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buying used

We’re looking for a small hatchback or sedan that seats five for around $10,000 for my kid who’s just finishing Grade 12. I’d like to stick to a 2014 or newer. By the way, I never thought we’d get him a car, but it’s a lot cheaper than four years of university dorm in Edmonton. You’ve recommended the Honda Fit before. Does that still stand? I’ve seen Ford Fiestas and Hyundai Accents out there – before we started shopping, I hadn’t known that either existed. Any reason I should avoid them? – Tim, Stony Plain, Alta.

The Accent beats the Fiesta for room and reliability – but a Fit still might be your best fit.

The Honda hatch gets a Consumer Reports recommendation (the average asking price for a 2014 base model is $9,500 on Canadian Black Book).

Sticking with a 2014, there are plenty of decent choices starting at about $10,000 – including the Chevrolet Spark, Kia Rio, Mazda2, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa Note, Nissan Micra and Scion xD.

2014 Hyundai Accent


  • Fourth generation: 2011-2017
  • Average asking price for base: $10,218 (Canadian Black Book)
  • Original MSRP for base: $13,999
  • Engine: 138-hp, 1.6-litre four-cylinder
  • Transmission/drive: Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic/front-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.8 city, 6.5 highway (manual), 8.9 city, 6.6 highway (automatic)

The biggest positive to Accent-uate with this Hyundai? It beat most rivals for room.

“Looking for an affordable car that’s fun to drive, is exceptionally good on gas and offers a surprising amount of space inside its diminutive exterior?” Globe Drive asked, in a review of the new model. “The Hyundai Accent is well worth checking out.”

It came in either a sedan or hatchback and in three trims – L, GL and GLS. Used, they tend to be pretty close in price, with the GLS with automatic about $500 more than the base. The GL and GLS have Bluetooth and voice recognition.

“Although it’s considered entry-level, this Hyundai seldom feels that way in normal driving, where you’re more likely to notice its spacious interior, smooth ride and respectable acceleration,” review site Edmunds said.

It didn’t like the lousy rear visibility in the hatchback or the limited options. It also said real-world fuel economy was less than government estimates (in Canada, they were originally 7 litres/100 km city and 4.8 highway).

Consumer Reports said there was nothing fancy about the Accent, but it “hit the mark for sensible transportation.”

It gave the 2014 Accent three out of five for reliability. There were no recalls.

2014 Ford Fiesta


  • Sixth generation: 2011 to present (facelift in 2014)
  • Average asking price for base: $9,110 (Canadian Black Book)
  • Original MSRP for base: $14,499
  • Engine: 120-hp, 1.6-litre four-cylinder
  • Transmission/drive: Five-speed manual, six-speed automatic/front-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.6 city, 6.4 highway (manual), 8.5 city, 6.5 highway (automatic)

You could rely on the Ford Fiesta for agile handling and style. But it’s wasn’t so reliable when it came to reliability.

“There’s a lot to like about the refreshed 2014 Ford Fiesta: hot looks, great fuel economy – even in real-world driving – and a high-tech MyFord Touch infotainment system to give its upscale interior even more futuristic pizzazz,” a Globe Drive report said. “But Fiesta owners’ forums are full of complaints with Ford’s smallest North American offering.”

Consumer Reports gave the 2014 Fiesta a score of one out of five for reliability. Trouble spots included the transmission and in-car electronics.

We didn’t have the Fiesta at all for about 30 years – but the party carried on for everyone else after it was axed in North America in 1980. Ford brought it back here for its sixth generation.

There were three trims – S, SE and Titanium – plus the Fiesta ST, a hot hatch with a turbocharged 197-hp four-cylinder). There was also an optional 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that used 7.5 litres/100 km city and 5.5 highway.

“The Fiesta is a subcompact that feels like a solid and much more substantial car, while offering a civilized ride and fairly quiet cabin for its class,” Consumer Reports said.

But it said the Fiesta was pricey for what you get, the rear seat is tight and the three-cylinder engine wasn’t “all that pleasant.”

There were five recalls, including a fuel pump that could fail and cause the engine to stall while driving.

Send your used car questions to with the subject: “Buying used.”

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