The average new car sells for $33,871, according to Kelley Blue Book. So when you take on an expense like that in your life, you want to be sure you’re going to love your new wheels, right?
Steer clear of these rides — which have low reliability, low resale value and receive below-average overall ratings on road test performance and customer satisfaction — and you’ll be more likely to pick a car you love!
Ford Fiesta – $14,580 – $21,460
29 – 35 miles per gallon
This model has a trio of woes: Tight rear-seat space, an unpleasant 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine and a console that ‘is badly designed and requires a stretch to reach the tiny buttons.’
Ford Focus – $14,580 – $21,460
29 – 35 MPG
Here’s a short and sweet summary of what Consumer Reports says it didn’t like about this car: ‘Rear seat, reliability; EV has a touchy throttle and brake pedal, and battery takes up trunk space; ST’s optional Recaro seats are stiff and confining.’
Dodge Dart – $16,995 – $24,395
The magazine noted the unimpressive fuel economy and uncomfortable cloth seats, in addition to calling all the engine choices ‘lackluster.’
Compact luxury sedan
Infiniti Q50 – $33,950 – $49,050
Another ‘lackluster’ showing, but this time for fuel economy. Add to that an unrefined engine, a noted lack of ‘fun-to-drive agility’ and ride that is ‘too harsh over road impacts’ and you can see why the magazine pooh-poohed this model.
Cadillac ATS – $33,215 – $62,665
23 miles per gallon
A ‘gruff and less powerful’ turbo is just the beginning. This model was also slammed because of its ergonomics. Consumer Reports says the rear seat and trunk are very cramped, and notes that the vehicle is ‘hard to get in and out of, even for kids.’
Acura RLX – $50,950 – $65,950
Consumer Reports noted the ‘choppy, unsettled ride [that] is inappropriate for a luxury sedan — or any sedan, for that matter.’ Other complaints included the ‘ungainly handling [that] falls short of Acura’s claims of a sporty driving experience.’
Chrysler 200 – $21,995 – $31,785
For both the C V6 model and the Limited 4-cyl. model, the magazine noted restricted visibility; awkward access; suspension tuning that leaves something to be desired; and ‘nine-speed transmission shift quality [that] is worse than many competing six-speed automaticsan unreliable transmission.’
Midsize crossover SUV
Dodge Journey – $20,995 – $33,695
The magazine was succinct in why it chose to dismiss this model: ‘Handling, unresponsive transmission, fuel economy, rear visibility, tiny third-row seat, poor IIHS small overlap crash-test results, reliability.’
Nissan Pathfinder – $29,830 – $43,300
The magazine decries the clumsy handling, cheap interior finish and poor reliability. Also of note, Consumer Reports says it ‘feels slower than many rivals.’
Jeep Cherokee – $23,495 – $38,395
21 – 22 MPG
For both the Limited V6 and the Latitude 4-cyl. the magazine noteds they were ‘woefully underpowered’ and possessing a 9-speed transmission that ‘is good for bragging rights but not smooth shifts.’ Clearly the Jeep Cherokee was not a favorite! Other complaints include uncomfortable cloth seats, thick roof pillars that reduce visibility and a high price tag in lower trim levels.
Jeep Patriot – $17,695 – $25,595
Again, another short-but-sweet list of gripes from Consumer Reports for this crossover SUV: ‘Engine noise, acceleration, driving position, front-seat comfort, complicated optional radio, IIHS small overlap crash-test result.’
Chevrolet Suburban – $49,700 – $67,440
The big price tag and the supersize dimensions that make it unwieldy to handle were among the complaints. Consumer Reports also noted that it ‘feels underpowered’ and that you have to get the LTZ trim ($70,000+) for this vehicle to be ‘at its best.’
Here’s how to buy a new car
- First, go to your credit union, online bank or traditional bank and prequalify for a car loan (or apply online.) That tells you how much car you can afford and what type of monthly payment you will have to budget.
- Start your research with at least two different vehicles in mind. Then check out the price, reliability, and cost to insure each of the cars you’re considering. Check out the annual April auto issue from Consumer Reports for their list of recommended new car buys.
- Next, use the Internet to find out the dealer cost of the vehicle and the options you want. Websites like Edmunds.com, KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book) and NADA.com offer great tools that will help you determine the value.
- When you’ve narrowed the search to one or two vehicles and have the actual dealer cost for each, shop online for instant price quotes. Websites such as CarsDirect.com, TrueCar.com, Overstock.com, USAA and Zag.com are great for this purpose. Costco has a car-buying program that moved 400,000 vehicles last year alone!
- If you prefer not to buy online, use the online price quotes as a guideline and call the dealers to see if they’ll match the price quote.
- Another relatively easy way to buy a car involves emailing the Internet department at a dealership and negotiating by email. Make sure you always ask for a quote that includes all the junk fees a dealer may have.
- Some dealers are charging ‘packs,’ which are phony charges for documents, vehicle etching, fabric treatments, etc. It may sound silly, but it can amount to $300 or more just for doing the paperwork or spraying some stuff on your car seats! Not every dealer tries to do this, so that’s why it’s important to shop around.
- Look at cars when a dealership is closed, so there’s no salesperson to pressure you. The best way to test-drive a car is to rent it for a day or two. It’s the ultimate test drive.
- You can also buy your new car from a no-haggle dealership, such as through a warehouse club that has a car-buying program with pricing that has already been negotiated. In most cases, you’ll save money and the process of buying will be faster and easier.
- If you do choose to negotiate with a traditional car dealer, be prepared for a difficult process. When you go into the dealer to sign the paperwork, make sure what is on the purchase agreement is what you’ve agreed to previously by phone or fax. If it’s not the same, do not go through with the deal. The best way to protect yourself in a dealership is to be willing to walk out.
- Dealers will typically mark up a loan by about 2% on the average car purchase. That’s why I so strongly recommend you secure financing on your own as a first step. And remember, never take out an auto loan for longer than 42 months!
- Finally, what if the manufacturer offers zero percent financing? Before you make any decision, consult with Edmunds.com‘s Low APR vs. cash back calculator.
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