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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    Mazda has had in the past a not so great US dealer network as many will tell on Edmunds.

    Now in Toronto there are A LOT (10+) of Mazda dealers with a 30mins drive from where I am, so competition keeps things in check, but I too experienced subpar service. I take the PRO to Avante Toronto - they're good with it and have treated me well.

    I take the Maxi to a small independent shop.

    I can only imagine how service gets "corrupted" when there aren't that many places to keep people honest.

    So where are you in Canada?

  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    Sorry computer crashed no access for many days. All better now. Whew!

    I am in the Oakville area to the west of the city. How about you - your flag is Rumanian(?).
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    I was born in Romania and lived there until 91 when we came to Canada.


    PS: And yes I know where Oakville is :)
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    So I had this Daewoo Nubira rental for a week which I needed for work I was doing in the US. It had 20,000 miles on the clock. It was fairly solid, not many squeaks and rattles, but there was a weird swishing sound from the back. This is at least a two year old rental car so it has been flogged to death. It ran fine with good pickup and very good interior room. It was not uncomfortable but I can not say I liked driving it. Also fuel econ was terrible.

    Still, the car showed that the company had promise. The new GMDAT stuff could be quite good if properly priced. The new Chevy Aveo is quite attractive to look at while the two larger models(Epica and ?) look more like the Daewoos of old - bland. They will also be sold in Canada as Suzukis called Swift, Forenza and Verona).

    Daewoo went belly up in the US and Canada in 2001. They were only in Canada for about a year and a half and they were not really any cheaper than the Japanese stuff, just more standard equipment. So like Kia up here, not terribly competitive IMHO.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    Why would someone buy a low-end Korean-made car from Daewoo (i.e. the Aveo and the new Suzukis) when for the same price they can buy other Korean-made cars that have proven to have decent reliability and have a superior warranty (especially compared to the Aveo)? For the Aveo, maybe the big dealer network would be a plus, but what about the Suzukis?
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    I agree on both accounts. The Hyundais are very good value comparatively and proven.

    I think the Chevy's will sell based on GMs excellent dealer coverage.

    In the past, however GM dealers were none too keen on selling badge engineered imports if they had a made-in-America alternative. That is why the Cavalier outsold the Prism/Metro/Sprint/Spectrum group of small cars made by Toyota/Suzuki/Isuzu. Each one of the Japanese cars were better vehicles in terms of quality. The Cav had price and interior room going for it and dealers loved to sell them loaded up (pretty hard to do with a Sprint).

    Judging by the confident driving dynamics of the Saturn ION, I have a felling the new Cobalt will send the Aveo packing. Here in Canada, once you add auto and air to subcompacts you are in compact price territory. GM has never been good about pricing its small car to reflect their value when it has more than one to sell.

    I think the Suzuki versions will give its dealers something other than the quirky (but great to drive) Aerio and the cute utes. They are unlikely to change Suzuki's fortunes very much.
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    With the addition of the Korean built cars to the Suzuki line-up, I wonder what will happen to the similarly sized Aerio sedan. My suggestion to Suzuki would be to make the sedan available only as an AWD and bump up the engine power to around 175hp.

    Also strengthen the after-market tuner parts available and pitch the Aerio as a cheaper alternative to the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evo VIII
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681 has (another) negative review of the Ion, this time the Quad Coupe. I haven't been impressed with what I've seen of the Ion myself, and I haven't seen a single positive review of it, but I see TONS of them driving around the Twin Cities! I just saw someone in my neighborhood washing a white one. So if they are so bad, why are they so popular? Or is it just Minnesnowta, and the allure of rustproof body panels?
  • jimbeaumijimbeaumi Posts: 620
    Backy, I see them in increasing numbers here in West Michigan, too. IMO people buy them in spite of the reviews for the same reason people keep buying Cavaliers: effective promotion with lots of cash giveaways or good financing. And Saturn customers are still pretty loyal to their good-service dealers. Me? I'll stick with my good service AND all-around better vehicle (you know what it is).
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    Uses salt on roads in the winter time too, right? I just wonder if the Ion is as popular down South.
  • lawman1967lawman1967 Posts: 314
    I am (hopefully) about to give my Mitsubishi Galant back due to a lemon law issue (breaks) and am considering a smaller cheaper car. My needs are for a quiet and smooth ride, AC and decent stereo, and not much else. Manual trans and a small interior are fine, so long as it gets good MPG and has decent resale value.

    So far, what is most difficult is choosing between cheap and REALLY cheap. Based on Edmunds' pricing data and incentives, I can get a 2 door Toyota Echo with AC and CD for $10,000 after rebate. An Accent 3 door would cost about $500 more but has the great warranty (though inferior fuel economy).

    $12,000 will buy a Protege DX with AC and CD, while moving up to $13,000 I can get a Sentra or Corolla with similar equipment and in the Corolla's case, almost the same fuel economy, or a Protege LX or Scion Xa fully equipped. $14,000 will get either of these fully loaded.

    The car will be used mostly on long interstate drives (I do a round-trip from Los Angeles to San Jose every month) and a cross-country round-trip next year.
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    The Pro is a good choice for the money. If you can afford even a basic Corolla, it is a better choice for highway cruising as it is quieter, smoother riding and more fuel efficient.

    The Accent is a fine car for the money but it is rather noisy for a lot of highway cruising and fuel econ is not great for such a small car. The Echo is a great car but its tall shape makes it susceptible to side winds. It would not be my choice for highway cruising, despite a decent enough ride and great fuel econ.

    Do not forget the base Civic which is an excellent choice. It gives you some of the driving dynamics of the Pro and the overall refinement of the Corolla. This is the car for resale!

    I am not a big fan of the Mexican-built Sentra, although I like the car itself.

    I do not know if you are totally off Mitsu but that Lancer is a really nice driving car, although fuel econ is not great but there should be deals-a-plenty. Ditto for the strange but competent Saturn ION.

    Unlike the midsize ranks, most small cars have good resale regardless of brand (except the non-Saturn US stuff).
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    and the words steering feel, cornering ability, no body roll, excellent brakes, and driving fun mean anything to you test drive a PRO. You won't be disappointed.

  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    "...and the words steering feel, cornering ability, no body roll, excellent brakes, and driving fun mean anything to you test drive a PRO. You won't be disappointed."

    Yeah, what he said!

    Proteges are kind of the best deals going in high quality small cars. Resale is a little lower than Corolla/Civic as is fuel econ but its not a deal breaker. Mazda makes a fine car.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    I don't think you'll be happy with an Accent or ECHO as a long-distance cruiser. The Pro would be a good choice, except you said you wanted a "quiet and smooth ride". The Pro has great handling, but not a quiet, smooth ride. The Elantra has a quiet, smooth ride, but has only average reliability and fuel economy. I could keep going down the list, but I can cut it short because you said resale value and mpg are important. In my mind that narrows it down to two cars: Corolla CE or Civic DX (or maybe the LX). I think the Corolla has the smoother ride, while the Civic is a bit sportier in the handling department. Either should be dependable and have high fuel economy, especially with a 5-speed. Since you said interior room is not a biggie, you could save a few grand and get a slightly-used Corolla. The previous generation had a nice smooth ride and engine, was very reliable, and had great fuel economy, but has less interior room than the '03 models.
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    Backy is spot on.

    I do a lot of highway driving and have an '02 Corolla and '03 Civic. I have previously also owned an Elantra. Any one of these cars is well suited to highway driving for a small car. The rule of thumb is to avoid very tall designs if they have small wheels (Echo) and also avoid cars that have a very low seating position (like my old Saturns).

    Also, as a rule, Japanese cars have better (quieter) and more refined four cylinder engines which makes highway driving better.

    The Corolla is probably the best car in its class. It is quiet, soft riding, has decent interior room, tall seating position (although some do not like the driving position), great gas mileage, decent power and incredible reliability/resale. Pretty hard to beat.

    No car is perfect, especially in this price class. The Saturn ION will have the best service, the Civic will have the best resale, the Protege is nicest to drive, the Corolla has the nicest ride and the Elantra is the value leader.

    There are other choices like the Lancer, Aerio, Sentra etc that may also serve you well. All of the aforementioned cars are good and should be chosen from a dealership you trust, regardless of the brand.

    If I had to buy again today I would choose the Civic in a 5-speed or a Corolla with auto (which is exactly how my two are equipped).
  • lawman1967lawman1967 Posts: 314
    I lost on my arbitration and have to go the lemon law route, however the dealer which sold my Galant was very sympathetic (and also sells Mazdas), and made a rather generous offer book +$1000 for my lemon in trade on a Protege at invoice. While I still lose money on the Galant, I can get a Protege LX 5 speed with the moonroof/CD Changer package (the only manual trans on the lot) for the exact same payment I have now on a 48 month note. The rebate and trade allowance come $1000 short of my payoff on the Mitsu, so I ending buying the Pro for a bit under MSRP.

    The car was incredible. It is fast, handles like a dream and while quite a bit rougher and busier at high speed than the Galant, it also handles much better, isn't about to run out of warranty coverage (scary on my car) and despite not being up to Corolla levels of fuel economy, should be much better than my Galant.

    I also took a spin in an Ion-1, and while the car is really funky inside, it did handle and ride far better than I expected it to. It is also very cheap for me, as I get GM-S pricing (roughly $1000 off, my mother is retired GM), a $1000 owner loyalty rebate and the $2000 factory rebate . They won't give me as much for the Galant, but I still end up almost even on the trade thanks to roughly $4000 in rebates. For 48 months it will cost $100 less than the Pro, but is nowhere near as well equipped, having nothing but a CD player and AC. Of course, its much quieter, feels faster and gets better fuel economy.

    Anyone have any feedback on Ion reliability yet?
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    Sorry! I drove a 5spd base model and wasn't impressed wi th the fit and finish, although the 5spd was ok to shift - engaged gears very easily.

    If you can get the PRO ES for invoice, you'll get a REALLY great interior and even better handling than on the LX, but of course it'll cost more.

  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    I do not know your financial status but IMHO the $100 differential is not much unless it is per month:)

    I bought my first two Saturns because they were the cheapest good small car for the money. This time around price was not an issue so I got what I wanted, a Civic and Corolla (I only like small cars).

    Fuel econ on the ION is a wash with the Pro. I personally do not like the appearance of the ION but it does drive and ride well. I hated the weird seating position and the back seat is uncomfortable. However in Canada there are some good rebates and I still have a GM Visa card so if price was an issue I would buy an ION. My past experience with the SLs tells me this will be a good car despite the poor quality of some of the interior materials. Exterior fit and finish is very good. Saturn dealer service was exemplary for my entire 10 years of Saturn ownership.

    While my friends on the ION board will disagree, IMHO the ION is poorly packaged. My Civic is more comfortable and roomier inside (most measurements are similar for the Civic and EPA interior volume is actual larger on the Civic) and the Civic is about 10 inches shorter!

    The Protege feels a lot better in interior fit and finish and to my mind is a vastly better driving car. Sounds like your Mazda/Mitsu dealer is OK.

    Frankly ION or Pro are both pretty decent choices.
  • lawman1967lawman1967 Posts: 314
    The $100 difference is per month over 48 months. Still, I'm leaning towards the Protege LX. Actually the ES is very appealing, but the dealer that is willing to help me out of the Mitsu only has automatic ESs (and DXs, which I would actually prefer).

    I was driving home from work today and saw a shop with a large Brembo logo in the window and stopped in. Now there is another option. As the only component on my Galant to fail are the brakes, I got an estimate of $1000 for a complete rework of my braking system which includes Brembo rotors and pads, rebuilding of my stock calipers and fitment of braided steel lines. While my brake troubles won't qualify for the Lemon law (four repairs, but four completely different brake problems), I can sue for the replacement cost of the brakes in small claims and probably win (in CA they are notoriously pro-consumer).

    Other than the brakes, the Galant has been a decent car. Ok, the fuel economy sucks, there are a few rattles and depreciation has been horrendous, but that horrendous depreciation does ake keeping it a good option if I can get trustworthy brakes.

    Guess I'd better go drive the Protege again and follow it up with some creative math.
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