Options for a commuter car.

Atty

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2006
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I'm looking to get a cheap car to drive to a from work on my 54 mile trip. I'm looking to try and spend less than $2,500 on the car. My only requirement is that it isn't horrible and is slightly safe and comfortable.

Suggestions? Thoughts? Miata for that money?
 

Viper GTS

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
38,107
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You must be a masochist. An hour commute and you want a tiny sports car?

I would be looking for something like an early Focus. My brothers girlfriend picked one up for around your budget. Take advantage of the poor resale value to get something newer than you'd be able to afford in the usual Honda/Toyota suspects.

You probably aren't going to like whatever you get but at least do yourself the favor of getting something that won't feel like a straitjacket on your drive home.

Viper GTS
 

Atty

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2006
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You must be a masochist. An hour commute and you want a tiny sports car?

I would be looking for something like an early Focus. My brothers girlfriend picked one up for around your budget. Take advantage of the poor resale value to get something newer than you'd be able to afford in the usual Honda/Toyota suspects.

You probably aren't going to like whatever you get but at least do yourself the favor of getting something that won't feel like a straitjacket on your drive home.

Viper GTS
I was kidding about the Miata. Focus sounds good. I am worried I wouldn't be able to get a Civic for that money.
 

monkeydelmagico

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2011
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I was kidding about the Miata. Focus sounds good. I am worried I wouldn't be able to get a Civic for that money.

Honda or Toyota in reasonable shape at that price point will be difficult to get. You will have to keep an eye on craigslist and be ready to pounce with a quickness. Mazda protege/3 and nissan sentra also options that will be 1-2 years newer and/or lower mile for same price.
 

halik

Lifer
Oct 10, 2000
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Honda or Toyota in reasonable shape at that price point will be difficult to get. You will have to keep an eye on craigslist and be ready to pounce with a quickness. Mazda protege/3 and nissan sentra also options that will be 1-2 years newer and/or lower mile for same price.

Yeah, there's no way you'll find anything resembling value if you look Civics or Camrys. Get early 2000s focus, decent cars and parts are cheap.
 

Sidekicknichola

Senior member
Feb 7, 2012
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FWIW -
I bought a prior salvage (read end damage) 2005 RSX like two years ago as my winter beater / commuter.... the guy had all the receipts for repairs, before/after pics, and inspection complete. This little guy ran my $4000 including TTL and only had 65k miles on it. I rarely drive it since its just boring as shit compared to my IS350, but if you can find something like that should last you a long time without headaches / repairs. Prior Salvage may be a good option if you plan on driving it into the ground.
 

uOpt

Golden Member
Oct 19, 2004
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Mazda3 is a good option for the requirements stated, except that $2500 is so low it drags you down into cars that can be very random. Not a lot of control there.
 

Midwayman

Diamond Member
Jan 28, 2000
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I'd be looking at the domestic rebadges of imports. Pontiac vibe for example. Toyota inside. Domestic outside.
 

thedarkwolf

Diamond Member
Oct 13, 1999
9,000
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I bought a pontiac vibe for $2200 about 3 years ago. They aren't easy to find for that kind of money though. Only reason I got it that cheap is it had been lightly backed into on the passenger side damaging both doors and had 200k miles on it. I damaged it even more while I had it thanks to to a low hanging cable line and my roof mounted bike rack and still sold it a year and a half later for $2400. BTW I sold it because it was the most boring vehicle I've ever driven, yay toyota. I'd much rather drive my miata a 100 miles a day :) which only cost me $2200 as well.
 

desy

Diamond Member
Jan 13, 2000
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Vibe or Saturn S
Protégé or 03+ focus
But if its all HW, a Chev w the 3800 series actually gets good HW mileage and you'd actually be in a comfy older Buick usually well maintained by Seniors
 

SearchMaster

Diamond Member
Jun 6, 2002
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Frankly for that kind of money you're not going to be able to be too picky and it'll be a crapshoot.

I bought a 1998 Honda Accord for $2000 with 185K miles a few years ago, and it's been a fantastic car. I've had to replace a few cheap and easy parts, and have put another 70K on it since I've had it. I will say it is in outstanding shape for the age; a few minor dents and some paint chips I need to touch up soon but paint is good and the interior is nearly pristine. I got extremely lucky on that one though.
 

desura

Diamond Member
Mar 22, 2013
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I've always wondered with hybrid cars if the extreme gas mileage might justify financing. Since you reap savings right away with less fuel costs, and financing helps stretch out the initial outlay to something affordable.

They might even out or more.

54 miles is just inside the range of a Nissan Leaf, no?
 

Atty

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2006
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I've always wondered with hybrid cars if the extreme gas mileage might justify financing. Since you reap savings right away with less fuel costs, and financing helps stretch out the initial outlay to something affordable.

They might even out or more.

54 miles is just inside the range of a Nissan Leaf, no?
I would be afraid to try and use a all electric car for a daily commuter if I was within ~10 miles of its range.
 

dbk

Lifer
Apr 23, 2004
17,693
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throwback Saturn... shit just lasts.. and cheaper alternative to Japanese ecos like a Corolla
 

AmdEmAll

Diamond Member
Aug 27, 2000
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I bought my 2000 Subaru Outback Limited for $2700 a few months ago.. great car. Also Honda Accord's can be had for that price range. I would look for 98 and up