Buying a Car: What to Know Before You Go – Feature – Car and Driver #car #dvd


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Car-buying tips to follow before you ever set foot in a car dealership.

Feature

Now is a good time to buy a new car. The struggles facing the auto industry are unprecedented and so are the deals available to buyers. Car dealers need to sell cars in order to stay in business, which makes this a strong buyers market. Rebates, financing, and trade-in values are the best they ve been in a long time.

But that doesn t mean it s an easy time to buy a car, and it doesn t mean dealers are going to lie down and give the cars away. A savvy buyer must always be ready, and the preparation should start before you ever set foot in a showroom.

Know the Invoice Price

Once you ve settled on what car is right for you. look up the invoice price for that car in our Buyer s Guide. Invoice price is what the dealer pays the manufacturer for the car; the manufacturer s suggested retail price (MSRP, or sticker price ) includes hundreds usually thousands of dollars of profit for the dealer. With the exception of all-new or very popular models, you should be able to get a new car for closer to invoice than MSRP. Knowing the invoice price of your car will tell the dealer that you mean business and expect a good deal. Don t walk into the dealership without this information.

Check the Manufacturer s Website for Rebates

Many buyers will qualify for multiple rebates, some of which may not even be made public. You might belong to organizations or receive coupons in the mail that entitle you to additional rebates. Be aware of all rebates for which you qualify and make sure you receive them. Dealers are known for not giving buyers every rebate available to them, instead keeping one or two as additional profit.

Research the Dealers

Buying from a cooperative and fair dealer will save you money and headaches. There are a number of websites that allow people to post reviews of dealerships, but their coverage is spotty and incomplete. If you can t find online reviews of the dealer you are considering, just talk to people. Your friends and neighbors purchase cars and should be honest with you about whether they were happy with their car or dealer.

Check Your Credit History

Most people who shop for cars will need a loan. How much that loan costs will depend on your credit history, and knowing your credit history will give you a better idea what to expect from lenders. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA) allows every consumer to get a free copy of his or her credit report once a year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). Get a copy of your credit report, and check it for accuracy. Pay the extra few dollars to get your credit score as well, as it is one of the major factors that banks use to determine your creditworthiness.

Get Your Own Financing

The biggest profit center for a car dealership is its finance department. Dealers contract with banks to get the best rates available but might not actually give you those rates. They might get you a car loan for 4.9 percent APR but draw up your finance contract at 5.9 percent. That one-percent markup is strictly profit for the dealer. You can often get a better interest rate from your local bank or credit union, or you can present the rates you were offered elsewhere to your salesman and challenge him to match or beat them. That being said, promotional rates from manufacturers sometimes as low as zero percent can be tough to beat.

Time Your Purchase

Dealers run on a month-to-month basis. At the end of the month, many will accept lower offers to reach their goals and qualify for manufacturer bonuses. If you re not picky about having the latest and greatest, the end of a model year is a great time to get good deals on remaining inventory. And December particularly the last week before the new year is a slow time for car sales, so if you can hack some time out of your holiday-shopping schedule, it s a wise time to buy.

Also, most dealerships are busier on weekends. The weekdays are generally slow, especially in the morning. If you come into the dealership on a midweek morning when business is slow, the salespeople are more likely to make a good deal as well. They need sales and they want to look busy, which keeps them motivated to give you a better deal and earn your business.

Do Not Buy a Car on Your First Visit

Use the first visit to look at and test-drive the car(s) you are interested in. Gather your information and then leave, and be adamant that you will not be buying a car today. This will communicate to the dealer that you are not going to be bullied. Watch what you say to the salespeople especially if they ask you how much you are prepared to pay monthly because whatever you say will be used as a starting point from which the dealer will go up when negotiations eventually start.

Get Internet Quotes from Several Dealers

CARandDRIVER.com offers free online pricing quotes from your local dealers. Get quotes from multiple dealers before you ever visit any of them. If dealers know they are being pitted against other stores, it will be easier for you to get their best offer right off the bat, and waltzing into a dealership with a first offer already in hand gives you an advantage in negotiations.

Make an Appointment with the Sales Manager

Once your research is done and you are ready to head to the dealership to purchase a new car, call ahead and make an appointment. By calling a sales manager to make your appointment, you communicate that you are serious about this transaction and know what you are doing. You will still be paired with a salesman when you arrive, but your chances improve of getting a straight shooter who knows you won t be easy fodder.

There is no guarantee you will get a good deal on a new-car purchase, nor is there a set price to negotiate toward with any car; pricing always varies with content, age, supply, and demand. But following these rules will start you in the right direction to get the best deal possible on your new car.

Brian Munroe is the author of Car Buying Revealed. You can find out about Munroe and his book at his website, www.CarBuyingRevealed.com.


10 Tips for a Successful Car-Buying Experience on Craigslist – Feature – Car and Driver #car #auctions #london


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10 Tips for a Successful Car-Buying Experience on Craigslist

The vehicle listings on Craigslist are often light on graphics and always free of oversight, and cruising them can be an eye-opening experience. Usable at no cost for most sellers, half-truths are plentiful in the listings and vehicle histories rare, leaving it to you to connect the dots. (Very few people take our advice for selling a car online .) Yet Craigslist can be a highly effective tool for locating the car of your dreams. Here are 10 tips that should help you separate fact from fiction and satisfied with your purchase:

1. Hone your search. Craigslist allows users to configure their search results to include dealers, private sellers, or both. If a warranty, certified pre-owned status, or convenience is high on your list of priorities, you’ll want to restrict yourself to dealer listings, as there’s no reason to waste time scrolling through pages of clapped out Fox-body Mustangs and worn-out work trucks. On the other hand, if driving for two-hours to look at rust-ravaged, Vietnam-era forward control Jeep that “ran when parked” is your thing, you already know the drill: private sellers all the way. Still, the “both” setting can be handy when looking for a nice commuter car or winter beater, as sometimes dealers will offer such things, although that practice is becoming less common.

If you know exactly which vehicle you want and how much you’re willing to pay, CL offers the option of plugging those criteria in right at the top of your search. Doing so will narrow the offerings accordingly, facilitating a focused search and a rational purchase with a minimum of drama. (To cast a wider net, you can also use one of the many sites that allow you to search every local Craigslist across the country.) Of course, one could argue that a life that doesn’t include at least one late-night back-alley transaction involving a sagging Ford Torino, small farm animals, and some class-C fireworks isn’t really a life worth living.

2. Size up the seller. It’s true you can’t judge a book by its cover, but the type contained within can be quite revealing. If an ad is composed in ALL CAPS and is accompanied by a couple of grainy images that resemble lo-res screengrabs from the Zapruder film, you’re probably in for a rough ride. Likewise, certain sellers like to spice up their ad with buzzwords and phrases like “air blows cold” and “stops on a dime,” which are actually thinly veiled code words for, “if [insert name of component or system in question] is still working when you buy it, it likely won’t be by the time you get the car home.” Bottom line: Judge the vehicle on it’s own merits and don’t believe the hype.

3. Call first. Get as much information about the vehicle as you can on the phone—and always ask if more photos are available or can be taken, especially of problem areas—and try to pick up on the seller’s character. Do they sound composed or sketchy? Engaged or disinterested? There’s nothing worse than carving an hour out of your busy schedule to drive across town only to be greeted by a seller who says, “Well, I was just kinda throwing out a feeler, not sure if I really want to sell it at this point.” Of course, if their voice is tinged with the languid drawl or hyper-intensity of a narcotics aficionado, there’s a good chance they’re looking for a quick sale—cash talks—so quit reading and start buying! We kid, of course.

4. The meet-up. As the buyer, it’s up to you to go to the seller. Meeting on common ground is always a good idea, and if the seller agrees, make arrangements to meet at a well-lit, mutually agreeable location, preferably one with lots of credible witnesses foot traffic. A local “cars and coffee” event is a good option, as is the parking lot of the local auto-parts store or speed shop. Of course, if the vehicle in question isn’t in running condition, you’ll have to visit the car where it sits.

5. A word about vans. Nothing is more creepy and suspicious than two or more guys loitering around an unmarked, windowless lockbox on wheels in a parking lot. (Especially if your meeting place is near a school or government facility.) We love vans, too, but discretion is advised.

6. Get an inspection. Be realistic. If the deal in question involves a decade-old pickup priced around $3K, it’s unreasonable to start bitching about surface rust or worn upholstery. Take it for spin, and thoroughly exercise the accelerator, brake, and, if applicable, clutch pedal and shifter. The steering and suspension will inevitably be looser than when new, but overt creaks, clicks, or clunks could indicate a potential safety issue. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a late-model daily driver for the wife to shuttle the kids around in—or you’re purchasing a classic—do yourself a favor and have it inspected by a reputable shop or expert in the make. A seller with nothing to hide will be more than agreeable.

7. Negotiate. Everything on Craigslist is negotiable. Even if a seller states that a price is firm, the very nature of Craigslist and its low, low price of free for the listings encourages ambitious pricing. Haggling as portrayed on television, however, where the seller caves after a tense 15-second negotiation and lets the car go for half of the asking price rarely happens in the real world. It’s OK to start low, but insulting a seller with an absurdly low number can quickly sour a deal. To score a good price while retaining a modicum of dignity, try asking the seller what their bottom dollar is, and then counter with an offer 15 to 20 percent below that figure; chances are you’ll be within 10 percent of the actual number the owner needs to get the deal done. Always negotiate in person; the only thing cheaper than talk is a tactless e-mail. One last thing: Seal the deal with a handshake, as the human element imparts an air of finality to the deal that only a true psychopath could ignore.

8. Make sure there’s a clean title. Talk is cheap, and when it comes to a missing or suspicious title, everyone has a story. Sorting out an unsound title or sourcing a duplicate is possible, but our experience proves it can be time-consuming and soul-crushing work. So unless the car in question is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, walk. You don’t need the hassle. If a bank or financing company still holds the title on a vehicle, ask the seller to make some calls to ensure everything is kosher, and that the title can be obtained and delivered without undue delay.

9. The exchange. When it comes time to trade green for pink, you can’t find a better location than your personal bank. In addition to being the home turf for your money, banks generally have a notary public on staff who can witness signatures and emboss the bill of sale or other paperwork with their all-important official seal. Building a sound paper trail is a great way to protect yourself in any transaction, so don’t be afraid to ask the seller to take a certified check if the selling price is more than a couple of grand.

10. The road home. At this point, the vehicle in question is yours. Unless spelled out in writing beforehand, the seller has every reason to expect you’ll be removing it from his property pronto. Suddenly announcing that you need to, “get my El Camino running first—to make room,” is of little concern to the seller. If your new vehicle needs to be towed, have arrangements in place; if it’s a driver, buy a pal lunch and have him drop you off. Before you leave, double check to make sure you have everything: the manuals, the spares, and the loose interior bits from that box that was in the trunk. Once the previous owner has your cash, they’ll have little incentive to track you down to hand off anything you forgot.


10 Collectible Classic Muscle Cars You Can Afford – Feature – Car and Driver #club #car #golf #carts


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You probably won’t even have to ask the kids to skip college.

It s mind-boggling. You sit there for hours, watching middle-aged guys in Hawaiian shirts and big watches bid stupid money on muscle cars on the myriad cable channels that broadcast collector-car auctions these days. Crappy models that were being swapped among migrant farm workers a decade ago for tens of dollars go for high five figures now. And the good stuff is all over $100,000. The great stuff? That s in the millions: A 1967 L88 Corvette went for $3.5 million at Barrett-Jackson before all the fees that make founder Craig Jackson wealthy. So it s safe to say that you probably can t afford the classic muscle car of your dreams. (What are you going to do with a $3.5 million Corvette anyway? Drive it?)

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Note: All prices come from the NADA Classic Car Guide. The lower number is what you can expect to pay for an example in average condition, the higher number is the top-end value for a well-maintained used car. As with any car, pristine, fully preserved, and unicornesque examples would go for more.

1. 1970 71 Ford Torino GT and Mercury Cyclone GT


Best Subcompact SUV: Kia Soul – 2017 10Best Trucks and SUVs – Car and Driver #2017 #10best #trucks #and #suvs, #10best, #kia #soul, #exclaim,, #plus, #+, #turbo, #turbocharged, #subcompact #suv, #crossover, #cuv, #fwd, #front-wheel #drive, #small, #best, #winner, #award, #feature, #hatchback, #four-cylinder, #box #car


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The Kia Soul Is the Best Subcompact SUV – 2017 10Best Trucks and SUVs

Marketing is a powerful tool. It can transform a Marlboro cigarette into a symbol of masculinity, an Apple computer into a futuristic fashion accessory, or, more recently, a small hatchback into a rugged, adventurous crossover. Or at least that’s how it’s perceived by the coldly rational confines of our head. But these sorts of perceptions—whether attached firmly to reality or not—are undeniably influential in terms of how people buy cars, and the crossover surge of the past few years is proof positive of this psychological phenomenon.

Marketing played a role in the initial success of the Kia Soul. too, even though the first-generation Soul wasn’t necessarily portrayed as a crossover. When it first arrived in 2009, it instead seemed late to the party started by boxy hatchbacks such as the Honda Element, the Scion xB, and the Nissan Cube. And yet, an ad campaign featuring the now-recognizable human-sized hamsters went viral and quickly helped put the practical and affordable Soul on the map. The strong-selling Soul now has outlasted that box-car trend, and its second generation arrived for 2014, just ahead of the wave of subcompact crossovers that broke in 2015.

The current Soul has maintained the funky charm of the first-generation model with design—inside and out—that manages to be both fresh and genuinely attractive, attributes that are often at odds. Kia also made some concessions to the crossover aesthetic by adding SUV-like touches such as extra body cladding and faux skid plates on some trim levels, and the automaker indeed now refers to the Soul as a crossover in its own marketing. But compared with the other shrunken SUVs in its class, the mature Soul seems more focused on substance and less desperate to conform to the sorts of superficial tropes thought up by focus groups and marketers.

We suspect that, to most people, a crossover’s true appeal is more deeply rooted in elements such as a raised seating position and increased interior space versus a car than in mostly pointless off-road ambitions. So while the Soul lacks an all-wheel-drive option, the goodness of its overall package more than makes up for that omission. Its cabin is richly trimmed and spacious—for example, its headroom and rear-seat legroom shame most of the competition—and it affords more cargo space than any competitor. As with many Kias, the Soul’s value equation is strong, with a base model starting below $17,000 and the well-equipped Exclaim (denoted as “!”) model starting under $24,000. Equivalent versions of competitors such as the Mazda CX-3 and the Jeep Renegade cost thousands more, and that’s without the added cost and weight of their optional all-wheel-drive systems.

The addition of a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine to the Soul’s top trim level for 2017 also has elevated the Kia’s fun factor. Its 201 horsepower delivers class-leading performance, and a sophisticated dual-clutch automatic and balanced suspension tuning make for a satisfying and energetic driving experience. The naturally aspirated 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter engines are not quite as spunky as the turbo, but they nonetheless deliver high levels of refinement and competitive acceleration numbers.

So while marketing is surely a factor in the Soul’s sales success, it’s the Kia’s purity of mission that impresses us most. Rather than settling for the mere image of capability and adventurous spirit, the Soul takes the small-crossover ideal a step further and backs up its outward appeal with a practical and enjoyable package that hits its target dead-on.

2017 Kia Soul


Free-Trade Cars: Why a U. S. Europe Free-Trade Agreement Is a Good Idea – Feature – Car and Driver #car #hire #spain


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The United States and the European Union consider a free-trade agreement. Finally.

cheaper cars, dirt-cheaper trucks

The standard tariff for importing cars to the U.S. is 2.5 percent of their value. For pickup trucks and commercial vans, the tariff is a whopping 25 percent. Individual European countries don t charge import duties, but the European Union charges a flat rate of 10 percent on imported automobiles. In simple terms, tariffs are taxes. They re paid to governments by the businesses that import and export products and are factored into the prices we pay. Virtually every country in the world charges tariffs to some degree. With the proposed TTIP in place, the tariffs on cars and about a billion other products exchanged across the Atlantic would almost definitely disappear.

revitalizing manufacturing

‘merica

Suffice it to say, automakers are eager to see the TTIP enacted. The American Automotive Policy Council. which represents Chrysler, Ford, and GM, issued a statement supporting the negotiations, calling for an ambitious agreement to eliminate tariffs. Unlike NAFTA. the 1994 free-trade agreement that resulted in a rush of factory relocations to Mexico, the European-U.S. deal could very well establish the United States as a major exporter.

A senior Volkswagen executive tells us that when Silao, Mexico, recently won out over the U.S. as the site of a new engine factory, it wasn t because of the cheaper labor. It s [Mexico s] free-trade agreement with the E.U.


2018 Jeep Wrangler: 25 Cars Worth Waiting For – Feature – Car and Driver #2018 #jeep #wrangler, #chrysler, #fca, #off #road, #4×4, #four #wheel #drive, #locking #hubs, #unlimited, #convertible, #rag #top, #turbocharged, #four #cylinder, #turbo, #rugged, #feature, #25 #cars #worth #waiting #for, #future #cars, #pickup #truck, #11th #generation, #jl, #diesel, #hybrid, #pricing, #on #sale


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2018 Jeep Wrangler: A More Modern Mountain Goat

What It Is: The 11th-generation descendant of the warrior that helped win freedom in World War II.

Why It Matters: Jeep sold more than 200,000 Wranglers last year. It s a cash-spewing ATM that pays a lot of the company s bills. It s also the heart of the Jeep brand.

Platform: Jeep will continue with rugged body-on-frame construction to serve the off-roading aspirations of its faithful and multiplying constituents. That said, the coming edition will use modern materials to cut weight and boost mileage. Expect a hydroformed steel ladder frame carrying a body made of high-strength steel, aluminum, and plastic. A four-door pickup will join the lineup of two- and four-door models with hard- and softtops.

Powertrain. Today s 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 will soldier on with manual and automatic transmissions. Fiat Chrysler s current product plan also includes a turbo-diesel alternative in the near term and a hybrid after 2020, along with a possible turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder code-named Hurricane making around 300 horsepower.

Competition: The Wrangler is without peer, a gully-busting rock climber you can drive to work. Compact crossovers bow in its presence. A new Land Rover Defender, expected next year, may re-invade this sphere, though at twice the price.

What Might Go Wrong: Failure is not an option. With Ferrari pawned off, Jeep is Fiat Chrysler s hero, the rare American brand with global admiration, solid profitability, huge sales potential, and a brilliant future.

Estimated Arrival and Price: Late next year, with stickers starting around $25,000.


How To: Buy a Car at Auction – Feature – Car and Driver #where #to #buy #used #cars


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Six tips to make it enjoyable.

Remember that old proverb, Marry in haste, repent at leisure ? Spend too much for a car at auction, and those words will weigh heavier than your aching head the next day. And there s the added bonus that your inanity may be memorialized on the Speed Channel. Auctions are the fastest of fast tracks you are betting you know what you want, that you can recognize a car s strengths and faults, that you know what it s worth, and that you have the cool head to stop bidding at that point. The attraction of auctions is that there are rare cars to be had that are not found anywhere else. Auctions also let you avoid dealer markups or overly ambitious owners. Here are some tips to make the experience enjoyable. It s work, but it can be fun, too.

1. READ the auction catalog (or the online version, if that s all you have) closely. The model may be famous, but what s the history of this example? Was it rebodied? Do the numbers match? Does it have a complete ownership trail? Is it a tribute or a re-creation? Does it seem out of place at this sale a VW Beetle at a muscle-car auction which might make it cheap, or alternatively incorrect (and buyers might not know)?

2. ATTEND the auction. Sure, you can bid by phone, but would you really buy a car you hadn t seen? Did anyone ever buy a vehicle on eBay that was better than they expected?

3. REGISTER early as a bidder and provide evidence you have the money to buy a car. You ll need a bank statement or a credit card, and expect to sign a contract that discloses the buyer s premium (a fee added to the winning bid). Don t show up late and face a long line; that could mean missing the car you want. Get a list of the order of the cars at sign-in and calculate when the ones you are interested in will cross the block.

4. EXAMINE each car closely. Is it original? Is it the correct color? Educate yourself on the model or take an expert with you. Understand the VIN codes or have somebody along who can. Look past the shine at the details. Is the engine correct? Does it leak, smoke, or make bad noises? Is the body straight? How good is the paint? Look for documents. If the owner is there, ask questions about the car s history and work that s been done. Don t know doesn t cut it. Cars that look too good to be true may well be. If you didn t know they made one of these, stop and think maybe they didn t. I bought a left-hand-drive, four-speed Daimler to illustrate that point. Great story but not factory. The guiding rule is always: No stories.

5. BIDDING is best done where you can be seen by the auction ringmen. They watch the crowd, so make sure you re fairly close and that they can see you and your paddle. Hanging back and joining the bidding late can sometimes work, but it can also generate another bidding surge, as somebody thinks they re missing a bet. Set your top price and don t go above it. Do not visit the bar; do not go with a new girlfriend or a college buddy. If you re successful, resist the urge to turn to the TV camera with both arms extended victoriously above your head. Somebody at the IRS may recognize you.

6. SHIPPING is last, and auction houses have reputable shippers who will transport your car in an enclosed trailer. Don t drive it yourself and get stuck in the boonies with big repair bills. There s still a sales tax to pay; it takes effect in the state where you ll register your car, so hopefully you re like me and live in Oregon, where there is no sales tax.


Free-Trade Cars: Why a U. S. Europe Free-Trade Agreement Is a Good Idea – Feature – Car and Driver #car #ratings #and #reviews


#trade cars
#

The United States and the European Union consider a free-trade agreement. Finally.

cheaper cars, dirt-cheaper trucks

The standard tariff for importing cars to the U.S. is 2.5 percent of their value. For pickup trucks and commercial vans, the tariff is a whopping 25 percent. Individual European countries don t charge import duties, but the European Union charges a flat rate of 10 percent on imported automobiles. In simple terms, tariffs are taxes. They re paid to governments by the businesses that import and export products and are factored into the prices we pay. Virtually every country in the world charges tariffs to some degree. With the proposed TTIP in place, the tariffs on cars and about a billion other products exchanged across the Atlantic would almost definitely disappear.

revitalizing manufacturing

‘merica

Suffice it to say, automakers are eager to see the TTIP enacted. The American Automotive Policy Council. which represents Chrysler, Ford, and GM, issued a statement supporting the negotiations, calling for an ambitious agreement to eliminate tariffs. Unlike NAFTA. the 1994 free-trade agreement that resulted in a rush of factory relocations to Mexico, the European-U.S. deal could very well establish the United States as a major exporter.

A senior Volkswagen executive tells us that when Silao, Mexico, recently won out over the U.S. as the site of a new engine factory, it wasn t because of the cheaper labor. It s [Mexico s] free-trade agreement with the E.U.


The 10 Cheapest Cars Sold in America for 2014 – Feature – Car and Driver #car #check #free


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The 10 Cheapest New Cars Sold in America for 2014

April 8, 2014 at 7:42 pm by Kirk Seaman | Photography by Patrick M. Hoey and the Manufacturer

In general, cars today are so competent that even some of the most basic rides are better than some much pricier vehicles from 20 years ago. Of course, there’s still unpleasantness residing on dealer lots—but we’re here to help. We’ve compiled the 10 cheapest cars for sale in America today, along with our unvarnished assessment of each to help you know which ones to avoid and which ones are absolute steals.

Oh, and a note: In the cases where more than one body style of a given model would make our list, we’ve included only the least expensive among them in the interest of diversity. Away we go!

2014 Mazda 2 Touring model shown

Why is this car smiling? Because the compact Mazda 2 knows it’s an entertaining daily driver while also being economical at the pump and easy on the wallet. Its low curb weight and excellent chassis combine to deliver tossability and driving enjoyment despite its meager 100 hp. Be sure to spec the five-speed manual for maximum involvement; the four-speed automatic is antiquated and saps fun. The 2’s short wheelbase can yield a bouncy ride over rough roads, but a small overall footprint makes it perfect for zipping in and out of city traffic and squeezing into the smallest of parking spots. With a well-designed, roomy interior, the Mazda 2 is the poster car for small, affordable, and fun-to-drive transportation. A new 2 is on the way shortly, based on the super-hot Hazumi concept .

9. Hyundai Accent GLS sedan: $15,455

2014 Hyundai Accent SE model shown

Although this is the cheapest Hyundai on the market, the Accent GLS isn’t a stripped-out penalty box: Standard features include air conditioning, power windows and doors, remote keyless entry, and a power-operated driver’s seat. Its 138-hp 1.6-liter engine comes paired with a six-speed manual; the optional six-speed automatic adds cost ($1000) while subtracting performance. Other bummers: The suspension is too soft to be entertaining and the interior lacks refinement, with plenty of hard plastics where we’d prefer something softer. Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, however, adds peace of mind to the new-car purchase process.

2014 Toyota Yaris LE model shown

We don’t know what the definition of the word “Yaris” is, but it definitely doesn’t mean “pocket rocket.” While this tiny Toyota offers a tidy, practical hatchback body, its 106-hp 1.5-liter engine offers little in the way of performance. Low weight, however, does enable surprisingly good handling, and the Yaris is one of the few cars in this list that actually enjoys tucking into a corner rather than tucking in its tail and heading for home. We’re hopeful the next Yaris will be even better, since it will share key components (and be built alongside) with the next-generation Mazda 2.

7. Chevrolet Sonic LS sedan: $14,995

2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT model shown

While the sleekly sculpted Sonic can’t hit the 768 mph that its name implies, its 138-hp four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission will scoot it along just fine under normal driving conditions. The real appeal of the Sonic lies in its lengthy and comprehensive list of standard features, 10 airbags, remote keyless entry, and air conditioning among them. While the sedan is fine, the more versatile and attractive five-door hatchback can be had for $600 more, and would be our pick.

6. Ford Fiesta S sedan: $14,925

The frisky Fiesta is indeed a party on wheels, or as close as one can get in this company. Stick with the S and its 120-hp 1.6-liter engine; it provides sufficient pep when paired with the five-speed manual, and we’d advise against the somewhat uncouth PowerShift dual-clutch automatic. And while the Fiesta in any form largely lives up to its name, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the real rager here: the 197-hp Fiesta ST hatch, which we named to our 10Best Cars list for 2014. Sure, at $22,225, the ST costs almost 50 percent more than the base S four-door, but no one has ever accused us of having our priorities—or finances—straight. Why start now?

2013 Kia Rio5 SX model shown

The Kia Rio swoops in to pull this list out of its apparent downward spiral. We are pleased to report that the Rio ticks all the boxes: distinctive looks, a relatively powerful 138-hp engine, and an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Standard equipment includes a six-speed stick, USB and auxiliary inputs, satellite radio, air conditioning, and four-wheel disc brakes. And if you prefer the style of the hatch—we do—that model starts just $100 more.

2014 Smart Fortwo Passion coupe model shown

The Fortwo might be the least value-laden proposition here, even as there are three cheaper cars on our list. If we were plotting data points on a chart, the Fortwo would come in below the Mitsubishi at 70 hp and with a mere 1.0 liter of displacement; those two cars might, however, be tied were we to graph the “disappointment” factor. The Fortwo is built by Smart, but, well, you know how that joke ends.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES model shown

What we have here is a case of getting less for more: The Mirage hatchback offers one fewer cylinder (three versus four) and less horsepower (74 versus 84) than the Chevrolet Spark, while costing $795 more. The only way the Mirage comes off as a deal compared with any of these other cars is, well, it doesn’t. It reaches 60 mph in no quicker than 10 seconds, which makes the old Transformer Mirage, whose car mode was a Ligier Formula 1 racer. very sad indeed.

2013 Chevrolet Spark LT model shown

With a meager 84 hp on tap from its 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, the sprite-sized Spark won’t be winning any drag races, and might even lose to foot traffic. A five-speed manual is standard; avoid the continuously variable transmission if at all possible. Fuel economy was just so-so in our testing, and the pricing seems awfully close to Sonic-ville to seem like a deal. Still, there are some good things here, including an attractive and well-assembled interior that can be had with an excellent infotainment system if you step up a trim level.


How To: Buy a Car at Auction – Feature – Car and Driver #unique #cars


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Six tips to make it enjoyable.

Remember that old proverb, Marry in haste, repent at leisure ? Spend too much for a car at auction, and those words will weigh heavier than your aching head the next day. And there s the added bonus that your inanity may be memorialized on the Speed Channel. Auctions are the fastest of fast tracks you are betting you know what you want, that you can recognize a car s strengths and faults, that you know what it s worth, and that you have the cool head to stop bidding at that point. The attraction of auctions is that there are rare cars to be had that are not found anywhere else. Auctions also let you avoid dealer markups or overly ambitious owners. Here are some tips to make the experience enjoyable. It s work, but it can be fun, too.

1. READ the auction catalog (or the online version, if that s all you have) closely. The model may be famous, but what s the history of this example? Was it rebodied? Do the numbers match? Does it have a complete ownership trail? Is it a tribute or a re-creation? Does it seem out of place at this sale a VW Beetle at a muscle-car auction which might make it cheap, or alternatively incorrect (and buyers might not know)?

2. ATTEND the auction. Sure, you can bid by phone, but would you really buy a car you hadn t seen? Did anyone ever buy a vehicle on eBay that was better than they expected?

3. REGISTER early as a bidder and provide evidence you have the money to buy a car. You ll need a bank statement or a credit card, and expect to sign a contract that discloses the buyer s premium (a fee added to the winning bid). Don t show up late and face a long line; that could mean missing the car you want. Get a list of the order of the cars at sign-in and calculate when the ones you are interested in will cross the block.

4. EXAMINE each car closely. Is it original? Is it the correct color? Educate yourself on the model or take an expert with you. Understand the VIN codes or have somebody along who can. Look past the shine at the details. Is the engine correct? Does it leak, smoke, or make bad noises? Is the body straight? How good is the paint? Look for documents. If the owner is there, ask questions about the car s history and work that s been done. Don t know doesn t cut it. Cars that look too good to be true may well be. If you didn t know they made one of these, stop and think maybe they didn t. I bought a left-hand-drive, four-speed Daimler to illustrate that point. Great story but not factory. The guiding rule is always: No stories.

5. BIDDING is best done where you can be seen by the auction ringmen. They watch the crowd, so make sure you re fairly close and that they can see you and your paddle. Hanging back and joining the bidding late can sometimes work, but it can also generate another bidding surge, as somebody thinks they re missing a bet. Set your top price and don t go above it. Do not visit the bar; do not go with a new girlfriend or a college buddy. If you re successful, resist the urge to turn to the TV camera with both arms extended victoriously above your head. Somebody at the IRS may recognize you.

6. SHIPPING is last, and auction houses have reputable shippers who will transport your car in an enclosed trailer. Don t drive it yourself and get stuck in the boonies with big repair bills. There s still a sales tax to pay; it takes effect in the state where you ll register your car, so hopefully you re like me and live in Oregon, where there is no sales tax.