Last post on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:23 PM
You are in the Sedans
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Chevrolet, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Mazda MAZDA3, Nissan Sentra, Kia, Volkswagen Jetta, Car Comparisons, Sedan
#287 of 300 Musings from the 2012 Greater Twin Cities Auto Show
Mar 10, 2012 (4:43 pm)
I made my annual pilgrimage to the local auto show today and checked out the latest compacts--mostly the hatches since that's my target for my next car, but looked at the sedans also. Of those I hadn't seen before, I was most impressed by the Verano. Very nicely done interior (this was with the leather and wood trim), very comfortable seats front and back. And more rear leg room than I expected based on reviews that complain about lack of rear leg room. It's no limo but for a compact car, it has sufficient rear leg room for my needs (but I'm only 5'9-1/2") and comparable to or better than many other compacts. The car I sat in was pretty loaded with leather and moonroof and listed at over $27k. I talked with a Buick rep for quite awhile (didn't hurt that she was very attractive ) and found out what was on the base car and the summer availability of the 2.0T from the Regal, which she thought would be available with the 6MT. Now THAT would be one nice little car.
The other compact that I got new respect for at the auto show is the Jetta. There was a base (S) model there with a stick and moonroof, but only $18.5k. And roomier in back leg-wise than many mid-sized sedans. Sure, it's fairly spartan and has only the 2.0L 115-hp engine, but at the right price would make a pretty nice package. Anything else in the class with a moonroof would probably be $2000+ more. I still like the Golf better (but that's another discussion).
I re-acquainted myself with the Elantra, Mazda3, Impreza, and Focus since they are all (in hatch form) on my list. It's great to do the "sit tests" on different cars within a few minutes of each other. Based on today plus my other experiences including test drives, the top two are now the Mazda3i Touring and the Golf. The Focus went down a LOT on my list because I found out the rear seat does NOT fold flat as a sales rep told me awhile back. But the rear seat of the Mazda3 and Impreza do fold flat, and the Golf pretty much so. The Impreza went down a notch because the tan interior, which I prefer over black, looked pretty cheap on the plastic bits especially the door handles. The HVAC controls are also cheap-feeling. But the Impreza stays in the race because of its AWD advantage.
#288 of 300 Re: Musings from the 2012 Greater Twin Cities Auto Show [backy]
Mar 10, 2012 (5:42 pm)
I forgot to mention the compact that most impressed me at the auto show... at least in looks, because I couldn't sit it it: the Dodge Dart. I thought it was exceptional looking, one of the slickest styling exercises to come out of Detroit for a mainstream car in a long, long time. I think it will sell in large numbers on looks alone. If it drives anywhere close to how it looks, it will be a big winner for Dodge. I hope it's available in volume before I make my next car purchase next year. I am focusing on hatches, but I'd make an exception for the Dart.
#292 of 300 Re: Musings from the 2012 Greater Twin Cities Auto Show [backy]
Mar 15, 2012 (8:22 am)
You said "The Focus went down a LOT on my list because I found out the rear seat does NOT fold flat as a sales rep told me awhile back. But the rear seat of the Mazda3 and Impreza do fold flat, and the Golf pretty much so."
The Focus rear seats DO FOLD COMPLETELY FLAT. It may depend somewhat on the trim level, but they do. Put the Focus back on your list!
Also, the Dart does look good on the outside but the interior is terrible. All those rounded corners and curves and big buttons - what is this 1999?
#293 of 300 Re: Musings from the 2012 Greater Twin Cities Auto Show [kam327]
Mar 15, 2012 (9:10 am)
Yes, I found out later that the rear seat does fold flat on the hatch and on higher level sedans, but it's a bit tricky as you need to fold the rear seat bottom first. I checked for that but was looking for a grip/pull on the bottom edge of the seat, which is how it works on my Elantra GT and Sentra. Instead turns out you need to pull at the back edge of the seat bottom. And there were no Ford reps around to ask when I was looking at the Focus.
I never took the Focus off my list. The flat-folding rear seat helps, but I'd prefer one that doesn't take as much work to fold flat--also that doesn't take front seat leg room when folded flat. So the Focus still trails the Mazda3i Touring, Golf and Impreza as of now. The Focus does have the advantage of the lowest as-new price of any of these. But the Golf has the lowest price, considering CPO cars. The Focus is too new for CPO availability.
And I like the interior of the Dart--far superior to that of the Focus with its "melted" controls, IMO. I don't like the fancy red trim on the higher-end Darts, but I wouldn't get that trim anyway.
#294 of 300 Versa - cheap, high MPG option
Jun 02, 2012 (12:52 pm)
I've rented a couple of new Versa sedans in Chicago my last couple of trips--not because I wanted to! But I have to take "compact" cars when I rent a car on business unless a free upgrade is available.
The Versas lived up to the reviews--very low-rent plastics inside, unsettled ride (good only on smooth roads), handling is an afterthought. The plusses are few: still a roomy back seat, simple controls (if cheap feeling, except the turn signal stalk), kinda looks like a baby Infiniti if you close your eyes. Oh, and a new car warranty.
Plus, one other thing I found: really good fuel economy. On my first rental, I went from O'Hare to Evanston. When I got to Evanston, the mpg computer read 45 mpg! It dropped steadily from there as I drove around Evanston and then literally crawled back to O'Hare on side streets in rush hour traffic. I forgot to look at the readout as I dashed to the terminal to catch my flight. On my second rental, I drove from Midway to Lisle, drove around Lisle for a day, then drove back to Midway, again crawling in rush-hour traffic and in a driving rain. But when I dropped the car off, the mpg readout was at 40.2 mpg. That's the first time I can remember averaging over 40 mpg on a non-Prius rental.
So a lot else about the car might not be too great, but it doesn't cost much and neither will the gas you put into it.
#295 of 300 Re: Versa - cheap, high MPG option [backy]
Jun 02, 2012 (5:39 pm)
as you'll note from my pen name, I was a Malibu Maxx enthusiast to say the least. Best car for the value at the time, until the fatal flaws of GM surfaced in their steering column. It nearly cost me my life due to a botched repair of this flawed system. Just a slight more attention to detail, and it could have been a fantastic car instead of a disasterous one. No one knows better than I how GM treats their long time customers. Why someone would think that the same people who built the inept Aveo should now turn a blind eye and buy the very similar Sonic is a mystery to me. Best of luck to those who choose that route. I am very interested in the soon to be released Versa hatchback, but I'm very concerned about Mexican assembly quality given my Maxx experience, so I greatly appreciate your post Backy. I will not consider any car other than a wagon or hatch due to the versatility. Unfortunately, 99% of Americans won't consider these vehicles which is why manufacturers are not building them. My Hyundai Elantra Touring is far more comfortable than most modest sized SUVs and holds just as much. I just manually calculated 28.7 miles per gallon in all suburban driving (no highway). Very impressive for a car rated 23/31. I am seeing quite a few HET on the road these days as at least some of the 99% are finally opening their eyes to the value in these vehicles. I only wish the trend would continue so we can get these stupid trucks off the road, reduce consumption, and bring down the price of gas.
#296 of 300 Re: Versa - cheap, high MPG option [maxx4me]
Jun 02, 2012 (6:00 pm)
The new hatch Versa had better be a major improvement over the sedan or I'd steer clear of it if I were you. Really not up to modern car standards, except fuel economy. The old Versa was a better car, even if it didn't have as good of FE.
There's several other good, relatively inexpensive hatches out there. For example, the Accent, Fiesta, Fit, and Rio5 are far superior to the new Versa, IMO. Except maybe for rear leg room. And for fuel economy, a bigger car like the Mazda3i Skyactiv will get real close to if not quite match the Versa. And will be a lot more fun to drive, even if it costs a couple thousand more with similar equipment.