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Honda Civic Hatch Vs. Ford Focus ZX3

jsbxjsbx Posts: 18
edited March 11 in Ford
Ok, then ZX3 vs. civic hatch...

I am a first time car buyer and collecting info.
I know I should go with the old "proven" civic
even tho it's more expensive and costs more to
insure, resale value is proven. But having driven
one...all I can say is, it was a bit dull. Plus,
am short, so I have to scoot the seat way up. I
felt like I was pressed against the windsheild.
Plus, god forbid the airbag head
would snap off I sit so close to the wheel.

the focus was fun. sure, I am sucked in by the
new design, I won't lie...but I enjoyed to the
ride, felt comfortable and I wasnt even squished
with the seat all the way up.

I am a first time new car buyer...I have a 125
mile a day roundtrip commute, so I have to have
something reliable, but all that time is more
depressing in something I am just "ok" with.

I just dont know....

any thoughts?


  • rex12rex12 Posts: 133
    Ooooooh I see, my mistake, I thought that was the Escort. Silly me. How could I confuse the warped head by 40,000 mile Escort for the Focus?
  • 181kmiles181kmiles Posts: 29
    well everyone should know by now that i am a firm believer in the honda name. i have a 91 honda civic hatchback and it has 183 k miles on it

    and it still gets 40 mpg highway.
    with the focus your takeing a major risk because the car is a new model. you dont know what kind of glitches they didnt find during production. at least with honda you have a design that has been around for a few years so they have pretty much gotten rid of the malfunctions that come about with a new car model. i would definaly go with the honda. even if it is more expensive to buy and insure, youll get your moneys worht when the car dies at 250k miles. all you have to do it maintain it. the engine that is in the focus was in the escort. that engine is a good engine but it does have its problems. as does any car line. i just think that the honda wll be a better car for you. as far as the airbags deploying with you being so far forward, the mainufactur recommends that you sit at least 12 inches from the airbag. if you are scrunched up against the airbag in a civic then youll be scrunched up against any airbag. its your arms distance that makes most of the difference not how far up you put the seat because the back of the seat is reclinable and you should be able to adjust the distance to 12 inches from there.

    well have a good time and good luck with any car you choose.
  • only1harryonly1harry Posts: 1,136
    with 181K mi. I just hit 100K mi. on my '97 Civic DX htbk. and so far so good. Read my e-mail back on the Honda HB vs. VW Golf.. too lazy to rewrite or paste it again :-)
  • tickbittytickbitty Posts: 250
    I think the honda civic hatches are great! BUT.... this is the last year they will sell them, AND why oh why did they slope the back window in like that? Makes it look like the old tercel hatches or some other retro...You lose a lot of space as well as style and I can't imagine why they would have done that. The older "boxy" ones were good cars, and the next generation, where they curved the roof around a bit, were the best looking hatches around (and not coincidentally, the ones that you see sportily modified, and raced!) They should have maintained those lines. I think the ZX3 is a great looking hatch and looks more like the logical progression, (stylewise) of the really nice civic hatches. However, I admit that Honda has it all over Ford in reliability, record-wise. The ZX3 does have a DOHC 16valve "zetech" engine that is supposed to be comparable to the excellent Honda V-techs, but that does remain to be seen. I'm taking good care of mine!
  • tickbittytickbitty Posts: 250
    the Zetec motor in the Focus ZX3 and SOME of the other Foci is not really an escort motor. Was only used in the "sporty" ZX2, and another version of it was used, I think, in the contour. I believe the escort engine you are thinking of is the OTHER 4 cylinder that they are using in the base focus sedans. The zetec is only a 200$ or so option in those so I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't get it but who knows?
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    I drove the Civic Hatchback when I was looking for a new car and I eliminated it because I didn't fit in it.

    Like you, I had to pull the seat all the way up and I felt like my face was right in the windshield. I felt very uncomfortable and vulnerable. In the end, I bought another Golf. I found that the Golf had a height-adjustable seat, as well as the usual back and forth. With that combination, I ended up far enough away from the air bag.

    I don't know if the new Civic or the Focus have height-adjustable seats but it might be helpful to you if they did.

  • 181kmiles181kmiles Posts: 29
    thanks everyone for the support as far as the hondas.


    i want you to know that the focus is not a bad car. it just has a few years to prove itself to the automotive industry. my friend just bought a new focus zx3 hatchback and he thinks its all that and then some. personally i think it has yet to be seen. as far as performance the focus 2.0 zetec is not as good as the v-tec. even thought my friend would beg to differ. i believe that if you went with the honda youd make the better choice. but honestly it really doesnt mater what car you go with just as long as you maintain it to the manufactures recommendations. that is how you get 200,000 miles out of any car. it might be expensive but you should always go to the dealership for all the service and maintainence needs. that way you know your getting factory trained technicians with real cridentials to do the work. youll never know with the independent places who has the right cridentials or not. plus youll be getting the parts that would be specifically made for the car. aftermarket parts were designed to fit any number of cars. so it might not be the exact fit for your car. only the factory parts will ensure an exact fit. so no matter what car you go with you must maintain it. the most important service is the 30k mile service. it may cost as little as $300 or as much as $600. hey no one ever said owning a car was cheap.

    so good luck with whatever car you choose and have fun with it.
  • tickbittytickbitty Posts: 250
    Do you know why Honda has quit making the hatchbacks? They were one of the only ones around still selling them and I thought the car sold pretty well for them. Wonder if they have a new one in the works or if they have decided they will sell more ($$) CRV's or something without the competition of the hatch. I tried to compare the civic hatch to the focus before I bought but the 2 honda lots closest to me didn't have a single one, not even used, for me to sit in or drive! So odd. I've never gotten 181K out of anything, (used VWs, Mazda, Isuzus) so kudos to you! Maybe someday if I do right by the car it will do right by me!
  • tuner1tuner1 Posts: 44
    I own a 96 civic dx hatch and the last time I checked the hatches are not available with the vetec your stuck with a measly 106hp.This eng. is no match for the zetec with 130hp and 135tq.Thats why all the fast civics have eng. swaps.But it's a great commuter car and very dependable so jsxb if commutes and over 100k reliability is your #1 priority then get the civic.
  • tuner1tuner1 Posts: 44
    By the way I just took del. of a pitch black ZX3.I am enjoying it very much!Life is not a certainty sometimes you have to take risk,if not you'll never know what you missed!Good luck
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Posts: 1,339
    I purchased a new ZX3 in February of this year, which replaced a new '99 Civic CX hatchback purchased new in Feb. '99. While broadly similar, these two vehicles couldn't be more different in execution. I've been a car person for 25 years, read most of the relevant automotive publications, and have owned a variety of vehicles over the years. If your particular "mission" calls for competent, characterless commuting day in and day out with little if any owner involvement required, maybe you should stick with appliances like the Civic. You better hurry, because Honda is discontinuing the hatchback in this country, and is moving further upmarket with the revamped Civic. On the other hand, if a better balance of performance, utility and style appeals to you, and you refuse to be a "me too" lemming, go drive the ZX3. Having owned both, I find the contrast between these two cars interesting. For $12.5K out the door, my CX had no A/C, no radio, no tachometer, just over 100 HP, and 14" steel wheels with ho hum Firestone tires. My ZX3 cost exactly the same with 15" alloys, CD player, 130HP Zetec engine, A/C, full instrumentation, and much better all-around performance AND build quality. Everyone is different... 200K miles in a noisy, bare bones commuter-mobile like a Civic sounds like Hell to me.
  • focuszx3rfocuszx3r Posts: 92
    Hey I am the person 181k is referring to. I LOVE MY FOCUS and i went throught your same problem when choosing civic or focus, but the sproty ness and fell of the car did, plus the fact i didnt even get to see a cx, and they were bad with the pricing. Yea V-TEC is better then the knock off ZETEC, but the civic has a watered down 106HP and is juts slow and sheep feeling. My car has a solid feel and all those extras like cd player and fogs and full instruments--and let me tell ya if u buy a ZX3 u will use the tach cuz the car is fun and you want to rev it.
    Also, u work at a dealer 181k so dont try to advertise for dealer service to get bussiness!! j/k but seriosly dealer techs know just as little as the other garages do--thats y i do it myself!
    Yes Civic Vs Focus--u want bare bones realiabilty and boredome--go civic If you want fun and lots of cool features and an great handling (GO DRIVE IT!) and a great value combined with a flashy nice looking car--GO FOCUS!!!!!!!
    BUY A FOCUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Also--Focus has no cheap rubbery shift feel like a civic doea--u feel like ur gonna break the thing everytime you shift, my Focus has a tight action with well defined gates (not on civic), and combined with that great steering system, u cant get a nicer to drive car for the money--not to mention the awesome seats--they keep me comfortable all day--and i have drivin long distance in mine!!
  • jsbxjsbx Posts: 18
    All of your responses are much appreciated. Seeing how it always takes me forever to make any decision, I haven't commited to anything yet but am leaning toward the ZX3...due to all of your help and a few other things. Plus, I got one dealer to agree to let me chose my ZX3 and get it at the invoice price, no doc fees, prep fees etc.

    The Honda dealers seemed a bit unwilling to help. I mean, I wasn't expecting the same sort of negotiation because sure, they don't need to ... because the cars have proven themselves and as they say 'sell themselves'. But that doesn't mean they should sit back with a take it or leave it attitude.

    Because it does sound like a lot of people ARE deciding to leave it....
  • tognetertogneter Posts: 245
    IF you look at the June issue of "Automobile" magazine, they do a comparison that includes the ZX3 and the Civic Si (the top of the line). They still prefer the ZX3, which means they'd REALLY prefer it over a lesser Civic.

    The ZX3 will give you more engine (than the base Civic), and SIGNIFICANTLY better handling...
  • only1harryonly1harry Posts: 1,136
    Yeah but I doubt your Focus will ever see 200K mi.
    My friend's '92 Civic LX has over 240K mi. and still going strong.
    My '97 Civic with 100K mi. runs like new and it 's fun to drive due to wider wheels and bigger high performance tires. It handles much better and can hit 115mph in 4th gear with no problem.
    With an automatic and the factory steel rims and tires it would be a little boring but nevertheless reliable. It's commuter car that won't die on you. BUT it doesn't have to be a boring commuter. All you have to do is just upgrade to some alloys and bigger tires and the car gets transformed because its stock suspension is actually good. With the wider rims and tires the car becomes more stable and gives you more confidence. I paid $12,500 with A/C for my DX. So far I 've had 100K trouble free mi. and my next car will definitely be another Civic because my commute is 160mi/day and can't afford to break down. There is probably more aftermarket stuff for the Civic than any other car in the world. With a few hundred bucks of suspension upgrades or a set of good tires, I guarantee you a Civic can outhandle a stock Focus easily.
    But for some real fun the Integra GS-R is what I drive on the weekends.
  • tognetertogneter Posts: 245
    Here I feel you're sadly mistaken. Stiffer springs make for a tighter ride, but I now quote the Automobile Mag article:

    "Where the Civic Si is engine, engine, and engine, the Focus is all handling, steering, and braking."

    and again:

    "Outside of the Mazda Miata and cars three or four times the price, no car gives better communicaion between the driver and the road (that the Focus ZX3)."

    That's more than just stiff springs. It's an innovative, all-independent, multi-link suspension with stabilizers front and rear, and MacPherson struts up front.

    You can't get all this from new springs...
  • vadpvadp Posts: 1,025
    I suggest you take a test drive of the Focus next weekend for "some real fun" and share with us your experiences.
    Would you?
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Posts: 1,339
    The first call I made after bringing my CX home was to the Tire Rack for 15" Borbet wheels and Pirelli P6000 summer tires. That helped, but then I was up to $13.2K. I looked around at all the other shortcomings (cheap interior, no tach, no power, etc. etc.) and realized you HAVE to have a big aftermarket for the Civic - essentially, you've got to finish what Honda started. You are correct about the aftermarket catering to Hondas - we ZX3 owners will never have that kind of support... but unlike the Honda, we don't NEED the help as desperately. Imagine how much more interesting life would be if you had "GS-R" style fun every day of the week? If I spent as much time in a car as you do, I'd want more from my ride than hair shirt reliability. Like the Boxster ad says, "the more kids you have, the more sense it makes" :-)
  • only1harryonly1harry Posts: 1,136
    Are you implying that for some "real fun" I should be driving a Focus instead of my GSR? You gotta be kidding me right? C&D and R&T, Sports compact car all have said since '94 that the GSR has one of the best steering and road feel.
    Next thing you 're gonna tell us is that that a Focus has overall better handling than a Type-R.
    Please lets not go there. Although I don't doubt that the Focus has pretty good handling and road feed back you guys are letting it go to your head. For the money, I agree that you get a good deal and I 'm sure it surpasses many cars in the steering, road feel, etc. dept. probably all in its class but Automobile said the exact same things about the Geo Storm (which I bought) in '90. "Sharp steering, excellent handling, great road feel, fun to drive, etc. etc.) They were mostly right but the fact remains it was a $10K Geo Storm and never got too much attention or praise. Probably because by the time it hit 50-60K mi. the suspension was all loose, the sharp steering wasn't so sharp or quick (and I kept putting better tires on!) and the handling had deteriorated. Why do you think your cars are $13K compared to $20-25K ones? It's because of the materials used. I guarantee you this includes cost cutting on your suspension bushings, quality of the antiroll bars, tie bars, brakes, engine mounts, etc. and finally the engine itself. In any case the Focus is new. If 4-5 yrs from now it proves its reliability I 'll buy it.
    Until then I 'll keep passing you in my GS-R and I 'll make sure I wave :-)

    BTW, stiffer springs are $125 and a good rear antiroll (sway) bar is about $200. You don't need much to turn your Civic into a gokart. I know, I did it with my Integra. Cost me exactly $325 for the parts (plus $150 labor) and the car feels like it's on railroad tracks, no body roll, extremely quick & precise steering, etc. because of its already stiff chassis and excellent suspension.
    BTW, does anyone have any #s on the ZX3 besides the 8.8s 0-60 that Edmunds has? Like Skidpad G forces and slalom speeds?
    My sister is looking for a car so maybe I 'll take to a Ford dealer to test drive a Focus. Is the ZX3 the only good with a good suspension or do all Foci have the same one? (she doesn't like the hatchback).
    Enjoy your cars. All that matters is that YOU like it!
  • tognetertogneter Posts: 245
    I have seen both .81 and .83 on the skippad ratings. I don't know about slalom speeds. Stopping is 178 feet from 70mph with ABS.

    They all have the same suspension, but I'd make sure to get the Zetec engine.

    We'll talk more when th 220hp Focus-R coumes out =]
This discussion has been closed.