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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    I think their SUVs are designed and assembled in Japan also.
  • Yes, the Grand Vitara (dumb name) and XL-7 are made in Japan, but just not any of the "cars" except Aerio.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    Being a small-car lover, I am thankful for all the great low-end car options that will be available within 6 months. Consider that just a couple of years ago, low-end car choices were: Accent, ECHO, and Rio. That's it. And those cars were pretty crude, especially the Rio. By next spring, we'll have the following choices in low-end cars:

    Accent 4-door sedan (new design)
    Accent 3-door hatchback (new design)
    Rio (new design)
    Rio5 (new design)
    Versa (new design)
    Yaris sedan (replacement for ECHO, new design)
    Yaris hatchback (3-door in U.S., 3 and 5-door in Canada)

    Another thing that has changed is the availability in these low-end cars of safety and convenience features that were a short time ago common only in luxury cars. Features like ABS, side airbags and curtains, electronic stability control, 6-speaker high-power sound systems, 8-way adjustable driver's seats, 16" alloy wheels, power heated mirrors, and folding rear center armrests are standard on some of these low-end cars.

    There was an review in my local paper today of the 2006 Rio5; it was from Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times. The article went beyond the normal nuts-and-bolts review to ask some philosophical questions. For example:

    Perhaps the larger point is that these [low-end] cars suggest a subtle change in U.S. car culture, which has taken as an article of faith that we should consume as much as we can afford. What if, like Europeans, we were to buy less car than we could afford? Would that be so bad?

    His answer to his own question was, "Not really, and the Kia is proof." He went on to give a positive review on the Rio5. In it, he imagined himself in an alternate reality, in which he was living in a flat on the outskirts of Prague, working at the National Museum, wearing a long scarf and overcoat and living with a sloe-eyed and surrendering Czech girl. Oh, and he'd smoke--a lot. And drive a Rio5 SX.

    I can understand where he is coming from (not the smoking part, and my wife wouldn't like the part about the surrendering Czech girl). I believe in buying less car than I can afford--the smallest, least-expensive car that meets my needs. Well, not quite the least expensive. I do like the fun of buying new cars and I haven't had much luck with used cars, so I tend to buy new. So I think it's great that we have or will soon have so many fine choices for low-end cars, and I won't have to sacrifice safety or convenience to buy something small and inexpensive. And students, single working people, small families, retirees, and others on a budget will also have those choices.

    2006 is going to be a great year for low-end cars!
  • Backy, you eloquently expressed the same exact feelings I have about low-end cars. I'm very excited about the current (and near future) explosion of these vehicles onto the U.S. market.

    There was a time when I'd devote 35-40% of my income to a car payment. I was a dumb 20-year old in those days who thought nice wheels were the key to happiness.

    As a 30-year old, I love the idea of getting a comfortable, fun-to-drive, reliable vehicle for a few hundred dollars less per month than I could theoretically afford. I'm a single guy and intend to stay that way, why the heck should I pay $400 per month for an Accord or similar when I could buy a Rio, Accent or even Honda Fit for around $200 per month. I'd also save some gas in the tradeoff.

    I think these cars will enjoy tremendous success in the U.S. I think their high fuel economy numbers will appeal far beyond their low sticker prices!
  • I just read the First Drive of the Toyota Yaris Sedan and Liftback. I actually like the 3-door best, even though it reminds me of the goofy Ford Ka.

    The 4-door looks like someone took a Camry and boiled it. Only they started with one of those goofy Camrys that has the rear spoiler/ground effects but still has the small standard wheels. Not very attractive in my opinion. The Corolla S suffers from the same problem, IMO. That little Liftback (reminds me of the old Celica) is a cutie, though.

    Note to Toyota- center mounted gauges are stupid. The scream cheap.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    I disagree that the center mounted instrumentation screams cheap. Cheap to me has much more to do with materials quality and fit and finish of those materials. Toyota is using electroluminescent instrumentation on some of the Yaris models- is that cheap? To me, it screams Acura/Lexus/Infiniti. I also like the symmetrical orientation of the controls; one thing that bothers the hell out of me with respect to the Corolla, for example, is that the stereo and HVAC controls arent truly centered/aligned.

    Now, Im not necessarily a fan of center mounted gauges, but I dont think they are by default cheap.

  • smith20smith20 Posts: 256
    Nice . . . I really like the styling of the sedan. Looks like it's going to be a great car. :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    The sedan looks like a pretty nice car, except for the center-mounted gauges (sorry, I am a traditionalist on gauges). I just wonder what the tab will be for a fully-equipped car, that is, with ABS, side bags/curtains, A/C, alloys, and 60/40 fold-down seats. The Accent will be $14.5k equipped like that. If Toyota can get close to that price, it will be a very compelling package, considering the slightly better fuel economy and Toyota's reputation for quality and high resale value.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Isn't the 5M Accent rated at 35MPG on the highway? Please correct me if Im wrong, but if thats the case, and the Yaris gets 40, then thats more than a "slight" difference in MPG- its 15% better (highway).

  • smith20smith20 Posts: 256
    Yeah, the Accent isn't very competitive in fuel efficiency. It's surprising to me that the Accent highway mileage is barely better that the four cylinder Sonata! There's a huge difference in the displacement of those two engines.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    If you just want to focus on one aspect of fuel economy--highway with a stick--it's a 14% difference. But if you look at fuel economy in a broader sense, the difference is a range from 6% to 21%:

    Highway, with automatic: 36 vs. 39 (8% difference)
    City, with automatic: 28 vs. 34 (21%)
    Automatic, overall (est.): 32 vs. 36.5 (14%)
    City, with stick: 32 vs. 34 (6%)
    Stick, overall (est.): 33.5 vs. 37 (10%)

    So if someone drives the stick, or the automatic mainly on the highway, it's a 6-10% difference per EPA ratings. I don't think that's a huge difference, do you? The worst case for the Accent is in the city with an automatic, and next the stick on the highway. Personally, I would tend to get the Yaris with the stick (based on Edmunds' review where they really praised the stick), and I drive mostly in the city, so I see a slight difference in fuel economy there.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    A potential range of 6 to 21% seems more than slight to me, especially given your averages are 10% better overall for the 5Ms and 14% better overall for the 4As.

    But of course, everyones driving style and conditions are different. And, its probably a good idea to look at engine performance and refinement as well.

    Here are the comments from on the Yaris 1.5L tested with the 5M and 4A:

    "We sampled both powertrains, and found the manual gave the Yaris a peppy, sporty feel. The engine stays smooth and vibration-free, even at high rpm. We took the engine to redline again and again and never felt like we were thrashing the car. Both the gearshift and clutch action are light and the gearshift knob doesn't vibrate, whether at idle or while running at 75 mph on the freeway.

    As expected, the automatic sapped some of the fun, as off-the-line performance is blunted. But like the manual, it has decent midrange pull and has no problem getting up to and cruising at 75-80 mph on the highway."

    Here are the comments from the same source, on the Accent/Rio's 1.6L, as tested in the Rio5 4A:

    "We flat-foot it getting onto the freeway and there's a swell of noise and vibration but not a lot of push from the seat. The leisurely feel of its acceleration is later confirmed by an 11.5-second 0-to-60 run at the test track which is nearly a second slower than its Chevy and Scion competitors.

    Shifts from the automatic are reasonably quick and an on/off button for the overdrive gear makes it easy to drop to 3rd for climbing long grades. We make use of it often and find ourselves maneuvering through traffic with ease. There's no ignoring the engine noise at full throttle, but when the transmission drops into top gear on the flat sections the cabin gets surprisingly quiet with little road or wind noise. "

    Given the's hatred of the underachieving ECHO, Im surprised they were this positive about the Yaris. Cant wait to see a sedan comparo of the Yaris, Accent, Rio, Fit, and Versa.... preferrably in Car and Driver, and of models with 5M.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    I can't wait for the comparos either.

    The Rio LX automatic I tested seemed more than peppy enough around town, even though I didn't push it, and while it was raucous when revved, it was very smooth and quiet on the highway, and shifts were smooth and almost unnoticeable. On the Yaris, I would tend to go with the stick. With the Rio or Accent, I might lean to the automatic (depends on how the stick drives) for more quiet operation and the ten years of warranty coverage (not as valuable on a stick, since clutch wear is not covered).

    P.S. I agree that 21% is not slight--but IMO 6-10% is.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    So then, given your stated city driving orientation, the difference would be 6 MPG; 28 MPG for the Accent with an auto to 34MPG for the Yaris with a stick.

    In that case the 21% increase in fuel economy would make a difference, as you've indicated? And we're back to the difference NOT being slight.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    Yes, if that is the way I would go then the Accent would need to cost less than the Yaris to make up for the disparity. But since I only drive about 7,000 miles a year, the dollar difference @ $3.00/gallon is only about $10 a month. And that is worst-case; I do some driving on the highway, and I average 28 mpg in the city in my 2.0L Elantra, so I expect I will do better in an Accent. So fuel costs will not be a major factor in my decision--things like crash safety, driving position, ride and handling, back-seat room, NVH will be much more important for me.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    I understand, thanks.

    I dont really think the Yaris will come in under the Accent. My gut feeling is that a similar Yaris will be about $800 to $1000 more. Still, given this extremely positive review, the Yaris may just be worth it, say $15.5K for an LE 5M sedan plus alloys, ABS, convenience pkg, side curtains. Cruise would be nice too, though Im not sure if its offered.

    What really compels me about the Yaris is, again, based on this one review- the interior quality, the "dare they say fun" handling, and the powertrain- a smooth 1.5L that will happily rev all day long and feel peppy to boot.... are really big deals, IMO. Plus, to my eyes, its the best looking small sedan I've seen (of the Rio, Accent, Versa, Aveo- I consider the 3, Civic, Elantra etc... compacts)

    Backy, whats goin on man? Are we the only ones enthused by this segment? Wheres everyone else?

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    I think a lot of people are enthused. But there's no new cars yet! Just the Rio, and the now-dated Aveo. I think when the new little cars start rolling out this spring there will be lots of excitement.

    The Edmunds review said the Yaris offers cruise, which is another plus over the Rio and Accent.

    I expect the nicely-equipped Yaris will be quite a bit more than an Accent or Rio. The Accent with ABS, six airbags, power package, 60/40 rear seat, alloys, and A/C is $14,500 USD. The Edmunds review said the Yaris would start at about $13,000--which is like the Accent. But at that price, the Accent comes with ABS and 6 airbags, which are optional on the Accent. OTOH, I think I read that A/C is standard on the Yaris. So adding power package (a requirement in a 4-door for me), ABS, and bags will put it up near $15k I think. One nice thing is it looks like you can add alloys separately on the Yaris (but not on the Accent), so that will help keep the price down. I would pay $1000+ more for a Yaris than an Accent easily, if the ride and comfort is at least as good. But I suspect rebates and discounts on the Accent will make the difference more like $2-3000.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    What do you think of the Fit? If the sedan is actually 152 inches long, as the thread seems to indicate, thats just too small for me, regardless of how it drives. The Yaris is only 8 inches shorter than my Sentra, and it will likely have more interior space and handle even better (I consider handling one of my Sentras strong suits), if the preview test is true. The hardest adjustment would be the discrepancy in power (namely, losing about 50 horses). BUT- if the EPA ratings are true, I could get 12 mgp better with the Yaris.

    I'll probably looking in 6-8 months, so the timing is very nice.

    I sincerely hope for Hyundai that the company doesnt have to offer $1000 rebates so early on...

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    I like the 5-door Fit a lot, but so far there's nothing to touch and drive. Unfortunately for me, I may need to get a new car as early as next March or maybe April, so I hope Honda, Toyota, and Nissan don't delay the launches of their new low-end cars too long. But the worst part is I would probably need to pay near sticker for a Fit, Yaris, or Versa, since they will be brand-new and I expect in short supply. The Accent, OTOH, will have been out 3-4 months so the rebate cycle might have started already. And I think rebates will be on the Accent when the other small cars start coming out at around the same price. I don't think most people are willing to pay the same price for a Hyundai vs. a comparable Japanese model yet. There's still that resale value issue hanging over Hyundai. Until that is gone, there has to be a significant price break on the upfront purchase of the Hyundais.
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