Fun used cars for tough economic times

Just because the economy is down doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun when you’re driving. MSN autos lists a few cars that are a fun ride, but still relatively inexpensive.

Among the cars listed are the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, which Edmunds calls “an example of America’s ability to build a decent compact automobile.” MSN says if you peel away the Cobalt’s plain exterior you find a powerful sedan with a 260 turbocharged horsepower engine.

But if you want to feel like you can enter a weeklong race over the desert, then a Subaru WRX might be a good fit with its rally looks and its ability to hit 0-60 in under six seconds.

Talk of “fun” cars can’t be had without talking about the MINI Cooper. Just looking at the car makes most people smile and since BMW revived the car in 2002, many people have found it to be perfect for tackling urban and not-so-urban terrains.

Another fun car is the Volkswagen GTI. For more than 20 years VW has been selling some form of the GTI, so finding a good used one should be pretty easy.

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Obama’s used car could pull in big bucks

In a tough economy, it’s cost effective to buy a used car, but for one Chicago man, the purchase of President-elect Barack Obama’s used car may turn into a jackpot.

Tim O’Boyle says he bought Obama’s used 2005 Chrysler 300C – which has a HEMI engine, moonroof, leather interior and GPS – at a Chicago area dealership for $24,000 and was told at the time that it was the former car of the President-elect.

O’Boyle put the car for sale on an internet auction site yesterday and as of 5pm Thursday the bidding was up to $150,000. For someone who just had to have the car, it could be theirs for $1 million.

“Overall, the car is immaculate. If you were to jump inside the thing and drive it, you’d think you’re driving a brand new car,” O’Boyle told the Associated Press. “Hopefully he takes as good care of the country as he did the car.”

Kelly Blue Book lists a 2005 Chrysler 300C in excellent condition at just under $24,000.

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In winter weather a Volvo might be a good choice

With recent snowstorms that have battered the East Coast, many people are looking for a New York used car that can handle the snow and ice and keep them safe. For a lot of people, that has turned out to be a Volvo.

Jim MacPherson, who writes an auto column for the Harford Courant, says Volvo’s reputation as being equipped with numerous safety features make them a popular choice for people looking to buy a used car this time of year, especially in snow affected regions like New York and New Jersey.

For those who want to haul some groceries, or people, around during the winter months, MacPherson says the Volvo XC90 is a good option with its “car-like” feel and roominess that seats five to seven passengers.

MacPherson writes that dealers are hardly able to keep the SUVs on the lot, with one reporting that seven were recently sold in a single day.

“Comfortable, safe, roomy and highly competent in the snow, it is little wonder that seven Volvo XC90s would be sold on a single Saturday,” said MacPherson.

According to Edmunds, late model XC90s saw few changes over the years, although a high-powered 268 horsepower, twin-turbocharged model was sold from 2003-2005.

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Most fuel efficient used cars

Even though gas prices have fallen to a more reasonable level over the last few months, it appears that the days of buying gas guzzlers are over as more people look to buy fuel efficient models.

According to Consumer Reports, there are a number of top models buyers should look at when trying to find the best used car for their money.

According to its research, the most fuel efficient car in the $10,000 – $20,000 range is the 2004-2006 Toyota Prius. It’s really the car that started the hybrid phenomenon and at 44 miles per gallon overall, it’s one of the most fuel efficient cars in the country.

The magazine also lists the 2003 Prius, which gets 41 mpg.

In fact, Honda and Toyota really seem to have cornered the market on fuel efficient used cars. Of the top 12 spots in the price range, all but the 2004-2007 Mazda3 i are in the Honda and Toyota family.

The top five cars on Consumer Reports list read as follows:

2004-06 Toyota Prius 44mpg
2003 Toyota Prius 41mpg
2006-07 Honda Civic Hybrid 37mpg
2003-05 Honda Civic Hybrid 36mpg
2007 Honda Fit Sport (manual) 34mpg

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Used car choices when buying a first car

A first car is a big deal in American culture. It’s going to be the car a man remembers for the rest of his life, so it’s probably a good idea to make it a good one.

Askmen.com recently compiled a list of the best used cars when guys are making their first purchase, and all are under $21,000.

According to the site, the best car is the 2004 Mazda3, which can be had for under $18,000. Although the car would be considered a compact, it’s got the largest trunk in its class and with 148 horsepower it has some zip too.

Saturn has had a pretty good record for reliability, so it’s no surprise that the website lists the 2005 Saturn Ion as one of the best buys. Although it has a sporty look, the Ion comes in a four-door model which makes it easy to fill up with groceries, moving boxes, or just friends. Plus, with dent-resistant panels it’s a good car when parking can be an issue.

Towards the higher end of the price range, askmen.com lists the Honda Civic Hybrid as it’s number three choice. But the higher price tag might be offset by the fuel economy – 51 miles per gallon highway and 46 mpg in the city.

Rounding out the list are the 2004 Toyota Corolla and the 2004 Volkswagen Golf.

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Motor Trend’s choices for top used cars

In these tough economic times it’s hard to justify going out and spending hard earned money on a new car. But that doesn’t mean a newer car isn’t out of the question, and with the increased reliability of cars over the years, Motor Trend says there are five cars that make for a great used car value.

Motor Trend says the 2007-2008 Acura TL Type-S is not as advanced as its ’09 counterpart, but it has more power and more space in the back. And with great electronics like Bluetooth, it makes for a great New York used car.

Also recommended in the luxury class are the Volkswagen Phaeton and the 1990-2002 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

For the sportier car fan, Motor Trend suggests the C5 Corvette Z06 which has the same horsepower as the next generation C6, but is about half the price. But, the magazine warns that with all that horsepower, the cars may have been run hard so it’s important to find one that was taken care of.

As for a truck, the website recommends the 2004-2008 Ford F-150. With a new model coming out for ’09, it means a ton of older generations will be ready for a new owner. Meaning an F-150 with just a few years of work could be had relatively cheaply.

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