Sajeev and Steve,
My buddy is in college and needs a used set of wheels. After 2 years of depending upon Baltimore’s awful public transportation system and the generosity of friends, roommates, frat brothers, and total strangers for car rides, his school work is starting to suffer and he’s decided to buy a car. Unfortunately, his budget is about $2000. His living situation and total lack of mechanical skills rule out anything German, Swedish, or otherwise maintenance intensive.
His criteria for the car are reliable/durable, fuel efficient, and cheap to run. Working AC and heat would be a bonus, but he really only intends to drive the car about 15-20 minutes per day for school. He has absolutely no pretensions about the car’s badge, perceived coolness, sporty driving dynamics, etc., but he probably won’t spring for a total crapcan like a metro or echo. Also, he’s currently unemployed, and I don’t think he intends to find a job due to his course load.