Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

best cars under $5000



  • "Guess I'll cancel my subscription to CR, those myth spreaders."

    I've wondered about them ever since they rated the 1998 Buick Regal behind the same-year Accord and Camry around 2000/2001. Their individual systems ratings for the Regal were much better than the Accord and Camry, but the overall rating was the reverse. It always seemed inconsistent, and I've questioned their ratings since then.
  • " It always seemed inconsistent, and I've questioned their ratings since then. "

    I've made the same observations. They'll have one vehicle as recommended and another one not recommended, but when you look at the ratings for each individual car, their overall ratings are fairly equal, Not A Hill Of Beans Difference.

    Notice that I did say that I look at the ratings / reviews and note that I have had an uninterrupted subscription (pay 5 years at a time), but the car advice doesn't match with my personal experiences and observations, over and over, again.

    They've helped me with decisions regarding Mr. Coffees, TVs, appliances, Behr paint, etcetera. Most of these items they test, some extensively. I still use the car "reviews" where they have the actual cars there, but I really question the car rating buyer's advice.
    I would have missed some wonderful vehicles and wasted lots of money over the years, heeding that. That's my opinion and I wasn't born yesterday. I have some ideas as to what's behind this, but I won't comment on it.

  • " I have some ideas as to what's behind this, but I won't comment on it."

    On my more generous days, I believe the ratings are self-fulfilling. Those subscribers that want a reliable car and don't want to look elsewhere, assume that the Toyota and Honda ratings are correct. They then take great care of it and provide the excellent ratings. Mostly, I think it is how well they take care of the car. I take care of my cars and haven't had significant repairs on my dime since 1998 for the Regal, 2003 for the Silhouette, and 2005 for the Accord.
  • edited June 2011
    "I would avoid European and most GMs and Chrysler products at that price."
    "If you want a little luxury in the form of a midsize from a rental, remember these cars are made to be fleet cars with a limited life expectancy on their parts IMO. I would not buy a rental GM or Chyrsler and not expect to include some upkeep money down the road. Your choice."

    This is bad advice in my opinion.

    I tried to bite my tongue, but you are just flat-out doing a disservice to the people I'm trying to help. Where in the world are you coming up with this stuff ? This is not reality based.

    " If you want a little luxury in the form of a midsize from a rental, remember these cars are made to be fleet cars with a limited life expectancy on their parts IMO." That comment shows your automotive expertise or lack of it. What . . . You think they add sawdust to the parts that will be installed on "fleet" cars ? You have got to be joking ! My Bonneville that I drive a hundred miles everyday was a "fleet" Alamo rental car that I purchased well used with lots of miles, three years ago, for $5800. It needed nothing when I bought it and needs nothing now. The leather interior is NOT of a "limited life expectancy" and neither are any other parts.

    I do all of the things you tell people to avoid (GM & Chrysler cars and former rentals). I have worked for Mazda several years. I have worked for Volkswagen several years. I wore out two Volkswagens and drove Volkswagen and Mazda company cars. I went on my honeymoon in a Mazda 626 ! I do my own maintenance and repairs, know a bit about cars (tested and certified in a few areas), I buy GM cars and Chrysler cars. I have bought 4 or 5 former rentals. In fact I recently bought one (GM) for the wife and it's been fantastic and I'm sure it will continue to be that way. The Malibu I just rented for a vacation will be a great car for somebody to purchase. I have nothing but great success with these cars. I am sure glad that you are not my car shopping advisor.

    Do people a favor. I can understand your wanting to promote Asian cars because you think they're great, that's terrific, but you should think twice before you advise against cars that you know little to nothing about. I know about GM cars and Chryslers because I own 7 of them. To do otherwise is not helpful and in fact could waste people's money. It's just wrong. It's up to you, though. You're a big boy.

    This situation is a good one to look at. These folks are coming off of a Volvo and mention expensive repairs. I think any car from Asian or American makers would make them think they'd died and gone to heaven. They like the Malibu. A late model Malibu or Impala would be a good choice and of course they should look at some Hondas and Toyotas for comparison. They have $5000 worth of trade, but don't say how much they want to spend on a "new" car and I have no idea, either. That information would be quite helpful.

  • I've owned 2 mid 80's Mercedes. Bought one for $3200, sold it for $3400 and drove it 70K miles over a 4.5 year period. Repairs totaled $1700.
    The other I bought 7-8 years ago for $7200. I've driven it 90K miles and have put 2.5 K in repairs. I estimate being able to sell it today for $5K. It was originally a $60K car and is VERY nice to drive.
    I have a guy who birddogs them off dealers before they would go to auction. I was able to specify model options and price range.
  • Oh , yes... and i just re read the original question. Plenty of headroom. Very safe for my two kids, 4 doors. The diesel I owned was good on mileage but a bit sluggish and loud. The gas model does not get great mileage but when i do the math over time on purchase price, resale, repairs and fuel, these cars come out very cost effective.
  • Kazootie Offers A Very Instructive Experience. Experience Speaks Louder Than Misleading Advice. Don't Overlook Vehicles Based On Their National Origin. Asian, European, And American Cars Should All Be Considered On An Individual Car Basis.

    The current condition tat it's in and the care that a used car has had is probably its most important feature. Having maintenance history records to look at is helpful, but barring that a quality mechanic can usually tell if a car has been taken care of.

    When considering a particular car, I suppose too that it would help if one either did some of their maintenance / repair work or had a good trustworthy local mechanic versed in a particular make. This should probably be considered. Kazootie doesn't indicate if either of these situations apply.

  • edited June 2011
    "I tried to bite my tongue, but you are just flat-out doing a disservice to the people I'm trying to help."

    Oooooh Please, I feel we are all offering advice based upon our own experience and it ain't about "you" and people "you" are trying to help while dismissing everyone who disagrees as myth believers or people interfering with your well intentioned advice. Anyone who thinks they are the sole source of good information should get their own web site...The quote you get off on clearly states "I would" do this or that which gives ones personal opinion and is appropriate in my opinion.

    I expect a response in bold type, please don't disappoint me. Or, just bite your tongue. :=)
    And I repeat: "I would not buy a rental GM or Chyrsler and not expect to include some upkeep money down the road. Your choice."
  • edited June 2011
    BTW; less we think that GM, Ford and Chrysler are indeed American companies and not global, here is a PARTIAL list of captive imports sold buy American companies under their name, This has been going on for years; this does not include all of the parts bought from foreign subcontractors indicating in part, how much money our American companies spend over seas. Nor does it include the joint ventures by our American companies with and including Isuzu, Toyota, Nissan, Fiat etc...all going on as we speak. Nor does it include all the cars outsourced to foreign countries including Mexico and Canada. So if you bought one of these cars thinking you were "buying American", you were duped.

    I don't worry about the names on cars that I buy. I do check the wind stickers to see where they are made.

    Buick Opel 1976–1980 Japan Isuzu Gemini
    Buick Regal 2010–present Germany Opel Insignia
    Cadillac Catera 1997–2001 Germany Opel Omega
    Chevrolet Aveo 2004–present South Korea Daewoo Kalos
    Chevrolet LUV 1972–1982 Japan Isuzu P'up
    Chevrolet Spectrum 1985–1988 Japan Isuzu Gemini
    Chevrolet Sprint 1985–1988 Japan Suzuki Cultus
    Chrysler Conquest 1987–1989 Japan Mitsubishi Starion
    Chrysler Crossfire 2004–2008 Germany Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
    Chrysler TC by Maserati 1989–1991 Italy
    Dodge Challenger 1978–1983 Japan Mitsubishi Galant Lambda
    Dodge/Plymouth Colt 1971–1994 Japan Mitsubishi Galant
    Mitsubishi Mirage
    Dodge Conquest 1984–1986 Japan Mitsubishi Starion
    Dodge Raider 1987–1989 Japan Mitsubishi Pajero
    Dodge Stealth 1991–1996 Japan Mitsubishi GTO
    Eagle Medallion 1988–1989 France Renault 21
    Eagle Summit 1989–1996 Japan Mitsubishi Mirage
    Ford Anglia 1948–1967 United Kingdom
    Ford Aspire 1994–1997 South Korea Kia Avella
    Ford Cortina 1962–1970 United Kingdom
    Ford Courier 1972–1982 Japan Mazda B-Series
    Ford Fiesta 1978–1980 Germany
    Ford Festiva 1988–1993 South Korea Kia Pride
    Ford Transit Connect 2010–present Turkey
    Geo/Chevrolet Metro 1985–1989 Japan Suzuki Cultus
    Geo Spectrum 1989 Japan Isuzu Gemini
    Geo Storm 1990–1993 Japan Isuzu Piazza
    Geo Tracker 1989–1990 Japan (Some, but not all 1990) Suzuki Escudo
    Mercury Capri 1970–1977 Germany Ford Capri
    Mercury Capri 1991–1994 Australia
    Mercury Tracer (3-door model) 1988–1989 Japan Mazda 323
    Merkur Scorpio 1988–1989 Germany Ford Scorpio
    Merkur XR4Ti 1985–1989 Germany Ford Sierra
    Plymouth Arrow 1976–1980 Japan Mitsubishi Celeste
    Plymouth Champ 1979–1982 Japan Mitsubishi Mirage
    Plymouth Conquest 1984–1986 Japan Mitsubishi Starion
    Plymouth Cricket 1971–1973 United Kingdom Hillman Avenger
    Plymouth Sapporo 1978–1983 Japan Mitsubishi Galant Lambda
    Pontiac G3 2009 South Korea Daewoo Kalos
    Pontiac G8 2008–2009 Australia Holden Commodore
    Pontiac GTO 2004–2006 Australia Holden Monaro
    Pontiac LeMans 1988–1993 South Korea Daewoo LeMans
    Saab 9-2x 2005–2006 Japan Subaru Impreza
    Saturn Astra 2008 Belgium Opel Astra
  • Having owned a '68 Volvo P 1800 for 31 years (only 232K!), I knew very well that I should not invest in an older car unless I either had great direct knowledge and skill (nope) - or in my case had a talented, honest, proactive (Mercedes/insert brand) mechanic. I vetted the mechanic before I ever bought the first car. He was great for me for 15 years, then finally retired in the last year. His replacement is good but in no way GREAT like my former guy.
    So, that will factor heavily into my next car decision.

    Anyway, the way to get value out of used cars is to first do your general research (repair records, cost, many-sourced reviews), then combine that with your own preferences in power, seating, safety, setup, space, cost, style, & options. Develop a "gotta have" "would like to have" and "can do without" list. Then go looking for a deal. Best are usually from owners (you can generally tells the gems pretty quickly -look around at their place, listen to how they talk about their car(s)) directly but certainly not only.
    Always stay true to your original decision matrix. If you run across significant new info or input, then revise your decision tree. The stick to that.
    And know where you are going to take your car or what your plan is if it breaks.

    I would put my 15 year total driving costs ( esp. considering the low original entry costs and the overall quality and features of "my ride") up against just about anyone.
This discussion has been closed.