Last post on Jun 02, 2012 at 7:00 PM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Chevrolet, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Mazda MAZDA3, Nissan Sentra, Kia, Volkswagen Jetta, Car Comparisons, Sedan
#153 of 296 Re: 2012 Sentra? [dodgeman07]
Jun 09, 2011 (11:21 am)
I scratched my head over the 2005 Sentra and that whole generation because while it had some plusses, including fuel economy and a pretty nice interior, the back seat was REALLY tight--moreso than even the prior generation. Nissan rectified that in the current design.
I've leased 3 Sentras--a 1992 2-door, a 1997 4-door (both sticks), and my current 2010. They were all solid, reliable little cars. I sold my 1997 to my sister and she drove it for many more years after my lease was up. What's kind of amazing, though, is that my 1997 GXE, which was a pretty basic car by today's standards with a stick, two airbags, no ABS, steel wheels, and power windows/locks/mirrors/cruise, listed for about $16k. That is about what a comparable compact lists for today, but the modern car has a lot more safety features, and probably more power (vs. 115 hp) with better fuel economy.
Cars really have improved in the past 15 years.
#154 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [backy]
Jun 09, 2011 (3:42 pm)
"MT just did an 8-way comparo of compacts: Civic, Corolla, Cruze, Elantra, Focus, Forte, Jetta, and Mazda3. Pretty much all the major compacts except Sentra and Impreza (with the Impreza's redesign coming very soon).
To no surprise, the Corolla came in last. Guess what came in first?"
I finally had a chance to go back and read the entire test on the MT website and I was surprised by the ranking of several models, but the Corolla and Elantra seem appropriately placed, IMO. Here are the ones that disappointed, concerned, shocked and/or irritated me-
#7- KIA Forte EX- This one is a disappointment. KIA upgraded the outdated 4-speed automatic to a new 6-speed automatic with the promise of improved acceleration and better fuel economy. The 0-60 time has been reduced from 10.3 to 9.2 seconds, which is a solid improvement. But the overall fuel economy of 23.9mpg is unacceptable on a car with EPA ratings of 26/36. The overall cheap look of the interior and seats that aren't all that comfy for the long haul were problems I had noted when I test drove a 2011 Forte SX 5-door. Now that Hyundai has reinvented its lineup, they need to give this model some of their 'magic'- I still love the exterior design, but the rest needs some work...
#5- Ford Focus Titanium- An overly-complicated high-tech interior design distracts from what is a fundamentally GREAT car in almost every other area. That's what I've been saying from the beginnings and the guys at MT seem to agree. Drive a Focus SE 5-speed manual and you'll see and feel how good this car can really be!
#4- VW Jetta TDI- MT requested a 2.5L model, VW still sent a TDI- it shouldn't have been allowed to participate, IMO.
#3- Mazda 3 i Touring- Where is the logic in putting the lower-level 'i' model against top trim levels of the Cruze, Focus, Civic and Elantra??? It was the least expensive test by a large margin- the second least expensive Corolla was $824 more and the highest priced Cruze was $4,595 more! Would the additional features and/or options on a Mazda3 s Sport or Grand Touring outweigh the lower fuel economy from the 2.5L engine? The i Touring model tested didn't even include the available Moonroof/6CD/Bose Package which only adds $1395 to the price. The total would have been very close to the Forte EX and Civic EX's sticker prices and still well below the Cruze, Focus, VW and Elantra! At that price, it would've included a Power Moonroof, 10-speaker, 265-watt Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system and In-dash 6-CD changer.
#2- Civic EX- I honestly can't tell any difference at first glance, and I thought the previous model was HIDEOUS, so this new one is hardly a beauty queen! Honda has become lazy, or so it seems....even if they do get the best MPG of all.
It's interesting to see the results form a similar, but smaller (only five cars), comparison in the April 2011 issue of Car and Driver. Here's how they ranked the five they included-
5- VW Jetta SEL
4- Chevy Cruze LT
3- Hyundai Elantra Limited
2- Mazda3 s Sport 4-door
1- Ford Focus SEL 4-door
Either way, the Elantra and Mazda3 landed in the top three of each list...so they're the two I'd be considering, if I was actually in the market for a new car right now.
When Mazda's new SKYACTIV 40mpg highway 2.0L hits the roads later this fall, I may be one of the first in line....
#155 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [igozoomzoom]
Jun 09, 2011 (10:31 pm)
I guess only Mazda USA can say why they sent a Touring into the MT comparo. Maybe C/D was using the only S available at the same time.
The test results were predictable. C/D puts sharp handling above everything else. The car could knock your fillings out, but if it handled as if on rails it would place very high if not first. The MT test seemingly tried to look at the cars as a "typical" compact car buyer would. So they placed high value on attributes like rear seat room, ride quality, and interior design, vs. handling (although handling was a factor also).
Considering C/D didn't have a Civic to test and the two Jettas were like two different cars, the results were pretty close. Take those two things into account (i.e. discount the TDI factor), and the Focus, Elantra, and Mazda3 were in the top 3 of each list, just a different order. What mystifies me is how low the Cruze placed in each test. C/D anointed it "best in class" in their initial road test. Then they rank it 4th out of 5. And it was well down on MT's list also, despite having one of the nicest interiors, good ride/handling balance, and exceptional safety features. But a tight rear seat and so-so fuel economy. But if FE is most important, a Cruze buyer would get the Eco.
I'd love to see some mag test all the "40 mpg" cars out there, but test with an emphasis on driving for best fuel economy... not best 0-60 times.
#156 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [backy]
Jun 10, 2011 (6:16 am)
I kind of get the sense that they are splitting hairs with some of the comparisons. I also think Backy's point about C&D likes handling, MT likes a different balance, R&T something different still, and CR something yet different.
What I find is that once you get to a certain level of performance and reliability, all the cars are essentially similar. At this point, between the vehicles compared in the article, I don't know that there is a bad choice or a car that "sucks." What I do think is there are cars that emphasize different atributes more than others. If your main measure is rear seat leg room, you would pick a different vehicle than if your emphasis was on handling prowess. Similarly, fuel economy might be a primary purchase reason, while for others, power or audio system quality might drive the purchase.
Now that I finally got a chance to drive a few of the vehicles, I agree that the Focus SE hatch/5spd manual is more my thing than the Titanium, but if you look at the content of the Titanium, it compares favorably to vehicles like the A3. I would like the Mazda3 (There are a few 1st generation Mazda3s in the family) but can't get past the smiley face.
I also think its so odd to me that after growing up in Southern California and seeing most Hondas as aspirational vehicles I'd want to own, the Civic really does nothing for me, nor the new Accord, for that matter. The Sentra (especially the SE-R) was also very big in the So Cal compact scene. It seems to have taken a different path (not bad, just different).
Like I said though, the choice is driven by individual wants and needs.
#157 of 296 press request
by kirstie_h HOST
Jun 10, 2011 (11:58 am)
A reporter is hoping to talk with the owner of a new VW Jetta. Please email predmunds.com by Monday, June 20, 2011 with your daytime contact information and a few words about your experience with the car so far.
#158 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [lilengineerboy]
Jun 10, 2011 (3:28 pm)
What I find is that once you get to a certain level of performance and reliability, all the cars are essentially similar.
I have to disagree. Just in this group of cars, there are major differences in some attributes important to many buyers. For example:
* Sharp handling: Mazda3, with Focus and Civic pretty good also. But there's a major difference in how those cars handle compared to others e.g. Corolla, Elantra, and Sentra.
* Performance: Big difference in acceleration in the class, since some cars have ~135 hp and others have 160-170 hp, with "sport" versions with even more power.
* Interior room: Huge range there, especially in rear seat room. Some cars such as Jetta and Elantra have very roomy rear seats for the class; others such as Corolla, Cruze, Focus, and Mazda3 have tight rear seats.
* Luxury features: Some cars do well just to offer a moonroof. Some such as the Corolla don't even offer leather, let alone other high-end features becoming increasingly common on cars like the Focus, Mazda3, and Cruze.
* Fuel economy: Huge range there. Some compacts like the Jetta 2.5 struggle to hit 30 mpg highway EPA, while others are over 40 mpg.
Those are just a few examples of the wide range of offerings in the compact class. Which is a good thing... easier for just about everyone to find something they like.
#159 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [lilengineerboy]
Jun 11, 2011 (2:20 am)
"I also think its so odd to me that after growing up in Southern California and seeing most Hondas as aspirational vehicles I'd want to own, the Civic really does nothing for me, nor the new Accord, for that matter."
I am from one of those "Honda families". I have two cousins with 25+ years as Honda mechanics, my brother-in-law has worked in a Honda/Acura body shop for 21 years and my one of my uncles worked at another Honda dealership's body shop for 28 years. Back in 1996, for about four months, I even sold Hondas at the dealership where my cousins and bro-in-law work. Despite outselling all but two long-term salesmen during that time and making a lot of $$$, discovered that I have an affliction that is fatal for a sales person- a conscience! =)
But I drove a Honda from the day I got my license in 1991 (when I got my sister's hand-me-down '85 CRX Si) followed by six others over the next 14 years. I had an '89 Accord LXi 4-door, '90 Acura Legend L 4-door, '92 Accord EX 4-door, '94 Civic EX 2-door, '96 Accord EX 4-door and '99 Accord EX 4-door- all 5-speed manuals, too! It was never a question of which car to buy, but which Honda to buy!? My sister followed much the same pattern as me with a few Preludes thrown in. We even bought '96 Accords on the same day, in the same color- both were EX 4-door 5-speeds in Heather Mist Metallic (silvery gold). Mine was just the stock EX, but she managed to get a set of the EX Coupe wheels and she added the rear spoiler, sunroof deflector, had the windows tinted and even the hideously tacky 'gold' emblem package. Even though they started out as identical twins, you could definitely tell them apart after she finished 'accessorizing'.
When I totaled my '99 Accord in December 2005, I went to the Honda dealer the following morning to pick out my next one. That's when I saw the 2006 Civic for the first time and I test drove an EX 4-door with manual and an automatic. I couldn't believe how much I hated it- from the wonky exterior design (a cross between a doorstop and a suppository) and the two-tier digital/analog dash felt anything but Honda-like. I couldn't even find a color combo that I would consider if I did entertain the thought of buying one, which I didn't.
I genuinely liked the 2006 Accord, but my budget was around $18k and definitely not over $19k. The EX 4-door I wanted was over $23k and the LX was too plain-looking and still over $20k. I was confused and, for the first time, realized that my next car wasn't going to be a Honda. I ended up getting a 2006 Mazda3 s 5-door and I'm still happy with it 5.5yrs and 82k miles later! Some of my family considered it treason, at least that's how they acted. But over the last five years, I've watched almost every one of them do the same thing....
The 2008 Accord was the final sign to me that my days as a Honda owner were over. They no longer had anything I'd want to drive, much less own. The 'magic' that made my '85 CRX, '89 Accord and '90 Legend feel so unique and made them so enjoyable to drive was lost years ago. My '99 Accord still had the 'feel', but felt more polished and not as sporty as the earlier model.
I was hoping for a 2012 Civic that was slighlty less hideous, but they changed it so liittle that it would hardly seem like a 'refresh' much less a real 'redesign'. They also carried over the powertain which was no more than adequate in the old car. One of the car mags commented that they followed the Corolla's lead in terms of ride and handling. So it is now freaky looking and morre boring than ever before...
#160 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [backy]
Jun 11, 2011 (6:26 am)
I'd love to see some mag test all the "40 mpg" cars out there, but test with an emphasis on driving for best fuel economy... not best 0-60 times
How about a blend of performance and economy? Fuel economy is only half the equation. If we were only concerned with fuel economy, we would be seeing 100hp engines in this class that get 50 mpg.
Manufacturers seem to be seeing who can get the best FE and best performance in one package.
I will agree, I would really like to see a battle of the 40mpg club. I would like to see who builds the best all around car assessing economy and performance.
I find it a bit weird that no one has driven a Mazda3 SKYACTIV just yet. The car is due here in the fall, perhaps as early as September. Maybe Mazda has been keeping the lid on that in combination with the disaster in Japan. Even us dealers have no more information than is currently available to the general public.
#161 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [aviboy97]
Jun 11, 2011 (9:29 am)
I think the current crop of compacts DO offer a blend of performance and economy. How many of the current cars offer 140 hp+, which a few years ago was typical for a V6 mid-sized car? Let's see... Civic, Elantra, Focus, Forte, Impreza, Mazda3, Sentra, SX4 all offer at least 140 hp in their base models, and the Jetta offers a 170 hp gas engine or 140 hp TDI in all but the base trim. Only the Corolla and Cruze are below 140 hp, and they're in the 130s.
The reason I posed the "what if?" about a test focusing on fuel economy is that the car mags usually thrash the cars they test, and get far below the EPA specs in fuel economy. I just thought it would be interesting to have a test where the cars are driven more like normal people drive them, or even with some basic techniques (not hypermiling) to get maximum fuel economy, like using a light foot on the gas, sticking to speed limits, coasting up to lights when appropriate etc.
P.S. There is a near-100 hp engine in this class, in the base Jetta: 115 hp. But it doesn't get anything close to 50 mpg. I don't think 100 hp engines are the magic answer to better fuel economy, except maybe in very small cars. If we were interested in maximum fuel economy, we'd have small, light cars with 6-speed sticks and diesel engines. Guess how many of THOSE would sell in the USA?
#162 of 296 Re: MT compares 8 compacts [backy]
Jun 11, 2011 (9:44 am)
I think you are making a point that defines what I was trying to say. Any of these vehicles is going to get you to work and back, safely and reliably. I also think that they would be fine for a small family. Fuel economy, for the most part, seems to be within 10% of each other. It comes down to what is important to the individual. Any of these will do just about anything one *needs* them to do, but some people will *want* one more than another.