Used car choices

Hi. I’m moving to LA (from London) and need to buy my first vehicle. I won’t be commuting, but it will get regular use in the city and on freeways.

I want something solid, reliable, under 60k mileage, and not too big (for parking). From my initial research, it seems I should be looking at Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla… and maybe a Honda Fit.

There seem to be plenty of 2006+ models around at the $8,000/$9,000 mark, so my question is this: is it worth stretching my budget that far - to get something with minimal miles? Or can I find other, cheaper models to suit my needs? Is the difference between a $6,000 used car and a $9,000 model really worth it?

I’m nervous enough about the move - I want the vehicle to be the least of my problems!


I’d add the Ford Focus to your list - 2003 and newer are pretty darned reliable, and you’ll get them significantly cheaper than a Civic, Corolla, or Fit…

If you are considering a Honda Fit, then you might want to add the Hyundai Accent to your list. They are smaller and more economical than the Hyundai Elantra, and are also cheaper–but not quite as reliable as the Elantra.

A brand-new, basic Accent with few accessories can be bought for about $9k, and of course it will come with a warranty. Thus, no worries about hidden problems or repairs for several years–unlike a used car.

The really basic models (crank windows, no A/C) of Hyundai Accent or Nissan Versa are $9,000. With discounts, they may even go for around $8,000.

It also seems that you can get used cars like the Toyota Yaris and Corolla for the same price, but they will be more equipped. I couldn’t imagine spending a summer in L.A. without A/C. Today in the Silicon Valley we have a high of 89 degrees.

All good choices on your list. When I lived in London (Hampton Court) I drove a Ford Mondeo – great car. $8k - $9k buys a nice 2006 or newer Hyundai Sonata under 50k miles. You can spend less ($6k) but may be spending more on maintenance/repairs. I all depends on how long you will be living here in the Colonies, how much you will be driving and how many people will usually be in your car.


PS: boot = trunk, bonnet = hood and don’t tell people you’ve quit “doing fags”.

Fender in the UK=bumper in the US
Earth in the UK=ground in the US
Saloon in the UK=Sedan in the US
Ground floor in the UK-first floor in the US

And, most important of all–don’t forget that our beer is chilled!


“And, most important of all–don’t forget that our beer is chilled!”

There are some craft beers that I prefer at room temperature (cellar). And cellar temperature in GB is not all that warm. Lagers should be served cold, though (Budweiser, Miller…)

Yes, spring for the AC package in those kinds of cars, you’ll be glad you did. If you could stretch it to $15k, you could get a new, base model Fiesta sedan brand new with the upgraded stereo and stick shift.

Thanks for the advice! I’d rather go for a more loaded used model than something basic and brand-new. A/C will definitely be a priority!

Will check on the Yaris also.

Ha, language barriers duly noted!

I’m hoping the car will give me at least 3, 4 good years, but I’d like to drive it for as long as possible. Resale value isn’t as important as it being stress-free and reliable during that time: I won’t be doing a daily commute, but I will need for it to keep me alive on the freeways, and offer some protection against LA drivers (who apparently freak out the moment it rains?). And it will be mostly just me in the vehicle.

I like the idea of compact cars for parking (I’ve driven more compact models in England, and like them), but I worry they won’t hold up in any altercation with the bigger sedans, or give the same comfort over longer traffic-filled trips.

“Lagers should be served cold, though (Budweiser, Miller…)”

Actually, those brews are more appropriate for drain cleaning, IMHO.

I’m Not Taking You 'Round The Bend When I Say That Your Safety Concerns Should Be Considered In Your Purchase.

You are wise to think that a larger car would be much safer with the larger cars and lorries operating in the U.S. It would be easier to learn how to park a larger car or better to put up with the inconvenience than to deal with the consequences of getting injured in a little car.

When you choose a safe car, use not only the crash ratings from NHTSA, but also take a look at the data from IIHS and HLDI and get a feel for what the insurance companies are looking at, regarding safety. Your insurance agent is another source for advice.

Since you don’t want to be nervous about a vehicle, buy something in the mid to large size or you will be nervous every time you drive here. Shop safety and reliability.


I’m not fond of lagers, either. I prefer stout , barley wine, and Belgian-style ales. Make mine a trippel!