Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Economy/Inexpensive Car

I need a car to replace my totaled 1998

Corolla. I prefer cars with timing chain (4-cyl 1.8 or higher) but don’t want another Toyota. I have no idea what’s out there. So can anyone help me what I should be looking for? Thanks.

A new car or a used car?

Your first stop should be at the local boookstore for the purchase of either the Consumer Reports New Car Review or teh Consumer Reports used Car Buyers’ Guide. That’ll give you a good comparison of all the options out there along with good reliability data on each. With that in hand you can select what looks good to you and start doing test drives.

yes, your question is too open. new used? big car, small car? US foreign? sporty, utilitarian?

It can be new or used, US or foreign. It’s 4 cyl (1.8 L or higher) so it’s probably a compact or sub-compact, or is it a medium size car? My last car purchase was the Corolla in 1998.

When you say “1.8 or higher” are you referring to liters?

Many economy cars have engines smaller than 1.8 L, so you might consider upgrading your expectations to something like a Nissan Altima or a Honda Accord. Anything truly “economy” class will have an engine that is smaller than you seem to want.

I wouldn’t limit the choices to any specific minimum size engine. I’ve driven 1.6 litre engines that go like a chased monkey.

The current generation Honda Civic comes to mind. Nissan Sentra/Versa also fit the bill.

Newer Corollas have timing chain…my 02 Prism did. Look for another Corolla or clone. Vibe ?

I’m puzzled why you do not want another Toyota. They make a wide variety of vehicles, from very small and frugal to very roomy and luxurious. And they all have above average reliability and resale value!

I own a 2007 Corolla and it has a timing CHAIN, no maintenance or replacement instructions anywhere in the manual.

Also, you can now buy 1.5 liter cars with good power, since the engines are so much more efficient in generating horspower. A Honda Fit with a 1.5 liter engine is more peppy than your 1998 Corolla when it was new!

The Toyota Yaris also has a 1.5 liter engine, I believe.

Cars have changed so much since 1998 that it is a whole new game, and as other posters suggest, don’t limit yourself to a certain engine size, or make.
If you disliked the 1998 Corolla because of its very uncomfortable seats, I would understand; I looked at one and decided the seats would be unbearable on along trip. The seats in my 2007 Corolla, a much bigger car, are great and made for normal North American torsos.

Happy shopping!

I can understand why someone would not want a Toyota after driving a few. They have no soul. They are akin to a Maytag washer. A reliable thing you don’t think much about however brings no real pleasure either.

You just can’t know from words on a screen or on a magazine or newspaper page what a car is like to you personally. After years of reading about cars and bikes, I have come to that conclusion. You must go to dealers and drive some cars and then decide.

Like a Toyota. I saw a good looking Scion that wasn’t expensive. You do have to go to a Toyota dealer to see one though. Suzuki has a few good SUV looking vehicles.

I have noticed this over the years on Cartalk. Some people do look at a car as a commodity, a reliable thing you don’t think about much. That is exactly how I look at a car. My 2002 Sienna with 136,000 miles on it runs and runs and runs. I go to the mountains of Mexico, and for six months, it mostly sits there, except for a grocery run once a week to the city 65 miles away. Then, we load up, run back to the border in two days, and sometimes run from McAllen to the East Coast in two days to visit family. That car is not my friend, but as long as it keeps us going down the road I am happy with it. It is a pile of bolts and other parts with an important function, no more and no less. I expect it to run 300,000 miles.

I care not if it has a soul, or personality, or is 'pleasurable, though it is very comforting to cover that much ground with few problems. I want to jump in that thing with all my junk, even a couple computers in the back, and drive 720 miles before I pull over for the night, and get 24 mpg while I do it. And,get up the next morning and do it all again. The people who feel that way tend to drive Toyotas if they ever own one.

Another group of people are similar to you. They desire a car with personality and style. They are willing to do more repairs if they must to have a car with the personality and style they want, and don’t mind trading when they get bored with what they have now. They want that car to make them feel good.

Neither group is wrong. To each his own is the key to happiness, IMO.

The only problem comes when a member of one group does not understand this valid difference, and criticizes or mocks someone from the other group. And, that does happen.

There are even people on this URL who actually enjoy Saturday’s working on their precious old friend. It is written, I forget where, KNOW THYSELF. I admire them for knowing what they want, and making it happen.

But, it’s not for me. The last thing commodity car owners want is to spend their Saturdays tinkering with a car.

By the way, Maytag Washers are no longer that reliable. I just saw the reliability ratings in CR. But, yes, we commodity car owners indeed want a vehicle that runs like a Maytag used to.

I guess we folks who value reliability have no soul either. Oh well. I guess I will live my souless existance getting where I want to go on time in a refined reliable vehicle. Poor me.

I was just posting that some people want more out of their cars than reliability and decent comfort.

I happen to choose a Subaru WRX wagon for utility and the car really is an absolute hoot to drive. Its very reliable proven by owners who don’t modify and Consumer Reports. I give up quite a bit of comfort though in the compromise. Also fuel economy however I only drive about 8000 miles/year for pleasure.

Agree; there are different types of car owners and drivers. The “non-utility” group has two subgroups; those that have the ability (native and learned)to really enjoy a car with superb road holding and those who think they do.

An good example of the former is a friend of my son who owns a Subaru WRX with which he also rallies. This gentleman is a diamond run downhill skier, snow boards, runs in marathons, and is a good allround athlete. And he really konws cars!

The latter group is made up of individuals who like the mystique of owning such a car, but are seldom able to fully use its capabilities due to their own person I know who had 3 E Class Mercedes cars in a row over a 14 year period, and then when SUVs became popular, switched to a stone-age Jeep Grand Cherokee with a solid front axle. In both cases he bragged about the wonderful qualities his vehicles had.

The USA has some of the world’s best roads and highways, and the lowest speed limits. A drive across the Alps from Germany through Switserland to Italy is a thrilling, and demanding experience, especially in a good road car.

That same drive across the Rocky Mountains on an Interstate at US legal speeds I find a boring experience and a waste of a good road car. In other words, I agree with our Toyota Sienna poster, that trip is best made in a reasonably safe and comfortable car with outstanding reliability.

There is plenty of entertainment thankfully on the roads to my home and around New England. Many twists, turns and hills making owning a WRX worth it. Most people don’t go the posted speed limit since most curves recommend 25MPH(yellow sign) in a 40MPH posted road. I tend to push it with 45MPH-50MPH if traffic free.

I find interstate driving too an absolute bore and tend to drive the speed limit if not less.

With “Amethyst” in your name are you a geologist? If you are an active member of GSA then you can save a couple grand off of a new Subaru. See:
Personally, I would rather the discount be with a company with a pickup, although I guess Subaru does have the Baja. Oh, well I like my old truck.

Yes, 1.8 Liters. I have had driven cars below 1.8L & they are slow & sluggish until I had the Corolla 1.8L. But due to bad experiences with Toyota dealers & Toyota Motors especially, I don’t want to deal with them again. There are many good & better cars in the market than Toyota. Who do they think they are? I want to buy one that’s also different. I was a loyal Toyota owner. I have 2 other Toyotas. I want to move on, from Toyota to other brand. So the minimum engine size for me is 1.8L. I can go with bigger engine, like 2.0 up to 2.7, but only 4-cylinder. I want to thank everyone for all your help.

I had bad experiences with Toyota Motors & their dealers, I don’t want to have anything to do with them again, anymore. Besides, I want to move on, from Toyota to other good & better cars. I was a loyal Toyota owner. I have 2 other Toyotas (until I get rid of them). They think their cars are the best & I also thought so, until I have had the chance to deal with them. Their customer service is the worst I have ever experienced. It’s time I try the other cars in the market. I have started looking at Nissan & Chevrolet. I also have good feedback on the Suzuki & Subaru. I will not rush into it. This time I will get feedback on their customer service records.