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The Commuter Column: Affordable Cars to Replace Your Junkers

Kathleen Joyce

This week, a good friend of mine decided to buy a new car.  She asked me what she should buy.  I told her to get a used car, but she didn’t want to.  She bought a new Ford although her finances are low; as a college student, who has the money?  But each month, she will make payments in order to pay off the car.  My friend’s purchase inspired me to give the Pioneer’s readers a list of cars that are affordable and reliable. Winter is fast approaching; you’re going to need an outstanding car.  So sit back and car shop with me.

Ford has become quite the affordable brand in the past few years.  Cars like the recent Ford Fiesta and compact car Ford Focus are cute, affordable, and great on gas.  The Focus starts at $16,000, which is a little steep, but you can always throw down a payment and pay monthly, which will build up your credit!  The Ford Fiesta is a bit more affordable starting at $13,000 and gets a whopping 38 mpg on the highway.

The Mazda 3 is not only an adorable car, but it’s also decently priced.  It starts at $15,000. The car also gets 33 mpg on the highway.  Hyundais have become frequently-seen on the road due to their sleek style and low prices. The Elantra starts at $15,000 and gets 40 mpg on the highway.  The car also offers features such as standard XM satellite radio and hands-free Bluetooth that other cars at that price can’t match.  For a cheaper Hyundai, look at the Accent, which starts at $13,000 and guarantees 40 mpg on the highway as well.

For SUV’s, look towards the futuristic designs of the Kia Soul (you know, the car with the cute Hamster commercials), the Nissan Cube, and the Scion xB.  The Soul starts at $13,000 and gets 31 mpg on the highway.  The xB starts at$15,000 and gets 28 mpg on the highway.  The Nissan Cube starts at $15,000 and gets 28 mpg on the highway.

For the affordable hybrids, look at a Honda.  Honda has an outstanding reputation for making affordable, durable vehicles.  The Honda Civic Hybrid starts at $24,000 and can get 44 mpg on the highway.  The Honda Insight is also a hybrid that’s a little smaller and cheaper.  This car starts at $17,000 and can get 43 mpg on the highway.  The Toyota Prius, one of the more popular Hybrid cars, starts at $24,000 and can get 51 mpg on the highway.

Some other honorable mentions: the Nissan Sentra, a cute, compact car that starts at $16,000 and gets a good 31 mpg on the highway.  The Volkswagen Jetta and Golf, both start at around $17,000 and get over 30 mpg on the highway.  Chevys are also good to look into for affordable, gas-efficient cars.

For those looking into buying used cars, websites such as and can help you with your search.  Buying a car is an important investment, so pick the one that’s right for you and your budget. Happy car hunting to all and, as always, safe driving.

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