crossover built on a sports car platform or an import with a right steering wheel with questionable reliability and parts availability. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

So you want something that will work reliably and is less likely to be stolen. I say get lost in the sea of ​​anonymity. Buy something you can easily lose in a parking lot. Buy something so common that you might go back to where you parked it and have to check the license plate to make sure you’re not trying to break into someone else’s vehicle. Take the Honda CR-V.

Now, if you’ve decided to buy new, you’ll need to get a base CR-V with front-wheel drive to stay within your budget. With destination, the all-wheel-drive CR-V LX will be too expensive at $1,205. But I’d also say that a brand new CR-V will stand out more than you’d like. Instead, go used and get the previous generation. This one it may have more miles than you hoped for, but it’s within your budget.

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