By on April 3, 2014

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We last saw our heroine (that’s me) after her foiled attempts to get somebody to take her seriously in her effort to buy a new subcompact car. So, it was back to the drawing board to find my dream car.

I loved the Spark, but the lack of power bothered me more than I really wanted to admit. The problem of my limited budget still existed, too. I wanted a car that was just like the Spark, only bigger, more powerful, and still available for about $13,000.

However, there was one small, teensy little problem—no such car exists.

Well, not as a new car, anyway. As many of you suggested, I sucked it up and decided that my best option was, in fact, to go pre-owned. I still wanted a warranty, though, or at least the balance of a manufacturer’s warranty. Obviously I was either going to have to get a very late model used car or go CPO.

The car savvy among you have probably already realized the car that I decided I wanted to check out next. If you haven’t, you now have ten seconds. Ready? GO!

Still here? Okay, so if you are, you undoubtedly came up with the same car that I did—the Chevrolet Sonic. The interior was virtually identical to the one in the Spark that I instantly connected with, but it was bigger and had more power. In other words, it was exactly what I wanted.

However, even as a pre-owned car, the Sonic can be difficult to find under $13K. Since the Sonic was launched as a 2012 model, there just aren’t any “old” models out there. I typed my parameters into AutoTrader.com; Chevrolet Sonic, automatic, less than 50K miles, 200 miles or less away. What I got back was pretty promising—43 total cars, including lots of 2012 LT models right around my price range. Unfortunately, the Sonic’s color palette isn’t as vibrant as the Spark’s, but I did find a few blues and oranges that seemed attractive enough. Unfortunately, a review of the CarFax or AutoCheck reports indicated that nearly every single one was previously a fleet (or rental) car, but I figured that at least that likely meant that the cars had been regularly maintained (yes, I know that this is totally “glass half full” thinking, but stick with me).

You might not know this, but AutoTrader.com is separated into a couple of different tiers. There are Premium listings, Featured listings, and Standard listings. Premium listings appear at the top of searches, and unless you get REALLY specific, they probably take up at least the first page of results, and likely a few more after that. Even if you sort of price or distance, the Premium cars still show up first.

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If you’re willing to dig just a little more, you’ll get to the Featured listings, and that’s where I found the listing that really caught my eye—at a Chevy dealer just about an hour away from me, there was a silver 2012 Sonic LTZ hatchback with 30K miles, full leather interior, heated seats, 17″ alloys, spoiler, rear wiper…pretty much every option with the exception of a sunroof. It had the 1.8 liter engine, which I was totally okay with (the turbo just seemed like another thing that could break). And the kicker? The dealer had it listed for UNDER $13K—just under, at $12,995. That didn’t really leave me any room for taxes, title, and doc fees, but I was hopeful that there might be just a little more negotiation room on the car.

As I was clicking through all of the photos on the listing, a chat window popped up on my laptop, indicating that Carolina from Scenic Chevrolet was available to chat with me. Carolina?!?! It had to be a sign, right? I clicked on the chat window and, sure enough, a few moments later, I was chatting with Carolina about the Sonic. I told her that I needed her absolutely lowest price on the car, since I would be coming from a pretty good distance. She assured me that she would get back to me soon with her best price, and asked me whether I preferred email, phone, or text. I told her that I preferred text.

About fifteen minutes later, I got this message:

“12,995 is the lowest price we can do on that car. Thank you for your interest.”

Huh? Wasn’t that the listed price? I replied, asking why they were unwilling to discount further. The reply came:

“We have already discounted the price by $3000.”

Possible, yes, but unlikely. Higher mileage 2012 LTZs were going from anywhere from $14-15K on AutoTrader. I’m sure that they had discounted the car from the original asking price, but not 3K.

I replied back:

“Tell your GM he has a buyer at 12K.”

Several minutes went by. Finally, a reply:

“Can we meet in the middle at 12,500?”

I thought about it. $12,500 was a pretty good price, but I figured that I could use that as a starting point in my negotations and go from there.

“For 12,500, I will come see the car. I will be there tomorrow.”

“Great. Ask for Kevin.”

So, the next day, I planned to go to a store that was slightly closer to me and check out Sonic LTZs, and if I liked them, I would drive the hour and fifteen minutes out to Scenic Chevrolet. Well…that was the plan, until I realized a couple of problems with it. First, I wasn’t able to find a 2012 LTZ 1.8 any closer. If I drove a newer model or one with a different engine, they might drive differently than the one I was interested in, so what would be the point? Secondly, used cars aren’t really commodities like new cars—this one would come with its own set of idiosyncrasies. Why drive a Sonic that wouldn’t be exactly like the one I could afford?

It was with that mindset that I made the decision to drive out to Scenic Chevrolet—and let me tell you, the drive was anything but scenic. Kevin texted me about an hour before I arrived to ensure that I was still coming to check out the car, and I assured him that I would be there. As a result, when I pulled into the dealership, I asked the receptionist for Kevin. A few moments later, a pleasant, genial looking man with a bucket of cleaning supplies walked toward me and shook my hand. Kevin had been detailing the Sonic in preparation for my arrival, and as we walked out of the showroom, I saw it sitting there.

Now, I know myself. I know that I get overly excited sometimes, and I didn’t really want to show how much I liked the car. My plan had been to object to the color in hopes of getting a slightly larger discount, and that objection was real. I much preferred the blue, red, or even orange to plain ol’ silver. Despite my plan, I am pretty sure that I failed in my attempt to hide my excitement. The silver really was quite attractive, and I had never had a car with so many options. The realization that this car could actually be mine was starting to hit home! As I got in the driver’s seat of the little American-assembled car (yes, Kevin seemed to think it was safe enough for me to drive it off the lot), I realized just how much it was exactly like my beloved Spark inside. Same dash, same gauges…just bigger!

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The real revelation came when we entered the divided highway and I mashed the acclerator pedal to the floor—something happened! No, it wasn’t a fast car, by any means, but it wasn’t perilously slow, either. In fact, I’d describe it as…peppy. Definitely Carolineish (feel free to beat your head against the wall, men!).

“How long have you had this car on the lot?” I asked him.

“Hmmm…I’m gonna guess at least thirty days.” I’m gonna guess at least sixty. Whatever the turn policy of this store was, the Sonic had to be getting close to it. This store was a truck store, plain and simple. Over half of their new inventory was trucks. They had no new Sparks, only two new Sonics, and one new Cruze.

The test drive route was one of the better ones I’ve been on. Kevin directed me toward some hilly county roads that showed off the lateral grip of the car as well as the suspension. The leather steering wheel felt comfortable in my hands, and the automatic transmission always seemed to know which gear was best for the job. If I hadn’t known I was driving a bow tie, I would have guessed it was a Fiesta or maybe a Civic. It felt well made and stable, secure in its footing.

When we returned to the store, I did a quick visual walkaround of the car. Bark M. gave me this car buying advice when I asked him—“Walk around the car with the salesman and point out everything that’s wrong with it. EVERYTHING. Scratches, scrapes, dings, worn tires, worn brake pads. That way, when you ask for a better price, you’re not just haggling—you’ve devalued the car because of the faults of it.”

So that’s what I did. I noticed several scratches and digs in both the front and rear bumpers. The right side Hankooks were brand new, but the left rear tire showed some wear, and the left front tire was incredibly worn, almost to the point where I suspected some alignment issues. I hadn’t noticed any pull at all when I drove it, so I suspected that it had been corrected during reconditioning. I pointed out each issue to Kevin, and he agreed with me on most of them. “And I still don’t like the color,” I offered weakly. I’m not sure he bought it.

We went back to his office, and I made him an offer—12,500 with new left side tires, or 12,000 as is. He went to the GM’s office, where they likely discussed the weather, or maybe the NCAA tournament, and he came back about five minutes later.

“12,400, as is.”

I stood up and shook his hand, thanked him for his time, and exited stage right. I think he was mildly surprised that I was willing to walk. I was a little surprised, too, but I felt like there was more money to be had.

On my incredibly monotonous drive back home, I caved a little. I texted Kevin back with another offer. “12,250, as is.”

His reply: “12,300 plus tax and doc fees. OTD price, $12973.”

“Done.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I came to own a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ with all the goodies. He takes his place alongside JB’s new Accord Coupe, Bark’s Boss, and whatever Ford product Sajeev is currently driving as our newest Long-Term Tester. You may refer to him by his new name (which gaming fans will surely understand) of “Tails.”

I definitely want to thank Kevin and his GM, Michael, and everybody at Scenic Chevrolet in Walhalla, SC, for making the buying experience as honest and painless as possible, and also for treating me with the respect that was so sorely lacking for a twenty something female elsewhere.

Stick with me as I drive Tails anywhere and everywhere this year. I look forward to sharing our adventures with you.

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285 Comments on “The Truth About Caroline: Sonic BOOM!...”


  • avatar
    LALoser

    Mazel tov!

  • avatar

    I see from the third photo you got one of those rarer right-hand-drive Sonics, heh? ;)

    Seriously, though, congrats!

    • 0 avatar
      IndianaDriver

      That’s what I thought too. Either she’s located in a different country or they digitally flipped the image. Caroline are you in another country or was this on purpose?

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        It’s flipped. The Tacoma in that same picture (also in the last picture) is a “RHD”, but (AFAIK) the Tacoma is a NA-only model. Other countries get the Hilux, which is available in both L and RHD.

    • 0 avatar
      ppxhbqt

      I know when I worked in Seneca and had to cover Walhalla (the dealership is really in West Union)that people drove on the right side of the road, except maybe late on a weekend night.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Not only that, if you open the picture, the car is on it’s roof! Must have been one heck of a test drive ;-)

  • avatar

    What other video games have you played? The last time I can remember playing was Forza, Burnout 3: Takedown, and NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup on the O.G. Xbox; these days, I just watch Let’s Plays.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I’m so confused. So Jack is Caroline and Jack/Caroline is/are(??) also postal carrier? How’d you manage to find a right hand drive Sonic in the US anyway?

    Also, put the new tires on the front or the back, not side to side, if that’s what you end up doing, as you don’t want different sized tires on the front of the car potentially causing damage to the differential.

    Those OEM Hankooks are pretty junky. I’d get a set of 4 new tires and be done with it, that way you can keep up with normal rotations etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Caroline doesn’t use our WordPress interface; I’m the one who enters and edits her stories.

      WordPress flipped the photo because it thought it was upside down or something.

      I’m not going to lie to you, B&B; I spent last night drinking.

      I assure you that’s not me in the photo.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Drive to Costco, put 4 new Michelins on that new car and you will love the difference. You will have high quality tires that will make the car ride smoother and more quietly, and also have a warranty.

      Worth. Every. Penny.

      As a bonus Michelin is USA is headquartered in Greenville SC so you are helping your local economy.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        For her car, I’d recommend the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S or Continental ExtremeContactDWS. Whichever she can find cheaper. I’ve replaced Michelins with the DWS on two of my cars recently.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          ^^^ This.

          I would also recommend the General Altimax HP (H-rated) tires in the appropriate size. They were right behind the DWS on TireRack.com when I was shopping for tires 18 months ago.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Those Generals are good tires too. I know a few people that really like them.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            I’m in the minority, had a very bad experience with the Altimax HP’s.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @Poncho – care to share your problem with the Altimax? I am about to buy 2 sets of them for 2 cars, they are on extreme discount right now, hard to pass up the savings and they have gotten really excellent reviews.

          • 0 avatar
            brettc

            Congratulations on your Sonic and in not dealing with a total cheeseball salesman in the end. I missed your original column but I LOLed at the sign in the Ford dealer’s cube. I think my wife and I dealt with that Chevy sales guy’s cousin when we looked at Cruzes last year.

            I’ve had Altimax HPs for several years on a couple of cars and was always happy with them. I’m currently running Pirelli Cinturato All Season Plus which are good so far and have a high treadwear rating.

            Don’t buy any cheap Chinese tires even if the price is super-awesome at the time. Name brand tire companies are the way to go.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            mnm4ever…
            I put them on my wife’s 08 Grand Prix because I had read so many good things about them and they were a great price. Even stepped up to an H speed rating from the factory fit T (or S, can’t remember).

            They were fine for about 5K miles and then the car developed the most vague steering I’ve ever had in a car before. I truly believed there was something majorly worn on the car, but it was around inspection time and everything checked out ok. I rotated them after 8K miles and the steering was back to normal for another 5K miles, and then went to shit again. It felt like the tires were only inflated to 10psi, it was that bad.

            She ended up only getting about 30K miles out of them before they were completely toast. Looking back I should have taken the car back and asked what was up with the tires.

            It might have been a case of the tires not liking the ancient W-body chassis? No idea. I put Sears Assurance fuel max on it and they have been great for 40K miles now.

            Probably just a fluke but it has made me second guess trying them on anything else in the future.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Are you sure you had the correct load rating for your car. That Grand Prix is pretty heavy. We have a few customers that run these. This is the cheapest tires that Mercedes approves in some of the E-Class sizes. They aren’t the best tires, but seem OK.

            I never understand the love of the Pilot A/S. In my experience, the worst non Chinese tire available. These always have issues with uneven wear, cupping, and strange tire pulls after about 15,000 miles. I have only seen a few of the new Pilot A/S 3s, and they all had very few miles on them so I can’t say anything about those yet.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          Ditto – and I have the ExtremeWinterContacts for winter. Great, great tires.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve heard good things about the EWCs. Once my Firestone Winterforce winter tires wear out, I’ll take a look at those.

        • 0 avatar
          sproc

          Great advice. A few months back swapped my wife’s Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus for a new set of Conti Extreme Contact DWS. The Michelins were very good, the Contis are outstanding, even in moderate snow. Much quieter, too. Pricey, but totally worth it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I use winter tires, and the DWS as my summer tires. I’ll take the tradeoff in performance of a true summer tire on my car for the treadlife and not worrying about the first snow.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Aye -another vote for the Continental DW or DWS. I can’t say they’re the best tires made for the price in terms of ride quality or quietness since I’ve not experienced all tire makes/models, but I’d be genuinely surprised if there are significantly better tires at any price.

            If you have a Discount Tire nearby, get them there. I’ve never dealt with a better company selling ANYTHING in terms of service after the sale or competency. They do all sorts of free services for you if you bought your tires there, and are as competitive as anyone on price -a stunningly awesome company.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          I live in a place where it never snows. I run the continental extreme contact DW not the dws. If she lives in SC, I would recommend she go with the DW, all around its the smoothest best dry and wet handling and quietest tire I have ever used. I hope they never quit making it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The only reasons why I said DWS is that they have a 50K treadlife warranty and are usually cheaper. Michelin PS2/3 and Conti ExtremeContactDW are great tires, but I’ve been lucky to get 30K miles out of them. PS3s lasted 25K miles on my Focus and DWs lasted 28K miles on my GTI.

        • 0 avatar
          Felis Concolor

          I’m still waiting for some Conti EC DWS skins to arrive; a friend’s Fiesta was showing a laundry list of tire ailments on its standard substandard Hankook 426s including bubbling, dry rot, separation and wear bars close to the tread surface and I used that as an excuse to fit something better than the bottom of the barrel to her ride.

          And we’ve already crossed a local tire shop off the list for the mounting job when one of the new monkeys there tried to pull a fast one and quoted her $40/tire “to match the computer chips in the new tires to your car’s monitoring system.” She’ll go back to the dealer where she purchased the car as they promised no charge for the mounting and just $3/tire for disposal fees.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I agree don’t get some bargain basement tires just because it has a couple of newer ones on there.

          Personally I’d go for the Conti ExtremeContact DW, I love the ones I have and then if them temps drop below 40 in the winter where you live some ExtremeWinterContact so for that time of year. I have a set of those on the wife’s car, that I’m taking off this afternoon and they are the best winter tire I’ve owned, my car will be getting a set next season. I’ve given up on no-season tires the trade offs just aren’t worth it. If where you live just occassionally drops below 40 then maybe some ExtremeContact DWS if you don’t mind the trade off and know going in that after about 1-2 years they will be DW without snow performance. That will be indicated by the fact that the tread will now say DW instead of DWS.

        • 0 avatar
          watchdoc

          I”m gonna have to disagree with the DWS suggestion. The DWS suffers from tread squirm pretty badly and there is very little chance of needing this tire for snow in the southeast. I prefer the Michelins any day but if you like the Conti’s, get the DW flavor and skip the S.

          BTW, I had one of these when they first came out. It was a black 6spd with the 1.4T. Loved it but the Hankooks are junk.

          BTW, light weight Cruze ECO wheels and their matching high MPG tires look very nice on the Sonic.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I have about 15,000 miles on a set of DWS tires. I’ve been very happy with them so far, so I did a bit of research on the tire squirm issue. The references I saw to it were from people that have heavy cars with large tire sizes. My 215/45R17s behave very well at the limit on my 2,900 lb car and I suspect Caroline would be happy with 205/50R17s on her 2,800 lb Sonic. The Continentals were a huge improvement over the HX/MXM4 Pilots that came on my car, although that isn’t setting the bar too high.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I have the DWS on my 5000 lb MKT. No tread squirm yet. They are also MUCH better than the horrible Goodyear RS-As that were on there. I couldn’t find summer tires for a reasonable price that were 255/45R20.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            That’s certainly a heavy car with big tires. Is it possible you’re not cornering as hard in your MKT as the guys on the CTS-V forum?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            CJ-

            That’s a good bet. The load rating on the DWS XL is 2000+ lbs per tire, so I should try not to go up on two wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        You should have the dealer at least swap the 2 fresh tires to the front (assuming they are non directional). But yes, make haste with getting 4 matching tires on the car!

        And congrats on the new purchase. I feel the Sonic is much more versatile than the Spark, in that it can handle the highway slog with aplomb, better than most subcompacts owing to its not-so-subcompact weight.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          You don’t want your good tires on the front, it is safer to have them on the rear if you cannot have a matched set:

          http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=52

          http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/4243992

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the link but sixteen years of my driving says otherwise. The only time I’ve had FWD fishtail as described was on ice.

          • 0 avatar
            Firestorm 500

            Well, 28-cars-later, you haven’t been driving all that long. You certainly haven’t the resources to do all the testing that other entities have done.

            Best tires should be on the back. Ideally, they should all have about the same amount of tread. If I were Caroline, I would buy 2 more Hankooks to match for now, as she has just made a large purchase. No use in throwing away 2 new tires just to but something else.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Hmm learn something new every day! I guess terminal understeer is preferable to oversteer, although in a hydroplaning situation on the highway, I personally would prefer to still have control of steering.

            Regardless, the best option is to just buy new tires. Like others have said, avoid the cheesy off-brands no matter how tempting the price. I cringe when I see used cars at dealership with “new tires!!!” and they’re some sort of unheard of Chinese “Happy Mountain” brand slathered in tire shine.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The problem with theory is that the vast majority of cars on the road today are FWD and unless you rotate them very frequently say every 2-3,000 miles you’ll never be able to rotate them. Rotate them at the 5,000 mi period that most recommend today and you’ll find that the rear ones have more tread at that point that the fronts.

            The other fallacy in that argument is that if you are concerned with hydroplaning you want the good tires on the front to as it is more likely to happen when driving at high speed in straight line on the freeway. In that case the front tires will clear the water out of the way for the ones on the rear with lower tread depth.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            I also put the new tires on the front on a FWD vehicle to even out the wear on the fronts and backs. Hopefully, they get close enough to start a regular tire rotation schedule. This only works if the difference in tread wear isn’t that great. If difference is vast, then you really need new tires all around.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    Well played, Caroline! Congrats on the new ride.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      I want to like the Sonic RS, really, I do…like the style and the fact that it is (at least) assembled in the USA. But then for around the same scratch I look over at Ford and see the Fiesta ST. I guess if I wasn’t considering the hotrod version, I’d consider the Sonic when I got back to the States. But it’ll probably come down to either the Fiesta ST or a one/two-year old Wrangler…
      Either way, Caroline is happy with her purchase, so my opinion means nuts! Enjoy the ride!

  • avatar
    radimus

    Silver isn’t much to look at, but it has the advantage of being the modern automotive equivalent of a perception filter. People just don’t notice silver cars. They’re like ghosts on wheels. Now that you have a one, you’ll be noticing all the other silver cars and wonder where they all came from.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      After 12+ years with a silver daily driver, I couldn’t agree more, and that filter generally seems to apply for state troopers as well. Not my favorite color, but it has huge advantages.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      When I bought my current car, silver was not one of the colors I was considering. But ended up finding one on the lot with trim/options I wanted in silver, so I went for it. (A Legacy, not the Toyobaru in my avatar.)

      After living with it, you notice how silver changes more in different light than other exterior colors. (Ex. You’ll see a lot of blue on a clear, sunny day.) I’ve come to appreciate my car’s darker shade of silver (still not a fan of real bright “rental car special” silver).

      Whether it’s a “sleeper” color, I couldn’t say, but it’s never given me any problems in that respect. But then it’s a silver midsize non-luxury sedan, too.

  • avatar

    Somehow my picture got reversed! That’s weird. I assure you, it’s a left hand drive car. :)

    • 0 avatar
      calgarytek

      Congrats on your purchase. Somehow I figured you’d get a manual transmission.

      I was hoping you’d end up getting an older ride. You could detail your dealings with mechanics/attempts to fix it yourself. It would make for some interesting reading.

      • 0 avatar
        Monty

        Congrats on the new ride!

        I’m with Calgarytek – I thought you would’ve preferred the stick.

        Enjoy, and as others have pointed out above, get yourself a good set of tires, as they will make all the difference in the world for handling, comfort and fuel economy.

        • 0 avatar
          luvmyv8

          From the original article, I thought Caroline would be set on a manual as well…. but then again finding one at the price she wanted (or condition or equipment level) probably wouldn’t have been easy…… I know myself. I wanted a 6 speed manual Wrangler myself, but a clean ’12 Sport auto more or less fell into my lap at my dealership. Most of the CPO’s were auto anyways as were most of the used cars, the only easy to find manual Wranglers were stripper new models (without A/C even) and loaded up Rubicons and special editions such as the Arctic that were way out of my price range. I’d like it to be stick, but I don’t bemoan having the autobox….. don’t really matter much with the Pentastar.

          BTW- ‘Tails’….. awesome. I’m a child of the 80’s and 90’s and I grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog and that is a pretty good name for your car….. I have a Sonic plush that rides in front of my transfer case lever in my Jeep.

  • avatar
    SayMyName

    The seat coverings are actually leatherette, but they do a pretty convincing job (especially at this price point) of passing for genuine leather.

    I wouldn’t have picked this particular car, but you did your homework and decided it was right for you. Congrats, Caroline! (And thank God it isn’t a Spark or – gah! – a Dodge Dart.)

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    To make something so pedestrian and boring as buying an used car, into an engaging short story, you do have excellent storytelling abilities!

    I look forward to reading your adventures with “Tails” With a capital “T”, right?

    • 0 avatar

      Of course! It was either Knuckles or Tails…Tails felt better.

      • 0 avatar
        Cirruslydakota

        It would have to be red for Knuckles to really fit.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          And thus this car should have been yellow/orange for the Tails name to fit. Few people will get the reference but props for a women who played Sonic.

          My wife calls my 350Z “Cuisinart” because of how the rough the ride is. IE: its like riding in a blender. Most guys don’t name cars, but we do refer to them as “she” since we love ‘em so much despite the heartbreak (at times).

          • 0 avatar
            zaxxon25

            Most guys don’t name cars? In my experience most car guys (and gals) definitely name their cars!

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            My wife’s car is known as the “Hero Hare”. When we bought it, it had a sticker from the dealer that said:

            CHEROKEE
            Ford Lincoln
            Alpharetta Roswell

            I did a little creative letter peeling:

            HERO

            hare

            so that’s what my daughters called it.

            My car is referred to as “the golf cart” since it’s a plug in hybrid and it spends most of its life in electric mode. My wife says it’s like driving around in a big golf cart.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            The only vehicle that’s been named in our fleet is my 1997 E350 Box Truck, aptly named “It’s Always Something”. Much more of this and I’ll have a new, somewhat rusted out van!

            Happy motoring with the Sonic! They’re not my cup of tea, but the important thing is to own a car that you like. Everything about it will seem better.

      • 0 avatar
        catachanninja

        Tails is a straight up epic name and as a sonic the hedgehog fan I am deeply disappointed in myself for not calling my burgandy altima knuckles

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        “Tails” is just a nick, as I remember from the game manual his real name is Miles Prower. How awesome is that?

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Way past cool! Congrats.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Well, it’s better than a Spark. Congrats!

  • avatar
    jmo

    So, new it was $16.5k after rebates etc. At 30k miles it has consumed 20% of its useful life. So, that gets us down to $13.2k. You got it for $12,973. So, buying used you saved yourself a grand total of $223?

    • 0 avatar

      You’re not taking taxes, title, or doc fees into account.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Ok, what is the price difference then? Is it even $1000?

        5% of $16.5 = $825
        5% of 12,973 = 648.65

        A difference of $176.35.

        • 0 avatar
          DeeDub

          You’re missing the point. Your $16.5K price is pre-tax, pre-title. Her $13K price is including tax and title.

          She definitely should have told them in which bodily orifice they could store their documentation fees, though.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            Doc fees in this part of the country are nuts. In the metro Atlanta area they’re around $600 on the average, and they add an additional one for title on top of that.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      The $12973 included the sales tax.

    • 0 avatar
      TheEndlessEnigma

      Dude, she bought a car in her price range, larger and better equipped than what she could afford new AND something she likes.

      Why is it necessary to flame someone especially when you don’t take the time to appreciate the full situation.

      Great job Caroline!

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      20% at 30k miles. Do you only drive cars with less than 150,000 miles on them? They last much much longer than that.

      My daily has 370,000 miles on it.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Are you claiming the median car hitting the crush today has 370k miles? From what I understand, the median is fairly close to 150k.

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          Given that the AVERAGE car being driven in the US is 11.4 years old, I don’t think the average mileage on the way to the crusher is only 150k, unless the drivers of America are somehow choosing to rarely drive.

          I don’t know of any stats on the average age of cars that get sent to the crusher.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            The ones I’ve seen say 19 years is the average age at scrapping. I’d guess that the median is something less, since there are some very old cars that hang around in garages or backyards that bump that figure up, but I’d guess that the median is somewhere around 16 – 18 years. If the average car is driven 15,000 miles per year 19 x 15k is a little too high.

            Personally, I’d figure a car is fully depreciated at 15 years unless it’s driven a lot. (Less for high milers) Time takes its toll as well as mileage. Obviously, there are lots of cars older than that on the roads, but those older cars generally require so much repairs and maintenance to where you might as well get yourself something newer.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          Not saying that its a bit of an outlier. But, most cars of the average age are well over 150k in my experience.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I don’t think you can correlate mileage when sent to the crusher with useful life anyway. People get sick of making repairs on a car they are tired of anyway. Unless it is an “enthusiast” model, nobody wants to spend the time and money to bring the car back up to spec. Even for enthusiast models that market is small.

          This is the preference of most car owners; however, it doesn’t mean the car is not economically viable when they give up on it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Original MSRP: $13,865 – $18,625

      1LT Hatch MSRP: $15,230

      I’m not sure what they did in MY12, but I don’t imagine this model came with high incentives, so for the sake of argument knock off a grand to $14,230. Buying used at $12,300 netted $1930 in savings. Personally, I’ll spend the 2 grand for a zero miles car no matter the age.

      Incidentally Caroline $13K was my otd max in 2010 when I bought my last newish car which I stayed under by exactly $100.

      http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Chevrolet_Sonic/2012/specs/

      Auction porn, LT 4D Hatchback:

      03/11/14 ORLANDO Regular $11,500 19,168 Avg SILVER 4GT 6 Yes
      03/13/14 TAMPA Lease $10,200 21,868 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
      03/13/14 TAMPA Lease $10,800 27,702 Avg RED 4GT 6 Yes
      03/06/14 ALBANY Regular $10,100 29,769 Avg GREY 4G A Yes
      03/20/14 DETROIT Lease $10,500 31,111 Avg ORANGE 4G A Yes
      03/05/14 NJ Regular $9,400 32,214 Avg ORANGE 4G A Yes
      03/19/14 DENVER Lease $11,100 32,691 Avg ORANGE 4G P Yes
      03/04/14 GEORGIA Regular $10,500 35,473 Avg RED 4G A Yes
      04/01/14 NEWENGLD Lease $10,000 40,173 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes

      LTZ kicks it up a notch:

      03/19/14 NASHVILL Regular $12,900 20,184 Above BLACK 4GT 6 No
      04/02/14 HAWAII Lease $13,000 27,557 Above SILVER 4G A No
      03/27/14 SO CAL Lease $11,800 32,575 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
      03/26/14 SAN DIEG Lease $12,000 32,821 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes

      @Onus

      Depends on your DD. Most cars can go the distance if you’re willing to do the work and/or spend the money. But a beat up cheaply made car gets old. How many Geos do you see around, and of those how many are not Prisms?

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “Personally, I’ll spend the 2 grand for a zero miles car no matter the age.”

        And, even if the car goes 300k miles (which I doubt). That 30k miles is 10% of its useful life or $1,423. So, she’s saving $577.

        At least to me, even saving $170 in sales tax etc. it’s really not a good deal.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’d have to do more research but the hatch segment in and of itself looks to be a bit of a screw you from the buying used perspective. Sucks when the segment you like is artificially high (or in my case, nonexistent). I’m thinking here and I’m not sure where I would have put my 13K otd in her shoes, everything that’s not an 05 for that money is just ridiculous.

        • 0 avatar

          Invoice price on a 2014 LTZ with my options set is $19,184. True Market Value according to Edmunds is $19,008. Not sure where you’re getting your numbers from.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You’ve done your homework. Whats the difference between LT and LTZ in the Sonic hatch?

            Reason I ask is when buying used you have to remember trim packages only up the value about 10% give or take on the block.

          • 0 avatar

            Some big differences:

            15″ rims vs 17″
            Leather wrapped steering wheel
            Heated seats
            Fog lamps
            Leatherette seat trim

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the reply. The only of one those that is “must have” in my mind is heated seats. Figures they put it in the top trim with other stuff I wouldn’t be interested in.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            You didn’t include the $1500 in cash back from GM.

        • 0 avatar
          jjster6

          But she wanted to spend less than 13K and stayed within her budget. Good discipline. She got a car she likes and one which should serve her well.

          All is good, good job Caroline. And remember, it’s very easy for those commenting to spend other peoples money.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Am I missing something here? Caroline’s car is an LTZ automatic, no? And you’re new car example is a 1LT? I can see your point in going with a decontented new car rather than a dressed up used one, but I don’t think it’s quite an equal comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          My bad on the LT vs LTZ, I read it as LT. I’d still like to know the difference in trims though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ok assuming LZ is LTZ and its a typo in USNWR the major differences between the two are:

            1. sliding sunroof
            2. heated seats
            3. possibly pleather. I say possibly because its checked for all trims so I don’t know if its standard or optional on LTZ.
            4. Cruise is standard (opt on LT, really GM?)
            5. Remote start standard (opt on LT)

            http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Chevrolet_Sonic/2012/specs/?tid=335430&tid=335475&tid=335476

      • 0 avatar
        Scott_314

        So you’ve proved she got a good deal. She paid $500 over the auction price of cars with more miles. New the car is over $20K.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          More or less, yes. I based my quick math on the LT model so that 2 grand figure may be skewed. Those LTZ results were the only ones posted, LT results were far more numerous. This suggests to me either people are hanging onto their MY12 LTZs or significantly fewer were sold. The fact LTZ does 2K wholesale over similar LT suggests the latter and the model is simply harder to find. If she kept low miles (<50) on the car and sold it in two years, this is significant esp if Chevrolet keeps upping the MSRP into the stratosphere (20K for Sonic my gosh). If LTZ does 12 today, it will prob do low 9s-10s in 2016. I'm not familiar with this segment's resale so its difficult for me to tell with more certainty.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            I suspect there are two things going on here. First, since the LT was the midline trim more of them were sold, and second, since the vast majority of 2012 Sonics on the resale market are from fleets, the fleet buyers usually spec their cars with the midline trim. Individual buyers keep their cars longer.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      20% of its useful life consumed at 30K???

      Dude – this isn’t 1992 – it’s 2012.

      NO car you buy today (with a handful of outliers like a Range Rover Evoque) has a problem getting to 175K-200K miles now with some just standard love and care.

      30K miles? It’s barely broken in.

    • 0 avatar
      watchdoc

      I think she got a good price on the car considering it likely stickered around 19 grand.

      Most people would spend the extra 2 grand and buy a new one with all the incentives AND SPECIAL FINANCING.

      Late model used car financing is currently very cheap. (ie penfed.org) but often new cars will have ZERO percent financing which makes the total cost of the vehicle much closer.

      Other variable factors include free maintainence (ie new toyotas) and CPO warranties.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    The used car market over the last few years has been seriously over inflated but you did the research, set your price and stuck to your guns. Well done!

  • avatar
    pb35

    Congrats, Caroline! I was never a big fan of silver either but bought a silver Volvo in 2007. I’ve come to find that it actually hides dirt really well.

    Happy trails!

  • avatar
    drtwofish

    Congrats! Ignore the naysayers who haven’t driven one – you made a solid choice (especially with the hatch). Enjoy!

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    Welcome to the Sonic club. I am the proud owner of a 2012 LT with the 1.4 T. 2 years in and I still love it as much as the day I bought it.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    In a grey little car it’s not a bad idea to drive with your parking lights on all the time. It makes you more visible and adds color

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Better idea to drive with your headlights on all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      In my state, is is illegal to drive with parking lights on. They are PARKING lights.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Please don’t advise that people drive with their parking lights on. They are called parking lights for a reason and should not be used when driving. If you are that concerned about being seen then just drive with your headlights on.

      • 0 avatar
        thirty-three

        I drive with my headlights on all the time, which means low-beams and parking lights are on. Makes me more visible from all sides. I do this because we get lots of rain here, and I find it much easier to see other cars when their lights are on too.

        Additionally, when I’m not in my car, I notice cars in my peripheral vision more easily when crossing the street if their lights are on.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        >> Please don’t advise that people drive with their parking lights on.

        I think the concern here is that people will drive with their parking lights *instead* of their headlights. They could forget to switch over when it gets dark, especially if they are driving on well lit city streets.

        But in daylight, I see no harm in using the parking lights, especially if the car is not equipped with DRLs. Using headlights constantly will just burn them out prematurely.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’m glad you were able to get one of these cars. I will be interested in further reports as this car is one of the used cars I’m recommending my daughter to replace my 17 year-old Cavalier when it finally gives up.

    Well played with the dealership folks, too! Good to see you can handle these situations.

    Here’s wishes for many years of happy motoring. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      How is your 17-year-old Cavalier holding up? I had a ’98 w/ the 2.4L engine before I traded it towards my current car (in ’07). Never really had any problems with it. Oil changes, tires, and swapped the battery once.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        You must be one of the lucky ones, then… ;)

        My 97 has 263,000+ miles on it, the body is about rusted off due to the fact it’s had a hard life for all 17 years. My brother in law used it as his work vehicle, he drove everywhere for his job in home improvement sales. I bought it from him with 192,000 miles in 2004. I was planning on keeping it for a couple of years and then giving it to one of my kids. But they both learned to drive late, one at 17 the other at 20. Both of them are/were pretty hard on the car, but it’s held up well.

        Only the normal stuff has gone wrong on the car, alternators, batteries, brakes, tires, oil changes. 2.2 and 4T40 auto trans, rock solid. But, now that it’s truly ancient, some of the electronics are going batty, the ABS sensor is hosed, the low coolant level sensor is bad, too. It’s got a bad ground somewhere, as the left front turn signal can’t keep a bulb in it for more than a day. And it’s developing small leaks, not fatal if you keep after them.

        But at this age & mileage, it’s a rolling heap, any car would be, at least one that sold so inexpensively when new. I keep telling my daughter to put some money together to replace it, but she keeps ignoring me at her peril. Oh well…

        • 0 avatar
          Wraith

          I guess 263k isn’t bad to get out of a budget compact car. Mine had relatively low miles when I traded it, maybe 85k. A lot of those miles were on gravel, so I wasn’t exactly easy on it, but still not enough miles to run it into the ground.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Good job there Caroline .

    Well written too .

    A salesman who detailed the car himself ? wow .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Cirruslydakota

    When these first came out I believe the press photos had it in a perfect shade of blue. Imagine my disappointment when I found out GM didn’t name it “Hedgehog Blue”. Missed marketing oppertunity for sure. But naming your car ” Tails” totally makes up for it.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    I dunno, Caroline. I probably would have went new. I recently “hit em where they ain’t” (Steve Lang reference) and bought a brand new 2013 (leftover, dealership had it since JULY!!!) Mazda2 for $12,918 plus fees, tax, etc; and drove it off for a tick under $14K. For another $500 I could have gotten automatic but if you have used the Mazda2 shifter, one would be out of their mind to go with the automatic.

    I did get the base model which lacks all the gee whiz stuff you got BUT I have issues with gee-whiz domestic stuff. In addition, leather on an entry level car is usually dairy cow grade and doesn’t hold up over the long haul.

    Now all of the cars left were the base model which means I gave up steering wheel audio controls, two tweeters, cruise control, alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler. I also saved over $3000 when compared to a “Touring” model which would have been bought while the car was “in season.” Out of all of those options, the only one I would pay even a nickel for is the cruise control, and Rostra makes an easy to install unit for $200-300. To date I simply can’t justify the cost.

    I had the option to buy a used Sonic, Fit, or Fiesta, or Mazda2 for that matter; but instead waited the dealership out. I finally got em after March 1st. They had 5 left, two red, three grey, and only one with a manual trans. It was fitting that the very unit I wanted, the very STOCK NUMBER I attempted to buy in September, was still on the lot.

    All of that being what it is, I think you got a good deal. I wouldn’t touch the turbo with a 10 foot pole as the user forums are already indicating issues with the unit. Not anything major, and all warranty, but the 1.8 is a proven unit and performs about the same, low end torque not withstanding.

  • avatar
    vvk

    This is so sad.

    The worst part is that this is reality for vast majority of consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      What part is sad?

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      No he can spare us his explanation. It’s a good car for a good price (amazing how good small cars are these days).

      And she clearly has a brain unlike some other younger people these days who seem to insist on an Lexus IS250 or better, just because the dealer’s credit department will approve them for 84 month financing.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Comparing Lexus to some of the other small cars out there would be an interesting analysis, however the Lexus will always have decent demand used where the requisite small car not named Civic or possibly Corolla will not.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Sad is how little control most consumers really have over their automotive purchases. Caroline accepted a car with no known history, obvious suspicious problems (mismatched/worn/replaced tires) without performing a thorough mechanical check and getting a real monetary discount that would make it worth the risk. Buying a used car from a dealer without seeing the previous owner, without repair records and without going over the vehicle with a fine tooth comb is typical and very unfortunate. Every used car has a huge margin built into the price, so the fact that this particular car was low priced to begin with raises questions about its history and why the dealership was able to acquire it for so little money. Add to this the fact that it has two new tires on the right side and visions of hitting a huge pothole or worse pop into my head. Why is the front tire worn so much? Is it a sign of neglect, an odometer rollback, an alignment problem from the factory or due to suspension damage? Despite these questions, Caroline goes ahead with her purchase, without being compensated for these risks in any meaningful way. The negotiation process is really not yielding much of a discount, certainly not something beyond what is achievable given a perfect car in perfect condition. Most people simply do not have the patience and stamina to keep saying no.

      I buy used cars regularly and have a strong dislike of cars sold through dealers. They have shady histories, no repair records, no meaningful way to confirm the mileage. Their prices are almost invariably inflated beyond reason and the negotiation process is designed to put the seller in the position of strength. It is so much better to have a face to face meeting with the prior owner, to be able to see what kind of person they are, to determine how well they took care of the car, to have access to records to confirm miles. It is not a guarantee but it is so much better than what you get at a dealer.

      I can also question the reasoning behind buying a Daewoo loaded with gizmos and features, clad in synthetic leather and with a warranty that expires in 6k miles. But that’s not the sad part.

      The article is well written and entertaining, thank you Caroline!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I don’t normally defend new car dealers (because so many of them suck) but it feel its important to clarify some of your points.

        “Caroline accepted a car with no known history, obvious suspicious problems (mismatched/worn/replaced tires) without performing a thorough mechanical check and getting a real monetary discount that would make it worth the risk”

        I’ve done very little with retail sales but on more than one occasion buyers have approached me with something along the lines of “oh this isn’t one of those auction cars, is it?”. I respond with the truth: all cars are auction cars. The only way they are not is if you buy from the original owner or buy/wholesale a car directly after trade from the original owner skipping an auction, and this is probably 3%-5% of annual sales.

        I realize you have never seen Manheim or probably any other auto auction, but it is probably the greatest horse trading show on Earth. Every single buyer there is taking a risk in spending tens of thousands *per car* plus fees and transport costs on vehicles you can only do a limited inspection on. You can mitigate risks by buying as new as you can and also buy buying cars certified by “presale” or taking your bought car through “postsale” for $250ish. Post sale is where they drive the car over a tall ramp and look underneath for frame damage etc and I believe there is some other kind of point inspection they are supposed to do. Presale I believe is the same, although we never bought those and I believe there are rules to it (i.e. no car over X age and X miles can be presaled). So as the cars age the inherent risk goes up, but the margin you can get for the older cars does not necessarily rise with the risk, it really depends on the model and segment (i.e. the retail floor price of any pickup truck is higher than an economy car from a margin standpoint, because of demand and financing ability. Therefore a pickup with questionable history/title is in theory less risky to buy and resell than a similar economy car). You don’t see any of this because you want to come in an beat up on the price out of the gate, and depending on the dealer greed level this may be a good thing – but understand risk costs money and there is no completely free lunch.

        In Caroline’s Sonic’s case I’ll offer some speculation. This car was probably sold retail since it was LTZ, but was possibly fleet. Divining the Carfax report would help, but the car is new enough even if it was fleet I wouldn’t be afraid of it. So assuming retail someone paid near 18K for it in 2012 dollars, which is “wow” to me but this is what happened. They they traded it somewhere, possibly at Caroline’s Chevy dealer but possibly not. The only way the Chevy dealer made more than 200-400 dollars on the Sonic is if (1) they took the trade for less than black book (say 10K) on a new ride or (2) their wholesaler bought the car from another dealer for below black book after this dealer walloped the original owner on trade (thus missing the auction, and thus the initial dealer making a quick house pack and still giving the Chevy dealer margin). If the Chevy dealer bought this at a local auction or their regional Manheim auction, they didn’t make much because based on the results I posted above for LTZs, probably only a house pack or even less with auction fees (house pack = minimum markup on all vehicles sold, no commission for salesman. Commission starts after house pack). So if the dealer went the auction route their margin was low to begin with and they gave most of it up giving Caroline a near auction price. Does she assume risk? Sure does not different than what I did when I bought personal cars off the block, all part of the game. The only advantage is, if Caroline bough a lemon she has a big dealership to go back and complain too and if she doesn’t get her way well, the dealer will pay in bad word of mouth and bad PR right?

        “Add to this the fact that it has two new tires on the right side and visions of hitting a huge pothole or worse pop into my head. Why is the front tire worn so much? Is it a sign of neglect, an odometer rollback, an alignment problem from the factory or due to suspension damage? ”

        Nobody is rolling back odometers on these things because nobody wants them, hence Caroline’s deal. Regarding the damage/use of the car, Carfax tells all. If the car is held by a dealer after trade for say six months, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts it was being used as a parts runner/wholesaler’s personal car/general shop beater. This use does not show upon Carfax but a new dealer keeping a car past 90 day retail is suspicious unless its “special” (ie Vette, any conv, low miled wonder etc). Cars depreciate slightly by the month and most dealers don’t have cash to sit back on ordinary cars, they need cash flow for costs, payroll, etc.

        “I buy used cars regularly and have a strong dislike of cars sold through dealers. They have shady histories, no repair records, no meaningful way to confirm the mileage. Their prices are almost invariably inflated beyond reason and the negotiation process is designed to put the seller in the position of strength. It is so much better to have a face to face meeting with the prior owner, to be able to see what kind of person they are, to determine how well they took care of the car, to have access to records to confirm miles. It is not a guarantee but it is so much better than what you get at a dealer.”

        You do have some points but if you buy regularly you should have developed some skills by now to separate the truth from the bulls***. I stated earlier most dealers don’t have more information than you do about the car’s history unless they sold it and took it on trade. I’d also point out most green horned salesman have no clue about the auction or anything I described to you, they are kept in the dark and given numbers they have to meet (wholesalers are the magicians, lot employees might get a whiff when the drop off/pick up product). If these numbers are unrealistic it really doesn’t matter to them, their job is to move the product, not pontificate on it. What fries my ass is how unreasonable salesman can be at new dealers for both new and used cars when in reality they don’t offer me any better service, history, or piece of mind than your local 12 car lot. Now with most cars being built so shotty with too many computers, sensors, oddball transmissions, and other cheap Chicom parts its much more difficult to just buy a car today and own it out of warranty. Oh but guess what, new dealer won’t even talk to you about a warranty unless you purchase from them (in my experience). My advice is to build a relationship with a good shop. Far cheaper in the long run to have a good shop and buy whatever the shop specializes in, than to keep leasing or buying new and getting screwed at the dealer service counter to the point you just buy something newer.

        “I can also question the reasoning behind buying a Daewoo loaded with gizmos and features, clad in synthetic leather and with a warranty that expires in 6k miles. But that’s not the sad part.”

        I honestly had similar thoughts but its what she wanted. I like 80s/90s Jags, I would love to own a Jag again despite the truth I know about Jags and their service lives, even with 350 swaps (man that would be sweet!). But you buy what you like and hope you don’t get burned.

        Additional: My tow guy and I have developed quite quite a friendship in the past two years between my cars breaking down and the occasional acquisition for resale. When I first met him he told me these: “Cars are like women, they all end up in the junkyard eventually”. Omitting his female humor, its true and you have to remember this.

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          Wow, nice! Replies like this is the best part of TTAC!

          I suspect that you are mistaken about the dealership making only a few hundred on this sale. I would be shocked if they made less than $1k. As far as how they got the car so cheap. Maybe it was used as a stunt vehicle in a movie or something like that. Who knows. That’s my point — if it is so cheap, there is always a reason. Unless you buy from a non-professional private seller.

          Now CARFAX. To me, if I see negative info in CARFAX of Autocheck, I pay attention. That is worthwhile data I have to consider. However, if CARFAX does not contain something, in my experience it means exactly nothing. CARFAX is full of holes and bad data. In fact, cars with clean CARFAX and bad history are a goldmine for dealers! That’s their best chance to make the most profit. I have seen this many times. I will give you just one example. Someone I know bought a used Lexus from a highly rated Lexus dealer. The car seemed pristine and had a clean CARFAX. A while later they decided to sell the Lexus and get something else. During the sale process, it was brought to their attention that the car was in an accident with prior bodywork and paintwork. CARFAX was oblivious to this. To you point about having a large, reputable dealer to complain to, by the way. I have NEVER seen this work. In this case, the large, fancy Lexus dealer told my buddy to go pound sand. Just as I expected.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thank you for the compliment.

            We can’t really know without more information about the car, and even then it does not prove how much if any the dealer “made”. I’ve seen enough deals to know the fact this car sat 60+ days they either had too much in it and knew they’d lose at auction (with sellers fees) or they wanted to be able to say “we’ve got quality cars starting at $12,999″ etc in their promotions. Cars dealers don’t want just get recycled at the auction unless its too expensive to do so. I would love to see whatever Carfax Caroline has and also would like to look over the car myself (which I can’t obviously lol). Carfax could at least tell you who originally owned it and at what mileage it dropped out of ownership. If it dropped out at 25K and it now has 30, someone was driving it, someone prob in the biz with a dealer’s plate. I am almost certain my Pontiac was a wholesaler’s car because my second trip computer read 32K in 2010 on an ’08 with 53K (meaning it was reset, prob after trade), but it only has one owner listed on Carfax. Mine is loaded and no normal person puts 32K on a car in a year or so (when it was traded in 09), I could totally see a wholesaler driving it for his job from auction to auction. Then his dealer wanted to dump it before it lost too much more value.

            You bring up very good points regarding Carfax. However what you described if no different than if I buy a 2yo on the block for myself, get rear ended, collect repairs via private agreement with the party at fault, and get it repaired for cash at my guy’s body shop out in the boonies. Certain cars any repair work (even done at the dealer) can kill its value, those of the Teutonic variety especially, I suppose Lexus as well. Caveat emptor.

            Additional: My cousin in RI raised hell with the KIA dealer where she bought her 07 G6 hardtop conv. Although I was on the phone during the negotiation with the KIA people and they were quite dick to her, I felt bad for them after because the minor problems she was having were either all known GM flaws (flaky fuel sending unit for instance) or something specific to the car (one of the rubber joints in the roof leaked). But she was persistent and got them to fix for free or cheap every problem she had, citing their (normally) crappy warranty and “good” name. Her attitude was this: how many cars do they sell new or used and screw people on? I’m just demanding they back up what they say in the sales process. She’s right too. Your friend should have realized Lexus has deep pockets and created a scene and/or demand to speak to the owners.

  • avatar
    EX35

    how in the world are used cars like this so overinflated? It makes more sense to wait until the end of the model year and pick up a NEW previous year model with lots of cash on the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      troyohchatter

      That’s how I do it, buy off “the clearance rack”, the vehicles left after all of the clearance sales and incentives have been exhausted and they STILL couldn’t move the unit.

      Before the Mazda2, there was my 2002 Ford Ranger XL with A/C. I still own it.

      STICKER: $13,500
      Purchase price: $8450 plus tax, tags, etc
      Out the door price: $9350

      AND IT HAD A/C!! The radio had no input or CD, but that was easily remedied with installing an aftermarket head unit with iPod integration for around $120. Now, of course, it’s an XL standard cab, and no one wanted that truck. Rubber seat, floor manual trans. But hell, I couldn’t find a used Ranger in any kind of shape or low miles for anywhere close to this price.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Congrats, I know you will probably get your usual share of horrible comments slamming everything you did and everything you wrote and every choice you made, but please ignore the misogynists of TTAC.

    I test drove a Sonic and I liked it, it was a fun car, definitely more fun to drive than you would think. It also felt very high quality, nothing like the old Aveo. What worried me at the time was resale value, but they seem to be holding up pretty well there. And silver, while incredibly boring, at least doesn’t show dirt.

    I second the recommendation on new tires, and if at all possible ante up for the Michelins. They really don’t cost that much more and they ride and handle so much better and last so much longer it is worth it. check tirebuyer.com, I think they service SC and I find some great deals there without the insane shipping prices of the big online vendors. And when you get the tires make doubly sure whatever alignment problem that car had is fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      troyohchatter

      I beg to differ. Any abuse that Caroline receives, justified or not justified, would be equally piled upon a male writing the same article. And besides, if the options were important to her, I think she made a helluva deal. She sure wasn’t going to sniff a new car with that equipment for anywhere close to what she bought the Sonic for. And it’s a good car.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Thats BS. Its very clear that the certain subgroup of the B&B rail on anything Caroline writes, or any female contributor for that matter. If a guy wrote the exact same article then they wouldn’t say a thing.

        There is also another subgroup that fawns all over her no matter what she writes, so I guess you take the good with the bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        It is definitely true that there are lots of guys who gleefully crap on any deal that someone else made and talk about how they could have done better. It would be the same if that someone else was another guy, including the speaker’s best friend .I’ve seen it and we all have. So I don’t think there is any misogyny in the comments slamming Caroline’s deal. It’s just standard male one-upmanship and competitiveness.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Wow, thanks for reminding me it’s been over TWENTY FRIGGIN YEARS since I bought Sonic 2 for my Sega Genesis. Oh dear, where has the time gone?!?

    Anyway, congrats on a good deal. Sounds like you got what you wanted at the price you were willing to pay. Enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Hmmm… was this a Sonic the Hedgehog reference, or a Streetfighter II reference? (“Guile” had a special attack called “Sonic Boom”, and whenever you used it, the game would say “Sonic…BOOM!”. I did repairs for a video arcade at the time (dream job for a High School Geek!), and got sick of hearing that game.)

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_the_Hedgehog_2_(16-bit_video_game)

        Hence Chevy “Sonic” nicknamed “Tails.” A real classic, and I loved, loved, LOVED the music.

      • 0 avatar

        The title was a Street Fighter reference, for sure. The name of the car is Sonic. :)

        • 0 avatar
          mcarr

          Congrats Caroline! I have a 2012 Sonic LT Sedan with the manual and 1.4T engine. I got a great deal on mine used as well. Got it with 11,000 miles on it for $11k plus taxes and fees. Nobody wanted a stick, and it was sitting on the lot for 3 months.

          It’s a great little car and I’m sure you’ll love it. I look forward to hearing about it in any long term test articles you might do!

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I had one given to me as a kid at the tender age of six. Somehow, despite being about 25 years old, it still turns on and plays games like it’s brand new. I’ve got Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Sonic & Knuckles (I keep 3 and Knuckles locked together because that gives you the Sonic 3 that Sonic Team couldn’t fit on one cartridge).

      Of course, owning electronics that are older than you are is a tad amusing…

  • avatar
    dwford

    A positive experience at a car dealership?! It can be done!! A textbook example of how to correctly buy a car.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A friend of mine’s girlfriend has a Sonic, in dark blue. The license plate reads “HDGEHOG”. No, she’s not a Ron Jeremy fan as far as I know.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    He went to the GM’s office, where they likely discussed the weather, or maybe the NCAA tournament, and he came back about five minutes later.

    Jerry: [pretending to talk to his “boss”] You goin’ to the Gophers on Sunday?
    Salesman: Oh you betchya.
    Jerry: You wouldn’t happen to have an extra ticket?
    Salesman: You kidin’!

  • avatar
    slance66

    It’s amazing that she can write two stories about what she likes, why she likes it and her decision making process and still people say “you should have bought new” or “you should have bought a X” or some such. I sure as heck wouldn’t buy one, and I’m not sure I’d be happy sitting in a Spark for more than 30 seconds, but she got a nicely equipped, reliable, thrifty car, and got it at her budget point.

    Years ago at the age of 15-16, a 25-26 year old woman who watched my sister and I while my parents were on vacation. She had a brand new Nissan NSX and was proud of it. It was sporty (looking) and she bought it herself. As a muscle car enthusiast and sometime gear-head, I mocked it and actually upset her quite a bit. I was a freaking idiot and 30+ years later can’t apologize. This is Caroline’s NSX and it’s a nice car she should be proud to own and drive.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      And if she bought new there would be a parade of commenters ranting about depreciation and how only idiots buy new.

      A topic like this is a lose-lose bet on any car blog, though I’m sure Caroline knows that. Publishing your writing anywhere, and especially at TTAC, is not for the sensitive.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Nice article, but I gotta say, the speedo/tach cluster on that dash is possibly the ugliest damn thing I’ve seen in weeks. I’d rather look at /gore on reddit.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Exactly. Walk away and let ‘em come crawling. That’s the biggest bargaining tool you have. But I start with a ridiculously lowball figure. It’s good for a laugh and breaks the ice a bit. But it lets them know right from the start, you’re not there to make their boat payment. The test drive was made days ago, and they can make a few hundred in a few minutes or zero. Ask for directions to the next/nearest Chevy dealer on your way out. Also if you let them know you’re from way out of town, they know they’ve got just one chance.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    Nice car. The Sonic is really cool, and well equipped for what you paid for. The 1.8 is nice, but the 1.4 turbo is where it is at. The torque curve on the highway is really, really good for passing and on ramp merging. Not to mention the fuel economy gains on the interstate.

    GM warranties the engine for 5yr/100k so I feel the concern you had about it breaking is misplaced. This isn’t a 1986 turbocharged car.

    You could have saved some more cash and found a manual transmission 1.8, not only on the overall cost, but you could use that as a negotiating tatic, as no one drives a stick anymore =/

    Overall, great buy, and I think the price you paid is fair too.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      If someone prefers an automatic, then settling on the manual isn’t worth saving any amount of money. The transmission has too big of an impact on the ownership experience.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Good tires really do transform any vehicle ~

    I tried the better grade of Chinese tires and they stuck great but still didn’t last long and the one time I had a flat the tires was junk by the time I pulled over so no more cheap Chinese tires ever .

    FWIW , white cars blend in even more than do silver ones , both are good against the sun in the South West .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I had the same problem – with Hankooks. The ones in front held the road well, but looked chewed up after just 5,000 miles. I replaced them with noisy Dunlops that REALLY gripped the road, especially in S. Cal. oily wet roads.

      White is great for sunny climates, but I’ve had white and black, and it’s a toss-up which looks dirty sooner. With a quality wax job, the black can hide a thin layer of dust for a day and a half after washing. White looks clean maybe until the next morning. Silver, though, hides that dust for a good three days or more.

      The best dirt hiding color I’ve had was on my ’68 Mercury Montego, “sea foam green”, though police usually wrote ‘yellow’ on the ticket (it was a 4-door sedan with the 302 replaced by a 4bbl 351 – it didn’t seem to be going as fast as the speedometer claimed).

  • avatar
    Prado

    “How long have you had this car on the lot?” I asked him.
    “Hmmm…I’m gonna guess at least thirty days.” I’m gonna guess at least sixty.

    Used car buying tip: If you look at the carfax, you can usually tell how long the dealership has had the car. The last entry will say something like ‘Vehicle offered for sale’ with a date. Use this to your advantage.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    When we bought my wife’s Mazda5 new it had a set of Bridgestone Turanza something or other. The car was all over the road with crosswinds, the tires were noisy, and one of the tires on the back sounded like it was ready to let go. So not even 5K miles after we bought it, I bought a set of Michelin Defenders for the vehicle. Of course, Michelin being what it is, the car’s bad habits went away, handing got better, etc, etc. The punch line is one of the tires had so many weights on it the tire dealer said there was no way he would have ever sold the tire new, instead stating defective and replacing it. So yeah, sometimes OEM tires are crap.

    Ironically, the Mazda2 I just bought has a set of Yokahamas on it and the are outstanding for OEM rubber. I had replacement tires figured into my budget but won’t be needing to do that. They are that good. Of course, for winter I’ll probably spring for a set of ice tires.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    CRAP! this many comments and I forgot my best car buying story.

    My sister in law is a Filapino, complete with an accent and everything. She went to school in this country and worked her way up to a very high executive position. She retired in her late 40’s and currently runs a non profit. She stands at about 4’10”.

    So car buying, well, the salespeople would make their judgement. She was shopping for one of the few cars she can actually drive without modding the driver’s seat, a BMW Z3 new (this was a while back). She researched, found what she wanted, and started shopping. They would walk up to shake her hand and she would say “I want this car, I want it for this price, and if you turn around to walk to someone’s office I am leaving.” She left three separate dealerships, the third one with a salesperson running after the car. My brother in law knows the drill, and let his wife run the deal.

    I have no idea how many dealerships she went to but she did finally get her car, at her price, and umm, the salesperson I am guessing never left the showroom floor.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      That was unfair on her part to the salesman. In fact, I would call it arrogant. At my dealership, the only offer I could accept on my own, on the spot, was MSRP.

      It was not within my power to set the final price. I was a facilitator between the potential customer and the house.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    How’s she gonna fit in that clown car with those long, long legs?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The Sonic and the smaller Spark are stunningly roomy inside.

      At a car show a couple years back there was a Spark. I adjusted the driver seat to a comfortable spot, then went to the back – expecting that not even an amputee could sit behind my 6’1″ frame (like in the Mazda3) and was stunned to find that I could sit, comfortably, in the backseat behind a virtual “me.”

      The Sonic hatch in particular is nearly as roomy. GM did a really good job with their A and B segment cars

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Hmm I’ve heard the opposite regarding the Sonic, that the rear seat is quite tight.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Hatch is better than sedan – may also be “perception over reality” as the hatch will “feel” bigger than sedan with the higher/longer roof line and raised/open cargo area behind the rear seats.

          Is it “tight” within segment. No – its huge.

          Is it “tight” compared to a C or D segment car – absolutely – but it has more room in the back seat than say a Mazda3 – and certainly a more functional backseat than class competitors the Mazda2 and the Ford Fiesta.

          IIRC – the Versa is the back seat room champion in the B-segment

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Small tall cars can be surprisingly roomy. I am over 6′ and I can sit behind myself in my Fiat Abarth. I would not want to ride all day back there (not much of a view), but it is more than adequate for an hour or so. Certainly no worse than my 3-series, and with more leg room. The secret is the way off the floor seats. You sit up, and there is plenty of footroom under them.

        I say well done to Caroline. Walking out if you don’t get what you want is the key, as is making an appointment.

      • 0 avatar
        Blackcloud_9

        I agree. I test drove this car when I was recently car shopping. I’m 6’4″ and no problem fitting in the front or the back.
        Ended up buying a Kia Soul but the Sonic was a close second.

      • 0 avatar
        Blackcloud_9

        I agree. I test drove this car when I was recently car shopping. I’m 6’4″ and had no problem fitting in the front or the back.
        Ended up buying a Kia Soul but the Sonic was a close second.

    • 0 avatar

      Was that a compliment? ;)
      Bless your heart!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Caroline, in your last article I recall you were put off by the salesman saying you shouldn’t get a stick because it’s hard to work the clutch while wearing heels. Did you decide he was right?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Caroline.

    You’ve found your “voice.” Wasn’t a fan of your first few pieces, you’ve won me over. Well written, painted a great picture.

    The Sonic does well in sales in the B-Segment for a good reason – it’s a solid car, especially in LTZ trim.

    Don’t listen to the B&B who hate anything with a bowtie, think women should only buy a lease special BMW 320i (you already addressed your feelings on that one in your first story), and fear the all mighty uterus.

    You got a solid deal on a car that with regular maintenance should easily deliver 175K to 200K trouble free miles.

    • 0 avatar

      I echo all your sentiments APaGttH. I would also like to congratulate Caroline. You did your homework, listened to what people had to say, but ultimately listened mostly to yourself and bought a solid car that has what it needs to give a long and pleasurable ownership experience.

      I would think you chose well by buying within the established financial parameters that YOU were comfortable with. You also got a good car that drives well, is very modern and up to the latest and stringiest safety requirements. The platform that underpins this car is a solid bit of engineering and all of the cars I’ve driven that sit on it have driven well. SO much so that nowadays when people ask, I do recommend GM cars, something I had never done in the past.

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      lol at this Chinese Chevy making it to 200K without trouble.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        You’re on to something there, EX…

        • 0 avatar
          EX35

          I’m not sure where this flame comes from that all modern cars make it to 200K without major problems. That has not been the case with family or friends that have owned cheap Nissans, Kias, or Chevys manufactured within the past 8 years.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Where?

            The deep analysis that was posted on TTAC about mileage of cars at auction with percentage of problems for starters.

            Models that didn’t make it to auction with a deep drop before say 175K (funny how you fixated on the high end of my post) were:

            1) Quality nightmare outliers from Audi and Range Rover

            2) Unloved cars that buyers don’t want so they end up at auction well before they ever hit 200K

            A wide range of vehicles, from all continents, in the analysis, on average, not only got to 150K to 200K miles – many went far beyond.

            Then there was the TTAC story blasting VW for their 100K miles because lets face it – a car/truck/CUV/SUV getting to 100K is whoopitdy-dippity-doo today.

            Hell if my piece of crap, 2005 weather beater, Saturn Relay AWD3 – which is coming up to 10 years on the road and has 145K miles on the odometer can get there – ANYTHING built after 2004 with regular care will likely get there.

            Take your beef up with TTAC management – they seem to share the same view.

            Also as noted by others, there isn’t anything Chinese about the Sonic, and good luck with the CVT in your vehicle – you’ll need it.

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            The Ex35 has a 7-speed. Do more research.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “ANYTHING built after 2004 with regular care will likely get there.”

            What does “regular care” mean to you?

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @ajla

            1) Open up owner’s manual that came with shiny new car. Go to warranty section. What does it say you need to do to maintain the warranty (not what the dealership tries to upsell you to). Do all of that – like religion. And, if you drive a vehicle with an oil life monitoring system like Honda or GM – trust it. If you’re that paranoid go synthetic then.

            2) If you hit a big bump, drive over a curb, and suddenly the car is pulling left, get it aligned before the tires are unevenly worn and/or cupped to Hell, taking the suspension goodies with it. In addition rotate the tires – and if it is a sports car with low profile or a SUV with monster mudder tires, rotate more often than recommended – every 3K to 5K miles – it makes a big difference.

            3) Don’t wait until the tires are to 1/32 to replace them. And if you get some vibration in your butt, or vibration in the steering wheel, have them rebalanced while aligned. They go out of balance regardless of make/model as they wear down.

            4) Don’t wait until you hear strange grinding noises when you hit the brakes to replace the pads and turn the rotors. Ditto if the service brake suddenly doesn’t work anymore. Find a mechanic you trust and trust their word on recommendations. Remember that life time pads are life time because they grind your rotors down instead. Pads are cheap – on a lot of cars rotors are not.

            5) Don’t wait until you can’t see in a light drizzle because your wipers are so worn out all they do is smear everything on the glass

            6) If a light bulb burns out – replace it – promptly

            7) Owner’s Manual says you have a sealed transmission and the fluid never needs replacement – bah – replace at 100K miles and then every 50K miles after that – cheap insurance

            8) Owner’s Manual says you have forever coolant – bah – change every 5 years or 50K miles – like religion

            9) With each oil change spend $4 and pour a fuel injector cleaner into the gas tank.

            10) At 100K miles replace all bodily fluids. Brake, steering, etc.

            That’s it – most of this is cheap insurance to avoid bigger failures.

            That is my idea of regular maintenance assuming you aren’t doing extreme duty like towing a 10K pound trailer every day.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            APaGttH,

            That study that you quote is flawed since it doesn’t know the history of those cars that are going through the auction to know if A. they were traded in by the original owner before being sent to the auction or B. if they have had major repairs before they went through the auction at what ever mileage. Take a look at the new car dealers and you’ll find lots of cars on their lots with well under 100K which means that someone had to replace them. If it is a low mile car in good condition and particularly if it is the same brand as the dealer, or if it is a high demand vehicle they will retail them and not send them to auction.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        A Chinese Chevy? Please elaborate

        The most funny part of your post is a CVT Nissan driver is making fun of a Chevy that will probably be on its original transmission while the Nissan will be on numbe 3

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Your car was made circa 2005…ish…, you’re going to get 250k miles out of it. Easy. That’s right.

          End of discussion.

          Come look at this bridge I have. Yes, it’s for sale.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            What care of mine are you talking about? Forget your meds today?

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            There aren’t ANY Chinese parts on any Chevy.

            Let’s just put that out there, right now.

            I’d hate to mislead the people.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            There are Chinese parts on every car manufactured today, what’s your point?

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            I’m no macrophysicist, but I believe that was his point, smarty pants.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ll take that bridge when my 3800 powered Pontiac reaches this mark.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            @28-Cars-Later

            My 3800 Powered LeSabre is getting pretty close. I might beat you the bridge!

            @raresleeper Will you deliver the bridge? My Buick could easily drive and visit it, but I couldn’t tow it home. I got a really good deal on some ocean-front property when my Buick hit 200k miles trouble-free. A bridge could add to the property value.

            ————–

            No, my LeSabre isn’t a well-cared-for Granny’s car. I had unlimited Carfax reports, so I looked up the car. I’m the 11th owner.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I suspect you will as I don’t drive the lengths I used too.

      • 0 avatar

        If anything, you should have said “Korean.” :) Even that’s not really correct.

        • 0 avatar
          EX35

          The car is filled with shit parts farmed to China via Korean suppliers. You don’t already know this? It’s a disposable car built for our disposable buying habits. Nothing wrong with that as long as you are aware.

          • 0 avatar

            > The car is filled with shit parts farmed to China via Korean suppliers. You don’t already know this?

            This an ideal opportunity to show off more of your psychoanalytical powers, though for some reason they come off as a deep insecurity in the value of your opinions.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        According to Wikipedia, the Sonic is NOT made in China, but built in the US, at the Orion Assembly plant, and is the only car in its class to be assembled in America.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    A colleague at work has the same silver LTZ automatic 1.8 Sonic as this but in sedan form, now with 60K miles on it. So far it has only been to the dealer once because a rather large 350 LB plus individual broke the passenger seat which required replacing the bottom portion. Other than that no issues to speak of and they love driving it.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    Congrats on the new car! I looked at those last summer as a replacement for my wagon that blew its cam seals. I liked the Sonic a lot, until I drove the Hyundai Elantra GT. It feels like a bigger, more solid car than the Sonic. More cargo and rear passenger room(big one for me with two kids), great Bluetooth system and a manual to boot. The only thing I don’t like is the solid rear axle, man does it wander on certain bumps.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Elantra is the next size up in the Hyundai lineup. The Hyundai equivalent to the Sonic is the Accent. Hyundai doesn’t import a city car (like the Spark) to the US.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    I saw one of these Sonics at the office parking lot the other day. Those are some freaky looking headlights.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Waiting anxiously for the first long term review…

    Will be a good read :)

  • avatar

    Imma calling it, Baruth is just bringing Caroline in for some TTAC scandal that’s about to surface.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Congrats on the purchase and good write up! I really like these cars.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “I typed my parameters into AutoTrader.com; Chevrolet Sonic, automatic…”. An automatic, Caroline?? That’s like watching Return of the Jedi and finding that pasty-faced white dude in Darth’s costume instead of James Earl Jones. It’s like ordering a beer after a hard bike ride and finding only Busch on tap. It’s like grabbing a hot, fresh Toll-House chocolate chip cookie and discovering its an Oatmeal Raisin. So disappointing.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      There was a reason she picked automatic and it wasn’t her preference; she might be sharing it occasionally with an older family member who can’t drive a stick.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Caroline Ellis
    So what’s your next adventure?

    Are going to drive cross country in your Sonic?

    You could at least keep a diary or log of your experiences with the Sonic, you know all to good, bad and ugly stuff like the costs of repairs/maintenance, FE, daily driving experience and even weekends away, etc.

  • avatar
    koreancowboy

    They probably had another grand in that car, but it really doesn’t matter…I’m glad that you found the car that you like, and had a great experience to boot.

  • avatar
    dartman

    Dear Caroline-

    Congratulations on your purchase! The enthusiasm and excitement that comes through in your articles brings a smile to face every time I read them; the research/planning/budgeting; the thrill of the “hunt”; the first “miss”; and finally the drama of the hard fought negotiation- with- success! You could have bought a 1985 Yugo GX pulled by an Ox for $100 grand for all I care, If you’re happy and thrilled with your choice that’s the point.

    Now do me a favor: Run – don’t walk – away from this cesspool of malcontents, cellar-dwellers and hoople-heads. The small contingent of sane people is so out numbered by wackos that it can’t be good for your health or attitude.

    Best Wishes and Happy Motoring!

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I’m surprised a new car dealership would try selling a car without four good tires. That is the kind of thing I expect on a bhph lot.

    I would prefer to have bad tires factored into the price so I can choose my own later, but I thought any self-respecting dealership would be embarrassed to sell a car with obviously worn tires.

  • avatar
    EX35

    You bought a car with pretty much no usable warranty, worn tires, and likely shitty maintenance for slightly less than the price of a previous year new model with rebates galore. Congrats.

    What you should have done was search for new 2013 models in a 500 mile radius. Email every dealer asking for their lowest price. Profit.

    • 0 avatar

      Rebates galore? Not so much. $1500 if you finance with Ally. That’s all. Perhaps you thought I didn’t do my homework.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        Hold back + manufacturer to dealer incentives/marketing support to move old cars off lots.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          So what would you consider a good price for a never titled 2013 Sonic LTZ hatch?

          Why not back up your criticism with some numbers?

          • 0 avatar

            Because there aren’t any numbers to support his argument, frankly.

            People making assumptions about MY intended use of this car have no knowledge of my living situation, how many miles I drive to work, how long I plan to keep the car, etc. Any guesses are just that—guesses.

            I bought an LTZ for a reason, people. It really isn’t that difficult to grasp. I could have bought a manual transmission LT for considerably less money. I chose not to do that. I bought the trim level and option package that I wanted.

            If EX35, or anybody else, thinks that I could have found a new Sonic LTZ hatch with an automatic for anything like $12,300…well, I would love to know where they are, so we can ALL go buy one. I will turn around and sell my LTZ I just bought for more than I paid for it, because, you know, I COULD.

            Perhaps EX35 (and I really hope that’s NOT a reference to the Infiniti CUV that answered a question that nobody was asking) missed the part where I said I didn’t want to spend more than $13,000.

      • 0 avatar
        sketch447

        Caroline, you bought a great car. It has leather, heated seats, alloys, and a bulletproof Ecotec engine. Plus, it’s the more expensive and desirable hatchback. You’ll see a lot of posts from older people (myself included) suggesting you might’ve purchased a new car for the same money. But any new car would NOT have anywhere near the options your car has.

        I’m sure your Sonic had regular maintenance from its prior owner, who I suspect was much older than you. A lot of older people buy new loaded subcompacts, thinking they’ll be as pleasant as the mid-size cars they grew up with. And generally, those smaller cars do everything as well as the bigger sedans. But then the older people are like, “you know, I need more space inside. I’m not young anymore. I’ve got a big dog.” So they trade them in on an Accord or Impala.

        Again, well done and Happy Motoring!!

        • 0 avatar
          EX35

          How in the world can you make such assumptions about its maintenance? Old, conservative, maintenance minded ppl driving sonics? Lolwut? We all know who drove the crap out of this car for a year or so and traded it back in. No need to say it.

          Bulletproof ecotech?

    • 0 avatar
      sketch447

      EX35, Caroline made out ok with her purchase. C’mon, she’s very excited about her car. It’s doesn’t help to fill her with doubt and regrets. She could’ve purchased a new car for a bit more cash, but it surely would not have had the options she cherished, and surely not leather. It’s either what she bought or a brand-new Spark and the Spark is just too darned small……

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Trouble with this is the car with the correct options is very overpriced. Do you really think a warranty is worth the five or more extra grand of the MSRP?

  • avatar
    sketch447

    Similar to Caroline, my young 20-something friend at work has $12k or so to spend on a car. He’s shopping auctions to find a car with the most options and frills for that $12k. Autotranny mandatory…..

    I advised him to spend $13k on a brand new base model Sonic stick, or a bit more for a new base Dart stick or Focus stick. But he was adamant on having all the frills, even if the car is used. And buying a stick was not on the table for him. He said he’d burn out the clutch in traffic. I told him I’ve been driving sticks for decades, in Boston traffic, with no ill effects to the clutch or my left leg…..

    I just don’t understand young people nowadays. They’d rather have a loaded used car than a brand-new stripper with row-your-own gears. Caroline is no exception. I’m not knocking her purchase or her column. She made out ok and I do enjoy her skilled and engaging writing style.

    But what is it about young people who will do anything to avoid buying a manual tranny?? Even if that stick is attached to a brand new car??

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      Makes zero sense. But they’ll be crying to daddy when some cheap interior part flakes out a year from now with no warranty left.

      • 0 avatar

        > Makes zero sense. But they’ll be crying to daddy when some cheap interior part flakes out a year from now with no warranty left.

        Unless this is an advert for leasing I hope you realize all cars run out of warranty eventually.

        Buying a slightly used car at discount to a new one certainly constitutes some degree of risk, but that’s hardly a novel insight even if you’re proud of thinking it up yourself.

        • 0 avatar
          EX35

          You saved a small sum in exchange for giving up likely 3 years of warranty. Most ppl her age keep their cars 5-6 years. She’ll now have essentially 5-6 years of ownership without a warranty vs 2-3 had she bought new. And those 5-6 years will be when the car is at most risk to cost her out of pocket. There goes any savings you thought you had. But, as long as she’s ok with that, whatever. Somehow, that probably didn’t factor into her decision. Oh well.

          • 0 avatar

            > You saved a small sum in exchange for giving up likely 3 years of warranty.

            I was going to mention extended warr in my comment, but decided readers on a car site should be aware of this if not how basic insurance math works. Oversight is mine.

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            Sure, price out a manufacturer backed warranty with the same exact coverage as B2B with zero deductible. Provide a link. Then add that to the price of the car. We’re waiting.

          • 0 avatar

            > Sure, price out a manufacturer backed warranty with the same exact coverage as B2B with zero deductible. Provide a link. Then add that to the price of the car. We’re waiting.

            http://bit.ly/1gTCf6o

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            Burden’s on you, bro.

          • 0 avatar

            > Burden’s on you, bro.

            You mistake me for a wet nurse. The following will be the extent of this spoon-feeding:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/the-truth-about-caroline-sonic-boom/#comment-3049585

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            sorry about you tiny, pink substantiation skills, bro.

          • 0 avatar

            > sorry about you tiny, pink substantiation skills, bro.

            Generally folks of your level will demand proofs of the addition and similar trivia they won’t understand, and there’s little satisfaction for anyone down that path.

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            neckbeard, am i close?

          • 0 avatar

            > neckbeard, am i close?

            Now is not a good time to flunk the already low expectations above.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Are you sure this person can even drive a manual transmission? It is certainly possible for a new/unexperienced manual driver to burn out the clutch.

      Also, if you are getting a manual in this class, I would say it is Honda or Mazda all the way.

    • 0 avatar
      wagonsonly

      For what it’s worth, my wife and I both fit into that age bracket (or at least we did when we bought the cars we [still] drive every day). Her car was a loaded Subaru, five years old with 90K miles when we bought it. It’s now eleven years with 170K, no major problems to report. Mine is a loaded Saab, with a stick, with a little over 180K miles on it. (I did have to replace the a/c compressor on my car, but the rest was maintenance.)

      So far our depreciation costs have been about $4,000 over five years, for both cars combined. Hers was financed and paid off well before the loan term was set to end; mine was purchased in cash. We both still like them and intend to drive them until they are no longer practicable to fix.

      The strategy here is to buy something that you like well enough to care for. If I was driving a penalty box to work every day, I’d probably stretch the oil changes longer, or not wash and wax as often (deadly here in New England), or have eaten a huge depreciation hit for trading it for something I did like driving. But by getting what I wanted in the first place, but used and therefore at an affordable price point, I have something that I like, respect, and have to maintain since it’s not easily replaceable on the new market.

      Now, your point about being manual-averse – if I was going to sell the car fairly quickly, I’d want an automatic for the sole reason that no one else wants a stick and I don’t want to get stuck with a white elephant. Otherwise, I’m with you; I don’t understand why more people won’t drive a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Because this isn’t Great Britain. Most of us have no access to a manual transmission to learn on, and we’re certainly not about to try on a car we’re buying new.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Yes, I know lots of younger folks that have a passing interest in buying a manual-equipped vehicle but they straight up don’t know how to drive one.

        Spending over $10K on a car that you can’t drive is a big risk. Then there is the fear of needing to possibly pay for a clutch replacement while learning or causing expensive body damage from rolling backward on an incline.

        • 0 avatar

          > Yes, I know lots of younger folks that have a passing interest in buying a manual-equipped vehicle but they straight up don’t know how to drive one.

          This came up in the manual trans article recently. I expect the option to be dead in the US within a (person) generation following the pool of competent instructors.

          Unfortunate given their greater marginal value in a lower powered car.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Not to mention most car thieves won’t know how to drive one. Hmmm. Knowledge is power, and maybe a lucrative part time job.

        • 0 avatar

          ^
          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-manly-art-of-stick-handling/#comment-2988481

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      Young people, young people…

      For what it’s worth, I’m in my early 20s and my last four cars have been manuals. That said, I’ve picked ‘em all up for about a tenth of what your friend’s looking to spend, but even if I was getting a new car, I’d insist on a manual in anything I’d be able to get in that price range.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I realize your thoughts center more about manual vs automatic, but if $12K is your budget you’re not in a good place. Not enough money for low mile 2-3yos retail, really not enough for new stripped clown cars. Caroline did well considering the circumstances, she effectively got a loaded subcompact for near Black Book I think because people who shop the segment are not typically buying GM (or want GM).

      Regarding your friend, my best advice is the advice I gave to myself on my last newer car purchase. You have to buy a solid car. Buying 12K used you’re likely not going to have money for repairs and warranty not bumper to bumper has deliberate limits. Forget looks, mileage, segments, brands. Buy something solid which can be cheaply repaired by any shop any where.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “I just don’t understand young people nowadays. They’d rather have a loaded used car than a brand-new stripper with row-your-own gears. ”

      It’s amazing not everyone shares the same priorities. The gall!

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    My mother just traded her surprisingly long-lived New Beetle on a new Sonic sedan. Not sure which trim level it is, but it’s got the fancy stereo, a manual transmission, and blue paint that further underscores the obligatory hedgehog pun.

    She’s happy with it so far. I hope Caroline’s just as pleased with hers, long-term.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Now granted I leased my car but I really didn’t have to haggle. When we figured out what I wanted the payments came to about 80 dollars less than what Ford’s website was giving me and in line with what Edmunds was saying. I didn’t have to put money down just 1000 for a deposit because I ordered a green mustang v6 with the 6spd. I used that 1000 to pay the taxes when the car came in and that was that.

    Btw Caroline I’m surprised nobody noticed Bark’s cameo in that first pic.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    I’ve browsed Caroline’s other articles. I’m pretty sure she can drive a stick, or she’s smart enough to learn in a few days. She’s clearly a car-nut who knows her stuff.

    Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not faulting her, or anyone from her generation, for being stick-averse. I’m merely contrasting the car buying preferences of young people and the middle aged…….

    And one more thing: the typical 3-year car warranty is barely used nowadays. Most cars are fine for the warranty period (except for Minis and the German brands.) Things generally start breaking after that 3 years expires, on any car……..but such is life!!

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      Good thing then she didn’t buy a car right at the end of the warranty period when things start to break. Whew!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Yea, she can drive a manual. Jack explained her transmission choice earlier:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/the-truth-about-caroline-sonic-boom/#comment-3047081

    • 0 avatar

      > the typical 3-year car warranty is barely used nowadays. Most cars are fine for the warranty period (except for Minis and the German brands.) Things generally start breaking after that 3 years expires, on any car

      There’s several conceptually different modes of part breakage:

      1. New inadequately tested, aka Dead on Arrival. Self-explanatory.

      2. Low wear parts, reasonably well known inverse-exponential risk function. These in aggregate are what all warranties (ie. insurers) use. There’s no magical step at X years.

      3. Wear parts, not really covered under warranty anyway.

      The idea of designing for X year of functionality come from the imagination of laymen employing confirmation bias.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        off topic but, are you an aspie who enjoys steampunk?

        • 0 avatar

          > off topic but, are you an aspie who enjoys steampunk?

          No, I’m a robot who enjoys owning nubs.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Stop feeding the trolls. Apparently Caroline wasn’t impressed with the EX35 an old date had and he’s here out of insecurity to harass. HE has the right answers. Only HE can save poor Caroline…if she would only looooooooove him.

            Love me Caroline! I don’t mean all those harsh words.

            If you just loved me I’d make sure you got a leased BMW 320i for $299 a month and invest the test in blue chip stocks making 6% to 10% annualized return because I know better!

            You only had the editorial staff at TTAC helping you – they know nothing!

  • avatar
    onearmedexecutioner

    Congratulations Caroline! I am starting a new job soon and have to trade in my 2009 FJ Cruiser for a more economical vehicle that is fun to look at and drive. My budget is under $20,000. After reading your article, I think I have made my decision to purchase a Chevy Sonic LTZ 1.8. Thanks for the article.

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    I couldn’t help but smile as I scrolled down the page and saw Caroline smiling, leaning against the hood of the Sonic. I immediately knew she’d found a vehicle she likes, and that’s the most important part of buying a car, isn’t it? Now let’s hope it holds up well under years of ownership.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    I have reviewed a few of the comments and rather than chime in on each separate one, I figured I would hit em one by one.

    -While the reliability and durability of CVT’s are suspect, most conventional automatics teamed with 4cyl engines are, by and large, bulletproof. My wife hates manuals and requires an automatic. Ironically, while I prefer a stick in my truck and my new Mazda2, the Mazda5’s torquey 2.5L four teamed with a 5speed auto drives great, picks the right gear at all times, and is a second nature type of driving experience. So I get that. I have no issue with someone getting an automatic though the cost is a lot more than one might thing. Note that most new cars on the “clearance” rack are manual trans, but since Caroline wasn’t going to get a clearance rack sort of car anyway, this point doesn’t apply. So, automatic it is, and that’s ok.

    -There were probably some new cars out there at that price, but you have to be patient and very connected to the local dealerships to see when they come up. My Mazda2 had its newly discounted price for about 4 hours before I picked it up. Also, as previously stated, it was not a fully equipped model and it was a manual. For the typical car buyer, I think Caroline did a good job.

    -The overall idea of Caroline wanting “fully equippped” is a matter of youth I think. In the past if you had a 4 speaker stereo and power windows you really had something. Crank windows were a given. Now I read the reviews of low end cars and stuff like “hard plastics” and “no armrest” along with “undampened glove box door” are all considered deal breakers. REALLY? My Datsun 310GX had thin particleboard door panels covered with vinyl. My “Stripped” Mazda2 has the same equipment as a fully loaded car of 15 years ago. Caroline would be rolling her nose at my Mazda with this “what? no leather?” look on her face. Meanwhile I get giggly when I discover I have power windows. Guess its a matter of age.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      I was with you until you pulled the “Guess its a matter of age” card.

      I think it is more like it is her money, her only car and it is what she wanted.

      For a truck or some toy I don’t really care about power windows, locks, seats etc…for my 110 mile daily round trip commute I want power windows, locks, a fairly nice interior etc…

      I think she did good on her purchase. I’m not sure what some of these guys are smoking, but you aren’t going to get a no mileage LTZ Sonic for under $15K anywhere. Its not like GM is putting $4K-$7K on the hood of these like say Infiniti and Acura does with its new cars these days.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    You missed the point completely. My wife’s first car was a “stripper” Ford Festiva. It had power nothing, no A/C, no rear defog or wiper. It had a heater and that was about it. I even had to put a radio in it.

    Fast forward to today. Base model cars, except for a base level Versa, have power windows, locks, steering, brakes, stability control, ABS, keyless entry, and more times than not a decent sound system with USB input. In most cases you can’t get a car that DOESN’T have these items. Even with that, Caroline put a priority on heated leather, among other gee whiz things that I don’t require. And yeah, I think it’s an age thing. Like when the reviewer bitches about a glove box door not being dampened or, of all things not having a fold down armrest. For shame!

    There was a story online not too long ago about a high school student being locked out of their car because the fob battery died. The student hadn’t a clue that the key actually could open the car.

    You gotta cut me some slack; my first car didn’t even have a floor!!

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Are you Barney or Fred? :)

      I’m just saying I think it is less her age and more the age we live in. Like you said, you can’t buy a modern car without power everything. For the small difference in price for a car with heated seat vs without it is almost a no brainer to buy a car with them these days. You know its something when a car in the Sonic’s segment even offers heated seats…compared to my friend’s 87 Hyundai Excel in high school a Sonic is more like a Caddy or Oldsmobile from the 80’s, and most of those didn’t even have heated seats.

      I’ve been spoiled, my first car, an 87, was loaded for the time, even had real pigskin leather seats from the factory. The only option it didn’t have was an auto transmission.

  • avatar
    Illan

    Congrats on getting Miles Prower (aka Tails). Word if advise. LTZ models tend to give high expectation ondyour next car. i have 1 2010 malibu ltz and the interior belongs on a higher class car.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “Car with lots of options”

    I think the phrase should be ‘lots of features’. The LTZ comes with many standard features, as most buyers expect these days. Many times, I see posters say ‘standard options’, umm no, options are extra cost selections, not standard items, or ‘bells and whistles’.

    Anyway, always play hard to get, when buying. I did, twice, but too many other times I was ‘get me in this car’.

  • avatar
    CTDaddy97

    Caroline, I just wanted to congratulate you on 2 fronts:

    1. For staying in your budget. Many people claim they have a budget, but then think, “I can afford another $20/$40/$60 a month” and end up spending far more than originally planned.

    2. For choosing the Sonic. I just purchased one myself (2014 Blue LT Hatchback). After doing a lot of research, it turns out that most reviewers like the car, and most owners are pretty satisfied with their purchase.

    Happy driving!

  • avatar
    Snowdog1967

    Congrats on the “New to you” ride!
    The process of buying a car is just insane. I know that dealerships treat women like morons to start with…

    Now, you need to pick up a Miata to have fun in… :)


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