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Which Hatchback?



  • walkerwalker Posts: 1
    I have been looking at the protege5 and am going to test drive one tomorrow. Does anyone have any opinions on whether or not this is a good family car? I will be the primary driver, so, since I'm a stay-at-home mom, mostly just around town and short trips. Is this car dependable, economical, etc...Will it be too crowded with two carseats? Is this car good in the snow? Right now I have a nissan altima, which with good tires has been excellent in the snow. Will the protege5 compare? Thanks for any help anyone can offer.
  • coileancoilean Posts: 5
    I have been looking for a moderately priced, fuel efficient HB, and was all set to get the Elantra GT, which offers terrific bang for the buck as well as an extensive warranty and a great ride. I had even gone so far as to spend the $35 on the Fighting Chance package for it.

    However (thanks to the package, although I should have found it on my own), I found it is a dismal failure in the single most important aspect of any car I would consider owning, and that is safety. Check out the IIHS safety rating for the Elantra at:

    These ratings should not be taken lightly. The IIHS is a nonprofit funded solely by automotive insurers, expressly for the purpose of improving safety in car designs (a goal which automotive insurers have an obviously honest interest in). A recent IIHS study conducted using a federal database of all fatal crashes for the last 12 years showed that drivers of a vehicle with a "Good" rating were 74% less likely to die in an accident than drivers of a vehicle with a "Poor" rating, full article here:

    Apparently, the Elenatra front airbag sensors are flawed (a problem which Hyundai has publicly acknowledged for the passenger side sensor, more here:, leading to delayed airbag deployment in some cases, a cause of serious head/neck damage to crash test dummies in 2 of the 3 40mph frontal offset crash tests conducted by the IIHS, more here:

    Much as I like everything else about this car, I will no longer consider driving one on a regular basis even were it given to me for free. The Kia Sephia is another moderately priced HB I have to put in the same category. I'll probably go with a Focus, as I can't really justify the extra $5-8000 for a Civic SI, Prius, M3, Golf, or RSX, considering Ford's current $3K cash back.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,631
    Were you thinking about buying a new Elantra GT, a '04 model? The IIHS test results apply only to '01-'03 models. The '04 model was retested by the IIHS earlier this year, but the results have not been published yet. Hyundai would not have asked for a retest unless they had made some changes to the car that would affect its crash performance. I have talked to HMA about the 2001 IIHS tests and they told me they could not find a problem in the airbag system. They said the Elantra uses the same airbag sensors as does the Sonata, and those worked fine in the IIHS tests. They did redesign the front seat track in '02; the driver's seat moved forward in the IIHS test in '01 and caused "injury" to the crash dummy's leg.

    Also, the ABC News story on the problem with the Elantra's OCS sensor, which is in the front passenger seat, has absolutely nothing to do with the IIHS test results from 2001. My '04 Elantra GT's OCS sensor works as designed. It is easy to test it at the dealer to ensure it works properly before you buy the car.

    If you really want an Elantra but are concerned about the IIHS test from 2001, you could wait a bit to see if the IIHS publishes the test results on the '04 soon. Re Sephia, you meant Spectra, right? Did you check the IIHS test results on the Spectra (not the brand new design, but the "old" '04 model)? They are terrible. The "new" Spectra hasn't been tested by the IIHS yet, but it shares the platform and many components with the Elantra. So the Focus 5-door might be the best bet for you (the 3-door's rear side impact score is terrible). If you want the best crash scores and want a hatchback, the Matrix and Vibe have excellent crash scores and have much better predicted reliablity than the Focus, but do cost a little more.
  • coileancoilean Posts: 5
    Thanks for the detailed reply! Yes, I was referring to the Spectra; the actual IIHS test was done on a Sephia, but the results should be applicable to its HB version as well.

    I do realize the airbag issues tested by the IIHS and those highlighted by the ABC news stories are different animals, but both show a delayed airbag deployment which is quite troubling, and dangerous, regardless. I didn't find anything to indicate Hyundai had "fixed" whatever the issue might be in their '04 model (probably because I don't know where to look), but it's nice to hear that the issue may have been addressed.

    I'm not yet in any real rush to replace my inherited '95 Cutlass (I have been considering it for over a year and still haven't gotten around to it :p), so I will wait to see what IIHS has to say about the '04 Elantra before I decide to "upgrade" to something smaller, more economical, and less likely to need repairs in the near future. It would be nice to know before the $1500 Hyundai rebate offers expire at the end of August, but thats probably too much to hope for ;).
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,631
    Rebates should increase as we get close to year-end. I found exceptional deals on '03s at the end of last year (e.g. $2000 rebate + $1000 owner's loyalty). I almost traded my '01 for a new '03 but the dealer didn't budge as much as I wanted on a discount.

    One thing we need to be clear on, though: the Occupant Classification System problem on the '04s is not a "delayed air bag" kind of problem. It's a case where the front passenger air bag should be activated by someone above a certain weight, but is not. As I noted before, it's easy to check whether the OCS sensor is working right by taking your family with you to the dealership and making sure the airbag is activated and deactivated when it should be, i.e., activated when someone who weighs more than 55 pounds sits normally in the seat, and deactivated at other times. There's a light on the dashboard that indicates whether the air bag is activated or not.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,631
    IMO people who have this problem with their '04 Elantras would be better served contacting the NHTSA about it and petitioning for a safety recall action instead of going through a lengthy class action suit.
  • yeah but if they go the NHTSA, nobody pays them! It would also show that they are actually concerned about other peoples safety when we all know it's about a bunch of lazy bums looking for a big payout... ticks me off. Sorry for the rant, but I'm with Backy on this one... there is no reason for lawyers and class action suits on this issue. Should Hyundai do something about it? Absolutely. But do they owe you big money for it? NO!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,690
    The only people that get any money from class action lawsuits are the attorneys for the Plaintiffs & Defendants. Don't be deceived by thinking you will get something for nothing. We need Tort reform to curtail this kind of ignorance that is destroying this country. Nothing or no one is perfect so at some time we all could be sued for not being perfect.
  • Best of all possible worlds would be for NHTSA to do their job and make safety class action suits unnecessary. IMO
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,631
    They can't do their job if no one complains to them. I checked the NHTSA database not long ago for another reason, and I didn't see any record of complaints on the OCS for the '04 Elantra.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    "Thanks for the detailed reply! Yes, I was referring to the Spectra; the actual IIHS test was done on a Sephia, but the results should be applicable to its HB version as well."

    Whoa there, don't buy the old platform Spectra when the new Spectra5 is about to be introduced. I've driven the Focus and Elantra extensively and the new Spectra5 is the one car I'd probably choose over either of them. On the other hand the existing Spectra would be at the very bottom of the list.
  • I don't trust anything the IIHS says. Seriously, do you think an organization funded by insurance companies is in any way objective?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Their objectivity might be clouded, but their number one goal is to improve safety and reduce costs of repair.

    I cannot see how that can possibly be anything but good for car owners.........
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,631
    The barriers they slam cars into is pretty objective.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,631
    Looks like major improvements for the Aerio, particularly the interior and the air bags. Could be a real contender now if Suzuki keeps the price reasonable. The Reno also looks interesting, but is saddled with a ho-hum powertrain. At least they saw fit to give the Reno side air bags standard (along with the '05 Forenza).
  • To me, it seems as if Suzuki is really targeting the MAZDA3 now with the Aerio's sharpened looks and improved interior. Frankly, I'll take the Aerio because it's cheaper, more fuel efficient, makes only 5 less HP from the same displacement as the 3s but more torque at a much lower RPM all without VVT, and the warranty is better.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    Is the (04) Aveo included in GMs "72 hour" sale (zero financing or big time cash back) If so some say get a Corolla over a Prius & save $$, I say get a Aveo and really save $$ if thats a priority.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    now that Suzuki will sell the Reno which is basically a Matrix and Mazda3 hatch competitor, will it still ALSO sell the Aerio SX? Won't they be almost identical in most respects, if so?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,631
    I see Reno as more of an Aveo/Rio/Accent competitor (next Accent will be available as a 5-door hatch) at the low end and maybe Spectra/Elantra at the high end. I see the Aerio SX aimed more at Matrix and Mazda3.
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