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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    It will be interesting to see which models chooses for their next economy-car shootout, assuming they have one in the near future. If they go low-end (like this forum), they'd probably choose the Elantra GLS and Protege LX, with the now-standard 2.0L engine. Maybe they'll save the 5-doors for a separate comparo.
    What will the '03 MPS list for, any idea? A 200hp turbo engine doesn't sound too cheap. The '02 180hp Jetta GLS 1.8T is $20k.
    BTW, who named the MPS, not yet in production, the best-handling front wheel drive car over the 7-year-old Integra design? Tony Swan in C&D called the Acura RSX "best in class". Does that mean better than the MPS?
    On the value thing: if we decontent the Protege, taking off the Premium Package, then we need to de-option the Elantra too. Recall the '00 GLS in the comparo was pretty loaded--for an Elantra anyway. Compare base model to base model, which is what I think you are suggesting, and it's more than a $3200 difference at the '00 prices--still quite a spread. That and the 5-speed might be enough to push the Protege ES over the '00 GLS, but golly, the Pro ES should score better than a car that costs $3200 less.
    Let us know what you think of the Elantra GT, especially the handling vs. the ES (be sure to drive one with the sport suspension). Reports on the leather have been mixed. I thought it felt good, but I'm not a leather fan, with 3 kids and living in the Frozen Tundra.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    SportCompactCar named the MP3 which IS in production, the best handling front-wheel drive car. According to their tests, the MP3 had a higher slalom speed, posted more lateral Gs, than the "previous FWD benchmark Type-R" with the emphasis on PREVIOUS. I don't know for sure, but I seriously doubt the new RSX handles better than the old Type-R which was pretty much a purpose built near race car. The new FWD benchmark is the MP3 according to SportCompactCar.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    So what is the "best handling" compact car? The MPS? MP3? RSX? Seems like different mags and editors have different opinions. Anyway, it's moot for the purposes of this board. All of these cars sticker for $18,500 more.
    More to the point, what is the best-handling low-end car? For instance, how different do the Protege DX and LX handle from the ES, MP3, and MPS? How do the Protege DX and LX compare to entry cars like the Focus ZX3, Civic DX/HX, Elantra GT, Sentra GXE, and Echo?
  • The 2002 Protege DX and LX are equipped with wheel and tire sizes equivalent of the 1999 and 2000 Protege ES. With the adoption of the 2.0L engine across the board, even the lowly DX now has fairly significant performance. I'd give the nod to the Protege for the best handling low-end car, with the Focus ZX3 a close second.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    So are the suspension bits for the Protege DX and LX identical to those on the ES, except smaller tires?
    Brings up a question: except for a bit larger tires, and alloys (which are a no-cost option on the LX 2.0 right now), what is the value now of buying an ES over the LX? (Especially if the suspensions are equal.)
    The 2.0L engine will help performance on the DX/LX, but I don't see how they'll help handling. May even hurt it, if it's heavier than the 1.6L motor.
    I agree with your order, except I've only driven the Focus SE, not the ZX3. Still, the SE's handling was pleasant. Civic and Corolla are nothing special in the handling department; maybe the tweaks on the 2002 Civic will help. Sentra SE would be up there I think, but is just over the bar for entry-level and is going away in 2002 in favor of the costlier SE-R. The Elantra GLS is slanted towards smoothness vs. crisp handling, but the GT compares pretty well I think to the Protege LX and Focus. The ride is more like the Focus than the LX, fairly smooth. Neon is not bad either, but I think a notch under Protege, Focus, and Elantra GT. I've not driven the Lanos, but have read positive reports about its handling in the mags and the Lanos forum. Lanos might be the bargain-basement handling champ, with its Porsche-tuned suspension.
  • The suspension for the DX/LX is exactly the same as the ES except for the thickness of the anit-roll bars. All Protege's are equipped with front and rear anti-roll bars, but the ES just has thicker ones. The Protege5 has the same suspension as the ES, but also includes a front-mounted strut tower brace. The Protege5 also has the European Protege steering rack (faster gear ratio). The MP3 and MPS have totally different suspension parts with even thicker anti-roll bars, Tokico shocks, and springs. The MP3 and MPS also have a shorter ride height. All Protege's are equipped with variable assist steering.

    The differences between the LX and ES are more than just tire and wheel size. Here are the items the ES has that the LX does not:

    -16" 5-spoke alloy wheels
    -195/50VR16 Dunlop SP Sport 5000 tires
    -4-wheel disc brakes with larger front rotors than LX (DX/LX has rear drums)
    -Thicker front and rear anti-roll bars
    -Front fog lights
    -Rear trunk mounted spoiler
    -Dark charcoal interior
    -White instrument gauges
    -Amber interior lighting
    -Sport bucket seats (heavier side bolstering)
    -Argent treatment on headlights and grill accent (no chrome)

    The big thing about the Protege's handling is the suspension geometry. No matter what you add to a car, the suspension geometry will limit your efforts. The Protege benefits from Mazda's long history of performance vehicles and racing. Most vehicles have identical front and rear roll centers. Mazda has learned that lowering the front roll center and raising the rear roll center increases handling by shifting the vehicle's weight towards the front wheels during hard cornering. The Protege's Twin-Trapezoidal Link (TTL) rear suspension was originally developed for the RX-7 and is now used on the Protege and 626. The TTL provides passive rear-wheel steering during hard cornering. The TTL also provides extra negative camber during hard corning for extra stability. The TTL and offset roll centers both contribute to counter understeer which is inherent of all front-wheel drive vehicles. All Protege's are also equipped with dual-action shock absorbers, meaning they not only damp compression, but also damp rebound.
  • No posts since the 17th. Is there an Echo in here? ; )
  • I liked that commercial.
  • You lost me. What commercial?

    And to the rest of the guys, come on, get back to posting. The high end guys have posted a lot more and our cars are just as good as theirs. ; )
  • One of the early commercials for the ECHO was an ECHO driving around the inside of what was like this huge satellite in the jungle. At the end of the commercial this person says "There's an ECHO out there" what you said reminded me of it.
  • while designing their cars like the Koreans obviously already do. Mazda's Protege tries to match the beautiful Kia Sephia but fails miserably. It's a blocky, chunky type of foreign car. Kia's designers are dead on with their lines and curves. No, it's not IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. It's an eye for design. Mazda's never recovered from the rotary engine days. Except the Miata. Can't put the Miata down and come up for air afterward. It's a fine looking car for Mazda and a fine seller. Their sedans look almost European-chunky Yugoslavian in style. Kia and Hyundai both have a future so bright them dudes are gonna have 'ta wear shades.

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    I guess we'll see a post or two from you now, right?
    Thanks for rejoining us, Major. I was beginning to worry what happened to you, but then I saw a post from you on another board.
    For some reason I've started to notice a LOT of '01 Elantra GLSes tooling around the Twin Cities lately. For months I'd see maybe one a month, now I see a few every day. Still have not seen a single Elantra GT on the road, but did see one in the MSP Hertz lot. My local dealer had only one the other day, so they've got to be out there somewhere.
    I'm also seeing more Echos than I used to. Maybe the high gas prices are having their effect. Still see billions of Civics, Corollas, and many of those comely Sephias.
  • I was just so stunned and angered by what happened in New York and DC that I had to give it a few days.

    Then when people came back on board, there really wasn't anything for me to add so I just laid low.

    But I am back. Posting helps me keep my sanity. What little I have left. ; )
  • Yes, beauty of cars is most definitely in the eye of the beholder.

    Iluv, if you think that Kia and its parent Hyundai are the leaders in automotive design, you will love (note sarcasm) what I am about to type.

    Hyundai has displayed the next generation Tiburon. They displayed it at the Frankfurt Auto Show and it bears a striking resemblance to an old style Toyota Celica. Some liken it to the Toyota Supra from the movie The Fast And The Furious.

    Either way, Hyundai is evidently looking to Toyota of the past for its sports car design.

    For a picture, check out
  • One of my roommate's sisters is in the market for a car. The only car dealership that has given her any hope of getting approved is a Kia dealership.

    My roommate does not know exactly which model her sister is looking at, but she believes it is the Rio, the Sephia, or the Spectra.

    On a design level, I am hoping it is the Rio as I like it the best of the three.

    On a quality level, I hope it is the Sephia because it has the best initial quality, as measured by J.D. Powers, of the three. But is that saying much?

    On a reliability level, I wish she could have been approved by a Honda or Toyota dealership. ; )
  • Is this an indication of the education level of the people who buy Sephias (Iluv notwithstanding who I think is actually pretty smart just not about cars ; 0)? The person cannot even spell brakes. LOL

    FWIW, I am not impugning the education level of my roommate's sister. It is just that her credit history stinks.
  • Major, I'm surprised to hear that your roomie's sister couldn't arrange financing through Hyundai. The dealers in this part of the country (NJ/NYC) seem to finance anyone who can sign his or her name.

    By the way, when we bought our Hyundai Elantra GT we had pre-approved financing but our dealer offered to finance us as well. Got the two to compete and wound up saving almost a full percentage point (our credit rating was pretty solid, though -- we probably weren't indicative of Hyundai/Kia's "current target market" -- uh, oh; here come the flames). Most Hyundai owners I talk to tell similar stories. Perhaps your roommate's sister could investigate Hyundai?

    Just trying to help....

    Happy motoring.
  • I don't know the particulars about her search for a car dealership before she found the Kia dealership as I have not talked to her directly about her car search. I wish she had come to me first because I might have been able to help. And I did offer to give her guidance some months back.

    If the only choices were between Hyundai and Kia, part of me is saying to tell her to go with Hyundai. The initial quality is demonstratively better. But with her coming from a Ford Tempo and the closest match in size would be the Elantra (I believe), part of me is screaming for her to stay away. I say this because of the poor showing by the Elantra in the IIHS test. I would be a little more reassured if Hyundai seemed to be worried about the problem.

    Given her finances, I don't think that she could afford the payments on the Sonata.

    I think the Accent might be a little small, but if she is looking at the Kia Rio then the Accent would not be too small.

    One good(?) sign is that the Kia dealership has not gotten back with her. Perhaps there is still time to make sure she is getting a car she wants and not just whatever car she can afford.

    I hope to talk to her by this weekend.
  • I know this sounds like me pushing Mazda...

    But, Mazda is still doing their 0.0% financing on the Protege sedans. And, they are being extremely open to the credit histories. If you can find a Protege DX or LX, the price will stay reasonably low and the 0.0% should keep the payments down. LX 2.0 and ES 2.0 are much more popular and demand a higher price and less discounts. The 2002 models all have the 2.0L engine, including the DX. However, I don't believe there is 0.0% financing on them.
  • Major is right! The 2003 Tiburon is a replica of the 1993.5-1998 Supra. What a crime! Something so great shouldn't be copied so shamefully! The current Tiburon looks like the 1994-1999 Celica along with the Integra. I love the Celica's 4 round head lamps...too bad everyone had to copy...the Integra's were really tiny though...I don't like that. I think that I'm going to get a new screen name soon....don't'll be able to tell it's me. Ha!
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