Sunday, December 2, 2012

Compact Car Comparison - Price/power/fuel economy

Compact cars are very popular these days for a number of reasons; good fuel economy, affordability and ease of driving in the city.   I figured I would do some research to see which compact car actually is the best value these days.  These types of vehicles would be excellent for new drivers except of course insurance makes it almost impossible for new drivers to own a car these days.  For my son to be insured on his own vehicle would cost $3,500 as opposed to $1,400 to insure him on my vehicle..... but I digress.

Anyway back to the job at hand.  I scoured all the popular car websites trying to find pricing on their latest compact offering with automatic transmission and air conditioning.  So keep in mind the prices I have could be further reduced if you could live with a manual transmission and no air conditioning.  A/C is actually quite an expensive option in many cases adding up to $1,500 to the price of the car because it often came as a package deal with a few other unnecessary items.  Now that I am thinking back I shouldn't have included A/C in my pricing..... ok I am going to go back and get some new prices without automatic or upgrades for A/C.

After going back for additional research it turns out you can save about $4,000 by going with total basic models of compact cars.  Since most people looking for compact cars are probably looking for good value then this would be significant savings.  The winner with both approaches is the Nissan Versa, coming in at just over $15,000 for the basic model (which does have air conditioning).  The Versa had 0% interest to go along with the lowest price after tax and delivery for a monthly payment of $255! It beat the next closest vehicle (Kia Rio) by $26 per month or $1,560 over the life of your car payments.

There were a couple of interesting differences between base model and automatic transmissions prices.  The Ford Fiesta had 0% interest on the automatic but 5.69% on the manual..... basically negating any savings you would get buying the cheaper model.  The Jetta rate of 0% for the automatic also increased to 2.9% with the standard, which had a surprisingly low price of $18,515.

Two other factors I looked at were fuel economy and HP.  Fuel economy was very similar for all the vehicles ranging from 30-33 MPG with the exception of the Jetta which had 27 MPG.  The Jetta was really out of the rest of these cars category anyway, I was just surprised at how cheap you could actually get one for so it's included.  HP was extremely low for most of these vehicles as expected.  The Dodge Dart had by far the highest at 160 but it was also the most expensive of the bunch by a mile.  The Rio, Accent and Sonic had a reasonable 138 but when you are getting down into low HP numbers like that does it really matter???  All these vehicles will get you around town perfectly fine but might take a but of careful looking ahead on the highway if you are planning to do a lot of passing.  The Versa came in at a whopping 109 HP, only to be outdone by the Mazda 2 with 100 but the versa has the best combined fuel economy numbers.

One other interesting thing to note is that you can get a base model Honda Civic cheaper than a base model Honda Fit, maybe that's why I never see a Honda Fit.

All the details of my review are below. The first chart is for the models with A/C and automatic transmissions and the second chart is for base models.  Sorry for the layout but excel does not copy well into this format.

Brand Model  Price inc tax and delivery      5 Yr                           Rate       Pmt         HP       MPG
Honda Fit LX            22,362 3.99% 412 117 30
Ford Fiesta SE            20,508 0.00% 342 120 33
Kia Rio LX+            20,660 0.90% 352 138 31
Hyundai Accent gl            19,819 2.95% 356 138 31
Toyota Yaris LE with conv pkg            20,972 1.90% 366 106 32
Nissan Versa SV            19,052 0.00% 318 122 33
Chevy Sonic LS Auto W A/C            21,035 ?   138 31
Dodge Dart SE            21,346 5.99% 414 160 31
Mazda 2 GS W A/C            20,430 0.00% 342 100 30
VW Jetta Trendline + 2.0 L            22,758 0.00% 379 115 27
Brand Model  Price inc tax   and delivery  5 Yr Rate        Pmt        HP      MPG
Honda Fit DX            18,181 3.99% 334 117 30
Ford Fiesta S            16,440 5.69% 315 120 33
Kia Rio LX            16,479 0.90% 281 138 31
Hyundai Accent L            16,253 2.95% 292 138 31
Toyota Yaris LE             17,876 1.90% 313 106 32
Nissan Versa S            15,333 0.00% 255 109 33
Chevy Sonic LS             17,136 ?   138 31
Dodge Dart SE            19,877 5.99% 384 160 31
Mazda 2 GX            17,780 0.00% 298 100 30
VW Jetta Trendline             18,515 2.90% 332 115 27

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