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Economy Sedans (~$16k-$20k)

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Comments

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    As a hatch, the Versa has a major problem IMO: the lack of a fold-flat rear seat. Not only doesn't it fold flat, but it's a two-level cargo compartment with the rear seat sticking up. That greatly reduces the utility of the Versa as a hatch, especially compared to the Fit but even compared to hatches where the rear seat folds nearly flat, e.g. Rabbit, Astra, and Elantra Touring.

    The Versa sedan doesn't have this problem of course, but I just can't warm up to the sedan's looks, particularly the C-pillar. It looks so dowdy to me. The hatch is kind of weird, but endearing.

    Then of course there's the lack of ESC on the Versa, a feature getting more and more common in the compact class, and it doesn't get great FE considering its size and relatively low power. But other than that it is a good value for the money.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I completely agree with you on your points against the Versa.

    The styling, while a little frumpy, has a European understated look that I like (in the hatch); the sedan just needs to go away. :)

    The economy isn't top-of-the-class, but when you consider that you basically have a midsized car as far as interior room goes, you can't beat the economy. The power/economy ratio is a little disappointing (considering I pretty much match the highway numbers people are reporting in my more powerful 166hp Accord.

    The lack of Stability Control is a point off as well, but seeing as I've never had it, I've never missed it. A bigger detriment against the Versa, to me, is the lack of standard ABS. D'oh Nissan!!

    For someone needing a high-quality, roomy, low-priced car, the Versa can't be beat in my humble opinion. If you need more cargo abilities, the Fit, Matrix, or Scion xD may better suit you.
  • no_oneno_one Posts: 29
    I don't think there is a best compact car, since everyone has different needs.

    It's interesting you bring up the paddle shifters, because each of the three cars has something unique to offer in the automatic transmission in this class.

    Fit: Paddle Shifters

    Rabbit: Sport mode (same idea as paddle shifters, just on the shifter rather than the wheel). 6-speed automatic. Also has some interesting technology that makes the transmission more efficient than most automatics.

    Astra: Snow mode. Causes the transmission to start in 3rd gear so as to reduce the amount of torque and not spin out the wheels on snow. Incidentally, paddle shifters and the like (at least the ones my dad has on his Avalon) won't let you do this and will still start off in the lowest gear until you get up to a speed at which it feels you should upshift.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    For someone needing a high-quality, roomy, low-priced car, the Versa can't be beat in my humble opinion.

    Well, don't forget the Elantra: more room than the Versa, low priced, high quality, more power but similar FE, and has standard ABS and (on the SE) ESC. And the sedan looks a lot better IMO than the Versa sedan... I know, I know, your parents can't stand how the Elantra looks. To each his own. :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I don't think there is a best compact car, since everyone has different needs.

    Exactly. Although I think some are clearly better in general than others.

    FYI, the sport-mode shifter on the Rabbit is not unique in this class. The Mazda3 for one offers it, and the Elantra Touring will have it later this year. The 6AT on the Rabbit may be unique in this class though... although the Versa and Sentra trump it with an "infinite" number of ratios. ;)

    I'm not seeing the benefit of the "snow mode" on the Astra vs. the traction control that is offered on other compacts. Traction control acts when needed, automatically. Do you need to remember to put the Astra into "slow mode"?
  • no_oneno_one Posts: 29
    Heh. I forgot about traction control. It seems the Astra's "snow mode" is equivalent. It's off by default and has to be turned on by the driver.

    Yes, the Sport shift mode of the rabbit is not unique, but the DSG setup of the Rabbit transmission is, as far as I am aware.

    Nissan makes some pretty nifty transmissions. They offer the only six speed manual in affordable cars, in addition to the CVT.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I love how Nissan has put 6MTs into the Versa and Sentra. I just wish 6th gear were a little taller, to provide lower RPMs--and higher FE--on the highway. I wouldn't mind if I had to downshift while the cruise is on to maintain speed up a grade. It would be worth it to me to keep the highway RPMs down in 6th.
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    It's interesting you bring up the paddle shifters, because each of the three cars has something unique to offer in the automatic transmission in this class

    And they are all pretty worthless IMHO.

    Fit: Paddle Shifters

    For 18 year olds that spent too much time playing Grand Tursimo and never bothered to actually learn to drive stick (live in your world, play in ours?)

    Rabbit: Sport mode (same idea as paddle shifters, just on the shifter rather than the wheel). 6-speed automatic. Also has some interesting technology that makes the transmission more efficient than most automatics.

    The GTI actually has them on the wheel. Its interesting, this is the most like a true manual.

    Astra: Snow mode. Causes the transmission to start in 3rd gear

    Thats interesting, most of the "snow modes" start in second, but I guess since that engine has so much torque (sarcasm, for those playing along at home) it needs a still higher gear.

    I don't know, I just can't get my head around the idea of spending an extra $1000 for something that gives less control and higher maintenance costs than the standard system.

    If I want to be in 3rd, I push this pedal on the right and move this lever on the left into 3rd and whoomp, there it is.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I was thinking of hatches, but yes, the Elantra is another good buy. And, while my parents think the Elantra is unbearable, I have to say the current Elantra is easily the worst-looking Hyundai on sale. The Accent looks great in comparison.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    Worse than the Tucson? :surprise:
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    I have read some pretty good write ups in magazines on the Astra. Yes, Car & Driver said it could use a little more punch in the engine department to be at the front of the pack but overall it was rated better than some competing models.

    Face it people are spoiled with this horse power thing and in reality most don't drive like a lunatic. Any car that does under 10-seconds 0-60 is pretty quick. I would be more than happy with the Astra's 138 hp or whatever it is. I actually could go with much less because I drive for mileage and have been so for over 10-years.

    I drove a Mazda 3 four door rental a couple months ago while my truck was getting some body work and it was real nice except there were too many blind spots when looking out the passenger side. For my money I would take a Cobalt over the Mazda because it is a more roomy car than the Mazda 3 which has a tight drivers seating area and the blind spots as mentioned. The Mazda 3 maybe sharp looking for the compact class but that is not enough for me.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Along with the Touring version (hatch, yay!) there's supposed to be a slight reskin of some sort. Haven't seen it yet, because I've been busy staring at the Touring.
  • tenpin288tenpin288 Posts: 804
    "Worse than the Tucson?"

    Hey, I resemble that remark! :P ;)

    By the way, I drive an 05 Tucson. Best vehicle I have ever owned from a maintenance and warranty standpoint. Remember Backy, it is loosely based on the previous gen Elantra. :D
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Face it people are spoiled with this horse power thing and in reality most don't drive like a lunatic. Any car that does under 10-seconds 0-60 is pretty quick."

    So by extension you're saying that anybody who isn't satisfied by the anemic power of the Astra drives like a lunatic. Hmmm. Sorry, not buying, I mean geez, our two Grand Caravans can get to 60 faster than 10 seconds, and we use that power all of the time. Why? Well, given the preponderance of winding two lane roads (with very limited passing opportunities) around here, the power is often necessary to safely pass. Then there's our local ramp to the closest Interstate, it features an eight percent grade with a very short merge lane; you're taking your life in your hands trying to merge into 80+ mph traffic unless you're able to get up to speed before you attempt the merge.

    "I would be more than happy with the Astra's 138 hp or whatever it is. I actually could go with much less because I drive for mileage and have been so for over 10-years."

    Geez, 138 HP in a car the size of the Astra is significantly less than what many cars of the same size had over twenty years ago, in the meantime, speeds have increased and so too has the weight of the cars. So, in my mind, 138 HP is more than just a bit underpowered. As for mileage, just because an engine is capable of making lots of power in no way means that it gets crummy mileage. Case in point, my two previous BMWs were considered to be quite powerful for their day and age (1999 328i and 2002 530i), and yet both cars routinely delivered over 30 mpg and were able to go over 500 miles on a single tank of fuel. As for our Caravans, last summer I was able to drive one of them from eastern Michigan to Albany, New York (a distance of 504 miles) on a single tank of gas, and was rewarded with 28.2 mpg in the process. Funny thing though, all three of those cars are larger, heavier and much more powerful than the Astra. Said another way, I drive for mileage too, however, I don't need an underpowered Astra to get good mileage.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Afraid so. The Elantra Sedan has no surface that has any edge to it whatsoever; its blobtastic.

    image

    image
  • mort4371mort4371 Posts: 27
    I thought the same at first about the Elantra when it came out, but it kind of grew on me over time. Now I own one. lol

    I'm happy, though. Liked the 3 better, lookswise, but paid a good bit less (apples to apples) for the Elantra and expect slightly better mileage to boot.

    $14.3k + TTL, for a well-equipped SE 5sp, 5/60 warranty plus 10/100 powertrain. First 1100+ miles of mixed driving, I got 32+ mpg overall. Prolly do a bit better once the engine is broken in and loosened up. :)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Don't get me wrong here (and I don't think you did ;)); I think the Elantra is a fine car at heart. If it had some sharper edges and less of its overall puffiness, it'd just look so much better!
  • no_oneno_one Posts: 29
    Your post contains a number of factual errors.

    1. "...our two Grand Caravans can get to 60 faster than 10 seconds..."

    Consumer Reports puts the time at 10.3 seconds.

    2. "138 HP in a car the size of the Astra is significantly less than what many cars of the same size had over twenty years ago"

    This is also mistaken. The 1988 Ford Taurus, which weighed in at a bit over 3000 lbs with a comparable 4 cylinder engine would have 90 HP. Even the six-cylinder engine from the same era would only have 145 HP. The 1988 Honda civic had 70-90 HP depending on engine choice. Even the BMW 325e's 4 cylinder was only 121 HP (source: wikipedia).

    3. So, in my mind, 138 HP is more than just a bit underpowered.

    Edmunds.com, our gracious host, gets a 0-60 time of 8.8 seconds for the Astra, which is more than adequate, by your own standards of under 10 seconds.

    Lastly, my own experience. I used to drive a 2000 Ford Contour (0-60 in 11.8 seconds) with 4-cylinder engine w/ an automatic and I never had a problem passing on windy two lane roads, nor crossing mountain ranges, nor merging on freeways (except when it was having malfunctions). I agree with the earlier poster that I don't see the need for high-horsepowered vehicles.
  • moocow1moocow1 Posts: 230
    The new design for the 2009 Elantra should help it be less blobby, but imho, it still sucks compared to a lot of the better compacts. I liked the older Elantra design prior to 2007 personally...that and I got that car for 11.1k + TTL. If they made the new elantra for 12.5k + TTL, it would still be worth it, but I would definitely prefer a Civic, Mazda3, Rabbit, Impreza, Fit over it without price considerations.
  • moocow1moocow1 Posts: 230
    They haven't improved. It's really sad because the main reason I will not buy any VW right now is the terrible quality. I actually would love to have some of their future diesel cars. Also the rabbit would have been on my radar if VW had good quality. In the 2007 jdpower study, they were 5th from LAST ahead of such awesome companies as Land Rover, Hummer, Mazda, and Jeep.... Such terrible pedigree :(
    The only reason I considered a Mazda 3 even was because I know a ton of people who own that car without problems. Supposedly it's one of the few in their lineup with good quality. Maybe VW has improved for 2008, but I wouldn't trust them until they're in the better than average category.

    The quality/reliability arena is where luxury cars and asian car makers have had a big advantage until recently. Some of the american makers have finally gotten close, but I doubt anyone will notice. Reputation takes decades to make or break. And I'm not sure about the general public opinion, but european cars certainly have failed in the quality arena. At least the VW(both short and long) and Mercedes(long term) have been very bad recently. This is why the Civic/Corolla still collect all the sales. Quality rep built up over 20 years. It'll take forever to kill that without a big scandal like Mitsubishi. Also it'll take forever for other companies to get the rep.

    Speaking of quality, another observation I've made. Hyundai's actually gone backwards recently. They went from 102 PPM(Ridiculously good) to 125 PPM(Industry Average). Hopefully this is just growing pains and it'll trend back downward. I'd like to believe their quality lust is as real as they say.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    For my money I would take a Cobalt over the Mazda because it is a more roomy car than the Mazda 3 which has a tight drivers seating area and the blind spots as mentioned.

    I dunno about that. The Mazda3 sedan is larger then the Cobalt in almost ever interior dimension. The Cobalt has more front leg room by only .7in and rear hear room by a slim .3in. The Mazda3 is larger, by far, in every other category

    Mazda3 Cobalt
    Front Headroom (in.) 39.10 38.50
    Rear Headroom (in.) 37.40 37.70
    Front Legroom (in.) 41.10 41.80
    Rear Legroom (in.) 36.30 33.70
    Front Shoulder Room (in.) 54.90 53.00
    Rear Shoulder Room (in.) 54.00 51.40
    Front Hip Room (in.) 53.80 49.60
    Rear Hip Room (in.) 52.50 46.40

    Now, if the blind sports were a concern, then I guess it is how you are looking out the car. A blind spot for you might not be there for me.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I find JD Power to be quite useless, especially their "initial quality survey" That is based off of the first 90 days of ownership, and does not denote reliability at all. I have found that the best in a judge of quality and reliability is CR, although they are not perfect, they do tend to be more accurate then most.
  • moocow1moocow1 Posts: 230
    Well VW is also back of the pack in the 3 year long term reliability ratings too. I'd definitely crossreference to consumer reports as well, but I don't have any recent articles right now.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Your post contains a number of factual errors.

    Sorry, like it or not, my facts are correct.

    "Consumer Reports puts the time (of the Caravans) at 10.3 seconds."

    Both of our Caravans do the 0-60 sprint in the mid nines. This is verified by our GPS.

    "This is also mistaken. The 1988 Ford Taurus, which weighed in at a bit over 3000 lbs with a comparable 4 cylinder engine would have 90 HP. Even the six-cylinder engine from the same era would only have 145 HP. The 1988 Honda civic had 70-90 HP depending on engine choice. Even the BMW 325e's 4 cylinder was only 121 HP (source: wikipedia)."

    You didn't read what I wrote, I said, "...many cars of the same size...", not "...all cars of the same size...". You then went out and chose a bunch of underpowered pigs, not a very convincing argument. IIRC, a 1985 Dodge Daytona had 150 HP, a 1989 LeBaron GTC had 175 HP as did the 1987 Omni GLH-S and the Shelby Lancer of that same era (just name a few 4-cylinder models from twenty or more years ago that would embarrass the Astra of today).

    "Edmunds.com, our gracious host, gets a 0-60 time of 8.8 seconds for the Astra, which is more than adequate, by your own standards of under 10 seconds."

    Ten seconds is the absolute bare bones minimum, I consider six to seven seconds to sixty far more desirable and drivable.

    "Lastly, my own experience. I used to drive a 2000 Ford Contour (0-60 in 11.8 seconds) with 4-cylinder engine w/ an automatic and I never had a problem passing on windy two lane roads, nor crossing mountain ranges, nor merging on freeways (except when it was having malfunctions). I agree with the earlier poster that I don't see the need for high-horsepowered vehicles."

    Maintain your earlier statements all you want, slow is still slow, and that Contour of yours would have been completely incapable of making safe passes in the short spaces we have around here. As for merging, sorry again, a car that slow would have thirty ton semi-tractors crawling up your back side if you tried to merge after climbing our local ramp.

    So, [non-permissible content removed]-for-tat, I stand by my earlier statement that effectively said that the Astra is completely outclassed by many of the cars in this segment. Me, I'll happily suck the doors off an Astra with a new Rabbit, and get pretty darn mileage while doing it. :shades:
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    VW does seem to be making a comeback in the reliability department. Not the boosted engines, though. I believe the 2.5L's have been Ok. However, frequent issues with VW's has been related with the electrical system. The newer models have not been around enough to see if these frequent problems will pop up or not.

    Bottom line, are they getting better? It seems so. Would I buy one? No
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    I find JD Power to be quite useless, especially their "initial quality survey" That is based off of the first 90 days of ownership, and does not denote reliability at all. I have found that the best in a judge of quality and reliability is CR, although they are not perfect, they do tend to be more accurate then most.

    I think the survey is very important but people confuse terms. Quality and reliability are not synonymous. They are correlated to be sure, but they are not one and the same. Quality includes design. Are the controls easy to reach? Is the car easy to park? Can you work the radio without the owner's manual? These are things that come up in the JD Powers initial quality survey. This is also why European cars can ace this without necessarily having the long-term reliability of their peers.

    Just my $0.02 :P
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    "Consumer Reports puts the time (of the Caravans) at 10.3 seconds."

    Both of our Caravans do the 0-60 sprint in the mid nines. This is verified by our GPS.

    Hmm how old were the Caravans and how old was the GPS? What was the accuracy rating on the GPS unit? Who manufactured it? When was it calibrated?

    Perhaps we should use your GPS and measure the 0-60 in the Astra.

    You didn't read what I wrote, I said, "...many cars of the same size...", not "...all cars of the same size...". You then went out and chose a bunch of underpowered pigs, not a very convincing argument. IIRC, a 1985 Dodge Daytona had 150 HP, a 1989 LeBaron GTC had 175 HP as did the 1987 Omni GLH-S and the Shelby Lancer of that same era (just name a few 4-cylinder models from twenty or more years ago that would embarrass the Astra of today).

    And all of those cars got approximately 2/3rds the mileage of the Astra (about 20). And required premium fuel.

    And if he was picking underpowered pigs, he would've picked a 528e automatic, we called it the love turtle.

    Me, I'll happily suck the doors off an Astra with a new Rabbit, and get pretty darn mileage while doing it.

    Except you will have to breath all the diesel smoke from the flatbed tow truck your Rabbit is sitting on ;)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    - DGCs: 1998 & 2003 (both with 3.8 liter engines)

    - GPS: 2008 Garmin 680, very accurate

    - Old blown Chryslers: I had a 1985 Daytona and a 1989 LeBaron GTC. The Daytona would routinely get mid 30s on the highway and twice got over 40 (at high altitude), the LeBaron was typically about 3 mpg lower.

    - Yup, the 528e was a dog with fleas, even with a stick.

    - Well, so far I've had two VWs and two Audis, and while they each had an issue or two, they never left me stranded, and as the 2.5 liter mill enjoys a good reputation for reliability I'd expect no less from a Rabbit. FWIW, I'll gladly trade a little reliability for a more fun to drive car, that said, I've routinely bought cars that ranked poorly on the various reliability indices, and not one of them ever turned out to be a problem child. Hmmm, in fact, the only "problem child" I ever had was a Mazda 6, a car that got great reliability reviews at the time, go figure. ;)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    The power isn't the issue with the Astra, for me anyway. 138 hp is plenty. It's that the Astra doesn't get better FE given that it has only 138 hp. I listed before (so I won't repeat it) several compacts that have comparable or better power than the Astra but better FE.

    The Cobalt has a very tight rear seat, which knocked it off my list the first time I drove it. Plus I think its driver's seat isn't very comfortable, and the center stack reeks of cheapness. And its FE isn't that great for the class either. I think there are better choices in this class.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,728
    I was just opining that I don't think the Tucson is Hyundai's best styling effort, especially with what they did with their other SUVs.

    The Tucson with Hyundai's 2.4L, 175 hp I4 would be a real nice ride I think. But speaking of economy sedans.... :blush:
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