The Worst Cars for the Money

No carmaker is perfect. Each has best and worst sellers, hits and misses. And while plenty of cars are generally good values, there are a few that don't make as much sense when you work out the calculations over time. That's where our new list comes in: the Worst Cars for the Money.

The Worst Cars for the Money were identified using data from the U.S. News car rankings, which are based on the collective opinion of the automotive press. This tells us how "good" or "bad" a car is within its class, according to a large number of critics. We then weigh the rankings against how much value the car packs in compared to others within its class. Using data from IntelliChoice, an industry leader in determining ownership costs, we include how much buyers can expect to spend up front, how much they'll spend on maintenance and fuel, and how much of a hit they'll take from the car's depreciation during the first five years.

The result is a list of cars you may want to think twice about before buying. But also keep in mind the unwritten part of a car's value: if you really like one of these models, then chances are you'll be happy driving it no matter what - which means that in the end, it could be the best car for your money.

Compact Car: Pontiac G5
The G5 trails the majority of compact cars when it comes to comfort, quality and performance, leading to a poor U.S. News ranking. Its sticker price is also a bit higher than many competitors, and it's expected to depreciate as much as 60 percent within the first five years of ownership - twice as fast as its top-ranked competitors. In addition, five years of fueling and maintaining the G5 is estimated to cost you $5,000 to $10,000 more than Honda's Fit or Civic. The G5's future is unclear since GM has announced plans to shrink the Pontiac model line significantly. Pontiac sold just 767 G5s nationwide in January.

Better values: If you're in the market for a compact car, consider the Honda Fit and Hyundai Elantra.

Compact Crossover: Suzuki XL7

Some critics note that while it's a competent people hauler, the Suzuki XL7 can't match the acceleration, handling and interior quality of top rivals. Its five-year cost of ownership is quite high - almost $47,000 as compared to the Honda CR-V, which is about $37,000. Depreciation is the major cause - like the Pontiac G5, the XL7 is expected to lose more than 60 percent of its value over five years. We should note that while the XL7 may have some shortcomings, this SUV has stellar crash test ratings and should be on the list for small SUV shoppers concerned about safety.

Better values: If you're in the market for a compact crossover, you may do better with the Mazda Mazda5 or the Ford Escape Hybrid.

Full-Size SUV: Jeep Commander

The Jeep Commander is a good choice for off-road enthusiasts, but buyers who spend the majority of their time on the pavement should look elsewhere. U.S. News ranks the Commander last among large SUVs. Its cost of ownership over five-years is $10,000 more than the Mazda CX-9 crossover and even higher than the popular Chevrolet Tahoe, another off-road-ready vehicle. While the Commander's sub-$30K sticker may look appealing, this big SUV is expected to depreciate 50 to 60 percent over five years. Sales were down 56 percent last year, and there's speculation that it may be discontinued after 2009.

Better values: If you're in the market for a full-size SUV, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Mazda CX-9 are worth a look.

Full Size Pickup: Nissan Titan
With rugged practicality and a strong powertrain, the 2009 Nissan Titan isn't out of place in the full-size truck market. However, after more than three years on the market, the Titan still hasn't pulled in a lot of American buyers. Sales were down almost 50 percent in 2008. That may be because the Titan's value equation just doesn't make sense. It's generally well liked, but it costs up to $5,000 more than solid American options. The Titan also lags the competition in fuel economy, with only 13 miles per gallon in the city for the base model. Nissan has announced it will end production of the Titan in 2010 and is planning to replace it with a pickup based on the Dodge Ram.

Better values: Consider the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.

Upscale Car: Volvo S60

The Volvo S60 is based on a nine-year-old design and has been left in the dust by continually improved competitors like the Infiniti G37 and BMW 3-Series. On the plus side, the S60 could save you two or three thousand dollars over five years, compared to the 3-Series or the Cadillac CTS. But consider that the existing S60's deprecation will likely only get worse: Volvo debuted a new concept at this year's Detroit Auto Show that will make the current S60 extinct.

Better values: If you're in the market for an upscale car, consider the Infiniti G37 or Lexus ES.

Sports Car: Mitsubishi Eclipse

The Mitsubishi Eclipse offers aggressive sports car styling, but critics claim it lacks the power and agility they expect in a sports car. This contributes to an underwhelming performance in the U.S. News rankings. The Eclipse isn't such a bad deal if you just want to look the part of a speed racer - there are just other sports cars that are better. The Eclipse's sticker price undercuts most of its rivals. The car will run you about $40k + to own over five years - about $5,000 less than the Honda S2000. The Eclipse's sales numbers confirm that it has loyal buyers. Sure, sales are down about 38 percent from a year ago, but the Eclipse still sold better than the S2000 or Mazda Miata. The Eclipse just received a refresh for 2009, which means it probably won't be going anywhere soon.

Better values: Still, for cars that perform better within the mainstream sports car class, take a look at the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Nissan 370Z.


I just got a speeding ticket. How much will it affect my auto insurance premium?

If it was your first ticket, you might not see any change in your rates. Unfortunatly, the state matters and other factos so it is hard for us to give a blanket answer. We will tell you what we know.

Some states have laws governing when and why auto insurers can change policyholders' premiums; often, insurers are not allowed to raise your rates after just one speeding ticket or other citation.

Different companies have different practices when it comes to raising premiums. Some companies will consider the severity of your violation and raise your rates accordingly; others will raise rates a specific amount per violation.

Because there are too many factors to simply say it will be $50 more a year, here is a real example:

The average New York auto insurance policy costs $1313 a year.

If you have a clean driving record then most New York companies offer a discount. That discount is typically a 25% savings ($328). So, using these averages a driver with a clean driving record is paying $985 a year for car insurance.

One speeding ticket would remove that discount and increase the base rate by 2%. That is a $354 increase a year, or $1062 over 3 years (companies usually surcharge for 3 years).

Review our related questions for more help and to answer some of your comments. In addition, you can review our state pages for your state's average auto insurance premium amounts.

You may want to get a quote using your factors and add a violation to the quote and remove it to see the difference in price.

Read our article titled, What a Traffic Ticket can Truly Cost You. Thank you for using our site to learn about car insurance.


How to Calculate Salvage Value of an Automobile?

Automobile salvage value is not an exact science. Insurance companies use a variety of factors in determining the auto salvage value, including a car's make/model, pre-accident condition and extent of damage. Having an idea of the salvage car value after you've been in an accident, however, can help determine your next step. That next step may include donating the car to charity, repairing the car or parting-out an automobile.


Research the blue book value for the car's make and model. The blue book value is its retail value through a dealer and assumes the car's in excellent condition.
Step2Look up the automobile's wholesale price through the automobile blue book or NADA guide value websites. The wholesale price is also known as its trade-in value.
Step3Compute the average price between the retail and the wholesale price to determine the car's current market value.
Step4Multiply the car's current market value by the percentage used by your insurance company. Insurance companies use a percentage of the automobile's market value, for example 75 percent of the market value equals the auto salvage value. The percentage varies from company to company. Contact your insurance company directly to determine the percentage it uses.


New York Traffic / Tickets / Court & Law Enforcement

Background: I have lived in new york city for approximately 14 months
and slowly I am getting adjusted (florida originally.) i've brought my
car with me and went through the registration process (which was a
living hell) and have been driving through the streets of the city for
all this time. I recently got a few tickets: a few parking, one for
speeding, and one for passing a red light. I must say that police
officers here arent the best of your kind, and do not let you off for
any reason, even if it was a proper one.

My request is for the following sort of information:

1) List of ALL (or atleast most) non-basic driving rules in new york.
Nothing of sort like that you have to stop on the red light, or not
drive while influenced. Im interested in things like what I must do
in certain traffic situations, or speed limits in certain areas of the
city (and surrounding areas), regulations and so on.

2) Sites offering help, assistance, guidance, and guideliness on how
to fight tickets in new york. Now i'm not referring to the
instructions (sign here, attach an explanation, mail) sort of stuff,
but more of a hints on how one can win in court if plead not guilty. I
have two cases where I really am not guilty, but having the knowledge
of how and what to do can always be a great backup. The more you can
find on subjects like: how to properly talk to a judge, how to proove
your point and be understood, how to properly present your case, what
sort of things can have a judge dismiss your case (sign painted over,
the light was malfunctioning, you had a heart attack and had to stop),
and so on.

3) Information on how to deal with the representatives of the law. It
can be either a "know your rights and flip the finger" type of
articles, or the "passive but safe". I've seen a few of these before,
usually they speak of topics like not incriminating yourself, keeping
yourself calm, knowing what the officer has the right to do and not do
in a situation and therefore prohibiting a certain action to be done.
This doesnt have to relate to a traffic situation only.

Please do not bother to read all of the data you find. I would rather
have you present me more links than a summary of the sites. A simple
title, link and a few words describing what the article is about is
what I need.

Always consider the fact that I tip for a job well done.


It was a pleasure to answer your question. What I have compiled here
is a list of websites that cater to everything from non-basic driving
laws in the New York City to avoiding traffic tickets. In between, you
will also find tips and tricks by several people on how you may avoid
being caught and if you are penalized, how you may challenge that in
court. There are also articles that contain information on how you
should act, if you are nabbed speeding. A couple of web pages will
also provide information on the traffic spots in New York where there
are police officers hiding around the corner and spots where there are
traffic cameras installed to detect any traffic violation.

Most of the web pages that I selected are specifically tailored
towards New York traffic problems. There are a few pages that are not
focused on the New York metro area but are still useful. I included
these pages and articles because things such as ?how to speak to a
state trooper when caught? are universal.

I haven?t really put the web pages in any order of preference
therefore it is highly recommended that you review every link. You
will notice that I am providing you forty links to the articles. Yes,
I could have provided you hundred but those articles would have been
repetitive and useless for your cause.

In concluding, I will just mention that you should get the entire
information that you seek after reading these articles. I have
personally put every effort to include everything that a driver will
require while driving in the New York City. Please be aware that
various articles are a conglomerate of everything i.e. there aren?t
any articles that will explicitly brief you on how to speak with the
traffic police but almost all articles will tell you everything you
should do in case of being penalized.

I hope I have covered everything but rest assured that I will work
with you on this issue until you are satisfied. Please let me know, if
you are not satisfied with this answer and I shall do anything to help
your cause. Thank You.


First thing that comes to mind when I say "un-insured drivers"?

First thing that comes to mind when I say "un-insured drivers"?


The first thing is irresponsibility.

The second is a degree of sympathy because people are so dependent on cars to work and live while insurance is so high.

That sympathy is dulled by two factors:
(1) If it costs them too much to insure, they certainly do not have the resources to act responsibly if they cause injury, property damage, or death.
(2) Many people are completely unwilling to explore the possibility of using public transportation or walking.

In most states, it is not insurance that is required, but proof of financial responsibility. One can self-insure, but one must show proof of ability to act responsibly toward others.

It is simply the Golden Rule.