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

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  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Yeah, I'm aware that the Mazda3 is in its last year, and as it turns out, the Rabbit has already been replaced (in Europe) as well, so both of my two finalists are "lame-duck" cars. Appropriate given our current economic and political situation. ;)

    As far as which version of the cars; I drove the models that offered the best mix of fuel economy (my 25,000 annual commute miles were looming large in my mind when I started doing my test drives, and that was when fuel was still north of $3.00 a gallon), extra goodies, and a stick shift.

    So, to run through the list, I drove:

    2009 Mazda Mazda3 i Touring Value edition (2.0 liter & 5-Speed)
    2008 VW Rabbit 2-Door (2.5 liter & 5-Speed)
    2009 Chevy Cobalt 1LT-XFE Sedan (2.2 liter & 5-Speed)
    2009 Ford Focus SE Sedan (2.0 liter & 5-Speed)
    2009 Honda Civic LX Sedan (1.8 liter & 5-Speed)
    2009 Hyundai Elantra SE (2.0 liter & 5-Speed)
    2009 Toyota Corolla S (1.8 liter & 5-Speed)
    2009 Nissan Sentra S (2.0 liter & 6-Speed)

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    I'm kind of surprised you didn't test the Civic LX-S or even the EX, since you said you wanted extra goodies, and the LX is pretty stripped compared to most of the other cars you drove.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I drove the EX last year, however, given that I'm trying to keep this car as inexpensive as possible given that I'm most likely going to hand it down to my kids in a couple of years. The LX Civic was the most expensive car (or the second most, I don't remember off the top of my head) as it was, and the EX would have pushed that number up even further. FWIW, the Mazda 3 i Touring is as nicely equipped as the Civic EX for considerably less money. That said, even if the EX was the same price as the Mazda 3, I would choose the Mazda. Why? When pushed, it feels much more composed on the winding 2-lane roads we have around here. The only other car that felt as good (a little better actually) in the curves was the Rabbit.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    How would you compare the Cobalt XFE vs. Focus, two cars I am currently interested in? My quick guess is pickup would go to the Cobalt, handling would go to the Focus, both quiet, but the Civic was quietest (at 70 mph cruise).
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    According to C/D's tests, the cars rank as follows in 70 mph cruise, from quietest to loudest (in dBA):

    Focus SE - 68
    Corolla (base) - 69
    Elantra SE - 69
    Sentra 2.0S - 70
    Mazda3s - 71
    Civic LX - 72
    Rabbit - 70 or 72
    (they haven't tested a "normal" Cobalt recently)

    Note that the numbers are from two different tests. In one, the Rabbit got 72; in the more recent one, it got 70. Not sure why since both cars were similar, but maybe the road conditions were different in the two tests. All the tested cars had sticks.

    Reviewing these tests reminded me that the Astra is a pretty nice car in this group, and is available at a pretty good price now.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    How would you compare the Cobalt XFE vs. Focus, two cars I am currently interested in? My quick guess is pickup would go to the Cobalt, handling would go to the Focus, both quiet, but the Civic was quietest (at 70 mph cruise).

    Hmmm, oddly enough, I would say that the Focus felt as fast or maybe a tad faster and handled a bit worse. Why? Well, as far as the acceleration goes, I'm thinking that due to the extra 368 pounds the Cobalt is toting around combined with what feels like extra tall gearing (I suspect that they changed the gearing a bit for the XFE package), has erased what should look like an acceleration advantage on paper. As for the handling, I think Focus models from a couple of years back handle much better. However, when Ford decided to "Americanize" the suspension of the Focus, they ruined the crisp handling and knocked it down to a lesser handling car than the Cobalt.

    FWIW, my nephew has a 2006 Focus and it handles MUCH better than the new one.

    As far as noise goes, I don't mind some engine and road noise, however, I absolutely hate wind noise, and the sedan version of the three different Cobalt sedans that I've driven (two rentals plus the XFE test drive car) have had significant wind noise emanating from the rear doors and/or windows. The Focus suffered from no such wind noise.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • joe97joe97 Posts: 2,248
    Reviewing these tests reminded me that the Astra is a pretty nice car in this group, and is available at a pretty good price now.

    Make sure to get the 08. The 09 version just went up in price for a car that is not really selling :(
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    Most '09s have gone up in price vs. '08s, especially considering rebates or lack thereof. For example, an Elantra SE AT is now about $18,600 list with no rebates yet. Pretty pricey for an Elantra, more than the Mazda3i and Rabbit 3-door, and pretty close to the Impreza, Corolla LE, and Civic LX (with ESC on the Rabbit, Impreza, and Corolla ala the Elantra SE). :surprise:
  • lhansonlhanson Posts: 268
    The same can be said for the 2009 Toyota Yaris's. It's hard to find any under $16,000 now, with some as high as $18,000. I paid full MSRP ($12,500) for my first one in 2006. You would think that GM, Ford, and Chrysler about to go out of business or something.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    Or you would think that Toyota's sales are at record levels and gas was $5 a gallon. ;)
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Helpful info from both of you.
  • no_oneno_one Posts: 29
    Car prices seem to be going up across the board. I heard a rumor that this was due to the increase in steel prices.

    Nissan seems to be the only one bucking the trend, with the new sub $10k Versa.
  • joe97joe97 Posts: 2,248
    Nissan seems to be the only one bucking the trend, with the new sub $10k Versa.

    Put in a smaller engine, decontent up to wazoo, there you go. But wait, it is almost impossible to find a $9,995 barebone Versa sedan, and it is really barebone in that sense. By the time you load a few things up, bam, you're at 12-13K, which you'd then have a lot of other options to choose from, and probably better options.

    Here is Autoblog's take:

    Cheap, efficient transportation is highly desirable right now, and Nissan has stepped and delivered a super base Versa that will run you under 10 large. But what do you get for that rock-bottom MSRP? Well, you still get four wheels, four doors and six airbags, but things get thin from there. Nissan started with a one-two punch of crank windows and no air conditioning, making the economical sedan a bad choice south of the Mason Dixon line. A five-speed manual is standard fare, with automated cogs available for $1,000. Our friends over at Kicking Tires note that you also have to add A/C to the option box to get that slush box, and that'll run you a second $1,000. Nissan also saves coin by using cheap black plastic for the side mirrors and door handles, and the wheels have shrunk to 14 inches. Wait, where's the radio? Oh, there isn't one, at least not as standard equipment. Nissan provides the speakers and the wiring, but an aftermarket setup is required to hear anything other than road noise. Out the door pricing for a Versa with A/C and an automatic transmission will cost you at least $12,935 with destination. So much for being the cheapest car in the U.S.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    In comparison, the Civic DX also has no A/C and no radio, but does have power windows, 15" wheels, ABS, and a few other features not in the base Versa like height-adjustable driver's seat. But the Civic is also about 60% more. That makes the Versa look like quite a bargain--a modern if very basic car for under $10k list. As long as all you want is a bare-bones new car. But since lots of very nice used cars like 2008 Sonatas with low miles (and lots of factory warranty left), automatic, and all the safety features including ESC are available for about the same price as the bare-bones Versa with A/C and A/T, that does make it hard to fathom why anyone would buy a car like that in this day and age. I would have thought it was a great first car when I was a teenager though--much better than my '76 Corolla 2-door which also had crank windows and no A/C. But it did have a factory AM radio! :)
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I was a teenager though--much better than my '76 Corolla 2-door which also had crank windows and no A/C. But it did have a factory AM radio!

    My first new car was an '86 Horizon, equipped just like that Corolla (though it was a 4-door) and it also had a 5 speed manual trans (that was a plus to me vs the 3 speed auto). I was no teenager, though...instead I was 26 and married with 2 kids.

    None of my kids have bought new cars yet, but I think they will pretty much think like I do and would rather buy a less equipped new car than a loaded (newer) used car.
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    In the process of buying this for my middle girl to take to her Epcot internship. Gettting the car with all the power goodies but they are bringing it in from a nearby location. Wife is putting down a deposit and as long as everything works, will be in our garage by mid-week. Color is dark gray over gray which is my favorite color. Guess I'll be parking my sled outside until mid December when she leaves.
    Now to purchase a car for my oldest. She has her heart set on the Elantra but her available $ won't let her. She'll be bummed but will look at the Kia Spectra EX which is very similar but with a nice rebate at this time.

    The Sandman :)

    (I know that the Accent is below the bottom price point of this discussion, but I value the opinions of some who post in here. Please cut me some slack...lol!)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    There are some similarities between the Spectra and Elantra (e.g. pretty much the same powertrains), but one big difference is that ABS is standard on the Elantra and I'm not sure it's even available on the 2008 Spectra EX--I think Kia is making it an option for 2009 though. Also Kia is adding active head restraints to the Spectra for 2009, but the Elantra has them for 2008. Then there is the fact that Kia's resale value is lagging Hyundai's.

    At least the Accent has ABS, since you got the power package which I think includes ABS.
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    Keyless, power windows, locks, mirrors and 15" alloys...not that plain looking. It will meet her needs perfectly for a 1st car and the fact that it has a great warranty and roadside included plus free oil changes all add value in my opinion. Wish we made more to let her get any car she wanted, but life doesn't work that way. We'll spring for the insurance and fill ups when necessary but I think the wife left a cushion from her college account to cover this stuff.
    The older girl told me that she'd consider used cars also as she definitely didn't want the Accent. My time frame with her is until the 1st week of January so we still have time.

    The Sandman :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    That is a smart girl, to consider used cars. She can get a much nicer (and probably safer) car for no more bucks than the Accent. My daughter liked the looks of the Accent sedan also, thought it was "cute." But when I drove home in my used 3-Series coupe, which will be hers someday (if she plays her cards right), she forgot all about that Accent. :)
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    Hoping we can find a used sled with mileage around 10k for a price around $15k OTD. The few Corolla's & Civic's that I've seen are all close to invoice on a new one but think we'll expand our search to some domestics also. '07 is probably as far as we'd go so there would still be some factory warranty left in case something happens. Luckily in South Florida there are a lot of places to look for used cars. I just really wanted "new" for both of them to enjoy that special feeling and new car smell and to not have to drive someone else's. Hopefully Carfax will be accurate on whatever we find used.

    The Sandman :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    You should be able to get a 2007-8 Sonata or 2007 Elantra with at least 3 years, 36k bumper-to-bumper warranty left (same as what you would get on a new Corolla or Civic) for well under $15k OTD--closer to $13k depending on what T&L are in your area. I am seeing very nice 2008 Sonata GLSes (about 1.5 years old) now with around 20-25k miles, moonroof, power seat etc. for around $12k. Elantra GLSes won't be much less because small cars in general are real hot right now, but IMO you get a lot more with the Sonata including ESC and niceties like power seat without much of a mpg penalty. Another option to check out is 2007-8 Mazda6i's, I've seen similar pricing on those and they are very nice cars, sportier looking and better handling than the Sonata, but no ESC (but then a used Corolla or Civic or Elantra probably wouldn't have ESC either). The Mazda3i is very nice also, but like the Sonata/Elantra picture, the Mazda6i's seem to be priced a little less than the Mazda3i's just because they are smaller.

    I have heard that November-December are very good months in general to buy a used car, as traffic is down due to holidays etc. This year, that should be even more true.
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    That's our time frame actually. Have seen some good prices on '07 & '08 Sentra's also. Think the Sonata is a bit big for her. She really wants my '06 Civic but i really like my car and plan to keep it for a long time...hit 18k this week so should be good to go for another 5 or so years. Looked on Craig's List and see that dealers also post cars there. We do have options though.
    Orlando Hyundai called and said they have an '09 Accent with the power package but he's yet to call back in a 1/2 hour as he said he would...and that was around 11:45. Our '08 Accent will be in from Miami tomorrow and if all checks out, we'll have it by the end of the week. Nice that the dealer is right across the street from us...makes it so much easier.

    The Sandman :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    With the action going on in this class over the past several months, I'm surprised there isn't more activity here. There's the redesigned 2009 Fit, the 2010 Mazda3, and most recently the 2010 Kia Forte (Spectra replacement). Also some significant changes to some cars in this class, e.g. ESC now standard for 2009 on the Impreza, Rabbit, and Jetta, and for 2010 on the Corolla, plus the new-for-2009 5-door Yaris with ABS and side airbags being added as standard to all Yarii.

    C'mon, folks--gas is over $2.50 a gallon and likely to go up. Why not more interest in these excellent small cars? :surprise:
  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,677
    Looks great in the pics online though haven't seen any on the road. Actually a very nice looking econobox. Like it more than the Corolla or the Civic. Honda will need to hit a home run with the 2011 model as the competition is getting much better. Think Hyundai & Kia will become major players within the next few years as the price of petrol will only go up. Hopefully the manufacturers will get the mpg figures up to the new levels the government is dictating.

    The Sandman :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    Hyundai has plans to meet the 2016 fuel economy target early. Part of the plan is the "Blue" versions of the Accent and Elantra, due out soon. They'll use tricks like those used on the high FE version of the Forte EX, but are supposed to cost less than the current Accent and Elantra (whereas the high FE version of the Forte EX costs more than the regular EX--maybe because of the 5AT). The Forte benefits from relatively new all-aluminum engines. I wonder when the Elantra will trade the old iron-block Beta in for those powerplants, which provide more power (156 vs. 138 hp) but higher FE than the Elantra's 2.0L engine.

    I also wonder if the next Civic will be up-sized to a mid-sized car on the inside, now that the Accord is full-sized and the Fit can fill the small car slot. Most of Civic's competitors are bigger inside. Even the little Accent has more interior room than the Civic--albeit a lot of that is headroom.
  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,677
    Just like the Versa is the entry level Nissan and the Sentra has larger interior space than the last generation, I owned an '03 GXE, I think it's safe to assume that Honda will also do the same thing with the '11 Civic. My '06 is a bit cramped back there so hopefully they will resolve this issue.
    On my way to test drive an '06, '08 & '09 Volvo S40 as the Civic isn't very comfortable as my spinal condition had worsened since I purchased it. Wifey thinks I'm nuts but Volvomax seems to think I could swing a '08 with miles in the teens for about a $7k outlay before T,T&L. Hopefully these will be CPO cars. Not sure that I really want to spend the extra $ as the Civic is in excellent condition with the seating issue my only gripe. $ isn't the issue with the wife...she just thinks it's a "stupid" thing to do. Will only consider it if the power seats make a tremendous difference. Meeting the internet guy in about 40 minutes.
    Wish me luck!

    The Sandman :confuse: :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • bhmr59bhmr59 Posts: 1,598
    Before buying a used or left over Volvo, check out a new Sonata with the power seat and adjustable lumbar support. That might work for your back while giving you a new car with Hyundai's warranty and saving you cash.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    Actually, the Hyundai I'd go for if I were looking for an extremely comfortable, supportive, and adjustable driver's seat is the 2001-6 Elantra. No joking. Its driver's seat has been compared in 3rd party reviews to the likes of Volvo. It's definitely the best driver's seat I've ever had in a car, and I've owned a lot of them. (Although the one in my Rabbit isn't too far off, but no adjustable lumbar.) The one in the GT (and Limited) is a little firmer due to the leather. Has dual height adjusters plus lumbar support.

    The other advantage is a 2006 Elantra fully loaded with leather, ABS/traction, and moonroof would be well under $10k. Could trade in the Civic and walk out with cash in hand. The downside is that the Elantra's side crash protection isn't very good.
  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,677
    Tried this yesterday and it's right up there with the Accord & Camry as far as comfort for me in a power seat. The Sonata really blew me away actually...better daily driver for me than the Camcord twins actually & even better than my '06 Civic LX...seemed a bit smaller which works for me. My side of the garage fits my Civic nicely just not sure if a Sonata would fit there and the wife doesn't wanna give up her side...but if I do buy it, she'd really have no choice. So right now, the Sonata is the top pick for me if I decide to change cars. My salesperson said to wait till the 2010's come out as the outside will be tweaked with more Genesis ques front & back.

    My oldest has 1st dibbs on my Civic...she'd probably just give me her Versa as a trade in. Curious thing though...the Versa seat lets me slide over just like a minivan seat and is comfortable enough for a manual seat. Just don't like the CVT tranny in it...prefer my Civic's auto tranny. But as of now, have just decided to keep what I got. This weekend drive up to Orlando will shed some light for me. Have never had the car on a 2.5 hour drive...ever. Luckily I'll be traveling alone, as the wife's taking the train a few days earlier. Be interesting to see how I feel after the drive up.

    Wish me luck! Really wanted to like the S40's seats so I could justify the purchase but was disappointed with 'em...damn! Nice cars otherwise...great size & features with just enough luxury for me...always have had econoboxes so the upgrade would've been nice. Didn't even care about the reduced mpg's I'd have to live with. The '09 drove so smoothly it was unbelievable. Felt like a Lexus I was in previously...that good. Maybe in a couple of years down the road. The $ wasn't the problem, the disappointing seats and the wife's attitude made the purchase impossible at this time.

    The Sandman :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,727
    That is perhaps the first time I've ever heard of a salesperson say something like, "You should wait to buy next year's model." Unless they didn't have any current models on the lot. Extraordinary.

    I've heard different stories on the tweaks to the Sonata for 2010. Some sources are saying it's a carryover, due out very soon, and the all-new Sonata will be out in early 2010 as a 2011 model, including the new hybrid. Pics show it will be more a coupe style ala Passat CC, and one pic showed a Genesis-like front end but that was a photoshop so don't know how much it can be trusted. I guess we'll see soon enough. Meanwhile, you could get a really great deal on a 2009 Sonata if it fits your needs. If the 2010 is tweaked, I expect it will cost more, at least initially. Might want to test-fit it in the garage first--quite a bit larger than the Civic and the Sonata does NOT have folding side mirrors.
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