The Complete Guide To Buying A New Car: How To Negotiate Prices

#new car prices

The Complete Guide To Buying A New Car: How To Negotiate Prices

There are two types of people in this world – people who pay sticker price for a new car and people who don’t. You should aspire to be one of the latter. After you’ve done your research, test driven a few different models and picked out the new car you want to take home, it’s time to brush up on your negotiating skills. Though new cars aren’t as elastic a commodity as used vehicles, you can still talk down the sticker price by a thousand dollars or more. Convincing your dealership to accept a lower offer won’t be easy, but it can definitely be done – even by buyers with no prior negotiating experience. Here’s a crash course on how to wear your dealer down at the table.

Do Your Research

Like we just said, you should never pay sticker price for a new car. The asking price for a new vehicle is usually the maximum that dealerships think they can get away with charging. Not even accessories and premium packages are worth the MSRP. The true value of a new vehicle is actually determined by what other buyers in your area are paying for similar models. Consequently, you should do your research on the real value of any new vehicle before ever setting foot on the dealership lot. Here’s a good way to get started.

Check Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds and the NADA Guide

The best place to start your research is the Internet. There are a number of value resources online that can give you a good boilerplate figure for what you should be paying. Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds and the NADA guide will all analyze the value of a particular new car in your area and give you estimates on what the dealer paid for the vehicle, the vehicle’s retail price and what you should actually expect to pay. Check these sites first before you move on to the next phase of research.

Check Other Local Dealerships

Once you’ve finished your online fact finding, it’s time to check out some other dealers in your area. Compare the estimate that the online resources gave you with the sticker prices of your dealership’s competition. Tell the sales associate that you were going to pay that amount for a car at another dealership and ask if they can beat it. Even if they don’t have the car you want, if you can take their lower offer back to your original dealer you can likely get the same price for the car you actually want.

Investigate Promotions

There’s always some sort of sales event going on at a dealership. Typically these promotions give you a certain amount of cash back or a limited period of 0% financing if you purchase a certain make or model of vehicle. If you’re diligent – and a little bit lucky – you can use one of these events to knock a few thousand dollars off of your total cost or secure 0% APR financing for the first year or so of your loan.

The Newest Cars Have the Least Wiggle Room

As we previously mentioned, new cars aren’t exactly the most elastic commodity on the market. If you’re buying a brand new vehicle year that was just released last month, don’t expect to be able to talk the price down by more than a thousand dollars, total. However, if you’re buying a new car that’s two years old, it will be cheaper and you’ll have more room to negotiate. Because of this, it might be worth your while to consider a leftover vehicle before committing to the newest model available.

Negotiating the Price

After you’ve checked out multiple dealerships and have selected the perfect car for you, it’s time to make an offer. Your dealer will attempt to pressure you into paying sticker price, because that’s their job. Your job is to negotiate the price down to something more affordable. Here’s how.

Set Your Floor and Ceiling

With your research complete, you should prepare a floor and ceiling offer for your new car. The floor offer is what you’re hoping to pay. Typically, this should be 5-10% lower than the Fair Price given by resources like Kelly Blue Book. Your ceiling offer should be the most you’re willing to pay for the vehicle. The amount of the offer is entirely up to you to set, but we recommend situating it at least $500 less than the sticker price.

Make an Offer

When you first sit down to the table with your sales associate, they will often ask you what you want to pay per month for your new vehicle. This is a common sales technique that they use to skew the total cost. Tell the dealer that you don’t want to discuss financing until you’ve settled on a final price. Present them with your floor offer and tell them that you will take the car off the lot today if they accept it. It’s important to stay tough here. Sales agents are used to pressing the hard sell, and any sign of uncertainty on your part could compromise the entire negotiation.

Make a Counter-Offer

Don’t expect your dealer to accept your floor offer right away. They will most likely rebut with the sticker price or a slightly lower offer. This is when your research comes in handy. Inform the sales associate that you’re well aware of the averaging selling price of the vehicle and that, after shopping at multiple dealerships you feel that your first offer is a fair price. If they refuse to accept it, then reluctantly increase it by a few hundred dollars.

Fend off the Gimmicks

In addition to the “pay per month” trick, experienced sales agents have a number of techniques that they can use to convince to accept a higher buying price than you have to. Among the most common of these is “employee pricing.” Often, the agent will present you with a slightly lower number than the sticker price and tell you that this is the discount they would receive if they bought a new car. In reality, it’s just an arbitrary number that they likely make up on the spot. Dealership employees pay wholesale for their cars, which is not something you’re able to do. If you got the same discount as the dealership employees, the dealer wouldn’t make a profit. If you’re stern on your offer, expect the sales associate to enlist the help of his or her manager. The two of them will team up in an attempt to convince you that their current offer is the best that they can do. They might also try to offer you another pithy discount to make you feel better about accepting the higher price. Don’t fall for it. Instead of bending to the dealership, slowly increase your offer until you reach your ceiling.

Seal the Deal or Walk Away

Once you’ve hit your ceiling offer, one of two things is going to happen. If the dealership declines your offer, then leave the table and walk away. Politely thank them for their time and mention that you’ll be taking your business elsewhere. Leave them your number so that they can get in touch with you if they decide to lower the price. Expect to hear from them within a week, because if there’s one thing a dealership hates it’s to see money walking out the door. If your dealership accepts your offer, however, then it’s time to celebrate! After a tense negotiation, you are now the proud owner of a new car! Now the only thing you need to do is secure financing for your new vehicle and you’ll be finished!

A Note on Additional Services

When you finalize the sale of a new car, you’ll be forced to work with the dealership’s finance officer to sign all your paperwork. This offer will try to sell you a number of additional services like an extended warranty, paint protection, gap coverage and more. You don’t need any of these services. We advise you to turn them all down and simply purchase the car like you originally intended.

How To Use The NADA Guide for Determining Automobile Values – Car Valuation Tips

#used car prices nada

How To Use The NADA Guide for Determining Automobile Values

April 3, 2014 September 29, 2015 Berenice

The primary organization which caters to car pricing for both secondhand and brand-new vehicles is the NADA. or the National Automobile Dealers Association.With the guide, in its printed issues and website, consumers are able to determine accurate car values, and of course, it guides potential buyers on coming up with a good estimate on a car that they’re planning to check out and buy. Whether you’re planning to purchase a classic, vintage, or a brand-new car, the NADA guide is a good place to start as reference when it comes to accurate car values.

All you have to do is log on to the NADA website, The site shall provide you important links to the three big branches of the organization. These are the Dealer’s, Consumer’s and Business associations.

Get to know the services of each aspect so you won’t get lost in translation as you navigate through the site.

Click the ‘Consumer’ tab so you will be navigated to car values. This tab will lead you to the consumer-related page, which offers various estimates for used and new cars that are put up for sale.

You can also get preliminary appraisals from this part of the website for the car that you own and you’re planning to put up for sale.

On the Business section, you can download the software, e-Valuator. This gives you an in-depth, updated guide to present car value trends. Before doing this, you have to subscribe first to the NADA online to get the installer for the e-Valuator.

If you are in tune for prices of cars that somehow resemble to what you have in hand, go back to the Consumer category and click on the ‘Car Prices’ tab.

Scan and skim these prices so you’ll get a head start on  your car’s nearest accurate value. Some of the most important factors to consider than can affect your car’s market value is the level of body damage if there is any, mileage, and its actual selling price of course.

If you want a price guide exclusively for your own use, you can purchase the NADA price guide. There’s a link that will navigate you to it and since it’s available online, it’s updated accordingly. Subscribers of the NADA guide get an update for their purchase once a month. When you pay for subscription, you get ‘dealer only’ privileges on other vehicle types such as trucks, RVs, vintage cars, and even farm equipment.

You should also be aware that even if the NADA guides that are available online in standard form can cater to your assessment needs but the standard free subscription does not have all the updates that an exclusive subscription has to offer. For instance, if you had your car customized, its value may be higher than its regular price. The NADA guide is going to provide you with a sizable estimate, but if you want an accurate estimate, the expertise of a trained car appraiser is needed.

Determining the trade in value car through the NADA Guide

Aside from determining the potential market value of your car, the NADA guide can also come up with your car’s trade-in value. If you have plans to purchase a new car and you have to come up with the money to buy it before you do, then you can get hold of the NADA valuation tool to assess the actual value of your car.

Here’s an easy guide on how to use the NADA pricing system so you can use it appropriately for trade-in transactions.

Log on to the NADA website, and click on the tab for ‘New and Used Car Pricing’.

This is the consumer category of the site. On the Car Research section, select the ‘New and Used Car Center’.

Type in the make and year of your car, or you can choose these aspects from the tray of choices.

Determine the trim and model of your car. Provide as many details as you can so that the website can accurately provide you with what you’re really looking for.

For starters, a car’s trim is its style, so NADA will determine all the standard accessories and features for your particular model. Type up the car’s mileage and tick all the equipment choices that are available for your model.

Sure enough, the pricing website preselects these choices because they are standard points, but as the owner of a car, you should also update your listing with additional options if necessary. Select ‘Continue’ and you’ll be directed to the free trade in report. There are four values that are provided for this category.

The trade-in report offers a car’s retail value and its standard market value depending on the present condition of the vehicle. These categories include clean, rough, and average. If you know that your car is badly used and appears old but still safely functional, then use the rough value.

Use the average and clean values if your car looks better. It is imperative that you compare notes from the NADA guide, Kelley Blue Book. and the Edmunds car values that are available online just like the NADA pricing. These three sites and authorities are considered to be the most reliable when it comes to determining car price values.

How To Buy A Second Hand Car – Used Car Guide – Allianz Australia

#second hand vehicles

Buying a second hand car from a private seller

When a car is purchased from a licensed automotive dealer a warranty must be provided to show that there is no money owing on the car. However, when purchasing from a private seller there are no guarantees of this sort i. Without this warranty, your risk of being scammed is ultimately dependent on your own judgment, knowledge ii and research. This guide has been written to equip you with useful information before you purchase your next used car from a private sale.

Is there money owing on your car?

Be safe rather than sorry; make sure that the used car is debt free. It is always good to check that any finance owed on the car has been completely paid off. The Register of Encumbered Vehicles (REVS) in your state or territory holds information about motor vehicles that have money owing on them. It is important to run a REVS check on the car you intend to buy, as a failure to identify any money owing on the vehicle may render you liable for the debts owed and at worst could result in the repossession of your purchased car iii .

There are several ways to run a REVS search. One relatively simple option is to conduct an nationwide online search at Alternatively you may be able to conduct a REVS search via your respective state government consumer protection website such as the QLD or NSW Fair Trading sites .

To run a REVS search, make sure you have the following details: the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the registration number or chassis number and the engine number.

According to new legislative reforms, in early 2012, REVS will move to the Personal Property Security Register (PPSR). which will enable you to conduct national research on the car you are interested in just by entering your vehicle’s unique serial number iii. The serial number may also be referred to as a vehicle identification number (VIN) that appears on your car registration papers.

Watch out for fraud

A few things can help you to decrease the risk of becoming a fraud victim. First of all, ask the seller for a current certificate of registration and crosscheck the vehicle s VIN, chassis and engine number. Demand to have a copy of a current safety report of the vehicle that outlines the roadworthiness of your vehicle. Depending on the state you live in, the safety report of your car may be named differently, for instance in New South Wales it s called a Safety Check Report v. in Victoria it s known as a Vehicle Information package vi and in Queensland it s the Safety Certificate vii. Another important step is to make sure the person selling the car is the car s legitimate owner. Determine this by asking for the seller s driving licence or any other forms of identity be thorough with this, ask for more than one form of identity if possible.

The precautions outlined above may protect you from getting ripped off. However, apart from foisting a stolen car or an accrued debt upon you, car scammers may employ other strategies to con you.

Odometer tampering is a fraud to watch out for viii. Just last year in Australia, an unlicensed motor dealer was charged with a fine of more than $37,000 for this crime and the illegal sale of vehicles ix. Others have also been prosecuted for rolling back the mileage recorded on the odometer x. with a Queensland car mechanic found to have illegally slashed more than four million kilometres off actual mileages of written-off cars xi .

With the emergence of digital odometers, odometer tampering fraud may be hard to detect even for the highly skilled mechanic. To combat this scam, ask the private seller for the car s service log book or previous service invoices they should reveal a recorded history of the used car s odometer readings. Look for tell-tale signs and be suspicious if the private seller cannot provide you a service log book or service invoices. Armed with the knowledge of the car s mileage history, you may be in a better position to detect any car history inconsistencies and find out if the odometer has been rolled back.

Score a deal

With these simple tips in mind, you may increase your chances of finding and purchasing a hassle-free second hand car. There are also some useful checklists online which you can follow, such as this Car Buyer’s Checklist .

After putting in such a great effort to obtain your new automobile, protect it by making sure your investment is financially secured with car insurance .

How Reliable Is the NADA Used Car Price Guide

#used car prices nada

How Reliable Is the NADA Used Car Price Guide

The NADA Used Car Price Guide is a set of consumer reports similar to the Kelley Blue Book and to the Edmunds Guide. The NADA Blue Book is the official retail price listing for the National Automobile Dealers Association, a national trade group that incorporates thousands of car dealers. Therefore, the guide can make use of a wide variety of points of sale in order to list NADA used car prices. When purchasing a used car, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what the value for a particular vehicle is because there is typically some discrepancy between the values listed in the NADA guide, the Kelley Blue Book and the Edmunds Guide. The NADA guide is a reliable source of information, but you must understand exactly what it represents in order to make use of it effectively.

How NADA Lists Prices of Cars

NADA representatives tout their price guide as the strongest representation of the true auto market values in comparison with the prices listed in the Kelley and Edmunds guides. They claim that NADA has a unique set of data points that those other guide books are unable to access; the sales made by auto dealers who are exclusively affiliated with the National Automobile Dealers Association. The result is that the NADA price guide uses hundreds of thousands of individual transactions to come up with average price listings for its vehicles, which is generally a stronger set of data points than either of the other two major used car pricing guide systems is able to use.

Issues with the NADA Values

One primary issue with the NADA value for a used car, however, is the fact that they make use solely of dealer sales prices. If you are planning to sell your vehicle to a private buyer, or if you’re purchasing your car from an individual and not from a dealer, the dealer-based sale prices of the same model, year and make of vehicle are not going to be entirely helpful to you. Dealers tend to sell vehicles for quite a bit more money than individual sellers do, and the NADA guide does not always account for the various discounts and dealership incentive offers that are made in these cases.

A second reason to be cautious when dealing with NADA values is that this particular price guide only analyzes sales of cars in very clean condition. This accounts for a much larger percentage of dealer sales than it does individual sales; in fact, only a very small fraction of used cars sold on the individual market are in such good condition. For this reason, the NADA value for a vehicle may not be the most reliable gauge of price.

How to Use the NADA Used Car Price Guide

The NADA website walks you through entering criteria to find the price guide estimation for the used vehicle you’re considering. The steps below outline the process for using the NADA online used price guide.

Visit the NADA Website

  • Click on the tan “Go” button to the right of Prices Information on the homepage
  • Enter your zip code
  • Choose your make
  • Choose year
  • Choose trim type
  • Enter mileage and options

Compare Trade-In and Retail Values

After entering the criteria for the used car you want to find the pricing estimates for, a list of values will come up: Rough Trade-In, Average Trade-In, Clean Trade-In and Clean Retail. Each heading is click-enabled with a pop-up that describes what each term means.

Research Related Information

The site has several links to direct you to additional information including:

  • Free VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) check
  • Standard specs
  • Information on standard warranty
  • Any recall information
  • Safety and quality ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Search and Compare Similar Vehicles

From the same page, you can click on the “Compare Vehicles” heading to open up a new page that saves the information of the car you just researched with the ability to add a second car to do a side-by-side pricing comparison.

NADA helps provide consumers with much needed information about used automobiles, enabling them to make informed choices when selecting and purchasing used vehicles. It’s an important step in the car buying process.

Hagerty Price Guide, Hagerty Car Value

#used car price guide

Is The “Hagerty Price Guide” For Classic Cars Accurate, Useful Or Worthless?

by Mike

Recently I wrote about the “Sports Car Market Pocket Price Guide”. Today I discuss the “Hagerty Price Guide” (Hagerty car value) which was originally called the Cars That Matter Price Guide .

The “Hagerty Price Guide” is published three times per year, the three issues are: Jan-Apr, May-Aug and Sept-Dec. The latest issue which I am quoting from here is May-Aug 2013 (issue 21).

The Hagerty Guide does not opine on Investment Grade and Appreciation Rating like the “Sports Car Market Pocket Price Guide” but the Hagerty Guide does provide four value numbers for each model from Condition 1 to Condition 4 where the “Sports Car Market Pocket Price Guide” only provides a high and low value based on a Condition 2 car.

The Hagerty definition of these Condition levels are at the end of this article and are printed in every issue. I will report the Condition 2 numbers from the Hagerty Guide to be consistent with the Sports Car Market Guide.

I have selected four cars to review: the De Tomaso Mangusta, the Jensen Interceptor, the Lamborghini Miura and the Apollo GT Coupe.

Let s get started.

De Tomaso Mangusta

De Tomaso Mangusta (photo by Jonathan Root )

Hagerty Guide: 1970 Coupe $131,000 302 Coupe $117,500

There are very few Mangustas that have sold recently at public auctions so actual recent sales results are hard to come by.

A 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta was for sale on eBay last November with a buy it now price of $119,900. It sold to a My Car Quest reader and I think we can assume that the actual price was not much different than the asking price.

Here is a Mangusta for sale in France for 159,500 Euros ($210,713). This may be an unrealistically high price but it is significantly higher than the Hagerty Guide.

Another Mangusta was for sale after just completing a beautiful restoration last year for $139,995.95 in Southern California. I do not know the actual sale price but the seller certainly had a high expectation much higher that the Hagerty Guide.

De Tomaso Mangusta

Jensen Interceptor

Jensen Interceptor Coupe

Hagerty Guide: 1976 SIII Coupe $31,600 Convertible $57,300

A 1972 Jensen Interceptor Series III sold for $16,252 at the Bonhams Auction, Harrogate on November 14, 2012. Based on the description it sounded like a condition 3 or 4 car.

The Jensen Interceptor convertible pictured below did not sell at auction in Monterey in August 2012 for a high bid of $72,000 .

Fun Kids Guide to Cars!

#cars for kids

Fun Kids Guide to Cars!

Cars are a natural part of everyday life for most of us, but how much do you know about them?

The fact is that cars are incredible pieces of invention with endless clever things happening all at once, even when our mum is just dropping us off for footy practice!

So you can have a bit better understanding of the car you sit in, we thought we d put together a little Fun Kids Guide to Cars !

All you need to do is click on one of the images below and you can learn fascinating facts about all the crucial bits of a car.

Find out how they work, what their role is and what you can do to help your parents keep your car in good working order!

And of course, in true Fun Kids style, there s plenty of crazy facts and funny jokes for you too!

Have fun!

Click on a section to begin exploring!

Diesel Car Guide: Every 2015-2016 Car – Light Truck, With Specs: UPDATED

#diesel cars

Diesel Car Guide: Every 2015-2016 Car & Light Truck, With Specs: UPDATED

480,078 views Mar 26, 2015

2013 Audi TDI range

Diesel cars may keep a lower profile than hybrids or battery-electrics, but they’re a good option for drivers looking to reliably save fuel.

Many efficiency-focused gasoline cars and some hybrids have achieved stellar window-sticker fuel-economy ratings, only to fall short in the real world.

Diesels generally don’t have that problem. In fact, they’ve been known to exceed EPA-rated highway figures in regular driving.

Thanks to mandated particulate filters and urea injection, today’s diesels are also much cleaner than the soot-spewing models many American drivers remember from decades ago.

Below is the Green Car Reports guide to every 2015 and 2016 model-year diesel car and truck on sale in the U.S. with full powertrain specs and fuel economy for each.

2015 Audi A3 TDI, New York City, Nov 2014

The Volkswagen Group is very enthusiastic about diesels, something that’s immediately apparent from looking at the lineup of its luxury Audi brand.

Starting from the bottom, the 2015 Audi A3 TDI features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.

A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are mandatory with the diesel, which gets an EPA-rated 36 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 43 mpg highway).

Next up are the mechanically-similar A6 TDI and A7 TDI, both of which use a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with 240 hp and 428 lb-ft.

Both models are offered solely with an eight-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive, and get the same 29 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 38 mpg highway).

2015 Audi A8 L

Audi also offers the same powertrain in the larger A8 sedan, which loses 1 mpg in the combined and 2 mpg in the highway category to its smaller siblings.

The Q5 and Q7 SUVs share the six-cylinder powertrain as well, although the Q7 is only rated at 406 lb-ft of torque. They return 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) and 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway), respectively.

Note that an all-new Q7 TDI is due for the 2016 model year, with an upgraded 3.0-liter V-6 expected to produce 272 hp and 443 lb-ft.

The Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid variant will feature a diesel engine, although recent reports claim the U.S. version will get gasoline power instead.

2015 BMW X5

BMW offers a wide array of diesels, including three sizes of sedan, two sizes of SUV, and even a station wagon.

That last model is the 328d Sports Wagon which, along with the 328d sedan, uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.

The sedan is available with either rear-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive, while the wagon is all-wheel drive only. An eight-speed automatic is mandatory on all models.

The rear-wheel drive 328d sedan returns 37 mpg combined (32 mpg city, 45 mpg highway), while the all-wheel drive sedan and wagon return 35 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 43 mpg highway).

2015 BMW 328d sedan and Sports Wagon

In the middle of the sedan lineup sits the 535d, with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six producing 255 hp and 413 lb-ft. As in the 328d sedan, an eight-speed automatic is paired with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The former gets 30 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 38 mpg highway), while the latter loses 1 mpg in the highway category.

There’s also a larger 740Ld xDrive that uses the same powertrain as the 535d xDrive, with mileage reduced to 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway).

In addition, diesel versions of the X3 and X5 SUVs share powertrains with the 3 Series and 5 series respectively. All-wheel drive is mandatory for both.

The 2015 X3 xDrive 28d is rated at 30 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway), while the X5 xDrive 35d is rated at 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway).

2015-16 New Car Buyer s Guide – Kelley Blue Book

#car buyers

Auto News

2015-16 New Car Buyer s Guide

Posted: 11/18/2015 11:28:28 AM

Our New Car and SUV Buyer’s Guides make it easy to become an instant expert on a variety of segments, from small cars to luxury cars and all the SUVs, minivans and trucks in between. Find out what’s new, what’s next and see all your options together in one place.

The 10 popular segments below account for more than 70% of all new cars sold in a year, so there’s a good chance your next car is just a click away. Our Buyer’s Guides are updated weekly and make it easy to become an instant expert on all your choices, including a valuable look at what’s new and what’s next. They’re listed here in order of average transaction price.

They’re as quiet and comfortable as yesterday’s midsize cars, while packing even more cool features.

Average price: $20,000

The biggest vehicle segment in the country and arguably the most car for the money.

Average price: $25,000

Versatile and high-riding but not too big or thirsty, the small SUV segment is growing fast.

Average price: $26,000

These purpose-built people movers are addictive to the whole family.

Average price: $32,000

Three rows of seats, available all-wheel drive and a place in history as the quintessential family car of our generation.

Average price: $33,000

Fun to drive, well-appointed and a satisfying sense of exclusivity.

Average price: $39,000

An increasing focus on fuel-efficiency and creature comforts is broadening the appeal of pickup trucks.

Average price: $41,000

Another growing segment, offering an appealing combination of luxury and practicality.

Average price: $42,000

Most offer three rows, all offer varying levels of opulence inside.

Average price: $51,000

Significantly more attainable than their flagship luxury sedan big brothers, and luxurious enough for anyone.

First Pics: New 2016 Models

Compact Car Buyer s Guide – Kelley Blue Book

#small cars

Auto News

Compact Car Buyer s Guide

Posted: 7/31/2015 4:48:07 PM

Today’s compact cars might not be quite as roomy, quiet or comfortable as their midsize counterparts, but the fit, finish and features are increasingly comparable. And even if they’ll always be smaller by definition, compact cars continue to get roomier, quieter and more comfortable, making them increasingly intriguing alternatives to many larger and pricier options. It’s hard to make a smarter car purchase than to go with an efficient, affordable small car.

Explore all 12 of your options right here — listed in order of sales through the first half of 2015 — and keep reading below to see what’s new, what’s next, and to find out who’s winning all the awards.

Toyota’s famously affordable, reliable compact sedan now has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Starts at $17,785

Honda’s venerable compact car has been completely redesigned for 2016, and now it almost outclasses the class.

Starts at $19,475

Explore Civic

The sculpted Elantra adds a heavy dose of style to the familiar value equation.

Starts at $18,075

It isn’t the roomiest compact car you can buy, but it’s definitely one of the quietest and most comfortable.

Starts at $16,995

There are roomier and more affordable compact cars, but few are as sporty or as stylish as the European-rooted Focus.

Starts at $17,995

The Sentra’s roomy, refined interior and smooth styling qualify it as one of the segment’s grown-ups.

Starts at $17,305

The segment’s only European entry manages to be both more fun and more refined than most other compact cars.

Starts at $17,035

The fun and stylish Mazda3 has earned a spot on our list of 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 for 12 years in a row.

Starts at $17,765

Sporty looks, a rich interior and one of our favorite infotainment systems.

Starts at $17,690

Standard all-wheel drive remains the Impreza’s key competitive advantage.

Starts at $18,990

It looks sportIer than it drives, but the Forte boasts European-like interior styling and offers loads of cool tech.

Starts at $16,715

The oldest entry in the group, we still love that grille and the impressive warranty.

Starts at $18,210

What’s New

The 2016 model year is bringing us totally new versions of the Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra, plus a new Honda Civic that already claimed our biggest award of the year, the Kelley Blue Book Overall Best Buy Award of 2016. The Nissan Sentra won’t be all-new for 2016, but receives a number of enhancements.

10 Best

The compact car segment is well-represented on our most recent lists of 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000, 10 Coolest Cars Under $25,000 and 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000.

Compact Comparison

For this year’s compact car comparison test we put 400 miles on each of seven small cars to confirm past conclusions and solidify some new ones.

The Specialists

The Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer are the only cars in this group to offer all-wheel drive, the Jetta is the only one offered with a hybrid powertrain, and only the Focus is offered as a (much pricier) all-electric car.

Actual Price

Most compact cars start under $18,000, but most buyers upgrade to an automatic transmission and other popular equipment, making the average price paid for a compact car right about $20,000. The average price paid for a midsize sedan, for reference, is closer to $25,000.

This Year’s Winners

The redesigned 2016 Honda Civic isn’t just our Small Car Best Buy of 2016, its impressive redesigned earned it this year’s Overall Best Buy Award. The Toyota Corolla is the category’s most recent 5-Year Cost to Own Award winner, and the Subaru Impreza took home our most recent Best Resale Value Award in the compact car category.

More New Cars at

10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000

First Pics: New 2016 Models

New Car Buyer’s Guides

10 Best CPO Luxury Cars Under $30,000

Car buying guide – Consumer NZ

#cars guide

Car buying guide

Everything you need to know about buying new and used cars

We explain the laws governing car sales, tell you how to deal with a dealer and how to decide if a car is worth buying. Plus reliable makes, car reviews and more.

When to trade up

Are regular trade-ups the smart thing to do?

It used to be that regular trade-ups of relatively new cars were the smart way to keep yourself on the road without paying too much in maintenance. But our surveys show cars are lasting way longer than they used to before the big repair bills kick in. So when should you buy a new one? Here’s our advice.

Around a third of a new car’s value will vanish by the end of the third year.

Run your car for as long as possible

One of the biggest costs of owning a car is depreciation, and the best way to minimise the effect of this is simple: keep your car longer. Around a third of a new car’s value will vanish by the end of the third year, and half by 5 years. Thereafter, if it’s a good car and you look after it, the rate slows down: by 10 years it will still hold around 20 percent of its value.

If you buy a 5-year-old car and keep it for 5 years, you’ll lose a lot less than buying new. You might want to run it even longer. The extra costs of replacing worn items in a well-maintained old car should still be a lot less than the depreciation on a new or near-new car. Shop around to keep repair costs down.

Watch for rust

The big warning sign is rust. Once rust takes hold, the car loses value rapidly and it is expensive to repair. If your car has rust, it could be time to sell.

The good news, though, is that rust is not the problem it used to be. Remember all those rusted-out doors and station-wagon tailgates in the 1980s? You don’t often see them now, because factory rust-prevention treatments are so much better.

Don’t worry about the odometer

Don’t worry about the odometer racking up large numbers. Once it clicks over 100,000 kilometres the distance travelled has less effect on the value. We hear of lots of cars that are still reliable at well over 200,000 kilometres.

Should you buy a new car?

Cars depreciate most during their first few years. That makes buying a new car and selling it after a few years a very expensive exercise. But many new cars can be bought at good discounts from the listed price. If you haggle hard to get a good discount and keep the car for at least 10 years, you will have the pleasure of buying a new car and you can ensure it is serviced regularly – so it should be reliable. Car safety improvements in recent years also means you will have a safer vehicle.

If buying new is not for you, then find a good car that has got past the worst part of the depreciation. But remember every time a car is sold, dealers take a chunk of profit. You pay that. Look for.

  • 2-3-year-old cars. They may have the remainder of the factory 3-year warranty, and are not too far behind in safety features.
  • Slightly older models, including Japanese imports, can be bought with factory-backed warranties under schemes run by the major car importers. The factory checks the cars, fixes any problems and sells them through dealer-approved schemes.
  • If your budget won’t stretch that far, look for well-maintained models 6 or more years old, even with over 100,000km on the clock.

Buy a reliable model

Pick from the models we recommend for reliability. For full details, see our Car reliability report.