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Super Moderator
2002 Seville STS F55, 2006 Mazda Miata
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22,408 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My aunt is in her 60s. Her Dodge Neon's manual transmission no longer wishes to move in reverse. She and my mom are looking for a new (or pretty darn near new) small to midsize car for under $15k.

My mom is opposed to Ford and GM. I'm pushing for the Focus because its a reliable, easy to use, but structurally dated car with a $2500 discount.

The Yaris is probably too small. The Camry lacks rear visibility and might be a little too big. Mazda is a maybe. The 3 is less likely to come with discounts however, same for the Civic.

Hyundai, maybe? Not sure what deals are being offered on Elantras. Also, Jalopnik said they didn't hate the Kia Soul, which is saying a lot for a $14000 car.

This is a car that will likely endure some neglect, and if anything breaks I'll be the one to crawl out of bed on a cold winter morning and go look at it. She's the type of person to keep and drive a car until it disintegrates, so a long warranty is a big plus.

So, again, criteria:

-$15k or less
-New or like new (under 10,000 miles)
-Not Ford, Chrysler, or GM
-Not too small
-Not too big
-Good rearward visibility
-Automatic
-30mpg+
-Good warranty coverage
-4 doors

She doesn't know what handling is and she doesn't care for high-tech features. She's an old nurse who just drives to the hospital and back. She doesn't really care about highway performance either. She's afraid of using interstates so she does all her driving on city streets and parkways.
 

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1992 Town Car Cartier & 2014 Accord LX MTX
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34,087 Posts
The Kia Soul sounds perfect. It's small, but boxy and upright so it makes ingress and egress easier. The 10 year/100,000 warranty is a big plus too, it only comes in 4 doors, it's automatic and with a small four banger it's gonna get great mileage.
 

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1998 Seville STS / 2013 Chevrolet Impala
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1,889 Posts










You never said it couldn't suck. :D
You can find '08's on ebay for 12k.
 

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1992 Town Car Cartier & 2014 Accord LX MTX
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34,087 Posts
What about an '87 Maxima Wagon?? Surely the peak of Nissan quality and design right there! :lol:
 

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1990 350 Brougham (The cruiser), 1988 Mark VII LSC (The DD)
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5,545 Posts
I should add... no Nissans. Quality has declined since the 80s and 90s when my family used to buy nothing but Datsuns and Nissans.
You mean you wouldn't want a Cube?



 

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1988 Allante, 1999 Deville Concours
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1,227 Posts
The Yaris is probably too small. The Camry lacks rear visibility and might be a little too big.
If only there were a car placed between the Yaris and Camry in Toyota's lineup...

The Corolla is pushing a bit on the $15k price limit, though.
 

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1992 eldorado. 2007 dodge magnum hemi r/t
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3,013 Posts
I'm surprised no one mentioned the honda civic, they get a great report,
corolla used to be great too, but not so much in the last while.
 

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See you in the funny papers
04 CTS-V, 05 STS, 07 SRX- All sold :(
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26,239 Posts
Mazda 3s are pretty cool little cars, and one or two year old examples should be dirt cheap.

Same goes for a Cobalt sedan. I know you said "No GM", but I'd bet you can find a one year old LT with leather, XM, power seat, etc for less than $15k. 2.2 Ecotec gets you 33mpg highway, and it comes with a 5 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
 

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1992 eldorado. 2007 dodge magnum hemi r/t
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3,013 Posts
Mazda 3s are pretty cool little cars, and one or two year old examples should be dirt cheap.

Same goes for a Cobalt sedan. I know you said "No GM", but I'd bet you can find a one year old LT with leather, XM, power seat, etc for less than $15k. 2.2 Ecotec gets you 33mpg highway, and it comes with a 5 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Also, is the cobalt a true g.m. product?, or is it made under the g.m. name in some small foreign country by dawaii or some other obscure outfit.
 

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1992 STS / 2005 MB G500 / 2003 STS / 2006 XLR-V
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11,694 Posts
I suggested the Focus also and trust me when I say GM and Ford are -out- of this decision. I still think the Mazda3 is a good idea as well.
 

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Do Kia sell the Cee'd model in the USA?

That's a very good drive, nice quality, looks like a Toyota and has that wonderful nothing to worry about for 7 years warranty.

Again, I know the US Focus is different from the Euro one, but over here the Mazda 3 is based on the Euro Focus platform (which is newer than the Us one I believe?) so a good way of sneaking a (newer) Focus onto her...
 

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Previous STS' 1995/97/99/01/03
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I picked up a brand new 08 Mazda3 last May for my wife.
Its an easy econobox to drive, great on gas, and has only cost
us oil changes and gas.
We stricly use it in town, and it provides a smooth ride for a short
wheelbase econobox.
The only negative is some of the interior materials are cheap, like the
dash pad. Cheap, but very well assembled interior.
 

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1990 350 Brougham (The cruiser), 1988 Mark VII LSC (The DD)
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5,545 Posts
How about the Honda Fit? Fit owners I know love their cars.
Good suggestion. I know someone with an older one and someone with a brand new one and the both love them.
 

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Super Moderator
2002 Seville STS F55, 2006 Mazda Miata
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22,408 Posts
Discussion Starter #17

2009 Kia Rio. $13800 after rebate. It drove better than I expected, dare I say fun. The suspension was wobbly but it managed itself well around corners. Very good for the price. Safety ratings, not so good.


Kia Soul.
She doesn't want a box-shaped car but this could be had for $15k. Didn't drive it.




2009 Corolla. $15500 is a bit high. If you jump into a swimming pool full of thick maple syrup, that's how the Corolla drives. Steering was Lexus-smooth and engine noises were muted. Pretty cheap inside. Excellent safety ratings, clever rear cupholders.



2007 Corolla. Didn't drive it. Cool gauges, taken right out of the late 90s LS400.



Mazda 3. $14300 with a year of maintenance. The salesman was annoyingly pushy and wouldn't stop talking, so if we buy a 3 I'll be going elsewhere.

I'd buy one for myself. It didn't feel like you were settling. Steering was super sharp, ride quality is excellent, suspension is smooth but well controlled.

I really liked the interior. When you turn on the stereo, Knight Rider-style lights pulsate outward.


Went to the Honda dealer. The saleswoman was very friendly, very knowledgeable, and easy to deal with.

This 2007 Civic with 29k and 7/100 warranty was $14400, a bit high but the market justifies it.

I quickly got used to these gauges. The controls were easy to use and locate. Like the 3, steering was excellent but it felt heavy and overwhelmed around corners, by comparison. It was probably a tire issue.

I watched the window cleaner use the squeegee. It was oddly soothing.


So far, Honda and Mazda are winners -- Mazda gives much more for the money. Honda offers a longer warranty (which it won't need) and better resale (which she doesn't need).

She also decided she wants as many features as possible rather than something basic. I haven't yet looked at Hyundai and Subaru, which is what I will be doing tomorrow.
 

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Past: 95 Fleetwood, 91 Brougham. Now: 92 Lexus SC300
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5,418 Posts
I'd go for the Mazda 3, dealers are starting to get in the all new 2010 models. I'm sure they would have some pretty sweet deals on the 2009 models to clear them out. You can option those Mazda 3's to the hilt with nav, leather, xenon headlamps, heated seats, sunroofs, 18" wheels, etc, etc, etc if she wants more gadgets. Would definetly blow her 15k budget up with all those options.

Also tell her that the 3 has a timing chain, no belt to change.
 

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1992 STS / 2005 MB G500 / 2003 STS / 2006 XLR-V
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11,694 Posts
I'd go for the Mazda 3, dealers are starting to get in the all new 2010 models. I'm sure they would have some pretty sweet deals on the 2009 models to clear them out. You can option those Mazda 3's to the hilt with nav, leather, xenon headlamps, heated seats, sunroofs, 18" wheels, etc, etc, etc if she wants more gadgets. Would definetly blow her 15k budget up with all those options.

Also tell her that the 3 has a timing chain, no belt to change.
I agree with this. The 3 is the all around winner if she cares about a car with semi-upscale features, excellent quality, a modicum of driving enjoyment and reliability.

Of all the ones being considered, it is the one that carries the best options like Aron said. Especially the HIDs and uplevel radio.
 

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Auto Enthusiast
1992 Eldorado Touring
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3,688 Posts
$4,500 would have bought my uber cool "SS" Roadmaster wagon 9 months ago:




Now that is a cheap poverty wagon with some attitude.... 25 mpg on the hwy :thumbsup:
 
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