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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • m1miatam1miata Posts: 4,556
    As an option, one may consider US models of cars, such as the Pontiac GrandAm for $10k only a year old. My Dad spotted an ad for some 2004 model year cars. They have a whole bunch of them at low prices. I guess if you by a GM car, you must be willing to hold it until it dies to get full value out of it. How wrong could ya go though at half off retail. I may look at the G6 in a couple or years. I suppose it may take two years to half on that one ;-) American cars make super deals bought used. The G6 looks like an excellent car. If I hold off buying another car for a year or two, I will consider it. Looks good!
  • I saw a base Aveo for $6925, 2 weekends ago, and I see a lot of 2004s for sale in California (maybe a dozen?) on GM buypower. I bet those could be had for under $7k. If only I didn't have one already...


    I still see Accents for under $7k, but I did think they had a/c, maybe I'm wrong.


    These are 04s, not 05s. But at these prices, you are still going to do just fine on depreciation, especially if you keep the cars for many years.


    The Spectra is a nicer car to live with, but I still don't know if I would go for it. It's an interesting choice at $11k, but I'm still not convinced it's worth the extra money.


    I'm going to discuss the rankings in the next post.
  • Tier 1:

    1. Civic - HX is tops for $15k or less.

    2. Mazda 3 - Great cars.

    3. Corolla - Top notch. (wouldn't buy one)

    4. Cobalt - ...if reliability holds up.


    Tier 2:

    5. Focus - Don't be scared by 5 year old recalls.

    6. xA/xB - the best small cars in the segment.

    7. Aerio - There is a lot in this package.

    8. Elantra - Hyundai has come a long way.

    9. Sentra - I see these for under $9k.

    10. Matrix - Don't like it. A Toyota.

    11. Echo - Underrated, overpriced.

    12. Aveo - A cheaper alternative to an xA.

    13. Accent - Very solid.

    14. Reno/Forenza - ...if reliability holds up.


    Tier 3:

    15. Lancer - Decent, nothing remarkable.

    16. PT Cruiser - Good looks, base model stinks.

    17. ION - Good price, quad coupe is a nice design.

    18. Spectra - Unsafe at any speed?


    Tier 4:

    19. Cav/Sunfire - Nice engine. Poor safety.

    20. Neon - Definitely not an SRT-4.

    21. Rio - Worst car in America!
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,059
    the old Sephia. So what you say? Well, IMHO, that is saying something. I enjoyed my '99 Sephia but Kia, as backy has pointed out very eloquently above, has improved the subcompact Spectra. Call it factory/knowledge sharing with Hyundai if you want(I am of the opinion that Kia handles their own engineering ship fine without Hyundai's help)but Kia is putting out a very substantial economy sedan for $13,720 with this Spectra. The 4-wheel discs and SAC along with the frontal and side airbags already installed make for a nice safety appointment from the get-go. Publication test-drivers from near and far in America are giving the 2004 1/2 and new 2005 Kia Spectra good solid driving reports.


    I wouldn't regard the IIHS report as weighty enough to stop me from getting one and I would also give Kia the nod in the looks department for the new Spectra over the Hyundai Elantra's looks as well.


    Has Kia watered down the looks of the new 2006 Rio too much from the concept's new unusual shape? Anybody else see that yellow '06 Rio concept on the net? As usually happens the production '06 Rio looked much tamer.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • Am I correct in assuming that the Rio, Sephia, and Optima are the result of Kia's own engineering? I think that without Hyundai's help, they would have disappeared from our shores. Those are three awful cars.


    I'm still waiting for the first car from Kia that I think is a good buy. I have no doubt it will come, but it hasn't yet.


    The new Spectra is much nicer than I ranked it, but I just don't think it's a good idea to drive a car that can't handle an accident. There's no reason to buy one when there are better and safer options out there.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    The first Kia that is really a good buy--meaning a really good car with great features plus a great price--may be the 2006 Sportage LX, coming this summer. MSRP $15,900 very well equipped including ABS, SABs/SACs, stability control, power package, roof rack, and alloys. It's Kia's version of the Tuscon but for less money. OK, so it's not a "car" exactly. And not under $15k MSRP. But a great value I think. Next up in terms of a really good buy from Kia will be IMO the 2006 Rio, also due this year. iluv referred to it earlier. Interior room of the Corolla and Civic, 6 airbags, most power in its class from a new VVT engine, new suspension and interior, and IMO really sharp styling for the sedan. I haven't seen the production 5-door yet but the concept car was great looking. The '06 Accent will be built on the same platform. Then if that's not enough, the '06 Optima will be built on the NF Sonata platform, and that looks to be one heckofa car in performance, features, safety, and styling. Then let's not forget the all-new '06 Sedona that is bigger, lighter, and more powerful and versatile than the old Sedona. So maybe sometime this year your wish for a Kia that is a good buy will be realized.


    As for the Spectra not being able to handle an accident... Kia really blew it on the IIHS frontal offset test, yes, similar to what Hyundai did with the '01 Elantra. But Hyundai made a minor change to the Elantra's seat track and now it's rated Good by the IIHS. I hope Kia management learns from this and doesn't take 3 years to do something about the Kia's test result. That one test doesn't make me think the Spectra is an unsafe car, but I personally wouldn't buy one until the problem is corrected because there are cars that are just as good (like the Elantra) available for the same or less money.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,917
    i do't see much mention of the focus. it must not be a 'low ender'. i think mine is a prety good car.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    It is a low-ender. It made Edmunds' Top 10 list of low-enders. Tell us about your Focus and why you like it. What other cars did you consider before buying it?
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    The Focus is a disappointment in 2005, in my opinion. The $19K example at the Philly show had the cheapest exterior door handles Ive ever felt, really really nasty. I also think the interior redesign was a step in the wrong direction- the textures are all wrong, the materials didnt look well fitted, the blocky double DIN size radio is less integrated and no longer youthful looking, and there's still no redline on the tach. I can only imagine that people would choose this over a Mazda 3 because Ford is currently offering a $2000 rebate along with a Dell. Bleh. Time for a redesign.


  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    "Am I correct in assuming that the Rio, Sephia, and Optima are the result of Kia's own engineering? I think that without Hyundai's help, they would have disappeared from our shores. Those are three awful cars."


    I've never understoody why the Optima depreciates so much faster than a Sonata since they're essentially the same car. Just recently gave my Elantra to my daughter and purchased a Malibu Maxx. Thought carefully about purchasing a (soon to be replaced) Optima/Sonata but was worried about Optima's depreciation and the local Hyundai dealer is becomming increasingly smarmy.


    Not sure why the Optima is such an awful car unless you feel the Sonata is too. I realize the JD Power ratings for Sonata are better, but personally I prefer the Optima's front end styling. Probably just me, however, since Edmunds Optima board has been dead for months.
  • What would a discussion about the KIA Spectra be without a few pearls of wisdom from SpectraMan? :-)


    Here are my observations of daily life with a Spectra EX:


    - Does it have quality?

    After 7k hard Michigan-road miles, my Spectra EX has yet to experience any problems. The only defect to date was a 3rd brake LED that was replaced promptly. So far nothing's broken or fallen off. There are no squeaks and no rattles... even when the temps are down near 0, driving on bomb cratered-like roads.


    Morning starts (even at 0 degrees) have been instantaneous followed by fast engine and interior warm-ups.


    - Does it have value?

    Again, let's compare real-life experiences. How many of the cars listed here will give you the following for $13,300? : Power moonroof, alloy rims, fog lights, 6-speaker CD, power windows, power heated mirrors, power locks, power trunk release, tilt wheel, cruise, rear defrost, side airbags, keyless remote, rear spoiler, matching floormats, mudflaps, rear seat heat ducting, and in my car's case hand-painted dual pinstripes?


    Performance is also extremely good for a "low-end" car. Acceleration is good, the automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and the 4-wheel disc brakes stop the car on a dime. The extemely tight turning radius has also saved me a ton of grief in tight driving and parking situations. Fuel mileage is probably my biggest gripe about the car. It's not bad, but it's not class-leading either. Hopefully the newer Theta-class engines by Hyundai/KIA will fix this problem whenever they're implemented.


    Read a few reviews in the Edmunds Spectra forum to learn about too-numerous-to-list-here additional features of the car.




    So, to summarize, for $13,300 (pre-tax) I've got a stylish, fully featured (with features that I find important), modern compact car that has the largest interior space rating of its class and runs and rides extremely well, while exhibiting extremely good initial build quality .


    Is it perfect.... of course not.


    Are there other cars out there similar to it for approximately the same money? Probably.


    Are there cars on this thread's list that is perceived as superior overall to the Spectra but in reality aren't. Very likely.


    Final word? IMHO, to call this car an "Also Ran" is inaccurate.



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    My '04 Elantra GT was $13,200 + T&L and includes everything you listed except power trunk release (it's a hatchback and has a handle that's unlocked by the remote locking), mudflaps, and pinstriping (I hate pinstriping). In addition, my GT has ABS with traction control, sport suspension, trip computer, sport gauges, 8-way adjustable driver's seat, leather seating surfaces, free scheduled maintenance for 3 years, and the versatility of a hatchback. Better looking than the Spectra too IMO.
  • fushigifushigi Chicago suburbsPosts: 1,389
    Focus made another Top 10 list at Edmunds: Top 10 Cars With the Worst Residual Value for 2005
    2017 Infiniti QX60 (me), 2012 Hyundai Elantra (wife)
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,059
    the Spectra are great bargains and great deals on wheels. The '06 Rio should be a great value and a good looking car.


    backy, yes, the '05 Kia Sportage is a great deal for $16,000. My '01 Sportage has been a great rig and trading is not required now, but a Smart Blue or Volcanic Red '05 Kia Sportage is up there at the top of my futures list along with the Scion tC, another great value. It'll take a couple of nice long test drives to be able to make a decision.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • Backy:


    Thanks for the feedback on your Elantra. How many miles do you have on your car, and what has your defects (if any) been?


    Your car's ABS, traction control, and leather seating surfaces are definitely upgrades compared to my car.


    My dealer has a CRM point system they subscribe to that made it easy for me to get 4,000 points that covers oil changes and scheduled maintenance for what should work out to be the first couple of years, so I consider that about even with your car's program.


    And as fars the looks go, I lean towards the Spectra and the pinstripes. Those items are definitely personal choice items though... no right... no wrong. :-) The local pinstriping guy DID do a whale of a job on my car though when he put on a set of one thick/one thin medium brown and straw *painted* pinstripes on the side body character line. Quite a few people that has seen these have commented on them positively. Like you, I generally detest *tape* stripe packages on cars.


    So.... who else out there wants to throw their buying choice and experiences out here for discussion?


  • dkuhajdadkuhajda Posts: 487
    The Focus one year used with 15K makes an excellent $8,000-$9,000 choice. The best thing about the Focus is there are tons of them out there. Lots of options as they get older to get parts cheap enough and find a corner repair shop with experience on them. Same for the Taurus and Sable except you have to go out to a 2003 to find them at $8,000 with 25K on the clock.


    As far as low end new car value for the dollar. For the basic transportation, I've seen the last of the 2004 Aveo's going for $7995 and these are the LS that included the A/C and had automatics. Much better driver than my 96 Geo Metro, eventually when the wheels fall off my Geo, I will be looking hard at the Aveo. Preferably a slightly used one at $6,000 or so.
  • explorerx4 & alpha01-

    I don't think the Focus is competitive once the price gets above $15k. But this one dealership nearby always advertises a new ZX3s w/AC and a 5spd for $8883, or something like that. Now that is a fantastic deal. I think the Focus is a good car, but nobody should pay a premium for one.



    Was there an Optima before the current model? I might be thinking of a different car.



    The Spectra would have finished much higher if it weren't for the safety scores. Why buy one when the Elantra has better features AND crash test scores?



    I bet that if you buy a Focus for $8883, your residual value in 5 years will be very competitive.



    I'm looking forward to the next Rio also.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    The Optima has had three different front ends in the first three years of sales. The first was an early chevy-like chrome grill, the second was a Hannible Lechter type toothy grin, the third (and only attractive one) has a single bar and (more or less) standard Kia front end. Interior and side are fairly identical to Sonata. Sonata however has LOTS better resale value.


    As far as resale value, Edmunds doesn't recognize that many cars sell way below invoice. In 2001 I bought an Elantra with group II (cruise and remote locks) for $11.2, last week I bought a Malibu Maxx for $16.2. Both were way under Edmunds target price. I doubt if I could get that kind of percentage off a Honda or Toyota.
  • MM:


    After reading Backy's Elantra report, I agree with you about buying an Elantra vs. a Spectra based on features, IIHS rated safety, and cost alone.


    In *my* case, the reasons I would still choose the Spectra are these:


    - Dealer location. I have a brand new stand-alone KIA dealer about 2 miles from my home. I'm not sure how far the nearest Hyundai dealer is, but it's definitely much further than that. Based on my repair experiences with Fords and Chryslers in the past, proximity to the dealer for warranty repairs would have been a major perk! ;-) So far though, the proximity benefit has only been used once!


    - Exterior and interior styling. I've looked over the Elantra (post-Spectra purchase) and I really do like the Spectra's exterior and interior styling and appointments much better. I do wish the leather seats would have been available on the Spectra EX, but the cloth they used is pretty plush and appears to be of high quality like the various car magazine articles noted.




    My take on the Spectra's safety? Well based on IIHS' offset test, I lose on this point when compared to the Elantra. I still think that the Spectra is overall a fairly safe vehicle though based on how well it retained it's structure integrity in the IIHS test, the IIHS ratings for rear end collisions, and NHSA's decent ratings.


    I definitely don't consider it a "deathtrap" as some of the contributors on here seem to deem it based on the tone of their postings.


  • I'm guilty of implying it's a deathtrap - more realistically, it is the poorest performer on the test since the Cavalier in 2001.


    I like the Spectra5.
  • FYI... in today's Detroit News:





    Korean giant flexes its muscles

    By John McCormick / Autos Insider


    A decade ago people would chuckle at the sight of Korean engineers and designers crawling around cars and trucks at auto shows with tape measures, cameras and clip boards.


    These days, the results of their endeavors are no laughing matter for other automakers, especially the Japanese brands. At this year's Detroit and Chicago auto shows, evidence of just how the far Korea's Hyundai/Kia auto conglomerate has come was there for all to see.
  • lostlost Posts: 64
    I recently purchased a 05 Focus SES ZX4 with auto,ABS,side air bags. The sticker was 18,700 and I got it for 14,500, a great car for the money and under 15,000.
  • Sounds like a great deal!
  • nornenorne Posts: 136
    That's funny. The Japanese used to do the same things back in the 60's and 70's. They would tour various US factories and take tons of pictures and take it back to Japan. Around mid 80's the Japanese stoppped taking pictures. This is when american companies realized the Japanese have caught up and we are in trouble. The rest is history.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    I have about 8,000 miles on my '04 Elantra GT over just under 11 months. It's actually my wife's car but I get to drive it occasionally. :-) There have been zero problems to date. There was a recall on a gas line clamp that I had looked at during its first oil change, and at some point the software for the driver's front airbag is going to be updated due to the IIHS crash tests. It's a really fun car to drive and I have to admit I enjoy the moonroof more than I thought I would (my first moonroof). I'm not crazy about leather, but my DW likes it and it is her car after all. It's actually not as uncomfortable in the summer as I thought it would be.


    On my 4.5-year-old '01 Elantra GLS, it has 31,000 miles now and is holding up very well. Just one part failure, an O2 sensor (replaced under warranty), and a squeak in the clutch that was addressed during an oil change. Also a little window trim strip had to be replaced under warranty because the black tape came loose and the metal underneath started to rust. Other than a cold-weather rattle that had resisted correction, I have no complaints. The car drives and rides great (on its new Kumho tires), interior still looks new, and the paint is also like new save for some little dings here and there.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,917
    grrr... typed in a long response, but lost it when i hit the wrong key, so here's the short version; car is better a better driving experience than i expected, has tons of good features(options). cost me at least 5k less than (if there could be) a comparable civic or corolla.
    almost 9k, zero problems, 1 recall for heated seats.

    drive it many times because i like to, not because i have to.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    grrr... typed in a long response, but lost it when i hit the wrong key


    "Ctrl-Z" and or the Back button are your friends ... :)
  • danf1danf1 Posts: 935
    It's good to know that I have so many new friends.
  • Backy:


    Not to criticize yours or anyone else's tastes, but more as an explanation of my own, check out these two sets of photos:


    Elantra rear:


    Elantra front: - - 5B%5D%5D4552_2.gif


    Spectra rear: .kia.spectra.r34.500.jpg


    Spectra front: - - g


    I followed an Elantra 5-door GT (with it's tail lights turned on) in to work today, and I finally realized that it's the front and rear light treatments that I dislike the most. The rear end of the Elantra reminds me of a snake (or insect) face with two glowing red eyes and fangs. A goofy observation... I know. But that's how it strikes me. :-)


    The front end isn't offensive, but it doesn't strike me as symetrical and streamlined as the Spectra's.


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