Buying My First Car - Need Some Help!

01-21-2014, 08:58 PM
I am 16 and I can buy my first car in about a month. I've been looking at several cars in particular that I really like. The only problem is, I don't know much about their safety, reliability, etc. Most of what I know is the basic stuff including the space I'll have from each, the horsepower, and insurance costs. My situation is also very interesting. I can't buy any normal sedan because I play the double bass, which is very large and I have to carry it around in whatever car I buy. I'm asking you guys and girls to give me some advice and information on some of these cars I list here. The top cars that I've been looking at are:
- 2004 Mazda3 hatchback
- 2004 Toyota Matrix XRS or 2003 Matrix XR
- 2002 Volkswagen Golf GLS
- 2000 Volkswagen GTI GLX
If you guys could give me advice on any you would I should take out would be great. If anybody has any ideas for other cars I could get that could fit a bass that is also welcome.

Now, I know that some of these cars on here are the sport versions of the basic models. However, my parents and I contacted our insurance company and they gave us a rate that was only about $5-$10 more per month for the sport editions. I know that you guys will say that because I'm a teenage male that I will be very tempted to drive fast, but we've already taken that into consideration and I am permitted to get the sport editions.

Thank you to anyone who gives me advice and I apologize that this post wasn't structured well. It's my first post on here and when I started typing, all of what I thought of to write just kind of slipped my mind. :iceslolan

01-28-2014, 01:23 AM
It's great that you're taking this seriously. I know some people who buy cars that are within their budget, but it'll turn out it wasn't the car that suits their needs. So, you taking consideration of the double bass is definitely a good sign.

As for the car models you mentioned, I am familiar with just one of them... the Toyota Matrix 2004. We've been using Toyota since childhood and I think it's safe to say that it's one of the best car brands out there. I am more than double your age; you can see how much trust our family puts in Toyota. ;)

Now to give some insight about the Toyota Matrix 2004, I love its interior space. It's roomy, perfect for your double bass. It can also look sporty, too. So that's a plus if you really want the sporty look. And to top if off, it's fuel economic! That'll do you good; save you some cash on gas.

Maybe you can learn more about cars from going over dealer sites like to check car prices and features. You don't necessarily need to buy from them, but at least you can get an idea what the market price is. Also, you can go to car blogs like They give detailed reviews which can help you with your research.

02-07-2014, 04:53 PM
Basically all these are one of the best cars you mentioned above but before going to purchased kindly take a test drive, consult with some of your own car mechanic about overall car conditioned than it will be better for you hopefully.

The only problem is, I can't test drive at any dealerships I've been to because I'm under 18.

Dave B.
02-07-2014, 08:30 PM
Hi SBD (Iím hoping thatís ďSpecial Boat DetachmentĒÖ)

If I had to choose one of the four cars you list as a daily driver, the Mazda3 would win, hands down. Iíve driven all four of those cars, just not necessarily the same year models.

A little backgroundÖ Iím an old guy, but Iíve been involved in motorsports all my life. Also, I own several vehicles, which might make my comments below a bit confusing. And, please remember that my recommendations are based on the assumption that the cars listed are in good operating condition and have been properly maintained over their lives.

Mazda3 Ė I was new-car shopping in 2004. I wanted an economical daily driver. It had to be fun to drive and I preferred a hatch. I test-drove everything that I thought fit the bill. The Mazda3 was Ė by far Ė the most entertaining of the bunch. It was also good-looking, got good gas mileage and had a very nice interior. I was comfortable with the brand (service, parts availability, etc.), having owned two RX-7s. In the end, I didnít buy it Ė not because I didnít want it, but because my wife insisted that we sell one of our other cars if we bought a new one. I wasnít willing to do that. Once you've been married for a while, you come to understand that there are some battles that just arenít worth fighting, so I simply walked away from the deal. All that said, Iíll conclude with this: the 3 hatch is just a blast to drive fast!

Matrix Ė I hesitate to call it a Toyota Matrix because the early models actually came from a company called NUMMI, which was a joint-venture between Toyota and GM. Later models were built in the Toyota factory in Ontario. This particular project produced the Matrix and the Pontiac Vibe, which have virtually identical mechanicals but different sheet metal. The Matrix has a Toyota drive-line and is a good car. I wasnít particularly impressed with itís handling, but I will say that it drove better than a lot of the other cars in its class. It can also be serviced at any Toyota dealership, which is a plus. If youíre more interested in utility than sportiness, youíd probably be quite satisfied with a Matrix.

Volkswagens Ė Iím going to lump them together, because the same comments apply to both. First, let me say that Iíve been around FWD VWs for a lot of years. Iíve rallied and autocrossed them and still own one Ė an í87 Jetta GLI. I donít ever recommend VWs as first cars. I love the little beggars; but, unless youíre a real gear-head whoís able to do most of his own work, they simply require too much maintenance (especially electrical issues) for most people. Serial VW owners/drivers are prepared for that. I like to joke that I bought my Jetta used almost 20 years ago for $2,800 and have probably spent another $10,000 keeping it on the road! Itís one of my favorite cars ever and Iíd buy it again, knowing what I do. But Ė as I said earlier Ė I have several other cars and itís not a problem when the VW is down for several days (weeks, monthsÖ) at a time. Donít go there.

Best of luck with your purchase!

Dave B. in Ohio

Dave B.
02-08-2014, 08:48 AM
Unsolicited advice: After I finished my previous rambling post, I realized that I hadn't mentioned two cars that you should, at least, consider:

Honda Civic: Deadly reliable and extremely economical. The downsides here are that it's probably very difficult to find a nice one that hasn't been "riced out" (modified with lots of performance bits). Also, they're very small and might not have enough room for your double bass and whatever else you're transporting.

Ford Focus: Another 'project' car that was developed in parallel with the Mazda3 and the Volvo 50 series. The early ones weren't the prettiest of designs, but they are reliable, economical and can be serviced at any Ford dealer. Both my wife and I now have Focuses (Foci???) as daily drivers (long story). Insurance should be cheap as well.

I'll shut up now...

Dave B.

02-08-2014, 08:34 PM
Thank you very much! Before I talk about the cars, SBD stands for Scout Bomber Douglas, and the SBD Dauntless was a carrier-based dive bomber used by the USA in World War Two. :biggrin:

On to the cars. The Mazda 3 was also one of my favorites that I've been looking at, but is it a car that will be quick if I want it to? My dad's car is a Toyota Camry with a 268 hp V6. It's still good on gas (28 highway mpg), but it will accelerate quickly if you press down on the pedal because of its horsepower. When you were driving the 3, was it able to accelerate quickly? That's really my only question on this car, because I love every other aspect of it.

One of the problems I have with the Matrix is the same concern I had with the Mazda 3, its power. Unless I get the XRS, it only has 126 hp. Even though I am a teenager and I really don't need power, that's honestly not enough in my opinion. That's why I was seriously considering the XRS, because it has 180 hp, which is in the range I want. The only problem is, it's incredibly hard to find a Matrix XRS that's automatic, so I might be cutting this car from my list altogether.

Thank you for the confirmation on the VWs! My parents had warned me of the reliability issues on VWs before, so I believe I'm going to cut all VWs from my list.

Unfortunately, I cannot fit my bass in a Civic. One of the cars I really wanted was a Mazda 6s, but it wouldn't even fit in a newer one. If I were to get a sedan, the passenger seat must recline all the way back.

I was considering a Ford Focus, but my parents said that they would not let me get one because it is one of the most unreliable cars ever made. They used to have American cars, but they had horrible reliability, so they switched to Japanese cars.

Thank you for your feedback!

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