I'm buying a new car. Are there any good inexpensive options?

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Answered by: Rod, An Expert in the New Car Reviews Category
So your old 1992 Nissan has finally gone kaput! What to do? You need a new car, but you don't exactly have a bottomless pit of money from which to buy said vehicle. No problem. Today's market is full of quality cars priced at $20,000 or less, which is great news, but wading through all the choices can be overwhelming.

It's not uncommon for people to look back over the years with reverence at cars produced in past decades and proclaim, "They just don't make cars the way they used to." That statement is correct, and thankfully so. With all due respect to vehicles from past generations, we current live in the "Golden Age" of motoring. From the most expensive offerings to the bargain basement people movers, if you're buying a new car in 2011 and beyond, your options perform better, have superior warranties, are made of more durable materials and are more fuel efficient than cars of yesteryear.

And it's not just foreign cars at the forefront of our current automotive heyday. U.S. manufacturers like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are (finally) producing solidly made, good performing vehicles across their product lines that are beginning to rival anything made by stalwarts such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan. While the economic collapse of 2008-'09 was certainly painful for millions of Americans, it most likely contributed to the new outside-the-box thinking that has gained favor in the board rooms of America's car makers. Perhaps staring into the economic abyss and confronting their corporate mortality forced American automakers to realize that there is still a vast number of people looking for well made "cars" (not just SUVs) that post good fuel mileage numbers, have solid curb appeal and won't be in the shop 50 days a year. Even the once almighty SUV has gone on a diet of late.

Cars like the Chevy Cruze, the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200, compact and mid-sized cars that run well and look good are gaining new believers everyday thanks to their impressive attention to detail, excellent build quality, competitive fuel mileage averages and on-road manners. Ford's Fusion has been nothing short of a revelation for the U.S. manufacturer. It is more than a worthy competitor for mid-size class leaders like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and is priced even lower than those mega sellers. Take a test drive in the Fusion and you'll see what I mean. Its smooth, yet responsive ride, inviting interior, modern styling and 30- to 35-mile per gallon fuel consumption average will win you over in just a few miles.

The Chevy Cruze is another new car that is turning heads at an impressive clip. Intended to compete with the likes of the Toyota Corolla, the Cruze costs around $20,000, but has features and a ride quality on par with cars costing at least $10 000 more. Plus, the Eco version of the Cruze averages an estimated 40 miles per gallon. Yes, if you're buying a new car, these are good times, indeed. Happy shopping!

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