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Which Hatchback?

leomortleomort Posts: 451
edited March 17 in Nissan
Hello Everone! Sorry about that. I'm new to the edmund's townhall website and not sure how to post yet. I'm serious looking into getting a 5 door hatchback. My choices are VW Golf GLS 1.8T, Mazada Protege Sport Wagon, Subura Impreza Wagon (technically a station wagon put close enough to hatchback status), Hyundai Elantra GT, or Ford Focus ZX3. Number one concern is reliability and durability. It would be nice if the car came (or had the option) with four wheel disc brakes, antilock brakes. Decent engine horsepower and torque would be nice. Good gas mileage, say 30 mpg highway? Good cargo space with rear seat up. Would it be too much to ask for decent rear leg room? Need the car to last 1000,000 miles (trying to compare these hatchback reliability to my Toyota---is the reasonabe or fair request?). My budget $18,000 MSRP. Is this do-able? Or am I asking too much from a hatcback. I have the luxury that I can easily wait until late this year or early 2002. Thanks for any advice and suggestion. Just recently found this website and find it very informative.

Leo M.


  • roadroachroadroach Posts: 131
    I'm not sure how to break this to you but:

    My info tells me that the Golf is available either as a 3-door hatch or 4-door sedan, the Protege is only available as a 4-door sedan, the Elantra is only available as a 4-door sedan, and the Focus is only available as a 3-door hatch or 4-door sedan. Unless you're talking used cars, I think the market is VERY small for 5 door hatchbacks (unless you count small SUV's as a 5-door hatchback).

    If I'm wrong, someone please set me straight but since the SUV/minivan market has exploded, small wagons and 5-door hatches are almost extinct.

    Since you've had good luck with Toyota, howzabout a nice RAV4?
  • Yes, the Golf is available as a 5 door. If after driving it and the other cars, you don't make friends with your VW dealer I'd be very surprised.

    The Golfs are still made in Europe, unlike the Mexican production New Beetles and Jettas though this is supposed to change at some point. Should be reasonably reliable and there is a 10 year, 100k mile powertrain warranty. If you're into the car for the long haul (especially if you start thinking 200k miles rather than 100k miles), I'd also test drive the 1.9L TDI. 18k is going to be tight to buy a 1.8T I fear. The good Impreza model is the forthcoming WRX model, but then you'll be looking at 24k. The Ford is a 3 door.
  • My Golf certainly is a 4 door hatch (the hatch is considered a 5th "door"?). At any rate, I've been VERY satisfied with my Volkwagen. It's 1 year and a half old, I've turned just over 25K miles, and I've had no problems with it whatsoever. I'm not aware of any other 4 door hatches on the market that I can think of off hand, besides the mini-wagons like the Subaru. I like the number of standard features on the VWs such as ABS and 4 airbags. Everyone that's ridden with me seems to like it, but the important thing is that you shop all the comparable cars, and then make a decision based on what's most important to you.
  • roadroachroadroach Posts: 131
    For whatever reason, I thought VW had stopped production of 5-door. I think duvernois may be right: your $18k target will be tight.
  • roadroachroadroach Posts: 131
    Does a wagon count as a 5-door hatchback? If so, then Hyundai does offer an Elantra wagon, Daewoo offers a Nubria wagon, and Saturn offers a couple of wagons.

    Of these three, I would recommend the Saturn SW2. But if you can swing the price, the Golf 1.8t would be much more rewarding to drive and own.
  • floridianfloridian Posts: 219
    Roadroach: No one mentioned the Focus wagon ? The Elantra wagon is history, none for 2001 but a four door "hatch" coming in the spring. Kia is supposed to be coming with a RIO wagon soon too. The Suzuki Esteem is a really nice spiffy little wagon too but a bit pricy for it's group. As to the Dawoo Nubira, well, it is a nifty little job but gee I don't know if I'd chance a Daewoo until they get their financial house in order OR some other mfg. takes over and pumps some money into them. Just my take on things

  • leomortleomort Posts: 451

    Thank you for your responses. I believe that I read here on this website that Hyundai Elantra is coming out this spring with it's 5-door hatch back. Also Mazda Protege Sport Wagon--a 5 door hatch back is also coming out later this spring as a 2002 model (seen it here on Edumund's LA Car show). I'm aware that the Ford Focus does come as a 5 door hatchback, at least in Europe, but thought I heard that Ford was bringing it to the States as well---perhaps I'm mistaken with Ford?

  • leomortleomort Posts: 451
    If I can't find what I'd like in a hatchback, I would regrettable cough up the extra cash and go with either the RAV4 or Subaru Forester. Should be able to get those in the low 20's price-wise.


    You're probably right in that the VW Golf GLS 1.8T might be a little more than I had planned to spend on a hathback. I would expect my next car to be reliable enough to last at a minimum to 100,000 miles, preferable 200,000 miles--my toyota is close to that mileage (151,000+) and still going strong.

    I have several concerns regarding each car. For example on the VE Golf GLS 1.8T does the turbo affect engine wear and durability? Is turbo know to cause any negative effect on engine wear such as head gaskets, etc? Also, this engine require premimum gas which kind of contradicts this hatchback being economical. The back seats seem a little cramp. I can't see how three adults can fit back there. It looks like two would be it's limit and cramped legroom. The cargo area didn't seem very large for a hatchback (with rear seat up). I do like its gutsy engine and that it's standard equipment lis is impressive to say the least. Probably only need tp add an automatic.

    The Subara Impreza wagon. Plus: Subara's reliablity, all wheel drive. Negatives: need larger engine such as the 2.5 that goes in it's sedans. More rear legroom and more cargo space with rear seat up. Perhaps Subara will address this in their 2002 wagon model???

    Ford Focus-assuming they bring the 5 door hatch back over here. Biggest negative:reliabilty. Which will proably have me exclude it from consideration.

    Hyundai Elantra GT. If it's base on its seadan it should have good rear seat legroom. Peppy engine, all wheel disc brakes, ABS either standard oroptional. Hope it has good cargo space. Price the cheapest and has the best warranty. Negative: Questionable reliability. Availability of parts and their cost?

    Mazda Protege Sport Wagon. Also looks good. Protege's are known for their spaceous interior. It gets a peppy engine, all wheel disc brakes w/ ABS. Mazda is typically over shadow by Toyota's and Honda's so hopefully they should have good rebates, incentives and financing.

  • roadroachroadroach Posts: 131
    Strike Two on me. The Focus IS available here in the states as a wagon. From what I understand, standard equipment on the Focus SE includes the more powerful 130hp 2.0l engine. I believe the MSRP is around $17k.

    Personally, I would choose between the Focus, Saturn, Suburu, VW, or Protege (when it is available). I'm just not too wild about the Korean cars. But whatever you do, DRIVE as many of the choices as you can.
  • I would read some of the other entries about the Ford Focus. Having owned a ford and i can attest to the (Fix Or Replace Daily) acronym. Some of the reports on Focus are turning up experiences with some pretty shoddy quality. Have you test driven a focus? Any focus? I have, and I have no idea why people praise it's handling. Granted Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, and Mazda do not currently have hatchbacks to compete with the focus, but if the sedans handle in any way similar to what I experienced, the Focus is put to shame. Taking the same bumpy curved freeway on ramp in each of these 2000 model vehicles gave me an idea of their stability. Every other vehicle seemed to hold their stance, but the tall body and high ride of the Focus leaned, shuddered, and swayed pathetically. Not to mention it's feeble acceleration felt almost like the low torque civic. The protege, even with it's mere 105 faired better.
    If you can wait till June 2001, I've heard 2 sources that state that the 5 door sport from Mazda will be out. If you can wait till Jan 2002, Toyota may be bringing the Matrix with possibly the 1.8L celica engine in it's high end trim.
    As for your other 5 door options. The only ones I can think of you found already. The hyundai elantra doesn't make the wagon this year, and I haven't even seen a hint of the supposed hatchback. The gas mileage in korean makes (kia, daewoo, hyundai) is far lower than their japanese counter parts though. If you purchased a VW, you might consider why VW started offering nice powertrain warranty (to bring back customers because of many previous powertrain problems). Also if you buy a german vehicle you have to pay the price for buying german parts when the time comes, and they're often more expensive than japanese or domestic parts. I have heard some nice things about Saturns customer service, and I have heard some horror stories about the problems that previous Saturn owners have had. I personally know of someone who has had to deal with multiple engine leaks etc. Plus, there's that annoying bar that remains in the way when you fold down the split seats. And the cargo cover is such a hastle to get on those little knobs for how easily it gets knocked off. You know how some cargo covers are retractable rollers, the saturn just has a piece of vinyl with some loops on it.
    The subaru, nice, but out of our price and gas mileage range (and insurance on a 4WD is more expensive as well)
    So in the end this really leaves you with just waiting for the Mazda sportwagon or the Toyota Matrix (I don't know if you'll like the styling of the matrix though)But it does have flat folding seats and sliding tracks for loading. The mazda sportwagon however may have front seats that fold down and can serve as consoles for lab tops, your lunch, etc. Personally, since the protege ranked number 1 by Car and Driver in 2000, I'm setting my sights for room, economy, and performance on the Mazda sportwagon.
  • crashton6crashton6 Posts: 245
    Leo: Take a look at the Impreza wagon. It should meet all of your needs. Big plus if you live where it snows is all wheel drive. I have a Forester & can tell you from experience the traction is flat out amazing. The new Impreza wagons will have the 2.5 engine 165 hp. Same engine as the Forester. Nice power.

  • You may want to look at the VW Golf TDI. It's going to have more room than any of the before mentioned hatchbacks in your comparisons. It has more standard options and rates only second to the Beetle (which rates #1 in crash test in it's class) in safety test. The diesel engine will last far longer than a gas engine as well, not to mention the better gas mileage. Currently I pay 1.46 per gallon for diesel fuel thanks to the winter weather. That's about 7 cents more than regular unleaded, but on one tank of diesel I average about 510 miles before my warning light comes on alerting me that I only have 1.9 gallons of fuel left. The most I have got so far is 519 miles with no warning light driving between 65 and 70mph. I usually drive between 75 and 80mph.
  • leomortleomort Posts: 451

    I was also interested in the Mazda Sport Wagon, until I heard they're putting Ford's Focus 2.0L engine into it. That's making me reconsidering it as a choice. Hmm, didn't know about the Toyota Matrix. Is going to be a "5 door" hatchback?

    Thank you for the pictures of the Elantra. It looks pretty nice! It's still in consideration.

    I was looking at the Impreza Outback Sport. So that might be different than the Outback wagon? I'm not that familiar with Subara. It would be nice with the 2.5 engine. Took the wife to the Subara dealership. She didn't like the air scoope on the hood--made it look too sport --I'm thinking what's wrong with that :)-- where as she's think family transport. She also made a good observation in that both the Forester and Impreza Outback that the back cargo space has hugh wheel wells that cut into your cargo space and that it gets narrower towards that rear seat. So she didn't care for these two vehicles.

  • leomortleomort Posts: 451
    Conficting reports on the 2.0L Mazda Protege Sprot Wagon's engine. I seen someone in Edmunds say it was a transplanted Ford Focus engine and then someone else saying it's totally designed Mazda engine. Can anyoe clear up the confusion?

  • speedyptspeedypt Posts: 200
    ...uses a Mazda designed and built (in Japan) 2.0l motor. It's NOT the focus engine for sure. It's a version of the 626 motor.

  • leomortleomort Posts: 451

    THANK YOU!!!

  • leomortleomort Posts: 451
    It looks after doing some research that I've narrowed my selection for hatchbacks down to these two vehicles. Any opinions on these two vehicles, good or bad?

  • The 5-door hatch I know best about is the one I own - a 2001 KIA Spectra.

    After moving last fall I now make a weekly 130-mile drive in middle of the night from California's High Desert to the coast. I encountered some snow and ice and decided it was time to put my aging '85 Nissan 300ZX Turbo aside for Saturday nights and buy a compact commuter car.

    Choosing such a vehicle would be a compromise. I work and am housed on an off-shore island throughout the week so had little time to get out to all the dealers and test them all. I went online to do most of my window shopping. Based on comments and the warranty I decided to test drive a 2001 Spectra.

    Before visiting the dealer I had the upscale GSX model in mind but was put-off by the upholstery and accent striping. I decided to forego some of the amenities and test drive the base GS models, both automatic and 5-speed.

    Mindful of comments I heard about the brakes, I did not experience any fade; I heard that may have been the only improvement made for 2001.

    I put about 20 freeway miles and several miles of twisty mountain roads on the 5-speed. The automatic I just drove locally but was particularly enthused. I saw in the specs that the torque curve was in the higher revs. Keeping the RPMs up it was surprisingly peppy and agile cornering.

    Satisfied, I bought a silver 5-speed GS with air conditioning. With floor mats, body molding strips, A/C, and destination charges, subtract the rebates, I paid $11.8K. Also worth mentioning is this is the FIRST time a dealer did not try to pad the price with add-ons like prep, extended warranty, or under-coating charges. What I saw on the lot is what I got, minus the rebates.

    At first my heavy-footed combined driving was getting about 28 MPG. Now after break-in I am getting a shade better than 30. On the highway this car likes to cruise along around 75-80 and is more than willing to go faster. No shakes or squeaks it is quiet but seems to have a sports-tuned exhaust at the higher revs, which adds a little zest to the driving.

    It is very roomy. I'm 6-foot and about 195 lbs. Larger cars have felt cramped in comparison. The seats have a lot of adjustment and are very comfortable for my two-and-a-half hour drive. It keeps getting better, I love to drive it. I felt embarrassed to be seen driving a KIA at first, now I'm proud of it.

    The only complaint I have is the long clutch and shifter throws. The shifter seems a little unsure and has taken some getting used to. I may look for an after-market shifter to correct this. Can someone out there recommend one?

    I bought this for basic transportation, but I just love the car. I hope this helps.
  • I have placed an order for a new car so I have to unload my 2000 Focus in Silver. It has Auto, Power everything, Factory CD player, factory 16 in wheels, a/c, and cruise control. I will sell the car with the waterproof seat covers and roof rack. I may also include the bike for a few more $$$. The car was bought in June 2000 and has 9900 miles on it. It has been faithfully serviced by the Ford dealership that it was purchased at. I have all of the records. The sticker was ~$16,500 and I paid about ~$15,200. I am selling it for $13,500. It is in perfect shape with NO dents, dings or scratches. I am the fanatical guy that parks way far out at the end of a parking lot to avoid these things. . It has also been garaged for all of its short life. VIN and complete pictures of the car available by request at The car is in the Dallas metro area. Thank you for your time and have a great day!
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