I think the best resource is the April issue of Consumer
Reports. CR has matrices for every year and model of car for
about the last ten years that show the reliability of
different car systems. It jives IMO with what generally
hears: Honda and Toyota are the most reliable. OTOH, certain
Toyota models, like the Tundra, are doing very poorly for
Still, you might be fine with a Corolla.
I plan to use email to negotiate the price of my next car.
This is based on reading reports here of much success with
Makes no difference. It's a new vehicle, and that's what
RPS I've been wondering the same recently and am still researching.
For what's its worth Consumer Reports (CR) has picked the '08 Elantra
SE as it's best small car.
Here is their summery:
"The Elantra is a pleasant small sedan. We found the ride comfortable
and road noise low, but the Elantra still isn't as agile as a Mazda3
or Honda Civic. The engine booms at high revs but returns good fuel
economy. Cabin access is fairly easy, and the roomy interior is put
together nicely. It also has more standard safety equipment than some
competitors, including ABS and curtain air bags. Electronic stability
control is standard on the SE trim and, combined with wider tires and
a tighter suspension, makes the car very secure. IIHS offset-crash
results are good. First-year reliability has been much better than
average. An Elantra Touring hatchback model will arrive for 2009."
Another interesting new feature CR has is under "Price and Costs"
They calcuate the overall cost of owning the car for 1-8 years to be
$0.46 a mile which they rate as "Excellent" which is their highest
I'm going to check the other car site and see how these cars you've
I'd first narrow things down by safety, reliability, depreciation, and
What are the top four compacts in each category.
Toyota Corolla (assuming 2009 model ranks highly in Side & Rear tests)
J.D. Power Long Term Dependability (3 year)
Only Toyota and Honda rank above the industry average
Longevity (11-20 years) (of companies making small, non-luxury cars)
You can buy the base Corolla with a manual transmission very
inexpensively, but most people in the U.S. don't buy manual transmission
Buying a slightly used Corolla or Civic rarely makes sense because these
models are highly discounted by dealers, yet have very high resale
value. As a result, a good deal on a new one is often less expensive
than a bad deal on a used one.
Once you narrow down by tangible factors, that's really up to your
Consumer Reports is a start, though they tend to emphasize reliability
and value, less on handling and performance.
It depends on where you live. Carsdirect can at least give you a
baseline of what to expect, but they tend to be a bit higher in price
than what you can get on your own, or through a non-profit buying service.
The Corolla is new for 2009, so be careful. I've been burned by the
first year of a new model (though it was a Honda).
About now, if they have any left.
We're also in the same situation. A 12 year old Camry that while still
reliable has some issues. I don't like the lack of rear headrests, and
most new vehicles seem to have full rear headrests (3 of them). Now that
my kids are bigger I want something more suitable for them, but I'm
thinking of going down to the Corolla instead of another Camry if the
legroom is sufficient, just for the better mileage.
Bottom line is that if you're looking for another vehicle that will last
12 years, and still work well and look decent, get the Corolla.
I'd agree the Corolla is a good choice. I have been enjoying the heck
out of my '09 Matrix S (Corolla with more interior hauling capacity).
has the Camry 2.4l engine and moves along pretty quickly. If you go
this route I'd suggest selecting an upgrade on tires as the stock 16"
stock tires don't do anything for performance (as tested in the June
We looked at the Prius and were told the battery had a 10 year/
100,000 mile warranty but no one seemed to know If the terms of
the warranty specified what amount of lost battery capacity would
be considered unacceptable.
The other thought I had was the fact that your resale value would
depend highly upon the cost and availability of a new battery 10
years down the road. No one at the dealership could accuratly
speculate on future battery availability.
Good luck with whatever you choose.
On the other hand, a slightly used American car--let's say a Ford
Focus--is an incredible deal, with most of the big depreciation already
paid for and yet most of the car's life remaining.
If you can stand a Focus, a slightly used one is your best bet.
Most automakers are making pretty reliable and durable cars these days.
1) Regarding fuel economy, the EPA numbers for 2008 and later model years
should more closely reflect real-world numbers so you can compare. I do not
know if this is still the case, but in the past, Hyundais have had poorer
fuel economy than a comparable Toyota, Honda, or Nissan and tend to be a
little noisier. A friend traded in a Honda minivan for a Hyundai minivan,
and while the Hyundai has good performance and comfort, it is noisier on the
highway and gets noticeably poorer fuel economy.
I recommend that you test drive each candidate to see if they are
comfortable for you, if you like how they drive, road noise, convenience,
Also price all of the vehicles with the equipment that you want. Hyundais
tend to have more content than comparable Japanese vehicles.
2) Edmunds.com seems to have pretty good car reviews.
3) I would purchase the vehicle from the dealer that sells the vehicle new
because dealers that do not have that particular brand's franchise do not
have access to the factory training and equipment that the new car dealer
4) You will probably get a better deal on a 2008 than a 2009, and if you are
going to keep the vehicle for 12 years, depreciation won't make that much of
5) Factory and dealer demos (vehicles that have never been titled) are
generally available only through franchised dealers. A "used" vehicle is
one that has been licensed and titled, and are available pretty much
anywhere, although the vehicles in the best condition are most likely to be
at the franchised dealer.
The best time to buy a vehicle is generally at the end of the model year,
especially if there is a major model change like a new body style. Since
new models are introduced throughout the year, the end of the model year
will vary depending on when the vehicle was released. The 2009 Corolla is
new, so you will probably get a better deal on a 2008.
Besides the time of year, there is a best time of the month, generally the
1st or second working day of the month, when automakers have their month-end
close. If there are factory incentives on the vehicle, they will tend to be
better at the end of the incentive period because incentives are generally
stepped up towards the end of the period.
The Corolla is a very well put together car.
Here many are used as cabs, even to the airport.
I've been told by the cabbies they go about 200k miles before major
repair, the Camry goes about 150k miles for the same.
Unfortunately for me it needs a telescoping steering wheel as I sit far
back. The car is designed for drivers much shorter than my 5'-11".
Also unfortunately there are just too many of them here, mostly beige,
one would have trouble finding one's Corolla in the parking lots.
The best deals here are on off lease cars.
lots of discussion here, my additions:
at this point, it's clear that side airbags are a significant addition
to safety, i'd tend to make them a must.
diseases of japanese cars, toyota and honda included, tend to be more
age related than mileage related. as such, "easiest" way to own them
might be to buy new or maybe one year old, then sell around the time
of the "big service" where you have to change the timing belt. repeat
as necessary. as pointed out, the depreciation on toyota or honda is
pretty low, so a good deal on a new one is as cheap as a bad deal on a
one year old. either way, it'll depreciate less while you own it than
other makes, so a little more expense up front ends up saving you over
the long run.
if you are more into keep it until it rusts away, as with the 12 year
old Camry, that's obviously less of an issue. in which case, you might
want to consider a hyundai along with focus, mazda, nissan, because
the cost of entry is less for them. hyundai quality has come a long
Well, that gives the nod to Honda--with its Safety for Everyone
campaign, where every car gets every safety feature that was available
at the time the car was introduced. Where the manufacturer does not put
more safety features into the higher end cars and fewer into the lower
(There's a big discussion about run-flat tires on the Odyssey, though;
for years, many argued them as a safety feature, but since Honda has
since made them optional and not mandatory, I think that shows the lie
that people told themselves about it being a safety feature.)
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