alex Dork
8/10/10 9:41 a.m.

My better half may be looking to buy new if financing works out the way she likes. So, I'm looking at cars that won't bore us both to death over the course of 10-15 years in the $20k neighborhood. Priorities are reliability (warranty), gas mileage, a degree of comfort for a 100+ mile commute, and some level of fun-to-drive je ne sais quoi.

What springs to my mind:
- Ford Fiesta
- Kia Koup
- Hyundai Genesis 2.0
- Honda Fit
- V6 Mustang?

What am I missing? Who has the best finance offers currently? Who has the best warranties? I'm a virgin to the new-car-buying experience.

z31maniac Dork
8/10/10 10:31 a.m.

Mazda 3? Wife loves hers and I really like my Speed 3.

No idea if they are still doing it, but non-speed3s had 0% financing when we bought ours 5-6 weeks ago.

Civic Si?

iceracer Dork
8/10/10 11:02 a.m.

I have a 2011 Fiesta on order. 9 weeks and counting. So I can't give a report on its attributes.
Ford says it has been shipping problems.

Salanis SuperDork
8/10/10 12:13 p.m.

Have you suggested to her getting a Certified Pre Owned car? You'll get a bit more car for the money, with just as good a warranty, and will sidestep the teething issues brand new cars have.

Couldn't you get a base Mini Cooper for <$20k?

4cylndrfury SuperDork
8/10/10 12:36 p.m.

Cobalt SS Sedan...chebby haz good warranties too

iceracer Dork
8/10/10 1:00 p.m.

Fiesta SE hatch, 5 spd with sport package- $ 16050.

1988RedT2 Reader
8/10/10 1:57 p.m.

+1 for Mazda 3. We've got a 2010 2.5 sport with the 6-speed.

pigeon HalfDork
8/10/10 3:11 p.m.
Salanis wrote: Have you suggested to her getting a Certified Pre Owned car? You'll get a bit more car for the money, with just as good a warranty, and will sidestep the teething issues brand new cars have.

This. A CPO 3-series BMW in that price range will have a 6 year/100k mile warranty and be a much nicer vehicle than a new Ford Fiesta or anything else new at the 20k price point. Of course, if gas mileage is going to be worse, but the "Joy"* of driving and owning the BMW will be far better. Financing through BMWFS is great and they usually have some promo going like first couple months payments free; otherwise Pentagon Federal Credit Union will finance for up to 72 months at 2.99%, which is almost free money.

*BMW is no longer about being the Ultimate Driving Machine, it's now about the Joy of BMW-ness, or so says their new advertising campaign. Where's that puking smilie when you need it?

octavious New Reader
8/10/10 3:34 p.m.

My wife has an 08 Mazda 3 hatchback or whatever it is with the 5spd. She loves it. We have a little over 50K miles with dead reliability, regular maintenance like oil changes and one set of tires about 2K ago. She drives about 65 miles round trip and averages 29-32 mpg. Gas mileage dips when she lets me drive it anywhere. I saw where the 2010 3's had 0% APR which would be great but I think the 2010 is ugly. Its almost like it is smiling at you.

Also if figuring in gas mileage you might want to consider what cars take premium fuel and what can get by with regular. For instance we considered the Mini and I think it was a Saab as well but both take premium gas.

z31maniac Dork
8/10/10 3:39 p.m.

I go through approx a tank per week in my Speed 3, at current gas prices the extra .20 cents per gallon is less than $150/year, so even if went through 3 tanks a week which would be approaching 50k miles a year, still less than $500/year.

Not really a concern, but if you're cutting it that close to buy a new car…......I'd say you shouldn't be buying a new car.

pigeon HalfDork
8/10/10 3:46 p.m.

There's a CPO '07 Z4 with 20k miles asking $24k less than 15 miles from you...

alex Dork
8/10/10 5:57 p.m.

OK, where does one find these CPO BMWs? Individual dealer websites, or is there a master database?

Duke SuperDork
8/10/10 7:45 p.m.

Go to and search. It will find inventory in whatever radius you specify from your location.

I bought a CPO 2003 325i, sport pack, 5 speed, HIDs, sunroof, heated leather. It was an off-lease car with about 25,000 miles on it, and about 30 months in service when I bought it. I paid a hair over $22k and it was in great shape. Anything that went wrong with it was fixed with no hassle before the bumper-to-bumper CPO ran out, and it hasn't had any trouble since then, though it is now completely out of warranty.

I would highly recommend the program.

Salanis SuperDork
8/10/10 8:18 p.m.
alex wrote: OK, where does one find these CPO BMWs? Individual dealer websites, or is there a master database?

BMW isn't the only company with a CPO program. Pretty much any dealer will do that.

Even if you decide you're interested in something like a Mazda 3, just get the car you were considering buying new, and save a few grand by getting one that's 2 years old.

Just helped my grandparents buy a 'new' car, and they went from looking at $30k-$35k for a 2010 TSX, to $22k for an '07 TL. Not to mention saving an extra grand on tax.

Duke SuperDork
8/10/10 8:30 p.m.

Most makers do have a CPO program, true, but BMW's is pretty solid and BMW Bank usually has great financing deals available.

pigeon HalfDork
8/10/10 8:52 p.m.

I'm a two-time winner with BMWs CPO program and a one-time loser with both Volvo's and Honda's. It really depends on the work of the local dealer and the quality of the inspection. The Wife's XC90 had a major accident they hid from me until after I got it home 4 hours away. It took a lot of yelling to deal with that, including having to replace a complete HID headlamp unit ($800+) and some small stuff like exterior trim clips still isn't right but I am just dealing with it now. The Honda was an Accord, and I won the Lemon Law arbitration and made them buy it back because they refused to address a simple front end shimmy/vibration. The slimy dealer wouldn't comply with the arbitration award until the day before the DMV was going to yank their dealer license for non-compliance.

One tip on BMWs at least that helped me when I got my 750 is know what you want and then keep a close watch on the dealer's own web site. Cars usually appear there before they make it onto the BMWUSA web site. Also, if you find a salesperson you can trust (yeah, yeah) tell them what you want and they can go to auction and get it for you and have it certified - CPO costs about $1k to add to a car, and I think that's pretty true across the board. Also, don't be afraid of a road trip to get what you want. Some dealers are much more aggressive in their pricing than others so much so that it can be worth a half-day drive.

patgizz SuperDork
8/10/10 10:30 p.m.

if you have v6 mustang on the list put v6 camaro on it too. 300hp and 30mpg is a good thing, for a shade above 20k if you know where to look and bargain a little.

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