Are Cobalts the best or worst compact car to buy right now?

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The Cobalt was the compact car to put General Motors on the map. Before the Cobalt, GM had the underwhelming Cavalier so GM wanted the Cobalt to steer them towards the glory land and take on the Corollas and Civics in the segment.

Chevy Cobalt Black and white

In typical GM fashion, the Chevrolet compact had siblings including the Saturn Ion and Pontiac G5. The Cobalt was going to be GM’s media darling, though, not the Ion or G5. Bob Lutz pumped $1 billion into its production. Millions more were spent on advertising, press releases and events.

The car received good reviews and fared well on crash tests, yet the stigma of owning a compact Chevy lingered like a morning fog. In fact, the Cobalt didn’t even come close to having the same sales number as the Cavalier. Fast forward to 2014 and over 600,000 Cobalts have been recalled due to ignition switches that turn off the engine, even if the car is in drive careening down the expressway. Counting the G5, Ion, HHR, Solstice and Sky, GM has recalled over a million small cars.

GM would argue there’s a quick fix for the Cobalt and other small cars with the open recalls. One, reduce the weight of the key chain by taking off extra keys or two, add a little piece of plastic issued by GM to your key fob to prevent jangling key chains from turning the ignition off. While some experts don’t think this fix goes far enough, GM asserts this can effectively combat the issue.

Used Silver Cobalt Image

The story continues to develop by the hour and the number of people who have been hurt or killed by the Cobalt’s faulty ignition ranges from seven to the hundreds. The Cobalt was never a popular choice new and it definitely isn’t popular on the used market either. It it already one of the cheapest used compacts to buy and the latest recall will likely drop the price of both a used Cobalt sedan or used Cobalt coupe.

Used compacts are among the most Followed types of cars on Mojo Motors. They offer affordability, fuel efficiency and some have amazing resale values like the Civic or Corolla. Compacts from the model year 2010 are the most popular, but they’re not all created equal. See below for the cheapest asking prices on used compact cars from 2010 with 45,000 miles to see if there’s a steal to be had.

Cheapest Used Compact Cars for Sale

  1. Chevrolet Cobalt LS – $11,204.69
  2. Nissan Sentra 2.0S – $11,667.25
  3. Hyundai Elantra – $11,741
  4. Ford Focus – $12,090
  5. Volkswagen Jetta Limited – $12,206
  6. Mazda 3 – $12,410
  7. Honda Civic LX – $12,710
  8. Toyota Corolla LE – $12,971

Even though the Cobalt is the cheapest compact, aside from the glaring ignition problem, the Cobalt is still a decent little car. It’s nowhere near as good as its successor, the Chevrolet Cruze, but you can still get some nice touches that make the car a perfectly suitable grocery-getter. Its combined MPG of 27-30 doesn’t hurt either. The takeaway here is shoppers stick with what they know, the Civics and Corollas. Their prices prove it. But shoppers don’t have to pay thousands extra when less popular vehicles like the Focus and Cobalt which are nearly as good.

For the latest updates, go here. For used compact car reviews, go here.


Written by Max Katsarelas

Photo source: NY Times, Car Blue Prints

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