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VW Golf vs Honda Civic

I think I've narrowed my choice down to these
two. I still need to test drive the Honda but
was curious as to what some of the opinions out
there are.


  • abbaabba Posts: 17
    I have never driven the VW, but I have owned 2
    civic hatchbacks. IMHO the VW is a better
    handling car and probably more fun to drive. But
    the civic is more reliable, has better resale and
    gets better mpg. Both have decent aftermarket
    support if you want to modify them.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    We're a two hatch family, one Honda and one VW. I echo what Abba has said. The Honda gets MUCH better mileage and the VW is definitely MUCH more fun to drive! Try listing your own needs in order of priority and see what's on the top, then see which car gets you most of what you want.

    Other advice, folks?
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    We've had 2 Golfs, a Fox and a Honda CRX.

    Hondas have such high quality and reliability that they transcend the concept of car and become an appliance. This can be boring, but there are alternatives. My CRX is so "tossable" and fast, it matches our old Golf II for funfactor. The Golf III just isn't as much fun to drive, sorry to say.

    A whole raft of modern-day hot rodders have given the Civic coupe and Hatch their soul back, though.

    I really think that driving the two side-by-side will make your mind up.

  • JonPJonP Posts: 1
    In my honest opinion- the civic hatch is too much for too little. The Golf is not cheap either, but you get a better overall product. Its got more room, and handles better. Gas mileage is not great, but within an acceptable range. I drove both, and bought the golf. To be honest, this was partly due to a great deal I got on a '97 in '98, but I felt the Golf GL was a better quality car. Everybody and his dog has a Civic, and I drove it expecting to like it. I WANTED to like it, but the overall impression was bland. I decided that the Civic's best feature was that everybody else liked it. But in the end, I did not like it. My opinion- wait for the new golf due out in '99 if you can. Otherwise, get the current golf. I'm pretty happy with it.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    I'm happy you're happy! I did the same test drive and came out with a VW Golf as well, so I think you done good!! :-)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Just a quick message for anyone thinking about buying a Golf or ANY other V.W. product...

    I strongly reccommend that you first locate a used VW with 100,000 miles on it. If you can get it to start, take it for a drive and see what you think. Look at the fit and finish after a few years and your decision to buy a Honda will be an easy one to make! Also, check out the resale value of a V.W. vs. a Honda. I know I'm biased but as Packard used to say..." Ask the man who owns one"
  • Who would buy one of those teutonic turds, when they can get a 250,000 mile Civic instead. I guess Farfurgnugen is worth a lot in these days of advertising slogans.

    I suppose it'll become Fukengroovin when you find out what the thing's worth when you come to your sense in a few years and try to trade that VW in on a Honda. Come to your senses now and you'll save a lot of $$
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50
    Hey, let's face it, guys...

    Civics are dull.

    Why do you think so many books have been written on German cars (VWs included) while books on Japanese cars are virtually non-existant? Exactly...there's nothing to write home about.

    Just browse the Townhall conferences (Passat in 'Sedans' and Golf GTI in 'Hatchbacks'). You will notice that the topics with the most visitors/posts pertain VWs. Statistical fact.
    I'm not claiming that VWs are technically perfect-any 'sensible' person can tell you that. But, VWs are much more fun to drive than Civics, that's the bottom line.

    So, guys, chill-out and don't take it too seriously! And besides, it's not the end of the world for you Civic owners :)

    (I say this because Topic# 7 sounded like an apocalyptic sermon!)...

    "It's not too late, brothers and sisters! Come to your senses and buy a Civic. Beware the ways of the Teutonic VW heathens for they shall burn in Hades! We are dull, but at least we'll go to Heaven." :)

    P.S. CARLADY, please do not erase this, please!
  • Golf vs Civic... you wish Honda.
    First of all, Golf is a good car, it's fun to drive and it's for sure the best hatchback sold in USA.
    Honda? My friend just bought one -> Civic HX , spent about $17,000. I have to tell you, I was very disappointed with car - it looks cheap, handles cheap and engine... it's just not fun to drive. However, too bad you guys never experienced "real" hatchbacks!(or did you?).
    You know, Fiat Bravo HGT, Alfa 145 QV, P. 306... all those nice european cars that aren't sold in USA. Are they good? You BET!
    And they don't break either... no matter what you've heard.

  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    It's too bad we don't get all the cool hatches that are available in Europe. drazen is right, the Alfa and Peugeot are GREAT hatches that would be welcome here, if American's would ever get off the "bigger is better" kick we keep coming back to.

    re: Hondas. I'm not going to argue about Honda quality, I own one with 110,000 miles on it. It's in great shape, I can't imagine ANY car 10-15 years ago that would hold up this well.
    However, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Honda's quality is so good, that they are basically APPLIANCES. For a lot of people, this is a good thing. They want to turn it on in the morning, just like a coffee-maker, toaster and dishwasher and forget about it until it's time to use it again.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    It's too bad we don't get all the cool hatches that are available in Europe. drazen is right, the Alfa and Peugeot are GREAT hatches that would be welcome here, if American's would ever get off the "bigger is better" kick we keep coming back to.

    re: Hondas. I'm not going to argue about Honda quality, I own one with 110,000 miles on it. It's in great shape, I can't imagine ANY car 10-15 years ago that would hold up this well.
    However, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Honda's quality is so good, that they are basically APPLIANCES. For a lot of people, this is a good thing. They want to turn it on in the morning, just like a coffee-maker, toaster and dishwasher and forget about it until it's time to use it again.

    I've never been able to say that about the VWs we've owned (Fox, Golf 2, Golf 3). It is a tradeoff I accept, though, because I am a Mechanical Engineer that appreciates design as an artform. I love art, even when it fails.

    BTW, it's the same in the workplace. The Engineers sneer at the Quality crowd, because they're generally boring, lifeless souls who value consistency over ecstasy. Ugh.

  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    It's too bad we don't get all the cool hatches that are available in Europe. drazen is right, the Alfa and Peugeot are GREAT hatches that would be welcome here, if American's would ever get off the "bigger is better" kick we keep coming back to.

    re: Hondas. I'm not going to argue about Honda quality, I own one with 110,000 miles on it. It's in
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    Sorry, for the multiple posts. The server was killin' me (:=[

    #11 is the correct one.

  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Hatchbacks host to the rescue! I've hidden the other two posts for you, bnormann. :-)
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50
    Hey guys,

    I think all this talk has scared off the die-hard Honda fanatics. Yea! ;)

    I have nothing against Honda, I think they serve their purpose, and that's good. I do have something against blind fanatical insults though.

    Do any of you guys know anything about the Peugot 106 GTi? I hear that it's a great car in Europe.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    O.K. VW lovers.. I'll admit that they are getting better but they are still not the 250,000 mile car that a Honda is. Hondas may be boring in your mind but I guess that my idea of "excitement" isn't a car with marginal reliability and poor resale value. For me, it's not "exciting" when my car won't start in the morning or the knobs and switches fall apart in my hands.

    As for Alfas and Peugeots. Gee, I can't imagine why they are no longer imported into the U.S.??
  • Regarding isellhondas comments in messages #6 and 16:

    Yes, please come by and test either of my over-100,000 mile VWs --- the 81 Scirocco or the 83 Jetta, both still going strong. Perhaps you'll swear I've had both of them repainted, as several people have, because the paint is so perfect. Or assume that I've replaced the engines, because they still have so much pickup. Or maybe you'll just be amazed at shape of the interiors at 13-years-old-plus. But probably you'll be so entertained by the way they handle and perform that you won't notice anything else.

    By the way, they're both all original, and have been as reliable as dirt. While you're at it, maybe you'll want to testdrive my friend's 80K-mile 1985 Accord. Oh, sorry, you can't, it rusted to pieces and had to be junked last year. You are right about his car starting right up every morning, though; it started right up when it was 6 months old, it just wouldn't move, since the brakes had seized. And of course the repair was not covered by the warrantee, since Honda had a clause that the warrantee is void if the car is not driven every day (my friend had been on a 1-week vacation). Yes, you'd be happy with that Accord. I'd be the one that gave you a lift to the dealer in my "unreliable" VW.

    Seriously, Hondas are usually magnificently reliable cars during their usable lives, but they *aren't* typically 250K-mile cars, unless you drive awfully fast. Tell me you can neglect Hondas and they'll tolerate it; tell me VWs demand routine service; tell me VWs will have more annoying minor repairs --- I'll believe you. Don't tell me Hondas last indefinitely; I know better. And don't tell me every Honda is reliable. Some are not.

    Incidentally, I *don't* sell VWs, and I *do* like the CRX. I just don't worship it, or any car.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    We've got a mixed marriage -- one Honda CRX (our first) & one Volkswagon Golf (our third VW.) They are both good cars. For a car to be good, it has to work for *you* and if it doesn't, it's not a good match, no matter how many other people like it. So, maybe having a Honda & a VW, we have the best of both worlds???
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50
    Good point there, Carlady!

    Whatever happened to the CRX? Why doesn't Honda reintroduce a new CRX?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    OK Bounds,

    Great, you've had good luck with your Volkswagens. Years ago, I had several bugs and two busses. Lots of fond memories. The newer stuff such as Rabbitts and Jettas? I guess I base my feelings on what I see traded in. Compared to a high mileage Honda, they simply don't hold up.. Engines seem to be all right, but the little stuff like swiitches, door locks and the like can't compare. The CRX ? Great car, especially the SI model. Last year was 1991. Declining sales caused the demise. Two seaters are loved by few. Too bad, they were fun.
  • Gee, there wouldn't be a sample bias, there, would there, isellhondas? I would expect the VWs that get traded into Honda dealers to be more problematic than the average, and Hondas traded in at Honda dealers to be less so. Satisfied customers tend not to switch brands.

    From my experiences with VWs and Hondas, recommending a Honda as a high-mileage, long-term vehicle seems quite perverse. Still, you are entitled to your viewpoint, biased though it may seem to me.

    Happy motoring,
  • Regarding 106, it's a nice car however Fiat Punto and VW Polo are better (my opinion).
    I red some article about best GTI's sold in Europe. There was Golf,BMW , Fiat, Peugot, Alfa, Honda, ... It was in AutoBild - german magazine so you would expect them to prefer Golf as they usually do, but guess what? Alfa 145 was clear winner and Golf finished 4th (I think). What about Honda? Last place... so much about that.
  • paepae Posts: 3
    greetings from a newbie. I must agree with the vw supporters here - i never even considered a vw at first when i was changing cars, but after i test drive in the golf, i was hooked. So far its been a great 6 months. I've never been happier with a car. Dol the honda owners feel this this way about a car ? Will i feel this way after 100000 miles ? Who knows . Until then
    Da da da da ...
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Welcome newbie (alias pae)! We're glad you found the hatchbacks area. Post early & often!! :-)
  • AlbizuAlbizu Posts: 2
    I'm at a crossroads right now, don't know what car to buy between a Golf GL and a Civic LX Sedan. Both new and about the same price. I do a ton of driving, about 30k/year. Any suggestions ???
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335

    How long do you intend to keep this car. As much as I love our Golf (it's our third VW in 10 years), I don't believe it will hold up as long as a Honda Civic. YMMV, of course.

    If this is a 3-4 year fling, OK, go with your heart. If it's a 150-200K mile journey, buy a Honda. Of course, the Honda will still require maintenance, and Honda parts are not inexpensive.
    My wallet still smarts from the timing belt/water pump replacement service at 90,000 on my 1991 CRX.

  • AlbizuAlbizu Posts: 2
    I'm a journalist and I drive about 30k miles per year. I definetely need a car that will take the punishment and keep on going. As much as I love VW, I own a 1970 Bug convertible, I'm almost convinced now that Honda is the way to go... :0(
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Well, we all have to make sacrifices, Albizu. ;-) Maybe next time? You're not getting rid of the Bug convertible, are you?

    But not to worry, there are many Honda owners who feel just as passionately about their cars. :-)
  • 95VWGOLF95VWGOLF Posts: 1
    Having just sold a 87 GTI 16v with 160K miles and still going strong the car was great I miss it but I knew it was due for some work....what did I get a used 95 golf. So far the new(to me golf) has been good to me and from all indications hould continue to be. You get out of a car, any car, what you put into it. Take care of it and it will last. The new Golfs have a very advanced electronic system and engine that takes alot of the cost of ownership out of them. I loved my GTI dearly but it cost alot to upkeep. So far the New golf, although not as much fun, has been a relief. Drive them and then choose.
  • DanaRDanaR Posts: 37
    Here's another happy VW owner. My 81 Rabbit Diesel has over 231,000 miles and the only major repairs have been a head gasket and a clutch. I'd rather drive this than a new car, except the New Beetle (on order). Sure there have been jammed door locks, water leaks, etc, but often I can fix them myself or they can wait to be repaired at my convenience. Only once has it needed to be towed, because of a broken radiator hose. I feel the car could go on forever. And it still gets 45+ mpg.

    - Dana
  • moonzmoonz Posts: 2
    I've had the experience to work on European cars as well as Japanese...and I prefer the Japanese
  • BrandoBrando Posts: 1
    This is good to me and a bt confusing... I'm looking to get a new car and have narrowed it down to either a Golf or a Civic ( both Hatchbacks ) and I don't know what to expect! I want all the fancy stuff that the Golf has, but I want the Honda so it'll last me a long time. The 2 cars I've driven were both Hondas ( 91 Accord EXR and 95 Accord EX I believe... both my dad's ) so I'm aiming towards the Honda... try to convince me to change my mind... I want the better car!
  • HFitzHFitz Posts: 13
    Brando - I'm with you! I like the lower sticker price on the Honda and want that reliability above all else (boy did I ever learn the hard way when I bought my '94 (new at the time) Chevy Camaro b/c it looked good! nothing but problems!)

    Anyway - I thought my mind was made up. But that sun roof and extras sure are nice. And they come with a/ I'm confused but think I'm still leaning Honda. It feels like the more sensible choice - especially b/c my budget is really tight right now! I only hope I can be happy in the pretty much "bare bones" Civic for at least 5 years! I plan on darkening windows and putting in an awesome stereo to add some flair and comfort. Advice please.
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50
    Ok Guys,

    Still confused about these two cars?

    The Civic is a good, solid buy for anyone needing and relying on a daily driver. I think it is a bit overpriced nowadays. I like the older Hondas that were still made in Japan. A lot of people drive Civics.

    As for the Golf 3, what makes you think it will not last a long time? Truthfully, these cars are quite reliable, plus you get a 10yr/100K mi powertrain warranty, if you decide to keep your Golf that long. It also comes with 2yrs free service (which you don't get with a Civic). Let's face it, VWs are not for everybody. I'm not even going to bother trying to convince people that they are, even though the name "Volkswagen" itself means People's Car (but that started in 1930's germany, so...). I think this car, with all of its features, is a good value. It is a solid German-feeling driver which has character. VWs drive like no other car in its class and often compared with cars above its class. I have heard of no major reliability problems for the Golf 3s.
    Don't overlook this car.
  • I would like to add something for all those people who are talking about A3 VW's(93-98) and reliability. For those people out there that are new to cars or just not that knowledgeble about how cars are made and produced. Remember this, the Golf and Jetta were totally remodeled in 1993. This is very significant because as with most car makers new or revamped vehicles the Golfs and Jettas right after this change have been reported to have some minor electrical problems and bad trim fit etc. However the models produced in 96, 97, and 98 have shown great improvements in reliability, even the car magazines like car and driver and consumer reports have written about this. This is not unique to VW this happens with most auto makers. So in your comparison of slightly used Golfs vs. Civics it may be fine to talk about the VW not being quite as reliable, this does not neccesarily apply to the 98 and 99 Golfs.
  • zfarmzfarm Posts: 5
    The reason VW reliability is in question goes back to the "exploding Jetta engines" of a few years ago. For those of you who didn't hear (or didn't have friends who bought one of those terrible cars): Jettas, new, just from the factory, would have engine melt-downs. This happened to my buddy Rob ("Why didn't I buy a Honda!" was his only comment). VW is to be commended for replacing the engines under warranty, but, needless to say, the experience was unnerving for many owners.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    As you say, it is so important to have the current information on the cars you are evaluating. We have a '91 Honda CRX hatchback and it has been very reliable.

    We were surprised to meet someone at our local VW dealer who had a 6 month old Honda Civic hatchback and was ready to throw in the towel because she had already had so many problems with her brand new car! She came to look at the new Beetle (which is what we were doing there!) and was sorry she didn't wait just a little bit longer before buying her latest car.
  • HFitzHFitz Posts: 13
    wow. carlady has ruined things for me. i'm ready to buy the civic hatch - have heard all good reports and now this horror story...anyone else hearing of problems with new civic hatchbacks? my '94 camaro has been a nightmare and above all else i want a reliable car this time around. i thought honda would be a good place to turn for that. help!
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335

    Don't take it too hard.

    One OH NO erases 1,000 OH YEAHs.

    GuyP has it right, Honda probably DOES have slightly higher reliability in the context of a gas-and-go daily commuter vehicle.

    Almost everyone with direct experience of the two marques agrees that Hondas (and Toyotas) thrive on neglect, while VWs (and "insert European maker here") require more diligence to the preventive maintenance schedule in order to achieve the reliability that they are capable of.

    Buy what you like the best, in this scenario. Neither car will remind you of your GM
    experience {;-)

    Bruce, your roving host.
  • boullosaboullosa Posts: 1
    I'm glad I found this site. I too am debating the positives and negatives of the DX and the GL. Does anyone have any knowledge on the "bargaining" aspect with the respective dealerships? I like the golf, but my hunch is that the dealership might not stray too far away from the MSRP. How much can I expect to add for air conditioning on the GL (for those hot Texas summers) . I know that at least one of the local Honda dealerships is tacking on just over a K for A/C. I just get the feeling that the honda folks might be more willing to "work" with me, if y'all know what I mean.
    Any suggestions?
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Eeeek, don't let me ruin anything for you, Hfitz! I'll be out on my ear! :-)

    BNormann is right, one swallow does not a summer make. But then, he's always right! ;-)

    As for tips on bargaining with dealers, boullosa, why not try our Consumer Advice area for excellent information about how to deal with your dealer when you want a great deal! The time you take to read this material will be well worth it when you see the results in your pocket.

    Keep us posted!
  • HFitzHFitz Posts: 13
    I had offers of car at invoice plus destination on both Civic and Golf. Probably a good time to deal on a Golf 'cause of Beetle fever!
  • zfarmzfarm Posts: 5
    I've owned three Hondas, all excellent (150,000 plus miles with no problems)

    "Bad" Hondas? Sounds like GM (or VW) propaganda to me!!! Maybe that "person" that you "met" at the VW dealership was the owner's wife?!!

    Again: Hondas = excellence, VW's = Mexican-made "quality". If you want German quality, buy a BMW.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Well, she looked a bit young to be anybody's wife. :-) Still, the car that is right for you is the one to buy! What's good for the gander isn't necessarily good for the goose!

  • infoinfo Posts: 5
    I would like to say hello to everybody out there and say what a useful resource you guys and gals are throwing my way. I too am looking at either the VW Golf vs the Honda Civic hatchback. Can anyone out there tell me what engines will be coming in on the new Golfs? Would it be worth the wait? Will the new Golfs be more expensive or the same? Which is the safer of the two cars( crash test;frontal and side)?

    I would like to hear some feedback from anyone out there that can guide me in the right direction.

    Thank you for your time.
  • DanaRDanaR Posts: 37
    I have the sales brochure for the 98 Golf IV (printed in Dutch) in front of me and here are the engines offered in Europe: 1.4 liters (75 hp), 1.6 liters (100 hp), 1.8 liter 5 valve (125 hp), 1.8 liter 5 valve turbo (150 hp), 2.3 liter V5 (150 hp), (and two diesel engines). My guess is that both 1.8's and the 2.3 V5 will be offered in the US. I would also expect the '99 Golfs to do well in crash tests, as safety is now a high priority to VW. The NB just scored the highest rating and I'd expect the Golf to follow suit. The brochure shows pictures on the safety of the car. I can't read Dutch but it sounds as if the safety is really touted.
    - Dana
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    I would expect VW to continue offering the 2.8 liter VR6 in the US. There are strange tax laws in Europe and the UK that are based on the size of the engine. Turbo, supercharged or not doesn't make a difference to the tax authorities.
    So, the rationale for the 2.3 liter VR5 doesn't hold true in the US. In fact, just the opposite is true here.

    Apparently, the VR5 is aimed at the touring crowd, with a little more refinement offered, compared to the turbo 4, which is aimed at the performance crowd.

    I can't imagine upper management agreeing to produce two engines with the same power for one platform. Seems like a lot of extra effort. Maybe there is not enough plant capacity to produce the 5-valve, 4cyl engines to meet ALL the demand (Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Passat, Audi A4, A3)

    Bruce. Roving host.
  • infoinfo Posts: 5
    Dana and Bruce I thank you for taking the time to get back to me so quickly. If either of you can advice me on whether too buy now or wait for the new one it would be appreciated( what would be the pros and cons and difference in price$$$)

    Thanks again
    R. Perez
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    R Perez,

    I will qualify my remarks by stating: I bought my beloved '91 Honda CRX in October 1991 after it was discontinued and I only paid $8300. It was the best deal I ever made on a car. Carlady and I bought a '96 Golf via Auto-By-Tel and it was PAINLESS, a wonderful experience.
    BUT... nothing beats the experience of walking out of a dealership and being able to truthfully say: "I WON!!!" Theres a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved, but I'm glad I did it once... BTW, it was only possible after reading and adhering to the great advice here on the Edmunds site.

    So, you choose: "latest and greatest, at a price" or "last year's news for bargain prices". OBTW, SAAB lovers are experiencing this exact quandry right now. You can get a very nice '98 SAAB 900 for $20k. It's a great deal, BUT you don't get all the 200-odd improvements in the 9-3.

    Bruce. your roving host.
  • ghoshghosh Posts: 17
    I just bought a Civic DX hatchback for my
    daily commute.I considered the Golf, but
    the Civic's higher safety rating convinced me.
    Why do Edmunds' editors say under cons for
    the Honda:
    "Boy this thing looks strange"
    Is that what everybody thinks?
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