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Buying a new car, need help please

I personally don't feel there's anything smart about a smart car. There's not a chance in the world you could stand up to something bigger if you got in a wreck. I can't help but feel similarly about the mini. I recently got a new 2010 mazda3 for $16k. It's a good choice. You could get a better deal on an '08 or '09. I also used a Toyota Corolla for 10 years and racked up a ton of miles on it. It held up great, so I'd also recommend those.
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Hyundai is making some really nice cars lately. I have a '10 Sonata and it's a very nice car for the price...very comparable to the Camry/Accord. My friends fiance has a mini-cooper and has nothing but problems...and maintenance on them can only be performed at select BMW/Mini-cooper dealers.

Well, that's to maintain your four year warranty and free maintenance. After that time they do become a liability, but for routine maintenance, you can do it yourself.
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Coopers are ELECTRICAL hazards. I can't tell you how many I've seen that have had their full electric systems shorted out. Personally right now, I would get a Ford. Every damn Toyota model out there is going recall after recall, GM cars are okay but aside from really the Aveo there really is no small compact car from GM. I would never touch any 2001 and up Chrysler, so yeah...If not Ford, the Honda Civic is pretty decent. Or other viable solutions that I didn't list.
Mitsubishi Lancer- Low price for a sub compact car, starts off at a 5 spd manual, so you'd have to know how to stick it out with this one. Not hard to do though.
Honda Civic- You can get a hybrid Civic, but if you want small then look away because this thing gets bigger everyday!
Ford Focus- Probably the smallest I'll list aside the Aveo.
Chevrolet Aveo- Small, but very cheaply made.
Honda Fit- Drives pretty decently, big though.
Ford Fiesta- Fun little driver, hatchback like others listed.
Mazda 2- Not out yet, but basically just like the Fiesta.
Mazda 3- VERY dependable. Built pretty well, looks pretty good, but maintenance costs suck on it.
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Fiat is coming back into the US market with the 500. Fiat owns 20% of Chrysler with the option to increase up to 51% over the years. Chrysler is Fiat's new avenue back into the US.

Crap! I absolutely forgot about that transaction from a year or two ago.

So many sales from the Big Three the past few years. Volvo is now with Geely (sp.?)? They were with Ford when they were crap, but now that Ford's actually improved their image and quality, they sell Volvo to some Chinese company.
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My wife has a Honda Fit and it's been a great car so far. Great gas mileage, decent power and tons of room. The new Ford Fiesta is also a good looking ride.

The Civic is getting long in the tooth but you can't go wrong with Honda. The Toyota Corolla is a horrible choice. Not only has Toyota quality gone down but the Corolla lacks any dynamic driving experience like all other Toyota vehicles.

The Mazda 3 is also a nice choice. Maybe take a look at the Kia Forte and Soul as well. Good luck!
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