What Car to Buy?

I am a 30 year old single mother with debt out the whazoo from my lovely ex-husband. I am currently driving a 97 Honda Accord that is on it’s last leg at around 250,000 miles. I can’t afford the repairs, and am shopping for a new car (or at least new to me). I have found four cars that might work for me, but I am curious what you think would be my best bet:

New 2008 Honda Fit (Base Model, Manual Transmission) - Drive out quote $15,260.00

New 2008 Toyota Corolla (Base Model, 4-DOOR CE SEDAN, Manual Transmission) - Drive out quote $14,429.00

New 2008 Chevy Aveo5 LS (5-dr Hatchback, Automatic Transmission – with Auto pkg, Stereo, spoiler and fog light upgrades)- Drive out quote $14,945 BEFORE employee GM discount (could be close to $2000)

If I were going on price alone, the choice would be clear - BUT, when I review safety and performance, the Toyota (or the Fit) might be my option. If I look at the total package (all inclusinve “perks”) the Fit tops the list. Is it worth spending the $3000 more for the overall package of the Fit? Will this pay off in the long run?

Other facts to consider - I have financing for $15,000 from my credit Union with 5.45 interest rate (which is great considering I have a less than 600 credit score) and I have someone willing to purchase my current car for $1500.


Stereos, spoilers, and fog lights should not be used as a criteria when buying a car IMHO. Those are gimmicks used to make a sale; and it works very well on average. The only options that really matter are powe steering/brakes, A/C, etc. and those are pretty much standard anymore.
My personal preference would be the Corolla, although a lot could depend on how fond you are of a manual transmission.

Being a single mother with a heavy debt load though, is it smart to buy a new car? For the first few years you’re going to be paying mostly interest on this car loan and coupled with depreciation will put you a bit deeper in debt.

Just curious. What repairs does the Honda need? And what is the 4th car you mention?

The Aveo has a significantly lower reliability rating, and is a Korean economy car built by the original Daewoo organization. I would not recommnd this one for you. Of the other 2, the Fit will give you better gas mileage and very versatile cargo storage, if that is important. The Corolla is equally robust and as reliable as the Fit.

Having said all this, a low mileage used car for about $9000 will serve you just as well.

I think a used four-door 2000-2002 Honda Civic with less than 100,000 miles would be your best choice. However, since this is a multiple choice question, I recommend the Fit. The Aveo gets poor fuel economy for its size and Toyota has been having quality issues recently.

What’s wrong with your current car, and how much do you think it will cost to fix it? I bet you can fix it for less than 4 or 5 car payments on a new car.

Others have already said it, but I’ll say it again: if you can’t afford repairs on your current car, you shouldn’t be getting a brand new car. Car payments for years cost a lot more than the occasional repair.

Also, just because you can take out a loan for $15K doesn’t mean you should! What about a $9-10K loan for a used car like Docnick suggested? You could get a pretty decent car (maybe even under warranty still) for that.

Does GM give an employee discount on used cars too?

First your interest rate is really good.

Of your choices skip the AVEO.

Can your CU rate apply to slightly used cars too? My CU does this. If so I would seriously consider a recent/low mileage used vehicle if discounted enough. You may be able to get away with at least a $10k used car(likely nicer) vs $15k brand new econo box.

If you cannot pay for repairs how do you expect to maintain and pay for a new car?