My wifes new job is giving her an allowance for a new car and gas to drive it. Tops out at about $500 a month. I know gas will be a large part of it so i gotta keep the car costs as low as possible. Anything we end up saving goes to us as well so if i play it right ill make some decent extra money.
Im currently looking at new cars in the $15k range. Maybe a little over but ideally under. Personally id throw her in a old used saturn i have lying around but its a no go for her company. Gotta be new off the lot or no money for us.
She want a new fiat 500 or smart and i told her shes crazy. Both are close to dead in the water and the smart is just an aweful car in general for its price. The fiat is selling very poorly and given chryslers history im not going to back them. Kia and hyundia are also out due to our past experience with both.
My current likes:
nissan versa- cheap at 11k. Some reviewers are less than nice to it but i actually enjoyed driving it.
Mazda2- good car that comes in at around 15k base.
yaris- good car that also comes in at 15k base.
honda fit- nice but starts at around 17k.
Scion iq- Looks promising but reviews are killing it. I cant find one close by to test out.
ford fiesta- close to the mazda but starts at around 16k.
chevy sonic- I had alot of hope for this one but like the cobalt xfe I have been let down. Its not out yet for my wife however. Just has a lot of bloat neither of us want. Heavy at 2800lbs, only aluminum rims available (my wife kills rims), onstar and xm bloated in it. Starts at 15k but quickly gets out of hand.
Ford Focus- Starts at 16k but is a nice pick.
Suzuki sx4- AWD is a great benefit but it starts at 17k and is only rated for about 30mpg. Nearest dealerships are also about 60 miles from me
Most of these seem to be in the high 30 range but i have a feeling a few can go well above that. Which ones have the greatest mpg potential?
Those Fiats are proven amazingly well engineered little cars.
Outside of that, there is the Fiesta, and even at my size, I feel comfortable sitting in the front seat of one of them. They should start around 13k for the base model. 15k will get you a Fiesta S model sedan with an automatic, cd changer and a couple other options. That Ti-VCT motor does SO well for fuel economy too. They even feel like you have a real engine in front of you, unlike the underpowered compacts of yesteryear.
Hyundais..... Well, let's just say the Hyundais of the past are NOTHING like the Hyundais of today. Several of my friends own newer Hyundais, and believe me when I say, they are the only ones who never call me up to say they have car problems. Hyundai has improved reliability and build quality exponentially since those deathtraps they sold in the 90s and early 2000s.
Versa.... Well, its cheap..... in more ways than one. You could get a Yaris too, but with either one of them, once you put enough options on them to make a decent daily driver, they are gonna cost you a HECK of a lot more than that 11k. That 11k is for a base model with a manual transmission and AC. Nissan feels that is all you need if you pay under 14,000 for a car. The next higher model starts at 14k, and that gets you luxuries like cruise control, and what you really should be looking at is the SEV, which earns you bluetooth and all those things that, once you have, you will wonder how you live without, though, that model comes with the aluminum rims that you seem to be opposed to. If you do get a Versa. RUN, not walk, away from any with a CVT. Those things are pretty tolerable to drive with a 6 speed manual, but the CVT turns it into a dishwasher on wheels. Takes what little pep the car has out of it, and it seems like it takes forever for it to do anything. You press on the gas, walk inside, make yourself some bacon and eggs for breakfast, eat, by then it starts moving for your drive to work. Obviously I am exaggerating.... But, I have serviced a couple, and driving them afterwards made me feel like the go pedal was actually hooked up to a light bulb to signal a trained monkey to press on the actual accelerator.
The one thing I will say for the Versa, it does not have that bland appliance styling that is so popular in the economy car market. It seems like a car you could buy in a color other than beige. Not as pretty as the 2 or the fiesta by a long shot, nowhere near as happy looking as a the Fiat, but, I think a person could look at a color paint pallet when buying one instead of just the sepia pallet so many other cars in this segment deserve. Also, I think they are the only car you mentioned where someone other than a midget with their legs sawed off would feel comfortable in the back seat. Though, the Versa is near the bottom on your list when it comes to fuel economy you will see in the real world. Almost all of the others on that list can do better, the Suzuki being the most obvious exception.
I looked at the versa and the sonic today. I really, really like the sonic but it has so many stupid things on it that i just want or need and i cant get the feeling they just jack up the base price. I dont know why they would sell you a car with only 16in alloy wheels, prepaid onstar and xm and a host of ther little niggling things but charge you 75 for a spare tire and 150 for floor mats. If i could get steelies and a spare tire for free id be all over it.
The versa is really a pretty decent little ride. $11k for ac and not much else. the cvt is terrible as stated before and it is even worse on the scion iq. It actually feels dangerous going on to the highway. I think the standard versa could see upwards of 40 if driven mildly well.
I still gotta look at the others but the mazda is my next likeable car. People are reporting mid 40's in them.
I would like a civic but they are up there in price. Starting at about 17k. Plus they are already redoing the model they just put out for being an underperformer. Its just a touch too much. Ill have to give it another look though. They may offer rebates on the current model if its doing so poorly.
It sounds like she'll spend quite a lot of time in it. It should be her decision. She's the one who will have to be comfortable in it every day, have to tolerate what she dislikes, etc. Has she sat in or test-driven any of these cars?
I would say look at Hyundai, Kia, Ford, and maybe that Nissan.