akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
[personal profile] akawil
I haven't posted here in a long time, but I've had a significant life status change lately. To wit, as of this past November 1st, I'm no longer at the university where I'd been since 1990 as undergrad, grad student, and post-doc.

Instead, I'm now working at a small start-up in New Jersey. It's fun, exciting work, and so far I'm having a good time.

However (the point of this post), the start-up is not in a place which is conveniently reachable by public transportation. I've rented a car from Avis, but the cost of this is adding up quickly. So I need to buy a car.

Buying cars is hard.

My company has (through the company we contract our HR through) a program with Toyota which gives us a no-negotiation-required discount -- $200 over dealer's invoice on new cars, and similar margins over the dealership's purchase price on used cars. So I've been looking at Toyotas.

At first I looked at a used Corolla, but the price they quoted me on it was $16,000 -- apparently they paid too much for it -- and that's essentially the same price as a new Corolla, so today [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen and I went to test-drive a new Corolla.

And we didn't like it. The ergonomics of the interior are awkward -- there's an oddly-placed handle where I keep bumping my head -- and the suspension is way too stiff, so we feel every little bounce and jolt of the potholed Jersey City streets we were testdriving over.

Larger Toyotas (the Camry, and the like) are bigger than I'd really feel comfortable driving, and also seem too big for the fairly teeny parking space I've rented.

So unfortunately I'm now back at square one, and [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen suggested I post to my Livejournal.

So, what do people like in compact cars, for about the $16000 range, in either new or trustworthy used? Any recommendations?

Date: 2005-12-07 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syringavulgaris.livejournal.com
[Disclaimer: I'm still not entirely clear on what qualifies as compact. To me, anything smaller than my 1972 Catalina looks tiny, which is to say everything put out in the last twenty years.]

We have been, for the most part, happy with the Saturn. Not very happy at all with the scoundrels at the dealership, who have (it turns out, we discovered recently) been merrily charging Steve for work that was covered under our warranty, but I partially blame myself for leaving it in his innocents-abroad hands. Ahem. But the vehicle has answered pretty well. I am given to understand that the company has become more and more borgish over the years, so it may not be any better than J. Random Automotive these days.

(We have the SL2, because the engine on the SL and SL1 were lawnmowerish, and this was the lowest one with at least a pretense at acceleration.)

Brian bought a used Hyundai Elantra, and is well-content.

Beth loves her Nissan Altima in ALL CAPS.

Date: 2005-12-07 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victorthecook.livejournal.com
16G for a used Corolla? Egad - that's no bargain.

Since you're in a hurry, if you're not completely and utterly strapped for cash, I'd recommend a new car -- it's easier to find an acceptable one quickly, and they'll tend to be more reliable.

I'd recommend you start by shelling out $7 or so for an Edmunds guide, which lists the prices the dealers pay for new cars. That gives you a fighting chance of a good deal. There's also a book called "Don't Get Taken Every TIme", by Remar Sutton, which I found very, very helpful when dealing with car salesmen. Those two publications together probably paid off $100 for every $1 I spent on them.

It's been a while since I last looked, but I'd definitely consider the Honda Civic line; I loved my stick-shift Civic EX sedan, and my brother has a Civic Si hatchback he's very pleased with. The last car we bought was a Subaru Impreza, which is a little noisy on the highway, but otherwise very nice, and has held up well. We actually got it because Lara loved the engine compartment; go figure.

I'd stay away from Volkswagens; the friends who've had them loved them when they weren't in the shop -- but they were always in the shop.

Date: 2005-12-07 01:35 pm (UTC)
immlass: (Default)
From: [personal profile] immlass
We just went through this in October. We bought a Beetle, which may be out of your price range, but we really like it so far. We haven't had any problems with it so far, but we have only had it for 6 weeks (which includes road trips to Pittsburgh and Albany and some driving in snowstorms).

Our other candidate was the low-end Saturn, which probably meets your needs. There are things I don't like about it, especially compared to my older Saturn (2000 LS2), but it's not a bad car and would probably do the job. However, service is a bitch for Saturns in the JC area. If the JC Saturn is still open, NEVER go there for service. They were incompetent and did bad things to my car. Go to the dealership in Union instead.

Sorry I don't have more encouraging things to say, but I hope it's helpful.

Date: 2005-12-07 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] braider.livejournal.com
Test drive a Honda Civic. Some folks may still have new 2005 models on the lot, which they'd be happy to get rid of.

Date: 2005-12-08 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tayefeth.livejournal.com
I really like Civics.

I recommend a Mazda

Date: 2005-12-10 12:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angelrenaissanc.livejournal.com
Even though I own two identical Fords in different colors. One of the best htings about our Fords is that they have mazda engines and this has enabled us to shop at the Mazda dealership for parts and service and expertise. I have never been happier with any car company than Mazda. They make good cars with good parts, their warranties are solid and they stand by them. They stock the parts for their old cars for a very great number of years so if you get attached you won't have to worry about giving it up in time. I think a Mazda 3 might work, it's the "zoom zoom" car. Accoridng to industry stats the price that you can usually get down to in bargaining is about $750 less than that quoted you initially if you are a white caucasian and that is a fair price at that point (this apparently usually takes about 45 minutes of bargaining whether you are good at bargaining or not as long as you sit it out in the salesman's office for that long). So, if you're into looking outside of Toyota, give this a try. A friend just bought a mazda 3 recently and has been very happy with it. I believe its within your price range also. Either way, best of luck!
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