Looking for Subcompact Car- Are first year productions bad?

I have a few questions lined up.
I am a college student who is looking (with the financial help from the parents) for a decent subcompact car that will last me through graduate school and into the workforce- I.E. 10 years. We don’t want to spend excessive amounts, but we feel that we can spend in the area of $15,000 (cheaper is obviously preferred). Also, we are wanting a hatchback for the practicality (with both sisters in Ford Focus Sedans, we are going in a new direction) and high MPG (relatively).

Also note that time is of the essence- we need to buy this car by May (the current car I have is about to die and it is out of the question to repair it since a $2000 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee would need to have the transmission, rear end, and potentially other parts replaced).

  1. What subcompact car would you recommend?
  2. Is it a horrible idea to buy a Chevy Sonic since it is in its first year of production?
  3. Do you have any other recommendations beyond subcompact cars?

It’s been generally accepted advice to wait out the first year’s production, BUT
With the longer warranties these days you may be protected enough.
If it’s being built on a proven platform it should be ok.
With the r & d that the builders use these days I think you’ll be ok too.
And…recalls are a good thing. Let them fix or modify any they need to.

Always buy a brand which can easily be serviced locally.

( example, in this small town I would never consider the new little Fiat. The closest service ?..140 miles one way )

I think it depends on the mfgr and how new is this car? For instance a new update of the Civic is not something I’d worry about. A completely new model might be a different story. Is the Sonic new to the US but has been sold elsewhere for a year or two? GM has a mixed record with new models, some are fine and some have some flaws.

So do you know if the Chevy Sonix is a 2012 Aveo or a completely new series?
That is what I am looking for? It seems to have possibly been sold elsewhere? I keep searching on google, but am not very effective on finding results. (Chevy Sonic searches, that is).

My uninformed impression was that the sonic was just the Aveo renamed and upgraded a bit. Given that the aveo was regarded as one of the worst in the subcompact category, I’d be very reluctant to go for the Sonic.

Depending on what you want, I’d recommend either the Honda Fit or the Ford Fiesta. The Fit will have a lot more usable room and back seat, while the Fiesta will be a bit better at fun to drive, though the back seats are useless.

The only other thing I would consider would be a really small pickup (and you’ll really want it to be MT to avoid everyone who is moving wanting to borrow it).

The Sonic is a completely new car replacing the Aveo, and it’s gotten great reviews. That said, there is still a ‘first year issue’ to some degree with all carmakers. You might buy the Consumer Reports car buyers guide, read up on all your options, it’ll be worth it.

Me, I’d lean towards the Honda Fit, great room, practicality, and fun to drive (if a bit rough-riding).

“do you know if the Chevy Sonix is a 2012 Aveo or a completely new series?”

All new. The Sonic was designed in Korea, but is built in the USA. The Aveo was designed and built in Korea. The Sonic has gotten great reviews. It is equal to most small cars offered in the US today. Do a web search for test drives and see how much the car testers like it.

I would not worry about a 2012 Sonic, or most cars in their first year. Many years ago, the Japanese manufacturers had a shorter design-to-market time than the Detroit 3, which forced the Detroit 3 to bring their cars to market too quickly. That is not the case today. You might also consider the Ford Fiesta.

Pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore. That’ll give you a good, detailed comparison of everything available as welll as lots of good data on each, far more data than we can provide in this format.

Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Mazda 2, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa are all listed on edmunds as hatchbacks being under $15k brand new.

Tip to making the car last 10 years is to never skimp on maintenance or having things checked out when something seems off. If you can grab a factory manual and some tools, you can save some money by doing some things yourself.

Your best choices are a Hyundai Accent Hatchback, a Kia Rio Hatchback, a Honda Fit, a Toyota Yaris Hatchback.

Of those, the Fit will easily last you 15 years, as will the Yaris. However the Yaris is not a comfortable car, and gets poor reviews with respect to creature comforts. The Accent and Rio are both good cars as well. The Accent has the best road manners with respect to noise and comfort.

If you really intend to keep the car for 10+ years get a Honda, either Fit or Civic. I bought a new '03 Civic with manual transmission and it is holding up great with 117K miles. I looked to get 20+ years out of the car and it is on track. 35 mpg overall, and 40 mpg on expressway trips so I don’t see any need to go to a hybrid for more mpg.

If you have up to $15000 to spend I’d get a chevy cruze. A lot better, quieter, safer ride and a lot of standard stuff that won’t make you desperate to get out after a drive. I’ve rented one three times in Britain and like them better ever time.

In this day and age, many so called first year are just first year in the USA. Often manufacturers all over run models in Europe and their native country for years before they appear here. The Focus I believe is just such a car. I would recomend a base model Corolla or a Scion with the Corolla running gear. A good safe, albeit boring recommendation that most owners are satisfied with long term.

You cannot get any more certain on reliability than a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris hatchback. They have been out long enough to have a lot of data on them. The new Yaris is still running the same powertrain as the Echo of 10 years ago. It’s antiquated and outgunned, but it is very reliable. But both the Fit and Yaris are really noisy and have cheapo interiors. They feel like economy cars and that gets really tiring after you’ve owned it for awhile.

The Sonic and Fiesta are much quieter, refined, and feel more expensive even in base trims. My only hesitation is the Fiesta’s automatic transmission; it is new to this market. Stick with the manual.

I’d also take a serious look at a Hyundai Accent hatchback. Good passenger room, surprising amount of cargo space, respectable interior, and a 10 year 100,000K mile powertrain warranty. It’s ugly as hell from behind, but don’t let that dissuade you.

I would take a Saturday soon and have a good time driving all of these to figure which ones you want and what their asking prices are. Then see what deals you can get.