As I already whined about copiously on GT, my poor little car (a 2000 Honda Civic) was totaled earlier this week, and I need to get a replacement. But I know absolutely nothing about cars, and I’m not even sure how to go about finding useful information.

I definitely want to go used. I need an automatic transmission, I need something small (2-door is fine) and reliable with the best possible gas mileage because I have an 80-mile round-trip commute at the moment. I can make a down payment of up to $6,000 (though I’d prefer to do $5,000). I don’t think I can afford more than $200 a month, and I’d prefer to go less if possible. I’d love to get another Honda since my old one served me so well, but it’s not necessary. I’d also really like something with a relatively smooth ride — my old car was pretty bumpy. I don’t really care about bells and whistles, but I definitely need a CD player, and I’d love something that lets me play an iPod through the sound system.

Do any of you lovely people know anything about cars? Do you have any suggestions that might roughly fit these parameters, and/or have suggestions of where/how I can start doing research myself?

My uncle used to sell cars, and he still has some contacts in the business and is going to help me find something, but he want to know some specifics before he starts looking. And I’m kind of at a loss about how to proceed. And my rental car is only covered through Monday, so the longer it takes me to find something, the more money I’m going to be throwing away.

Any suggestions would be massively appreciated. I’m SO clueless when it comes to this stuff, and I’m going into panic attack mode just thinking about it.