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Low End Sedans (under $16k)

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,449
    ...toyota echo: good name; is there anything there?.. there?.. there..? just kidding, but couldn't pass it up.

    saw a tc for the first time today. looked like a bad attempt at a honda civic 2 door.

    have an '04 zts. it's a lot of car for the money. 8k miles, zero problems. it gets the basics right: ride, handling, steering, and stopping.

    mine has lots of extras.
  • and offers the most for your money out of the three Scions. I like it's styling-generally it seems most people are non-plussed by the styling of the small hatchback coupe. I read one review of it this weekend where they said that it had a good blend of ride and handling and good pep from the engine. BTW, by the agreed-upon "Low End Sedans" thread cost guidelines($15,000 or lower) the Scion tC can be discussed here in this thread...at length if need be!

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,626
    I'm missing something. I thought the tC lists for over $16k. And that it's a hatchback coupe, not a sedan.
  • or thereabouts, before it's destination charge. So, yeah, it rings up to $16,465 for the manual trannied model. I guess that pushes it out of here, also it is a hatch coupe not a sedan. Yikes.

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • I can't stand the tC, and it doesn't really belong in this forum. It definitely qualifies as:

     

    1) Most boring Scion

    2) Car that drives most like a Corolla coupe

    3) Toyota with the most disappointing gas mileage
  • nodulenodule Posts: 118
    Does anyone know if the 2005 Elantra GLS

    automatic has a fuel filter that needs to be

    changed, or is this item maint free??
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,626
    You probably want to ask questions like this in the Elantra Owner's discussions to get better response, but yes, the Elantra has a fuel filter that needs to be changed periodically, like every other car that I know of. The replacement schedule is every 52,500 miles or 42 months (wierd).
  • cars usually need their fuel filters replaced. I believe my Sportage 4x4 needs it's replaced every 30,000 miles.

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • but people who have describe it's ride like that of a Toyota Camry, or even a Solara, if memory serves me correctly. Like the big 'ole boaty Toyota? Come on, it's small and heavy but it rides that smoothly?

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • I have owned a Toyota Camry, and the last thing in the world I would want would be another car that rides like it. That said, I did not think the tC was as smooth as the Camry.
  • what do you have against the attractive new hatchback coupe that Scion is calling tC? This is by far the best Scion model yet and I don't see how retro-Celica looks combined with a solid powertrain and modern interior can be a bad deal for $16,465. That is for the manual tranny, mind you. Most every complaint from those who own them are very petty noise or clikkity-clackety type issues regarding the sunroof or dash, etc. The powerplant is pretty decent for a small bodied(yet kinda heavy)rig like that.

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • I have nothing against the car itself, it's just that there are so many better choices out there...

     

    For the record, I think the xA and xB are great cars, I like them much better than the tC.
  • I do like the xA RS 1.0 and to be released in summer 2005 2.0(in blue color instead of red). That car retails for $15,200, fits in the confines of this discussion's parameters and looks great with it's sport tire and wheel package.

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • Absolutely - I am firmly on the xA bandwagon (and xB). The 1.0 looks great, I bet that is a fun car.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,626
    How do two of the best low-end cars compare to the newest low-end car on the block, the Chevy Cobalt? The Mazda3i is generally considered to be one of the best small cars. It's tops on Edmunds.com's list of under-$15k cars and also tops CR's small-car list. It's also highly regarded by C/D. The Hyundai Elantra is highly ranked by Edmunds.com (2nd in their most recent small-car comparo), C/D (also 2nd), and CR ("very good"). Personally I consider the Mazda3i and the Elantra GLS 5-door to be at the top of all the low-end cars. But what about this new Cobalt? I drove all three on the same roads to find out how GM's newest small car would fare against two of the best small cars from Japan and Korea.

     

    Cobalt - I wanted to drive a 5-speed, but none was available. So I drove a base sedan with automatic, sticker just over $17k with a few options such as ABS and side air curtains. First the good news: this is NOT the Cavalier. It's light-years ahead of that car. The car is rock-solid. The ride is supple, easing over bumps without harshness. I think the ride is actually better than that of a $30,000 Honda Accord Hybrid that I also drove today. The electronic steering is accurate. The handling is fine for a low-end car with 15" tires--not top of class, but way ahead of the Cavalier. The dashboard is also leaps and bounds ahead of the Cavalier, with a crisp, modern face that could have been lifted out of, well, a Kia Spectra (but hey, that car has a nice dash!). The engine has a muted growl, not unpleasant, under acceleration. Acceleration is adequate with the automatic. But I didn't push it, since it was a brand-new tester, so it might be capable of much better performance when floored. I would have liked to try it with the Getrag 5-speed. The car was quiet inside, except for the engine growl and a little wind noise around the A pillars or mirrors at 65 mph. It was noticeably quieter than the Mazda3i (because of tire noise on the Mazda). The trunk looked pretty roomy, with gas struts holdling the lid and a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat.

     

    OK, now the not-so-good news. The nice-looking dash begins to look and feel cheap on closer inspection. It's all hard surfaces, no padding as on the Elantra. The Mazda3's dash is hard plastic too, but it's much more interesting hard plastic than on the Cobalt. The dash and interior trim on the upper-level models is a bit spiffier than on the base sedan I drove, with some metallic or wood inserts depending on trim level. But along with the hard side panels and the cheap-feeling HVAC and radio controls, and lack of niceties such as a center console with armrest, I got the overall impression of cost containment even though it was a step up from the Cavalier.

     

    Another issue is the driver's seat. It has a height-adjustable driver's seat, which is good. But it's a single-lever type, similar to that on the Mazda3. So when the seat goes up, the front of the seat goes too low for my taste. I much prefer the dual-knob height adjusters in cars like the Elantra and Forenza.

     

    The back seat was perhaps the biggest disappointment. The Cobalt is an all-new car, so here was the chance for GM to make a car that was fully competitive with the best small cars on the market. And in some ways, especially in ride and NVH, they succeeded. But the rear seat is tight. With the driver's seat adjusted for me (5'9.5"), the back seat was very uncomfortable. My knees were sticking up in the air, legs off the front of the cushion. My toes were wedged under the front seat. The seatback wasn't comfortable. Be sure to check out the back seat if you regularly carry anyone other than small children back there.

     

    Yet another issue is paint. The car on the showfloor was silver. It had perhaps the dullest looking paint finish I have seen in recent years. And this was the showfloor car--so you'd think they'd have it as shined up as it could be. The cars in the lot were messed up from recent snow, so it was hard to tell if the one on the showfloor was an abberation.

     

    BTW, there was a Suzuki Reno S sitting next to the Cobalt on the showfloor. The Reno had a far nicer interior than the Cobalt (base model), many more features (e.g. power locks/windows/mirrors, 8-speaker MP3 stereo, and SABs), a proper seat height adjuster, glossy paint, and a far more comfortable back seat. It also cost about $1000 less. Interesting product placement by the dealership...

     

    OK, so how does the Cobalt compare to the Mazda3i and the Elantra GLS 5-door? On ride, they are all very close but give the Cobalt a slight edge because it's a bit more compliant than the other two cars. The Cobalt is the quietest of the group, with only a little wind rush intruding on highway driving. The Elantra is second, and also has a bit of wind noise on the highway. The Mazda3i is relatively quiet except for significant road noise from its 16" tires on the highway; it also has a little wind noise. On handling, the Mazda3i is tops, followed by the Elantra, but all three are quite good there. For performance, it wasn't a fair fight because the Mazda3i and Elantra had 5-speeds and the Cobalt an automatic, but the Mazda3i felt peppier than the other two cars (and it does have the most power). On braking, they all did fine; the Mazda3i and Elantra have 4-wheel disks standard, but the 3's brakes had a rough feel--could be some surface rust from sitting on the lot. For shifting, the Mazda3i has a great short-throw shifter, while the throws on the Elantra are longer (but the clutch has a nice light feel on both cars). The automatic on the Cobalt was smooth.

     

    For interior quality, the Mazda3i edges the Elantra because its plastic bits are spiffier than those on the Elantra. Fabric quality and feel is about the same (the GLS 5-door has a sport cloth interior unique to that model, and it's quite close to that in the Mazda). The Cobalt falls down in this area, with boring cloth and plasticky switchgear. For driver's comfort, the Elantra edges out the Mazda3, which wins points because of its telescoping steering wheel. The Cobalt is third there, although note that nicer fabrics and even leather are available in pricier trim lines. For back seat room, the Elantra has the roomiest and most comfortable rear area, with the Mazda just edging the Cobalt because of more toe space under the Mazda's front seats. The Elantra also has the convenience of a hatchback, and the Mazda is also available in that configuration albeit in a pricier trim line.

     

    How about value? Equipped as similarly as possible, with ABS, SABs and/or SACs (the Cobalt does not have SABs available), CD stereo, cruise, A/C, power windows/locks/mirrors, and 5-speed manual transmission, here's how they stack up...
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,626
    Cobalt LS: MSRP $16,880, TMV $16,880 (?!?)

    Mazda3i: MSRP $17,275, TMV $16,827 (incl. alloys)

    Elantra GLS 5-door: MSRP $15,284, TMV $12,750

     

    Summary: The Cobalt is a quantum leap over the old Cavalier, and in many aspects, especially ride quality and NVH, ranks right up there with the best small cars. It also has some unique options in its class, such as OnStar. The Mazda3i costs about the same (until Chevy starts putting incentives on the Cobalt) but offers better handling, a nicer interior, and better styling (subjective). The Elantra GLS 5-door is a solid all-around performer with the best driver's and passenger comfort of the group and competitive ride, handling, and power. It has the longest warranty also. And one more little thing... it costs about $4000 less than the Cobalt or Mazda3i, comparably equipped. You could buy a lot of, uh, cobalt with that kind of money.
  • Dang, backy, I don't know what you do for a living, but you should have been a professional tester. Edmunds ought to hire you as their local Twin Cities correspondent.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,626
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,218
    TMV = MSRP is probably because it's too new & not enough data exists to aggregate real world purchases.

     

    Or people are crazy enough to pay sticker. :)

     

    Great comparison as usuaal!
  • Just heard on the news that GM will begin offering incentives on the Cobalt (as well as the Pontiac G6 and Buick La Crosse). Sad when you have to do that on brand new models.
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