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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • stebustebu Posts: 204
    And another thing, I wouldn't worry too much about your license getting yanked. Pretty soon these cars will be driving themselves.

    There already are signs of it in the high end cars where the distance sensing cruise controls are showing up. It's just a matter of time before it finds its way into a Hyundai or a Cavalier.
  • dougndodougndo Posts: 136
    Looking at the list of 20 or so vehicles, are there any opinions (based on objective AND subjective criteria) about who's at the bottom and who's at the top?

    I've only owned one of the Americans, but I've rented some of the others. The Neon (owned it) and the Saturn were unsatisfactory in my experience. My stint with a Focus was encouraging, albeit I was not taken by its looks. Some reports say it is a bit problem prone, too.

    I've sold and driven a ton of Golfs, but like I said, I don't think it belongs here. It's a fun and functional car, especially if you move up to GTI territory, but then it's many thousands out of this range. It's reliability and workmanship are suspect, unfortunately.

    The Elantra and the Tiburon seem to be the cream of the Korean crop. I looked at all the Korean cars before purchasing a Sonata. I leased a 2000 Tiburon last year. The Kias and Daewoos I test drove just didn't match up, even though they were in many ways superior to the bottom rung American cars and at a much better price.

    My ownership experience with Japanese cars includes the Sentra, Civic, and Mirage, but I've only test driven the most current models, plus I rented an Echo. The Mirage seemed cheap. The new Sentra was nice, but bland and soulless, and the Civic was unremarkable. Based on my past experience, these are probably solid cars, but they're boring. The Echo (like the Focus) challenged my visual preferences, but it seemed pretty solid overall and had a distinct feel to it. It was not boring. The dash was bizarre in a deja vu sort of way: it got me thinking about a few International Scouts I owned where the bulk of the instrumentation was decidedly to the right of the steering column. Among the Japanese entries, the Echo probably wins the "bang for the buck" honors.

    That's an overview of my experience. What's yours?
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    Thanks for the laughs, Just woke me up enough to get ready for work.Like the Hornet, my old Valiant is wonderfully easy to work on. It's a 63, so it doesn't have anything but a PCV.
    jstandefer: thanks for the insight on the Saturn. I know the Cavalier is probably about the same level. I test drove them both, but was surprised to find that after you added what was std. on the Chevy[abs, power steering],the price went up quickly.Even considering going without were in the 13,500 range-and this in 99.Manual just isn't the way to go in Hell-Ay;it's hard to get out of second any time after 10a.m.!!!!
    Drove the Saturn without power steering and it wasn't bad, though I'm used to going without in the Valiant [3 on the tree if anyone is interested...I know:NOT! :} ]
    More on price:it's a series of trade offs for me;at this point it's about juggling a house payment [and repairs],planning for retirement[years away, but.....],saving for home improvements and upgrades that need to be done,emergency fund and having a little left over to spend without having to think about it.The sort of thinking you'd find with someone whose parents were Depression children.Off to the rock pile, you guys, I'm gonna be late!
  • kattisha1kattisha1 Posts: 1
    I have an opportunity to buy either a ford focus SE or a Nissan Sentra GXE, both 5 speed manuals. The prices are comparable as well as many other aspects of it. I have previously owned a japanese car, but I kind of like the focus.

    You opinion, please....which car do you think will give me better long term reliability? (I had my last car for 12 years!) and can you explain why you have your opinion? (people I've spoken to in person say "get the ford...I'm a ford guy" or Get the nissan...don't trust th edomestic cars." But no one talks about the reputaiton of the car company or anything like that.)
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    I am biased because I own the car, but I think the Echo is the best of the low end cars. At least it is the best for me. A different car may be best for someone else. Which car is best (or best for you) depends on what pushes your automotive buttons.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    What else besides reliability pushes your buttons?
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    What car did you own for 12 years? That might be a clue;was it a Ford or a Nissan?My friends have owned Sentras of differing generations [86,92,84,and 98]and they've been pretty nice as far as ride and dependability go.Personally though I felt jack-knifed in the seats [driver or passenger]and couldn't get a really comfortable position [oddly in ALL of them no matter what year].
    How does one feel over the other? Drive both.How do you fit behind the wheel? Cramped or comfortable? Quiet or loud when you drive it? Look for the livability aspects as well, because after the "new" wears off, you'll really resent making payments on something you can't stand driving every day.
    And then there's the button pushing that Major mentioned. Which one gives you a goose? Will it make you grin from ear to ear seeing it parked in your driveway because you KNOW you made the right choice? Or will you walk away from it without a second glance and no memory of the drive home?
    Is it a pleasant place to be in a major traffic jam,or look and feel like you're sitting in a dentist's office [THAT will only make a long drive home longer].
    I know these are all sensory and emotional responses mixed with some practical aspects,but it's YOUR money and you should be happy on all levels IMHO. Dave
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    I just had a thought. Perhaps we should pare the list down further by specifying that if a car company has two or more models under $15,000 base MSRP, that the most inexpensive one should be considered the low end offering from that maker.

    Thus Echo would be the low end offering from Toyota and Corolla would be pared from the list. The Rio would be considered the low end offering from Kia and the Sephia/Spectra would be pared from the list. And so on.

    I guess if we did that though, the list would really be more on the order of "starter" cars and not really low end cars.

    Just a thought.
  • dougndodougndo Posts: 136
    Assuming you're talking about 2001 models, you'd be getting an all new model from Nissan and a fairly new model from ford. However, the Focus has had some major recalls in its brief history, a fact that is very embarrassing to Ford Motor Company. As I said earlier, the 2001 Sentra seems to lack personality, but it's probably going to be as reliable as Nissans generally, which is pretty good.

    I'll agree with Dweezil that I've always had a seating problem in Nissans as well: Sentra, 200SX SE-R, 240 SX, and Altima. I just couldn't ever get really comfortable. I've had a few quality problems here and there with Nissans, but never a recall and never a problem that left the car unusable.

    The bumper to bumper warranties are identical on the two cars, but the Nissan drive train warranty is longer. Unfortunately, you may need the longer warranty on the Focus if its repair history stays the same as in its first few years.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    FYI, there now has been a recall on the Nissan Sentra. It has to do with bolts on the car.
  • liljonsonliljonson Posts: 109
    everybody has recalls so you can't really say that "oh that car had ONE recall, don't buy it". even the new bentlys had a recall lately, now if you have ford type of recalls then buyer beware.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    You missed the point. My comment was based on a previous poster saying that the Sentra had not had any recalls. My post was done more in jest than with a lot of seriousness.

    FWIW, my 2001 Echo has had zero recalls and the Echo has only had one recall since it has been on sale in the United States. And that recall was only for cars in cold weather states.
  • bjfrank42bjfrank42 Posts: 51
    Most interesting site at Edmunds in my opinion. Lots of heated debates. I shopped for a new car last year. Spent 6 months looking. In my opinion, most of them look alike. The Sephia, Protege, Corolla, Civic, and many others were basically the same car to me. Minor differences, but not enough difference in looks to be a deciding factor. Sorry Major, didn't like the look of the Echo at all. I tend to keep a car til it dies, so resale was not a factor either. Test drove them all. Again not the much of a difference. Chose the Sephia because of price and warranty. Problem is, my wife likes it so much, I rarely get to drive it. I get the Aerostar or the Dakota. After 9 months the only problem I have had is the clock has a short. Keeps resetting. Getting it replaced this week. Guess only time will tell if it was a good purchase. Now to the Japanese/American quality issue. I have noticed something over the last 10 years. It seems the owners of Japanese cars are always taking their cars in for 7500 mile checkups. American car owners (myself included), at least the people I know, don't do that. The Japanese car owners are paying all the time to keep things from breaking and American car owners pay after it breaks. In the long run, I'm not sure which is cheaper but that would cause American cars to have more complaints. I can't believe how much money I've seen my Mazda, Toyota, and Mercedes owning friends spend on these checkups. Maybe I'm completely wrong here, but I've owned American cars for 25 years and have never taken the car to the dealer unless something was wrong. (oil changes excluded). Just my opinion.
  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    A dealer near me was selling 01 Accord VPs for 14,799 plus freight. Yes, you have to roll the windows with a crank and the only amenities are automatic, air, ps/pb, and 6 speaker AM/FM/CD.'s an Accord for right around the $15k barrier. Suppose one could do a lot worse.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    The Nissan dealer here has "all" 2001 Sentras at $10,699." Then, you get your magnifying glass and read:"All model #42151 in stock without dealer added options at this price." Try to find one without $2000.00 worth of "dealer installed" floor mats $900.oo pin stripes and a $500.00 paint protection treatment!!!
    There's a term for that kind of advertising known as "bait and switch". The car exists "somewhere", but we ordinary slobs will never see it. Somehow,"We just sold that one; but we DO have a nicely equipped [fill in the blank] for $16,999.99
    before freight, taxes, dealer installed glamour package, documentation fees and prep.We can have you out the door today for $19,275....if you act NOW!"
    Would that they actually had more cars WITHOUT all the extraneous junk available. 1 "package" with one item you can actually USE only comes with 7 or 8 others and quickly runs up the price.
    I miss the days when you could essentially tailor a car to your specific needs via the options list.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    It is fine that you don't like the looks of my car. Not everyone does. People apologize to me about that like it is going to hurt my feelings or something.

    I am somewhat confused about your statement on the 7500 mile checkups. Are you saying a checkup at 7500 miles or a checkup every 7500 miles?

    My Scheduled Maintenance Guide does suggest maintenance every 5k or 7.5k miles. The maintenance is the same if your Toyota has 5k miles or 7.5miles on it. At this amount of miles, the first maintenance is oil change (with oil filter change, of course) and tire rotation. Therefore if your statement applies to the former, I don't know what your friends are having done when they hit 7500 miles.

    I am following intervals of 5k and so my next service is due at 10k. All I have to have done at that point is oil change and tire rotation.

    At 15k, I will have the oil changed, rotate tires, and inspect various components.

    At 20k, I will have the oil changed and the tires rotated.

    The first "major" maintenance is not until 30k where they replace the engine air filter, replace the engine coolant, replace the oil, replace the spark plugs, and rotate the tires.

    I don't know about the Sephia, but do you know when I have to replace my drive belt? Never, because the Echo has a drive chain.

    Granted I have only had my Echo for about six months, but you want to know how many times I have had it at the dealer for unscheduled maintenance? None.

    I am not trying to be insulting but just pointing out that if the past is any future indication, it looks like you will be at your dealer with your car more than I will be at my dealer with mine.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    Not one Toyota has had problems...of the many owned by friends. Honda, Nissan, Mazda, etc. do NOT have the long term reliability of Toyota and in fact, have less long term reliability than most American brands.
    The most unreliable American brands are those where there is Japanese content such as Chevy Chevette, Chevy Tracker, Ford Probe, etc. However, the Chevy Prizm (Toyota clone) is very reliable.
    Daughter and son in law's 1984 Honda Accord has so many problems at 177,000 miles (and has engine AND transmission rebuilt/replaced) they cannot afford to fix it. Meanwhile, their 1978 Impala with 187,000 miles on original engine and transmission runs well...but needs to have grille, fender, lights, etc. fixed after he was in 2 wrecks with it. Japanese quality? Only Toyota.
  • tazerelitazereli Posts: 241
    people compare the reliability of a 17 year old car to todays cars. They are nt even in the same leaguw as the new models. Its kinda like comparing a high school baseball team to a major league team. MAnufacturing processes have improved greatly since the mid 80's as well as quailty issues. You just cant compare old cars to new. its a different car than mine and and much older to0 with diffenent parts and 1980's technology (carbs, etc)
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    A reliable car is a reliable car no matter when it was made.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    And the Impala is and has been MORE reliable than the Accord. Both were purchased used with over 100,000 miles on each so we do not know the history on either.
    I have never owned a Toyota but all research indicates Toyota is THE most reliable brand. Not one unreliable Toyota in the numerous ones of all ages owned by friends. Can not say that about any other brand. I have had Chevrolet that had problems and Chevrolet that were almost perfect. All 5 Volkswagens we owned gave us problems. Our NEW Volvo was unreliable and expensive to maintain. A co-worker had same experience with a new, later model Volvo. So far, our 1999 Grand Caravan SE in 27 months is acting as if it were built by Toyota...completely reliable with zero problems.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    Toyota is THE only brand with zero problems. I agree that Toyota styling can sometimes be off the target. Toyota has no "duds" like other makers. Here are a few examples: Ford: Pinto, Roll-over-Explorers, 1996 Taurus, Edsel, etc. Mazda: undesireable Miller engine, underpowered MPV. Suzuki: Roll-over-Samaurai. GM: Corvair, Vega, Cimarron by Cadillac, Catera by Cadillac,etc. Honda: too unreliable and expensive to keep running.
  • jstandeferjstandefer Posts: 805
    Since when did an "undesireable Miller engine" and "underpowered MPV" make an entire brand unreliable? If underpowered makes a car unreliable, then Toyota would certainly NOT be the most reliable brand. Can we say Tercel, older Corolla's, and the non-supercharged 4-cyl Previa minivan? What's so undesireable about the Miller-cycle engine? It's a V6 with a supercharger and delayed intake valve timing. It runs exactly the same way as any other 4-stroke piston internal combustion engine.

    If I recall, Toyota's V6 had a really bad reputation a while back and even Consumer's Reports rated it as a bad buy. MSN's CarPoint rated the previous generation Camry with only 3 points of 5 possible. There were several engine problems that ended with "V6 only."

    Toyota makes good vehicles and they probably have the highest reliability on the market, but they are certainly not perfect and the other manufacturers are not very far behind. Virtually every car sold today will run past the 200,000 mile mark.

    As far as "duds"... Has anyone seen the crash-test ratings on the Toyota Previa? Notrotious at best. Just as bad, if not worse, than the Ford Aerostar. That's why the Sienna came around so quickly. The MR-Spyder is a nice vehicle, but someone forgot to design in everyday liveability (virtually no trunk space). And the Celica with it's VVTi-L engine is quick if you rev it past 6,000rpm. Where did the torque go? I like to drive hard, but revving well beyond 6,000rpm all of the time?

    But I'll discuss it with everyone. I know about a dozen people that will never buy a Toyota again because of their bad experiences with them. I have never had a problem with any of the Ford's or Mazda's I have owned and I will continue to buy from them. Toyota? I'll consider them, but they're priced a bit high and they're just plain boring to drive (IMHO).
  • cjaccettacjaccetta Posts: 236
    HI everyone, I've been lurking here for a while and I must admit that, at first, I thought this topic was kind of silly.

    But then I realized that people here are just as passionate about their $12,000 cars as they are about their $72,000 cars. In that perspective, then, this discussion is pretty good after all. I don't agree with every poster here but a lot of you make good points and it's great to see such interest in the "bottom" of the price spectrum.

    I just purchased my first brand-new car last week. My wife and I wanted a smaller car with four doors. We wanted to spend less than $20,000. I've never owned a small Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevy, etc. My previous car was a Geo Metro. So I spent about eight months researching all the usual small cars. And after digesting all the information I gathered from just about every source I could think of, what did my wife and I do? We bought a Hyundai Elantra GT. And why? Because we liked it. That's all. Liked the way it drove, liked the room, liked the styling, liked the features and liked the price. All the 0-60 times and re-sale values went out the window.

    We looked at Echo, Protege (great car, our second choice), Corolla (too small), Civic (dull), Focus, Sonata, Beetle (too small) and others. All fine cars in their own ways, but none was right for us. We certainly don't feel like we sacrificed anything with our choice.

    Will our Korean car hold up over the next eight years? Who knows? It's my first one, but it has given me no reason to suspect it won't. To us, it was just as refined and appears as just well built as any other compact we looked at. Is our car the best? Probably not, but it's good enough for us.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make (and, I suspect, other posters here are trying to make, too) is that we buy the cars we like, regardless of what we hear or read. And becuase we like them, we want others to like them, too. Sure, we can talk about them all we like, but at the end of the day if you didn't like Daewoos when the sun came up, odds are you ain't gonna like 'em when the sun sets, either.

    So love your Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, Ford or Honda. Don't let anyone try to put doubt in your mind about your choice of vehicle. And respect the choices of others. After all, we buy what we like.

    Happy Motoring!
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Welcome to Town Hall, cjaccetta.

    Have you also found our very active discussion on the Hyundai Elantra? If not, just click on that link to check it out. I'm sure you will find lots of interesting previous conversation there, and will be welcomed there as a new owner.

    Sedans and Women's Auto Center Message Boards
  • bjfrank42bjfrank42 Posts: 51
    Wasn't insulting your car. I find is refreshing that a car company is trying make a car different looking than the rest. I have friends with Toyotas and Mazdas and they all take their cars in every 7500 miles for scheduled maintenance. Not all of these are cheap either. No doubt it is a good idea,. I've just never done it before. I will start now with my Sephia because the warranty requires it. I've had mine 9 months with no unscheduled maintenance. The clock is getting fixed during the 15000 mile checkup. I don't know whether to consider that unscheduled or not. I guess it's one of the 2.5 problems (J.D. Power) I should expect form this car. Maybe I've just been lucky with cars but I've always bought American before and only changed oil and air filters. My last 2 vehicles didn't get tune-ups until 90000 miles and they were still running good at the time. I never pay attention to reviews of cars. I test drive and buy what I like. I'm 6'3" so I am limited in cars that are comfortable. That's why I didn't get the Rio. Plus the Rio has very few options available. I'm sure Toyota probably makes the highest quality cars. I just didn't think the cost differential was worth it. Again only time will tell and even if I have to take my Sephia in twice a year for unexpected problems, I can live with that because of the warranty. 6 months from now I might be back here calling Kia the worst company in the world. Who knows. Then again it might be a great deal.
  • bjfrank42bjfrank42 Posts: 51
    I think you emphasized my point. I have 3 American cars ranging from 3 to 12 years old. They still get compliments and they run fine and I didn't have to take them to the dealer for scheduled maintenance to keep them that way. Guess they were just made right. By the way, Mazda is considered a mediocre car in Japan. I didn't know that until I read an article in Business Week. The Protege was my 2nd choice. Just wasn't worth 1500 dollars more. Also as for the looks. you cannot tell the difference between a Sephia and many of the Japanese cars just by looking at one driving down the road. I tested this theory with some friends of mine (some were Japanese car owners) and we couldn't tell the difference until we saw the logos on them. Try it sometime. It's an interesting test. I'm not trying to be critical of anybody's car. Everyone has their own tastes like cjaccetta said.
  • bjfrank42bjfrank42 Posts: 51
    If we want to have fun with numbers, since 2000, Toyota has had 12 recalls. Kia has had 2. None on the Sephia. NHTSA web site. But do I really think Kia is better than Toyota? No. Again it came down to money and comfort. The Toyota Corolla was made for small people. Sephia has more room. Not much more but enough.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    Not only do we need to make the choices that we feel comfortable with we need to filter out the hype that comes flipping our way from the "data collectors". If you come to this site often you'll soon see what I'm talking about. You'll see articles supporting the fact that Sephia is the worst in crash tests, worst in re-sale, etc. Not planning on running head on into a semi in my '99 Sephia tomorrow, but....(!). I'm also not planning on trading in and from what I read that's a good thing. I think you guys will like your Sephia a lot. I'm hooked on mine to the point of only really liking Kia's and Hyundai's now. They're the only cars I want to learn about or see on the road. Really. That's going bonkers over a silly car. Don't know if you'll go as mad as me with yours (or if your wife will)just keep it maintained. It'll need a new timing belt at 60,000 miles. Just got one of those 5,000 miles back. Nice wheel sets look great on these cars, too. I bought a Yokohama-Konig package deal in January and it makes the car look even better than it does off the lot. By the way, Protege's looks don't come close to Sephia's. Look at the beautiful line and curvework on Sephia. Seriously. Kia rules!!!

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    BJ, would you please ask your friends whose idea it was to have maintenance work done at 7500 miles? And what work they had done?

    As I said, the maintenance guide does not list any maintenance at 7500 miles other than an oil change and rotating the tires if you are using the 7500 mile interval schedule.

    I think that someone has pulled the wool over their eyes.
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