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Low End Sedans (under $16k)

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Comments

  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Which color and options package did you choose, if you dont mind me asking?

    ~alpha
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    The Prius not being a low-end car, it's probably not the best place to get into a discussion about it. But it's multiple color choices, pkg 3.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Agreed on that. While Kia (and Hyundai in particular) have improved astronomically in the past few years, Daewoo never did, which is mostly the reason for the bankruptcy. I cant believe the amount of progress Hyundai has made though, they already have variable valve timing four cylinders. GM and Ford dont even have those yet! I think by the end of the decade, the big three may find they have increasingly small pieces of the US market pie, as the Koreans begin to steal it in large quantities. The Aveo may be a Korean, but it doesnt have their 10 year warranties. Has anyone else noticed that LG has gone from a nobody to a world class electronics company on par with the likes of Motorola and Samsung? Might be time to look up some stock symbols
  • baber1baber1 Posts: 49
    I think Daewoo is on a good track now. The Suzuki Forenza is the Daewoo replacement for the Nubria and is pretty well rated by Edmonds. Chevy is selling a Daewoo car that I would not consider because of its weak warranty. When I was in the Philippines in January I saw a Chevy badged Daewoo that was selling pretty good there.Even if it is badged as a Suzuki or Chevy there is room for Daewoo here.
  • baber1baber1 Posts: 49
    With my decision to buy a new Elantra. I plan on keeping my cars for qiute a long time. I also drive about 500 miles a week. I needed a cheap reliable car that had a good waranty. My last car was a 99 Accent. I would still be driving that car if some fool hadnt ran a stop sign and totaled it. I had 131,000 miles on the car when it was destroyed.
    If someone puts low miles on a car and trades it in every 3 years or so then a Honda is a very good choice. If you plan on keeping your car for a long time or drive a lot a Kia, Hyundai, or Suzuki is a good choice.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    This is the only Edmunds.com board where we can compare ALL the low end sedans without going off-topic. So why not have our own comparo for the entire category--all sedans under $15k?

    The way Edmunds.com determines which cars are in its "Most Wanted" price categories is based on the MSRP without destination charge. But if even one trim line of a car is under the cutoff, all lines are included in the Most Wanted voting. I think that is unfair because then you have cars that cost $20,000 competing against cars costing $10,000. So I propose we include ONLY the trim lines that fit under $15k. That would give the the following sedans:

    Chevy Aveo (SV, base, LS)
    Chevy Cavalier (SV, base)
    Dodge Neon (SE)
    Ford Focus (LX)
    Honda Civic (HX, DX, VP)
    Hyundai Accent (all)
    Hyundai Elantra (all)
    Kia Rio (all)
    Kia Spectra (all)
    Mazda3 (3i)
    Mitsubishi Lancer (ES)
    Nissan Sentra (1.8, 1.8S)
    Pontiac Sunfire (SV, base)
    Saturn ION (1, 2)
    Suzuki Aerio (S)
    Suzuki Forenza (S)
    Toyota Corolla (CE, LE, S)
    Toyota ECHO (all)

    The other restriction in Edmunds.com's Most Wanted voting is that editors can only vote on cars they have driven. While that is optimal, they are professionals paid to drive cars, and we are not (most of us, anyway). So instead I suggest we just note which cars we have driven or not driven. The other thing I think we should do is not just rank the cars, but give at least a brief rationale as to our rankings.

    So what do you think? Should we do our own Ultimate Low End Sedan Comparo?
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Good list backy, thanks. That's pretty much what we are already doing here, but you've made a great effort to quantify the subject vehicles.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,682
    to also add the Scion xA and xB to this list? Aren't they both under $15,000 for their lowest-priced trim line? Other than that your list should make for some interesting comparo's.

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    Pat, what I am suggesting is that everyone state their ranking order, in a single post. This has been done before but not for a couple of years, and there's been a lot of changes in the low-end sedan ranks since then.

    iluv, the Scions are hatchbacks, not sedans. But I have no problem adding them if it doesn't cause the Off-Topic Police to come down on us. ;-)
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,682
    part of this topic and concentrated on initial price completely. I see what you're saying, although the Scion xB almost seems like a funky crossover/mini-Astro-van and not a hatchback. Let's get Pat's response to either or both of the Scion's being added to the list. If up to me, I would be down with adding them to the list(and that would mean that it's cool with me to add Scion's to backy's list)!

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    Here's my rating of all the low-end sedans, based on the list and criteria I suggested in #2615. Rankings are based on '04 or, if available now, '05 models. Except for the Aveo, I've driven all of these cars. I did not consider resale value or styling in my rankings, except styling as a tie-breaker for the Cavalier and Sunfire. The bottom line was, which car would I rather drive every day?

    18. Chevy Cavalier
    Pros: Good power
    Cons: Cheap and uncomfortable interior, noisy, harsh ride, terrible crash scores, short warranty
    Verdict: Not a bad small car--for 1994

    17. Pontiac Sunfire - See Chevy Cavalier (tiebreaker based on styling)

    16. Kia Rio
    Pros: Low price, good driving position, great warranty
    Cons: Rough and inefficient drivetrain, lack of interior space
    Verdict: Decent city or school car, but sorely needs a redesign

    15. Dodge Neon
    Pros: Roomy back seat, long powertrain warranty
    Cons: Noisy, stiff ride, cheap interior bits
    Verdict: After ten years, DC still hasn't figured out how to put power controls on all four windows.

    14. Hyundai Accent
    Pros: Low price, good driving position, decent ride, great warranty
    Cons: Rough and inefficient drivetrain, lack of interior space
    Verdict: There's much better cars for not much more money

    13. Nissan Sentra
    Pros: Decent power, nice interior trim, PZEV engine available
    Cons: Cramped rear seat, sloppy handling, subpar braking
    Verdict: Not bad when introduced, but has been surpassed by newer models

    12. Saturn ION
    Pros: Compliant ride, rustproof panels, good reliability
    Cons: Noisy engine, cramped and uncomfortable interior
    Verdict: Good platform but unsatisfying overall package

    11. Chevy Aveo (I've sat in it but not driven it)
    Pros: Low price, roomy interior, smooth ride (reported)
    Cons: Low power, short warranty compared to competitors
    Verdict: A nice little Korean car but without the warranty advantage of other Korean cars

    10. Mitsubishi Lancer
    Pros: Good interior room, good crash scores, long powertrain warranty
    Cons: Noisy, relatively low fuel economy
    Verdict: A capable small car that doesn't stand out against tough competition

    9. Suzuki Forenza
    Pros: Feature content, interior room and comfort, comfortable ride, long powertrain warranty
    Cons: No SABs available, rough powertrain, low fuel economy for the class
    Verdict: A pleasant car but lacking in safety and refinement

    8. Suzuki Aerio
    Pros: Roomy interior, good power, decent handling, long powertrain warranty, good crash scores
    Cons: Stiff ride, rear seats not too comfortable, some cheap interior bits
    Verdict: A lot of car for the money, but not as refined as some competitors

    7. Toyota ECHO
    Pros: Great fuel economy, good interior room for its size, good performance and handling, Toyota quality and reliability
    Cons: Some cheap interior bits, pricey when loaded up
    Verdict: A fine but unappreciated small car, but a questionable value when optioned out

    6. Toyota Corolla
    Pros: Smooth ride and powertrain, great fuel economy, good power, roomy interior, good crash scores, Toyota quality and reliability
    Cons: Uncomfortable driving position, cheap-feeling HVAC controls, floaty ride
    Verdict: One of the best small cars, but desparately needs a telescoping steering wheel

    5. Kia Spectra
    Pros: Smooth and compliant ride, quiet, roomy interior with quality feel, good power, standard safety features, great warranty
    Cons: Unknown reliability and crash scores, doesn't match the best in fuel economy
    Verdict: If it holds up, it will join the top cars in the class

    4. Ford Focus
    Pros: Great ride and handling, PZEV engine available, good interior room, good powertrain warranty, good crash scores
    Cons: Uncomfortable drivers seat, poor but improving reliability history
    Verdict: One of the best small cars has gotten better with a '05 refresh and improved quality

    3. Honda Civic
    Pros: Great fuel economy, good blend of ride and handling, great shifter, roomy and comfortable interior, good crash scores, Honda quality and reliability
    Cons: Low feature content, short warranty, somewhat noisy and underpowered compared to competitors
    Verdict: No major weak spots and a lot of plusses--but Honda quality comes at a price

    2. Mazda3
    Pros: Great handling and power, fine shifter, quality feel, PZEV engine available, roomy interior, good driving position
    Cons: Not much feature content, crash scores not great for a new design
    Verdict: Best in class, if you don't mind a dearth of features

    1. Hyundai Elantra
    Pros: Good balance of ride and handling, roomy interior, great driving position, high feature content, good reliability, great warranty
    Cons: Doesn't match the best in fuel economy
    Verdict: If you can find a better car for under $15,000 MSRP, buy it!
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    You're reasonably valid in your arguments, but there are big differences within trim lines of the models you mention. Additionally, I dont really understand your ranking of the Aveo, especially since you havent driven it. Have you driven a Sentra? Mine doesnt handle sloppily, but to each his own. I happily take a Sentra 1.8S over a Lancer, ION, Aveo, or Forenza, and Id take an ION over the Aveo or Forenza, if for no other reason than side curtains and a gutsy engine. Its interesting that you think the HVAC controls of the Corolla are cheap feeling, despite that the Corolla has been regarded as having one of the better small car interiors. I think its a bit underrated in your ranking, as is the Spectra, and you've overrated the Civic and Focus and jumped off the deep end with your placement of the ECHO (The Sentra handles sloppily but the tippy ECHO has good handling? Ha! Try driving to Montreal in a crosswind). Seems like driving position is a big deal for you- but not all of us are tall.

    Less than flattering article on the Aveo: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/reviews/healey/2004-05-20-aveo_x.htm.

    ~alpha
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    I'm not very tall--5'9.5", 32" inseam--pretty average height. The Corolla's driving position problem IMO is inexcusable, when so many cars in this class, even some designed before the Corolla (so Toyota could learn from them) get it right.

    Yes, a comfortable driving position is a key decision criterion for me. If I can't be comfortable behind the wheel of my car, why would I want to drive it?

    I did note that I haven't driven the Aveo (but have driven all the others, including the Sentra 1.8) so my ranking of the Aveo is tentative until I can find one to drive. Three visits to my local dealer to drive a 5-speed Aveo have been futile.

    As I recall, you don't own a Sentra with the 1.8 engine, but the more powerful model, right? I didn't consider that here because those list for over $15k. All the cars I compared have an MSRP under $15k w/o destination--which is how Edmunds.com determines its price categories. If we don't consider MSRP here, we'll be comparing Spec-Vs to Rios.

    Another big criterion for me is back-seat room, as I sometimes need to put three people back there. So Sentra and other cars with skimpy back seat room lost points.

    The Corolla has a pretty nice interior, as far as materials quality, but it's pretty bland IMO and the HVAC controls do feel cheap to me, sorry. They're not nearly as smooth as the Civic's or even those on low-buck cars like the Forenza or Elantra. I only mention it because everyone always raves about the "smooth Toyota switchgear." Well, on the Corolla they are cutting some corners I think.

    You're pretty good about picking apart my opinions--how about posting your own rankings and rationale?
  • kmagkmag Posts: 98
    Here are mine, based mainly on reviews and sitting in the cars since I have driven very few of these....but I was in the market a year ago and considered many of them. I dont test drive a car i am not seriously considering buying just to drive it.

    My top concerns are good long term reliability and low maintenace cost, attractiveness to my eye, and price.

    NOT APPEALING:
    Dodge Neon-I need a car that has a good chance to get me to 120K miles in 5 years with no major repairs. This is not the one.

    Saturn ION-Horrid styling. Center gauges suck. As bad as the seats are in my Saturn, this car is not much better. As soon as these debuted I thought to myself, this car will have big incentives within a year. I was right.

    Chevy Aveo-Ugly. And too small. I had a Festiva ten years ago, dont want to go that small again. And its based on a Daewoo design -'nuff said for reliability.

    Mitsubishi Lancer-Ugly inside and out. Overpriced.

    Suzuki Forenza-Attractive in and out, great price, but it's a Daewoo design....

    Suzuki Aerio-Seriously ugly. Digital dash is nasty. Overpriced.

    Toyota ECHO-Butt ugly. Reveiews are not kind to this cars driving dynamics. High price.

    Kia Spectra-4 door hatch, my preferred body style. Price is reasonable. But its a Kia, reliability is questionable.

    Toyota Corolla-High priced new and used, otherwise appealing.

    Honda Civic-High priced new and used, otherwise un-appealing. I just dont get what is so great about this car. Interior looked below-average to me at the car show. Styling is dull and anonymous. It places midpack in comparisons at C&D, the only mag whose opinions I generally trust. Yet some people think its still the greatest thing ever. I like Honda, 15 years ago I owned a CRX. 10 years ago a Civic was very appealing when I was shopping for a small car....but time marches on, folks, and this car has not.

    BREIFLY CONSIDERED:
    Kia Rio-The funky Cinco wagon has a certain appeal at times, but its the most expensive model and my wife would kill me if I got one of these.

    Chevy Cavalier-My wife has one and I dont want two of the same kind of car in the garage. The seats are not that bad-they are much better than my Saturn. Clunky suspension, weak and noisy engine on acceleration are the worst points. Good MPG, attractive styling, smooth highway ride. Not as bad a car as many people say.

    Pontiac Sunfire-The front end styling is gross. It was an attractive little car when it first came out but they really screwed it up with this latest nose job. And everyone Ive known who has owned a Pontiac has not had good luck with them.

    Mazda3-Was not available last year. But I considered the Protege. Attractive inside and out and reliable, but out of my budget.

    Nissan Sentra-Unappealing styling, but I could live with it. Good reputaion. But, high priced new and used.

    SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED:
    Hyundai Accent-The hatch is a big plus for me but would like a 5 door model. Good seat comfort. But I had owned an Excel in 1991 and didnt want another Hyundai. Sometimes wish I had got one, as I try seat cushions and covers in my Saturn to tame the massively uncomfortable drivers seat.

    Hyundai Elantra-Good equipment at a good price. I could have got a brand new 5 speed for under 10K last spring. But this car and the Accent have timing belts. Wish they made a GL hatchback without all the extra cost stuff that's on the GT....or an L sedan with only AC and manual windows/locks and no radio for us cheapskates.

    Ford Focus-My top pick as far the car itself. Has everything I want and need-appealing styling in and out, decent seat comfort, fun to drive, smooth ride, crisp handling, 4 door hatch model-and many cars on the dealers lots. But even with 3K rebates last spring, Id have to get a six year loan...and the damn reputation would follow it along like a welded-on trailer. I had good luck with another recall-plagued Ford product, a Mercury Mystique, but decided that the risk was not worth the investment.

    I had to reduce my budget to the 7-8K range, and ended up buying a used 2002 Saturn SL. Lousy seats and a clunky shifter are the worst features. Sprightly engine, flat cornering and great MPG are pluses.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    There's several cars I've taken off my shopping list because of styling, but I didn't factor that into my rankings here because styling is so personal. For example, I don't think the '04 Lancer (restyled), Aveo, or Aerio (sedan) are that bad, not to the point I'd take them off my list just for styling. I'm not crazy about the ECHO's styling but it has a certain funkiness about it that I think I could live with, especially the 2-door. The Civic and Corolla are really bland, but I think the Civic 2-door is pretty sharp (and there aren't that many small 2-door sedans out there).

    I had terrible luck with my Mystique but I did enjoy driving it (when it wasn't in the dealer's service bay). I might even consider a Focus next time if the quality keeps improving and the driver's seat is changed--just something about it that doesn't fit me well. But by then there will be a new Elantra, Civic, Sentra, Accent, Rio, Neon, and the Cobalt to offer competition.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Backy, thanks for the explanation. However, I am still curious as to why you find the Sentra's handling "sloppy". I would certainly agree with you that back seat room in the Sentra clearly reveals its late 90s design (introduced in Spring 2000 as a 2000). Also, the Sentra has quite possibly the most absurd excuse for a cupholder that Ive ever seen.

    I drove the Aerio upon its introduction, when it was 140hp (before the bumps to the 145 2.0L, and subsequent larger displacement 155 hp engine). It felt like a heavier, stronger ECHO with a darker Fisher Price interior, and worse MPG. The ECHO is a great car, IF your only consideration is highway MPG. I was on a road trip (already mentioned) one time and the car was seriously disturbed by wind, which is a rather disconcerting feeling. Space utilization in both the Aerio and ECHO is impressive though.

    The Focus ZX5 2.3L that I drove impressed me. However, like you, I did not like the drivers seat. Handling was top notch, and the ride felt absorbent. Unfortunately, Ford seriously messed with the functional yet stylish dash/center stack this year, and the radio especially is very ugly to behold, and imparts a far less youthful feel. Sytling is subjective though, and overall, with continuous improvements in quality, this is an impressive design. However, my test ZX5, which was FAR from loaded, stickered above $16,000, so Im not sure if this impression means much. Engine is a big deal to me, and I dont think Id be happy with the Focus' guttural 2.0Ls.

    The only Civic that competes in the $15,000 category is the DX or DX VP. No power amenities, a paucity of torque, no rear stabilizer bar, ABS not even an option, lacks the trick instrumentation of LX and EX models. No thanks, next. Phenomenal back seat room, ergonomics, and fuel economy, though. Corolla suffers similarly but the CE trim line includes a rear stabilizer bar, 15 inch wheels and tires, tach, front and rear cupholders, and a few other niceties that the Civic DX VP lacks. Additionally, the Corolla will outsprint the Civic DX/VP/LX by a full second to 60 while offering the same excellent fuel economy and rear seat room. While I agree that the driving position isnt the best, its not a complete deterrant for me, and I'd easily pick the Corolla over the Civic because its a better overall package at this price.

    In reality, the Mazda 3i is pretty unappealing in this price category. It is far and away the best car, but it is NOT remotely a complete package at $15,000.

    The ION and Lancer have ZERO competitive advantages compared to anything in this class, but between the two, Id probably pick the Mitsu for the free maintenance and longer warranty.

    The Rio is not a contender. Why buy it when the Accent is available with standard side impact airbags, a nicer interior, and a newer (though still kinda old) design? Both have poop fuel economy for the size, though.

    So, that leaves the Spectra and Elantra. My dime would likely be put on the Spectra, for its side and curtain airbags, and to me, more appealing interior. The Elantras seats arent firm, they're hard, and the Spectra's felt nicer. Since they share powertrains, both are strong but not exactly fuel efficient. The Elantras "Poor" rating from the IIHS is a pretty big negative, but allegedly, the design/crashworthiness has been changed for 2004, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. Airbags that fire late and seat tracks that dont lock arent things a mfr. should be lauded for (especially when it takes that mfr years to attempt a remedy), but the standard side head protection airbags are HUGE! Styling, as always, is subjective, and I dont like the Spectra's [non-permissible content removed]. But I do like the front end fascia, very clean, without being cute. Both are well equipped at the price, the Hyundai being the better deal on the surface, but the Kia is newer. Its kind of nice to have a car that isnt scheduled for a redesign in one calendar year.

    My vote in the sub $15,000 class? The Kia Spectra, by a nose over the Hyundai Elantra. To be honest though, I would try my hardest to save/invest for a longer period, just to have more choices by rising to the next price bracket in the small/compact class.

    [My vote in the $15,000 to $20,000 class? The Mazda 3i or s, in a decided margin over the neck-and-neck 2005 Corolla LE (love the VSC option as well as the Optitron instrumentation!) and Civic EX. Dont get me wrong, I love my Sentra 2.5, but many things have changed in the market in the 18 months since I purchased it.]

    ~alpha

    PS- You're right, I havent driven the Spectra yet. But, since its essentially an Elantra- Im confident that it will have the same fairly refined manners, though I'd trade some of the Elantras ride quality for a bit more roll control.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    Actually the Corolla LE and S do just squeeze in under the $15k limit. So I agree they are a lot more car than the Civic DX/VP/HX, and if it were not for the seating position problem, which I find a killer issue, I would have put the Corolla higher, at least third. I see no reason to spend $15k on a car that I hate driving.

    As for Spectra over Elantra, I see your points. The main reasons I put the Elantra ahead of the Spectra are: 1) driving position (Kia changed the seat height adjuster on the new Spectra from a dual-knob setup to a single lever, not nearly as adjustable), 2) more equipment on the Elantra GT vs. the Spectra EX for about the same money, 3) unknown reliability on the Spectra (although I expect it will be improved over the old Spectra, given Kia's improvements lately). The Spectra does have the side curtains, but the side crash scores on the Elantra are quite good. And as you mentioned, the IIHS will be testing the '04 Elantra with its redesigned seat track, so I expect the frontal offset score to be much improved. Hyundai has too much at stake (risking having the only compact car with a "Poor" frontal offset crash test score) not to have fixed this problem.

    As for lack of equipment, I did take that into account in my ratings. That's why the Mazda3i was second to the Elantra. If we went up to $20k, I'd put the Mazda3s first, and the Civic would be higher in EX trim also--but still behind the Mazda3s, and a nudge behind the Elantra GT. Recall that Edmunds.com rated the Civic EX first in their comparo of small sedans, with the Elantra GLS second. So I'm not the only one who thinks the Civic and Elantra are at the top of the class of small cars. Later, they named the Mazda3 the "Most Wanted" under $15k--as long as you don't mind rolling down your own windows, manually adjusting mirrors, and running around the car to unlock the doors for your other riders. ;-)

    As for the "sloppy" handling of the Sentra, that's based on multiple drives of the current design, but in 1.8/GXE trim. It just did not have the crisp handling of cars like the Mazda3, Civic, Focus, Spectra, or the Elantra GT. I felt like I was driving a compact Buick when I drove the Sentras. That surprised me because my '92 and '97 Sentras handled much better. I just didn't enjoy driving the current Sentra, and the cramped back seat was the knockout. Maybe it's a much different car with the bigger engine. Is the suspension any different on the 2.5 Sentras?
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    A few small points:

    On the Corolla:
    2005 Corolla LE: $15405 (manual trans, incl. destination).

    2005 Corolla S: $15240 (manual trans, incl. destination).

    You said "So I agree they are a lot more car than the Civic DX/VP/HX, and if it were not for the seating position problem, which I find a killer issue, I would have put the Corolla higher, at least third. I see no reason to spend $15k on a car that I hate driving."

    -Fair enough, I certainly agree that it makes no sense to drive a car in which one cannot be comfortable. For those that can, (usually shorter-legged people) 3rd is a good finish in this crowd!

    On the Sentra:
    Truth be told, I do not know if the Sentra 2.5 has a different suspension than the 1.8/GXE. However, my car handles significantly better than my aunt's 1995 model.

    Here's what Edmunds had to say about the Sentra in its most recent test- of a 2.5LE

    Conclusion:
    "Surprising power and handling, but its age shows when stacked against newer competitors."

    Also- I have a question for you- how is the Elantra GT's suspension different from the GLS? I wasnt aware there was substance to the GT designation, I just thought it was a trim differentiation, of the same ilk as the Corolla S.

    ~alpha

    PS- With respect to the Edmunds.com comparo from which I quoted, I will be honest and tell you that the Sentra 2.5LE finished higher than it deserved. The Corolla was short-changed, the Civic FAR over-rated in comparison, and the Elantra probably should have won.

    And backy, seriously check out how ugly they made the Focus center stack for 2005! EW!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    The way I decided to draw the line for which cars fall under $15k is the same way Edmunds.com does (since that's where this board is), and they don't include destination charges for some odd reason in their price categories. So I didn't either, as I had noted previously. Thus cars like the Corolla LE/S and Elantra GT qualify.

    The Elantra GT has a "sport suspension" that includes gas-filled shocks and springs that are about 10 percent stiffer than on the GLS, and larger anti-roll bars--24 mm (versus 23) in front, and 14 mm (versus 12) in back. The GT also has alloys, which may or may not help. These little enhancements add up to "a taut, responsive feel that doesn’t make for a harsh ride but is most appreciated on twisty roads or your favorite cloverleaf interchange" (from a Road & Track review).

    Re the Focus' new dashboard, it is a lot more boring than the old design but also cleaner. Apparently Ford figured they would be better off with more buttoned-down exterior and interior styling to appeal to a wider range of potential buyers.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    You can get some pretty nice cars -fully equipped - with 25-28k at Hertz. A Camry is only around 15k.
    They offer a Focus, too, but I rented one last year and drove it around North Carolina on all types of roads. The standard engine is woefully underpowered. It feels peppy in town - lots of acceleration - but it is not the engine to have if you want to pass someone in the 50-75MPH range. If I only had 10-15k to invest in a car I would certainly look around for last year's compact rather than a new subcompact. I'd also stay away from an Aveo. Chevy badged foreign cars come and go but Toyota, Hyundai, and Nissan will be around for a long time and the warranty on the Aveo is lousy compared to a Hyundai.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    Why buy a used car that has been through who knows what kind of abuse, when you can get a really good new car with a 10 year warranty (and a new-car smell) for a little over $10k? I would never buy a former rental car. Who knows how they have been abused? One thing is for sure, the initial renters had no thought of following the manufacturer's break-in procedures. I would consider buying a used car if I knew the owner and knew how it had been treated and what kind of maintenance it had, but not a rental. The "certified" used cars with an extended warranty might be worth looking at too.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Some of the certified pre-owned programs are truly outstanding, definitely worth considering. I would NEVER even think about purchasing a former rental vehicle- in fact, thats one of the beauty of CarFax.com. We all know that rentals are mercilessly treated, regardless of how well they are maintained. Why risk it?

    ~alpha
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,621
    i'm sure the studies couldn't justify it, but it's too bad ford didn't have one dash design for the zx cars, and one for the sedan/wagon models. the customer demographics are somewhat different.
    the zx cars appeal to a younger customer. i just don't think the volume is there overall, for two designs.
  • kneisl1kneisl1 Posts: 1,689
    <We all know how mercilessly rentals are treated>
     
      My first job was cleaning and maintaining rental cars. I have news for you, as a car mechanic Ive seen how mercilessily people treat their OWN cars which is often incredibly bad. I dont see any difference at all, on average. MostlyI wouldnt buy a rental because they want too much for it, at least IME.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    I'm more concerned how renters treat the engine, moreso than the pieces I can see. And yes, rental car companies seem to charge a premium for their cars which I don't think is deserved.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I agree, it would be stupid to purchase a rental car that was a low cost car to begin with. The difference in price isn't worth it. I bought a 2001 Malibu LS from Hertz which has been dependable and bought a 2003 Certified Cadillac that was an Alamo rental car with no problems at all. I probably won't buy another rental car, especially a base model Cadillac. A one owner trade in with at least some options -like the Bose radio - is about the same price and you can talk to the former owner, but I would purchase it from a Cadillac dealer and it would have to be certified with the 6 year 100k 0 deductible warranty. I have friends who buy Grand Prixs and Grand Ams from Enterprise and have always had good luck with them. They always purchase the Enterprise extended warranty, too. Face it, a used car is a used car. At least the ex-rental car gets oil changes and maintenance checks. The only reason I buy a used car is to get something better than I can get new for X dollars -like a year old Century or Malibu LS for less than the price of a new Aveo. Some people like sub-compacts. I don't, and if I only had 10-15k to buy a car I'd get a used midsize.
  • kmagkmag Posts: 98
    I have had absolutely zero major problems with the former rentals and fleet cars I have owned. My parents have had several also and hevent had any issues.

    At least you know that the oil has been changed a few times. I would wonder more about the late model one owner inexpensive car. Why is it on the market and what kind of care has it had? If it is not for sale by a private owner you may never know. And maybe that off-lease creampuff was driven by the owners teenagers. If you know any upper middle class parents you know that many of them will get brand new cars for their kids.

    Avoiding a former rental isnt as obvious as not going to Budget or Hertz to buy your late model used car. You might not know if you dont do some research. Virtually every car I looked at last year turned up as a "fleet" vehicle on Carfax, even several with a 5 speed which surprised me. These can be former rentals. My 99 Mystique was such a car. I bought it at a L-M dealer, Carfax said leased fleet vehicle, but I found a small rental car sticker sticker on the rear door window.

    I think there are great bargains in one and two year old cars at all ends of the market. I got that Mystique for 60% of the new sticker price. I have made similar deals for all the late model cars I have bought over the years. If I had the money Id buy new all the time but I do not so I look for the bargain, and getting a car with a year or two of warranty is great. I think the "certified" stuff is mostly worthless unless the car is out of warranty, and even then it isnt worth the extra money the dealer tends to charge for it.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    On what basis is the "certified" stuff mostly worthless?

    ~alpha
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    My 2003 Deville was an ex-Alamo rental car with 30,000 miles on it. It was delivered in October of 2002 and I bought it in January of 2004. The price was $26,000. The rental car company bought it for $36,000 and you or I would have paid $39,000-$44,000 for it new. The Cadillac dealer would "certify" it for $1,000. This included a 100k 6 year (from Oct, 2002) 0 deductible GM Protection Plan warranty.The same one that costs about $2200 if you just go in to buy it. The 30,000 mile service was done and the car had four new Michelin tires (same as the original equipment tires). The car looked absolutely new. The factory warranty is 48/50. I think I got a good deal. Other "certified" cars from GM don't offer much - 3 months,3,000 miles - but other manufacturers have good certification warranties -mostly powertrain ones. I would buy another "certified" car in a heartbeat, especially a used Cadillac.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,694
    I agree on buying used to get a better car for the money. In a few years, once all the kids are out of the house, I'll (finally) get a 3 Series and I expect I'll get one that's a few years old, a BMW certified unit, to save a ton of money.
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