questionslooking to get a brand new car that is less than…

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Personally I wouldn't buy a new car. In two years your $20k car will only be worth around $12 k. In three it will be under 10. That being said it's your money, always haggle. In fact walk away and in a couple of days they will usually call you back and drop thousands off the price, that is just the starting point of the negotiations. I found a good ballpark starting place as a buyer is 35% off base price and 50% off options. Good luck!

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Hyundai has come a long way, they now build a good quality competitive product. Your success with negotiating down depends on a lot of factors. The newer a model is usually means less inventory in stock at dealerships, which means they can ask more money. I typically hit all of the car research sites and get a good average price to start negotiating - kbb.com, edmunds.com and the like. Always remember, its just a car. The more you are emotionally involved and feel like you have to have it, the more money the dealer will get from you. After saying all that, there is nothing like the feeling of buying a new car, like sweet victory, but only if your not totally dominated by sales people and finance people. One other thing, always have prearranged finance. That makes the dealership more honest about their rates they offer you.

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I would recommend looking in to the Ford Fiesta. Very good mileage on a well-developed platform. While it is fairly new (in its current iteration) here in the US, it is pretty well a direct import of the Fiesta that has been doing very well in Europe for several years now.

As for the Veloster that you mention, it is a very, very, new platform. For the same reasons you mentioned (avoiding very new cars) I would probably steer away from it for the time being. Hyundai has undoubtedly come a long ways in the past couple decades but do you really want to be their guinea pig?

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Nissan Versa is around $11 grand, not sure about the reliability...

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Hyundai Elantra... I have the 2012 w/ Aftermarket Heated Leather Seats and all the bells and whistles under 17k out the door. It boasts a 40MPG, but I average 33MPG overall.

Great car though, and if you get the red or dark-blue one, it looks sporty (even though it's only a 4cyllinder lol)

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@jgribb1: Your advice is spot on.

Spend some time finding out everything you can about the dealer's postion. The sites you mention will give you the dealer invoice and most incentives that are available. On most cars, you should be able to get pretty close to invoice less incentives (maybe a few hundred more). The dealer still makes money via 'holdback' and 'finance incentives' from the manufacturer. One thing to keep in mind, the dealer inventory levels are at historically low levels-less reason for them to deal on new cars (but trades are really high!).

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@lparsons42: Yeahbut- the US Fiesta is still different.
The US model has a builtin lifespan of 5 years/80k miles before major repair is expected. That's repair, not maintenance.
I've had very good luck in buying a slightly older model with a good reputation, and spending a $1k or so to fix it up.
Like he said, that other $20k car will be worth maybe $10k in a couple of years- if it's a good deal buy that. Spend maybe $1500 on suspension, a detailing and a tuneup. Trust me, a five year old Honda, Cadillac, Nissan or Toyota will be a much better vehicle than a two year old Ford Fiesta.

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in the past i never understood leasing vs buying. but now i get it. if you want to buy a new car, and have money to buy one, and you want to drive a new car all the time, better lease it. after down payment, monthlies will be lower if you lease, and after the lease is up, you can go and pick whatever new has cropped up.

Hyundai's and Kia's are nice nowadays. cheap with great standard options and crazy warranty. some are even built in US

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I second @anorion's rec for a Toyota Corolla. I'm on my 3rd one since 1991, paid well less than $19k for a 2010 model that had 1 mile on it (I bought it new in 2009). Can't go wrong with a Corolla, imho.

Good luck!

(P.S. Also got 0% financing, make sure you look for financing deals/incentives).

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My vote goes with @jamesbottomtooth because we have a 2008 Hyundai Sante FE and a 2012 Kia Soul. Both vehicles are very fuel efficient and have practically a bumper-to-bumper 10,000 mile/10 year warranty, plus they were made in Alabama. JM2¢.

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@okham: IQ has a price premium attached to it for it's size.... the mileage (in real life, not on paper) is actually worse than it's bigger brothers the scion XD/toyota yaris.

with that said - got my wife an XD and she loves it. peppy, great mileage, surprisingly roomy considering it's size.

The corolla is another great option. If you like the american brands - the new focus is surprisingly well built (compared to the old focuses which felt like old tin cans) - the chevy cruze is getting good reviews, but i've never been in one so i can't comment.

the elantra is okay - i didn't like the ride in one that i rode in. I did however like the sonata/kia optima very much, but the price on either quickly gets above 20k if you start adding any options, so keep that in mind.

there's also the mazda 3 - a pretty solid choice and with the new engines, they are getting great mileage.

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@jsimsace: Surely you mean a 100,000 mile warranty ;)

I work at Mazda, but have nothing to gain by plugging them. This is all my personal opinion despite working at a mazda dealership.

I'm definitely thinking about getting a 2012 Skyactiv M3 in about 3-5 years whenever my hybrid battery dies again (i've put 40k miles on it since i replaced it. I hope to get more than 120k out of this one...) Anyways the technology they put in that M3 is quite remarkable and it's cool that you can get 40mpg out of 87 octane nonhybrid technology.

Mazda3 w/Skyactiv technology is great but the invoice price on those is about 21k I think... I leased a M3 from 07-09 and it was a real fun car to drive and has a lot of bang for the buck.

Just a couple more things about skyactiv. Compared to a regular Mazda3 Skayctiv gives you 13:1 compression ratio, with (i think) 10% more horsepower and 15% better fuel economy. I could go on forever with boring stuff but I'll stop here. Runnin outta room anyways

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I haven't a clue about what's out there for new cars now, but I do know that I wouldn't buy one without considering one of the alternate fuels models; gas & electric (or whatever is the latest innovation). Price of gas is not going down to stay, so it seems a "no brainer" to prepare for using alternatve fuels. (I may be naive, but I still think a safe, reliable, moderately priced car that gets 100 mpg is a possibility. I don't think we'll ever see it, but I believe it could be made.) Good Luck!

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so maybe this is just a country girls line of thinking, but isn't it just as "bad" to be reliant on electricity to make your car go as gasoline? since to make electricity someone somewhere has to dig big holes in the earth and mine out coal to burn to make into the electricity as versus the oil to make into gasoline.
as to a car that gets 100mpg, back in 1993 i bought a new car that still in 2012 gets actual city milage of 50+mpg

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I'd like into either a Hyndai or Scion for that budget.. but I'd lean towards the Scion because the price tag on the cars is no strings attached.. meaning that the base price of the car is the price tag so the price can't go below the price tag nor could go above, unless they added some features on it.

Bought a Scion xB last year and couldn't be any happier with it.

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I have to chime in and back the Mazda 3. My girlfriend got a new car not long ago, and our target was in that price range. The Mazda 3 was by far the best handling, best braking (pretty key in my book), and peppiest option. Plus, part of the platform sharing with Ford means it rolled in a lot of Volvo safety advances that came from the S40/C30 lines, so they crash pretty well too. I've also been around a number of generations of the, using them through ZipCar, and they seem to have consistent quality and reliability.

At least when we were looking, nothing else came close, and we tried Subarus, Nissans, Toyotas (with all their problems in recent years that was unlikely), and I think a Hyundai or two.

BTW, many of the current Fords use the same platform, so that helps keep some parts costs down. (The stock Mazda 3 oil filter even says something about Ford on it... )

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@ruger9mm: The end price will depend on what the dealer's backend on it is too. Invoice is a starting point for pricing on common cars. Find out what that is, and work down from there. (You can lookup or buy that data.) Dealers get manufacturer incentives which drive the price below the published invoice price by a good bit, so you should be able to wiggle down maybe a couple K, but don't expect it to go too much lower. Also, as common knowledge as it is, it's still true that they'll sell New-Old-Stock cheaper than the latest one. i.e. If you found a 2011 sitting on the lot now, still shrinkwrapped, it'll sell for a lot less than a 2012, and that a lot less than a 2013.

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Just bought my wife a Nissan Juke, funny looking little thing, but it's not bad and really grows on you, gets good gas mileage, 32mpg, has a turbo and rides like a car with the hieght of a small suv, which was what she wanted with a bad back. it's the right height to get in and out of easily. We picked up ours for 18k.

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I have a Honda Fit Sport - bought it new in '08 for $17.5k, still worth about $11k or so. I drive pokey on the interstate and watch my gas readout show me about 40mpg or so.
Fun to drive and it is amazing how much stuff you can put in it.

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@goatcrapp: Personally, I would recommend staying away from the new Focus. I am fairly happy with mine, but it does have an odd shake that comes from the transmission (normal according to the manufacturer). At about 2000 miles my battery died and that is definitely not normal. In addition, you can't just replace the battery yourself, you have to take it to a service station because it will generate a check engine light.

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Nthing the Corolla...or, in my case, the Matrix which is a Corolla wagon. Or the Pontiac Vibe, which I've heard described as a Toyota cosplaying as an American car. I bought mine in 2007 and the only problem I've had with it is a bracket that holds up the heat shield braking. And that was redesigned on the 2009 model, so no worries there.

Definitely haggle. Or, especially if you aren't pressed for time on buying, figure out exactly what you want and email all of the dealerships in your area. Tell them exactly what you want and ask for the price including all of the taxes and other fees (drive-it-off-the-lot price) assuming no trade-in and no financing (get your own financing or pay cash) and nothing you don't want. Take the lowest price offer that comes in, reemail the next lowest price dealerships and tell them that you'll buy the car from them if they can beat this lowest price. Then, have the money in hand when you go to pick up the car so they can't tack on extras.

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@gt0163c: yes the vibe and the '03-'09 matrix are essentially the same car. same factory. 90%+ the same parts. vibe has a few gm parts replacing similar(and perfectly functional) Toyota parts just to mess things up.

buddy has an '03 Vibe. the blend door (the part that controls if the air coming out of your vents is outside, or recirculated) "flaps" b/c the GM specific Design has a motor w/ plastic gears, and the motor just runs until it senses resistance. eventually a few of the teeth break off and the motor just hops over that gap, with the door flapping back &forth like a metronome. the Toyota part is completely different.

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@cowboydann: Of course you are correct.....I was drinking out of the same pitcher as gmwhit earlier. :)

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DO NOT buy new, especially if you're only going to be spending that amount of money. If you're set on a 'new' car, buy one that is one year old (not really 'used') with less than 10k miles. The last car I bought had a new MSRP of $35k; I paid $28k when it was 10 months old and had 3,000 miles with years of warranty coverage left.

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1978-1991 Mercedes 300SD. You can still pick up a nice one for less than $6k, it will still get about 28mpg (diesel), they get around 480 miles per tank, they are easy to maintain, and they last for ever.

All that durability has a price, though....they are very, very slow off the line. You'd have to adjust your driving style to accommodate.

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Honda Civic. I drove my first one for 15 years, and the only repairs I ever had to make were to replace the radiator and the CV joints. After 15 years of daily use it still drove great but couldn't pass Texas State inspection, so I took it to New Mexico which doesn't have inspections and sold it for 20% of what I'd originally paid for it. I have had my second one for four year, it's been paid off for two of them. It still gets about 35mpg and I have not yet had to make a repair.

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If you are female, take a guy with you. I find that, for reasons best suited to neanderthal society, car salesmen cut through the crap a lot faster if there is testosterone present on your side of the table. Your guy could be little more than a cardboard cutout, he doesn't have to speak or negotiate, yet it still affects how much time the salesman will waste trying to flamboozle you. At least here in Texas.

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I have to wonder if all the folks suggesting not to buy new have actually priced used cars lately. Thanks to cash for clunkers,used cars are very expensive right now. It may be one of the first times in history that it actually pencils out to purchase a new car, particularly given that a new car comes with a warranty and you can get very inexpensive financing right now.

The first two cars I'd drive in this price range are the Hyundai Veloster and the Subaru Impreza, because they interest me the most and the new Hyundai's are very nice with the best available warranty available. However, test drive what speaks to you most first, then drive the others. It is a good thing to make a sales person sweat a little bit by letting them know you're evaluating the competition before making a final decision.

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@smilingboognish: Cash for clunkers greatly increased prices for used cars that would typically be priced under $8,000.

2012 New Toyota Carolla Auto base- Edmunds true market value: $16,653

2011 Used Toyota Carolla Auto base- Edmunds dealer retail, good condition, 12,000 miles: $14,614

Note there are no big differences between these two cars as the styling was updated for 2011. When you're talking a $20k or under car, $2k is nothing to sneeze at. In this case, you're getting a 12% discount for letting somebody work the kinks out of the car for the first year for you.