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New Car Hunt

edited June 2006 in Everything Else
As the title says I am beginning my new(er) car hunt. Currently I drive a 1995 Dodge Intrepid ES. I am looking for something used and smaller that gets betting gas mileage. Right now I get about 15 miles to the gallon city (used to get about 18 but age is taking its tole on the engine). Kill me. Also living in Baltimore my commute is stop and go every day. It sucks. So I wanted to ask all of you what do you think would be a good idea to look at. American is cheap but you never know what you're getting into. Foreign is good but expensive. My budget is about 15K. Any higher and I won't be able to afford the payments. :( So let me hear some opinions.


  • I've got a Mazda3, it's pretty damn good. Mine is a hatchback with the 2.3 liter engine. If you get the 4 door with the smaller engine, it's much cheaper. Other good small cars are the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, etc.

    I suggest you do what I did. First, pick what class of car you want. I'm guessing you want a small 2 or 4 door car. Next, go around to every car dealer in the area and test drive everything car in that category. The decide based on price and features. Always remember to ignore salesman jive.
  • Be sure to check out last year's new cars at the dealerships. When the 2007 cars come out, the unsold 2006s are usually significantly discounted, yet they're still brand new cars.

    Also, a car depreciates dramatically in the first year. If you can find a used car from a recent model year, you'll save a heap of money and not lose much in terms of quality.
  • Here's what I driven so far (that I can remember)

    2003 Honda Civic
    2006 Honda Civic
    2004 Mazada 4 (hatch)
    Scion TC
    Scion XB
    2007 Toyota Yaris Sedan
    2003 Nissan Sentra SE-R

    One's I want to test drive:
    Ford Focus
    Hyundai Elantra
    Hyundai Accent
    Scion XA
    Toyota Corolla
    Honda Fitt

    My main question right now is does any one have advice on what I should stay away from? Every time I mention Ford to my friends they freak out.
  • This podcast helped me a lot when I was buying a car. Some of his old episodes are key.

    One thing you've got to realize is that there aren't lemon cars anymore. The days of Yugos, Novas and Pintos are over. Pretty much any car you buy will work just fine. Even cheap cars like Hyundai, Kia and Scion work great. The thing is that when you spend more money, you usually get a car with more features that will last longer. If you want to talk about value, get a Mercedes. It has a high initial cost, but it actually ends up being cheaper because the car lasts so long. This is why the taxi drivers in Europe all drive Benzes. Of course you can't afford one. Just find the car that has the right combination of price, features, style and reliability that is good for you. The brand of a car only has superficial meaning. The only things that count are the physical car and the number of dollars you have to pay.
  • edited June 2006
    I disagree with that. Sadly some brands of cars simply are worse than others.
    Post edited by baltmatrix on
  • edited June 2006
    Sorry, you seem to be taken in by advertising. Brand doesn't actually mean anything. It's just an idea advertisers put in your head. They create a brand, then they create a feeling around that brand. They make Hummer feel big and dangerous, and they make Lexus feel smooth and luxurious. It's all about selling an idea, rather than a physical car.

    Imagine if GM just labled every GM car with the brand GM. That would mean the fanciest Cadillac would be the same brand as the shittiest Saturn. If Ford did it, then the fanciest Aston Martin would be the same brand as the craptacular Ford Escort. The Enzo Ferrari would be the same brand as the Fiat Uno. The fancy Infinity would be the same brand as the little French Renault.

    The brand has no effect on the car itself. Brands are just labels that auto manufacturers use to change the way people think about cars. They then put different cars under different labels to make them sell better and change the way you think about them. They associate a car with a brand, then they associate the brand with an idea. If they can sell you the idea, they can sell you the car. If they had one brand for all their cars, they would only have one idea to sell you. So they split up their cars into many ideas to get more customers.

    Here are some more examples. The Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable were the exact same car sold under two different brands. The Taurus was very popular with families and the Sable was popular with older people. The cars are identical in every way other than brand. The Chevy Aveo is actually a Daewoo. Imagine if you change the logo on that car, would it change the way you think about it? The low-end Jaguar is actually made in the same factory, and is very similar to the Ford 500. They change a few bits and put the Jaguar where the Ford used to be and jack the price way up.

    Brand is just an idea that companies use to push products. It's easy to sell brands because you don't have to physically manufacture them. If you are in the business of selling brands, you don't have to worry about people actually comparing the products themselves as much. That's good for companies since changing brands and marketing is much easier than changing a factory to make different products.

    Do not let brand influence any purchasing decision you ever make, especially a big one. Only consider the specifications and price of the thing you are buying and the competition.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • My 1998 Pontiac Sunfire is going strong with no major repairs at 100k miles.
    My 1991 Plymouth Laser went about 160k miles before the engine asploded.

    Almost any modern car will go a good 100k before trouble starts.

    Personally, I like tiny zoomy cars. The Miata is probably my favourite (within the realm of ones I can actually afford). My Laser was awesome. Far too powerful for a punk kid who'd just gotten his license, but I learned how to drive right quick with it.
  • Scott, I think you're missing a fact here. You're right, if GM labeled every GM car, with one brand exception, a GM, it wouldn't mean a lick of difference. They would all be crap. GM had to make a new factory and a whole new brand to make non-crap cars.

    It's based on the factory and that has some link to brand. They don't make a Saturn in a Toyota factory.
  • I had a 1988 Oldsmobile Delta 88. It was my first car. Bought it off my dad for $400.00 back in 1996. Got it at 102K. I drove to Main, Florida, and Georgia in that thing. Transmission finally died at 202,304 miles. Then I got rear ended by a car and thrown off the road in my second car. Now I'm on my third, the Dodge. 133K. Its dying.
  • My last car was a 1989 Toyota Camry. It had two original owners (my aunt and my mother), and It didn't die until it got to around 250K. My current car is a '95 Mitsubishi gallant. It's a 183K and still going very strong.
  • Pilitius, that is actually patently false. You might not have read the examples I gave in my previous post.

    Chevy Aveo - made in Daewoo factory.
    Low end Jaguar and Ford 500 made in the same factory.
    Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable - made in the same factory.
    A car that is sold as Nissan in Japan is sold as Infiniti in USA.
    My car, the Mazda 3 is known as the Axela outside of the US.
    I'm pretty sure at least one Chevy is actually a Suzuki.

    These are just the examples I know of personally. Trust me, there are many many more. Brand has nothing to do with factory.
  • I think I either misspoke or you misunderstood what I said. I know they make a Ford and a Mercury in the same factory, it's the same company. And the examples you're bringing up doesn't complete invalidate what I'm saying. The Brand, such as the Chevy Aveo, not Chevy, is made in a specific factory in a certain manner, yes? Probably the exact same fashion as the Daewoo that's next in line right? So you can trust the Chevy exactly as much as you can trust the Daewoo behind it. They are both GM cars.

    I've known your point for a long time, there are only a few models of car and there's not that much difference between a Taurus and a Sable. I'm saying there's a different standard of reliability/ease of maintain/what have you in your Mazda 3 then there is in the Chevy.

    I'm talking about the brand as the owner of the car company. I'm not talking about the difference between a Ford, a Mercury, or a Lincoln. Because they are the same brand. The factory is owned by the company, and the companies are what you judge. Every example you have there does not cross company lines, except for the hearsay one about Suzuki. You're not seeing Ford making cars in a Toyota plant, which was my point.
  • edited June 2006
    I think we agree, we just have a semantic difference. To me a brand is just a label, like Chevrolet, Ford or Lambourghini. Something more specific, like Shelby GR1 is a model, not a brand. And you are right, it is the factory that makes a difference. The Seagate factories are very adept at hard disk manufacturing, the Abit and ASUS factories are good at motherboards and the new Samsung factory is probably the most advance LCD making facility on earth.

    It's just that our car-shopping friend here said that
    "Every time I mention Ford to my friends they freak out."
    This is specifically the kind of thing I'm speaking out against. There are so many different cars and factories under the Ford label, that to be anti-Ford is obviously being against the ideas represented by the brand itself. Ford makes some great cars like the FordGT, the Mustang, the Crown Vic (cops drive it for a reason), the higher end Foci and the F-series trucks. They also make plenty of crap cars, like the SUVs and the shitty low-end Foci.

    You have to look at the product itself and not make any judgements based on the label on the product. Labels should only be used in decision making when they either have intrinsic value (rare) or if you are only using them to represent some actual material quality.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • If you are looking for an older car that is good value for money, I would recommend a japanese car. They tend to get rust problems quite fast, but the engine keeps going and going until there's nothing left of the rest of the car.

    Personally I own an old 1982 model Mazda 323. I spend very little on maintainance, and believe the car will serve me well for several more years. Although I really love my car, I recommend getting a newer car for better comfort.

    An example of a Toyota that refuses to die!
  • Top Gear is teh awesome! I think that was a thing of the day once.
  • You know, this board seems to be full of people who are arguing on how they agree with each other.
  • Great minds argue with one another to keep themselves busy ^_^
  • Pilitus, I've observed that too. The thread with the subject "That atheism quote" had a lot of agreeing with one another yet still arguing at the same time. Until the creationist came along, that is. (Here)
  • edited June 2006
    Found you a car. Have fun ;)
    Post edited by Starfox on
  • You might also want to try out an Acura. The precertified used ones sell around 15k.
  • I own a mitsubishi eclipse, its not the best car but is good enough for me.
  • edited July 2006
    After about a month of researching and driving I have narrowed down my choices. I have two cars that I really like and that I would be willing to purchase this week.
    1) 2006 Mazda 3 s hatchback
    2) 2004 Honda Accord EX

    Both are about the same price and both are cars that I could see myself driving. There are pros and cons to both. I commit about 35 miles daily and do both city and highway driving. Both are automatics. Both get the same gas mileage

    Honda Pros:
    -reliable, will last forever!
    -plenty of space
    -great pickup
    -handles the road with ease
    -only 16K miles on it

    Honda Cons:
    -not the best sound system
    -no aux jack for MP3 players
    -Honda lacks the young "fun factor"
    -more expensive for a slightly older car
    -limited in color choices

    Mazda Pros:
    -fantastic pickup
    -sporty, fun to drive
    -awesome sound system
    -newer, better styling
    -less expensive
    -more variety in color choices

    Mazda Cons:
    -Ride is not as smooth as the Honda
    -Cramped back seat for anyone over 6 ft tall
    -I dislike the steering wheel
    -not thrilled with the blood red interior coloring on the dash
    -no one knows how reliable these cars are (only been on the market for 3 model years)

    Let me know what you guys think.
    Post edited by baltmatrix on
  • I feel so envious when i hear about Americans and their cars.
    In Ireland we have the most expensive insurance in Europe, and i fall in the worst category of a "Between 19-24 year old male".
    The average price would be between about €2500-€4500 ($3,150-$5,700) for a 1.8-2.0 liter car per year, it's painful.

    Because girls have far cheaper insurance it's not uncommon to see all the girlfriends driving their boyfriends around. hehe
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