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New car recommendation?

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25 replies to this topic

#1 of 26 Guest_Anthony_Gomez_*

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Posted June 02 2003 - 03:28 AM

Looking for a car in the $20k or less range. Very good reliability, customer service (if something does go wrong) and comfort are way more important than having all the whistles and bells of luxury cars. Any recommendations?

#2 of 26 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

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Posted June 02 2003 - 04:23 AM


Just last September I did my own search for a car, with roughly the same price guidlines.

Here's the thread.

Off the top of my head, I'd say take a look at the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Saturn Ion, and Hyundai Sonata and Elantra.

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#3 of 26 OFFLINE   Dennis


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Posted June 02 2003 - 04:51 AM

Anthony, can you be more specific? $20,000 can get you anything from a loaded econobox, to a basic SUV. From the little information you supplied, comfort and reliability, Michael's selections wouldn't be too far off the mark.

#4 of 26 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted June 02 2003 - 05:20 AM

You should be able to look at an Accord LX at $20K.
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#5 of 26 Guest_Eric Kahn_*

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Posted June 02 2003 - 05:37 AM

Toyota camary 4 cylinder honda accord 4 cylinder VW Passat 1.8 turbo (requires premium gas though) you might swing a Ford crown vic for 20 large the way dealers are slashing price's these days I personally like cars and have no real use for 4 wheel drive where I live, which is why there are no SUV's in my list I also drive a VW new beetle TDI

#6 of 26 Guest_Anthony_Gomez_*

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Posted June 02 2003 - 06:07 AM

I guess I should have been more specific Posted Image

This is for my better half. I currently have a 00 Accord EX and she has a 95 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. While she likes the jeep, we both feel it is time to say bye bye to it. We are not going to get another SUV since we don't need it. The Jeep is also a...very bad gasguzzler Posted Image

She has driven my car, and while she likes how it handles, she doesn't like how it "feels". It feels wide to her and she has a hard time judging front to back in it. A smaller car like the Civic would probably be about the right size, but something like the geo metro (is that still around?) is WAY out of the question Posted Image

..and it would have to be automatic.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far!!!!!!!!!!

#7 of 26 OFFLINE   Dennis


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Posted June 02 2003 - 07:06 AM

Like I said, Michael's picks are what she's probably looking for. The Civic has a "light" touch, not too big, it can be had nicely loaded for less than what you want to pay. I feel the Accord has a much more sturdy feel to it, you'll probably notice it immediately. I know someone that's had a Toyota Corolla for quite some time and they're very happy with it, a decent ride. Nissan is coming out with a new, more powerful Sentra, I found the old one to have a bit of a stiff ride but the new one might have some improvements. Maybe she might go for one of those smaller SUV's that are not nearly as bad as a Jeep when it comes to gas mileage. The RAV4 is usually rated at the top in the small SUV category. I would imagine that customer service can pretty much run the gamut, there was a recent thread in reference to this. I hear Saturn has a good reputation, though I've heard that you need specific parts in case there are repairs to be made, you would think that being under GM's umbrella would make it easier. Enjoy the car shopping!

#8 of 26 OFFLINE   Danny Tse

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Posted June 02 2003 - 07:47 AM

Where I live, a 2003 Honda Accord LX with auto transmission can be had for $18K. This will be my pick if I am to get myself a car now. You may want to check out the Mazda 6 as well.
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#9 of 26 OFFLINE   Shawn Solar

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Posted June 02 2003 - 02:25 PM

I just did a 20K car search. I'm a bells and whistles type and because up here in Canada prices on vehicles are much higher than the US, I ended up buying used. Still got a two yr power train warranty and I got a 2000 Nissan Maxima fully loaded. Suites my tastes better than a ford focus or honda civic. The only down side is the fact I don't have a bumper to bumper warranty. That would be the only reason to buy new IMO.

#10 of 26 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted June 02 2003 - 02:59 PM

Lexus type customer service at under 20k puts you squarely into Saturn territory. Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans are a bit better driving cars, but dealer service after the sale can be a crapshoot. Some dealers for these makes are topnotch (I work for a great Toyota store) but others only care about pushing the metal out the showroom door and are crappy if you need warranty work. If you have co-workers or friends who own one of these brands and are very happy with their dealer's service, go with that dealer, but going in cold Saturn is a good bet for consistently good service.
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#11 of 26 OFFLINE   Philip_G



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Posted June 02 2003 - 03:59 PM

Might peek at a used altima, though if your accord feels large to her so will the altima I think. How about a subaru impreza 2.5? maybe even a used WRX.

#12 of 26 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

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Posted June 03 2003 - 12:37 AM

[quote] Lexus type customer service at under 20k puts you squarely into Saturn territory. [quote]

I just want to back up Steve here. In my search last year I was down to a loaded Civic and a Saturn SL2 with just a few bells and whistles. I chose the Saturn, and the outstanding service was a big part of the choice.

You really can't beat it - from the hours to the attitude to the service itself. If your other really wants an SUV, you might be able to find a Saturn Vue for under $20, though it's doubtful.

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#13 of 26 OFFLINE   Dave Falasco

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Posted June 03 2003 - 01:10 AM

After putting a hair under 200,000 miles on my '93 Corolla, I recently bought a Mazda 6s. I would have no problems recommending either car. The Toyota gave me 10 years of absolutely trouble-free service; other than routine maintenance I think I replaced maybe the alternator and that's it. It also got me close to 40 mpg when it was newer, and even with all those miles it still gets well over 30 mpg.

My Mazda is a V6, so it's quite a bit thirstier, and I can only hope to have similar reliability to the Corolla, but as far as "fun to drive" goes the car is off the charts. I drove an Accord, Maxima, Camry, and an Altima (several times) and none of them were nearly as fun to drive as the 6. Like I said I can't speak for reliability yet as I have under 5k miles on it, but so far everything is aces. Posted Image Posted Image

If you are feeling really spunky you may want to check out the Mini Cooper or Cooper S. Either can be had for under $20k. If my wife and I hadn't just had a baby I would have gone for the Mini myself, but it's not much fun wrestling a car seat in and out of that tiny backseat. Posted Image

#14 of 26 OFFLINE   Bry_DD


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Posted June 03 2003 - 02:25 AM

I'll add Nissan Sentra SE-R to your list..

#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted June 03 2003 - 04:38 AM

[quote] Might peek at a used altima [quote]
For $20k, you can buy a new 4 cylinder Altima. I only paid $23k for my 2002 Altima 3.5SE (which is a V6).

I cannot comment of the dealership service, since I have not used it at all. So far, 13,000 miles in 13 months with zero problems (I hope I have not jinxed myself Posted Image ).

#16 of 26 OFFLINE   Matt Stryker

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Posted June 03 2003 - 08:02 AM

Do you have kids/carpool? A lot of the economy sedans are lacking on backseat room, so that may further narrow your choices. I'd check the Civic, Corolla, and the 4-cyl Altima...I'd take the altima. After more mechanical/electrical headaches with my wifes Jetta, I cannot recommend it. It simply is not a naturally reliable car like a Honda or Nissan. And VWs dealer customer service is consistently badmouthed, even by VW diehards.

#17 of 26 OFFLINE   Jason Merrick

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Posted June 03 2003 - 08:46 AM

I love my 2002 Acura RSX... the base model is available with a 5-speed automatic, and the only other option is leather if you don't want cloth. It comes standard with 160 hp, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, front and side air bags, automatic climate control (set the temp in degrees and it adjusts fan settings up/down as needed), moonroof, cruise control, cd player and alarm system. I believe the sticker price for the 2003 is about $19,700, but I am pretty sure you can get one for less than sticker. I purchased my 2002 model from Acura 101 West in Calabasas in January for $16,995 which was about $3000 under sticker and $1200-1500 under invoice.

#18 of 26 OFFLINE   Eric_L



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Posted June 03 2003 - 08:55 AM

Have you considered used with a b2b warranty?

#19 of 26 OFFLINE   Justin Doring

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Posted June 03 2003 - 11:32 AM

I recently went car shopping with a friend who was in your same position. The Honda Accord LX and the Toyota Camry LE ended up topping our lists, although we didn't look at the new Mazda 6. Both are decent, roomy, comfortable, reliable, efficient, basic cars that offer far more for the money than a loaded compact. (Remember, most options are almost pure profit for car companies, and the difference in build quality between an Accord and a Civic and a Camry and a Corolla is night and day. Also, you get used to driving larger cars faster than you think, so your wife shouldn't worry about the size thing.) The Accord has a sportier suspension, higher revving engine, and better brakes than the Camry, but the Camry is larger, quieter, and isolates you from the road more. I also thought the Camry had slightly better fit and finish. Both are excellent cars for the money, so it really depends what you're looking for. I also liked the Nissan Altima 2.5S, mainly for its engine (the best in its class), suspension, roominess, and exterior looks, but the interior looked substantially cheaper than that of the Camry and Accord, and there was a lot of wind and road noise.
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#20 of 26 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted June 03 2003 - 11:38 AM

no matter what you get, be sure to check out www.edmunds.com - it has invaluable information. if you can finance outside of the dealership, you'll have it made.

i have a 94 accord and love it. it only broke down on me once due to what was later determined to be a factory defect. even after i had paid out of my own pocket months earlier, they contacted me and offered to reimburse my costs which was several hundred dollars! now that is customer service.

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