Recommendations for a New Car

My mechanic just gave me the bad news - my 16 year-old Saturn has a blown headgasket, and he doesn’t think it’s worth fixing (needs new struts too, and he says the transmission could go at any time). I was hoping to get a couple more years out of it, but such is life. As I wasn’t planning on getting a new car for a while, I’m completely at a loss regarding what to even test drive. Here’s what I’d like (don’t laugh!): a reasonably safe smaller car (similar in size to my Saturn SL1) that gets at least 40 mpg on the highway, isn’t too expensive (less than 20K), and oh yes, I’d really like one that was made in the U.S. Any ideas? Thank you very much!

Check Consumer Reports for their recommended used cars in various price ranges.

Toyota Corolla comes to mind. These are plentiful, tough, and economical. And one of 10 Toyota models made in America!

Until very recently, GM and Ford simply purchased their economical cars from Asian companies and re-badged them. They now feel ready to start building them themselves, but many have not been around long enough to comfortably gauge their long-term reliability. Such cars include the Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus. Since you seem to be an owner that would hold onto a car far longer than most people, long-term reliability should be an important feature.

The Focus has been around for nearly 15 years and keeps getting better every year, so it’s worth a look. Many regard it as a very nice, very reliable small car.

The Ford Fiesta is well-regarded and meets your modest criteria. Check its price and review over here:

You would also do well to check out the Hyundai Elantra. For a few bucks more you can get a highly ranked 40 mpg car.

Ford Focus with a manual transmission–the ones sold in the USA are built (final assembly) in the USA. Fiesta sold here is made in Mexico.

Ford for sure. Drive a few of them as rentals. Great cars.

U can also check on my times site to see where each car is manufactured.

Chevy Cruze is really worth a test drive. I believe the ECO model does 42MPG highway. The Ford Focus is decent too.

Other decent US built cars are Honda Civic. I would definitely look at Hyundai but they are Korean built.

Try them all and see what appeals. Competition is nice and has yielded some great cars.

I would definitely look at Hyundai but they are Korean built.

Hyundai…builds many cars here in the US…

Thank you all so much for the great recommendations! Now I at least have a starting point and can research a little more and take some test drives. Good comment on the reliability being important as well - I’ve only had two cars in my life, and I had them both for 16 years so that’s definitely an important feature as well.

Check fuel mileage for almost all vehicles sold in the US here:

If you search by class, you will have a short list of cars, both new and used, that meet your mileage criterion.

If the car met every specification you wanted, but was built outside the US, would you really pass it up?

A new Mazda 3 sedan with the Skyactiv engine will get 40mpg on the highway and should come in at about 20k. However, I believe they are made in Japan

I agree with bscar2 on the US cars issue.

The Mazda 3 is a pretty sweet car. I was quite impressed by the interior styling and it’s got a lot of kick.

I’d be interested in checking out the Fiesta. The sedan starts at $13k and it’s advertised at 40mpg. And you wont even have to worry about higher service costs that hybrids incur.

There are more than a couple threads on here about what’s actually American made and what’s not, and there’s no real way to tell anymore. Eliminating any single make or model because of where it’s made would be foolhardy, IMO.