Which sub-compact car?

nikchick04July 10, 2006

After deciding that my 97 Chrysler Sebring with 113k miles isn't worth putting $4,500 worth of repair into, I'm looking for a new car. I'm a college student - don't have a lot money, so originally I was planning on getting an inexpensive used car for under $5,000. But now I'm thinking it would probably be a better investment to buy a reliable new car and plan to drive it for at least 10 years. So which car?

The 3 I've been looking at are the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, and Toyota Yaris. With all the options I want, they are each around $14,500 - $15,000 MSRP, which is the highest I want to go. I really like all 3 of them, but am having a difficult time deciding which would be best. I've been doing a lot of research, have yet to test-drive any of them but will be doing that soon. The big seller for the Accent and the Rio is the 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. The Yaris only has a 5 year/60,000 warranty - BUT it's a Toyota. All 3 are basically the same as far as features, safety, etc. If the warranties were the same, I think I would choose the Yaris based on appearance alone - I really love the look of both the interior and exterior. However, I know it's foolish to make my decision based on appearance. I need something that is reliable, something that is going to last 10 years without any major repairs. I don't know alot about cars, so I'm hoping to get some advice from somebody who does. Should I go with the longer warranty or the better name?

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Hyundai and Kia (same parent company) really have stepped up in the quality department over the last few years. I would have few qualms about recommending either brand to someone looking to buy a new car that they planned to trade in a few years.

However, Toyota certainly has had a better track record over the last ten years. And I remember back when Chrysler offered a 7-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty (well before your car) but the rest of the car was -- um, let's just say it wasn't nearly up to the standard of the engine and drivetrain. There are lots of things which can fail on a car which are not part of the powertrain and which can cost serious money to fix. It's entirely possible that a Hyundai or Kia can go the distance. But Toyota has proved that it can.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 7:33AM
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Personally, I'd go with the Yaris, not just because it's a Toyota, but because I think it's a better car. (I'm guessing you're talking about 4-door sedans in each case; the Yaris 2 door hatchback is a significantly different car). Reasonably smooth and quiet, excellent fuel economy even by small-car standards, a huge trunk, and a mostly well-designed interior.

Also worth a look are the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa (the latter currently sold as a 4 dr hatch, a sedan arrives in a few months). If you can live without rear doors, also consider the new VW Rabbit, which is well equipped at $14,900 and drives better than all of the above, not surprising since the underlying platform was designed primarily for much more expensive cars like the Jetta GLI and Audi A4/S4. There's a Rabbit 4-door too, but it's a more upscale car and priced out of your range, $2,000 higher.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:27AM
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I would consider a Chevy Cobalt.Better resale value and they have a longer warranty now then the Cavalier had.No timing belt to maintain and it helps support America.Dont be put out by Domestic brands.You had a Mopar product and I can see where that could leave a bad taste in your mouth.Because there resale value is bad because of there poor life expectancy.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:18PM
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If I was choosing between those three options I would go for the Toyota. Hyundai may have improved, but they are still not at Toyota's level. Several folks in my office have recently purchased either Hyundai's or Kia's and they all have had niggling electrical problems.

Having said that, for the money you are talking about, I wouldn't purchase any of those. Buy yourself a good two or three year old used car. New cars are the WORST investment you can make. They will depreciate most in those first two years. You could get an excellent used Civic, Corolla, Altima, Mazda 6, Mazda 3; or if you want American, Focus, Malibu, etc. for what you are paying for an econobox. You will lose little quality/durability and gain much comfort, power, size. You will likely have several years left on the original warranty, and may even be able to get a "certified" vehicle that extends the warranty.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 8:39AM
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I might go for a "certified" used car. But I've seen how my neighbors drive (jackrabbit starts, lots of short-hop trips) and I know that many people who lease get kind of lax about maintenance because they don't have to worry that cheaping out on the car now will bite them in the backside in 6-7 years.

If the plan is to "buy and hold", I think a case can be made for buying a brand-new vehicle, caring for it properly, and driving it for 10-15 years until it drops.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 10:55AM
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I never seen a good deal in slightly used cars.I know many will disagree.However I feel they get sticker shock.They think the MSRP sticker in a new car window is the price.However its not.

I have friends and relatives who say they recieved a good deal on a used car.When they tell me what they paid.I almost feel sorry for them.Because they did not save much if any and get less warranty if any and less useable miles.

Espeacially on small and midsize cars.You can save a bundle on an expensive model.That has a $40.000 price tag new.But I have seen people give as much for a used small car as they were bought for new.Without the warranty and with 30 to 40 thousand miles on them.Some have saved maybe $4000.00.But wheres the good deal?I would rather give $14.000 for new with no miles.Then $10.000 no warranty one third worn out.But many would think the so called good used is the better deal.

My self I only buy two types of vehicals and own both.New and old near beater from a private party sale with asking prices of no more then $1500.00 Besause the certified so called OK cars I feel are a bad investment.My new ones I realise if its saids $15000.00 that means $1200.00 and if it saids $24000.00 that means $18000.00

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 3:33PM
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cant say anyhing bad about hyundai, i`ve owne 4 so far with no problems. another one to check would be the chevy aveo, is from g.m.s daewoo devision, and seems to be a nice car. overall your best bet is used 1 or 2 yrs, let somene else take the price beating.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 8:21AM
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That probably true with a Hyundai Bill H that you should let someone else buy it new.Then cash in on a good deal for a used one.They do have a terrible resale value.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:24AM
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Thanks for the responses everyone. I appreciate it. I went to the Hyundai dealer today to test drive a new Accent, but they only had 2 on the lot and neither with the options that I want. I did drive a 2006 Elantra which was priced very reasonably - They had a ton of them and I imagine were trying to get rid of them before the 07's come in. I liked the way the Elantra drove, has a lot of power for a 4 cylinder, but I didn't really like the styling of this car. So I will be seeing about finding an Accent at another dealer and hope to test drive the Yaris as well. Bill H - I did look into getting a used Hyundai but I am turned off by the fact that the 10 year warranty is not tranferrable. Second or subsequent owners get the 5 year limited warranty, so I would rather pay the extra $ to buy new and get the full warranty, or go with the Toyota which has the 5 year as well. Thanks again to everyone who responded for your input. Finding the right car sure is a tough process - So hopefully whatever I choose will last me a long time so that I don't have to do it again anytime soon!! :)


    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 2:19AM
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Another option might be to get a used Hyundai and a third-party extended warranty (likely not one offered by a dealer because it won't be your best deal). At least run the numbers to see if that makes sense for you.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:36PM
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Ponder the possibilities of a Scion Xb... the mini-van thingy.

When you have a lengthy break between classes you can sleep in it.

Parking a problem at yer' school? Get there early (I arrived at 6 am and had my choice of parking spots) then sleep in the van until class time.

Then, after graduation, if you have a HUGE student debt to pay off, you can live in the thing and use what you would pay in rent to pay down the loan.

Then, a few years from now, after corporate America has outsourced the majority of decent-paying jobs overseas and the depression hits the economy, you'll have a place to live.

Much to be said for having a conveyance with enough room to stretch out lengthwise and take a snooze.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 8:28AM
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Not that the Chevy Cobalt is a so-called "sub-compact" , a strange term at best, but it seems to be a pretty good vehicle.
Why not at least look at them ???
VW is another one to consider, but they have all but left the "small" car field....And how about the Saturn Ion ???
I think what you want is a 3 passenger car, Nikchick, something like the old VW air cooled wonder...

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 5:49PM
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The Toyota is the only one with a really good reputation for reliability (best fuel economy too).

I find it interesting that you find it attractive, as I think its about the ugliest car ever made, but then Americans think exterior imitation wood panelling, vinyl soft-tops and faux-wire wheels are attractive...

I would have thought a college student would be driving a rat-a****d Dodge Neon or Chevy Cavalier....

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 1:14AM
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Way to stereotype, john999 ...

Car styling is a subjective thing. The vehicle one person thinks is ugly *cough* Chrysler 300 *cough* is the vehicle someone else finds good-looking. To each their own.

Perspex fairings and hood ornaments aren't exactly hot items on cars sold in the U.S., either.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 9:31AM
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