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Recommendations for used car that is small, cheap and reliable

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Something cheap and reliable. Possibly an alternative to the Honda Civc/Accord since they tend to be expensive from brand recognition. Looked at some Mazdas, but was concerned about rust issues. Also looked at some Hyundais, Elantras, etc. Just trying to figure out what old used cars to target forreliability.

Priorities: Price or payments / Reliability & durability / Fuel economy / Depreciation / Brand reputation & image

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan / Hatch

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Errands about town

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 1300000
Maximum age: 14 years

Maximum price: C $ 5000

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Response from mkaresh

11:05 pm November 11, 2014

The older cars get, the more Hondas and Toyotas really do stand out. Unfortunately, this also makes them fairly expensive as used cars.

The "budget" compact I tend to recommend is the Ford Focus. The 2008-2011 has been pretty reliable, they handle very well, and used prices are much lower than for a Civic. Reliability for those 2007 and older is iffier. Not awful, but clearly not Honda territory.

A Chevrolet Cobalt might also be a decent bet. I wish we had more reliability data on these, so I could be more sure of their reliability. The data we do have is promising.

The Elantra also looks pretty good in our stats. I'm adding this in an edit, or I'd also list it to the right.

With any of these, newer will be better. Many cars start having more problems, if not necessarily major ones, after the first 6-7 years and the first 100,000 miles.

I can attest firsthand that Mazdas, at least those old enough to be within your budget, will rust.


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Ford Focus
Chevrolet Cobalt

Response from mkaresh

11:44 pm November 11, 2014

Another just crossed my mind: the Pontiac Vibe is really a Toyota Matrix, but might cost less since it is not badged as a Toyota.


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Pontiac Vibe

Response from mwcten

1:24 pm November 12, 2014

In addition to those already mentioned, you should be able to find a Scion Xa or Xb or a Toyota Echo (all of these use the same 1.5l engine) within your ranges. If you're willing to get something with a few more miles on it, you could get a Honda Fit or even a Toyota Prius. The Prius would probably be your best bet if you're driving a lot of miles per year. 00-03 Priuses are OK, but 04+ are preferable due to better milage and battery life. I too have firsthand experience with rusty (but reliable) Mazdas. Maybe you could take your 5k, buy a one way plane ticket south and buy an unrusted $4.5k Mazda from down there? ;-)


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Scion xA
Honda Fit
Toyota Prius
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