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Midsize Sedans 2.0

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,699
    Taking a quick trip to Michigan and back this weekend for my nephew's graduation party. About 1600 miles round trip, 3 or 4 people in the car.
    My normal driving is averaging 27.5 mpg, but I still only just hit 2400 miles after 14 weeks.
    I like Sat radio because there are no commercials, you still get the human component and I like the themed channels. It's great for listening to sports on a long trip, too.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    ...and I know that Toyota has a history of cars that have longevity, especially in countries where they are barely ever serviced and keep soldiering on and I respect that...but every car has weaknesses, and Toyota owners replace alternators, water pumps, and batteries just as often as many other sedans and compacts...(like Civic vs Corolla vs Sentra). I know because my mothers last car was an 01 Sentra and it never, ever broke down in 170k. We sold it to a friend, and he is still driving it on the original clutch at roughly 200k. My mom drive a stick till she was 73!

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 971
    The small offset frontal crash test was introduced in 2012. Many vehicles that were re-designed for this year, like Accord and Altima, were able to take this new standard into their redesign. Camry was redesigned in 2012 so has not been able to do so yet. Because the test is new the institute gives two safety ratings now, Top Safety Pick for the ones that pass all the other tests, and Top Safety Pick Plus, for the ones that pass that one too.
    http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/20/autos/toyota-camry-iihs-crash-test/index.html
    By the way, I am not a Camry fan. But I certainly consider it a safe vehicle.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,235
    PCM, the format used by audio CDs, is just a digitized analog signal; i.e. the measurements of the amplitudes & frequencies of the audio wavelengths. There is some support for "compression" within the PCM data stream but it's not the same kind of compression that goes on when converting to MP3 and most other formats. It's more of a shorthand notation for the signal v. an alteration of the signal.

    Remember that the CD audio spec was published in 1980 (before the original IBM PC) and early CD players were little more than digital-to-analog converters.

    CD audio bitrate is a hair over 1.44 Mb (not MB) per second.

    As to Sirius & XM, they sound good enough to my non-audiophile ears. I'm far more irritated by terrestrial radio's love of boosted bass/lower frequencies.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    ...and also to be fair to Toyota, new models are penned out almost 5 years in advance, and it is harder for a huge company to react to a new safety standard quickly. I am sure they will fix it in 2014 models.

    Then again, Honda is a just as big, and they managed to design for it. As the head of highway safety said, Toyota's engineers have work to do, and I am confident they are doing it.

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    ...and also to be fair to Toyota, new models are penned out almost 5 years in advance, and it is harder for a huge company to react to a new safety standard quickly. I am sure they will fix it in 2014 models.

    Then again, Honda and Nissan are just as big, and they managed to design for it. In short, as the head of highway safety said; Toyota's engineers have work to do, and I am confident they are doing it.

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    edited June 2013
    Actually the flatbed operator specifically said the Prius. He said that when the hybrid battery is completely dead it will not run; even though the gas engine is fine. I told him that I have read that the Prius is bullet proof, and that NY cabbies speak highly of them. I also mentioned that maybe it seems that way due to sheer volume of Priusussez on the road.

    I have not had time to research these claims, so I was not going to post anything specific until I can cross reference specific examples and exact cause of the alleged electrical issue(s).

    I found a couple of articles and found them helpful, but this is the mid size sedan forum, not the hybrid forum.

    So, All I will do here is post a link to a Popular Mechanics article that totally explains the complaints I found in a Prius forum. It isn't a big deal really...but stranded is stranded and I am sure it only reinforces range anxiety when dead battery is the cause on a hybrid.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/repair/what-to-do-when-your-hybrid-c- ars-battery-dies

    Look at the second paragraph marked "Prius" in bold.

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 971
    According to Toyota the battery is designed to last the life of the car, defined as 180000 miles. In 42 states the warranty is 8 years or 100000 miles; in the rest 10 years or 150000 miles. Many batteries have lasted even longer. The Prius battery has an unusually low failure rate.

    Sounds like anecdotal evidence to me.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    It isn't even the hybrid battery that is the cause. It is the normal 12 volt battery that all cars have.

    In the Prius, the 12 Volt battery powers up the computers and electrical system, and then the hybrid battery starts the car. If the small 12 volt battery is dead, nothing works. It can be jumped though just like a normal car.

    Owners are stranded when they run the cars radio and A/C in the wrong mode while "idling".

    Just read the article at the link I posted. :)

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 971
    Sorry, your original post referred to the hybrid battery: "When the hybrid battery is dead it will not run." As you say the small battery can be jumped, so no need for a tow. This would apply also to midsize cars like the Camry hybrid. Fears about the battery are not a reason to avoid these cars. Back to midsize sedans.
  • huskerfan5huskerfan5 Posts: 163
    Correct me if I am wrong, since this is all based on memory, but the first two cars to get "Good" on the small offset test were the Volvo s60 and the Acura TL. Neither were redesigned for 2013. I believe the Toyota RAV4 was redesigned for 2013 but Toyota has requested that it not be tested yet for small overlap until they make some more design changes.
    This test didn't pop up overnight, auto companies knew it was coming. Some companies are more pro-active, others take their chances before investing money on safety. Take a look at real life injuries in the HLDI statistics. Year after year, medical payments concerning Camry accidents are above 20% of the norm. They have had enough time to address this issue. It appears that profits come ahead of safety for Toyota.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Lossless audio bitrates typically run in the 500k to 1MB/second realm.

    So is this in the same context as akirby's quote? "Digital music (satellite, mp3) is by definition compressed. MP3s have different bitrate settings (128K vs. 192K vs. 256k etc.). "

    And fushigi's quote: "CD audio bitrate is a hair over 1.44 Mb (not MB) per second. "

    i.e. Bitrate specs are always measured by the number of kb/second? So a CD basically has the potential to sound about 5 1/2 times better than the best MP3 file created at 256k?

    With satellite there is another compression layer. There is limited bandwidth on the satellites so they compress the signal even further to fit more channels in. akirby

    I have to say this sort of confirms my suspicions in the past. I have heard a sat radio stn on a reasonably capable living rm surround sound system, and I must say the CD sounded noticeably better to my ears. There is something flat sounding (or something..I can't quite put my finger on it) to the sat signal. I have to say I am not a fan. When I travel in the car (and most definitely when I am home) I like being able to choose what I want to listen and when I want to listen to it. I am not one of these people who like to be surprised by the next song. In fact I am the exact opposite. I anticipate the next tune coming. I never use the 'random' option when hitting play.

    The quality of the device is also a factor - ipod vs. cheap mp3 players or gps.

    So this is pretty interesting. But if I am understanding correctly, an iPod uses a totally different set of parameters when it digitizes the music? Or if that is not correct...and the best MP3 file is 256k, and most CD's are at 1.44mb, what would the iPod be considered? I still do not own one, and is more to do with my ignorance of that whole world. My priority ever since the first MP3 came along and then other apparent better sources of pocket music, was the quality of the sound. I have been spoiled for CD's and don't mind one bit having to carry the more bulky CD's, and even popping one in a single player at a time, as long as I have that option. But in car shopping lately, I see that some brands are starting to actually forego the CD player altogether. And that has made me sit up and pay attention because it could be I finally have to get up to speed so-to-say, but want to invest in the best way which keeps the digital signal as clean as is (reasonably/$) possible. I'm trying to avoid buying the wrong thing and having to rebuy shortly after.

    Another question, which I'm sure will sound fairly rudimentary to you guys, but..if you use an iPod, it is like a recording device right? Like an MP3 or way better? And do you have to use a Mac when transferring files? Does it have the ability to go 'online' if you were to purchase an iTune, or is this always handled through a Mac or a PC?

    Thanks again for your patience, andre and akirby and fushigi.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I had heard that one of the Prius' weakness is in fact the basic 12 volt systems battery. You would think that they would do two things. a) use a far more capable battery, even if it had to be the weight of a full-fledged deep cycle trolling motor battery, as a systems battery. Or, b) don't have big draw items like A/C etc at idle require anything from a mediocre systems battery.

    So to me, even though it is what it is, that particular aspect would not tarnish the car's reputation in my books. I can say this with certainty, because the small battery in most Hondas (mine) is frustratingly in over its head in the dead of winter most times, (I literally carry a booster pack with me as a backup) and even in the summer if the car has not run in 10 days. I have to use a trickle charger on it during the times I use the bike often in the summer. And no, it does not have a short drawing too much current when shut off, it is just a carpy battery with too little capacity for the chores expected of it unless the engine is running practically daily.

    So if I owned a Prius, I would just carry a little motorcycle battery (basically what I think they use, according to the descriptions I have read) as a spare. I'd be a lot more concerned if it had other issues that necessitated the flatbed.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    IMO, these crash tests are in some part at least all marketing. You don't even have to read between the lines to see manufacturers using their own words, basically suggesting that...once we know the test, we can design the car around the test and make it shine above the competition. But make that barrier a slightly different shape, or just 2 or 3 inches off from the point of impact one way or the other, or one that also can conform upon impact and all of a sudden the parameters of a crash have been changed drastically. All bets are off.

    So in a way these tests are a bit of a farce. That said though, I don't dismiss them, because in the public eye it can affect depreciation and resale values on your chosen vehicle.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,235
    So a CD basically has the potential to sound about 5 1/2 times better than the best MP3 file created at 256k?

    Not necessarily. First, CD audio is not really compressed. There is a lot of data in an uncompressed stream that really won't affect your listening. For instance, CD audio is, IIRC, good for up to 44.1kHz of audio signal but few humans can hear much beyond 20kHz.

    A poor analogy can be made with pre-HD OTA TV broadcasts: If your old tube TV had it's vertical sync off, the picture would roll. In the rolling picture you'd see a black area. That black area was part of the broadcast signal; it wasn't created by the TV. In that area there was room for additional info like the Second Audio Program (SAP) and Closed Caption subtitles.

    CD audio should be superior to an MP3 but it depends on how the MP3 is created, the source material, and the playback environment. And your ears & predispositions.

    I have heard a sat radio stn on a reasonably capable living rm surround sound system, and I must say the CD sounded noticeably better to my ears. There is something flat sounding (or something..I can't quite put my finger on it) to the sat signal.

    Broadcast signals - terrestrial and satellite - can also be remixed to meet the specifications of the broadcaster; i.e. kick up the bass, lop some off the top end, etc. This happens before the track is compressed.

    So the difference you hear, while it may be from the compressions used, could easily be from some producer's (misguided) mindset of what their audience wants to hear.

    .. an iPod uses a totally different set of parameters when it digitizes the music?

    An iPod or other MP3 device only digitizes (encodes) if it's actually recording. It does not digitize during playback; it's doing the reverse. To your point, though, there are differences in MP3 players in terms of how they convert a digitized datastream to analog (decode). [buzzword: codec = enCOding + DECoding algorithm]

    My priority .. was the quality of the sound.

    Use a lossless codec/compression scheme that your playback device supports. That shouldn't be a problem for any modern MP3 player, including iStuff, PCs, Androids, generic MP3 players, and so on. The only drawback is that the files may take more space than a more highly compressed MP3. Not a big deal with 32+GB units so cheap.

    ...if you use an iPod, it is like a recording device right? Like an MP3 or way better? And do you have to use a Mac when transferring files? Does it have the ability to go 'online' if you were to purchase an iTune, or is this always handled through a Mac or a PC?

    They usually can record but will excel at playback. If you have CDs to convert, us a PC (Win/Mac/Linux doesn't matter).

    A Mac is not required if you buy iStuff; iTunes is the management software and it's available for Windows as well as Mac. That's about the extent of my Apple knowledge as I haven't bought into their proprietary ecosystem.

    For Android, you can download songs you buy from the Google Play store, download via browser, and copy to the device through Windows Media Player, Window Explorer, or virtually any other means of copying files. Copying via WMP etc would also apply to other MP3 players.
  • huskerfan5huskerfan5 Posts: 163
    Couldn't disagree with you more. The small offset was developed because of the significant amount of serious injuries/deaths involving frontal collisions despite the fact that just about every car was acing the moderate overlap and frontal crash tests. Instead of mandatory requirements, we allow automakers to use their own judgment in regards to how well they want to do on these test.
    The public unfortunately doesn't factor these tests or HLDI results into resale. The previous generation Accord for 2008-2010 only got three stars for rear side impact. Hey, this is a family sedan with kids in the backseat but still hasn't impacted resale values. With the revised test for 2011, Honda decided to make some changes to improve the rating. For those of us concerned about safety, we need more of these tests if we want to see improvements in structural integrity, especially with automakers now ignoring safety by enhancing the driving experience with distractive internet apps
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    If I am paying $35,000 for a loaded Prius though, I am not going to carry an extra battery on top of the two batteries it already has! It should start! Lol.

    I do understand that you live way up in Canada, so that is a little different.

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    edited June 2013
    Good insight. In the end it is us as consumers that need to do research before making decisions on a purchase. Especially when there are kids involved. I knew my Optima was a top safety pick + after achieving an acceptable rating on the small frontal offset test. Watching crash test video of the ones that failed made me shudder, especially when the driver misses the front airbag altogether and slams his head into the B-pillar, plus crushing his legs. At least death would be instant. Hopefully. :sick:

    Seriously, folks thinking about a Camry I would just wait for a refit, or if you can't wait; there are 6 other brands to choose from.

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • wayne21wayne21 Posts: 227
    I could not agree more. We have a 2000 accord as one of our cars and plan to replace it solely because it has only two airbags. We ruled out the current camry because of the offset crash test. All manufacturers were made aware of the new test and given time to adjust, but Toyota opted not to do that until they were embarrassed publicly. We've decided to wait for the 2014 camry to come out to see if they took care of the offset crash "failure". In the meantime, we are testing a few other cars to consider. We plan to buy once the new crash test results are available for the 2014.
  • wayne21wayne21 Posts: 227
    I'm holding out on the camry for the safety updates, but also because of the power driver seat. Not sure which four ways the seat goes on the camry, but hoping "up" is one of them.

    We just got back from a 10 day trip to Maine. The first five days we had a Malibu and the last five days (we changed locations in Maine and asked for a different car) we had an Altima S model. We drove just over 750 miles on the Malibu (34.2 mpg) with no highway driving. We put just over 1250 miles on the Altima (35.1 mpg) and roughly 300 miles were highway. Our assessments:

    Malibu - (8,000 miles on odometer when we got it)
    Pros: Power passenger seat that went UP and down - a great feature for a wife who is 5' 3" tall; soft touch materials throughout interior; incredibly smooth ride; great steering with quick turning radius and nice exterior appearance
    Cons: ugly/poorly designed dash layout that probably belongs in a 60s pickup truck; noisy and underpowered engine – constantly shifting; poor stereo system – would not want that in anything I owned; poor rear visibility – we always used a spotter to backup – the car needs a backup camera

    Altima- (build date Feb 2013 with 4,000 odd miles on it when we got it)
    Pros: great visibility including rear; a very solid, firm handling car with great steering (drove like it was on rails – even better than our 2000 accord); excellent stereo system; comfortable seats just like our accord; we saw this car as very much like our 2000 accord with some electronic upgrades and a cheapened interior
    Cons: when we first opened the door my wife said exactly what I was thinking – CHEAP!!; hard plastic throughout (much like our venza); cheap/tacky cloth on seats and door (door "cloth" looked like it was felt from a pool table); lots of “lugging” like a rubber band or if it was a manual transmission it needed to be downshifted (particularly noticeable on takeoff and when on cruise control on a hill and between 20 and 30mph when taking off); (at times, the exhaust rattle made it difficult to tell if it was lugging or the exhaust rattling); loud clunking in right front end like something was loose; passenger airbag light kept coming on so we had to stop the car and have my wife exit the car and reenter to get the light off; wind noise on driver side door (nothing like the typical accord, but noticeable when radio not being played). We felt the Altima was made to do one thing - get good gas mileage. It just felt like it didn't have the takeoff power or power to sustain itself on a pull - as if it was always a few hundred rpm lower than it should have been.

    We would not buy either of these cars and I never thought I’d say this, but if I had to own one of these cars I would take the Malibu before the Altima. We knew the Altima did better than most cars on the partial offset crash test and that is why we asked to drive one for days 6-10. We'll keep looking. We may consider another accord, but not the first year model with new direct inject and a new cvt transmission. We had three transmissions put in our 4 cylinder 2000 accord (under warranty) and Honda's reputation for transmissions is as bad as their reputation for engines is good. We're in no rush.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,691
    Why is it that you felt completely safe 10 years ago driving in cars that were nowhere near as safe as the worst cars today?

    Below a certain speed no serious injuries will occur. Above a certain speed and death is certain no matter how good the vehicle is made. The odds of being in an accident where you are going the exact speed where it matters and you hit the other object at the exact angle to duplicate the test results are astronomical.
  • wayne21wayne21 Posts: 227
    Why is it that you felt completely safe 10 years ago driving in cars that were nowhere near as safe as the worst cars today?

    With age came wisdom.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    Yeah, my first car, a 1966 Dodge mid-sized sedan, had no radio, no carpeting (just rubber mats), no power steering or power-anything except brakes, 4-55 A/C, bias-ply tires, no wheel covers (just little hubcaps), no airbags, no 3-point belts (only lap belts). Maybe would get 20 mpg on the slant six engine. Was pretty typical for the time. Seemed like a pretty safe ride when I drove it... but it was all I knew.

    But I like the current crop of mid-sized sedans much better... in safety and every other respect.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,276
    edited June 2013
    I really like the way you are able to look at all the details and thoroughly review potential new cars before hitting the dealership, but the Malibu and the Altima 2.5 S you rented are bottom-of-the-line models that may not have been treated nicely. The better interior furnishings are just one small step up, and you get a lot for very little more ducat's.

    Have you considered looking at the Optima EX? It has really, really nice materials in the cabin including leather inserts in the doors, seating surfaces (8 way power drivers seat), shift knob, and the armrest. Also has very classy looking dark Zebrano wood accents, and real aluminum trim around the shift lever, more power than any other mid size, a smooth shifting 6 speed with sport shift, and lastly 17" alloy rims instead of 16" hubcaps. I got mine for $21,800! (sticker $24,260). It is refined and a gorgeous car designed by Peter Shyer who was head of design at Audi. The LX Optima starts at $20, so for 1800 more I have a much nicer, near luxury car. It would be comparable to the Altima 2.5 SL, Mazda 6i Sport, and the Accord Sport.

    What about the new 2014 Mazda 6i Sport? It is a LOT of car for $21,500.. and I think it has a passenger seat height adjustment, and a gorgeous design.

    Chris Skalski: Network Engineer 2012 Kia Optima EX

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,201
    Which model year Malibu did you have?

    I'm with Cski that some rentals are special packages with minimum interiors and radios because the renters are not going to appreciate those to the degree the rental companies would have to increase the cost--remember Hertz wants the lowest bid on these things.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,691
    Let me clarify - I'm all for improving safety. Offset crash testing was good. Side impact testing - great. Side and curtain airbags - fantastic. However, at some point the improvements become cost prohibitive and real world impact becomes too small to make it worthwhile. You have to draw the line somewhere and I don't think the IIHS wants to do that because then they become irrelevant.
  • wayne21wayne21 Posts: 227
    We plan to look seriously beginning in August and probably buy in August or September, but thought we'd try different rentals as we take our trips in order to give us a feel for what the company has to offer - even if it is the bottom of the line (the Malibu was the bottom of the line and the Altima was one step up from the bottom of the line, but the drivetrains are the same as the top of the line - if sticking with a 4 cyl). I have no intention of walking into a dealership for a beating and would rather rent something to try them out.
    You only buy so many cars in a lifetime and one really bad experience can stick with you. I bought the RX-7 the first year it was out (1979) and my dealings with mazda left a very sour taste in my mouth. No love for Chrysler after two of those either. In 2010, we drove the 2009 and 2010 sonatas. We liked the 2009 more than the 2010, but bought a venza. The passenger seats in many of the sedans are just too low and that was the case with the 2010 sonata, too. I hadn't really given Kia much thought and may give it a look. We lived in a rural area without much traffic so the Honda didn't bother me. Now that we've moved to a more densely populated area and everyone seems to be distracted with their electronic gadgets while driving and better safety technology is available we have decided it's time to get rid of the accord. We mostly just use it for very short trips in town. I don't think we've put 1,500 miles on in in the past year.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 971
    If you find the passenger seats too low won't that be the case with almost all midsize sedans? Maybe you should be thinking of something different -- a small crossover like the Honda CRV or Kia Soul? Just a thought.
  • huskerfan5huskerfan5 Posts: 163
    Shoppers haven't exactly flocked to the new Malibu so it has gone through a mini-redesign after one year. Great deals on the 2013 now.

    From USA Today:
    With updated styling, General Motors hopes Malibu will sell on looks again as well. Buyers will note the change right away from its new front end. The appearance now is closer to its big sister, the redesigned 2014 Impala full-size sedan. The changes are a very quick refresh of the Malibu that was redesigned for 2013.

    The new Malibu goes on sale in the fall.
  • huskerfan5huskerfan5 Posts: 163
    Actually, I think the IIHS would like to become irrelevant. It is financed by the insurance industry and I'm sure the insurers would love cars to be designed so that there would be minimal injury claims. If the NHTSA had more robust testing, they would happily close up shop and use that money for more marketing and bonuses.
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