Small Cars For Golfers?

Like so many Americans, I’ve been seriously considering trading my my larger vehicle (an Oldsmobile minivan) for a smaller one. But I’ve grown accustomed to having space in my car to store my golf bag, my Sun Mountain Speed Cart, and a small duffel with golf clothes, shoes, extra balls, etc. I can easily carry all of those things, and still have room for a pair of boys.

Still, with gas heading for $5 a gallon, a change makes a lot of sense.

The question for me is “what small cars are the most golf friendly?” Which ones have a trunk (or hatchback area) large enough to carry my clubs, cart and duffel? I don’t want to have to keep one of those items in the shotgun seat.

Making a small car golf friendly ought to be on the designer’s specifications.

Any suggestions? I have a couple of criteria:

First, it ought to get 25+ in the city (My van currently gets around 21 or 22 in the daily drive to work). And second, it has to have sufficient storage.

I also vastly prefer to drive American or perhaps European. Toyota, Honda and Mazda are definitely out of consideration. (GolfBlogger headquarters is, after all, in Michigan).

I’ve had the idea that the Pontiac Vibe might be the right size (I get the family discount on GM products, so I’m looking there first and foremost). I’ve even visited a Pontiac dealer. But I’m not sure.

Let me know your opinions. Leave a comment below.

13 thoughts on “Small Cars For Golfers?”

  1. The no Toyota, Mazda, or Honda edict seems old-fashioned to me. Is it better to buy a Nissan made in Tennessee, or a GMC made in Canada? Or a VW made in Mexico? The Pontiac Vibe you mention is a joint venture with Toyota (the Matrix is its twin)—how do you decide what is “American” anymore? Buy the best car and the best price and don’t worry about the badge.

  2. I am with you all the way on sticking with GM or Ford.  While a Nissan may be made in Tennessee, and a lot of the GMC is made in Canada (our new Acadia is pretty candadian, but the final assembly was in MI)- that doesn’t tell the whole story, it is not the $$ going into the pocket of the factory workers alone.  A GM or Ford, the majority of the money, expense and profit, goes into the American economy and taxes are paid into our economy.  With a European or Asian car, even if assembly is here, a much larger percentage of the money leaves this country. 

    That said, my advice is to sit tight.  I am doing the same.  The Chevy Volt is 2-3 years away, and will revolutionize the way we think about economy cars.  Secondly, even with gas at $2.50-$3, a gallon, carmakers still were pushing better performance, more hp, than better mpg.  In a year or two, I think we will see cars retuned with the same engines, but just a little slower, getting 4-5 mpg better.  The last firmware upgrade on my GMC Acadia last year improved passing performance on the highway, but took mpg from 26 to 23 on the highway, all it was was a software change.

    That said, here are the cars I would look at if I was buying today:
    – Mustang V6.  I love my 96, and while the new ones don’t get nearly the milage that I do now, (27-28 between fillups on my normal home/work/golf route, and 30 on the highway) – a Mustang V6 base going for $15k is awesome.  It doesn’t work for 2 kids though (my one kid loves the mustang).
    – GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook/Chevy Traverse/Buick Enclave.  The milage doesn’t quite meet your specs.  My wife is getting 19 between fillups and we now get 23 on the highway, but this is one awesome vehicle.  And it can transport 6 golfers with bags.

    and now to my econ choices
    – Chevy Malibu with the ECOTEC 2.4 or the Hybrid 2.4.
    – Mercury Mariner Hybrid/Ford Escape Hybrid. 
    -Saturn Aura Hybrid
    – Saturn VUE Hybrid
    – Dodge Avenger – only gets 21/30
    – Dodge Caliber or Jeep Patriot

    The Vibe isn’t a bad pick, but not for me.  I would rather drive a Dodge Caliber for pretty much the same milage.

    Lastly, I was with a coworker who was buying a 350Z, and I got to looking at the Nissan Altima.  In all fairness, if there is a car which is going to make me bend my personal code, it is the Altima.  I have it all picked out too: 2.5L Coupe, Manual with leather.  Milage 23/32. 

    That said, I am waiting on three things before moving on a new car: The new Camaro, the Chevy Volt, and to see what fuel prices do in the next 3 years.  3 years is about as long as I want to go on driving my Stang daily, at that point, if the wheels haven’t fallen off, it will be relegated to weekend use and waiting for my little girl to drive.

  3. I agree, its old fashioned in the days of the multinational But it’s a practical thing. There are literally places I can’t park in a foreign car. Literally, as in signs on the parking lot entrance stating “No Japanese Cars In This Lot.” And I need to park in a few of those lots because of work-related things.

    There also are a few places I park where it would be unhealthy to the condition of the car to drive Japanese. My day job is in a rabidly union area.

  4. I just purchased a 2008 Dodge Caliber and love it so far.  I get 26 mpg around town.  My clubs fit in the hatchback and my push cart goes on the fold down back seat.  I still have plenty of room left in the hatchback for shoes, umbrella, golf balls…pretty much anything.  Another nice thing about this car is the front passenger seat folds down so I can fit a 10’ ladder in this car easily.  Other nice extras are a refrigerated compartment above the glove box and illuminated cup holders (sounds silly but they’re great).  Hope this helps you out.

  5. I’m really happy with the Matrix I bought 2 years ago.  It handles our foursome just fine for short trips.

  6. One guy has a cart bag and a generic pull cart that folds quite small. Two others have carry bags, and I take either a cart bag or carry bag. I haven’t tried 4 full sized cart bags at once, so that may be
    more than can be squeezed under the hatch.

  7. I have a VW GTI, and it and its twin, the Rabbit, will hold my full size cart bag, and Clicgear cart with enough room left over for a small duffel for shoes, balls, etc. Alll this fits in the hatch area with the cargo cover on. I typically get 27-28 MPG for a tank, but i have seen 30 on long trips. The Rabbit supposedly get alittle better milage, and if it id a four door, the front passenger seat will fold down as well. The Saturn Astra (a German car rebaged to look American) is another candidate in the same class.

  8. I have a 05 Ford Focus sedan…I can fit 3 bags of clubs easily (could stuff 4). I also get 25-27 MPG in town.


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