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Targeting a New Car

Update April 29, 2014:  I ended up buying the 2013 Honda Fit – wish me luck!

My Chevy Aveo is a cheaply constructed car.  I knew it when I bought it brand new for not much in 2005.  And now I am new car shopping.

My Chevy’s History

2005 Chevy Aveo

This isn’t my actual car, but it looks identical.

I bought my new, bright blue Aveo in June 2005 for $11,200 and have discovered a lot of “cheap” about it since then:

  • In 2008 at around 24k miles, it developed a small brake fluid leak that wasn’t worth tracking down according to my mechanic.  I just learned to add new fluid every 6 months.
  • In November 2009 at around 38k miles, the 02 sensor busted and my serpentine belt had cracked.  That cost $540.
  • In April 2010 at about 42k miles, my PLASTIC thermostat housing cracked in half.  That cost about $350.
  • I then called GM’s customer service to ask why there wasn’t a recall since it was a problem with EVERY 2004-2006 Aveo model and they completely blew me off.  That was the day I decided never to buy a Chevy again.  They won’t back their crappy cars.
  • In 2013 at about 58k miles, I needed my engine mounts replaced to keep my bottom from falling out.  I remember that costing around $400 (but I don’t have a blog record, lol).
  • And now, in 2014 at 63k miles, I needed to replace my brake main cylinder since the fluid leak had gotten bad.  That cost around $300 too.

According to my mechanic, despite my super low mileage, my car is simply cheap.  It’s time to move on.

Choices, Choices

I’ve spent the last 5 days narrowing down my options to the automatic hatchbacks below.  I like manual transmissions, but it makes more sense to move onto a car that my husband can drive in a pinch too.  Plus I’m driving more for pet sitting and traffic stinks in a manual.  Hatchbacks will make hauling stuff around, like the cages for dog fostering, way easier.

Here are the cars in the running and their new and used prices (low mileage for the used quotes):

  1. Honda Fit – $18k New, or $12k Used
  2. Toyota Yaris – $17k New, or $12k Used
  3. 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage – $14k New
  4. Hyundai Accent – $16k New, or $12k Used
  5. Toyota Prius – $19k Used

I dropped the Nissan Versa and Kia Rio off the list since a couple of the others had better reviews and similar pricing.

What’s in My Brain

The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is the one being promoted the most by my parents.  It is about the same price BRAND NEW as many of these cars used versions, but I’m slightly leery of their awful reputation with everyone but my parents (they LOVE this car in the manual version).  And it makes 38-44 MPG, which is better than everything else on the list except the Prius.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirages

My parents have the silver one, and I would probably lean towards blue or silver too. I also like the green and pink/purple, but I don’t think I’d like them for 10 years…

When I drove my parents new Mirage, it was amazingly easy to drive, maneuver, and was fun overall with way better included options than my Aveo.  But it is apparently really noisy in the automatic version – even my parents cringed a little about that.  I don’t want to skip out on a great deal, but I also don’t want to make the mistake of having another car that will give up on me in less than 75k miles.  My parents last Mirage was 14 years old when they sold it, still running fine, with 150k miles on it.  But this new 3-cylinder Mirage is completely different.  And the automatic version is simply worse than the manual version.

The Honda Fit was brought onto my radar by two people – my friend, Kersten, who LOVED her old one and a new blogger, Brian at Long Term Mindset.  I remembered that our other friend, James, really enjoys his as well and has had his for more than 6 years.  It apparently feels a bit like entering a TARDIS – bigger on the inside.  ;-)  Plus, the seats fold completely flat without much effort to make hauling stuff way easier.  It just stinks that I can find a great deal on a new one.  I will end up paying $18k drive-out, which is right around the used Prius price.  And I know I like a Prius.  If I buy a used Fit, it is simply cheaper to do it from an individual than a dealership, but I won’t have any warranties to lean on.

Honda Fit

This is one of my top options right now…

I know I like the Prius since that is what my husband drives.  Tons of hauling space, 47-51 MPG, easy to drive for me, and Toyota really backs up their products.  Our Prius is 7 years old, has 130k miles on it, and has had 3 problems.  Toyota covered the most expensive two automatically since they had recalled that part.  They even covered a rental car for 3 weeks since one of the issues needed a part that was back ordered.  The expensive hybrid battery has never had any problems, which everyone is scared of.  And I know many stories of people getting 250k+ miles without working to hard at it.  It’s a car that has impressed me.

Toyota Prius

This is a newer version of the color and design that we have of the Toyota Prius.

I need to actually see the Yaris and Accent to test out their fold-down seats and the way they handle.

Waiting to Pounce Since I Broke My Brain

I am overwhelmed by options.  I could get a brand new, zippy Mirage for $14k right now ($12k if I continue using a manual).  I could get a new, fun Fit for $17k-$18k with some haggling work or a 40k mileage used one for $12k without much work at all.  I could get a used Prius with less than 60k miles for $18k pretty easily.  I could look into getting more info on the Yaris and Accent.

So for right now, I am going to keep my eyes peeled for deals and just keep driving along in my Aveo.  I can’t make up my mind and I’ve broken my brain with trying to make the “right” choice.  No matter what, I am looking at spending $12k-$19k in the next year, so I’m a little grumpy about that anyway.

Whine, whine, whine.  LOL.  How are you doing?  What would you suggest?

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17 comments to Targeting a New Car

  • Is there any reason you haven’t considered a Ford Focus 5-door? I have a 14 year old car that I need to replace soon and I’ve been leaning toward one so I’m just curious. In any case, I wish you luck on making a decision. I don’t like the idea of buying a new car either because it’s so much money and I’m worried I’ll make the wrong decision so I can relate. I’ve actually been holding off on pulling the trigger for over a year now because my car is still going along, but I know the end is near!

  • I drove the Ford Focus recently as a rental and really liked it. You should consider it. Between the three you mentioned, I would go with the Honda or Prius. You know they’re well built cars.

  • I would go with a Honda or Toyota. Well built cars. I have a Honda Civic and I love it. But I could see the benefit of a hatchback. I would consider a hatchback for my next car. Although I hope it’s 10 years from now. I’m driving my car to the ground. Which I’m sure after I drive the car to the ground, my dad will take it and figure out how to keep it on the road for his use lol.

  • I agree with Kay on either going with the Honda or Toyota. I have one of each and can’t say I’ve had any problems. After years of buying cheaply made cars I’m happy I went with these two options.

  • Definitely go with the Honda or Toyota – of the many cars I had growing up – they have been the ones with the least amount of maintenance and issues. A friend bought a Fit the year they came out and she loves it. She puts about 25-30k miles on it per year (lots of weekend trips) and still loves it. I loved my Honda Civic hybrid (despite having to replace the main battery pack), and I love my Toyota RAV4. Hubby has a 14 year old Accord, and we’re planning on keeping it for another 2-3 years at least.

  • If you really want to keep a car for 10 years, i would suggest staying away from super-cheapo new cars or else you will likely have another car made with cheap parts, and I would also stay away from used ones that have more than 30K mileage on them. I agree with others who are suggesting the Ford Focus. They seem to be nice cars.

    (Disclaimer, I just ordered a new Volvo V60, so I am not real good at giving affordable car advice… but can tell you all my previous Volvos had well over 100K miles on them and we still going strong!)

  • The Ford Focus didn’t make the list since, in our area, it runs about the same price new and used as the Honda Fit, and I like the Fit better (the seats fold down flatter and Honda gets better reviews).

    Thanks for all of the feedback!

  • Oh my! I am not sure if you heard about our Chevy Impala fiasco! Worst. Car. Ever. I’ve never bought into the “buy foreign cars” mentality a lot of people have, but they definitely keep their value and have good reputations. Our next vehicle will probably be a Toyota or a Honda… or I should say, definitely not a Chevy.

  • My first car was a (hand-me-down) Chevy and I hated it! Honda and Toyota are always mentioned as reliable, and I have several relatives who love both. I have a Civic and it’s great, but I’ve heard that the Fit is really fun to drive. I rode in one once and it was very smooth. My dad had an Accent – the manual, sedan version, and he really liked it. Good luck with the buying process!

  • I’d lean towards the Honda or the Toyota. They are known for their high mileage and durability. Chevy’s, I hate to say it, are hit and miss. Chevy trucks are usually well-built, but their cars are crap! Good luck on your purchase!

  • My experience is that you get what you pay for in life. No matter what the original price tag, you still end up paying in the end, which is what you experienced with your current car, I think. Spend the extra money. Buy the Prius. Everyone I know who has one loves it and it will cost less in the end. Btw, applause for the dog fostering!

  • Zendelle

    One thing you should consider is repair costs. Ask a mechanic you trust which one of those cars would be cheaper to fix for some common repairs.
    I know you already decided against a Focus, but just want to add that we got a whopping 385K miles out of ours with hardly any repairs (until the clutch finally died last year and it wasn’t worth replacing on a car with that many miles). Though it should be noted that most of those miles were highway miles, which is easier on the car than lots of stopping and starting.
    I also had a Toyota Echo (the forerunner to the Yaris) which was a great car, would still be driving it if not for an unfortunate encounter with a paving truck.
    Good luck with your new car, whichever one it is!

  • retired

    We bought our first 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage because we were repatriating and the Mitsubishi dealership was the only one willing to take a check and deliver the car, as my spouse was still working overseas. I only had 10 days to get a new car or have to pay for the rental our of pocket, which I was too cheap to even consider at the time. I paid something like $12,800 for a manual four door sedan Mirage with a 5 year warranty on most things, 10 years on the power train, and 5 year roadside assistance. We never used the roadside assistance. We never had any repairs, other than change the oil, fluids, and the belts at the proper time. We sold it still running with over 150K miles on it, making over 30mpg. Two of the power windows needed work on it, it needed a new battery, and the trunk lock needed replacing. Husband used this car exclusively for work, taking into the construction field and back and fourth from Freeport to Houston daily for a while. The car actually paid for itself and then some.
    Second Mitsubishi was a 2004 Lancer Ralliart. A rug flew off of a truck one night and wrapped around the windshield; which led to my husband wrapping the car around a sign off road at 65+mph. So 6 years after we bought it, it was totaled. But we had no mechanical or any other problems with that car. Was a blast to drive. Loved it so much; in 2008 I bought another Lancer. I like manual drives, but otherwise it was fully loaded. We just sold that one, with no mechanical problems and no extra expenses despite its 65K miles, so I could buy this cute little Mirage (bought pretty much for what I sold the 2009 Lancer). It makes an average of 42mpg with mix road , and off road driving. Have had it for 4 months with no problems. Go to Houston every week, no problems. Its a nifty little car. And yes, its a manual. Its the DE model. I would love to upgrade to the ES model with a manual drive, as that comes with more than everything I would ever want in a car. The back seats fold down flat and fits two small dog carriers and one medium with room to spare. Talk about budgeting in the fun stuff; I enjoyed buying and driving this little car, that makes over 40mpg as calculated from actual refills.
    Not sure why all the snobbery when it comes to the Mitsbishi cars, but from what I have read, most car owners have to do without their cars while major fixes or repairs are performed once every 5 years. I have never had that experience with any car I bought new, except a Chevy van and a Mazda van; both of which we sold with over 100K miles on them. As long as you treat a car right, most of them will give you years of service. Ignoring any one brand, just limits competition. We have found we love Mitsubishi’s cars, so one is always in the driveway.
    Here’s to hoping I not only save money on fuel in my new Mirage, but that it last as long as our last Mirage. And as an adder, my Mirage allows my 6’4″ hubby headroom we couldn’t get in the Ford Focus, Ford Fusion, or any of the other cars we test drove before buying the Mirage. With our total drive out cost of $13,200, we can buy another car, as we budgeted to buy a Ford Fusion hybrid. Hubby just didn’t fit.

    Congratulations on going for the Honda Fit, Crystal. I have heard nothing but good things about that one, and it seems a good fit for your needs. I like the way the headlights make it look like its asking you a question or something. Very Cute. Almost as adorable as my little gas mizer!

  • Amber

    I had a Prius for years and loved it. We only upgraded hen we needed 3 carseats/boosters across the back, which would not fit. I still miss the keyless entry and easy bluetooth phone. Considering you want to put kennels in it, have you considered the new Prius with the extended height hatchback? Our dogs had to lie down if they were to fit in the “trunk” with the rear seats up. That may not be a concern until you have kids though and carseats in the back. :-)

  • John

    Crystal:
    I am in the same boat, keeping my 12 year old Subaru running for now, but looking for my next vehicle. Recently I rented a Kia Soul for a couple days, and came away very impressed. While it does not get quite the same mileage as a Fit, it has many of the same other qualities. In my area, a brandy new base Soul comes in at $12,500, with many nice options such as air conditioning, power windows, and cruise control. It seems like an excellent value.
    Cheers to whatever your decision is – I am sure it will be the right one.

  • I ended up going with the Fit. Wish me luck!