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Honda Civic vs. Saturn

DocArtemisDocArtemis Posts: 1
edited April 2014 in Honda
I'm going to be test riding hatchbacks this week.
All of the "search" profile tests that I take keep
returning the Honda Civic and the Saturn models.
My key preferences in cars is reliability,
drivability, utility. I'm the kind of person who
buys a car and then keeps it until it dies. (I've
owned two cars since 1973, both hatchbacks!) I
haven't looked at cars since 1986!

The Hondas are highly rated and I'm not at all
familiar with the Saturns. Are the Saturns
reliable cars or are they American cult cars?

I'm curious to learn more about these two models
and would appreciate your sharing any of your
research/experience. Other suggestions are surely

Thanks in advance



  • pam2pam2 Posts: 185

    If you keep a car until it dies, you'll only own a Saturn for a couple of years!! I've heard nothing but bad things about those cars - from the no-haggle price being a way to force buyers into paying MSRP no matter what, to the poor performance and reliability. I have a friend who traded in her Saturn after less than 40,000 miles because it was beginning to rattle and shake.

    I've owned Hondas for many years and have always been extremely pleased with their performance and reliability. Right now I own a 1996 Honda Civic DX Hatchback that I bought used a couple of months ago. Only 24,000 miles on it when I bought it and in perfect condition. I would expect this car to last as long as I care to own it.

    The drawbacks to the Civic hatchback are that they don't have any extras (no power windows or doors, etc.) and the engine is only 106 hp. This is OK in a 5-speed manual transmission like I have - I don't have any trouble at all with it. But it might be sluggish in an automatic. The new hatchbacks have power steering on all DX models, whereas the 1996 that I own doesn't have power steering on the 5-speed (only the automatic).

    I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck!
  • Although the Honda Civic DX doesn't have power door locks or windows, that is a plus. A newspaper article I read just recently stated how easy it is for computer hackers to pick powerlocks, and car alarms to break into a car.
    I think that a high resale value is also an advantage to having a Honda.A lot of domestic automobiles don't hold their value.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    I hadn't heard of the manual/electric door opening differences as an incentive for easier break-ins. I do know that my husband's Honda CRX is broken into regularly and then never leave a mark so his manual locks must be especially easy to pick.

    I have a personal phobia about being in a car accident and not being able to get out through a window because the power system is dead. But that's just me. :-)

  • The article I am refering to in my last post is entitled "Hackers can break into cars with computers" by Duncan Graham-Rowe of the New Scientist in New York. Although it refers to Britain and Denmark,it mentions that using the proper software and a handheld computer such as a Palm Pilot, 10 seconds is all that is needed to copy the codes from the central locking system. Insurance companies may refuse to pay theft claims as these kinds of breakins are almost undetectable. I think this is pretty scary.
  • With regards to horsepower and the Civic, please note that the EX comes with a 127bhp engine so this should help matters somewhat. The May 1998 Popular Mechanics recorded a 0-60mph 10.2 seconds with the auto. which is quite slow but not really atrocious.
  • I think that vehicle crash ratings are important in deciding which car to buy. You might want to look at Allstate or State Farm insurance before you buy as they show which vehicles have insurance surcharges based on their claims experience. This information is available on the Internet. The Honda Civic LX sedan has some fairly decent ratings.
    ABS availability is also a factor depending on what you are driving on.I've read that ABS doesn't work well on ice or gravel.
  • pam2pam2 Posts: 185

    True that the Civic EX has 127 hp, but I believe Doc is looking specifically at the Civic Hatchback which is not available in the EX. He would have to live with 106 hp in a hatchback.
  • If you buy a Honda Civic DX, you'd be buying a highly rated car. There are lots of Honda owners out there like Pam2 who are repeat purchasers of Honda Civics. 106 horsepower can't be that bad. Years ago I used to have a small car which was an automatic and had only 65 horsepower.Air conditioning is available as a dealer installed accessory. But I don't believe that cruise control is available as an option except in the EX. If you want cruise control, I think it could be purchased as an aftermarket installed product. A new Honda Civic would be a bit better though as used ones can't be bought cheap.Plus manufacturer's financing incentives are sometimes in effect.
  • pam2. Right you are, the EX isn't offered as a hatchback. More's the pity. (I sometimes forget which forum I'm in, sorry).

    Rankled. "I think that vehicle crash ratings are important in deciding which car to buy. You might want to look at Allstate or State Farm insurance before you buy as they show which vehicles have insurance surcharges based on their claims experience."

    Better yet, in my opinion, pick up the Consumer Reports "Preview '99" that rates cars according to:
    "Govt front-crash test"
    "Govt side-crash test"
    "IIHS offset crash test"
    "Injury claim rate compared with all cars"
    "Injury claim rate compared with 'category' cars"

    I'm not sure if surcharges would not also be a result of higher theft claims, e.g. Honda Accord and Civic are among the top5 stolen cars in Canada. (you can make a ton of money without even trying to sell it as a car, just sell the very expensive parts, grind off the VIN and dump what's left at 3a.m.)
  • pam2pam2 Posts: 185
    Yes, I'm definitely a repeat Honda buyer - and will probably continue to do so.

    The 106 hp really isn't that bad. My beau has the 1997 EX with 127 hp and we can't tell a whole lot of difference between them. I have to downshift into 4th gear sooner than he does to climb hills, and my 2nd gear corner turning isn't as strong. But the acceleration is fine and there are nothing but freeways here - no problem there.

    The air conditioning doesn't have a lot of impact on the power and pull of the car, but it takes about 4 mpg off the mileage. I get about 32 without the a/c and about 28 with it.

    I wouldn't mind trading it on a new 1999, though, to get the power steering in a 5 speed. Plus, I really like the purple better than my red.
  • muzhikmuzhik Posts: 18

    In order to pick the lock with handheld computers, the car should be equipped an infrared locking remote, which is a very rare thing on the US market. I seriously doubt that any of the cars you are shopping for (neither Civic, nor Saturn) have remote locking, let alone the old and cumbersome infrared remote locking.
    Relax, will ya?
  • Although crash ratings are helpful, they aren't indicative of reliabilty. The last car I bought was rated as average in terms of crash ratings. But the big problem is how often it is in for breakdowns. That can be very annoying and time consuming.
  • pam2pam2 Posts: 185
    Rankled makes a very good point. Many things must be considered in the decision to purchase a car - and crash test results are only one factor.

    One thing that I haven't been able to resolve satisfactorily is the supposed new and better reliability of American made cars. Many folks are saying that they are much improved over the 1980's. But my concern is that there hasn't been enough time to really test the reliability of these new American cars. I would be very hesitant to purchase one until I'm comfortable with the reliability.

    Any thoughts from anyone else?
  • Pam2, I see that great minds think alike. I agree that time itself will determine how much improved North American cars are.
    As for the Saturn hatchback, it may be hard to say how good it is since it is a brand new model. I think that most new products typically require at least 2 to 3 years to get the bugs worked out through improvements. In contrast, the Honda Civic DX hatchback is a proven product.
  • Rankled. Of course there is no correlation between crash-test or insurance claim ratings and reliability. Why would there be? I was merely responding to your earlier comment about the Honda Civic's safety, as compared to the Saturn.

    RE: ABS on ice. Well, any ABS system will actuate on ice, the problem is you still have little traction - whether the tires are rolling or locked. Unfortunately, just about the only solution there are chains or studs. Oh well, so much for high tech solutions. :-)
  • marc9marc9 Posts: 2
    Buy the Honda; don't even think twice about it if you want a long term love affair. My guess is you would love the Saturn for about a week, and then something like the steering wheel or a body panel would fall off. I've had a few Hondas and Acuras in the past (I currently am on an Audi kick), and without a doubt, the Hondas give you a bulletproof, fun to drive friend for life. The best ever? 1990 Civic SI HB. Black of course.
  • RankledRankled Posts: 15
    I agree with you that the Honda should be chosen over the Saturn and that black is the best color.
  • pam2pam2 Posts: 185
    I agree, too, but don't like black. Get the purple in the hatchback.
  • marc9marc9 Posts: 2
    Purple? Seriously? Hey, do you live in Berkeley? :)
  • pam2pam2 Posts: 185
    Excuse me, Marc, but the purple is a very nice color. It's a very deep, dark purple - almost black, but with a nice purple tone to it. Light gray interior. Very cute!

    What did you think it was??? Fuschia? :)
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    A seriously purple car has appeared on our block, owned by someone staying with a neighbor. When I saw it I thought, I hope they saved a lot of money for taking that color! :-) I suppose I'm too staid.

  • kyankyan Posts: 4
    Although I will admid Honda's are exceptional cars, the Saturn just has a lot more personality. The Saturn also is rated to have a better resale value. Our Dealership was great, and the Saturn we got is plesant to drive. It is a 99 so it is supposed to have alot less noise than the previous ones, but it is still a little noisy at full throtle. We have the SL1 w/ automatic & just got 40 miles/gallon mixture of city & highway.
  • muzhikmuzhik Posts: 18
    I am pretty sure it would not be pleasant for you, kyan, but Civic's resale value is higher than Saturn's, especially on the long run...
  • pam2pam2 Posts: 185
    Where did you get your information that the Saturn has a higher resale value than Civic??? From the Saturn dealer maybe?

    I'm going to have to strongly contest that statement.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,599
    We find used Saturns almost impossible to resell. We usually wind up wholesaling them.

    Sorry, but Civic resale is much better!
  • rdeschenerdeschene Posts: 329
    KYAN. When considering resale value, keep in mind that is only relevant if you are planing on reselling the vehicle. The best value, however, are those few years when you own a vehicle outright and drive the sucker into the ground. Not very stylish, perhaps, but a car is an expense and a 401K/IRA/RRSP is an asset.

    I realize some Saturn owners have had very bad experiences; but that's true of all car makes and models. I know a few Honda Civic owners, and of those three(3) have had utterly destructive engine problems. On well-maintained vehicles that weren't driven any harder than I've driven my vehicles. So long as there aren't endemic problems, or you aren't dealing with a truly brand new model, it often seems to be Luck Of The Draw.

    My 2cents, and worth every penny you paid. :-)
  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 5,578
    It is possible to grab the frequency of RF transmitters using a code grabber. Nearly all new garage door openers and keyless/alarm transmitters have a "code hopping" feature so that the code is only good once, therefore if someone grabs the code it won't do them any good.

    Most of the time if someone wants to steal your radio, cd's, phone, etc., you will come back to your car and find a window missing (along with your possessions).
  • rdeschenerdeschene Posts: 329
    CORVETTE. Right you are! The simple things about keeping your valuables hidden, lock your doors, are still valid. Bored teenagers (often, but not always) don't want to be caught, so they'll go for the easy targets.
  • elkabongelkabong Posts: 2
    Well, I own a Saturn, and have had no problems with it, and despite the horror stories that seem to abound Edmund's, most magazines rate Saturns as very reliable, and I'd have to agree. As for Saturn's resale values, just look one up. But there's one major reason that DocArtemis should buy the Civic hatchback. Saturn's don't come with hatchbacks. None of them. The closest you'd get is the wagon. Same with the 1st generation. Just thought you might want to know.
  • rdeschenerdeschene Posts: 329
    elkabong. Isn't the Saturn coupe a hatchback? Really, sometimes this distinction between hatchback and wagon is arbitrary: how much longer would a Civic HB or Golf have to be before it's considered a wagon? Arbitrary. Especially if you use your own brain and look at things beyond the name given to it by the company/marketing people.
This discussion has been closed.