Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation


I am in the market for a new/used vehicle. I am a recent college grad and am currently in Graduate School. I work full time and am 25 years old. I am not a picky driver or a car crazy person. Here are my criteria:

  1. Good/Great Gas Mileage - Ill be driving 30-40 miles per day.
  2. Gets me from Point A to Point B with no problems.
  3. Reliable and low maintenance.
  4. Will last for a long time - high mileage - I plan on driving the car to the ground.
  5. Does not matter if it is foreign or domestic.

Tell me the best car/mini pick up truck.

Thank You

5 year old Civic or Corolla would be a good bet.


$17,000 would be the most ill spend

Now’s a good time to under-spend on your car, wait until you’re off and running after grad school for a new car.

For whatever vehicle you end up getting, how you maintain it will matter more than the mileage you put on it, and will help greatly with your 2 and 3 criteria. Find the owners manual (maintenance manual if it’s separate), and keep up with all that jazz hidden inside. Especially if you plan on “driving the car to the ground”.

You can find many domestics available for around $10K that would serve the purpose. Consider the basic Malibu’s and Lumina’s…Ford has some decent ones, too. Foreign makes (as far as that word goes) like Honda and Toyota would also serve you well. 17K is a pretty big number, I’d only consider using about half of that. Keep the rest for the repairs that will surface, regardless of what make/model you end up getting.

You can get a brand new Mazda 3 sedan for just under $17k.
Shooping for a fuel efficient vehicle on the used market is rather awkward right now, you can get a new one for $15k, or a used one 2~3 years old for $15.5k(not really the 3, but it shows that used prices are up)

Consider a new Chevy Cruze. It’s the end of the model year and 2011 cars should be discounted. Current pricing for an LT is about $19,000. The last generation was the Cobalt; the station wagon version is the HHR, and it is still available. There’s $4000 market support and a recent college graduate discount. Edmunds current TMV is about $17,000 before taxes and tags.

A brand new Hyundai Elantra goes 40 miles on a gallon of gas, has 100k mile powertrain warranty, and starts around mid $14k.

Jtsanders Beat Me To It . . . “Consider a new Chevy Cruze.”

Chevrolet dealers should also be getting some of these slight used and selling them as “Certified Pre-Owned Cars” that come with great warranties, as do the new ones (check online for the specifics). I look for and buy these cars that have around 10,000 miles on them and realize a huge savings, but you really have to shop for a while and negotiate.

The Cruze is wildly popular and dealers may be reluctant to cut asking prices much. Also, I pay cash for cars and you don’t say if you’ll be financing or paying cash. Be careful here because often loan interest rates are considerably high on used cars than new cars and I’m sure some folks wn wittingly pay the same price or more buying used rather than new.

Take a loooong test-drive (I get cars from the dealer and drive them a couple of days) or some people on this site recommend renting a car similar to one you’re considering to give it a try.


“A brand new Hyundai Elantra goes 40 miles on a gallon of gas, has 100k mile powertrain warranty, and starts around mid $14k.”

Only problem is that it’s a Hyundai. They don’t have as much dealer or other support as do Chevrolets. I don’t have a Hyundai dealer within a 100 miles of me, but I probably have 25 Chevrolet dealers. I wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot pole. I would check carefully in your area. Regardless, be sure and compare this car with a Cruze Eco if 40 MPG is important to you.

And how much does the Cruze Eco starts at? Also, the “OP” said it doesn’t matter if it is foreign or domestic. Compared to the Ford Fiesta, which gets the same mileage, Hyundai is offering a lot more metal (interior room) for the same money.

Rental fleets turn their fleets over every 18 months or so. These fleets do have a mix of compact cars. The cars are well-maintained and you aren’t paying for the first year depreciation. Usually, the cars that are troublesome are sold at auction. The ones that are sold by the rental agencies come with the balance of the warranty. This might be a place to look.

With roughly same criteria in '03 I bought a new Civic with a manual trans. 9 years and 110K miles couldn’t fault the decision a bit. If you really plan to keep the car a long time, spend a bit more money and get a Civic. You will get your moneys worth.

You want a 90’s or older toyota. Id go with a pickup truck. Im sure there are a few others but i know first hand they are what your looking for

oops. 17,000? ok thats a new game. Carry on…

On most compact cars these days, there isn’t much, if any, depreciation after a year or 2 when you look at priced of used ones

If you can wait a couple of months, the Chevy Sonic will be out. Auto reviewers say it compares favorably to the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. Prices for the Sonic will be well under $17,000 unless you want the top of the line LTZ.

“On most compact cars these days, there isn’t much, if any, depreciation after a year or 2 when you look at priced of used ones”.

I’ll defer to bscar on this one. If the difference is small between a used car and a similar new one, go with the new one. It has new tires, battery, etc. as well as a longer warranty. I should have thought about my Dad’s experience back in the downturn in 1938 after the great depression. He bought a new 1938 Chevrolet. In early 1939, a drunk hit the car while it was parked on the street. The car was repairable, but the frame was bent. However, for the title to the 1938, the check from the insurance company and $50 he drove away in a new 1939 Chevrolet. I guess we are going through similar times.