Aangsunu's Blog

Ten Cars for $10K (Part I)

Posted by aangsunu on 16 July 2010

Source : auto.yahoo

It’s no surprise that Americans buy a lot more used cars than new cars — about 2.6 used cars for every new car sold through April of this year, according to Automotive News and CNW Marketing Research data. Why shouldn’t they? Used cars offer substantial savings: The average used vehicle at a dealership sells for less than $10,500, CNW reports. For that sort of money, you can choose from only two new cars: a Hyundai Accent or a Nissan Versa, but they’ll be stripped-down versions of each.

The Versa made the list again in the latest Cars.com’s Best Cars for $10,000. We examined cars from the 2005 model year or newer with typical mileage for their age and a Kelley Blue Book retail value around $10,000. We crunched reliability and crash-test scores; we considered standard and optional safety features and looked at how easy it is to find a car with those options. Finally, we considered our own qualitative impressions, including ride comfort, roominess and driving enjoyment. From an initial list of 225 contenders, here are our favorite 10.

2009-2010 Nissan Versa

Nissan Versa

Why we like it: The Nissan Versa sedan is the only new car in this list, but it’s here for more than just its low price. It’s roomy for its class, has a comfortable ride and is powered by a choice of efficient four-cylinder drivetrains that will help you save money at the gas pump. Expect to pay more if you want the hatchback.
Nuts and bolts: The $9,990 Versa 1.6 — the second-cheapest new car sold in America — epitomizes no-frills transportation: crank windows, manual locks and no radio. Air conditioning and antilock brakes are optional. But no matter how stripped it is, the Versa comes with some important features: active front head restraints, six airbags, good crash-test scores and a full warranty. Perhaps a Nissan dealer clearing out old inventory can knock a few hundred bucks off a new ’09 or throw in a radio.

2007 Kia Optima

Kia Optima

Why we like it: Kia’s approach is to load its cars with lots of features and then sell them affordably. Unlike most sedans of its era, the Optima made a stability system optional on its base model, so a used Optima LX might be found with the feature. Roughly half of Kia’s powertrain warranty — five years/60,000 miles — transfers to the next buyer, providing the car has been properly maintained.
Nuts and bolts: Redesigned midway through the 2006 model year, the Optima came standard with six airbags and reasonable amenities. Look hard for examples with optional antilock brakes and stability control, which Kia bundled together in a single package. Only about 15 percent of ’07 Optimas we found for sale nationally include it. With that package, a stick-shift Optima LX with 50,000 miles should fetch just over $10,000. Expect automatic models to run another $700 or so, with the gussied-up Optima EX asking around $12,000. The V-6 commands another $1,000, but it’s not really worth it since it doesn’t provide much more oomph than the four-cylinder.

2006 Ford Freestar

Ford Freestar

Why we like it: Having children is definitely a reason to re-evaluate your choice of car, and if you have kids, you know they don’t care if you drive new or used. Their messes are the same regardless. For those who need a minivan, the Freestar offers the bare necessities, but it can take on soccer equipment and crumbs just as well as a brand-new van.
Nuts and bolts: Antilock brakes are standard, and roughly one out of five ’06 Freestars for sale have Ford’s Safety Canopy option, which includes three-row curtain airbags. The option is worth hunting down; it bumps the minivan up to decent side-impact crash-test scores. A Freestar SE with the Safety Canopy and 60,000 miles should cost around $10,500; the better-equipped SEL and Limited will command around $11,500 and $13,500, respectively. Give extra consideration to models with Ford’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability system; it was optional on all three trims.

2006 Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion

Why we like it: Based on the Mazda6 platform, the Fusion packs nimble handling, an adult-friendly backseat and a large trunk without its Mazda cohort’s spotty reliability. The four-cylinder is capable, and V-6 models employ a responsive, high-tech six-speed automatic. All trims come reasonably well-equipped, and the Fusion’s sleek styling has aged well. For $10,000, this is a lot of sedan.
Nuts and bolts: Front-seat side airbags and two-row side curtain airbags were optional, as were antilock brakes. About a quarter of all ’06 Fusions for sale have either option. A four-cylinder Fusion S with 60,000 miles, a stick shift and no options — all told, still a well-equipped sedan — should run around $10,000. Automatic models with the extra safety features should cost another $1,000 or so. Expect to spend around $11,500 or more for an SE or SEL automatic and another $1,000 if you want V-6 power.

2006 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Sonata

Why we like it: The 2006 Sonata was a turning point for Hyundai. The sedan offered an eye-pleasing exterior design with comfortable accommodations for a family of four. It was also at the forefront of a trend that’s become the norm: making important safety features standard. Even though it’s a few years old, there should still be a lot of life left in a well-kept model.
Nuts and bolts: Exemplary for its time, the Sonata had six airbags, antilock brakes and stability control standard. Stick-shift GL models with 60,000 miles should run around $9,000, with automatic versions adding another $500. The midlevel GLS runs close to $11,000, while V-6 GLS and LX models will top $11,500.

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