's Six Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cars

October 28, 2008

The stock market's jittery, banks are closing and the smell of recession is in the air. Is anyone worried about new cars?

The answer is yes. Regardless of the tattered condition of Wall Street and some big has-beens in the money world, the real world still is turning--and that means people are still shopping for cars. There may be fewer buyers, but automakers from all corners of the world are eager to let Americans know that the showrooms are still open, and credit is still available for those who would be a good risk.

The tumult in the economy has made some striking changes in the new-car market, though. There's not much room for frivolous purchases in times like these. Any new car has to do it all: It needs to be relatively inexpensive, it should have plenty of room, plenty of power, leading fuel economy and good looks, too. Above all, it should have all the safety gear buyers expect--and the kind of features across the board that make even base models a satisfying purchase.

As it turns out, cars and trucks and crossovers that fit the bill aren't difficult to find.'s car experts think these six cars will give car buyers the most bang for your buck--and make the most sense for drivers who have to buy now:

SEDANS: Chevrolet Malibu

- Smooth responsive engines and transmissions
- Good fuel efficiency from four-cylinder models
- Surprisingly elegant interior styling and materials
- Relaxed on the highway, with good roadholding
- Feels different than follow-the-crowd competitors

- Doesn’t feel very sporty
- No Bluetooth hands-free interface
- No screen-based nav system

New in 2008, the Chevrolet Malibu proves that GM can field a competitor for the best from Honda and Toyota, and do it with superior style and even better interior room. The Malibu comes in four- and six-cylinder form, with automatic transmissions, all the safety gear you expect, lots of cabin space and great looks. At just over $21,000, the Malibu offers 30-mpg highway mileage--or in a new four-cylinder LTZ version with a six-speed automatic, 32 mpg.

Other Choices: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry

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