TheCarConnection.com Names Six Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cars for Tough Economic Times
PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 12. Consumer confidence has hit a record low — and yet, some shoppers still have to buy a new car, whether it’s to get to work or to school.
According to the automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com, there’s not much room for frivolous purchases in times like these. “Any new car has to do it all,” says Marty Padgett, editor of TheCarConnection.com. “It needs to be relatively inexpensive and have plenty of room, plenty of power, leading fuel economy and good looks, too. Above all, it should have all the safety gear buyers expect — and the kind of features across the board that make even base models a satisfying purchase.”
Vehicles that fit those requirements are available — and at a discount, too.
TheCarConnection.com’s car experts think these six cars will give car buyers the most bang for the buck — and make the most sense for drivers who have to buy now.
“The Malibu proves that GM can field a competitor for the best from Honda and Toyota, and do it with superior style and even better interior room,” Padgett says. Chevrolet has a hit on its hands with the new car, a mid-size sedan with a choice of four-cylinder, V-6 and hybrid powertrains. TheCarConnection.com’s editors rate it tops in sedans for styling and room, and it makes a strong showing in fuel economy, too. The Malibu also offers five-star safety in federal tests, 32 miles per gallon on the highway in some versions, and a base price of less than $22,000.
Chrysler invented the minivan 25 years ago, and in the interim it has polished and padded its trademark vehicle with big V-6 power and all sorts of flexible seating arrangements, not to mention a class-leading set of features. “The new Dodge Grand Caravan may have some iffy interior plastics, and just average reliability,” TheCarConnection.com’s Padgett explains. “But this minivan delivers unparalleled entertainment features for your family, including in-car satellite TV and a hard-drive music player.” The Grand Caravan’s optional Stow ‘N Go seating sets the standard, too, for fold-away utility — all the seats aft of the front buckets can be tucked away to create a flat load floor.
It is in its second generation — and next year, a third version is in the works — but today’s Toyota Prius blends 48-mpg fuel economy with a roomy package that’s usefully sized to carry four adults, or with the rear seats folded, more gear than you imagine. “The Toyota Prius has done nothing less than convince the American public that hybrid cars are a good thing,” Padgett says. At $23,375, TheCarConnection.com’s editor explains, it’s changed forever the notion of what a family car should be.
For those who still rely on pickup trucks for their daily bread, Nissan’s Frontier is strong and flexible enough to cover many of the tasks that often get punted into the full-size category. Instead of full-size gas mileage, the Frontier offers a frugal four-cylinder version, a choice of body styles, a reasonably long bed and an optional V-6, not to mention automatic or manual transmissions. “Its do-it-yourself attitude to the extreme — right down to the spray-in bedliner and the hooks and cargo holds that make its mid-size bed more useful,” TheCarConnection.com’s Padgett says.
Sport-utility vehicles and newfangled car-based crossovers are meant to haul people and cargo in a more stylish way than minivans. Among crossovers, TheCarConnection.com gives kudos to the new
Subaru Forester. “The Forester is a plucky four-cylinder wagon with a tall roof and an option for turbo power that will make most shoppers forget the high gas bills from a Chevy Tahoe,” Padgett says. All-wheel drive is standard, as is 26-mpg highway fuel economy and a sub-$20,000 base price.
For those who still can afford a little indulgence, the Volkswagen GTI is a great choice, according to TheCarConnection.com. “It’s one of the best-handling cars in its class, and one with an enthusiast’s dream of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine,” Padgett explains. With more than 200 horsepower on tap through an available dual-clutch transmission, the GTI has superb driving feel and response, while turning in 29 miles per gallon on the highway — all for less than $23,000. The squared-off tail gives it a step up on its two-door competitors for occasional cargo needs.
About TheCarConnection.com and High Gear Media
TheCarConnection.com is the flagship site of Palo Alto, Calif.-based High Gear Media. High Gear Media is building a next-generation network of websites targeting car-buying audiences by vehicle and lifestyle. TheCarConnection.com’s consumer-friendly reviews gather the most respected opinions from around the web and add expert analysis and advice to help car buyers select the right car.
High Gear Media also publishes AllAboutPrius.com, the new online source for information on Toyota‘s class-leading hybrid; ToyotaMonitor.com, where researching Toyota cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers gets easier; ChevroletReports.com, the one-stop Web site for all the latest information and reviews on the newest Chevys on the road today; FordReports.com, the Blue Oval’s newest online news source and community; and HondaReports.com, the place for smart car shoppers and owners to get reviews and news about the Honda lineup.