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What's the best vehicle for my needs?



  • apavapav Posts: 1
    I need to get a car to get me back and forth from school for this year only. I will only need it for this semester (I am staying home for this semester and then going to finish my undergrad on the other side of the country, but I'll be back for breaks). My parents are buying the car for me, but I have to buy gas.

    I'm currently looking at 2 cars: a 2009 Toyota Corolla 4dr Sedan LE and a Suzuki SX4 Sport Touring FWD Sedan.

    The Corolla was nice, but it had many MANY scratches on all sides, even on the front and the rims. One side looked like it was sideswiped, because there were more scratches on that one side, on top of the clip of the front right bumper sticking out and condensation in the right side headlight. I am using the past tense because the dealer was getting someone to buffer out the scratches, fix the clip, and do a touch up with some paint, but we haven't seen it yet so I'm not sure what to think yet .I popped open the front hood and didn't see any parts crumbled, so I know if it was involved in any sort of accident or whatever to cause those scratches, it didn't effect how the vehicle runs. I test drove the Corolla. The ride was smooth, the tires didn't veer to one side if I let go of the steering wheel, and it had a nice pick-up for a four cylinder engine. The Corolla also has much better MPG and mileage compared to the Suzuki. The Corolla has about 30,000 miles and gets an estimated 27 City/35 Highway, while the Suzuki has 42,962 miles and gets an estimated 22 City/30 Highway.

    After tax and additional fee's, I'm looking around $11500 for the Corolla and $9500 for the Suzuki.

    I have yet to see the Suzuki (am going to take a look tomorrow), but assuming everything with the Suzuki is perfect (no scratches, I like how the car drives and looks) what do you guys think would be the better car?

    I'm not sure if I trust Suzuki cars, because they are less known, and to my knowledge are considered the economic-bargain cars. Also, since safety should be the highest priority, I would think Toyota is leaps and bounds ahead of Suzuki in that fashion. I'm not sure about this, but I think Suzuki doesn't have great safety ratings.

    Which car would you pick? Would you still pick the Corolla over the Suzuki, despite it still having noticeable blemishes/potential safety issues?

    If anyone is interested, the link to the Suzuki from the dealer is here: o_Sport_Touring_Pkg_FWD-Valley_Stream-NY/1491029763

    The Toyota was never listed on the dealer's website, but I listed the trim.

    Thanks guys!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148
    The Corolla will have far far better resale value down the road.

    that being said, the Suzuki is an amazing deal if that really is your total price including taxes and all fees. That car would fetch $8k at dealer auction. Sounds like you are buying it for darned near that price.

    the Corolla actually has a similar gap. About $10k at auction... but that's for an average one. Sounds like this one may be a bit below average. But as long as it fixes up to your satisfaction, nothing wrong there.

    Make sure they have clean carfaxes!!

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    Whichever one you choose, make sure to get it checked out by a mechanic first. Especially you want to find out how damaged the Corolla might have been. You can't tell just by looking under the hood. A mechanic will look for frame damage.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,993
    Are you an active duty or retired member of the U.S. military who recently bought a new or used car from a dealership? Do you feel like you got a better deal because of your service? Or did you ever feel that the dealer tried to invoke your military experience as a way to butter you up for a bad deal? A reporter is interested in hearing about these experiences, both positive and negative. Please send a brief overview of your experience and your contact info to by February 5th, 2012.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • I am having a really hard time deciding what car to get. I am in the market for a used car, the most I am looking to spend is 19000 (including a 3K trade in). That does not mean I want to spend that much but I definitely do not want to go pass that. What I want is a sporty fuel efficient hatchback (if that is even possible lmao). Cars I have considered: Golf TDI(2010&^), Toyota Matrix(09&^) and the Mazda 3(09), Honda CR-Z. Any opinion on this would be great.

    My question is when does a fuel efficient car end up costing more than buying a cheaper not as fuel efficient car. Any sites I can compare this at? I ask this because the VW TDI cost more than my other choices but it has better MPG. I drive the average amount.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    I'm a huge fan of VW TDI's past....but the new ones just seem to be a big risk. They have had problems with US Spec diesel causing major damage to the fuel system. My neighbor needed $10k in repairs and spent a ton of time fighting VW before they would make it right. I guess there's an investigation by the feds into these problems as well. A used one would be a huge risk in my book.

    Matrix might not be bad but I guess we would need to clarify what you want by "sporty"....looks, acceleration, handling...None you've listed are necessarily great in the acceleration dept.

    I'll throw out another option: MINI Cooper. Lots of fun, less common on the streets, and the S-version has good performance and economy when you're not hot-rodding it. Maybe not the most reliable option (quirky perhaps) but no risk of major problems like say the TDI.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,232
    My question is when does a fuel efficient car end up costing more than buying a cheaper not as fuel efficient car.

    Use a spreadsheet & compare models yourself. If you don't have Excel/MS Office, you can download OpenOffice for free at

    Purchase Price (include tax, finance charges, etc.)
    Fuel economy: X MPG
    Anticipated life: Y miles
    Anticipated gas price: Z $
    Lifetime fuel cost = Z * Y / X

    If you're really trying to determine costs, though, add additional rows for things like:
    Insurance. The sporty car might cost more to insure. Call your agent.
    Maintenance. Frequency of oil changes and is synthetic a requirement, other routine maintenance, possibly a timing belt replacement, etc. Example: a car with a 5,000 oil change interval will need 20 oil changes over 100K miles while a car with a 7500 mile interval will only need 13.
    Odd/expensive size tires.
    License registration fees if they vary by car in your state (some do, some don't).

    Add columns for each car under consideration. At the bottom add a row for Total Cost.

    Beyond cost, though, consider other potentials. As sebring95 noted, VWs might have higher maintenance costs. Which brands do you consider to be more reliable? Which car is more fun to drive? You want a hatch. If that's for cargo capacity & not looks, does what you want to haul fit?
  • Hi all,

    I'm new to used vehicle buying, so would welcome any advice! I'm currently driving a 99 Subaru Forester that was pretty much a hand-me-down. It has 290k miles on it, and is in pretty good shape, but some rust damage will probably limit my trade-in value.

    I'm looking for something a little more fuel efficient and sportier. I'm looking to spend around 10k.

    In the past, I've driven a few VW Jettas/Passats and have really enjoyed driving them. I've also heard only good things about them. However, their dependability ratings are atrocious. What is the merit to the claims that these VWs are unreliable?

    I'm inclined to go with the VW for its great reputation, but if that reputation is misleading and I'd be better off with a Hyundai Elantra (which has excellent reliability ratings in the same sedan class) I'd like to know.

  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    VW's tend to be quirky at times, but if you can do the work yourself or have a great private mechanic they're not bad vehicles. I had a Jetta Diesel for 250k miles that treated me well. It had a few issues here and there but nothing major that I couldn't fix myself. If you have to take the car to a VW dealer.... I've heard a lot of horror stories about that. Their labor rates tend to be up there with other Euro manufacturers that all happen to be luxury paying luxury labor rates on an economy car can be hard to swallow. Parts are also pretty high and some have rather significant maintenance schedules.

    I would have a hard time picking a used Elantra over a VW, but I do prefer the way the VW's drive (particularly the older models...the newest ones have been over-Americanized in my book).

    Don't even think about trading that Subaru. A dealer won't give you anything for it compared to a private party. It will be an easy sale privately.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,733
    IMO and IME, the easiest way to upgrade a car to be more sporty is to get a car with a manual transmission. Now, I'm not talking a nasty rubbery mess like found in a lot of domestics and smaller brands but something that is almost video game easy to deal with.

    Unfortunately, most everything made in Japan is as bland as a toaster oven. Subaru and Mitsubishi are notable exceptions as they haven't quite fallen into the vanilla ice cream (aka fleet sales) trap yet. Of the stuff made in Japan, I'd look at the Impreza and the Lancer if you want sporty. Reliability is fine for both.

    If you want something from Europe, then it gets a bit trickier as the main problem with cars (especially from Germany) is that their government places stiff rules and regulations on imported parts. Why is this important? Because while the hard bits are built like no other, the electrical systems and accessories are often third rate additions. It's not the engines on a VW that die. It's the GPS, the windows, the heated seats, the right speaker, and so on. Also, since literally every car over there with automatic that's not a luxury model or SUV is used mostly for rental fleets and taxis, automatic transmissions are an afterthought. Usually poorly built and hideously expensive to fix or replace.

    A good car to consider would be maybe something like a base model C230K. Manual transmission, and even manual seats if I recall. Cloth seats is the giveaway, though. Very very little to actually break. You can also get a 3 series set up similarly, and even VWs are fine (just avoid the turbo and V6 models entirely - stick with 4 cylinder or TDI only).

    Also, another way to deal with this is to get something fancier for 6-8K and save the extra for repairs. This could be a classic, and old Porsche or BMW (like a near mint 318 or E36), Volvo (back then they made them in Europe), or similar.
  • Hello everyone,

    I don't drive much -- my three year old Kia Soul has ~15k miles. My lease is up March 1 and I need to find a new car. I have three kids but my wife has a minivan so it needs to fit everyone but doesn't need to be our main kid transportation. In face, like the Soul, I love having a small car for parking, efficiency, etc.

    So, I don't drive much and I don't want to spend a lot ($300-$400/month max), but I do appreciate comfort, not having to worry about repairs, and technology like iPhone and Bluetooth integration.

    I've been looking at the Audi A3, the VW Tiguan, Prius, Mazda...I'm all over the place. Any recommendations on this size/type -- what's better, or worse -- would be greatly appreciated.

    Lastly, I've both financed and leased in the past. I'm open to either but if my main focus is total cost of ownership over three to fours years, it all seems to be similar...

    Ok, thanks so much, any help is greatly appreciated.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,733
    edited February 2013
    The best car between the A3 and the Tuguan is actually the Jetta Sportwagen. You can also get one with a TDI engine and get this, a manual transmission if you want.

    A TDI with manual drives almost exactly as fast as a gas engine with automatic in real-world conditions. It's *not* slow and actually is quite fun. VWs are known for excellent manuals as well and most people could learn how to drive one in 5 or 10 minutes. I'd personally rate only Mercedes, BMW, and Honda as better if you can find a manual any more from them, that is. And, yes, despite some complaining, anyone can learn to drive manual. If you drive 5K a year, it's even more of a reason to enjoy every mile, because you're obviously not getting stuck in traffic jams or driving for hours a day.

    The BIG advantage, though, is cost and repairs. Any mechanic can drop a new clutch in a VW. That DSG automatic by comparison is a $4000 repair bill waiting to happen someday. The smart buyer avoids VW and Audis with automatics and gets manuals if they can. Almost every VW and Audi in Europe is sold with manual, and it's not because they love punishment. :P

    TDI and manual is a match made in heaven and it simply crushes the hybrids. Plus, it adds a bit of techno-bling to your life. TDIs are hot, hot commodities as of late and command excellent resale prices (depreciation is almost negligible if the car is in great shape). Total cost to own is therefore amazingly reasonable compared to the standard gas engine models.

    One thing to add - if you just want a normal non-TDI model, VW is offering $200 a month leases until the end of the month.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148
    With the amount you drive, leasing is a waste of money. Even if you took the lowest amount of miles on your current lease, you've paid for 15k more that you haven't used.

    If you like your Soul, why not buy it out? With those miles, it may be worth more than the buyout, and you've still got 7 years of powertrain warranty on it, right?

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    Agree with gbrozen on this. Leasing almost ALWAYS costs more from a total financial impact, particularly on sub $40k vehicles. Even if you decide you don't want to buy it out and keep it, I would recommend trying to trade it before you turn it may have positive equity compared to the buy-out.

    Have you looked at Mini Coopers? I've thought about one as a run-about and they hold their value pretty well. When you get bored in a couple years you've got a premium low-mileage version to trade/sell.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    Agree. The Soul is a pretty practical little vehicle. Is there some reason you're not keeping it? That might tell you which direction to go.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,993
    A reporter would like to talk to someone under the age of 30 who bought a car within the last few months. Please reach out to by Wednesday, March 20, 2013 if you'd like to help.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,626
    Totally agree here...keep the Soul. Test drove one a couple weeks back and even have the brochure in the car and it's a nice vehicle for your purposes. In the same position as you...3 kids and do not drive much and have a '06 Civic which I bought with 37.8k on the clock. Work part time now and when I do go in, it's 52 miles round trip so will be putting some mileage on here now. But it's a great little runabout just like your Soul. I actually like the versatility of the Soul and am considering one when I purchase in a few more years.

    I personally love auto trannys as I just want the vehicle to go when needed to so I can just sit back and watch the road, others have opposite viewpoints. Do what fits your needs the best but leasing does seem a bit silly in your case. There are so many nice choices out there...just get what you like that is affordable...personally, I love imports from Japan/Korea as that's all we have in our fleet...all great cars that are "cheap to keep" with no drama. No one wants drama with a vehicle or needs the aggravation really.

    Good luck and by now, you've already made your decision. Hope it was a good one.

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

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