Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bargains of Christmas - Compacts, Wagons, and Hatchbacks

Christmas is just around the corner, and you're asking what car would you want to gift to yourself (if you are good this year) or to your loved ones. Your Ultimate Used Car Guide is here to solve the problem by giving you some recommendations.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2002-2011
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, they are based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
This Thursday, let's focus on compact sedans and the not-so small hatchbacks and wagons. But remember, what do buyers look at compacts may be different from those seeking in hatchbacks and wagons. So, parameters and requirements would differ, shall we list them down?

COMPACT BEST BARGAIN: 2002-2011 Toyota Corolla Altis
I have to admit this one, this is one vehicle that I recommend to my friends if they are searching for a sub P350k compact that is an all around performer. Good thing is that it has the room to accommodate 5 people, parts are abundant, does not guzzle gas, and best of all, more units to choose from due to its best seller status. If possible, steer clear from the XL and LE Love Life. While they can be acquired at rock bottom prices, fuel efficiency is similar to a 1.6 Altis (due to the carburetor fed engine) and privately owned units are rare. You can't go wrong with an Altis, as long as you don't need some high revving fun to reach point A to Z. Do remember the 9th generation was available from 2001-2007 while the 10th one from 2008 to current.

Other bets:
2002-2011 Honda Civic - Another top choice for this segment due to a wide range of units in the market, plenty of cabin room, excellent powertrains, and parts are also widespread. The 7th and 8th generation models are larger than the previous iterations but if you do have different priorities, read the sentence next to this. The Civic ES, available from 2001-2005 is more luxury oriented while sports focused among the two is the Civic FD, which you will see 2006-2011 models in the market. Avoid modified units since they can be a source of future headaches.

2002-2011 Nissan Sentra - Bargain hunters searching for a fully loaded car should place this vehicle on their lists. Included in this year range are the following Sentra models: The N16 bearing the Exalta moniker from 2001 to early 2004, the N16 basically named as Sentra from 2004 to the present, the sixth generation model with platform code B16 and called as the Sentra 200 sold from 2010 to now, and some leftover units of the B14 Sentra Exalta sold in 2002. Confused? But to simplify your life focus on the 2004 to present Sentra N16 since the electronic gadgets in the Exalta can be a liability, while hunting for a Sentra 200 is a needle in a haystack.

2002-2011 Mitsubishi Lancer - With no other choices that can satisfy second hand compact buyers, let's place our fourth choice, the Mitsubishi Lancer. You can have them for less and parts for this vehicle is available anywhere. Models in the year range are the "Pizza" body sold in both sedan and coupe versions in 1996-2002, the Cedia model from 2003-2012 (from 2008 to 2012 it supplanted the EX model in the line-up), and from 2008 to current is the Lancer EX. Better focus on the Cedia and EX models since they are very recent but fuel consumption for the former is less than the Corolla Altis.

WAGON/HATCHBACK BEST BARGAIN: 2006-2011 Ford Focus Hatchback
With limited choices in this category (including the derivatives of their sedan versions), we shall give the bargain pick to the Ford Focus. They said it is best appreciated and best driven in this body. Advantages of choosing this is the interior which has the sporty demeanor, wide range of units available, space for five is decent, excellent driving dynamics, and best of all is the availability of a diesel engine. If you are in search of a hatchback that gives you less fuel horrors, the diesel is it. But this does not mean the 1.8 and 2.0 versions are slouch.

Other bet:
2003-2007 Hyundai Matrix - One practical choice is the discontinued Hyundai Matrix thanks to the excellent flexibility, fuel efficient engines, and the tall headroom which is an advantage for those who are gifted with above average height. Driving excitement is not on the dictionary but if your main concern is reaching your destination, the Matrix is a reliable pick.

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