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Small Car


I’m an MBA student doing some research on small cars. I’m wondering what you think a consumer should look for in buying a small car (4/5 passenger and less than 15K base new). Any makes/models you particularly recommend and why?

$15k does not buy much in new cars (Hyundai Accent). It will, however, buy a decent 3 - 4 year-old one.


How many cars are base price under $15K new? You can research base prices and models on sites like and and come back with makes and models that fit your criteria. Do the research and give us a list and you’ll get some opinions on those cars.

I have an '03 Honda Civic that I bought new and am very happy with 100K miles later. It wasn’t the cheap model, so in '03 it was $17 to 18K. I’m not sure if you can get a Civic new for $15K? If you can, I’d say it is a good car. The base Civic now has the Vtec motor (which I had to up model to have in '03), it has ABS brakes, and it will have low operating and repair costs.

I’m particularly interested in hearing how folks feel about the Chevy Aveo, Kia Soul, Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, and Toyota Yaris. And if you’ve heard of the Tata Nano (now in India…to be introduced in the US in the coming years)…what do you think of this as an alternative?

I think a consumer should look for the local bookstore and get copies of consumer publications that specialize in evaluating new cars and making recommendations. Consumer Reports is, IMHO, the best arranged and organized and utilizes the largest base of data.

In your stat course you studied approaches on how to collect and analyze data in meaningful ways, sampling techniques and weighting and such. If your goal is research, you’d be best served by applying the techniques you studied in stat. Your data will be much more valid and your professor will be much more impressed. Granted, it’s more work than simply trolling for opinions on forums, but yuo’ll have a more successful project.

I could recommend models complete with all my bias, as can everyone else, and testify as to why, but that’s not research data only biased opinion.

Don’t mention Aveo in the same breath with the other three. The Aveo is an inferior and short lived car in comparison with the Yaris, Mazda 2 and Fiesta, all of which have been very sucessful in sales around the world. You forgot the Honda Fit, which is a very sturdy and versatile small car.

GM has promised a new improved Aveo. The old one is a holdover from the now defuct Daewoo orgainization of Korea, the assets of which were acquired by GM.

Americans expect a lot more from small cars than other drivers. So the vehicle must meet US needs, and the Fit and Yaris have proven very reliable. The Mazda 2 and Fiesta are new here, but the builders have lots of experienc adapting a very successful European and Japanese vehicle to US needs.

Forget the Nano for a while; this vehicle will only be suitable as an urban runabout in a multi-car family.

If you want the best value, as an MBA student, it would be a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla in the latest year I could spend your $15K. New cars are not always the best buy to begin with. These cars retain their value and have proven reliability over many years of “test marketing”. Personally, I couldn’t live with the sub compacts…

If you’re keen on the Yaris, do NOT get the 3 door version, get the sedan.
Also, the Cobalt will be a better vehicle than the Aveo

I just bought a 2007 Nissan Versa a couple weeks ago and I really like it. Mine is a 1.8 w/six speed stick. I don’t know how the other engine/transmission options perform, but mine is pretty peppy. It also has a timing chain and the water pump is not buried under the timing chain cover (think long-term expenses). I’m 6’-1" with a tall upper body and I find it quite comfortable, and I spend quite a bit of time in it. I think that you can get a new one pretty cheap, as far as new cars go. It is also, at about 2,700 lbs., a fairly heavy, solid car.