By on September 16, 2010

Back in 2008 I saw some of the weirdest optioned vehicles to have ever gone through any auto auction. Vehicles that were given power everything including cruise, ABS and traction control… but manual windows. Long wheel base minivans that offered captain’s chairs and premium sound… but no rear air. Even midsized sedans that had all the features a family would want. Except side airbags which the rental car company decided would cost too much to repair in the event of an accident. Fast forward two years later. Used car inventories are at their lowest point in 35 years and used car prices are up over a thousand bucks from last year. Have the manufacturers finally found some pearls of wisdom? Or are there still too many penny wise, pound foolish practices running amuck in the industry. Well???

Consider the following realities…

1) The ‘no air’ car… still coming to a sweltering metropolis near you.

What do Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas, Miami, Bombay, and Rio De Janeiro all have in common? That’s right. They will all one day have a Waffle House, god willing. And along with that Waffle House, there will be at least two or three cars in the parking lot with towels on top of their seats. But will all those cars be 10+ year old beaters. Or maybe not?

In the futuristic year that is 2010 some folks believe that new cars shouldn’t have cold air.

Even in a city that is so sweltering that water condenses on your body as you move from place to place, you can still buy a true stripper that doesn’t blow. Someone’s gotta say it.

I understand the marketing gimmick behind it. The ‘lowest priced car’. The ‘buy one get one free’ car (a.k.a. any Kia will do.) The ‘look at this low price while we hide the bogus fees in the small print’ car. For all the halo effects these circus freaks have at the dealerships, they are terrible endorsements for a car’s qualities once they’re on the road.

2) The ‘20-something’ car

Who wants a Honda CR-Z? Apparently this is now the talk of the TTAC town. But it is a great question. In a world where Boomers want to retire (someday), and most 20-something’s struggle to even have a career. Automakers seem content to offer an amazing number of low-riding coupes with dashboards that appear to be part cell phone, and part pokemon.

I don’t see how most of these cars have even a remote chance of making money. 80+% of these car will never see 50,000 units. Most have development costs that run well into the hundreds of millions. I love most of these cars. But we are now in a world where everyone can make a sport four door car that is every bit as fun to drive.The market just isn’t there.

3) The ‘Premium’ Car

There is this decades old myth in the industry that only ‘premium’ cars can offer that extra push of profitability. Cars are ‘loaded’ in the hopes that the customer is equally loaded. But there is a nasty catch to it all.

Most customers in the entry-level areas of the market are extremely price conscious. Yes, you can still find that mark who will spend $20k on a Focus. But for every one of them, you also have at least two to three folks looking to spend only $11k to $13k. What happens when the car in question no longer supports that price threshold?

It craters. The Dodge Neon was an excellent seller with a long model run… and then it cut off the bottom end of it’s market and it died. The Saturn S-Series managed to hum along at 200k to 300k vehicles a year for over a decade… and then the Ion was priced out of the low end and it (thankfully) died.

These days the Cruze and the Fiesta are trying to hit what seems to be the sweet spot of the premium market. What are they offering the lower end? Nothing. At least nothing except an Aveo. Meanwhile the Nissan Versa has become a market leader and can hit the $12k customer as well as the $18k customer. Other manufacturers like Toyota do the same exact thing by offering multiple models with the same underlying platform. Long story short, I don’t see the Cruze or Fiesta posting the production numbers that will be needed to make them profitable.

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47 Comments on “Hammer Time: Resale Suicide...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    That depends on the vehicle. If you’re talking about an econoboxes that appeal on price alone then you are most likely correct. However, if GM and Ford convince the public that the Fiesta and Cruze are desirable vehicles then higher trim levels should not depreciate much faster than basic models.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      The U.S. market has never appreciated “premium” small cars, it’s a cultural thing. Most people buy the biggest car they can afford.  The few of us who do like premium small cars gave up on Detroit iron decades ago, except as low budget used cars for those of us broke enough to settle for a mere appliance rather than the “proper car” we crave.
       
      My guess is that Ford and GM will make the sales in the U.S. the way they always do with small cars — year to year decontenting plus lots of cash on the hood. They probably don’t really have to sell that many here either, they do have other markets.
       

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      And most of the past 20 years Detroit hasn’t offered a desirable small car… Where was the American Mini (style)? The Cavalier (meh), the Neon (better), and the Aveo (pretty bad) do not entice me to buy regardless of whether they are $12K or $18K. It’s got to have a little style for a start and then back that up with a clever design and fun to drive chassis. put me in a Cobalt and I’m going to hate it everyday b/c I simply don’t like the toy car looks. And – I like small cars. I own a couple and drive one daily.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Fiesta or Focus? Both? In the case of those two (and the Aveo and Cruze) they’re more or less the spiritual descendants of the captive imports of old, so they don’t have to live or die on their US sales numbers.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    No AC in Houston or San Antonio definitely equals resale suicide. I could maybe see such a car in Denver, Colorado or Billings, Montana – but in Miami or Houston – forget it.
     
    That said, Hyundai definitely sold some stripper Accents without air in this area.  Those puppies take up space forever on Craigslist.  It gets even worse when the seller is upside down on the loan and asking $8,000.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    All good points.  I can fathom driving a “stripper” for my commute, but then I own a scooter.  As long as I’ve got heat I could live with windows down in the summer on a base Accent, but I know I’d never get my lady in it for any “distance” driving in July.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    A few thoughts:
    1.  There is no excuse for the ‘no air’ car.  They shouldn’t be built.

    2.  The ’20-something’ car.  You are right, Steven, except that most of these are bought by the middle aged, perhaps tyring to feel young.  It is a well established businessplan to market to the young, but sell to the “young at heart.”

    3.  I think Ford and Chevy are smart to try to go premium (if they fail, they can always go downmarket, but you could never move an Excort or Cobalt upmarket).  The CPO market is killing the $10-12K car. 

    If I can get a 3 year old Civic with a waranty for $12K, why would I buy a new Aveo/Cobalt/Rio?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    It is consumer’s fault that we have small cars with high prices. Consumers demand that it has large wheels, standard features, like sunroof (2011 tC). And then look, Honda still has drums in the Civic and manufacturers returning to torsion beams. I used to have 1990 Civic with 4 wheel independent double-wishbone suspension. Is there a car like that now? I don’t think so.

    • 0 avatar
      Wagen

      Yep, just continues to fit with the trend that more and more people today look at cars as appliances or gadget-mobiles with absolutely no regard for performance as long as it gets from point A to point B reasonably well; I know there are always exceptions, but the prevalence of this increases as age of car buyer decreases, I fear.  This type of buyer would rather a Scion with a navigation system than a 3-series without one.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And then look, Honda still has drums in the Civic and manufacturers returning to torsion beams

      Part of that’s cost-cutting, but it’s also true that a suspension like that just isn’t necessary anymore, nor are rear drums at all necessary.  If the car can stop, turn, ride and handle just as well with a less expensive, less complex setup, why put the money into things that aren’t worth it and aren’t going to get noticed, for good or ill?

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      psarhjinian: If the car can stop, turn, ride and handle just as well with a less expensive, less complex setup, why put the money into things that aren’t worth it and aren’t going to get noticed, for good or ill?

      Luddite.  :)

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      The old “Civic had wishbones” argument. Who can really tell the difference?
      Did you Civic suspension work better than an M3 with its inferior McPherson struts?

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Yet the new Jetta gets bashed because it lost its independent rear suspension for a twist beam axle.
       

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    In the 1960s you could buy a strippo with no air.  It had a thing called a heater control valve that shut water off from going into the heater core.  This way, you did not have a a load of radiant heat coming into the cabin, which is really unpleasant on a 95 degree day.  These cars also had fresh air vents that allowed ambient air to blow directly into the cabin.  These two features are what made all those no-air cars livable for most people back in the day.
    Now, they take a car designed for a/c and just take the unit out.  I don’t see how people with these cars stand them, no matter what the climate.  The modern no-air car is something that nobody should ever have to own.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I have a 60s and a 70s aircooled VWs and they are quite tolerable in southern heat b/c the vents are blowing a good volume of unheated air and the little vent windows which when turned backwards (open all the way) feel really nice. Admittedly it is noisy to drive at 60 mph with all the vents and windows open so neither would be my hot weather cross country vehicle of choice.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand why anyone would spend $12K on a new stripper when they could have a nice used car for the same price.  Then again, I’ve spent $15K on vehicles in the last two years…and that’s bought me a good Miata, a project Miata, and a work truck.  So what do I know?

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I don’t understand why anyone would spend $12K on a new stripper when they could have a nice used car for the same price.

      True dat. For $9k I got a Saab 9-5 with 58k, a kick-ass sound system, park assist, rain sense, heated seats, dual zone climate control, leather, moonroof, and it does 0-60 in 6.9. It also had 2 years & 100k on a bumper-bumper CPO warranty; after all that I could still spend three grand fixing it for the next year and have the equivalent of 3/36 on a new stripper compact. It boggles my mind that people buy those cars.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      There will always be people who like the idea of a factory warranty and an absence of the possibility of (non-factory) abuse/neglect.
      Not to mention new tires, belts, hoses, fluids, brakes, suspension bushings, shocks, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “I don’t understand why anyone would spend $12K on a new stripper when they could have a nice used car for the same price. ”

      True. But, the used car will, almost by definition, have less life left in it.

      For 14k you can buy a new stripped Civic a loaded 4 year old Accord with 60k on the clock. However, in all likelihood the Accord has 4 fewer years and 60k miles less life left in her, and you’re going to start having maintenance and reliability issues creep up on you all that much sooner.

      It may be worth it to get the used Accord to be more comfortable, but it certainly doesn’t make sense financially.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      <i> For $9k I got a Saab 9-5 with 58k</i>

      Yes, but you got a car with 58k that – from what I know of 9-5s – might only make it to 130k.  If you bought an Accent of a Versa, you might have 150 or 180k left vs. 70k.

      You’re paying the same money for a car that will be used up and sent to the crusher far sooner.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I can: my sister-in-law.  Her last car buy was a brand new ’96 Contour, ZTech 2.0, 5-speed, crank windows, AM/FM/cassette/air (it was standard).  Fourteen years later, she’s finally thinking of trading it in on something new.  She doesn’t want to spend much money on a car, but intends to keep it for a long period of time.  Thus the impetus to buy new, but not wanting to spend much money.

      By the way, the stripper Contour is a real nice ride.  Not Americanized, it’s a genuine Mondeo.

      And I’ll happily go for a car without air, despite living around Richmond.  I wind down the windows.  And it feels a lot like all the commuting I do on my motorcycles.  Which is why I consider air optional.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s possible I’ve been shopping at the wrong price point to fully understand what $12K buys you.  My target is usually half that.  In 1998 I bought a six-year-old Thunderbird with 78,000 miles on it.  I paid $5,000.  Eleven years and 150,000 miles later I sold it for $200, having spent about $3,000 in repairs (exclusive of maintenance) in that time.  My truck (an ’03 Mazda B2300 with 57,000 miles) is the most expensive vehicle I’ve ever bought: it cost me just over $6,000.  All I know is that I won’t have to buy another car for at least ten years, and that will probably be a replacement for my girlfriend’s CR-V.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      JMO – Depreciation and insurance need to be added into the new versus used equation.
       
      Let’s do some math on my most recent purchase, a seven year old Mazda Tribute private that has a 115,000 miles for $4K from a private owner.
       
      a.) The original sticker price was $21 K, so let’s say $19K new with destination charge. That’s means depreciation was 79%.
       
      b.) $320 of tax and licensing versus $2K’s worth of tax, title and dealer fees.
       
      c.) I own it outright.  So, my insurance costs are low. What’s insurance per year on a new 21K vehicle when the finance charges are added onto the note?
       
      d.) Granted the vehicle may only have 85,000 miles left – but I no longer drive as much as I used to, about 6000 miles per year – 7,000 miles tops.
       
      e.) On the minus side – which goes with the territory: Unlike most motorists, I’m able to do my own maintenance – and – know how to shop for parts, of which I usually wind up with better than OEM. 

      Maintenance for me is $600 a year, tops.  For most, $1600 a year or worse* – because most motorists take in the rear both on shop labor and on parts.

      *Or worse is because many folks seem incapable of repairing an ailing component before it totally wears out. I’m talking about folks who need rotors each time the brake pads wear out , for example.
       
      Bottom line: I usually keep a car for 5 years,  My insurance, labor and maintenance costs are for the most part Ghandi as in Mohatma – but I’m not looking at $350 -$450 a month payments, plus higher new car insurance payments for 4 or 5 years.

      Depreciation costs are about 25% of $4K versus 50% or more of $19K.
       
      This type of ownership ain’t for everyone, but it is well within my budget.
       

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      @jmo
      9-5s until 2k4 had sludging issues that exaggerated reliability problems; that’s why I got an ’05. Beyond the sludging they’re pretty solid as things go.
       
      The main decisionmaker was that a cheap sh*tbox is horribly unsafe compared to a Swedish luxobarge. Despite TTACers oft-repeated arguments that you won’t get into an accident if you’re a good driver, an incident involving a stop-sign runner and my Mystique/Contour/Mondeo in which death would have ensued had I not had good shoes on the vehicle suggests that other bad drivers have their own ideas about whether the good ones get into accidents.
       
      In that respect, buying used was the only choice; something new with equivalent safety specs – even though it could be lower end, say, a new Fusion/Legacy/Camcord/whatever – couldn’t be had for less than double the price I ended up paying. With that not an option, well – decision made.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Oldnslow – that’s how I do it too.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    I read it here some years ago in the comment section, I think it was one HT:
    A/C is not a luxury, is a right.
    Amen.

    Here in Venezuela, the first question asked by people about a new car is how cold the A/C is. I think in Marcelo’s market they still punish people selling cars without stock A/C. Of course, that would kill the poor 1.0 hamster.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    I don’t know Mr. Lang: AC and manual crank windows sounds just like my kind of car…. AC is a must, but I’d pay a premium for them to take some of the crap off

    A stripper with the option of choosing what I want or don’t want on it… what a concept . Sometimes less really is more.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      That IS my kind of car, and I like it that way. I initially was looking for a small sporty looking coupe with a manual trans. I didn’t have any other strict requirements. What I ended up with was a 2000 Ford ZX2. It has power mirrors, rear def, cold AC, and that’s it! Manual windows, locks, no tilt steering and of course manual transmission. You don’t need power windows and locks in a small 2 door. I bought it with 50k on the clock. It now has 145,000 miles and has served me well. I added tinted windows and the previous owner added a CD player and sub-woofer.

  • avatar
    kkt

    If you live in the right place, you can easily do without A/C.  I live in Seattle and used the A/C maybe 5 times this summer.  But I get worse gas mileage all the time.
    The difference between luxury and a right seems to be about 20 years.
     

  • avatar
    dwford

    Most car buyers don’t want “the stripper.” I can sell you an Accent stick without a/c for less than $10k, but do you want it when I can sell you an 09 Accent 4 door automatic with power windows etc. for the same money?
     
    As for the “premium” small cars, they will appeal to people who want high gas mileage but also want the features. Size is being decoupled from price in the new, more fuel/environment conscious decade. If someone thinks $20k is too much for a loaded Fiesta, they can step up to a lesser equipped Focus or a base Fusion. Same is true with the other manufacturers, and with global platforms, producing 100,000s of units of a particular model in a dedicated factory for a single market becomes less important.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Where is this “amazing number” of coupes? Make a list
    My car has crank windows and AC, the only feature I insisted on was ABS.

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    Consumers generally want more equipment/options on a pre owned vehicle. Stripped used cars sit a lot longer.

  • avatar
    don1967

    We recently started looking for a second car, now that we have teenagers and many other things going on in life.  While a stripper Accent initially seemed like the perfect choice, after some introspection we realized that the lack of comfort & safety equipment would likely result in the Accent staying in the driveway much of the time, while our thirsty, leather-appointed SUV would continue to rack up the mileage at every opportunity.   Where’s the value in that?

    We have since decided to spend the extra $4,000 to get a “real” car.   Soon there will be a moderately-equipped Elantra Touring, Nissan Versa, Mazda 3 or similar set of wheels in our driveway.  The added cost will either be spread over so many years as to be irrelevant, or it will be partially refunded through trade value.  And if we somehow manage to make this second car our primary car when the SUV goes back, that extra $5,000 will be the best automotive “investment” we’ve ever made.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      You could probably get a 07-08 Mazda 3 for the same price as the new Accent and just pocket the $4K

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      That is certainly one solution, although if going for a pre-depreciated car I would probably swallow my pride and go Detroit.  In the car market, like the stock market, I try to buy what others are selling and sell what others are buying.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    A few random thoughts and musings on this article.

    I know a LOT more people with Saab 9-5s with 250K happy miles on them than people with sludge issues. Yup some of them sludged up, but not THAT many. They are a heck of a car, I had an ’00 V6t wagon.

    While lots of folks talk about “keeping a car forever” reality is almost no one ever does. So the difference between a 60K used car and a new one is largely irrelevant when pretty much any decent car can be expected to last 300K miles if cared for properly. Though these days “properly” may mean more than the manufacturer specifies for serviceing. I’m looking at YOU BMW!

    Stripper new cars? Why bother? The price difference to get A/C etc is minimal and gets paid back when you sell it. And you WILL sell it.

    I do think Americans still tend to buy cars by the pound, thus premium small cars are a tough sell. But I think this is changing – see the success of the Audi A3 for example.  Personally, I can’t imagine driving anything much bigger than my 9-3 wagon, in fact the reason that I sold my 9-5 was that it just seemed too big and bargy for me. Plus I just hate automatics, even though the V6t and automatic is a truly fine powertrain.

    I will say I am seriously thinking about spending REAL money on my “forever” car next Spring. A 2011 BMW 328i wagon, 2wd, 6spd manual and very little else. I want to do factory delivery, which brings a nice discount, but it will still be near $40K all in. I would LOVE to buy a CPO one in theory, but the reality is that nobody buys them in this spec, they are all 4wd automatics. And BMWs “free maintenance” means they don’t get any, so if I want to have one past 100K miles, I need to buy it new and maintain it right to start with. I’d rather wait another year or so, but this is the last year for the current 3-series, and who knows if BMW will still offer this combo in the next one – seems unlikely. So kind of a “premium stripper” as BMWs go!

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      1) I’m not sure the A3 is a success.  They’ve only moved 4000 year to date.  Dollar for dollar, the GTI is a FAR better vehicle (unless you require AWD).  The styling is far sportier and the interior is within a stone’s throw of material quality.  The GTI has sportier seats and steering wheel as well.  When I was shopping in 2007, the A3 didn’t make the final round of consideration because you get so much more car for the money w/ the GTI.  Plus, the A3 never felt like an Audi to me.  It felt like a VW Golf with slightly better interior materials.

      2) Good luck on the 328i sport wagon.  I was on the verge of ordering one back in 2007 and doing the European Delivery, but with a new house and a wedding on the horizon, I wasn’t comfortable spending the money.  You are right, though.  You’ll never find a RWD 328i sport wagon with 6MT in the color you want on a dealer lot.  I was partial to white w/ the saddle brown leather interior.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    Would you rather have a lesser car with a lot of toys, or the base model of the next level up? If it’s a choice between that 22K Cruze and a Malibu, I’d take the latter, but I think I’m in a minority.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      A lot of car buyers choose the latter but aren’t really conscious of it. They just go to the dealer looking for a mid size and end up with the “low end” trim level due to price. I see a lot more base Camrys, Accords, Fusions, Sonatas and Malibus than I see Civics, Corollas, Focuses, Elantras and Cobalts loaded up with things like leather seats, big alloy rims, and moonroofs.

  • avatar
    18726543

    The stripper car may not appeal to everyone, but it certainly has its audience.  in 1997, a few years before my grandmother passed, she picked up a brand new Mercury Tracer Trio.  It had crank windows, manual locks, manual trans, no ac…hell, it didn’t even have a tape deck!  Just the ‘ol AM/FM!  Being old, and rather intimidated by new-fangle things, she didn’t want anything she couldn’t see and visualize working.  As a kid I never quite understood the spartan-ness of her choice, but looking back, that car survived 4 or 5 half-hearted ownerships within the family.  It finally met its demise at the hands of my uncle who killed the engine (around 130k) due largely in part (i suspect) to a sheer lack of maintenance.  In ten years nothing EVER broke on that car though! 

    One large draw to the stripper, as I mentioned above, is the whole “it can’t break if it’s not there” aspect, but even in today’s stripper cars I wonder how much that applies.  Usually to build the most reliable cars you avoid as many automatic/electrical-based options as you can. Today however, things like DRL’s and wipers, which are standard, plus simple add-ons like power windows are all managed by the BCM (sometimes via multiplex none-the-less) even on base models simply because thats the efficient way to make cars anymore.  The days of power-fuse-switch-load-groud are history at any price point.

  • avatar
    res

    We bought a new ’90 Honda Civic hatch that was so stripped, I had to clean the cosmolene off the wheels myself. No A/C, no radio, no “dealer prep[!],” manual everything. IIRC, we paid right around $6K. This in Atlanta, BTW. That’s what we could afford, and at that point, I wasn’t interested in buying used.
    When we eventually had the cash, I did have A/C added at the dealer (actually cost less that way than if we had ordered the car with it).
    Once our boys got to a certain size, the Honda became my daily and the wife got a SWB Caravan (with air!). That Honda was delightfully tossable and didn’t sweat to get 40+ mpg on the highway, even when we eventually sold it to my brother with 165K on it (he ran it up to 220K and sold it again).

  • avatar
    windswords

    When I retire I might buy an old pickup from the 50’s or 60’s. No pollution controls, no wires and hoses running all over the place. An engine bay with  R O O M.  A motor I can work on with common hand tools. It won’t be a basket case, it’ll look nice with good paint and re-done interior. I’ll add AC, modern electronic distributor and TBI. The rest of it will be old school. It will cost as much as a new small car but I won’t have to take it to the dealer for mundane things or remove 5 different things to get at the one thing that needs my attention.

    • 0 avatar
      MarcKyle64

      I feel the same way, but my retirement car would be a ’68 Nova with the three on the tree, bench seat and the 230 straight six.  No emission controls other than the PCV valve and pure mechanical simplicity. I could add under the dash A/C at a local shop for $800.  I’d be able to work on and replace virtually everything myself except for the actual engine block, transmission and differential and with the small six I’d get decent mileage.  Parts would be plentiful and cheap.  The other option would be a similar vintage Dart or Mustang but optioned the same way.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      When I retire, I’m going to tie a log to a water buffalo with a hemp rope, then sit on it and have the buffalo drag me around. No fancy steering system or brakes for me, and I can laugh at the EV drivers with their range anxiety.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I had a ’49 Chevy 3100 with the 216 six one time. The engine was okay but what scared me was the brakes and the in-cab gas tank. That’s where my updates would begin. A later model driveline and 5 speed manual tranny would be nice too. Loved that old truck.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    I agree with all but part 3. For the most part it actually costs the manufacturer little more to build a “premium” small car than a stripper, so the per vehicle profit on premium cars is much higher – and at a certain point more volume stops driving down production costs and starts driving up administrative costs. Strippers can also undermine the initial resale value by giving the car a cheap beater image.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    With all due respect to Stephen whose opinion I value I disagree with him about the value of a premium small car. In February 2005 I bought a new Focus ST. It is loaded with every option including leather/suede heated seats, the Sony sound system with the boomer in the trunk and sunroof. It came with 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS, and traction control. It is a sweet little ride with the Mazda 2.3. It handles like a dream and goes like shnell..It is also fairly stealthy and is overlooked by our friends in blue. Because nobody sees value in a premium small car we got it for a streal. Our dealer had 5 of them and said pick the color and I will make you a deal. Five years later, with 115,000 miles it still brings a smile to our faces and our 15 year old son dreams of the day it will be his. By the way it has a 5 speed stick which is the only way you could get them. Way to go Ford for making the perfect car for me. When we pass it on to our son we would be looking at the Fusion Sport (if Ford puts a stick in it) or maybe a Mustang.

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