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10-yr old inexpensive car for teenager; Compact but not too small

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


We have an old 2006 Hyundai Elantra GT that my two daughters and now newly licensed son have been driving. Still running ok-ish but it may have to be replaced sooner rather than later.

Other than the usual suspects, like Corolla, Civic, Mazda3, perhaps even one of the newer Hyundai Elantra or Kia Forte, any other option to consider?

For the intended use I am not partial to any brand in particular, although I am on my second Mazda3 (2006 GT Hatch and now 2017 GT Hatch, both manual) and been very happy with both. As long as it is not older than 10-yr, reliable, safe and around $5k, I am game, open to all options. That includes also a compact SUV, although my budget may be too low for something that would not be a piece of junk.

I just have just some misgiving about Subaru, just because of the issues their engines tend to have as they age.

Thanks in advance.

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Safety & braking / Price or payments

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 100000
Maximum age: 10 years

Maximum price: US $ 5000

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Response from AcuraT

8:32 am June 13, 2019

You are easy because you know cars really well. Throwing out Subaru for what you state, you list all the cars I would consider for what you are trying to do. Anything else means taking more chances on quality at 10 years old. You might get lucky and find a Camry or Accord in that price range with the four cylinder engine which also could work and be reliablie (for that age) but that is pretty much the extent of it on average.

There are exceptions that are more by luck than by rule. For example, I owned a 2006 Saab 9-3 for 12 years and 190,000 miles until a tree fell on it and never really had any issues - but I was more the exception and not the rule (although that year in particular along with 2007 were really reliable cars), but I wiould never recommend such a car for you in this situation as it is too risky.

Best of luck, you seem to know what you are doing.


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Response from Member993

9:54 am June 13, 2019

I own a 10-year-old Chevy HHR that I bought new and that continues to be terrific. It has 100,000 miles at this point and performs exactly as when it was new. The only repair was a bad shock absorber that was defective at the start and replaced under warranty. Other than oil changes about every 7,500 miles, tires at 75,000 miles, and brakes at 85,000 miles, I haven't spent a penny on maintenance. I also am averaging 34 mpg overall for the life of the vehicle (yes, I keep a database), which is quite a bit better than the expected mileage.

The car is fairly small, but has great capacity, especially since both the back and passenger front seats fold down, allowing for items from the windshield to the hatchback (or longer if you were to leave the hatch open). I have been able to transport items longer than I could in my Chrysler Pacifica, my previous, much larger, vehicle.

When this car finally succumbs, I would buy another if they still made them.


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Chevrolet HHR

Response from LectroFuel

7:53 pm June 13, 2019

You'll get a lot more for your money if you go with a Corolla or Civic over the Elantra or Forte. I would only go back to 2010 with the Mazda3, though the older ones were not that bad.

The older Elantra and Forte usually don't have the longevity of the Honda or Toyota. Despite the Toyota and Honda being a few grand $$$ more typically, they are still the better value in my opinion. The old Elantras usually start falling apart at 150k miles and the Corollas and Civics usually don't until 250k miles or more. All of this is if you maintain the car as recommended of course.

If your budget is $5000 you should start deciding what to buy based on Craigslist and Autotrader. You would be lucky to find the car you want for the price you want. That is why I usually ask for your zip code when the budget is that low and selection is very limited. Yes, a Corolla, Civic, or Mazda3 would be ideal. But, if there is another car that is a good deal, then forget the 3 go-to cars.

The 2008-2011 Ford Focus was surprisingly reliable, but bare-bones. Don't go with any newer ones unless it is a manual.

I agree with AcuraT, you seem like you'll make a good decision with the car you choose.


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