2010 Fall Car Guide
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5 best bargain cars in a down economy

5 cars for a down economy
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Buying a bargain car in a down economy is different than in good times. Instead of lusting for horsepower, it's miles per gallon to save cash. Instead of hot styling, it's cargo capacity for a potentially unexpected move.

Recessions typically bring a huge drop-off in car sales, and this one was no exception. The year 2008 was the worst for auto sales since 1992, with overall industry sales falling off 18 percent from 2007, according to Edmunds.com.

Now, auto sales are coming back, but they're coming in the form of bargain car models that are miserly on gas, reasonable in price, reliable, and practical enough to do the work of two cars if need be. Sedans in particular have seen a renaissance, now accounting for 17.8 percent of sales compared with 13.3 percent in the bubble year of 2005.

But not all recession-mobiles are sedans. While you're not usually going to find low-slung coupes or brawny trucks, thrifty autos do come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here are five of the best bargain cars.




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