What is a great used first car?

Lag

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
51
I'm a student and currently do not own a car. I'm looking towards Toyota Camry or a Honda Civic because I've heard that Japanese cars have the best reliability. I'm looking for something that is cheap to maintain (whether that means cheap repairs and more frequent, or one long-term costly repair), quick (I only driven V6's and my friends say that you won't go back), and looks (who does not like flexing their car?).

I don't know if the answers should be separated into categories but I'm open to any thoughts and discussions.
 

Maz3

Don't hate me just because I'm beautiful 🤣
Intermediate User
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Messages
471
Reaction score
838
Location
Vancouver, BC
Mazda 3

Bought mine new in 2004, drove it hard for 16 years and 330,000 km (205,000 miles), still on the original clutch when I got rid of it. Didn't even squeek or rattle, and only routine servicing - no breakdowns.
 
Last edited:

Smason

What is a PSL?
Advanced User
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
1,856
Reaction score
3,498
Location
Vancouver/NY2LA
Definitely a Honda/Toyota.

I'd personally go with a 4cyl. As a student getting mpg is huge.

It might get off the line slower than a v6 but on highway driving it's all the same.
 

DocTJ

PSL + X= 100
Premium Plus
Advanced User
Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
5,401
Location
Eastern PA
Any Japanese car is your friend : but specifically Honda and Toyota in terms of reliability.
Camry is to accord.
As Corolla is to civic.
You can’t go wrong with either.
Mazda 3 or 6 is a good car too.
Drive each.
Make sure you maintain and service them and they will last you a very long time.
“V6 only” is what that was like a few years ago.
These days many 4 cylinders are attached to a Turbo and make the same power as the v6 contenders but with better fuel efficiency .
Post automatically merged:

Honestly take a look at new Hyundai and Kia. They aren’t built like shit anymore and they have the same tech available and come with good warranties.
 
Last edited:

Lag

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
51
Mazda 3 or 6 is a good car too.
While I have eyed them before, aren't aftermarket parts more expensive compared to the Toyota or Honda?
Honestly take a look at new Hyundai and Kia. They aren’t built like shit anymore and they have the same tech available and come with good warranties.
Like 2020 new? I'm looking for used cars because I do not want to break my bank account.
 

mikedotd

Arrow Enthusiast
Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Advanced User
Joined
May 6, 2012
Messages
3,268
Reaction score
5,348
Location
New England
I'd also say a Toyota, Honda, or Mazda 4cyl. They're going to be the most reliable and affordable to maintain cars.

Japanese cars in general tend to be good, but in this case I would stay away from Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Subaru. Avoid anything with a CVT transmission which are short lived and can only be replaced, not repaired. Turbocharged cars are fun, but add some complexity and lower long term reliability.
 

Boozehound

PSL +5
Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Intermediate User
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Messages
1,140
Reaction score
2,952
If low cost of ownership is important I suggest looking for one with 3 pedals. Mazda 3, Civic, the Accord Sport with the 2.4 and the 6 speed manual is fairly zippy. Not so much as my V6 Camry but it handles a lot better and burns much less fuel. I have an old Corolla with 220K miles that I bought new. Its cost of ownership has been astonishing. Unfortunately I don't believe a new car is currently offered that will be its equal. Most have gone to CVTs, direct injection, and other technologies that look so wonderful on paper but really suck if your plan is to drive a car a half million miles at low cost.
 
  • Wow
Reactions: Lag

wayne77

PSL +5
Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Intermediate User
Joined
Oct 28, 2015
Messages
1,120
Reaction score
1,370
What’s your budget? I was in the same boat with my daughter recently. I wanted something that would last her at least through college and I found a 2008 Ford Focus with only 27,000 miles. I started with only looking at civics but moved towards anything low miles and found that.
 

cbbr

PSL +5
Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Intermediate User
Joined
May 3, 2016
Messages
597
Reaction score
692
Location
Baton Rouge
I have owned several Honda Civics, Del Sol's (Civics), Mazda Miata's and Acura Integras- The Japanese 4 cyl's are very hard to beat.
 

Maz3

Don't hate me just because I'm beautiful 🤣
Intermediate User
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Messages
471
Reaction score
838
Location
Vancouver, BC
The Mazda 3 is the most fulfilling to drive economy car you will find. I would look at those. I think every suggestion made so far is pretty solid.
Fully agree. At the time I test drove the Civic and the Sentra as well.

I took all three on the same route, and I laughed out loud going through a series of tight corners with the Mazda 3, as it handled so well - same doing "emergency" lane changes at highway speeds. Vroom vroom :laugh:

I turned around and went through the corners again it was so fun, and it was better priced to boot.
 

2018GTI

PSL +5
Intermediate User
Joined
Oct 29, 2018
Messages
1,055
Reaction score
1,208
Location
Oregon
Fully agree. At the time I test drove the Civic and the Sentra as well.

I took all three on the same route, and I laughed out loud going through a series of tight corners with the Mazda 3, as it handled so well - same doing "emergency" lane changes at highway speeds. Vroom vroom :laugh:

I turned around and went through the corners again it was so fun, and it was better priced to boot.
I was gonna say something similar--make sure you test drive the Mazda 3, then try a Corolla. Also, if you put cheep summer tires on the car it would really rally.
 

FastStevie

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Jul 13, 2020
Messages
260
Reaction score
369
Age
58
Location
Outer Podunk Mississippi (Gulfport Suburbs)
Honda and Toyotas are going to retain their used car value better than the stuff from the USA (and to some degree a lot of other Japanese or Korean brands). Which means an 8 year old 4 door Accord/Camry is going to cost more used than an 8 year old POS Chevy Malibu or Ford Fusion ( I think I got the sizes/models right) even if the cars cost about the same when all 4 were sold new.

With newer models, YES the H or T is worth the premium price. Better durability and generally comparable priced or less inexpensive replacement costs. Often lower labor costs are lower with HorT because the traditional Big 3 don't care about repair costs and their engine compartment designs reflect the same.

One thing in this equation, set a budget and then compare what you can find in your local area rather than seeking a specific brand or model. Maybe your market is heavy Toyota, which might drive down selling prices a bit, so choose what you can find versus falling in love with a specific brand/model. Same thing with model years. Both H/T change their major car designs ever 5 years, so that one year newer model might see a big jump in selling price... or two adjoining years might have just a small difference in which case I am seeking a lower mileage car than not.

At some point, brand and durability claims go out the window. If your budget is $1500, your budget is $1500 and what you can find that somewhat works is far more important than seeking specific brands.

Oh, and paying your local trusted mechanic to look over the car is a good thing. Also listen to their advise about labor costs associated with specific repairs, if it takes 1 hour to replace the alternator on the H/T and 3 hours to do so on the Ford, those kinds of things can eat up your repair budget.


PS: Everybody has a bias. My current car is a Honda Accord. So was the prior car.
 

oktavf

Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Advanced User
Joined
Nov 20, 2017
Messages
1,218
Reaction score
1,348
Location
NW GA

Beetle

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Nov 21, 2017
Messages
206
Reaction score
88
I'm a student and currently do not own a car. I'm looking towards Toyota Camry or a Honda Civic because I've heard that Japanese cars have the best reliability. I'm looking for something that is cheap to maintain (whether that means cheap repairs and more frequent, or one long-term costly repair), quick (I only driven V6's and my friends say that you won't go back), and looks (who does not like flexing their car?).

I don't know if the answers should be separated into categories but I'm open to any thoughts and discussions.
Toyota have the reliability edge over Honda .The downside resale price is high even on high mileage cars . The best advice is get any car you buy inspected by a good tech don’t buy anything to cheap or luxury brands which can crush a small budget other make have reliable cars but require study to pick right models.good luck get
Dream vehicle after school.
 

mswlogo

Software Developer
Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Advanced User
Software Developer
Joined
Nov 1, 2014
Messages
4,106
Reaction score
4,380
Location
MA
If you want to save money on fuel too consider a Prius. I know two people that bought used ones and they swear by them. They can hold a boat load of stuff too.
 

Beetle

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Nov 21, 2017
Messages
206
Reaction score
88
If you want to save money on fuel too consider a Prius. I know two people that bought used ones and they swear by them. They can hold a boat load of stuff too.
Sister had two Prius cars the battery replacement can be expensive especially if bought at dealer for student use not sure complex car is needed good for a cab good for heavy city driving lots of fuel savings well made hyper miler As a student I would keep it simple.
 

mswlogo

Software Developer
Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Advanced User
Software Developer
Joined
Nov 1, 2014
Messages
4,106
Reaction score
4,380
Location
MA
Sister had two Prius cars the battery replacement can be expensive especially if bought at dealer for student use not sure complex car is needed good for a cab good for heavy city driving lots of fuel savings well made hyper miler As a student I would keep it simple.

4 people at work have owned them for years (2 bought used) not had any issues with batteries and it's cheap easy (by 3rd party) to get bad cells replaced, you don't replace the whole battery.
 

protias

Retired CM enthusiast / Train Horn Advocate
Premium Plus
Lifetime Premium
Advanced User
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Messages
23,176
Reaction score
17,299
Location
WI
I've had really good experience with two Hyundai Elantras. First one was killed at 142k because I got t-boned. I now have a 2019 that hasn't had any issues in 16k miles.

For coolness factor, I would love a Jeep Willy.

6436aefa6cf413e4560b73e76bfffc30.jpg
 

Discord Server

Latest threads

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
90,151
Messages
1,371,620
Members
22,685
Latest member
ooflc
Top