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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Sad maybe, but expected. I noticed the MSRP of a well-equipped Cobalt LT sedan, with leather and sunroof, is over $20k. Since someone can buy an Elantra GT or a Focus with about the same equipment for thousands less, it's no wonder GM has to slap incentives on the Cobalt. It's a nice car, but not that much nicer than the Elantra and Focus (and not as nice in some respects). Also $20k gets you into mid-sized territory.
  • I think it's become a game played between most manufacturers and their customers. Buyers expect incentives these days, so the makers inflate the MSRP and then give rebates to bring the price down to what it should have been in the first place.
  • m1miatam1miata Posts: 4,556
    Our local dealer had a Madza6 2004 for $15,999, and they have Mazda3 2005 for $14,999 and up, so considering the handling is great with Mazda, why not have fun, and pay less doing it? For safety ratings, I think it is 4 star for the Mazda3 and 5 stars for the Mazda6. And those needing only 2drs, and a sunroof, what's wrong with a $17,000 tC? Well maybe those dang too tall door sills, but those are hung on every car these days - yukkk! As for Cobalt, I'd say $14,ooo seems about right, if it is as much fun to drive as the Mazda3. Life is too short to drive boring cars! Well, at the least, own one fun one. Miatas don't take up too much room around the house - sneeks in anywhere. And you can wash them in your bathtub. Makes a great pet and second car ;-)


  • Complaints Lead To Ford Focus Recall

    Rear Passenger Doors May Not Latch Properly


    Complete article


    POSTED: 10:54 am EST February 7, 2005


    DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is recalling 358,857 Focus cars because their rear passenger doors may not latch properly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Ford spokeswoman said Monday.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    The funny thing is, it looks like the car in the accompanying photo is the Focus ZX3. No rear door latch problems there!
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,614
    the recall is for 2000 thru 2002 models only. otoh, maybe the '03 and up models aren't old enough to have the problem, yet. if i get a recall for it on my '04, i'll let you know!
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    -Great review!!


  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    I noticed has published their latest list of top 10 picks under $15k. Interestingly, their top pick is NOT their Most Wanted pick for best under $15k--the Mazda3. It's the PT Cruiser--which in a recent Edmunds comparo was topped by... well, read on. Next was the Focus. Focus was 4th in Edumunds' latest comparo of small wagons, behind the PT Cruiser but also... well, read on. Then the Civic--that's understandable, in their last small-car comparo they ranked the Civic EX first, then the Elantra (the Elantra was 2nd in that same comparo). Fifth was the Spectra (makes sense, it's the cousin of the Elantra), then in SIXTH place, the Mazda3. (How fleeting is fame--and the Edmunds' editors ratings!) Then the two Scion x-cars, the Forenza wagon (a spiffy little number if you've not yet seen it), and in 10th place, the Matrix. Now, the Matrix was the top pick in Edmunds' last comparo of small wagons, beating among others the PT Cruiser and Focus! Notably absent are the Corolla and Cobalt. The Sentra, fourth in Edmunds' last small-car comparo, also didn't make the new list. It's a tough market.


    I suspect what they did here is look only at cars you can actually buy for under $15k MSRP, which is a different criteria than their Most Wanted list and for their comparos. Still, I see a little inconsistency. New editors, maybe?
  • It looks to me like those cars are listed in alphabetical order...


    I won't comment on the ones I agree with, but:

    PT Cruiser - Truly a dog in base form. Not under $15,000 in any guise that I would be interested in. Cobalt goes here.

    Kia Spectra - Not with those crash scores, replace with the Chevy Aveo or Hyundai Accent.

    Suzuki Forenza Wagon - Interesting pick, I haven't driven one.

    Toyota Matrix - Blah. I like the Suzuki Aerio much better.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Aveo or Accent instead of the Spectra? Not for me. The IIHS crash-test score on the Spectra is disconcerting, but its NHTSA scores are fine and it is so much a superior car to the Aveo and Accent it's no contest IMO.


    Personally, I'd take the Matrix over the Aerio, although I haven't seen the '05 Aerio which I understand has significant improvements.


    By "Cobalt goes here" do you mean you'd rate it #1 in this group?
  • brihambriham Posts: 33
    Here are my favorites assuming "low-end" means less than $20,000


    1. Mazda3 - it is built on the Volvo S40 platform and if you look closely it is almost the same car. Here is a link to a review: ffid=


    2. Scion tC - great looks and 160 horsepower. asp?affid=


    3. Honda Civic - boring but reliable and good on gas. asp?affid=
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Have you driven a Matrix? Way underpowered. Completely out of contention, IMO. With the newly upgraded interior, I'd take the Aerio SX w/AWD. I drove an Aerio way back when they first came out in '02- when they had the funky dash and 140 horses... and thought it was a good car- different, a bit rough around the edges, and oddly executed. But now... its more mainstream, has a better engine, and the same kick-[non-permissible content removed] warranty that the Koreans offer.


  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Yes, I've driven the Matrix and the Aerio. I prefer the Matrix. (Power isn't everything--and it has a high-powered version if you really need it.) I like the ride and seating position of the Matrix in particular, and I think (need to confirm) the rear storage is bigger in the Matrix. The Matrix also has higher fuel economy and of course the great Toyota reputation for quality, reliability, and high resale value.


    P.S. It's NOT the same warranty as the Koreans offer.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    May just be the dash improvements, but the feel of the car is completely different for '05. Plethora of Chevy dealers, getting a Maxx for 16K, and the rather weak Hyundai/Suzuki local dealer cinched it.


    Did not like the 03 Aerio SX I drove-- digital dash was a huge turnoff and the entire feel of the car was different, although the 05 also had a 5-speed.


    Matrix OK but NOISY. xB great around town but turning 3500 rpm @ 70 mph and NOISY as well.
  • m1miatam1miata Posts: 4,556
    " PT Cruiser - Truly a dog in base form. Not under $15,000 in any guise that I would be interested in. "

    -end quote-


    I am curious as why you think it is a dog? With a stick the 150HP and 165# torque seems like enough to me. Rev it up between shifts! It looks pretty cool to me too. That said, the Mazda3 is a winner, I think. As for Suzuki, I would worry about the resale and number of dealerships. If you are talking simply under $20k, you can add a base Accord, Mazda6, Altima and a whole bunch of those which are good choices. Most add on stuff is just more junk to go bad, and costing money in the process.
  • backy-

    The Spectra is a nicer car than the Aveo or Accent, but it's also much more expensive. Considering Accents and Aveos are avilable for under $9000, I consider either one a much better value than the Spectra - I can see no reason to buy the unremarkable Spectra, when there are so many other excellent cars of the same size and price - considering its poor crash performance. It doesn't stand out.


    [keep in mind, the Aveo and Accent don't really compete with $15k cars, but I am factoring price into the equation]



    We definitely agree on the Matrix and Aerio. I think the Aerio is one of the most underrated cars out there right now. And the Aerio has a 100,000 mile warranty, even if it's only 7 years. Matrix is as boring as a Corolla, but heavier, and less fuel efficient. Don't get me wrong, the Corolla is a great car, it's just more



    You know, I always liked the PT Cruiser - very cool looking, but i never drove one until about 4 months ago. And I took a fairly spirited test drive (to be fair, it was an automatic), and I was really disappointed [gf only drives an auto]. It was extremely slow (felt slower than the Aveo, even though it probably isn't), and soft handling.


    I wouldn't buy any car without nearby dealerships, but there are plenty of Suzuki dealers in LA.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    The Spectra costs more than the Aveo or Accent, but you get a lot more even in the base Spectra than on the $9000 versions of the Aveo and Accent--e.g. 4-wheel disc brakes, SACs, more passenger space, much nicer interior, quieter ride, more power and better performance. Since Spectras can be had for under $11k with rebates and discounts, I don't think that is too high a price premium for what you get. But I do agree there are better alternatives to the Spectra, particularly the Elantra, which has the same engine and platform and much better IIHS frontal crash ratings, and more features (except SABs vs. SABs+SACs) for about the same money as the Spectra.
  • I see Accents and Aveos for under $7k all the time, which is a big difference from $11k for a Spectra. The light weight of the Accent is going to help make up for not having 4-wheel discs, and the Aveo stops almost as well as an Acura TL. (ie not particularly well).


    The Aveos and Accents I'm talking about have standard AC (Assuming that is what SAC stands for) I don't think the Accent is available without anymore.


    I also don't think the Spectra has more interior passenger space than the Aveo, it's very space efficient. It does have more power, and more performance, but it's not a quick car, and is probably only marginally faster than either.


    The way I view this list is, 10 different cars to buy. The Spectra isn't any better of an economy sedan than most cars on the list, and it's not cheaper to own or drive than the Aveo or Accent. It's an also ran. If somebody really wanted the Spectra on the list, it would have to be behind the following high quality econo-sedans that can b had for under $15k.


    Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Elantra, Aerio, Cobalt, Focus, and Mazda 3. And I don't consider it any more desireable than an Echo, Matrix, Reno/Forenza, xA, xB, Accent, or Aveo. (to round out the list of sub-$15k cars I'd rather have)


    I consider it more in a league with:

    Cavalier, PT Cruiser, Neon, Rio, Lancer, Sunfire, or ION.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    The last time I saw an ad on an Aveo or Accent under $7000 was the closeout '04 base stripped models (e.g. the $9995 Aveo with no A/C or any other amenities). The '05s are going for over $8000 in my area, closer to $9000 for the Aveo. Those are all w/o A/C. If you can get a new '05 Aveo or Accent with A/C for under $7000, that is the Deal of the Decade, since A/C is not standard on Aveo or Accent--nor on the base Spectra for that matter. So you'd be saving at least $4000 on the Aveo or Accent. Can't beat that for price on a new car. But I've driven all three cars and still think the Spectra is the car I'd rather live with for many years.


    I'd put the Spectra ahead of the Sentra, Aerio, Echo, Reno/Forenza, xA, xB (on styling alone!) in addition to the Accent and Aveo. I think the Lancer doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the likes of the Cavalier, Neon, Rio, Sunfire, and ION. Although the ION is improving bit by bit--still outclassed by its cousin the Cobalt though. The Lancer is a solid, roomy, modern compact with good quality and a great warranty. Still a notch below the leaders though. The Aerio is getting there but I still wouldn't put it in the top 10.


    BTW, SAC = side air curtains.
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