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I'm in sudden need of a new vehicle. My 1992 Plymouth Acclaim (value ~$1,000) needs ~$2400 worth of work, but I don't think it's going to get it.

Assuming for the moment that I've already decided to purchase a different used car, what would you suggest I purchase? I know there are a million variables to consider, but the main ones that matter to me are high fuel economy, reliability, and mechanical durability. Cheap to insure would be good as well. Cost-effectiveness is my guiding principle. I view cars as transportation, and the main use for this one would be commuting to/from work (~20 miles each way). Low mileage is also important, as I'd like to see this car performing admirably 5 years from now. I don't want to buy anything too new, but it would be great if there were still a year or two (or three!) on the warranty. I prefer an automatic transmission (minor shoulder/knee concerns), but would go manual if somebody convinced me that the manual was a significantly better fit with my criteria. Price? It really depends on the best overall fit with my criteria. It could be anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000. Or less. Or more.

My own subjective leaning is toward a Honda Civic. If you like that pick, what year or years would you recommend that would fit my criteria?

Oh, and what would you do with the Acclaim? It's not worth fixing it to resell it. Try to trade it in? Junk it? Sell privately?

Thanks in advance!

-pegs


Don't bother with a manual - the gas savings versus a modern automatic tranny are small. The new CVT's (continuously variable transmission) promise BETTER gas mileage; go to the Cartalk (www.cartalk.com) website if you want more info.

Honda Civic sounds like a very good car for you - I had an 86' CRX model as my very first car (120K when I got it) and it ran until 180K (my youngest brother finally killed it by not maintaining it). Gas mileage was incredible -around 45 MPG. I would recommend a 2 to 3 year old model; Hondas will run near forever if well maintained. Expensive maintenance generally starts at 90-120K (timing belt/water pump/starter, etc.) so you should have a couple years of relatively cheap maintenance ($200-$300), then an expensive year ($800-$1000), then 3-4 more cheap years.

I would junk or donate your old car - a dealer will send it to auction or junk it, might as well cut them out of that. Donate it if you want a tax write-off. The write off would be worth $150-$250, depending on your bracket, a junkyard might give you $300 for it.
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