Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Need to choose a 'new' car -- say 2009'ish

I need to choose a ‘new’ car – I like to buy 1-3 years used – without notice since the old car got creamed by a truck last week. I want a sedan or coupe with great gas mileage, and high reliability and safety as my top priorities. If I can, I’d also like a manual transmission, a sunroof, and some jaunty responsiveness around corners. Any suggestions?

Go get the Consumer Reports issue this month, full of info on this. Give us some examples of cars you like.

Your chances of getting a manual transmission and a sun roof in a sedan/coup used will be tough to find. I would be prepared to accept a few concession (w/o sunroof for example and in a color you “love”) to find a car you want and in the condition you’d like. Most sedans/coups with good wheel/tires will give you decent handling.
I agree that you buy CR car issue for this year for a start.
Remember too that you may be eliminating some of the most reliable makes and models out there by stipulating manual trans and find yourself stuck with basic econo boxes (which may not be as safe) as a result. Honda Fit comes to mind as a possibility.

I don’t know what kinds of cars I like b/c I’ve been driving the same one (a manual, sun-roofed Saturn I bought two years old with 12k miles on it!) for ten years. Grrr.

The product advisor on this site recommends the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Genesis, and Elantra, Toyota Camry and Corolla and the Mazda3. Your thoughts welcome…

How much do you want to spend?

Without knowing your spending limit, you can get a stick shift 2011 Mazda 3 with a moon roof for about 20 grand. Finding one used, however, will probably be the needle in a haystack type of search, and you may be better off ordering that new one instead. Stick shift/sun roof combinations aren’t all that popular anymore.

edit: depending on how far you are from Ohio, Mazda’s site lists 6 Mazda 3s with stick shift and moonroof at Byer’s Mazda in Columbus.

" --I like to buy 1-3 years used–" Me too. Whatever You choose, Consider Looking At Car Manufacturers’ “Certified Pre-Owned” Cars.

I recently bought my wife a Certified Chevrolet Impala LT1 that was 15 months old and had 10,000 miles on it. The “Certified” label extended the 36,000 mile / 36 month bumper-to-bumper warranty to 48,000 miles / 48 months (from original delivery date), plus the balance of the 100,000 mile / 5 year drivetrain warranty.

I went out the door for around $14,000, including the “new car smell.” It took a while to find this car in the color we wanted, but it was worth the effort. My wife drives 35,000 miles per year and it’s good to start out with a car with some warranty coverage. I switched it over to Mobil-1 and my wife enjoys her commuter machine.


There are LOTS of cars that meet your criteria. As Texases suggested, check out the latest issue of Consumer Reports for all sorts of great information about used cars.

Have fun shopping.

Well, what do you consider “great gas mileage”?

With that one exception, I would recommend the Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring.
4 door, with comfortable seats front and rear.
Manual transmission.
Much more than jaunty responsiveness, though. The car simply flows around corners, putting a smile on your face you won’t soon forget.

And the rotary engine is smooth all the way through its 9k rpm rev range.

But, gas mileage is a bit lower than most cars out there.
EPA rated for 21 highway definitely does not qualify as great.

But, it meets every other category.


If you liked your Saturn, you will love a Mazda3. This is also the car you will most likely be able to find with both a manual transmission and a sunroof.

People seldom get blistered for recommending an Accord. It’s always a safe recommendation for everything but the great gas mileage. Decent yes but not sure about getting a manual in one; that will be tough if at all. I like the Mazda line which promotes “sport” handling and good economy.

I don’t think the Accord offers manual transmission AND a sunroof

The Accord EX offers both the manual and sunroof as standard equipment in both the coupe and sedan.