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Midsize Cars Cheaper Than Their Small Cousins

2010 Mazda Mazda6

2010 Mazda Mazda6

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Not too long ago, if you wanted a small car for the fuel economy, but wanted to be surrounded by creature comforts and enjoy the drive, you were out of luck.

All that has changed now. The new small cars reaching dealerships this summer can be equipped as borderline luxury cars, with leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, impressive sound systems and a ride worthy of a luxury badge.  New small cars like the Chevy Cruze and Ford Fiesta now come equipped with luxuries we saw only on larger vehicles just a year ago.

There's only one problem with these impressive little cars: the price. With all of that content, they can cost as much as midsize cars.

In fact, several automakers have started to see their prices intersecting. There are now small cars as expensive as their midsize cousins.  And as automakers seek to recover the money they invested developing these fantastic compact cars, they are reluctant to discount them.  Yet--thanks here for help from our friends at TrueCar--they are often discounting larger cars in the same showrooms.  In some dealerships this month, you can save money by crossing the showroom floor and buying a larger car.

2011 Ford Fiesta sedan

2011 Ford Fiesta sedan

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2010 Ford Fusion

2010 Ford Fusion

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2011 Ford Fiesta vs. 2010 Ford Fusion

The stylish new Ford Fiesta is a triumph.  It combines a sophisticated look with sharp handling, and upscale features like leather seats and Ford's SYNC infotainment interface, making it one of the most appealing small cars America has seen in many years.  Yet, that same appeal is keeping supply and demand out of sync, and Ford has already had to tell some who paid to reserve a Fiesta that their car will be late.  The little compact is selling at full price in most cases, approaching $20,000 fully equipped.

Yet the Fusion starts at under $20,000, and this month, is offered with a $2,000 cash back rebate.  That makes many four-cylinder Fusions, even equipped with SYNC, less expensive than the much smaller Fiesta with similar equipment. Fusion buyers get more space, of course, but also respectable fuel economy and handsome styling.

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Comments (3)
  1. Of course, the true cost of automotive ownership is more than just the purchase price. The cost of insuring a smaller car may or may not be lower than that of mid-sized car, you have to check with your agent and you should probably get quotes from multiple agents from multiple companies.
    Typically, smaller cars have lower rates of depreciation and get better gas mileage than larger mid-sized cars. Looking at the big picture, when one considers the lower rates of depreciation and better gas mileage offered by a smaller car, the savings offered by a smaller car over a mid-sized car make it the better buy.

  2. You can put price on gas/insurance/etc. But what is the price of your comfort? Ask your doctor. You might need the money you saved on gas to pay for your extra chiropractor visits

  3. After driving both the Mazda6 and Mazda3 and figuring out I could get into the similarly equiped 6 for very little more (largely because of 0% financing for 5 years plus a $2500 discount it was a no brainer. That and the 6 is roomier and rides better and gets same gas mileage with same 2.5 liter engine. I'm very happy I bought the 6. Now if I was 20 and didn't have a family, maybe I would have got the 3.

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