Getting the most for your dollar

Eleven years ago when I started writing about cars, there was a lot of, well, crap out there.

And this “crap” could cost you a pretty penny. Maybe not up front, but perhaps in service fees.

Yes, you could get a brand-new car for $10K, if you paid cash for it, but chances are, it was nothing fancy. And had little style.

Fast forward a decade. Times have changed. And for the better.

You can still get a brand-new car with a MSRP of under $10K, but now you’re going to get more bang for your buck.

Want proof? There’s the Nissan Micra. It comes in at an affordable MSRP of $9,998 and is equipped with ABS, an AM/FM/CD player with an auxiliary input, a five-speed manual transmission and more.

Okay, you don’t get a ton of features, but you can still drive off the lot in a car that drives well, has personality and quite a bit of flare.

Then there’s the Mitsubishi Mirage, the car automotive journalists love to hate.

It’s cheap, in many aspects of the word, but it’s affordable transportation. That’s the best way of looking at it.

And one that has a phenomenal warranty.

At under $10K, the interior of the Nissan Micra has class, something a car ten years ago wouldn't have had for the same price.

At under $10K, the interior of the Nissan Micra has class, something a car ten years ago wouldn’t have had for the same price.
Alexandra Straub, Driving

So, let the battle of the budgets begin.

Though the Mirage has an MSRP of $12,498, it drops to $9,998 after a $2,500 consumer cash discount. Therefore, both cars go head-to-head in competing for the top spot as Canada’s most affordable new car.

For those who can’t really spare any expenses, these options are fantastic.

We don’t quite have the same selection of cars as Europe, but then again, our population is a lot more humble.

But there’s the question of buying a used/pre-owned vehicle for around the same dollar amount.

Which is better? Do you buy new, get the warranty but have to sacrifice features? Or do you get something higher end but with little or no warranty left and the possibility of things maybe not working perfectly?

It’s a question many car buyers struggle to answer. Especially ones who are buying a vehicle for their kids. It’s a toss up.

But here’s something to consider: how much money have you set aside in case repairs need to be made to your used car?

Did you have it inspected by an independent mechanic before you signed on the dotted line?

Yes, the coat can be all clean, but you need to look underneath to find out if you’ll going to be dropping a few hundred dollars on updating some rusty bits.

Newer vehicles can give you that piece of mind when it comes to repairs. And if it breaks down, most likely, you’re covered without having to open the wallet.

Then again, you could be as lucky as a friend of mine who recently purchased a 2011 VW GTI, with 6,000 kilometres on it, for $12,000.

No accidents, clean title, mint condition, it just belonged to someone who didn’t really use it. And only drove when absolutely necessary.

The Mitsubishi Mirage is another vehicle that sells for under $10K and comes with an incredible warranty.

The Mitsubishi Mirage is another vehicle that sells for under $10K and comes with an incredible warranty.
Alexandra Straub, Driving

I’d liken the feeling to being one of the characters on the television reality show Storage Wars when they pay peanuts for a storage unit and cash in enormously. It’s a rarity.

But they’re out there. Though sometimes you really have to sort through some unfavourable options to find the gems.

Regardless, new cars at affordable prices are not fictional concepts.

They’re real and the concepts, (aka the cars), are sitting in dealer parking lots waiting for a good home.

Whether you buy new or used, there are pros and cons to both.

As with a lot of things in life, it’s all about what you place value on. If a warranty is worth more to you than a backup camera, then it’s a good compromise. But if a higher end brand or one with creature comforts tickles your fancy, then I think you know where your heart lies.

It’s like when you make a chart of whether you should dump someone or stay with them. Or not?!

Maybe not, but remember, you’ll be with your car for a long time. So use both your heart and head when it comes to making the choice

Unless you win the lottery. Then you can just be crazy.

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About Alexandra Straub