I’m a 17 year old in grade 12 who purchased his first car about six months ago, a ’96 Crown Vic for $1300. As much as I love the size, comfort, space and V8 soundtrack it offers, gas here in Ontario costs nearly $1.40 CAD per litre (about $4.90 USD per gallon). Taking into account it won’t get much better than 14 MPG in the city (yes I’ve tried all I can to improve it) I have decided I need to get something more fuel efficient. Right now my budget is about $2500 plus whatever I can get for my Vic. I’m fairly mechanically inclined and try to repair as much as I can myself to save money, so I want a car that’s easy to work on.
Basically my checklist goes like this:
- Fuel efficient (four cylinder)
- Cheap to buy
- Easy to repair
- Cheap parts
- Domestic over imports (a Ford ideally)
- Lots of trunk space
Needless to say my Vic meets all but the first requirement. This list has led me to a bunch of mid-late 90′s Ford Escort wagons, not my number one choice but what do you think? Overall what do you think would be best car for me?
There is one word that I didn’t see in your email.
Fun. Then again, if I were broke and lumbering in an 18 year old Crown Vic at a place where gas is about $5.00 a gallon, fun wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of my priorities.
My advice is for you is to do a reverse search.
What’s that? It’s one where you start searching for a car based on your budget, not your price. Go to the free online classifieds in your neck of the woods and sort out the vehicles based on price. In your case, perhaps a $3500 price ceiling would do.
From there, call around and ask a few pointed questions. Feel free to read this article if you want a basic road map.
As for what models to recommend? At this price range the prior owner’s driving habits and maintenance regimen represent a far better indicator of the car’s long-term worthiness than the brand. Look at it this way. Ford has managed to sell Mazdas, Kias, Nissans, Volvos and at least a half dozen other brands by taking the other manufacturer’s platform, and adding their own name brand and marketing muscle. Your search will have more to do with what’s a good powertrain combination (engine and transmission) than what name is in front of the hood.
I’ll offer one darkhorse amongst the 100+ models that may qualify. An older Mitsubishi Lancer. They do surprisingly well as compared to the industry average according to my research, and they also tend to be well discounted in the used car market.