And the #1 Reason to Buy a Car Is… Mileage
A few years back it was safety. Before that it was reliability. At some distant point in the past it was (maybe) performance. These days, the ever-fickle and typically totally misinformed car buying public is obsessed with mpg– at least according to AAA. And why not? Gas is flirting with $4 a gallon. Milk, egg, your gas bill, beer, Viagra– everything is up, up, up! The MotorAuthority reports that consumers are fighting back by purchasing more fuel-efficient cars. In other words, they're being rational rather than emotional. But how do you define rational? This past weekend a friend asked my girlfriend what the latter thought of her 2001 Ford Focus, a vehicle held together by duct tape and bumper stickers. The friend asking had a 2000 Ford Escort which fell apart in less than 100k miles. She currently owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. She's thinking about getting a new Focus. She's from Michigan, so she can only buy Fords. Or a Prius. Go figure.
How about this for a good reason - college student desperately needs a reliable, economic means of transportation. Lack of credit history = limited selection of vehicles. Between college and work, no downtime available, so can't go with the el'cheapo at Dave's Car Barn that will need work every other week. Stuck with new car at a tolerable interest rate. Not all of us are financially capable of maintaining a car that "might" be reliable. We need cars that will BE reliable, or fixed under warranty. Besides, did it ever cross your mind that, after paying our cars off, we might keep them? Buy a cheap, reliable car, get 5 years out of it, and pass it down to the next of kin. While the car's value depriciates, it doesn't matter to someone who won't be selling it anyway.
I "settled" on a Sonata after my '97 Camaro decided to present me with looming repair issues that wouldn't be prudent on a car with a KBB value of 2500 bucks. Since I prefer manual transmissions, I wouldn't trust the clutch of a used car; I'd be checking each 4 cyl candidate for the rub marks of a "fart can" on the back bumper. With this new car, I can settle back and wait for the plug-in hybrid of my choice, while I sock away the cash for it. And, since my car is likely to still be in the warranty period when I trade it in, it should have a less-than-shameful trade-in value; though I'm aware that a Korean car isn't the best "investment" in that regard.
offroad, If you are a student, how will you make payments? If you can pay cash, buy whatever you want, just realize that you are paying a premium for not having someone else own it first. Even if the previous owner destroyed the clutch, you will save more in depreciation than you will lose in repairs. I have posted on other threads my advice for new graduates. If you want it, I will rewrite it for you. I will tell you that I have worked with car dealers, and I have trained their employees on negotiating techniques. You are much smarter than most of the people in the dealership, and they know that, and they will make sport of you. The two worst deals I ever saw were taken by a Supreme Court Justice and a CFO for an SMB. Go ahead and buy one of those new car "deals", but I think you are likely overpaying for your education already. I know I did.
Overpaying for education might be true if it were possible to pay less, but it isn't.. as far as "deals" go, like I said, I bought a Scion. It was as cheap as they come with my 2 requirements (Auto and ABS).