Dear Car Talk:
I'm a huge fan of your radio show, and I still listen to it today!
While I was in college, I received my first car; a blue, 2011 Ford Fiesta. While it started as a loving relationship, it has turned into a "meh, it gets me from point A to B relationship."
The transmission in this car is horrible to the point Ford had to extend the warranty for up to 150,000 miles (I'm at 70k).
If I were to move on from the Fiesta to a crossover of some sort, what would you suggest? I personally really love the looks of the Hyundai Kona, but haven't test-driven one yet. -- Your Fan, Alex
We like the Kona, too, Alex.
We've also learned over many years of answering car questions that when people ask us whether they should buy a certain car, what they really want from us is positive reinforcement.
So when an orthodontist having a mid-life crisis writes to ask us whether the Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio is a reliable car for him and his young dental assistant, we swallow hard and tell him he'll love it and he'll never need his AAA card.
In your case, positive reinforcement is easy, Alex, because we actually do like the Kona. It's reasonably priced, fun to drive for a crossover, well laid out ergonomically, practical and versatile. (And Hyundai promised to send us our check this month.)
We consider it a little bit noisy inside, but not out of line compared with other small, inexpensive cars. And compared with a 10-year-old Ford Fiesta, it's going to feel like a sensory deprivation tank, Alex.
It comes standard with at least a couple of the safety features we consider absolutely mandatory these days -- forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. To get the equally important blind spot warning system, you'll have to step up from the lowest trim level.
And safety is as good a reason as any to upgrade your ride, Alex. The Fiesta is tiny. And overall structural safety has improved in the years since your Fiesta was designed. And that's not even taking into account the new, electronic safety features like the ones we list above.
So if you can manage it financially, sell your Fiesta to another needy college student who will mostly use it to get around campus at low speeds. And get yourself the Kona. Send us a picture of you in it.