Last post on Dec 30, 2011 at 9:54 AM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Toyota ECHO, Chevrolet Aveo, Kia Rio, Nissan Sentra, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris, Kia Spectra, Suzuki Forenza, Sedan
#2623 of 3871 Interesting opinions and ratings Backy
May 22, 2004 (8:58 pm)
Here are mine, based mainly on reviews and sitting in the cars since I have driven very few of these....but I was in the market a year ago and considered many of them. I dont test drive a car i am not seriously considering buying just to drive it.
My top concerns are good long term reliability and low maintenace cost, attractiveness to my eye, and price.
Dodge Neon-I need a car that has a good chance to get me to 120K miles in 5 years with no major repairs. This is not the one.
Saturn ION-Horrid styling. Center gauges suck. As bad as the seats are in my Saturn, this car is not much better. As soon as these debuted I thought to myself, this car will have big incentives within a year. I was right.
Chevy Aveo-Ugly. And too small. I had a Festiva ten years ago, dont want to go that small again. And its based on a Daewoo design -'nuff said for reliability.
Mitsubishi Lancer-Ugly inside and out. Overpriced.
Suzuki Forenza-Attractive in and out, great price, but it's a Daewoo design....
Suzuki Aerio-Seriously ugly. Digital dash is nasty. Overpriced.
Toyota ECHO-Butt ugly. Reveiews are not kind to this cars driving dynamics. High price.
Kia Spectra-4 door hatch, my preferred body style. Price is reasonable. But its a Kia, reliability is questionable.
Toyota Corolla-High priced new and used, otherwise appealing.
Honda Civic-High priced new and used, otherwise un-appealing. I just dont get what is so great about this car. Interior looked below-average to me at the car show. Styling is dull and anonymous. It places midpack in comparisons at C&D, the only mag whose opinions I generally trust. Yet some people think its still the greatest thing ever. I like Honda, 15 years ago I owned a CRX. 10 years ago a Civic was very appealing when I was shopping for a small car....but time marches on, folks, and this car has not.
Kia Rio-The funky Cinco wagon has a certain appeal at times, but its the most expensive model and my wife would kill me if I got one of these.
Chevy Cavalier-My wife has one and I dont want two of the same kind of car in the garage. The seats are not that bad-they are much better than my Saturn. Clunky suspension, weak and noisy engine on acceleration are the worst points. Good MPG, attractive styling, smooth highway ride. Not as bad a car as many people say.
Pontiac Sunfire-The front end styling is gross. It was an attractive little car when it first came out but they really screwed it up with this latest nose job. And everyone Ive known who has owned a Pontiac has not had good luck with them.
Mazda3-Was not available last year. But I considered the Protege. Attractive inside and out and reliable, but out of my budget.
Nissan Sentra-Unappealing styling, but I could live with it. Good reputaion. But, high priced new and used.
Hyundai Accent-The hatch is a big plus for me but would like a 5 door model. Good seat comfort. But I had owned an Excel in 1991 and didnt want another Hyundai. Sometimes wish I had got one, as I try seat cushions and covers in my Saturn to tame the massively uncomfortable drivers seat.
Hyundai Elantra-Good equipment at a good price. I could have got a brand new 5 speed for under 10K last spring. But this car and the Accent have timing belts. Wish they made a GL hatchback without all the extra cost stuff that's on the GT....or an L sedan with only AC and manual windows/locks and no radio for us cheapskates.
Ford Focus-My top pick as far the car itself. Has everything I want and need-appealing styling in and out, decent seat comfort, fun to drive, smooth ride, crisp handling, 4 door hatch model-and many cars on the dealers lots. But even with 3K rebates last spring, Id have to get a six year loan...and the damn reputation would follow it along like a welded-on trailer. I had good luck with another recall-plagued Ford product, a Mercury Mystique, but decided that the risk was not worth the investment.
I had to reduce my budget to the 7-8K range, and ended up buying a used 2002 Saturn SL. Lousy seats and a clunky shifter are the worst features. Sprightly engine, flat cornering and great MPG are pluses.
May 23, 2004 (6:39 am)
There's several cars I've taken off my shopping list because of styling, but I didn't factor that into my rankings here because styling is so personal. For example, I don't think the '04 Lancer (restyled), Aveo, or Aerio (sedan) are that bad, not to the point I'd take them off my list just for styling. I'm not crazy about the ECHO's styling but it has a certain funkiness about it that I think I could live with, especially the 2-door. The Civic and Corolla are really bland, but I think the Civic 2-door is pretty sharp (and there aren't that many small 2-door sedans out there).
I had terrible luck with my Mystique but I did enjoy driving it (when it wasn't in the dealer's service bay). I might even consider a Focus next time if the quality keeps improving and the driver's seat is changed--just something about it that doesn't fit me well. But by then there will be a new Elantra, Civic, Sentra, Accent, Rio, Neon, and the Cobalt to offer competition.
May 23, 2004 (7:18 am)
Backy, thanks for the explanation. However, I am still curious as to why you find the Sentra's handling "sloppy". I would certainly agree with you that back seat room in the Sentra clearly reveals its late 90s design (introduced in Spring 2000 as a 2000). Also, the Sentra has quite possibly the most absurd excuse for a cupholder that Ive ever seen.
I drove the Aerio upon its introduction, when it was 140hp (before the bumps to the 145 2.0L, and subsequent larger displacement 155 hp engine). It felt like a heavier, stronger ECHO with a darker Fisher Price interior, and worse MPG. The ECHO is a great car, IF your only consideration is highway MPG. I was on a road trip (already mentioned) one time and the car was seriously disturbed by wind, which is a rather disconcerting feeling. Space utilization in both the Aerio and ECHO is impressive though.
The Focus ZX5 2.3L that I drove impressed me. However, like you, I did not like the drivers seat. Handling was top notch, and the ride felt absorbent. Unfortunately, Ford seriously messed with the functional yet stylish dash/center stack this year, and the radio especially is very ugly to behold, and imparts a far less youthful feel. Sytling is subjective though, and overall, with continuous improvements in quality, this is an impressive design. However, my test ZX5, which was FAR from loaded, stickered above $16,000, so Im not sure if this impression means much. Engine is a big deal to me, and I dont think Id be happy with the Focus' guttural 2.0Ls.
The only Civic that competes in the $15,000 category is the DX or DX VP. No power amenities, a paucity of torque, no rear stabilizer bar, ABS not even an option, lacks the trick instrumentation of LX and EX models. No thanks, next. Phenomenal back seat room, ergonomics, and fuel economy, though. Corolla suffers similarly but the CE trim line includes a rear stabilizer bar, 15 inch wheels and tires, tach, front and rear cupholders, and a few other niceties that the Civic DX VP lacks. Additionally, the Corolla will outsprint the Civic DX/VP/LX by a full second to 60 while offering the same excellent fuel economy and rear seat room. While I agree that the driving position isnt the best, its not a complete deterrant for me, and I'd easily pick the Corolla over the Civic because its a better overall package at this price.
In reality, the Mazda 3i is pretty unappealing in this price category. It is far and away the best car, but it is NOT remotely a complete package at $15,000.
The ION and Lancer have ZERO competitive advantages compared to anything in this class, but between the two, Id probably pick the Mitsu for the free maintenance and longer warranty.
The Rio is not a contender. Why buy it when the Accent is available with standard side impact airbags, a nicer interior, and a newer (though still kinda old) design? Both have poop fuel economy for the size, though.
So, that leaves the Spectra and Elantra. My dime would likely be put on the Spectra, for its side and curtain airbags, and to me, more appealing interior. The Elantras seats arent firm, they're hard, and the Spectra's felt nicer. Since they share powertrains, both are strong but not exactly fuel efficient. The Elantras "Poor" rating from the IIHS is a pretty big negative, but allegedly, the design/crashworthiness has been changed for 2004, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. Airbags that fire late and seat tracks that dont lock arent things a mfr. should be lauded for (especially when it takes that mfr years to attempt a remedy), but the standard side head protection airbags are HUGE! Styling, as always, is subjective, and I dont like the Spectra's arse. But I do like the front end fascia, very clean, without being cute. Both are well equipped at the price, the Hyundai being the better deal on the surface, but the Kia is newer. Its kind of nice to have a car that isnt scheduled for a redesign in one calendar year.
My vote in the sub $15,000 class? The Kia Spectra, by a nose over the Hyundai Elantra. To be honest though, I would try my hardest to save/invest for a longer period, just to have more choices by rising to the next price bracket in the small/compact class.
[My vote in the $15,000 to $20,000 class? The Mazda 3i or s, in a decided margin over the neck-and-neck 2005 Corolla LE (love the VSC option as well as the Optitron instrumentation!) and Civic EX. Dont get me wrong, I love my Sentra 2.5, but many things have changed in the market in the 18 months since I purchased it.]
PS- You're right, I havent driven the Spectra yet. But, since its essentially an Elantra- Im confident that it will have the same fairly refined manners, though I'd trade some of the Elantras ride quality for a bit more roll control.
May 23, 2004 (10:21 am)
Actually the Corolla LE and S do just squeeze in under the $15k limit. So I agree they are a lot more car than the Civic DX/VP/HX, and if it were not for the seating position problem, which I find a killer issue, I would have put the Corolla higher, at least third. I see no reason to spend $15k on a car that I hate driving.
As for Spectra over Elantra, I see your points. The main reasons I put the Elantra ahead of the Spectra are: 1) driving position (Kia changed the seat height adjuster on the new Spectra from a dual-knob setup to a single lever, not nearly as adjustable), 2) more equipment on the Elantra GT vs. the Spectra EX for about the same money, 3) unknown reliability on the Spectra (although I expect it will be improved over the old Spectra, given Kia's improvements lately). The Spectra does have the side curtains, but the side crash scores on the Elantra are quite good. And as you mentioned, the IIHS will be testing the '04 Elantra with its redesigned seat track, so I expect the frontal offset score to be much improved. Hyundai has too much at stake (risking having the only compact car with a "Poor" frontal offset crash test score) not to have fixed this problem.
As for lack of equipment, I did take that into account in my ratings. That's why the Mazda3i was second to the Elantra. If we went up to $20k, I'd put the Mazda3s first, and the Civic would be higher in EX trim also--but still behind the Mazda3s, and a nudge behind the Elantra GT. Recall that Edmunds.com rated the Civic EX first in their comparo of small sedans, with the Elantra GLS second. So I'm not the only one who thinks the Civic and Elantra are at the top of the class of small cars. Later, they named the Mazda3 the "Most Wanted" under $15k--as long as you don't mind rolling down your own windows, manually adjusting mirrors, and running around the car to unlock the doors for your other riders.
As for the "sloppy" handling of the Sentra, that's based on multiple drives of the current design, but in 1.8/GXE trim. It just did not have the crisp handling of cars like the Mazda3, Civic, Focus, Spectra, or the Elantra GT. I felt like I was driving a compact Buick when I drove the Sentras. That surprised me because my '92 and '97 Sentras handled much better. I just didn't enjoy driving the current Sentra, and the cramped back seat was the knockout. Maybe it's a much different car with the bigger engine. Is the suspension any different on the 2.5 Sentras?
May 23, 2004 (11:18 am)
A few small points:
On the Corolla:
2005 Corolla LE: $15405 (manual trans, incl. destination).
2005 Corolla S: $15240 (manual trans, incl. destination).
You said "So I agree they are a lot more car than the Civic DX/VP/HX, and if it were not for the seating position problem, which I find a killer issue, I would have put the Corolla higher, at least third. I see no reason to spend $15k on a car that I hate driving."
-Fair enough, I certainly agree that it makes no sense to drive a car in which one cannot be comfortable. For those that can, (usually shorter-legged people) 3rd is a good finish in this crowd!
On the Sentra:
Truth be told, I do not know if the Sentra 2.5 has a different suspension than the 1.8/GXE. However, my car handles significantly better than my aunt's 1995 model.
Here's what Edmunds had to say about the Sentra in its most recent test- of a 2.5LE
"Surprising power and handling, but its age shows when stacked against newer competitors."
Also- I have a question for you- how is the Elantra GT's suspension different from the GLS? I wasnt aware there was substance to the GT designation, I just thought it was a trim differentiation, of the same ilk as the Corolla S.
PS- With respect to the Edmunds.com comparo from which I quoted, I will be honest and tell you that the Sentra 2.5LE finished higher than it deserved. The Corolla was short-changed, the Civic FAR over-rated in comparison, and the Elantra probably should have won.
And backy, seriously check out how ugly they made the Focus center stack for 2005! EW!
May 23, 2004 (12:06 pm)
The way I decided to draw the line for which cars fall under $15k is the same way Edmunds.com does (since that's where this board is), and they don't include destination charges for some odd reason in their price categories. So I didn't either, as I had noted previously. Thus cars like the Corolla LE/S and Elantra GT qualify.
The Elantra GT has a "sport suspension" that includes gas-filled shocks and springs that are about 10 percent stiffer than on the GLS, and larger anti-roll bars--24 mm (versus 23) in front, and 14 mm (versus 12) in back. The GT also has alloys, which may or may not help. These little enhancements add up to "a taut, responsive feel that doesn’t make for a harsh ride but is most appreciated on twisty roads or your favorite cloverleaf interchange" (from a Road & Track review).
Re the Focus' new dashboard, it is a lot more boring than the old design but also cleaner. Apparently Ford figured they would be better off with more buttoned-down exterior and interior styling to appeal to a wider range of potential buyers.
May 23, 2004 (5:05 pm)
You can get some pretty nice cars -fully equipped - with 25-28k at Hertz. A Camry is only around 15k.
They offer a Focus, too, but I rented one last year and drove it around North Carolina on all types of roads. The standard engine is woefully underpowered. It feels peppy in town - lots of acceleration - but it is not the engine to have if you want to pass someone in the 50-75MPH range. If I only had 10-15k to invest in a car I would certainly look around for last year's compact rather than a new subcompact. I'd also stay away from an Aveo. Chevy badged foreign cars come and go but Toyota, Hyundai, and Nissan will be around for a long time and the warranty on the Aveo is lousy compared to a Hyundai.
#2630 of 3871 Re why buy new?
May 23, 2004 (5:38 pm)
Why buy a used car that has been through who knows what kind of abuse, when you can get a really good new car with a 10 year warranty (and a new-car smell) for a little over $10k? I would never buy a former rental car. Who knows how they have been abused? One thing is for sure, the initial renters had no thought of following the manufacturer's break-in procedures. I would consider buying a used car if I knew the owner and knew how it had been treated and what kind of maintenance it had, but not a rental. The "certified" used cars with an extended warranty might be worth looking at too.
May 23, 2004 (6:09 pm)
Some of the certified pre-owned programs are truly outstanding, definitely worth considering. I would NEVER even think about purchasing a former rental vehicle- in fact, thats one of the beauty of CarFax.com. We all know that rentals are mercilessly treated, regardless of how well they are maintained. Why risk it?
May 24, 2004 (3:18 pm)
i'm sure the studies couldn't justify it, but it's too bad ford didn't have one dash design for the zx cars, and one for the sedan/wagon models. the customer demographics are somewhat different.
the zx cars appeal to a younger customer. i just don't think the volume is there overall, for two designs.