When buying a car from a froogalist perspective, it never makes sense to buy new. It makes sense to buy cars at least two to three years old that are still covered under the manufacturers warranty. It is my belief that most `lemons` make themselves unbearably sour within their first, or maybe second, year of use. Target cars at least two years old if you want to save money and get a terrific ride.
Leasing basically amounts to you paying a premium for the long-term rental of a new vehicle. No one will give you a new car for nothing. Leasers make their money through leasing costs and buybacks. You will never get a froogal buy-back price. Your buy-back price will always include depreciation and any damages that occur while you are leasing (no matter how small the dent), plus a healthy profit for the dealer. In my view, leasing never makes sense unless owning a late model vehicle is important to you. Otherwise, forget it. Buy your car and forgo the lease (and potential) and buy-back costs (minus any charges for damages, no matter how small or large), plus a profit margin for your dealer.
From a froogalist perspective, I want to own my car outright and I want it to last. If you are willing to live as I do, look into buying a 2001 (or later model) Mazda Protege (or any other long-lasting and reliable car). I bought my 2001 Mazda Protege ES 2.0 back in 2005. I liked the fact that it had a service maintenance pedigree and that it was a Top Rated used car according to the Consumer Reports magazine.
For the record, this Mazda Protege ES 2.0 was the first car that I ever owned (I got my license quite late in life). I loved that fact that it had great reviews from Consumer Reports and also the indication that it was a `fun`car to drive. I have not been disappointed:
What I Like
Fun to Drive
The Mazda Protege ES 2.0 is fun to drive, as spoken about. It handles corners beautifully and accelerates more than adequately. I feel safe and engaged as a driver. The Mazda is responsive and fun.
The Mazda Protege has an excellent and reliable engine. I am at approximately 138,000 kilometers, and have never had any engine problems. I did have the timing belt readjusted, but this is regular maintenance for the Mazda Protege.
The 2001 Mazda Protege sort of looks like a 300 series Mercedes (circa. 2000) from the back. The taillights look great and the whole look of the back end is similar to Mercedes styling.
The dashboard is classic 2000 BMW styling with a white background.
The seats are comfortable in front and the back seats have adequate leg and head room for someone at least as tall as 6 foot 3 inches. This is a big plus in the compact car class as the back seat area tends to be cramped.
My 2001 Mazda Protege ES 2.0 has proven itself to be a very reliable car. I have never had any morning that it has not turned over with the simple turn of a key.
A couple of things I don`t Like
Rust in the Rear Wheel Wells
The Mazda Protege has a couple of weak points – the first of which is rust-vulnerability in the rear wheel wells. Take a look around at the myriad of Mazda Proteges on the roads and you will probably notice rust in the rear wheel wells. I am not sure why this happens, but it does seem to happen.
It seems that I am continuously having to get my brakes cleaned or pads replaced, drums replaced or cleaned, etc. My mechanic seems to think that I may be due to my relatively low yearly KMs. I do not know what the reason is, but it seems that brakes seems to come up fairly regularly.
The gas mileage for the Mazda Protege 2.0 ES is mediocre to poor. I tend to average 450 kilometers per tank while doing city driving. The tank size is approximately 50 liters. This amounts to roughly 9 kms per liter in city driving. This is not good.
The Mazda Protege ES 2.0 is a fun-to-drive and reliable car. Its reliability, driveability, engine, and interior details and style are well above average. The fuel efficiency and vulnerability of the wheel wheels to rust are slightly below-average. Overall, the 2001 Mazda Protege ES 2.0 rates as a Best Buy for a froogal shopper.
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