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car review
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The Honda Civic is great on gas.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

My wife and I will be shopping for a new car shortly to replace her 2012 Honda Civic, mainly because it is getting old. She has been happy with the Civic and drives it to work (about one kilometre), around town and for trips to see family who are about 120 kilometres away, for a total of about 8,000 kilometres a year. For longer trips, we use my larger and more comfortable 2016 Honda Accord. I’ll be replacing my Accord in about five years and we expect the replacement will be similar in size. Our children are grown up and have their own vehicles, so this car is primarily for my wife’s use.

We are looking for a car to replace the Civic that is good around town and to continue her regular drives to visit family. We expect to keep the new car for at least 10 years. She would like a small sedan, but we think an electric car would be good this time around. We would want to keep our budget to about $30,000 or less, but could afford more if necessary. - Tony

Petrina Gentile: A new all-electric or plug-in hybrid is out of the question with Tony’s $30,000 budget. Most electric and plug-in hybrids are north of $45,000, before taxes. But he could look at a conventional hybrid if he’s willing to pay a little more than $30,000.

Mark Richardson: I think Tony’s open to paying the going rate for an all-electric car, but – like most people – he doesn’t realize how costly that going rate is. So let’s just put it out there. The cheapest electric car is the Chevrolet Bolt, at $38,198. There are a handful of other EVs in Canada below $50,000. The cheapest Tesla is the Model 3, at about $55,000.

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The cheapest electric car is the Chevrolet Bolt, at $38,198.Jeremy sinek/The Globe and Mail

Gentile: There are potential rebates that may bring down the price. The federal rebate is an automatic $5,000, and depending on where you live, the savings can add up. Quebec and B.C. have additional provincial EV rebates, though B.C.’s is tied to income. Even so, the price is still not going to be anywhere near $30,000.

Richardson: It’s not, but he’ll probably pay less in the long term if he can afford the capital cost now. He says he can pay more “if necessary,” so if he has access to the capital, an electric car is certainly the way to go for this comparatively light usage. If he lives in Quebec, he’ll benefit from the $5,000 federal rebate and a potential $8,000 provincial rebate off the listed price. Other provinces are less generous or – like Ontario – offer nothing at all.

Gentile: He could try a less-expensive used EV. There are some good used options out there, such as the Nissan Leaf, which is practical and spacious. On AutoTrader, there are several 2017-2019 Leafs available in the low $20,000s, but the mileage is more than 110,000 kilometres on most of them.

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The Nissan Leaf is practical and spacious.Jay McNally McNally Multi Media/Handout

Richardson: That’s not an unreasonable distance – the batteries are usually have warranties for eight years, but you get what you pay for.

Gentile: There are a few used 2019 Hyundai Kona EVs for sale, too. Most are in the high $20,000s, though, so Tony would have to go over his budget for that, after paying taxes. But they’re great little cars with lots of technology.

Richardson: The Chevrolet Bolt is also a practical and well-designed electric car. It was recalled a year or so ago because its batteries could catch fire, but General Motors fixed that problem and even reduced its price to help revive sales.

Gentile: Personally, I’d stay away from the Bolt. It has the old generation batteries, not GM’s new Ultium battery pack found in their new EVs, which are much better than the last-generation battery packs in the Bolt.

Richardson: Sure, the new Ultium batteries are better, but they’re more costly. We’re trying to keep the price down here for Tony. The obvious option, to avoid the higher outlay, is to buy another gas-powered car – maybe another Civic. It’ll be reliable for 10 years and its fuel costs will be so low as to be negligible.

Gentile: Full disclosure – I own a Honda Civic. And I’m 100 per cent in agreement. The civic is a great way to go for Tony. It’s reliable, dependable, Canadian-made and still somewhat affordable, although the price keeps creeping up every year.

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The Honda Civic is reliable, dependable, Canadian-made and still somewhat affordable.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

Richardson: Full disclosure – I also own a Civic. It’s 15 years old and totally boring, and I just replaced the rusted-out muffler, but there are no surprises with it. A new model would be an ideal vehicle for Tony’s wife that’s half the price of an electric alternative.

Gentile: And they’re great on gas. I average 6.3 litres per 100 kilometres of combined highway and city driving with my Civic. That’s about $1,000 a year in fuel for Tony.

Richardson: So Tony has two choices of direction if he’s not to totally blow his $30,000 budget: a used electric car, like a Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt or Hyundai Kona, or a new, small gas-powered sedan, like a Honda Civic. He could pay more now to save money over the long-term, but if he wants to keep the car for the next decade, the Civic – or a Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 or Hyundai Elantra – is the most reliable way to go.

Gentile: Skip the used electric car option and go with a gas-powered Civic. It’s reliable, affordable, fuel efficient and Canadian-made. You won’t be disappointed.

What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at and use ‘What car’ as as part of your subject line. Emails with different subject lines may not be answered.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

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