Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Remember the Yugo? This much-maligned vehicle made in former Yugoslavia had a base price of $3,990 in 1985 and was just about the worst car ever in the history of the automotive industry. Consumer Reports once famously said a consumer would be “better off buying a good used car than a new Yugo.”
Still, the quest for a good cheap automobile goes on. USA Today reports a new era of value vehicles will be coming to the United States with prices starting at just north of $10,000. I’m talking $10,000 for a fully equipped vehicle that’s actually fun to drive.
The 2012 Nissan Versa will be $10,990 plus destination charges. Power steering, electronic stability control, electronic power steering and radio all come standard. (Air conditioning is still optional.) Combined city/highway mileage is expected to be somewhere between 30 and 33 miles per gallon.
This is not the Versa you may be familiar with now. It’s a redesigned version that replaces the lowest-price Versa we now have. The new Versa will be built on a platform common to several models to cut costs. By doing that, Nissan was able to reduce the number of parts by 20 percent, which translates to savings for them and you.
Other automakers don’t want to cede market share to Nissan, so they’re getting on the ball with their own value vehicles. Hyundai is planning a fully equipped value vehicle — the 2012 Hyundai Accent — for around $13,000. And Chevy has its 2012 Sonic, which is not yet priced but may undercut competitor Ford’s Fiesta at $14,000.
Consider this: The cost of the average new vehicle is $26,000 or $27,000 in the United States, depending on which number you believe. You could buy two fully equipped value vehicles for that price.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. You can also listen to his radio show live Monday through Friday 1-4 p.m. on AM 750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.