Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    it would be the Versa or a 2009 Fit.

    The current 2008 Fit isn't in that list because the current model, which was introduced in Asia around 2000 if I recollect correctly, suffers from being a little too small and twitchy on the highway. It's a true "B" car (size category = mini, not compact) and suffers from some of the B car shortcomings, like not dealing with the freeway well. The Versa, on the other hand, is a "supersize me" "B" car which blurs the differences between minis and compacts. Heck, the Versa is more spacious than my 2004 VW Golf was!

    Read the preview Edmunds has on the 2009 Fit for a detailed list of the 2008's shortcomings. Everything that is to be improved on the 2009 is, in fact, a real (substantive, not cosmetic) deficiency on the 2008 Fit. Don't get me wrong, the 2008 Fit is head and shoulders above the 2004 Scion xA I once had (much better ride, quieter, less buzzy, incredibly better safety gear and better crash resuls) BUT the Versa can be a lot cheaper if you shop right and has a lot more room and is a lot better on the freeway. My Versa was about 3,000 less than my Fit and it includes cruise control, floor mats, and mud flaps, while my Fit doesn't (but my fit has power windows and door locks).

    Of course the Versa is a dull economy car (in most people's eyes) while the Fit is a trend-setting premium micro with some cachet (in many people's eyes) so you have to weigh that as well. Apart from a guest star appearance on Heroes, the Versa hasn't made much of a splash in either pop culture or car enthusiast culture, which is a shame, because it excels at affordable high-end mediocrity. :P

    The Versa "satisfices" me - only roll up windows and manual door locks, but it has the much more important power mirrors (so I don't have to reach across or outside the cabin); no side air bags or ABS, but it has the much more critical side curtain airbags; the Versa doesn't brag about it's features, but it has an excellent stock radio/cd player with fine sound, a solid cargo cover while the Fit has none (or an optional "window shade" style cargo cover), and a six speed manual transmission; no "sex appeal" with the Versa but it substitutes well, in terms of freeway stability and quiet, for the former Chevy Impala we had, when I have to take long road trips - and let's face it, the Impala didn't have any "sizzle" either.

    The kid in me loves the FTD factor (fun to drive factor) of the Fit much more than the Versa, but hey, I doubt your grandparents are as much of a kid as me (despite my chronological age I am still very much the kid in love with autos, inside) and I doubt your grandparents will be able to endure the shortcomings of the Fit, even if they VERY rarely drive it long freeway distances.

    So have them take a look at the Versa, but don't go crazy with the options, if you get an SL and load it up and overprice it - if you do, you might as well buy a VW Rabbit (although it is noisier) and get that "cachet" thing.

    Kudos to Backy for dialing back his Hyundai enthusiasm when they let him (and many of us) down with the very poor crash results on the Accent (and on the Kia Rio), despite all the airbags, which none of us expected given the outstanding results they had been getting on their larger cars, smaller SUV's, and minivans. Apparently at Hyundai, some of the advances (better CAD/CAM design? more weld points? exotic or high strength steels) in their upmarket vehicles haven't made it down to their economy cars. Right now I think there aren't any economy cars in America, with the exception of stripped Cobalts, Focii, and low end Corollas. With gas priced the way it is, people are willing to downsize but they still want well put together exteriors and interiors and some techno-goodies as well.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    Thanks for your throrough post.

    Today I e-mailed the dealer in Pensacola, FL, asking for a quote on a Versa 1.8SL, with CVT, ABS, and possibly the convenience package. I was disappointed with the "Come drive one of many on the lot and we can find the car for you" response, a response which had no quote with it. I'll be avoiding that dealer now. My parents want a moonroof, but that sticks you into an $18k pricetag since you have to get all the packages to get it, and that won't fly. They'd just get another Civic instead.

    Interestingly, in my shopping endeavors, I keep running across $12k and $13k 2007 Malibu LT sedans. They aren't a lot to look at inside or out, but they offer a lot of bang for the buck since the depreciation is so rough on them. The best part is you don't take the hit, the previous owner already has. This would also be a more comfortable highway car for their trips back to Birmingham they make regularly.

    There's just a lot out there, and they are looking at options one at a time.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    The 2007 Malibus came with side curtain airbags, crash well, and sip gas whether it's the 6 or th3 4. An excellent choice, I'd check Consumer Reports to confirm reliability. Some GM models are great (like our Impala) while others are dodgy.

    The reason I switched from American cars on my last round of purchases was concern about poor dealer warranty service. The American brands have really tightened their wallets and I don't think you get nearly the level of warranty service (fix it right the first time) from American brand dealers as you get from the Big 3 Japanese dealers.

    I don't mind a few defects if they get fixed. I don't like driving 10-20,000 miles with annoying but not life-threatening problems only to get brushed off by the dealers despite multiple visits.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    If the folks are looking for their 2nd car as a highway cruiser, I don't know why they're looking in the low-end class. There's nothing there I'd really care to drive in for long distances on a highway--the Versa would probably come closest, but take a good look at the Edmunds.com long-term test on that score.

    If they want a mid-sizer, they could go with a year-old Malibu, but they could also get a brand-new Fusion for $14k, or a new Milan or Sonata for $15k, any of which would be a fine highway cruiser but with a known service history (new!), and good reliabiilty record, and full factory warranty.

    They really seem to be all over the place on this car decision, don't they?
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    I agree with Backy on the Fusion, it's been showing up as ad specials, WITH an automatic, in the Bay Area for just a tad over $14k.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    They really seem to be all over the place on this car decision, don't they?
    Haha, here's the deal:

    When they started shopping for a car two months ago, their income was a good deal more than in it is now. Originally, they were looking for something comfortable first and foremost, with extra power a plus. Now that my mom has resigned her position at her job, the income has dropped off, but the need for a car has actually increased (she worked from home). Now, their budget has dropped off by about $10k, and fuel economy is more important.

    I've mentioned the Fusion and Taurus before and they just can't get past the "bling bling front end and cheesy tail lights."

    So, you summed it up really well actually; they're in a position they've never been in, and aren't sure what vehicle will fit their needs and budget best; a lightly used bigger car or a fuel-sipping new small car. I'm doing my best to shop around and present info to them (I like doing it so it's no biggie). Sorry if I'm all over the board as well; I just hope it at least makes for interesting conversation!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    Don't forget the "fuel-sipping used smal car" option. That would be their lowest overall cost.

    FWIW, the 2006 Elantra GLS is a very smooth-riding, roomy, quiet, and comfortable small car. It has more traditional styling that some like a lot better than the 2007+ Elantras. It is Edmunds.com's top choice in used small cars. I get mid-to-upper 30s mpg with the AT cruising on the highway ('04 GT). But the later 2006 Elantras got the updated engine that went into the 2007+ Elantras! Also, it comes in a 5-door hatch (GLS and GT trims), albeit with a tauter suspension and steering than the sedan, but with a very nice sport cloth or leather interior. There's also a Limited sedan with leather. Anyway, might be worth checking out--would be very inexpensive and might be to their liking. (Note the 2004-2006 Elantras are pretty similar, but for the money they might as well get the newest one they can find.) The one big down-side is that it doesn't have curtain airbags, so the IIHS side impact test score was Poor. Might be a deal-breaker for them.
  • kgambitkgambit Member Posts: 2
    Hello everyone,

    Sorry if this has already has been covered but I'm looking for my own first car and could use a little help. Mostly it will be used for commute. It doesn't need to be super cool but if it doesn't look lame that's a plus. Currently driving a fricken minivan, not swell with the girlies lol. Anyway I just need something simple and reliable. I'd like ABS, cruise control, cd player and enough room for a 6'1-2 guy like myself but these aren't an absolute must. Unfortunately I do need an automatic as I have a hand/arms disorder where I get fatigued quick so I don't want to shift a bunch.

    Currect top list-Kia Spectra, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra 01-04. My budget is the above listed 3-6k, does anyone have some good choices out there for me? Thanks much for any advice.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    The one big down-side is that it doesn't have curtain airbags, so the IIHS side impact test score was Poor. Might be a deal-breaker for them.

    That likely would be. Safety, especially in a small car, is pretty high on the priority list. If they go for a small car, I imagine they'd end up in a new one, since the budget allows; but at this stage, who knows? Haha - I actually looked at a 2007 Versa 1.8S tonight at our local Dixie Nissan, here in the Birmingham metro. It had PW/PL 4-sp Auto, CD, no cruise control, and the asking price is $13,990. I guess that could be negotiated to $12k-$13k - It has 26k miles. That wouldn't be a bad vehicle!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    If they go for the Versa be sure they get the ABS option. Without it, stopping distances are long, dry and wet.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    Trust me that'd be at the top of the list. :)

    Thanks for all the discussion!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    See my post above on the Elantra. In the age/price range you're looking at, I think that's one of the best options. The Spectra is far inferior (in that vintage), as is the Accent. ABS can be hard to find on the Elantra though. You might be able to find a Protege for near the top of your range, and maybe a high-miles Civic.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Member Posts: 3,855
    I've mentioned the Fusion...before and they just can't get past the "bling bling front end and cheesy tail lights."

    Yes, that is one reason I am driving a Mazda6 :) . But how about the Milan?

    With moon roof (I think you mentioned them wanting that) and auto, invoice on the I-4 is right around $20K, so with $2500 rebate plus $1000 conquest rebate, should be able to get one for $16,500 or less.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Member Posts: 3,855
    My 20 year old son was in the same boat, driving our old minivan after he totaled my old Contour.

    He ended up getting a 2001 Focus ZX3 with 85K mi for $4400, not a great deal but he hates shopping for cars, so he took it. He is 6' and is comfortable in it. Focus has average (average is pretty good these days) reliability, according to CR. I believe back in 2000-01 the Focus was also the top rated small car in CR road tests.

    I think youngsters find the ZX3 version more attractive than the sedan. I know my son did, as despite his aversion to car shopping, he went out of his way to find a ZX3 rather than settle for a sedan.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    Backy, one of the magazines (Car and Driver?) just concluded a long term Versa test and they noted that the stopping distances came way down (improved a lot) after the brakes had seated in and worn in a bit. It was good to see, since most magazines reported significantly longer stopping distances with the Versa compared to its competitors.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    That is good news! So the key is to make sure you don't need to do an emergency stop until the Versa's brakes are worn in. ;)

    Personally I'd get the ABS.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Member Posts: 504
    Consumer Reports guys drive their test vehicles a lot before subjecting to them the tests whose results are released in their publications. In other words, they don't test brand-spanking new vehicles. Their breaking tests revealed that their non-ABS Versa had a rather long stopping distance despite having driven it for months before the test.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    The long time Versa test I mentioned was - ironically - right here on Edmunds and not on Car and Driver.

    Here is what Edmunds has to say:

    Standardized performance testing showed the 2007 Nissan Versa improved with age.

    "At 16,000 miles the Versa's acceleration from zero to 60 mph took 9.4 seconds, 1/10th of a second quicker than during its first test at 1,000 miles. In the quarter-mile, the Versa lost 2/10ths of a second and more than 2 mph, recording a final mark of 17.2 seconds at 80.2 mph.

    "Most remarkable is the Versa's improvement in braking performance. The distance required to stop from 60 mph shrank from 152 feet to 135 feet. We attribute this to normal brake pad break-in and the lack of optional ABS on our Versa. As a side note, an ABS-equipped 2007 Nissan Versa in a prior test needed only 123 feet to stop."

    So the improvement in braking performance is substantial, and I can't explain Consumer Reports results - maybe they test performance parameters first.

    Backy was right, that the ABS version is a better stopped from the get-go.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    I went with the folks today on two test drives, of the cars listed in the subject line.

    The Scion:

    Quick enough, about the same about of noise as the Civic mom and dad currently drive, although my head was in the ceiling in the back seat. I never actually drove either of them, but mom and dad's comments said a lot. The room was ok-ish, the stereo was great, and they felt this car was the best they had driven (effectively writing the Accent off their list).

    The Versa:

    We went by the Nissan dealer nearby, and drove a Versa S, with the Power Package ($15,400 MSRP). The Versa had enough room for me to sit in the back seat with the front seat all the way back, and my head was out of the roof. The 4-speed automatic was smooth, and the interior was quieter than the Civic. They are excited about the Versa, and will likely go back to drive a CVT model, so that they can get the center armrest. He's just not sure about the CVT yet.

    Frankly, the Versa caught them by surprise, especially since I practically made them stop by and look at it.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    The other thing I like about the Versa SL is the height-adjustable driver's seat. As it raises the seat cushion, it stays pretty parallel to the floor, unlike many manual seats that tip forward as they're raised. A benefit of it is that you can raise the seat and slide it forward, and get a comfy driving position (if you're not too tall) with truly limo-like leg room behind it.

    Plus there's many other comfort/convenience features in the SL, including a rear center armrest.

    If they do mostly highway driving, they might prefer the S with its 4AT. In tests done by C/D, the 4AT got better fuel economy on the highway than the CVT.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    Well, mom and dad seem to think this will be the car that never leaves the island (Pleasure Island, in Gulf Shores, Alabama). Mainly a city car they'll use the quicker Civic for highway driving... that's what they say right now anyway! You know they change their idea weekly ;).
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    With such a spike in small car sales, this forum should be hopping!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    You'd think so, wouldn't you? Unless folks already have their minds made up to get a Fit, or Yaris, or whatever.

    I got to take an Aveo 5-door around Chicago for a day last week. I lost the car rental lottery. That is where you reserve a "compact" car, and hope to either get the free 1-class upgrade ("sorry, no bigger cars available") or a compact like the Elantra. I got the Aveo. It was bright yellow with a black interior. In fact, it looked just like the photo to the right! At least it had power windows and locks--the last Aveo I rented had neither. The ride was pretty smooth for a small car, and it had enough power for around-town driving. But I wouldn't buy one. Lack of curtain airbags, cheap interior materials, tiny cargo hold with the rear seats up, and not high enough fuel economy for its size are the main reasons. I'd rather spend the extra money for something like the Fit.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    With a car like that, you might say you "buzzed around town" in it since it looks like something that dwells in a hive.
  • sandman46sandman46 Member Posts: 1,798
    Got one of these for my daughter this weekend...it's got the power stuff plus the alloys/15" tire package. The color is a dark charcoal, almost blueish with a gray interior. Nice little runabout and she loves it. Got it for just under $14,360 plus T,T & L...$15,500 OTD. Glad we didn't go with the regular GLS with the 14" tires but I personally preferred the 3 door hatch SE model with the 16"ers but she wanted a 4 door.
    Looking to make a deal on an Elantra next month for the older girl but want her to check out the Versa and the Spectra 1st and go from there. Will also throw in a Suzuki in the mix since they have them right there so she can have a good comparison between these small entry level cars. The Accent didn't appeal to her or I would've had two parked in the garage now...which was the original plan.

    The Sandman :)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    ...one dead forum. With all the new & updated entries, this surprises me!

    I see the Kia Rio has been updated?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    How so? Updated, or little tweaks? Looks like a new front fascia, but I wonder if it's the same car?

    It's funny though that the Echo, Forenza and Spectra are still on the right. I guess our Hosts have given up on this discussion also! :)

    There is some excitement coming soon to this space: Cruze, Festiva, all-new Accent, and (I think) the Mazda2. Maybe others?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    Well, updated WITH little tweaks, but updated nonetheless.

    The new Aveo?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    What new Aveo? I wonder if it will die when the Cruze comes out?
  • tenpin288tenpin288 Member Posts: 804
    I wonder if it will die when the Cruze comes out?

    Not likely. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/01/chevrolet-aveo-rs/
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731

    Edmunds Straightline Blog has more info.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    I would be surprised if they keep the Aveo name. They should call it the Corsa. Corsa even sounds like a Chevy... Aveo doesn't. Corsa is used in most other countries.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    I'd pass on that name... it is too reminiscent of something...


  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    You know, I didn't even think of the Corsica. To me, Corsa conjures up a sporty, fun image. Maybe GM is afraid it is too close to Corsica. Which btw was a really dumb name for a car, IMO.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    Next, perhaps the Subaru Sicily. The Range Rover Roma? Toyota Tuscany... that doesn't sound too bad - but perhaps like a dish at Olive Garden and not a subcompact.

    Sheesh, sorry for the rambles. I'm cranked up today. :)
  • Sandman6472Sandman6472 Coral Springs, FLMember Posts: 6,048
    When will this car be out? Was at the Hyundai store late last month to get some body work done on the kids Accent...roommate hit her while backing out of the garage...1208.00 and we're good as new. Hopefully they've tweaked the car a bit looks wise. They even tweaked the Versa SL hatch and it looks great.
    Even though I won't be in the market for awhile, I'm quite curious to see the new Civic and how it looks inside and out. Still love the car and trying to get the wife to consider one inn 2011.

    The Sandman :sick: :shades:

    2015 Audi A3 (wife) / 2015 Golf TSI (me) / 2019 Chevrolet Cruze Premier RS (daughter #1) / 2020 Hyundai Accent SE (daughter #2)

  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    There's talk of a new 2011 model, which I wouldn't expect to see before late 2010 since the Accent was last redesigned in late 2005. If you search on "2011 Hyundai Accent" you can find a number of articles and pics; here's an example:

    http://www.autospies.com/news/2011-Hyundai-Accent-Sedan-Spotted-Baby-Genesis-in-- Utero-all-Camo-ed-up-48407/

    Note the family resemblance to the 2011 Sonata and the upcoming Elantra. The part about 140 hp with no sacrifice in FE sounds really enticing--although personally I'd rather have more like 120 hp with 40 mpg. I hope the structure on the new Accent is a lot better than on the current car. We'll probably see standard ESC on this new Accent too, since it will be mandatory by 2012.
  • newsubaruownernewsubaruowner Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a used subaru legacy L with 136k miles, Next car I buy will most likely be the GT variety, I love the car.

    It handles like it is on rails, granted the suspension is slightly more stiff than my old car this one is great in the snow!
  • echothatechothat Member Posts: 8
    Aveo is Korean, isn't it? Seems like Daewoo...
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    edited May 2011
    Aveo is from Korea yes. Not one of the ROK's better efforts though.
  • joeyrabjoeyrab Member Posts: 65
    With Toyota and Honda I call it "less expensive", with Chrysler, Ford, GM, Kia/Hyundai, I call it "low end." No matter what you read about these new "low cost to buy" cars, it still pans out the same at 60-90,000 miles. The Toyota's, Honda's, Subaru's, and even the Suzuki's made by Suzuki (not a rebadged Daewoo), are still going strong...I had a Neon and Focus new off the lot, My Corolla saw them pull into the driveway, and saw them die there...and that Corolla is still going. I cannot believe the way the motor on that car still sounds today. It is unreal. the Focus is what made me say, "I will never let another American (big 3) car in this family again. Have your own opinion, but the Japanese companies (albeit, I'd rather them be made there than here to keep the quality high) are the way to go.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    Since you provided your personal experience, I'll provide mine:

    2001 Elantra GLS, purchased new in October 2000, sold to my sister five years ago. Still going strong, about 80k miles, no major work except regular maintenance and a clutch replacement after my wife and son worked together to destroy it six years ago.

    2004 Elantra GT, purchased new in March 2004, 61k miles, still drives like new (60k service increased the mpg about 10%, gets 37 mpg on the highway now). No major work except regular maintenance; replaced rear brakes at 45k, fronts still have 70% left.

    2007 Sonata GLS, purchased used in November 2009, 51k miles, still looks and drives great. Still under factory warranty. Had to replace the driver's recliner switch (warranty), that's about it except regular maintenance.

    I've owned Hondas, Toyotas, and Nissans (leasing a Sentra now, nice car) and they were all pretty reliable, but no more so than the 3 Korean cars I've owned.

    In short... it's 2011 now, not the '80s and '90s anymore. Different world out there.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMMember Posts: 7,615
    edited May 2011
    Aveo is Korean, isn't it? Seems like Daewoo...

    The Chevrolet Aveo is really a re-badged Daewoo Kalos, it's Daewoo-designed, just warmed over by Chevrolet for their customers' consumption. GM bought Daewoo round about 2000 and made a company to be plopped in South Korea called GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Company.

    This was one of the halo cars produced by that "marriage" of companies. But it's a GM-run Company, make no fidgety mistakes here.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • kneisl1kneisl1 Member Posts: 1,694
    I had a friend buy a Hiyonday in 1993. It was an utter piece of junk. It was in for warrranty work like every month! Whne I bought my 2001 ECHO I looked at one. It was a total piece of crap. I could not BELIEVE a manufacturer would sell something like that. Better to wait until they could make something competitive. 10 year warranty? I was pretty that was a trap to lure the unwary.

    I have looked at them recently and they are better. I would not say they are made a like a Tyota. But they arent radiactive!
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMMember Posts: 7,615
    edited May 2011
    I herd therwe's this ting on the compoooter kawled speilberg chek. Chek in too cash.


    Burp. :D


    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • kneisl1kneisl1 Member Posts: 1,694
    Youve obviously never been to TX where they have Tieotuz.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,133
    Now that's funny! And if I remember correctly, it's pronounce TY-otuz, emphasis on the Ty.


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  • barkydogbarkydog Member Posts: 45
    I can remember the old joke about a proposed joint venture between Toyota and Chevy to manufacture and rename the Chevette.

    It was to be called the Toylette.

    So now we have the actuality of an American Version of a DaEwOo.

    It's called the AVEO. And it's a pretty good car. :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    "Pretty good car" as in quite possibly the worst car currently offered by anyone in the USA (now that Chrysler has upgraded its lineup)?

    The Aveo was no better than passable when it debuted years ago. Now it's hopelessly outclassed by every other car in its class. I've had to suffer through a few Aveo rentals. They brought new meaning to the term "penalty box". These days, I physically recoil when I see a Yaris waiting for me at the rental car lot. I always try to get out of it (easier since I asked Hertz to put "No Yaris!" in my profile). But the Aveo is worse. Much worse.
  • kneisl1kneisl1 Member Posts: 1,694
    A friend bought an aveo and only had it four years before getting rid of it. They had a lot of trouble with it.

    I found out my two year old Yaris is worth MORE than what I paid for it. First car I ever had that did that...
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