Newer korean/american or older japanese car

Location: Monterey, CA

I’m looking for a small, auto transmission car for around $10k. In that price range, I could get any of these:

Model Year Miles

Toyota Corolla LE 2002 60,000

Honda Civic LX 2002 90,000

Mazda Prot?g? 2003 65,000

VW Jetta GLS 2003 65,000

Hyundai Elantra GLS 2004 40,000

Chevy Cobalt LS 2004 40,000

Ford Focus ZX4 2005 45,000

Saturn Ion 2 2006 35,000

Honda/Toyota are older and have much higher mileage. Is the reliability that much better to compensate for additional age and miles?

I plan to have this car for about 5 yrs/50k more miles.

What would you get?



Any of those vehicles are good choices, although repair costs might be a bit steep on the VW. For that price, by the way, you can also get a Hyundai Accent (new or nearly new), or Sonata (2003 or so), Chevy Impala, Ford Crown Vic, or, really, any other ‘rental queens.’

Out of that list, I’d personally get the Elantra or Corolla.

Agreed! I would take the Elantra; this model has developed a good record. Corolla would be second choice, then the Mazda Protege, a tough little car. I would forget the rest. The Civic has too many miles. The rest have a less than sterling repair record.

Pick the American car; the Toyota Corolla. I think they make them in Fremont which isn’t too far away from where you live.

Do they actually make the Corolla at NUMMI? I thought they only made the Corolla-based Vibe and Matrix there. I think the Corolla’s made in Woodstock, Ontario.

Corolla is made at the Cambridge, Ontario plant, I believe. The Woodstock plant, 30 miles further west, makes other models. Canada is also the only country outside Japan where some Lexus models are built.

AmI the only one who’d pick the Saturn?
those miles are most likely highway miles, there should still be a factory warranty on it(5yr/100,000mi) and should still last for over 5 years

The Ford Focus was a Consumer Reports best buy for several years. I would personally consider it to be on par with the Corolla and the Civic. The others don’t get as good ratings for reliability. So I think the Focus looks like the best deal. Also, have you looked at the Chevy Metro? For several years it was the same car as the Toyota Corolla.

I would stay away from the other cars simply because their fuel economy ratings are lower. In years to come that will contribute greatly to the cost of operation. That alone makes the Corolla and the Civic worth a second look.

those miles are most likely highway miles

What makes you think that?

Do you mean the Chevy Prizm (the Chevy Metro was a Suzuki Swift rebadge, IIRC)? The Prizm has not been made since MY 2002…not sure I trust a GM product that old.

I’m leaning towards Elantra. Inside it is almost as roomy as a mid-size and has safety features. Do any of you have Elantra?
I might be able to swing a CPO Elantra. Has anyone used the Hyundai CPO program?

I love Jetta’s, but they can be as much a hobby as a form of transportation. They can be pretty quirky, especially as they get older. You’ve got to love it or you’ll hate it, if you know what I mean.

I almost bought an Elantra. I took it for a test drive, got some numbers, but ultimately I didn’t buy it because it wasn’t much bigger than the Accent I had at the time (and I needed more space.) But it is a very nice car.

The Prizm (Or Metro, whatever) was built by Toyota, sort of. It was a Toyota Corolla rebadge, built by a joint Toyota/GM factory in California.

A very frugal friend of mine bought a used Elantra 3 years ago, and after 5 years, the car is still totally reliable and has had no major repairs. Hyundai has closed the reliability gap with Mazda, Honda and others and is now ahead of GM, Ford and Chrysler.

My daughter has had an Elantra since she bought it new about 6 years ago. It is a year past its 5 year bumper-to-bumper warranty, but has had very little need for the warranty. It did have the clutch master and slave cylinders fail recently, but you are looking for an automatic, so that’s not an issue for you. Other than that I don’t think she’s had any out of warranty failures, and only a couple minor things in warranty. One was a failed headlight bulb and the other was a bad power window switch. Yes, they covered the bulb under the warranty.

Of the list you posted, I’d eliminate the VW, the 2 GM cars, and the Honda. I’d consider all of the rest. I will admit I have an irrational anti-GM bias, so take that part with a grain of salt.

The Chevy Tracker was a small SUV like the Suzuki Swift. The Metro and the Prizm were both cars. The Metro was a small hatchback and the Prizm was a slightly larger but still small four-door sedan. Now that I think of it, I can’t remember whether it was the Metro or Prizm that was made by Toyota and was a rebadged Corolla, but whetever it is, if you are going to consider a Corolla, you might as well consider it too.

ok, maybe not, I forgot about the 06 being made in 05, but that’s still about 12k miles per year, so about average.
either the saturn or focus would be my choices