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 |  Mar 21 2014, 3:44 PM

Ask AutoGuide No. 40

Ask AutoGuide No. 40

We’re thinking small on this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide, where value reigns supreme. Are cheap and cheerful mutually exclusive traits or can they really coexist in an automobile? We aim to find out and help one faithful reader in the process.

Carlos is our victim person of interest in this post. At 21 years old he’s in the market for some new wheels to replace his 1997 Civic, a fine vintage of Honda to be certain, but the car is knocking on two decades. A new ride is probably not a bad idea at this point.

Naturally, as a young man Carlos doesn’t have a lot to spend; value is more important to him than oxygen to astronauts. Given his situation, you could argue that a new car isn’t the best thing for him to pursue. Certainly, a low-mileage pre-owned model would be a better option. Or perhaps a second-hand police interceptor? After all, they’re indestructible and cheap, plus traffic gets the hell out of your way.

Used Police Interceptor

Chinese Zodiac ManateeWe’ll concede that a used car makes the most sense. But always ones to defy convention we believe there are a few appealing and reasonably priced new models worth suggesting.

However, spending more on a car than you can reasonably afford is utterly ridiculous; it’s like buying a business-class ticket for a flight you don’t want or need just so you can dine on top-notch airplane food.

Accordingly we’re going to try our hardest to keep Carlos from overextending himself, to prevent his finances from becoming like the mythical 13th animal on the Chinese zodiac, depressed and barnacle-crusted. Can you believe it’s the year of the Manatee?

  • Rickers

    You guys should really get an AutoGuide Crown Vic!

  • J Mac

    There is only one right answer: the Honda Fit

  • Shifty

    If he’s looking for cheap… how about the Mitsubishi Mirage?

  • ErnieD

    Rented a 2013 Spark last summer, and did some research on them enough to invest in a ’14 at the end of the year. That was before all of the great safety ratings started coming in. Put 4,500M on it and am averaging 35MPG overall. No issues of any kind so far, and the only difference I notice is the CVT transmission is smoother, gets better mileage and is a little less noisy than the previous model’s 4 Speed AT. The CVT’s only true drawback is when you first take it out on the road to start the day, it takes a while to set itself, and then zips along just fine. As far as highway trips go, I felt more intimidated riding in the Ford Escorts we previously owned. It feels similar to one of the early model Toyota Yaris I rented in FLA. Only 6 inches shorter!