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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    With reliability and fuel economy your top criteria, I'd seriously check out a used '03 Corolla if I were you--one with the Toyota Certified warranty if you want a long warranty. The Elantra has a good reliability history since its redesign for '01, but IMO you would be better off with a Corolla or Civic because if anything went wrong with the Elantra, you'd probably think "I should have bought a Toyota or Honda." Also the Corolla has better fuel economy than the Elantra. But first, be sure you take a long test drive in the car you intend to buy. One of the reasons I got my Elantras was their very comfortable driving position, and the 8-way adjustable driver's seat (very rare in this class).
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    about the Elantra being the most comfortable car in this class. Absolutely superb.
  • Either one would be a great car, but I like the Echo over the Xa. One of the reasons being that I felt the rearward visibility (when looking at the rearview mirror) was better.

    And due to the heavier weight of the Xa, acceleration is better in the Echo. Handling should be better in the Xa with the additional suspension components.

    Fuel economy will be better with the Echo.

    I took my Echo in when looking at a 2004 Dodge Neon SRT-4 and the dealer had the comment that it was good that I was driving a Toyota as the resale value was pretty good. I didn't do the deal as I really wanted to wait for an '05, the car was the wrong color, and it had a sunroof.

    Sorry about the digression. You asked about long trips. Well, I have gone to St. Louis (about a 300 mile trip) in my 2001 Toyota Echo with manual and gone to Minneapolis (over 400 miles, I believe) in my jointly owned 2003 Toyota Echo with automatic transmisson. Both handled nicely, kept up with traffic, and returned superb mileage even with some times spent at triple digits.
  • I really enjoyed my time on this board and reading your posts on low end sedan even though most of your posts were all wet (j/k), but I find my time here drawing to an end.

    I have found a new passion that may lead to a second career and I find myself spending virtually all my free time studying, working at my new passion, or watching film of people I might encounter in my new passion.

    What is my new passion? Well take one word meaning the subject of this website, add a letter, and you will have the word denoting my new passion in general.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
  • Where did I say change a letter? I said add a letter, but if I did start a carp farm I could stock it with all the carp-ing from here. ; 0
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • The word I was thinking of when I made that post was cars. Now you can figure out my new passion.

    Like Jim Rome, I'm out.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You are becoming a card shark? You are taking on a new position as a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas or some other gambing capital?

  • My new passion is poker, specifically Texas Hold 'Em. Not moving away from where I am now, but if I am not online playing poker during my non-work hours, I am playing offline in a casino or a free tournament.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Well, enjoy and good luck - hope you'll still stop by from time to time.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    What an incredible hoot! And definitely left me really liking the Corolla. The car really isnt nearly as unagile as the press would make it sound, I felt very comfortable scooting around the cones as fast as I could, the car was very controllable, and I never felt the chassis was nervous. Certainly, the default is understeer, but the car felt peppy and overall, the steering felt responsive, much better than in my Sentra 2.5LE or the Elantras I drove, both of which suffer from rubbery feel, the Sentra's artificially weighted as well.

    The S models that were available had very attractive interiors with high quality materials, though I could easily live without the white-face guages, which pale in comparison to the electroluminescent displays of the LE and XRS models (not available for playing).

    I definitely understand how some people might not find the driving position to their liking. But for me, the car fits very well. Toyota needs to get over itself and just offer a telescopic wheel on the vehicle, at least standard on S, LE, and XRS models.

    Overall, the Mazda 3 is the best overall package, but the Corolla is a great pick for more conservative buyers looking for ride comfort over handling. IMO, those two cars, and the Elantra for its incredible features/value equation, round out the best choices in the class.

  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Somewhat of a surprise: the next-gen Sentra wont be available until what appears to be calendar year 2006: (taken from

    "The Nissan Sentra will continue to be Nissan’s core entry in the compact passenger car market in North America. It will be re-engineered to meet consumer demands for a stylish, economical and performance-oriented small car. The next generation of the all-new Nissan Sentra will be introduced in 2006."

    Thats a bit too long for this model. By that time, the car is/will be seriously lacking in rear-seat room, refinement, interior convenience, and fuel efficiency. Its a good little car for the money, and I love my 2.5LE, but without the option of that model (or the 2.5S) I would have probably by-passed the Nissan dealership.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    I've seen rumors to the effect that the next-gen Sentra will be on a Renault-sourced platform. Any news on that score?
  • I have a 2000 Ford Focus with the same problem. The tires have been rotated, replaced, and balanced resulting in a temporary, slight reduction in the shimmy but it returns after a few days of driving. The entire car shimmys, you can feel it in the seat, steering wheel, and floor. The faster you go, the worse it gets. Anybody have the same experience with the Ford Focus?
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    by a sheriff's deputy's wife. Luckily she was honest and reported it (I was out of the car), or I might have driven away in ignorance. Anyway State Farm gave me a rental Neon (probably an 03) with about 40K. Obviously this thing's been driven hard and put away wet but I was struck by the crudeness.

    I actually think my '97 Cavalier was more comfortable. Driving five miles home hurts more than a 700 mile drive to New Orleans in my Elantra. The Focus is a sophisticated car, better handling and almost as comfortable than my 01 Elantra GLS. The Cav and Neon are really clunky, but at least Chevy is correcting that with the Cobalt. Hopefully Mitsubishi will stay alive long enough to help with the Neon's successor, for a five year old platform, the present car is intolerable.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    I drove a '05 Aveo LS 5-door 5-speed today. It was loaded with moonroof and alloys, MSRP $14.1k.

    Pros: solid structure; quiet, compliant ride; lots of interior room for its size; spacious and airy feel.
    Cons: rough, weak engine; clunky shifter; uncomfortable driving position; some cheap-feeling interior bits; lots of wind noise on the highway; fuel economy not great considering its size.
    Summary: Good little city car in base form, but there are better values when loaded.

    The first thing I noticed was that it was tough to get comfortable in the driver's seat. The seat cushion adjusts in only one direction, meaning as you raise the cushion the rear tilts you forward. The door arm rest is hard plastic, and there is no center arm rest. The seatback had good support.

    The next thing I noticed was the unconventional shifter pattern, with Reverse in the upper left, and you need to pull up on a ring to engage it. I could get used to it, but it was a little strange. The shifter itself felt clunky, not as precise as Honda or Toyota (or even Hyundai).

    The engine is fine around town but has trouble going up an upgrade. I'd hate to see what it's like with the automatic. The engine was also quite rough. It was the first car I've ever driven where I felt engine vibration not only through the shifter but through the accelerator. It was pretty loud on the highway, but maintained speed OK.

    The best thing about the Aveo is its ride. It is very solid, with no squeaks or rattles even going over speed bumps. It absorbs even large bumps well, despite its small size. It felt composed on the highway, and was not affected by a 20-30 mph crosswind--a good showing for a small, light, tall car. The steering felt a little light on-center but it tracked straight. Handling was good--not razor sharp but more than adequate, with just little body lean (but I didn't push it, with the salesman in the car with me). Braking (non-ABS) was smooth.

    Although the Aveo is a very small car, the front seats are roomy (I am 5'10") with lots of headroom even with the moonroof, and the back seat was just adequate for me (knees were brushing the front seatback). The back seat has a high seating position that is pretty comfortable, at least for short trips.

    Overall I thought the Aveo would make a great car for a college student or young couple/family for around-town driving. If you can put up with no A/C and few features, you can get a '04 model for as little as $7500 or less, which is quite a bargain for a modern car. But with the loaded LS models that top $14k, I think models like the Elantra GLS 5-door are a much better value due to their greater refinement, features, and performance for about the same price.
  • For those of you who like the Elantra, check out my 2004.5 Elantra-based Kia Spectra!

    I am *totally* happy with its initial build quality and performance. Since I saw the topic being discussed above, I thought I'd mention that the turning-radius is phenomenal!

    Take a look and let me know what you think!

  • Here's a composite of info from various posts I put up on the Edmunds Spectra/Cerato board over the past few months.



    After 3 months / 4000 miles of driving on my new Spectra EX, here are my experiences so far.

    - Dealership experience has been very good. 1 minor repair was performed (3rd brake light LED replaced) quickly and to my satisfaction. The overall sales and follow-up experience has been very professional and positive. The dealer has very nice Customer Rewards program that pretty much takes care of basic maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations for the first year or so. The dealer (Dick Scott Kia) also follows up with the customer post-purchase and service visits.

    - Initial build quality has been excellent! All interior and exterior panels are straight and uniform in color. All options and features work flawlessly.

    - Interior noise levels are excellent. No evidence of excessive droning at 70+ mph as reported by Edmunds. My car *is* equipped with the 4-speed automatic though.

    - No squeaks or rattles yet, and that's saying something when driving on Michigan roads! :-)

    - Acceleration is good, esp. when you put your foot down. I've noticed a little "dead spot" in the acceleration curve between 1st and 2nd when accelerating gently. If I'm not in a hurry, I just let it pass. If I know that I've got to get moving a little faster (like pulling out in traffic) I know to just press the accelerator down a little harder/faster.

    - The car is just chock full of little extras that there's too many to list. All I know is that I'm still discovering little comfort and convenience features scattered through out the car. With my last new car being a '93 Plymouth Acclaim, I'm really amazed at how many new "smart" features cars come with these days incorporated in to the electrical circuitry.

    - Pricing was excellent! I was able to take a fully loaded Sand Beige (gold) EX out-the-door for $14,373 (tax and dest included!) using the $1,500 incentive offered. The only big option missing on my car was ABS. My car included all EX options plus floormats, moonroof, spoiler, and alloy wheels. The dealer also through in some way cool hand-painted pin stripes from a local pin stripe artisan. It really finishes off the car!

    Other observations:

    - The turning radius on the Spectra car is phenomenal! I was able to move the car from one side my subdivision road to the other by simply turning the wheel all the way. No stopping and backing up and repositioning was necessary. No other vehicle I've driven has been able to do this in the same area.

    - While reading the owners manual, I just found out that the front seat belts have pre-tensioners that work with an ignitable activator (like an air bag). Another name for these are "pyrotechnic pretensioners".

    - The factory 6-speaker CD stereo kicks! I've run several hard-rock and country CDs through the system, and it handles it all with good treble and bass response. The middle range could use a little more punch, but that would require an equalizer to be added to the unit.

    - The car is extremely air tight. No wind noise from any of the windows or the moon roof. My ears pop when I close the last window or roof and have the ventilation on

    - Heat and A/C ducts for the rear passengers are under the front driver and passenger seats. There's a small forked two-orifice duct under each of the front seats.

    From what I could see, it only blows out air when the floor setting (and probably the mixed/split setting as well) is used. The upper vent setting does not appear to route air to these ducts.

    - The sun visors extend when flipped to the side. So if the sun is in the rear corner of the window, the visor will slide back on the rod to block it. My wife found this by accident, thinking she broke the visor. But the driver's side does it too, and it doesn't feel broken or flimsy when extended, so this is definitely a feature. The owner's manual doesn't mention that this exists.

    - The dome light dims slowly when closing the last door and the ignition's turned off. Close the door when the car's running, and it snaps on and off immediately.

    - The dome light comes on when you unlock the doors with the key FOB.

    - The front doors have "puddle lights" built into them.

    - When unlocking either front door with the key, you can unlock all four doors by twisting the key one additional time. Lock the door with the key, and all four doors lock.

    - I thought the glove box didn't have a light the first time I opened it up at night in the driveway, which sort of disappointed me. Later my daughter up the glove box (while driving at night with the headlights on) and there was a light! I now know that the light is tied into the headlight circuit. An unorthodox approach, but I guess it makes sense for the most part.

    - The lighted power lock and windows buttons on all of the door panels is convenient at night

    Finally, here's a very good article from the Detroit News Auto Review team:

    Kia's Spectra grows up
    By Paul & Anita Lienert / Special to The Detroit News 022

    So far, everyone I've shown the car to has been very surprised at the overall quality of the new Spectra. The only verdict out at this point is the longevity of quality. Will it hold up over the long haul? Time will tell.....
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    will hold up. I was very happy with how my 1999 Kia Sephia drove, handled and kept going. It really was a durable little sedan. My 2001 Kia Sportage is built like a tank and is performing like a true champ. Both of the dealers I've dealt with with the SUV have been both professional and spot-on with their work.

    If Kia put out a little sports coupe like Scion has with their tC I would probably pop it into my top choice for a '01 Sportage replacement vehicle. I trust the Kia brand for quality now. Their designers are doing a great job with little extras like you mentioned spectraman, as well as designing functionality into their vehicles. All for a lower price with a much better warranty. A very tough-to- beat combination of attributes for Kia, indeed.

    backy, have you test-driven the new Scion tC yet? The 5-speed tC?

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    No, haven't drive the tC yet but it will be on my shopping list when I buy my next car. But it's more likely that next car will be something in the low-end class. I am particularly excited about the Honda Jazz/Fit coming here next year, and there will be some other great small cars available when I go buying in 2006, including the Mazda3i, the Spectra (but still don't like that seat height adjuster), and (probably) next-gen Accent, Rio, Elantra, Civic, Sentra, Neon.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    a new Nissan microcar called Micra. It may be 2006 before the U.S. sees it. I like the new Scion tC in Black Cherry Pearl but my wife will probably want to stay SUV in our next purchase. I plan on harping on the tC's many fine attributes and see what she thinks next year about a trade, maybe in the early summer or late spring. I like the tC's styling and it's 2.4L 160 horse 4 cylinder engine, and the fact that one can go 0-60 in 7.4 seconds in one. I also like it's stereo and moonroof. I really wish Kia would get with it and put out a sports coupe. I know it would look awesome and be built well. Their planners must have bigger fish to fry, like the new Mojave pickup truck. Kia is very busy these days, I mean very busy. It's a great consumer car shopping time, if you keep it foreign, that is.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • My husband needs a car to take him 7 miles to the train station in the morning and then back home at night. We are mostly looking for the lowest monthly lease payment for a car that will sit in a train station all day. I was looking at the Kia Rio (2004 or 2005). Any opinions or better suggestions? Thanks!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    Are you looking for the lowest LEASE payment, or the lowest PAYMENT? A Rio is probably not the best bet for the lowest lease payment, because it has pretty high depreciation. But since it's one of the lowest-priced cars around, it would have a low payment if you purchased it. Another good bet in a new car if you want a low payment is a '04 Aveo, which IMO is a better car than the Rio, especially in 5-door form, and can be had for around $7500 in base-model form (big rebate on the '04s). But that's w/o air or much else. For driving to/from the train, what else do you need, eh? The Accent (base model again) is also sometimes on sale for under $8000 and is a nice little car, between the Rio and Aveo IMO.

    If you are looking for a low lease payment, you might actually be better off with a more expensive car that has lower depreciation, like a Honda Civic DX or VP. I've seen lease payments around $150/month on those. But when the lease is up, you have no equity. You'd pay about the same on a Rio or Aveo but after five years, the car would be worth a few thousand dollars.

    Actually, for driving to the train station 14 miles a day, I'd get a used car. You could pick up a late-model Accent or Rio for $5000 or less, still under warranty, pay a little over $100/month and pay the thing off in four years.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    the whole trip is so short and that way you'd have less to lose in a theft, etc. No need to worry about dents really, either, IMO, if it's used. That's one thing that gets old if your car is new or fairly new, that of getting door dings and such. I notice that the new 2005 Scion tC I want to trade for has no side moulding(as a good sports coupe shouldn't)and one would need to park at least 10 spaces away from everyone else in parking lots to protect it. Yep, that's what I'm talkin' about, man.

    Another tasty little tidbit I noticed on the tC is that it has 4-wheel disc brakes as well as ABS all around, for extra braking safety. The car is loaded with nice little surprises like this. It's getting harder to look at any other rig seriously, the more I look the better the little sports coupe with the 45 degree reclining rear seats and moonroof with fixed glass roof in the back looks.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    Looking at any low-end sedans lately, or have you "graduated" to the sport coupe market?
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    right now, except the 2005 Kia Sportage or the 2005 Scion tC. I guess neither is a "low-end" sedan, is it? I suppose I'm interested in the Chevrolet Aveo sedan and hatch. I also kind of like the new 2006 Nissan Micra, although I doubt I'd ever buy one. It's awfully small.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • This article is almost a year old but I love the quote from Mike Allen:

    "We dealt with quality right up front," says Mike Allen, vehicle line director for GM Daewoo Automotive Technology. "We gave them a quality target equal to Chevrolet's average, and then we gave them a stretch target of the best in segment, which is the Toyota Echo."

    from USA today 1/7/204

    I own an ECHO and I bought it because after the research that I did, it was and is my opinion that the ECHO is probably the most problem free of the little sedans. But I paid a premium for that reputation of quality... The 2004 Aveos and Rios are really inexpensive right now. We're thinking about getting an Aveo, an Accent or a Rio for my mother-in-law. The typical little old lady who only drives her car on the weekend to go shopping and to go to church. She's driving a Ford Fairmont that barely starts, barely runs, and barely stops.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,859
    give him a ride to the station in the morning and a kiss good bye.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
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