BY ELI BLUE
With the economy in the gutter, high gas prices, and a re-focus towards hybrid and energy saving cars, there is an emphasis more than ever on cost cutting when purchasing a new car. Here are 6 popular choices to choose from.
6. Suzuki SX4 ($13,359)
The Suzuki SX4 has made itself famous by including a navigation system in its $13000 price tag. Along with that, the Suzuki is known for its roomy interior with taller back seats, a larger than normal trunk (rivaling that of mid sized cars), and space-saving headrests. The downside is its feel, with non intuitive steering and suspension and its decreased fuel efficiency at 28 MPG. Plus, its brand name (Suzuki is primarily known as a motorcycle manufacturer) has long been considered second rate.
5. Kia Soul ($13,300)
The Soul, made famous by its dancing rats in the ´hood commercial, is the newest addition to the Kia lineup. Half van, 1/2 jeep, and 1/2 Pontiac Aztec, this mini wagon comes with all of the staples such as air, power windows, and antilocks but skimps out on extra features. It also has well noted durability issues, including a cheap plastic feel and a stiffer ride. However, its bargain-basement price and its incredible fuel efficiency (32 mpg) is a plus for any car owner.
4. Smart Fortwo ($12,635)
The hyper-efficient, 41 MPG Smart Fortwo broke into the scene in 1998 and has only recently arrived in America. It's a lot more durable than it looks, with favorable US Government crash test ratings on all impacts. The Fortwo´s interior is not lacking either, with a good-sized cargo bay, a unique interior heavy on bright fabrics (if you´re into that), and a tall seating position and roof which allows for a better vantage point. If you have luck finding a dealer (there are less than 100 in the US), it’s worth taking a test drive for the sheer novelty.
3. Toyota Yaris ($12,355)
The heir to the old Echo series, the Yaris is a classic example of a car 90% complete. It comes with a small 1.5 liter four cylinder, is a gas saver, and maneuvers pretty well along the edges with its body shape. The downside (I actually rented this car this past weekend!) is its disadvantageous instrumental panel (which is centered), no cup holders, and its lack of power. You could do better with cars in its price range.
2. Chevrolet Aveo ($11,965)
This hatchback looks like the Kia Soul´s big brother. Unlike many economy cars, the Aveo offers more upgrade options than normal with wood trim option and a full suite of amenities including power windows and locks, antilock brakes, automatic transmission, and cruise control.
1. Nissan Versa ($9,900)
The Versa, the cheapest car we reviewed, has gone neck and neck with the Hyundai Accent to win the title of cheapest car in America. It´s $9,900 base price is the result of 107 horsepower, plastic body, smaller windows, and a basic version with manual door locks and no radio. Seat height adjustment? Out. Automatic key locks? Forget it. If you´re looking for a little extra, it’s best to buy a used car for less the price and a lot more features.