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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • For those not in the know, it looks like Kia is doing away with the Sephia name and will be using the Spectra name for both a hatchback and a sedan as 2002 models. My source is the October issue of Motor Trend.
  • Off topic or not, the recent posting by "D" does bring up what might be an interesting topic.

    Did you buy your car because you like "econoboxes?"

    Sorry if this is ground already covered, but there are over 550 posts and I don't feel like reading through all of them.

    Especially since it feels like I wrote a lot of them. ; )
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    I realize that the Hyundai is a cheaper car. Like Edmunds said: "The Hyundai is cheap and good, the Protege is expensive and excellent" But....The Protege doesn't have to be expensive. For example, they tested the Sentra which wasn't fully optioned out and proclaimed it a value; they tested the Protege fully optioned out and called it expensive. Is it just me, or is that ridiculous? With the 0% financing that Mazda is offering, the price difference gets even smaller. For some people, like me, cheaper does not always equal better. Both the Hyundai and the Protege are relatively cheap as far as cars are concerned. If you went to the supermarket to buy a steak and saw that you could get a filet mignon for a little more than a cube steak, which would you buy? Unless I was EXTREMELY strapped for cash, or I actually liked cube steaks better, I would get the filet mignon, and I did.
  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    Well...for the money, the Hyundai also gives you the rolls, soup, salad, potato, vegetable, desert and beverage.
  • Pass the cube steaks, please....I recently chose the Elantra GT over the Mazda Protege ES. And price had nothing to do with it; I could have afforded either car, I just liked the Elantra more.

    I'd never owned either brand before and I'll admit to being pleasantly surprised by Hyundai. If brand image doesn't mean anything to you then Hyundai offers a very attractive package
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    Well, I can't argue with that. If you liked the Elantra more, and you don't care about brand image, then by all means, you made the right choice. Isn't the Elantra GT a hatchback? What other cars did you consider when shopping? You know, Nissan makes a mighty fine New York strip.
  • But I don't like soup (power windows). ; )
  • If there is one thing I have learned about Edmunds, it is that the reviews are not very consistent.

    As someone pointed out, they took one car with few options and called it reasonable and they took a loaded car and called it expensive.

    This is like the safety claims they made against the Echo. They said you would end up looking like spam if you got hit by an SUV. They made a big deal in a later article about they were basically motivated by being concerned about people's safety.

    If that is the case, they should warn people the dangers of being in a small car in every review they do of a small car. They don't.

    In fact, if you click on the compare button when you are looking at the Echo, information on three other small cars appear.

    I checked the current reviews for these other models and in only one of the three is a warning about the car's size and weight relative to SUVs present.

    I like Edmunds, but just for the message boards.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    I like soup, I don't care for rolls (moonroof/sunroof) or salad (abs). Major, it seems that most low end cars now come with soup and if they don't, they also don't come with salad, rolls, beverage, potato, vegetable, or desert. Its too bad automakers don't have buffets. They seem to package everything together. In order to get a potato, you must buy soup and a salad too. You want dessert? Well, you need to buy the beverage and vegetable package. What if I don't like salad?
  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    Worse yet, they make you take their salad dressing.

    In answer to the earlier post about the other cars that I looked at. I looked at the Pro-5, the Golf, the Focus with an eye toward the ZX5, and the Civic, Corolla, and Echo. My thoughts:

    Pro-5: Great small package, but I felt that the mpgs were too low for all the driving I was doing. I followed the threads on the Pro board and was concerned that too many people were getting in the low to mid 20s. Also thought the low profile tires would wear faster and cost more to replace. I also couldn't get really comfortable in the driver's seat and disliked the low height and stubbiness of the center arm rest.

    Golf---I looked at the TDI. I might have bought one, but if I was going to, I wanted all of the goodies and the ones I saw did not yet have the side curtain air bags. Also concerned about the reliability and cost of maintenance of the diesel. Otherwise, I thought that the Golf was the best small package out there. The seats are great and even the passenger side has full height adjustment and tilt.

    Focus---A very functional design and lots of interior room. I disliked the dash layout, and found the seat to be too short. I also thought the telescoping wheel didn't have enough travel. My real negative was the engine and drive train. I just didn't like the power or the shift points with the 2.0 Zetec. Last, I don't like the rear deck light treatment and the squashed rear window. Ford also charges a fortune for traction control.

    Civic---Loved the EPA ratings and the reputation and reliability. Did not like the driver's seat, the front leg room, and the adjustment knobs on the EX that would skin your knuckles with the door closed. Didn't appreciate the cheap and useless driver arm rest and ridiculously inadequate center console storage.

    Corolla---Too cramped in the rear and not too comfortable for me in the driver's seat. Nice center console. Great mileage, great engine, timing chain. Wouldn't buy with the 03 redesign promising to be worth the wait.

    Echo----Still a contender for my second car.
    Really wanted a center arm rest. Tilt wheel has little travel...low to lower. No tach and no temp gauge a real minus to me. No ABS and side air bag availability another minus. Terrific mpgs and great heritage for reliability. Interior quite spartan but very functional. This car should be a squared off hatchback. The trunk opening is way too shallow to put anything large inside. A hatch would really solve that.

    Elantra GT---Loved all the content and the ability to get traction control, roof, and ABS for under $1200, let alone get traction control on a 4 cylinder. Cargo space a plus as is the extra legroom as the car is a few inches longer than its competitors. Like the bumper rub strips to protect against paint scuffs as well. All the amenities plus the warranty plus the price plus the decent mpgs for a large engine won me over. Engine and tranny not as refined as the Japanese cars. No regrets to date.

    Hope this helps.
  • Love the menu theme. If this is a low-end forum, I guess we're all eating at a Sizzler or someplace similar... :-)

    As to what other cars we were considering when I bought the Elantra GT, the short list is below. We wanted four doors, auto tranny, A/C, and some power goodies.

    Protege ES/Protege5 - Pro5 wasn't available yet at any local dealer and the ES just didn't have the same "feel" as the Elantra (and no hatchback). If we could have found a Pro5 for around $17K, we may have bought it. Best looking of the bunch. Protege LX 2.0 still high on my list as a second car. We were almost a Mazda Family.

    Honda Civic LX - Capable car but dull. Slightly noiser than I remembered. Sedan is [non-permissible content removed]-ugly when viewed from the rear (Elantra GT ain't no prize in that view, either) and more than a little overpriced for the standard content (options were costly). Dealers were also kind of arrogant. We thought the interior was too plain. Liked the mileage.

    Toyota Corolla - Overpriced, cramped and cheap-feeling, but had a smooth, quiet ride. Toyota should be ashamed of itself to charge nearly $18,000 for the LE (with desirable options). What gall! Almost caused me to boycott Toyota products. I'm 5'9" and I could not fit my size 10 feet behind the front seatbacks. For shame. Did I mention it was overpriced?

    VW Beetle/Golf/Jetta - Beetle too small. All cars a little overpriced, but we could have dealt with that due to the standard feature content. If these cars had bigger rear seats and had better reliability reps we may have bought one. They are all classy cars with a premium feel.

    Hyundai Sonata - (wife's first choice until she drove the GT) very roomy, decent features but a tad too wide for our 1926 carriage house garage.

    Honorable mention: Ford Focus (ugly, recalls); Toyota Echo (too spartan but still under consideration for commuter car, marriage issues - wife hated it, I loved it); Mistubishi Lancer (not available in June).

    After test driving and research, we felt the Elantra GT offered the most for the money. We also got one very early, before less reputable dealers started marking up the price. We have 5200 miles on the clock and zero troubles. So far, Hyundai has made us happy.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    Lots of posts here for the Protege ES, which I tested the same day as the DX. Skip the baked potato and roll, go lean and try the DX, it's great for someone who doesn't want to spend even $14k, and I'm sure they're dealing on them. I think there are some people out there who don't want or need power windows or locks (though no tach and no height adjustment on the seat is a pain). This car was still fun to drive (get the 5 speed), solid, roomy, good looking and quiet.
  • Which small cars did I consider before purchasing my Echo? Might be a shorter list if I were to tell you which cars I didn't consider. : )

    I considered, read about, looked at, and/or test drove a number of small cars. I also looked at a few other cars outside this category.

    Here is the list.

    Chevrolet Cavalier, Chevrolet Prizm, Daewoo Lanos, Daewoo Nubira, Dodge Neon, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Sephia, Mazda Protege, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Sentra, Pontiac Sunfire, Saturn SC, Suzuki Esteem, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Echo, and Volkswagen New Beetle.

    Outside the category, I looked at the Suzuki Sidekick, Honda CR-V, and the Toyota RAV-4. The most disparate vehicle I looked at was the BMW 3-Series. I could have done a lease, but my frugal nature made it clear I would not be happy.

    The Echo on the other hand has left me very happy.
  • Given you are married, it is important that you keep the wife happy, but perhaps she will have the same reaction as my roommate. When I first went to take a test drive of the Echo, I took my roommate along. Her reaction at the time was that it was a fine car for me, but she did not like the looks of it.

    I have owned the Echo for almost nine months and my roommate likes the Echo so much now that she is thinking about getting one for herself. She presently owns a 1995 Mitsubishi Galant.

    We are presently trying to locate a Rent-A-Toyota dealer where we can rent an automatic. My Echo is a stick so driving it would not give her a true feel of what "her" car would be like.
  • my friends dad recently got a neon acr, Looks real cool but he said thats its not fast at all, he said his protege spanked it, but i still haven't raced or driven one so neon acr is like an echo for me, its the untouched area so far.
  • My criteria for a car is quality, reliability, fuel economy, and safety. These are not in order of importance and actually all are pretty much equally important to me.

    I wanted a small car that could carry four adults in comfort and five adults if I needed to.

    And actually I had been in the market for a new car for a number of years, but something held me back.

    Glad that something did hold me back or else I might not be driving an Echo today.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    Out of respect for the dearly departed.



    Sephia, we hardly knew ye! We sure couldn't pronounce ye correctly, which is one of the reasons you have left this world for the Great Commute in the Sky. According to Mr. B. M. Ahn, President and CEO of Kia Motors America:

    "We weren't able to do any substantial market research concerning the vehicle name when we launched," said Ahn. "So we went with Sephia but always knew that at some point it would change, especially because it was so often mispronounced."

    So for those of you who never learned to pronounce "Sephia" correctly and therefore contributed to the demise of this fine example of automotive engineering, here it is, one last time:


    Or is it


    or maybe it's... oh, never mind.

    For full press release on the 2002 Spectra sedan:

    Note that the '02 Spectra sedan will not be based on the Elantra chassis and engine as had been rumored, but instead on the Spectra hatchback platform.

    I'm going to eat my Burger King hamburger now.

  • Yes, the wife does not like the Echo's looks. However, I think she may consent to one as long as it was used as a second car for *my* commuting purposes. She's smart enough to see what a frugal and efficient vehicle the Echo is and I think the odd appearance of the Echo would probably grow on her. We would have to buy an auto tranny, though.

    When our 1987 Mustang retires to the great Ford graveyard in the sky I will seriously consider the Echo as a second commuter car. My previous car was a Geo Metro (best damn car I ever owned)and I think a modestly equipped Echo would serve the same purposes very well.
  • I always pronounced Sephia as Suh-Fee-Uh. I actually saw the name in print before I saw my first commercial and found out I had been pronouncing it right.

    BTW, Burger King fries are NOT better than McDonald's fries.
  • Personally, I did not look at the "value" equation that hard. To me there is more to "value" than content versus price. I think the Echo is still a good value even if you load it up with a lot of bells and whistles.

    Perhaps now is the time to get the second car BEFORE the Mustang goes. That way you are not forced to make a decision.

    FYI, if you want an Echo with ABS and side airbags, you can get it, but you will have to order it. That may take anywhere from two to four months.
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