New Car Opinions

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dxp4acu, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. dxp4acu macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2002
    Well, my 1995 Mazda Protege has just about hit the ground. They can't fix the computer except with a new part, which is $1100. My car is worth about that much, so time to look for a new one.

    I am looking to replace it with a 2003 or 2004 for under $20,000 (hopefully under $15,000). I have really enjoyed Mazda so a new Protege/6/3 is a definite possibility.

    Anyone else have any suggestions about which cars to look at? Have you had experiences with newer Mazdas? Any cars you like other than Mazdas?

    This protege has given me hardly any problems over the 130,000+ miles its been driven.
  2. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    Re: New Car Opinions

    I research cars for a living, and I think you'd do well with a mazda 3. A friend test drove it and said the steering was a bit numb, but other than that, its a solid car that handles well, has a good engine and gets good mileage too boot.

    Scion is worth considering if you don't mind the weird looks and low horsepower. They are practical, well built cars though. The upcoming TC coupe looks a lot better than the current offerings and shuold be a pretty nice car from what I saw at the detroit auto show.

    There's the chevy aveo, but it just looks and feels cheap and its way small.

    The dodge neon is probably worth looking at.

    The ford focus is a fun car to drive, and certainly worth looking at. I'm not a huge fan of american cars, but the focus looks good.

    Honda civic, a bit bland, but its hard to go wrong with it.

    Definiltey worth at least checking out the koreans, like hyundai and kia. You get a lot of ryour money and a great warranty. expect meterials to be cheap though and engines udnerpowered and unrefined.

    Mitsuibishi Lancer, good car all around, though I'd probably opt for a civic first.

    Nissan Sentra is pretty solid. nissan has impressed me over the last couple of years. A solid choice.

    I would stay away from the saturn Ion. I own a saturn now and I would never buy from them again. Price is right, but you'd probably do better with an import.

    Toyota Corolla, like the civic, can't really go wrong with it. A bit pricey for what you get, but its very well built. The toyota ECHO should be avoided, you can get more on a scion for less money and they are both made by toyota.

    If you want to spend a little bit more, I'd definiltey look at subaru, they make some great, well built stuff. I'm going to cross shop MINI as well, though with options, its price gets up there.

    In the used market you'r probably looking at more or less the same cars. I have to say that if I had to buy right now and wanted to spend around 15k, I'd probably get the Mazda 3 sport wagon. I was just impressed by what I saw at the car shows and on paper it looks great. A 15 thousand dollar car is never going to really be great in terms of quality of materials used in the interior, but the mazda was definiltey pretty good. Its an upgrade over the protege in every way, and the protege was pretty competative too.

    Of course, you gotta figure out whats best for you. The "best choice" is a compromise. If you really want good gas mileage, you have to give up engine power. if you want the best handling, you'll probably have to pay a bit more. same goes if you want the reputation of someone like toyota, or the safety features of a subaru. Gotta figure out what is relaly important to you and go through each vehicle and eliminate them based on that criteria. whittle it down to a mangeable number of choices and then go out and drive them and see how they feel, how they perform, and pay attention to details like ergonomics and standard features that may or may not be important to you.

    On the other hand, a new car will cost you several thousand dollars a year in loan payments and increased insurance (and maybe more in gas). fixing your car for a thousand bucks will be a good investment if it lasts even 6 months longer. How hard you drive it and the mileage is important in considering that. I want a new ca so bad but figure it will cost around 4-5k a year to do it, so the 1600 bucks I spent fixing the transmission has been well worth it since its lasted two years. I saved probably 5 thousand dollars by doing the repair, and its been reliable ever since because I take great care of my car.
  3. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia

    Take a look at reliability ratings. The Focus has not faired well according to Consumer Reports.

    As was said you can't go wrong with Honda or Toyota. To that end with rebates you might get a better deal on the Pontiac Vibe (by jointly between GM and Toyota).

    For a fun different vehicle, you might look at the Subaru Baja Sport. With rebates you should be able to get it for under $20K as i did.

    It is a smooth riding roomy car/truck. Sunroof is standard as is AWD.
  4. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    i totally want a baja sport or baja. Just add a toneau cover and I think it would be perfect for me. Only problem I have with subaru is that the engines are a bit underpowered for how much you pay for them, and that a 6 cylinder is only available on the legacy if you pay around 30k. their 4 cylinder turbos rock, but cost a premium.
  5. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    I personally have not found it to be under powered. And I have the A/T. But then I am not looking for 0-60 times 6 seconds. The Baja Sport will keep up with the best out there.

    Keep in mind that it was only with the resurgence of the"muscle" car that Subaru just more recently started to offer Turbo and H6 engines.
  6. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    its certainly not underpowered for most people, particularly not in the impreza line and what not. if you do any serious trailering or want a bit more sport, its a little underpowered. I think my problem is really that the h6 costs so much. Subaru is trying to become a premium brand (as they said at the detroit auto show), and they are on a good start, but I think they need to increase the power a bit across the line for that to really be true. nothing outrageous, I jsut want them to be at or near the top in each class of cars.

    But subarus rock. My family has had three of them. the first one went 275k miles in ten years. the second is 11 years old and sitll going strong. the third is only a few years old outback and has never had a problem. I think theya re one of the most impressive brands out there, and if they follow through on their effort to really make styling a priority (some of their concept sketches and whatnot show some real promise), I think they can really become a desireable brand to more people. the mechanics and features are already in place.
  7. guitargeek macrumors regular

    Feb 20, 2003
    I'm not exactly sure what they're retailing for right now, but the new Chevy Malibu is supposed to be a great improvement over the older style. The 3.5 6 cylinder is supposed to rock, 200 Hp, 220 ft lbs of torque, and displacement on demand (for better gas mileage). It's kinda ugly, though....

    If you're stuck on imports, go with Toyota over any others. They really are one of the best built vehicles on the road. Personally, I think Honda's reliability is overrated, judging from my customers at work.

    Mazda is supposed to have really improved lately, and hopefully that's true, but ever since Ford bought them, their transmissions have sucked (just like Ford's... considering they usually share a transmission).

    Although I'm an American car guy at heart, I would have to say stay away from the Neon, unless you're getting an SRT-4, the motor is of a new design and supposedly bullet-proof. Focus is an ok car, but there are better ways to spend your money...

    The Cavalier is a decent car, as long as you get the 2.2 Ecotec engine. The 2.4 that also comes in it tends to eat fuel injectors for breakfast, along with having some piston slap issues.

    If you go the route of a used car, might I suggest anything GM with the Buick V6. It's an absolutely rock solid engine that you'll never have to worry about, other than changing your oil every now and again. I got my Grand Prix for $5000, and in the last two years, I've put no more than $300 in repairs into it; valve cover gaskets and just recently the upper intake manifold gasket. I bought it with 88,000 miles on it, it has 120,000 now, and everything else is original (all accesories, etc.). I can get 30 MPG on the highway, too!

    Hopefully that will help you some.
  8. GroundLoop macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2003
    I will sell you my Honda Civic Hybrid for $15k

  9. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    I'm really stuck on VW and Mazda but the Dodge Neon/Chrysler PT Cruiser is a good vehicle in that class. I think the Toyota Matrix would be a good choice, unlike its sister, the Pontiac Vibe.
  10. SiliconAddict macrumors 603


    Jun 19, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Re: New Car Opinions

    Anything other then American made crapsmanship. That’s my only suggestion. I made the serious mistake of getting a 2002 Mercury Cougar XR series. The car looks phat but its all looks and no balls. That and in the first 20,000 miles I had the water pump die on me, the fuel pump die, and the sway bar get messed up. I'm never getting anything American ever again. :(

    Might I suggest contemplating a hybrid electric? Either Honda or Toyota. God knows I’m getting one, one of these days. With yummy GPS built in :)
  11. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
    i've always driven a volvo... i love those cars... they're tanks.

    so when my parent's decided they wanted to get a honda this year as their new car i was floored...

    but i have to admit, i'm almost a convert... great value, cheap to maintain, excellent gas mileage...

    all my friends drive VW something or others... and they all seem to like 'em
  12. dxp4acu thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2002
    Thanks Strider. Much like Aragorn, you are helpful in this case as well! (Pardon the pun) Well, that last paragraph you wrote hit home. I only go like 3 miles to work everyday, so making it last for a year or so, I think I can do that.

    Man you sure know your stuff! This is a good place for others to find out about cars. Nice. Hope its helped someone like its helped me. Thanks again!
  13. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2003
    How'd I get here? How can I leave?
  14. iGav macrumors G3

    Mar 9, 2002
    I have no idea what $20k will buy... but what about a Subaru Impreza Turbo??
  15. shadowfax macrumors 603


    Sep 6, 2002
    Houston, TX
    well, if he's aragorn, what does that make me?

    to chip in my bid, i would definitely recommend a Honda Civic or Toyota near the top of my list, but i think that you should go for a Mazda 3/6, whatever you can get.

    also, just a personal recommendation--don't waste your money on a brand new car. you know they devalue faster than a hooker with AIDS, unless you buy a ferrari or something. get a 2001-2002 car, and suddenly you can get much, much nicer cars in your price range. Some people will argue that they are a lot more trouble to maintain, but that's really not true at all. it costs just about the same to maintain a new car if you maintain it right, and if you don't, it gets really expensive to mainain in about 10K miles...

    just a thought, again. and if you go back a few years, i would recommend volkswagen or maybe even BMW....

    Beetles are cool (if kinda girly), Jettas are nice, and passats are very nice. with BMW those 323/325i's are ok, though a bit underpowered compared to... the m3 and the 540, hah.

    just my 2 cents...
  16. iGav macrumors G3

    Mar 9, 2002
    that's what I think.... go for a '01/'02 low miler, but higher spec... that way you don't loose anywhere near the same kind of $$$$$
  17. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    While you can get good used cars, it can be a crap shoot. Now way to tell if the original owner paid attention the break-in period. Or how hard did they push the car. Particularly since dxp4acu would prefer a more powerful car.

    Getting a 2003 that has a good depreciation value is just as well as a used car in some cases.

    I would stay away from VW's unless it is the Passat.I had a '99 NB and had nothing but troubles. And it appears that they haven't gotten any better.
  18. cubist macrumors 68020

    Jul 4, 2002
    Muncie, Indiana
    Honda Element!

    How come nobody has suggested this? Strider42 does mention the Scion in his excellent post, but he omits the Element for some reason.

    BTW, all cars are being made roughly the same these days. Mercedes M-class has horrible reliability, Volvos and Jaguars have plastic dashes indistinguishable from other Ford products, etc.
  19. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    Re: Honda Element!

    You're right, I did miss the element. Probably plenty of cars I missed. I was looking more at the cars for under 15k, where as the element will usually be had for a bit more than that. The element is based on the CRV, and is a totally solid buy starting at around 16k (which is several thousand more than the scions and is a totally differentcategory of vehicle really). Heck you can even get one with a firewire port. Some don't like the looks (I saw a concept where they got rid of the plastic body panels and it looked so much better). i've considered one of those too.

    I'll also totaly agree with what others said about getting looking at used cars. You can get used cars with a warranty (sometimes the warranty actually extends the original warranty to a longer warranty than a new car would get), and you save more money buying used than any extra maintence or repairs would cost in many cases (look at reliability ratings, I wasn't looking at those when I was listing cars earlier). Its a definite consideration.

    Other one's I totally missed in a bit higher end of the market, the honda accord is a pretty awesome car for the money, acura RSX is fun to drive, a used subaru WRX would be a blast and one I'm considering for my next car, the upcoming saab 9-2x (basically a reskinned WRX), someone mentioned the chevy malibu, and I could agree that car looks solid. Mazda 6, mitsubishi galant really impressed me at the autoshows, etc, etc, etc. Lots of others out there around the 20k mark. Again, it depends on your needs. Most cars around 20k are a bit bigger, great if you move stuff around a lot or have a family, maybe not necessary if your a single guy just trying to get to work. Like I said earlier, you need to prioritize then methodically whittle down your list and make a decision.

    You'll probably note that I didn't really mention any SUV's, certainly no truck based ones, because they aren't my thing. So there's lots of vehicles to consider there as well if you like them or need the hauling and towing capacity.
  20. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    My advice would be to check out the sales departments of the big rental car companies. They sell 2-3 year old cars, and while the mileage may be high they will have been serviced regularly. The rental companies sell them as a way to recover some of the money they invest in the car purchase, not as a source of income like a used car dealer, so I have found them to be less pushy and much more pleasant to deal with. Plus a friend of mine who worked for one said that they tended to sell any car with issues to a dealer to let them handle the headache!

    I got a 2 year old Civic HX with 30,000 miles for $14K from one of them about 3 years ago, no problems whatsoever with the car or the purchase. The guy who did the sale was the assistant manager for the place and not on commission, so he really couldn't have cared less whether I bought or not. He got payed the same either way.
  21. Powerbook G5 macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    Jun 23, 2003
    St Augustine, FL
    For $20,000, I would get a Subaru Impreza. Those cars are insanely awesome.

    If you don't care about performance, though, my girlfriend got a new 2004 Toyota Corolla and it's a solid car that feels well made and has a smooth ride. I also think the new Mazda3 looks pretty sharp, too. I'd stay away from the Focus, seeing how often they have had recalls, and I'd stay away from the cheaper Chevy and Saturn offerings since they are just cheap. The Sentra is pretty nice and if you want a car under $20,000 with a great dose of horsepower, I'd suggest a Neon SRT-4, it's insanely powerful with its turbo and offers the most bang for the buck in the sub-$20,000 range.
  22. Nuc macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2003
    Re: New Car Opinions

    I would go with a used Acura RSX. They make a Type-S however you might be able to find one below 20k. I own a 92 integra GSR and it rocks (212k miles and still going strong), that is until I drove the new RSX. It's suspension is great for autocross and driving in mountainous regions in general. This would be my pick, that aside from the new Acura TL which is to rich for my blood right now ~35K.....

    My suggestion is to go to all the dealarships and drive the ones that you are interested in. And when you do test drive the car don't hold back, take it to the edge. Besides you may get some satisfaction in making the car salesman wet himself :D
  23. waynesun macrumors regular


    Feb 25, 2006
  24. iShane macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2006
    New York -> SF
    Wow, I'm not trying to be mean but do you really think he is still looking for advice 2+ years later?

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