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#74 of 222 Elanta 2011 vs Civic 2012
May 09, 2011 (9:53 pm)
My friend was in the market for a new compact car. So we took all the top selling compacts on a back to back test loop. First Chrysler 200 then a Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus 2012, Ford Fiesta, Mazda i3, Toyota Corolla 2012, and Hyundai Elantra 2011. Every car was an automatic with mid level specifications for around $20,000 in most cases except the less expensive Elantra and Fiesta models. The most expensive models were the Focus, Cruze and 200. Wow surprise, surprise the big Detroit three were over priced and undervalue, except for the Focus which a class above in everything! However, the Hyundai Elantra was the best bang for buck hands down after we reviewed every detail that included a quite detailed testing loop including several spirited driving tests over the same roads with mixed country and city sections. Elantra wasn't the best driver that was won hands down by the Mazda 3 with the Focus a close second. But the Elantra's creature comforts, standard feature list, fluid styling, warranty, stated fuel economy and lowest overall price is too hard to beat.
When my friend had everything in order finance wise to buy an Elantra the Honda 2012 was released. So since our local Hyundai and Honda dealers were side by side he went to the Hyundai dealer and picked up a 2011 Elantra GLS and I went next door and picked up a Honda Civic EX 2012 sedan. Not to the amusement of both dealers as we disappeared for nearly 3 hours and 100 miles later returned both the cars only after one dealer called worried we weren't coming back, while the other when we returned was about the call the police thinking we'd run off with the car!
First we took the cars along a high speed section of highway, switching between cars after section of road to run the same section in the other car. First thing we noticed was that the Honda Civic was sure footed and felt like we were driving a mid size car and not a compact. It was that comfortable and stable. Like it was a longer wheelbase and wider car than it actually was. It was a real relaxed driver even at high speeds well in excess of double the speed limit. It was quieter and much easier to drive. The Hyundai was good but liked to wander and felt vague at both low and high speeds. The Civic was not as direct as the 2011 model we had driven. It actually feels like an Accord to drive. The Elantra felt course and unrefned in comparison. We next drove both cars over a 20 mile loop of country back roads with a 30 mph posted speed limit. Now I must admit we ran at speeds up to 90mph and took corners at 3 x the posted limits. The Honda cruised through the loop without breaking a sweat, the Hyundai in comparison was left breathless. It's engine roared, it's tires squealed, it was all over the road trying to keep up with the civic that just cruised effortlessly along the same section of road. If there were mid corner bumps and undulations mid corner the Hyundai Elantra tried it's best to lose its line and composure while the Civic just remained planted in it's lane and held it's line while doing it in a relaxed manor. We couldn't believe the Elantra was this bad when pressed. So we drove it sedately at 30 mph over the same loop back to back and the Elantra jostled us around, punched us in the kidneys with every small imperfection and generally was uncomfortable on anything but a smooth blacktop. The Civic never lost it composure or it's comfort. Suddenly the extra $2000 for the Civic seemed a bargain. The Civic is so refined to drive over any road surface nothing ruffles it.
Since both car had fuel economy trip computers we tested the fuel economy overall on trip B and trip A we kept resetting and testing over each test loop. The Civic was supposed to average 32 with the Elantra 33. What we found was our overall average with the Elantra was 18 mpg while the Civic returned 27 mpg. The best we saw on the highway section was 42 mpg with the Elantra and 45 mpg with the Civic. Both cars at all times were following each other within a few hundred yards over the same section of road and each was driven equally by both drivers. So drive the Elantra hard and gas mileage will suffer much more than in the Civic. The Elantra was just found wanting trying to keep pace with the Civic. After each high speed run we'd both emerge from the Elantra White knuckled from gripping the steering wheel so hard to try and keep it in line. While the Civic was fun and hard to give up each time after each run. We actually went into this test with high hopes for the Elantra. Near the limit the Hyundai is actually dangerous wanting to head for the trees while the Civic gently lets the driver know its time to back off.
Thinking we were testing our luck with the locals, we parked both cars on a dead end road side by side for 30 minutes and pulled everything apart to look over both cars feature for feature. Tested each and every dash and seat setting and played with all the settings and controls. Here is the results we we found: Seat comfort--Civic, display/controls--Civic (easier to adjust controls while on the move on the civic), front seat room--Elantra, rear seat room--Civic, quality of materials--Elantra, quality of paint--civic, trunk space--Elantra, panel fit and finish--Civic, slam a door hard on the Elantra and the whole car vibrates and rattles, slam the door on a Civic and nothing but a solid thud, tires--civic, rims--Elantra, brakes--civic, stereo/speaker quality--CIVIC! The multi-information display hands down Civic. Spare tire/jack--Civic (Elantra has neither) Engine bay--Civic, Styling--Elantra. The list goes on and on but as you can see the Civic is just a better all round drivers car. Sure it is $2000 more to buy a Civic EX over a Elantra GLS, but it is worth every penny for a much better built and more refined over all car. Sure the Civic LX is not as good, actually not worth the look at, (We drove one of those too), but skip that and buy the Civic 2012 EX. The Civic is no longer the no brainer sure bet choice like it once was. You really need to get each side by side and drive them back to back over the same roads to see the differences. But compared the Elantra, the Civic still is the best choice for a small car. Just pay the extra $33/ month over five years for the Civic and you will thank yourself at every monthly payment that you made the right choice. (Especially when you come to sell it and get the higher resale value for the Civic.)
So the Civic was bought, end of story.
#75 of 222 Re: Elanta 2011 vs Civic 2012 [faircomparo]
May 10, 2011 (4:12 am)
Wow, where do I start? So, after driving like a "Dukes Of Hazzard" plot for three hours or so the Civic was what? the car to beat (that means drive it like you don't own it which you clearly did) or use as a get-a-way car next time you rob the local branch? I actually own a 2006 Civic and was suprised to hear one could take turns with 30 mph guidelines at 90!! I guess the bottom line is nobody except a bunch of young adults (I am making that assumption) will ever drive in this manner. I simply wouldn't know how to make use of this information in any practical manner if I were in the market for this class car. I will tell you that our 06 Civic does get good fuel economy, has ample perfomance to merge on the interstate most times and can cruise at 70 or so all day long. It IS noisy at those speeds or any other with ample wind and road noise, it does turn in fairly sharply and can go around curves mostly effortlessly (maybe not 3X the posted speeds). The sheet metal is paper thin, the doors shut solid enough, the interior has cheap plastics, the radio plays OK. Getting back to the paper thin sheet metal for a second...short story. Three years ago this August we experienced a major hail storm. Both our cars were parked side by side in the drive. End result? The 1995 Dodge Stratus had about 10 or so shallow dents on the horizontal surfaces and a broken side mirror glass. The Civic had more than a hundred even on creased surfaces with more structual rigidity. Once the insurance adjusters circled each dent (to be repaired) the car looked like it had measles. It was out of service 6 weeks (sure lots or other cars were being repaired at the time as well) and cost nearly $4500 in "painless dent guy" attention. The Dodge? well, I got a check for $1400 to have the few dents fixed but all I did was have the mirror replaced. Simply day and night between the damage. I believe you could dent the Honda with a hard push with your thumb on the hood. The Honda is OK and but not without flaws. It should be noted I did not test drive either the 12 Civic or new Elantra but I am willing to bet the Elantra is quieter at normal speed, handles reliably at normal speeds with the wife and kiddies in the car and will generally "feel" richer to the average young family guy with more features, better styling and great warranty. There you have it.... have what? my opinion on the matter of course.
#76 of 222 Re: Elanta 2011 vs Civic 2012 [targettuning]
May 10, 2011 (6:46 am)
Actually, we're not young adults at all, much older in fact! You mentioned noise. Go drive both back to back over the same section of road to see for yourself. The Elantra GLS and the Civic 2012 EX were equal on cabin noise at different ends of the speedo. The Elantra from 0- 45 mph exhibited less road noise than the Civic. Speeds above 45mph the Elantra started to suffer from wind noise around the A pillars, doors and external mirrors. By 65 mph it was a very noticeable, and at 70 mph and above the cabin was very noisy compared to the quieter Civic. The Civic had slightly more road noise below 45 mph not by much though and was bad at all compared to the 2011 Civic. What you did notice about the Civic Ex was that it was very quite from middle to high speeds--think freeway speeds 55-75 mph. At these speeds and above the Elantra was literally humming. Above 75 and the Elantra was screaming. While the Civic remained calm and quite by comparison.
We did drive a long test loop at normal posted speed limits (as I previously mentioned) to test fuel economy. As I said the Elantra was not anywhere near as comfortable or refined at low speeds as the Civic. The Elantra jostles you around in the seat hits ever bump harder (even at low speeds) and it steering even at low speeds is vague. Over any uneven surface or bump or pothole it's feels like an inexpensive car. While the Civic just soaks up these imperfections with hardly a murmur from the suspension or steering. Just read the professional car magazine reviews that now are showing up and they concur with what we found. The Civic is a better more refined car to drive.
You compared your experience with your previous generation Civic. I mentioned we also drove a previous generation 2011 Civic for comparison purposes and it felt like a noisy unrefined lively compact car compared to the new Elantra and 2012 Civic. Honda have done there homework on the 2012 Civic EX, it is a very good car for it's money, worth every extra cent. If you only care about styling and a couple extra features, like a sliding center console armrest and soft cabin plastics than go for the Elantra. What Honda saved from sheet metal design it put to making a more refined better driving car. Price and style are the only real advantages the Elantra has over the Civic. I'll put my money down on substance over style any day.
You mentioned about the hail damage on your Civic. Have you ever seen any Hyundai after a big hailstorm. I have and its one reason I'll never buy one. The Elantra panels feel thin and buckle more easily than the Civic when you push your thumb into them. Just slam the doors side by side and it was amazing to see the vibration jiggles the Elantra's panel did. As I said the Civic was solid in comparison.
If you want a quite, relaxed freeway cruiser that in the real world gets better gas mileage in our tests, (we got 45 mpg with econ mode on the freeway) plus more confident and inspiring to drive. Yes the 2012 is a class above its previous model. Definitely worth purchasing.
#77 of 222 Re: Elanta 2011 vs Civic 2012 [faircomparo]
May 10, 2011 (10:51 am)
Wow. First, thanks for doing the homework for all of us, and second, thanks for posting your findings. Really impressive.
Being the owner of a 2009 Civic, I would like to know the following if it is improved on the 2012 model:
1) Noise (mainly road noise). You mentioned that it is somewhat quieter, but is it as quiet as, say, the Corolla? Cruze?
2) Ride quality. The 2009 handles beautifully, but has very stiff ride. When combining ride quality with the noise, going on 40 MPH makes you feel like driving at 65 MPH.!! Some roads have a posted speed limit of 65 and I actually have a hard time to drive that fast. It feels like I'm moving at 90 mph! While in some other vehicles (mainly Toyota) going on 80 mph feels like just 40 mph. It's that quiet and relaxed ride. And even the Accord is much better riding and quieter than the Civic.
3. The 2009 stereo sucks. Worst quality I've ever heard in a late-model car. the $40 2.1 Speakers on my PC has 10x better sound quality. Is the 2012 improved?
There are a few more flaws in the 2009 which I wrote about a while ago, some of them are finally improved (like adding remote trunk release on the LX model), they also now have stability control across the board, but some questions I still need answers, and I hope in the near future to take a test drive myself to test all my concerns, and decide if it's worth for me to stay with a Civic.
- The turning circle in the 2009 is very wide, the Accord and Odyssey are much narrower and thus more flexible.
- I hate that only the rear lamp comes on when you open any door. I think that the FRONT LAMPS should come on when opening a front door.
- The door lock / window controls seems redesigned in the 2012. I wonder if the window controls are now finally illuminated at night. And if they have a lighted glove box? and a lighted ignition key ring like on so many Honda's? How about auto ON/OFF headlamps?
- I would need a sun visor with a sliding extension.
- I really hate the inside door pull handles. The Elantra's is so nice and comfortable. You can rest your hands and have a good grip while taking a sharp turn... if you know what I mean. But even the Accord is better.
- When un-buckling yourself while on a speed above 7 mph (I think) the reminder will beep, but will not stop even if you came already to a full stop. The reminder should not behave that way. (Toyota is not better in this regard).
On the positive side, I think that the engine is an excellent one, sounds very refined, and have a sweet note compared to competitors. I also like the flat rear floor (also found in the Corolla), and it's beyond me why larger sized cars can't do the same (Accord, and most Ford, GM, Chrysler sedans). And the nimble, responsive feel is top-notch.
#78 of 222 Re: Elanta 2011 vs Civic 2012 [faircomparo]
May 10, 2011 (1:38 pm)
If it were your intent to do a "fair comparo", per your handle, you would have compared the Civic EX to the Elantra Limited instead of the GLS. They are much closer in price and features (e.g. both have standard moonroofs and alloys), with the Civic EX being about $300 more than the Elantra Limited. You might have found the Elantra Limited to be a better handler than the GLS, with the 17" wheels/tires, and might have liked the leather interior of the Elantra and other features of the Limited.
If you must compare the Civic EX to the Elantra GLS, note that the price difference is not $2000... it's more like $3000, depending on the options you choose on the Elantra. Another reason to compare trims of the two cars that are more similar in price and features.
I recently drove an Elantra GLS for a couple of days and I have to say my experience does not match yours in a number of respects. Now, I did not drive my rental Elantra at 3x the limit. I think that kind of driving is not only dangerous, but also I doubt the folks at Avis would appreciate my abusing their nearly-new rental like that (I expect most dealers wouldn't be too happy with someone driving a demo car like that either). In normal city and highway driving, I found the GLS to be very quiet (including wind, engine, and road noise), with a very smooth ride and transmission and very comfortable driving position. I found no cases where a bump pounded me "in the kidneys". The main issue I had with the car was the steering felt a little "loose", although it did track straight. I wouldn't be surprised if the Civic's steering is firmer, based on my experiences with past Civics and other Hondas. I got over 33 mpg on my rental, which included city and highway driving and some very heavy traffic with long waits. I thought that was quite good given the conditions, which were real-world for that city (Austin).
If the rear seat of the Civic is more roomy than the Elantra's, that would be really great, as I found the Elantra has more rear seat leg room than some mid-sized cars. That would mean a huge increase in rear seat room for the Civic compared to 2011. I can't wait to check that out, as that is an important criterion for me.
If the Civic is indeed as great as you say it is, with a roomier back seat than the Elantra's, quieter interior than the Elantra, better FE than the Elantra, and handling that allows it to easily navigate curves at 3x the posted limits, I'll definitely have to check out the Civic LX. $3000 is a big difference to me when buying an economy car, so I would have to go with the Civic LX vs. EX.
p.s. FYI, the 200 is not a compact, but a mid-sized car. The Fiesta is a sub-compact. Again, it's good to compare like-to-like in these comparos.
#79 of 222 Elantra GLS is a lower trim level than Civic EX
May 11, 2011 (4:12 am)
I find it hard to believe that both dealers let you drive off with both cars without having a sales person present in the car--I have test driven cars for over 30 years and I have never been allowed to test drive a new car without a sales person present. I have driven the Elantra limited and I did not find the ride to be as harsh as you claim--nor did I find it to be particularly noisy for this class of vehicle. Furthermore, you should have compared the Elantra Limited to EX rather than the lower trim GLS. That being said, I would not find it hard to believe that the Civic may be a better driver's car --however, for most buyers in this class (who would not push the car at 3x the speed limit) I think features and value would place the Elantra ahead of the Civic (ie. the Elantra Limited offers a backup camera, a 6 speed automatic with manual shift, heated seats, turn signals in the mirrors, proximity keys, start stop button--all of these features are not even available on the Civic). I have owned many Hondas over the years and from my experience the metal is very thin as my cars are very easily dented by careless other drivers--so unless Honda has changed the thickness of the metal in the new Civic I would think this would would dent just as easily.
#80 of 222 Re: Features is where it lacks [backy]
May 11, 2011 (8:58 am)
I would love to know how ALG can begin to believe that an Elantra would have better resale value than a Civic?
They should attend an auction sometime!
#81 of 222 Re: Features is where it lacks [yysyys]
May 11, 2011 (9:35 am)
Actually, the best "safety option" is to not use your cell phone while driving!
If you just have to talk and drive at the same time,, an inexpensive earpiece will work just fine.
A lot of us find no need for a factory bluetooth but if you must have one there are a lot of aftermarket units out there.
#82 of 222 Re: Elantra GLS is a lower trim level than Civic EX [bb49]
May 11, 2011 (9:07 am)
This is EXACTLY why no smart store would ever allow a solo test drive!
Abusing a car for 3 hours and driving it over 100 miles is nuts and that is what you get when a salesperson isn't along to control things.
And, people that do this rarely buy anything!
#83 of 222 Re: Elantra GLS is a lower trim level than Civic EX [isellhondas]
by Kirstie@Edmunds HOST
May 11, 2011 (9:16 am)
Around here, you are offered one of two options:
- extended test drive with a salesperson in the car, or
- test drive by yourself on a pre-mapped route, and you sign a form saying you will take it only on that route.