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New cars

I will be retiring soon

I am looking for a new reliable car under $20,000

With good gas mileage for city and highway driving

I tend to keep my cars for a very long time

Also when is the best time to buy a new car —end of year or beginning of new year

I bought a new '03 Civic as my “retirement” car. Just short of 100K miles now and very happy with the decision. It is not my only car, but it is the one that gets used the most due to great mpg, low maintenance, and almost no repairs thus far.

The Civic has a larger than expected trunk. It is really about the same size as the Accord was 5 to 10 years ago. I believe the Civic holds up better than the Accord. Don’t overlook it as too small until you sit in one at a dealership.

Steve And Joyce, No Need To Ask The Question All Over, Again. We’d Like To Help. Respond To Advice Right Below The Person Giving Advice.

When you posed this question as “Used camry vs accord,” I responded,

"Any additional information as to how the car will be used would help. How many passengers, mpg objectives, miles driven per year, only vehicle (?), climate conditions, etcetera.

I just did the slightly used car purchase thing, so I might be able to help if you can kick in more info. Not everybody wants and needs the same thing."

Now we’ve got a price. Please give your definition of " good gas mileage ."

I just bought a late 2009 Chevrolet Impala (5/09 - missed being a 2010 by a month) for my wife to commute to work in, GM Certified with balance of 5 year / 100,000 mile and 48 months / 48,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranties. EPA rating is something like 20 city / 29 hwy (I’ve heard they do better than that).

It is flex-fuel capable and has side-curtain airbags, remote start, CD Player, cruise, Driver Information, etcetera. The car has 10,000 miles, is absolutely like brand new, even smells brand new. I cashed out for $14,000.

You might like a Malibu. They get a little better mpg, but command a little higher price, used/certified.


If you want a new car, I suggest that you look at a Chevy Cruze. It’s new to the USA, but has been available in Eurasia since 2008. Compare it to the Civic, Corolla, and Focus; all nice cars in the competitive compact car market. The 1.4L turbocharged engine in the Cruze gets better gas mileage (24/36 vs. 22/35 for the 1.8L non-turbo) and it uses regular gasoline.

thank you very much for your help.we actually have a few different family members asking sister has been wondering about buying new vs used.a really big thing for her since she will be retiring soon.and has to make the best educated choice she can.thank you again!steve

Hyundai Sonata.

Ford Fusion, Mazda 6, Hyundai Elantra or Sonata. Though a small-ish SUV might be something to think about as well, for better entry/exit of the vehicle.
Whatever you get, make sure you’re comfortable with it, because it’s too expensive a mistake to make. A few posters on here have bought new cars, only to trade them in after a few months because their back was being killed by it

I would suggest narrowing down your list to several candidates and then renting each of the cars for an extended test. The under $20,000 cars are usually available in rental fleets. When we first thought we wanted a minivan 20 years ago, I had decided that the Ford Aerostar was what I wanted. I made arrangements to rent one for a weekend trip. I then saw a late model used Aerostar at a dealer. I did a short test drive and told him that I would be back the next week after I had taken the trip in a rental. The dealer told me to cancel the rental and take his Aerostar. He said I was under no obligation to purchase it if it didn’t work out. We liked it so well we bought it when we got back from the trip.
The institution where I am employed often has to rent cars if all the cars in its fleet have been assigned. I have been furnished with a Hyundai Sonata and a Nissan Sentra from the rental agency as well as a Honda Civic Hybrid from the fleet. On the road, I found the Nissan Sentra the most comfortable for me. The Honda Civic didn’t have quite enough legroom. I didn’t care for the Hyundai at all. Driving each of these cars several hundred miles was a good test had I been in the market for a car.
Traditionally, car sales are down during the winter months. This may be a good time to make a purchase.

If I have some disposable asset AND Hyundai confirms the hatchback for their new Elantra, I’d have a serious look at that. 29/40 without turbocharging a tiny engine, longest warranty, and below 20k.

4 cyl.Honda Accord…make sure it is at the least on your list of try outs. They and 4 cyl Camrys should be considered. The Ford Fusion in 4 cyl is also good and a little less money.

I’ve always heard end of the year is better.

Just test drove a 2011 Hyundai Sonata–just over 20K. A lot of room, big trunk, decent handling, and a very responsive 4 cyl motor. Also 60K/60 month bumper to bumper warranty, good safety ratings, and good fuel economy.

If you intend to keep the car for a very long time, that should be your STARTING POINT. Buy a car from a manufacturer who will likely be in business in 20 years. Then pick a best selling model in an affordable price range. That ensures parts availability from the manufacturer, aftermarket or wrecking yard for years to come.

A Saturn Astra based on a German Opel may be a nice affordable car, but don’t count on anyone to have parts or being able to fix it 10 years from now. A friend of my wife, a single nurse, bought a sporty Merkur, a German Ford sold by Mercury dealers in the 80s. It turned out to be a nice car, but an ownership nightmare for maintenance and repairs.

A German car company, Borgward, made a nice small car called the Isabella in the 1950s. A lot of returning GIs stationed there brought them back with them and went through the same service/parts availability problem. Daewoo owners are basically stranded with their cars.

If, at this point, if you believe me that retirement takes planning, your choice of vehicle would be from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, GM, Ford as the best prospects.

I would go for a compact or midsize car, which would yield:

  1. Toyota Corolla, or 4 cylinder Camry

  2. Honda Civic or 4 cylinder Accord

  3. Hyundai Elantra, Touring or 4 cylinder Sonata

  4. Ford Focus or 4 cylinder Fusion

  5. Chevrolet Malibu (4 cylinder) or Cruze.

All these cars should have good long term reliability and inexpensive service and parts supply.

I would avoid any Chrysler product (very uncertain future, poor reliablilty) any Volkswagen (poor reliability, expensive parts and service, shorter design life), Subarus (expensiver parts and service) and Nissan (less value for money that the other Japanese brands, uncertain future of CVT transmission).

If you are a mechanic yourself, you can broaden your choice, and include Mazda as well.

Since most people develop arthritis of some kind as they age, I would go at least for power windows, cruise control, automatic, and make sure you like the SEATS!

Happy shopping!!