BUYING A CAR IN 2014

(WITHOUT HAVING HEADACHES IN 2015)


SPECIFIC VEHICLE RECOMMENDATIONS - Sports Cars Under $40K:

Performance and styling are high. Some have decent (but not great) space as well. Premium gas is the norm.

Honda Civic Si - $22K. Very much a sports car with high quality, great handling, and 200 horsepower in an affordable package. Styling makes other cars look old. Definitely a keeper. 4 cyl front wheel drive. 6 speed manual transmission only.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
2 - Takes 125 to 130 ft to stop.† Average for today's cars.
4 - 25 to 29 mpg on regular or 28 to 32 on premium fuel
2 - Seats for 2 adults plus 2 kids who don't fight
5 - Best there is.† More reliable used than many new cars
3 - Good trunk space
1 - Don't do it
2 - Hauls large boxes, but you have to fit them into the trunk
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Honda Accord EX V6 - $33K. Two door version of the Accord. EX with 278 hp V6 and 6 speed manual transmission easily qualifies as a sports car. Suspension and steering are reminiscent of the Prelude. Great reliability. Regular gas.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
2 - Takes 125 to 130 ft to stop.† Average for today's cars.
3 - 20 to 24 mpg on regular or 22 to 26 on premium fuel
3 - Seats 4, okay for around town, a little crowded for trips
5 - Best there is.† More reliable used than many new cars
3 - Good trunk space
1 - Don't do it
2 - Hauls large boxes, but you have to fit them into the trunk
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Toyota FRS/ Subaru BRZ - $25K. These are twin cars with the same flat (opposed) 4 cyl engine and drivetrain. Tons of fun to drive and good on gas as well. Predicted high reliability and resale value.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
2 - Takes 125 to 130 ft to stop.† Average for today's cars.
4 - 25 to 29 mpg on regular or 28 to 32 on premium fuel
1 - 2 seater
5 - Best there is.† More reliable used than many new cars
2 - Can do a trip for two
1 - Don't do it
1 - Not for hauling
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Nissan 370Z - From $31K. 2 seat coupe or convertible. Fast. Can be optioned out to around $40K in 5 major steps (versions), but drive train is the same for all versions. Hatchback utility is compromised by a large rear strut tower brace that looks like a surf board behind the seats. Also available as a convertible, but convertible is hard to see out of with the top up. Both are very high quality and reliability. V6, rear wheel drive.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
5 - Downright fast
5 - Takes less than 115 ft to stop.† Pavement grabber.
3 - 20 to 24 mpg on regular or 22 to 26 on premium fuel
1 - 2 seater
4 - Very good vehicle
2 - Can do a trip for two
1 - Don't do it
1 - Not for hauling
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Infiniti Q60 - $38K. 2 door version of the Q50 sedan, but it looks and acts more like a 2+2 version of the Nissan 350Z, on which it is based. Does not have the 370Zís hatchback. V6 rear wheel drive. Also available in convertible form.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
5 - Downright fast
5 - Takes less than 115 ft to stop.† Pavement grabber.
3 - 20 to 24 mpg on regular or 22 to 26 on premium fuel
2 - Seats for 2 adults plus 2 kids who don't fight
5 - Best there is.† More reliable used than many new cars
2 - Can do a trip for two
1 - Don't do it
1 - Not for hauling
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Ford Mustang - $22 - 40K. Holdover from the muscle car era. Big exterior relative to interior space, but smaller and significantly lighter that Camaro and Challenger. Back seat is smallish, but trunk space is surprisingly good. Sound and power from GT's V8 are intoxicating. BUT. The standard 300 hp V6 Mustang is, also, a screamer that gets 30 mpg on regular gas. Lower reliability than competing Japanese cars, but still decent. V6 or V8 rear wheel drive. Regular gas. More expensive convertible, Boss, and Shelby models also available.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
5 - Downright fast
4 - Takes 115 to 120 ft to stop.† Serious stopping power.
2 - 15 to 19 mpg on regular or 17 to 21 on premium fuel
2 - Seats for 2 adults plus 2 kids who don't fight
4 - Very good vehicle
2 - Can do a trip for two
2 - Can tow a small trailer (4X7/motorcycle/jet ski)
2 - Hauls large boxes, but you have to fit them into the trunk
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


BMW 320i sedan/328i Coupe - $32 - 40K. Competent as a sports car, even with the smallest engine. Only car anywhere near this price that stops in a shorter distance than a Corvette. Driving the manual is a delight. Back seat and trunk room are better than average for this type of car. Lower reliability and than competing cars, and repairs will cost more, but fair resale value. Available as a convertible. 335Ci is same car with larger, turbocharged engine. 4 or 6 cyl rear wheel drive.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
5 - Takes less than 115 ft to stop.† Pavement grabber.
3 - 20 to 24 mpg on regular or 22 to 26 on premium fuel
3 - Seats 4, okay for around town, a little crowded for trips
3 - Decent reliability for long term ownership
3 - Good trunk space
1 - Don't do it
2 - Hauls large boxes, but you have to fit them into the trunk
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Mazda MX5 Miata - $25K. 2 seat convertible built like a British sports car of the 1960s. Not very fast, but great handling makes it seriously fun to drive. Reasonable price for competent and reliable car. 4 cyl rear wheel drive.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
4 - Takes 115 to 120 ft to stop.† Serious stopping power.
4 - 25 to 29 mpg on regular or 28 to 32 on premium fuel
1 - 2 seater
4 - Very good vehicle
1 - Not much
1 - Don't do it
1 - Not for hauling
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Subaru WRX and WRX Sti - $29K. This car is a street version of Subaru's winning rally cars. Turbocharged 265 horsepower 4 cyl with 4 wheel drive in Subaru's smallest and lightest car. Very fast. Gas mileage is not very high relative to small economy cars, but it goes fast, and it goes in snow. Available as a sedan or hatchback. Then there is the $35K, 305 horsepower WRX STi. 4 cyl, 4 wheel drive.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
5 - Downright fast
4 - Takes 115 to 120 ft to stop.† Serious stopping power.
3 - 20 to 24 mpg on regular or 22 to 26 on premium fuel
3 - Seats 4, okay for around town, a little crowded for trips
5 - Best there is.† More reliable used than many new cars
2 - Can do a trip for two
1 - Don't do it
1 - Not for hauling
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


Scion tC - $20K. Made by Toyota and sold at Toyota dealerships, this car is not so much a sports car as a sporty personal runabout with a hatchback that allows for huge cargo space. Decent back seat room, Camry engine, long list of standard features, great quality and reliability, attractive styling, and low price make it a very attractive package. 4 cyl front wheel drive. Note that the Scion price tags are non-negotiable. Window sticker price is the price you pay. Negotiation is done on the value of your trade in vehicle. Performance enhancements are available as TRD (Toyota Racing Development) parts from the dealers.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
3 - Takes 120 to 125 ft to stop.† Good for non sports car.
4 - 25 to 29 mpg on regular or 28 to 32 on premium fuel
2 - Seats for 2 adults plus 2 kids who don't fight
5 - Best there is.† More reliable used than many new cars
4 - Swallows large household items
1 - Don't do it
2 - Hauls large boxes, but you have to fit them into the trunk
3 - Has a decent chance of avoidance


Lexus IS250 - $36K. Offered by Lexus as a competitor to the BMW 3 series, it is smaller inside and smoother running, but not quite as sporty as the BMW. Excellent reliability and smoothness for this class of vehicles. 6 cyl rear wheel drive. For more power, there are the IS350 and the V8 powered IS-F.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
3 - Takes 120 to 125 ft to stop.† Good for non sports car.
3 - 20 to 24 mpg on regular or 22 to 26 on premium fuel
4 - Comfortable for 4 on trips
5 - Best there is.† More reliable used than many new cars
3 - Good trunk space
1 - Don't do it
1 - Not for hauling
5 - Provides the best chance for survival


BMW Mini Cooper S - $24K. Built by BMW, this car is retro styled like VW did for the New Beetle. Very small, light car but a hoot to drive although dashboard layout is odd. (Speedometer is in the center unless you get the Chrono package.) Price is low for a sports economy car. Seating for four average size people or two average size people and some cargo. Reliability is only fair, so it had better be fun to drive. Sedan, wagon, or convertible. 4 cyl front wheel drive.

RATINGS:
Acceleration:
Braking:
Fuel Cost:
Seating:
Reliability:
Trunk space:
Towing:
Hauling:
Collision avoidance:
4 - Quite spritely
4 - Takes 115 to 120 ft to stop.† Serious stopping power.
4 - 25 to 29 mpg on regular or 28 to 32 on premium fuel
3 - Seats 4, okay for around town, a little crowded for trips
3 - Decent reliability for long term ownership
2 - Can do a trip for two
1 - Don't do it
1 - Not for hauling
5 - Provides the best chance for survival