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Compact Sedans

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  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    While I agree that your method is the best, you just can't do it in a limited mileage test. How would you drive 160 miles or so in each car and then refill with any kind of accuracy. They were probably limited by time, money and car availability precluding them from doing that.

    As far as the clueless to availability. All five cars were selling in September but not the 2012 models in some cases. I think they were talking about compact cars in general going up in average transaction price. I think they just crunched the numbers and mistakenly said "all five shootout cars were available". I still found the article interesting.

    Next time you can acquire all five of these cars and run them through several full tanks of gas and average the results. Then report back to us with the absolutely exact mpg numbers.
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Posts: 573
    edited June 2011
    "Next time you can acquire all five of these cars and run them through several full tanks of gas and average the results. Then report back to us with the absolutely exact mpg numbers."

    That's not my job. That's their job and they missed the boat completely. The entire test is predicated on fuel economy and they use a trip computer for the evaluation? Trip computers can be inaccurate by several mpg and voids the entire test.

    Next point: The Focus and Civic have been available for years, as has the Elantra. They were not referencing "compact cars in general". They explictly stated, "...the first month that all five shootout cars were available". Two were not available last September. These are completely new models for 2012. The 2012 Civic and 2012 Focus were not available last September and that was the point.
  • mz6greyghostmz6greyghost Posts: 1,230
    That's not my job. That's their job and they missed the boat completely. The entire test is predicated on fuel economy and they use a trip computer for the evaluation? Trip computers can be inaccurate by several mpg and voids the entire test.

    I totally agree with this point. Trip computers have gotten better, but even now, some of them can still be 2-3 MPG off. Unless there's a meter straight off the fuel pump, reading the exact amount of fuel used, I'd rather crunch the numbers myself, just to be sure they're accurate.

    Who's to say that a manufacturer does or does not purposely inflate their trip computer numbers, just to make it "look better" during testing?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    You know, it could have been a simple error in sentence construction. They might have been trying to say that May 2012 was the first month all of the cars were available, but messed it up. I see that kind of mistake in print all the time, and I think it's more likely that was the problem here vs. these folks not knowing that, for example, the 2012 Civic just became available a few weeks ago.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    The entire test is predicated on fuel economy

    No, it was not. If you had read the article instead of getting incensed that they didn't follow your method of determing MPG you would see that the ratings were based on 5 or 6 major factors......not entire test on fuel economy. Exaggeration is fun but please.

    I know what they said and I explained that it was a mistake to explicitly state that the exact shootout cars were for sale back then. I still believe they were making a general comment about how compact cars as a class are selling for more per transaction with the current gas prices. They shouldn't have worded it as they did but the point IMO is valid.

    You know, every mag and blog review, test etc. out there makes a mistake sometimes. I could say "Ahah, they misspoke here so everything else they write is complete hogwash". I wouldn't be reading too many auto articles then. Even the car manufacturers publish wrong info on their websites sometimes and have to correct it. Nobody's perfect.....or are they?
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    I totally agree with this point. Trip computers have gotten better, but even now, some of them can still be 2-3 MPG off. Unless there's a meter straight off the fuel pump, reading the exact amount of fuel used, I'd rather crunch the numbers myself, just to be sure they're accurate.

    Who's to say that a manufacturer does or does not purposely inflate their trip computer numbers, just to make it "look better" during testing?


    They stated that the numbers they reported were from the trip computers. Didn't seem to me that they were trying to fool anybody. I think most of us here at least know that the computers can be off a little so they are giving a general idea on comparably mpg. My gosh, if they were trying to be exact do you not think they aren't smart enough to figure out what you're suggesting? They only drove the cars for 160 miles or so for the mpg test. Do you think if they were trying to determine the absolute exact MPG numbers they wouldn't have tested a little more thoroughly?

    Conspiracy theory??? Oh, yeah, I'm sure they would love to be caught doing that. Plus, if you adjusted enough to materially affect the MPG(big if), wouldn't it reflect in other aspects of the drive like acceleration or possibly shift points thus lowering the score for that aspect. Remember, this was absolutely not a test for just best MPG which I think people are forgetting.
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Posts: 573
    Gotcha - it's based 70% on subjective opinions. That makes sense too. :P

    The title of the article is regarding fuel economy and price. They blew it and the entire test is a joke.

    I've spent over 20 years as a manufacturing engineer, much of automotive, and understand yellow journalism. This article was just that.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    What car reviews are NOT based mostly on subjective opinions? :confuse:
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Posts: 573
    Many reviews are based on primarily on quantifiable and objective data as they should be. Things like weight, skidpad results, fuel economy, acceleration, braking results, dBa interior sound level, engine horsepower & torque, RPM/MPH, gearing, power to weight, CO2 emissions, price, warranty, fuel requirements, airbags, cost, tire/wheel size, suspension architecture, valvetrain, and about 50 other things.

    I made a simple point about USAToday/cars.com joke of an article. It's titled "...high-mileage cars..." and they use trip computers over 160 miles to determine mileage. I collect, interpret, and analyze data for a living. I made a point about this article, that is all. James Healey at USAToday is not a good source of information for me. Everyone gets to pick and choose.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,754
    Many reviews are based on primarily on quantifiable and objective data as they should be. Things like weight, skidpad results, fuel economy, acceleration, braking results, dBa interior sound level, engine horsepower & torque, RPM/MPH, gearing, power to weight, CO2 emissions, price, warranty, fuel requirements, airbags, cost, tire/wheel size, suspension architecture, valvetrain, and about 50 other things.

    Didn't GM have teams of financial analysts who would analyze every new vehicle, figuring out where they could cut costs, while making sure the vehicles met specs? And didn't that cheapening cause a mass flock to other makes?

    Just saying that objective specifications are not everything, or maybe even the most important thing. I'm sure Audi's sumptuous interiors are not measured in the specs. Just because something is hard to measure doesn't mean it isn't important, and vice-versa.
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Posts: 573
    "I'm sure Audi's sumptuous interiors are not measured in the specs."

    After working as a quality assurance engineer for Lear Corporation, I can assure you that every aspect of Audi's interiors are measured by specifications.

    I'll bow out of this conversation. I attempted to point out the limited value of the USAToday article and can see it was not worth the time or effort. So long.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,754
    After working as a quality assurance engineer for Lear Corporation, I can assure you that every aspect of Audi's interiors are measured by specifications.

    Of course each material has specifications. I was speaking about data-based auto reviews, and I don't usually see the material specifications included in those publications. The type of cow, skin thickness, and square footage of the leather is not what I'm talking about.

    There are harder-to-measure aesthetic qualities of vehicles that are important to buyers, which is why subjectivity needs to be in the reviews. And it's why reviewers vary in their opinions. Vehicle appearance is another example. Or even NVH.

    I don't disagree about some of the flaws you pointed out in the original review that was discussed.
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    Of course each material has specifications. I was speaking about data-based auto reviews, and I don't usually see the material specifications included in those publications. The type of cow, skin thickness, and square footage of the leather is not what I'm talking about.

    Leather grade, dye type, where it is, all the things you mentioned and more are metrics in what makes an interior "feel good." There are quality metrics around every element in the interior, panel gap, color match, how every switch works (Honda is one of the brands synonymous with switch feel), everything your hand touches, how far away switches are, switch priority, etc.

    There are harder-to-measure aesthetic qualities of vehicles that are important to buyers, which is why subjectivity needs to be in the reviews. And it's why reviewers vary in their opinions. Vehicle appearance is another example. Or even NVH.

    There are several researchers working in a field that seems to be termed "engineering aesthetics" where they are trying to quantify these qualities. In some areas, its not as hard as one would think. There are basic ratios about how styling elements relate to each other that drive a lot of perception. Its some interesting stuff.

    NVH doesn't exactly count. There are enormous amounts of data about what feeds customer satisfaction for NVH and sound quality. The targets aren't always achievable, but the direction is well defined. An example would be the engine starting on a 90s Corolla compared to a 2nd gen Prius. The engine turns on and off under all different conditions on the Prius and for the most part, its imperceptible to the driver while the Corolla of 5 years earlier would inform the driver every time the engine did anything. Agruably, the target setting might have something to do with it; the Mustang V8 got so quiet inside they had to add a "bass tube" from the engine to the interior to bring in the engine noise that appeals to that crowd.
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Posts: 573
    ...get a load of this........

    MSNAutos
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    When I first saw one in the flesh I thought the windshield was too big and the hood too short but after seeing them parked and on the road I would have to agree with MSN. It's a very sleek and proportioned look and IMO looks better than the Sonata.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    Must be one reason why they are flying off lots at MSRP or close to it.

    I can envision Hyundai's Marketing department making a big deal out of this one.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    I'm sure. Plus that it has been like one or two in most compact car comparisons.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
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  • mz6greyghostmz6greyghost Posts: 1,230
    Click me!

    Wow! Just... wow!

    Maybe the Aztec's were right... :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I loved Honda's response. Almost as if they were saying, "We think it's a great car... as long as you don't consider how it drives, except for fuel economy. But when you pay for the gas, get in a crash, or worry about repairing it, it's a great car."

    Problem is, there's several other fuel-sipping, crash-worthy, reliable small cars out there now. That's no longer enough to be competitive. It's not the Civic and Corolla Show anymore.
  • mz6greyghostmz6greyghost Posts: 1,230
    edited August 2011
    Problem is, there's several other fuel-sipping, crash-worthy, reliable small cars out there now. That's no longer enough to be competitive. It's not the Civic and Corolla Show anymore.

    Exactly what I was thinking. It's not that the evolutionary changes made by the Civic weren't good, it's the revolutionary changes made by the competition that were so much better, and have raised the bar significantly in this class.

    The Elantra, Focus, and Cruze have come out of nowhere and made this segment hugely competitive again. I just read a review by Car and Driver about the Civic Si, and their comments about the interior were interesting:

    The bunk-bed layout for the IP is okay, but the garish LCD gauges are right out of a RadioShack in Akron. The mouse-fur headliner suffers from the mange, and there’s a lumpy, wrinkled collar of felt that surrounds the steering column, shouting to one and all, “Yessir, that’s right, I actually am the cheapest bit of flotsam in the universe!”

    The most surprising comment was the next sentence:

    Note to Honda: Check out the Ford Focus’s interior.

    This comment would've been unfathomable as soon as 5 years ago... Not anymore.

    I have a feeling the next Corolla may suffer the same fate as well.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    Not trying to comment on Japanese society norms as good or bad but my impression is that they, on average, seem to be a very loyal bunch. I wonder if the thinking of senior(both in status and age) management at both of these companies assume brand loyalty to be similar worldwide and just don't get that consumers in the rest of the world will drop a brand if it doesn't stay competitive no matter how dependable it is. Especially now that dependability is not as exclusive as it was just a short 10 years ago.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    I remember over the years hearing about how the Civic was the end-all, be-all of cars in this class because of what publications like Consumer Reports said about it. Now that the 2012 Civic has been panned by Consumer Reports, we hear that it doesn't matter what they think about the Civic. I really love it when someone says something stupid like "My 1994 Accord still runs great so that's all I need to know about Hondas and the new Civic." What? Do you realize how foolish you sound?

    I had a Sonata and a Sephia in the mid-to late-1990's and I'm glad the Honda and Toyota folks are seeing a change in the automotive landscape.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,240
    You could be right about the brand loyalty thing, but it would be in their best interests to remember their own history. During the 80s and 90s they got popular in part by breaking the brand loyalty that the US had to the domestics, who at the time had the habit of resting on their laurels while producing increasingly mediocre products.

    I guess we've come full circle.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,754
    It appears Honda is going to descend further before they wake up. Hopefully they won't go as low as Chrysler or GM, or even Toyota.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I remember over the years hearing about how the Civic was the end-all, be-all of cars in this class because of what publications like Consumer Reports said about it.

    The reason we heard so much about how the Civic was the end-all, be-all of cars in this class was because... it was! Compare for example the 1984 Civic S or the 1988 Civic LX or even the 1992 Civic EX to what else was available then. Then IMO, in 1996 the downward spiral started, while other cars got better. In some cases a LOT better.

    It's not that the new Civic is a terrible car. It's that it isn't all that much better than, say, a 1988 Civic... while other small cars have overtaken the Civic. And Corolla (even moreso the Corolla).
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I finally got to drive the Cruze for an extended period thanks to Hertz at DFW. I got a white LT with alloys and grey interior and drove it for 3 days around the Irving area. Overall I liked the car. It had a solid, upscale feel to it. I didn't feel as if I were driving an economy car. The only thing that detracted from the quality feel was an occasional loud and sharp thump from the rear suspension. Other than that, the car was quiet with a well-controlled ride. I did hear the little turbo engine growl when pressed, but it was a pleasing kind of snarl to my ears.

    Acceleration was adequate for an economy car. Low-end torque is good, but it takes a firm press on the gas pedal to get the car moving at speed. Personally I don't need anything quicker than the Cruze. Fuel economy is more important to me.

    Which brings me to the one real negative thing about the car: secondary controls, specifically the trip computer. I sat in the rental car lot for 5 minutes trying to find the control to switch the multi-function display. Nowhere to be found. No owner's manual in the glove box, either. So I couldn't use the trip computer. Most cars have an obvious button, sometimes on the steering wheel, to control the trip computer.

    The cloth driver's seat was very comfortable, and snug but in a good way. I adjusted it so the forward tilt adjustment was at the top, then adjusted the rear tilt for best thigh support. I love the dual height adjusters! At that height, I could move the driver's seat forward enough so there was adequate leg room in back. And with the seat that high, there was plenty of toe space under the driver's seat. The back seat cushion had good thigh support and I think would be fine for kids and average-height adults, as long as the front seat occupants aren't tall (I'm 5'10").

    The car handled pretty well and felt nimble, but I noticed the steering felt dead on-center at speed. But the car tracked straight enough. The highway ride was smooth for a small car.

    The trunk was roomy, with traditional hinges, but was oddly shaped in that there's a big cutout in the center of the floor. It was nice for small cargo, but I'd rather have a flat load floor with a covered bin. Actually, I'd rather have a spare tire (optional on the Cruze).

    One little annoyance was the low, protruding air dam in front. I'm sure it's great for fuel economy, but it was hard not to scrape it when parking.

    Now that I've figured out how to adjust the driver's seat for decent room in back, the Cruze will be on my shopping list for my next car. I'll have to try the 6MT though, including the Eco.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,240
    My wife has finally gotten tired of her '01 Elantra. There isn't anything wrong with it other than 10 years of age - door dings, minor rust, etc. - and it has relatively low miles (79K) but as several people have expressed interest in it, she decided to sell it & buy something new.

    She does not to drive larger vehicles so mid-sizers and up are out.

    Based on test-sits at the past 2 Chicago Auto Shows we came up with a short list: Cruze, new Elantra, Sentra, new Focus, and Forte with the Tucson & Outlander Sport being possible CUVs. The Focus wasn't available to sit in at the time but we still wanted to consider it.

    She has now test-driven the Cruze, Outlander Sport, Tucson, and a used '11 Elantra (no '12s, indeed no new Elantras in stock). The 2 CUVs were eliminated as to get equipment she wanted they got to be too pricey. And as much of a Mitsu fan that I am, we agreed that the 2.0L/CVT combo in the Sport just doesn't do it. Too buzzy under acceleration and she didn't like the CVT trait of adjusting engine revs v. shifting. On the Tucson the ride felt very strange on my lower back - firm & bouncy I expect but the impact was felt almost entirely in my lower back so I suspect there may be a seat design issue for some people.

    My wife gets cold easily and it really hits her hard, so heated seats are a priority. Cloth/leather doesn't matter; just heat. And after almost two years with my car, the availability of navi & a rear camera would be nice though not must-haves. Beyond that are typical concerns: safety, fuel economy, price, etc.

    So a Cruze has to be LT2 or LTZ to get seat heaters. We settled on an LTZ with RS package (body kit which we actually like) and the Pioneer speaker upgrade. Ride was very firm, bordering on harsh. The passenger door arm rest seemed oddly high up and intrusive. I didn't think during our drive to try various seat adjustments. Power with the 1.4T was good; it had plenty of pickup. Very quiet cabin; Chevy did an excellent job there. Most controls seemed good; she didn't play with the DIC. Overall we were fairly impressed.

    The Elantra, though, seemed to just fit her like a glove. The seat was comfortable right away, the ride was firm without being harsh. Power from the DI 1.8 seemed just as good as the Cruze and the Elantra doesn't recommend premium fuel. Visibility is good though the hood slopes down so much it isn't immediately obvious there's anything in front of the windshield; judging where the front of the car is would take getting used to. What we drive was a GLS but we did play with the navi in the Tucson so we saw how it worked. Though the dealer didn't have any new '12s in stock, we did find a Limited with navi/rear-view cam and a few other things in her second-choice color in their upcoming allocation. Temptation ran high but we still walked out without a commitment.

    Based on the drives and on some further research we did a paper (computer) elimination of the others. Forte only offers heated seats in the SX. That trim comes with a 2.4L engine, which offers power my wife doesn't want/need and penalizes you significantly at the pump. Focus, if you can manage Ford's lousy online build tool, gets to be expensive when optioned even close to the same as Cruze/Elantra. And fuel economy is still a little behind. Sentra was a close call but in the end it still fell behind. Plus, it's starting to be a dated platform among the compact competition.

    So we've come to the realization that the best car to replace her Elantra is the Elantra. We'll probably pull the trigger later today.

    Other comments:
    - We'll finance through our bank, who offers 2.84% on 60 month loans; cheaper than the 3.9% the automakers seem stuck on.
    - Other cars I didn't mention - Civic, Corolla, Mazda 3, Suzuki, Lancer, etc. - Were all eliminated based on various things. Mostly reviewed at the auto show, price, driver seat comfort/position, visibility, crash test results, style were all factors.
    - Even with GM Supplier Discount (which is more or less the best we're going to get on the Cruze), the Elantra with a small negotiated discount still presented a better value. Same or better features for about a grand less.
    - We're disappointed that Hyundai has pulled owner loyalty cash for their hot sellers.
    - Everything we drove had decent head room and enough seat adjustments & front seat travel that comfortable driving positions were possible. Rear seat leg room was deemed adequate or better in all of them. Cargo capacity is what you expect; the small trunk openings on the sedans will make loading/unloading deep into the trunk more of an effort but trunk space itself is good.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    If you can wait a little bit you might check out the all-new Impreza, with greatly improved fuel economy for 2012. It looks like a winner to me, on paper and in photos at least. I can't wait to drive it. I think it will be a strong contender for my next car, given it has AWD (very handy in Minnesnowta), a classy-looking and roomy interior, competitive fuel economy (finally!), and price is not much more than cars like the Cruze, Elantra, and Focus. The current Impreza has one of the smoothest rides in the class so I am hoping that was carried over to the new car.
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