Recommend a used car

I am looking for recommendations for a first car. I have about $7500 to spend so will need to go used. I live in the Monterey, CA area so the car needs to pass California emissions standards. I hope to keep the car for 5 yrs / 50k miles without major problems. Most driving will be “city”. 2 dr or 4 dr does not matter - most of the time only the driver will be in the car. No wife; no kids.

Some features I would like to have

Automatic transmission (I have not learned stick)

MPG (city) of 25 or more

Cruise control


Some models I’m considering:

Toyota Corolla

Honda Civic

Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Sonata

What should be added to this list?

One basic question: How old can I go? Will a 10 yr old car with 100k last another 5 yrs?



You have a fine list. If the Sonata is on, you might want to add the 4-cyl Accord and Camry. There are smaller cars, too. Cany you use something like and Echo?

You can not go wrong with the Toyota or Honda, My preference is the Honda, I have put over 250000 miles on two different Hondas with only the recommended maintenance. Look at the web page and click on Recalls, Defects and Complaints Databases check out complaints that have been registered for the car you are looking at. It is a real eye opener who makes a good car.

How old can I go? Will a 10 yr old car with 100k last another 5 yrs? Yes if it is a Honda or a Mercedes Benz. My MB C280 is 10 years old with 210,000 miles and still running strong. No! If it is a Ford or GM clunker.

Thats funny, how many classic(20+ years old) asian or euro cars do you see at car shows? My 43 year old Chevy is still running strong today.

My vote lies with the Hyundais, you are likely to get a newer car for your money, maybe even a couple years old off lease.

You would actually benefit from driving a hybrid. Since you’re in California, you might be able to find one… if the celebrities haven’t bought them up already.

Other cars that you should certainly look at would be the Hyundai Accent, Toyota Echo, or a Mazda 3 or 6. Of course, you could also look at a Buick, although they wouldn’t deliver excellent city gas mileage.

Today’s good cars are very long lived. A friend of mine just gave his 20 year old Mazda 626 to his son who is a new driver. The car is totally reliable. If you stick to the aforementioned Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Hyundai Elantra or Sonata, or certain domestic models you will be OK. Since cars don’t rust much in California, finding part cheaply when the car ages will be a challenge if you pic a low production model. All the car listed have been good sellers.

Something that Tom and Ray mention frequently that I took their advice on was a Miata. Especially this time of year, you can get a pretty new one in really good condition for that kind of money and they are a blast to drive. Its my first car and its something I can frankly be proud of. If you DO want the space though the Corolla or Civic are great choices since not only are they known to be very very very reliable cars, but when something DOES break on them you know you are going to easily be able to find parts for them for a long, long time.

20 year old imports at car shows? I dont know about shows, but I am starting to see more people restoring them. I have seen a couple of really spiffy restored Datsun’s recently and a fellow near me has a 1977 Civic that is in immaculate condition. It’s only now that there ARE 30+ year old import cars in America. Americans just didn’t import a lot of 1955 Toyopet’s. The other thing about 20 year old imports in regards to car shows is that, quite simply, they arent that rare. A great many are still on the road as daily drivers. A car that you pass a dozen of in the car lot on the way in is not the car you expect to see actually IN the car show.

Thanks to all for your replies. I realize that I’m not very familiar with the domestic models. Perhaps I can take advantage of a weak dollar. Are there any Big 3 models that meet my criteria (esp. in MPG and reliability)? Is that Toyota-GM factory which made the Prizm still operating?