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Ford Focus ZX3 vs. VW Golf



  • I have driven both the TDI-GLS Golf and the Focus ZX-3 (would've bought the new ZX-5). Everyone is right about the high-quality of materials in the Golf and the seating/room is excellent. The blue gauges and flip-key are cool. I would only want the 1.9 TDI because the 2.0 is too slow and offers no trade-off for economy. BUT, the maintenance requirements (at least for the TDI are HORRENDOUS! in this age of LOW MAINTENANCE and what is with the 2002 powertrain warranty being LOWERED to 50000 miles only. I thought this powertrain warranty used to cover the car up to 100000 miles! Why the downgrade, is the new Brazil factory not making them as well as they were made in Germany (2000) and Mexico (2000 and prior)? The Focus also seemed nice in terms of the pricing/equipment and excellent handling, but what is with all the RECALLS? I was excited to see that the ZX-5 was coming here this year, but with all the negatives I've read and heard about the Focus I think I'll have to pass on this as well. In my quest for my next car I early-on dropped the Cavalier, Civic, Corolla and Sentra (droopy rear) due to their "COMPLETELY boring-factor (styling and/or power)" so I guess this leaves only two cars left in my quest for an exciting compact sports sedan, only the Mazda Protege ES and the Pontiac Grand-Am GT. ANYONE WITH ANY WORD ON THESE?
  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    Take a drive in the new Elantra GT 5 door hatch. You might be pleasantly surprised. Hyundai has come a long way. 7,000 miles on mine and I love it.
  • either a Focus, Civic, or a Golf (the 3 at the top of my list. I'd get a Protege. Good car. Handles great. A little low to the ground for me, but a good car. After that, I'd go for the Elantra GT. The only thing that makes me hesitate about the Elantra is its poor crash scores. Hoping Hyundai will retest it in the near future. Hyundai reliability is no longer a worry I believe. The Grand Am crashes poorly and is pretty unrefined and has the typical Pontiac interior.
  • mdrivermdriver Posts: 385
    According to VW's own web site, the 2.0 is slightly faster to 60 mph than the TDI
  • But who buys a DIESEL to race? The torque of the TDI will pull the 2.0 behind it as the 2.0 driver is smoking tires trying to go the other way, LOL! And get better fuel mileage while it's doing it!
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    carlvrone wrote-BUT, the maintenance requirements (at least for the TDI are HORRENDOUS! in this age of LOW MAINTENANCE and what is with the 2002 powertrain warranty being LOWERED to 50000 miles only-

    The maintenance consists of oil change at 5k,10k,20k,30K,etc., timing belt at 80k, fuel filter at 20K, brake fluid change 24 months, and the other normal items such as air filter. What is HORRENDOUS about this? There is actually less maint. required on TDI than on 2.0 or 1.8T gasoline motors and you get 50MPG with the TDI. Please explain what you were referring to regarding maintenance cost.
    The warranty for 2002 DOUBLED from 24 months/24k miles to 48 months/50k miles and 5 years/60k miles for powertrain. You were incorrect about the warranty as well as maintenance cost. The powertrain is very durable on VW's and it is the small items like power windows and MAF sensors that break so doubling the b-to-b warranty is a great improvement.
  • btp3btp3 Posts: 4
    here's what i know about the manufacturing of the golf: it was built in germany until around january of 2001. so about half the 2001's out there are german. check the VIN on the 2001 and if it says "WVW" you've got a german car. if not, it's brazilian. all 2002's are built in brazil, not mexico as edmunds states. the price went down as they switched production, and i can say that my german 2001 GL is well built.

    as for the focus vs. golf, i think it's like comparing a mustang GT to an integra. sure it's faster and flashier, but in the long run you'll wish you had the better car. the focus is a typical ford, with shotty build quality and gas mileage worse than advertised. the 2.0 isn't super fast but it's a good motor.
  • shov6shov6 Posts: 177
    How, exactly, do you make the comparison Focus vs. Golf become Mustang vs. Integra? For starters, the Integra isn't in the same class as a Mustang, so the comparison is moot (and why are you comparing a Ford to an Acura when the original comparison was Ford vs. Volkswagen?). Secondly, I DON'T want an Integra, and especially not the new RSX (the Integra replacement). Third, what makes the Integra a "better" car than the Mustang GT? You need to define your terms.

    As for "shotty" (sic) build quality, my Focus is better-built and more durable than the Jetta I drove for six years and 120,000 miles. My (German) Jetta, which I dearly loved, had to revisit the dealer TWICE IN THE FIRST FOUR DAYS, and at least 3 times/year after that. My Focus is going to see the dealer for the FIRST time on thursday, after 13 MONTHS, and only then to take care of the outstanding recall. Can you cite examples of "shotty build quality?" Remove recalls from the equation and start from there. Ironically enough, the Focus is being recalled in this case to take care of the thing that went wrong three different times on my Jetta, rear-wheel bearings. Before you say this is evidence of "shotty" build quality, I will note that I had to PAY to get the wheel bearings taken care of on my VW, and at Ford they are doing it for free.

    And here's another place you need to be brought up to speed, the Focus is NOT a typical Ford. It is an OUTSTANDING Ford, probably better than anything else they make... It is an atypical Ford indeed that is on C&D's Top Ten list three years running, as well as Automobile's All-Stars (This year it takes TWO wins out of a total of ten for all cars).

    And I must be doing something wrong, because I basically get the mileage that is advertised for the car, just a mpg or two less on most occasions. Same with my VW, and indeed the car I owned in-between.

    And to those looking for various Golfs, see if you can find one made in Germany, even if it's a leftover from last year. The German cars ARE better-made, as has historically been the case (I refused delivery of my first Jetta, insisting that I get one with a German VIN; they were 50/50 Brazil/Germany in those days).

    One thing you are correct about, though, I started out shopping Golfs, but what I wanted and what I could afford were two different things. Not everyone can blithely write off an additional 3 or 4 thousand dollars to get what they want... And that's what it would have been for the lowest-priced Golf I could see myself in. Here's what a $15,000 Focus got me that a $15,000 (base) Golf wouldn't:

    Moonroof (glass)
    CD Stereo
    Power windows
    Power mirrors
    16" Aluminum wheels/50-series tires
    Cruise control
    Fog lamps

    Everything else on a base-model Golf, from power locks, remote entry, tilt/telescope, ABS, I have. The only things I DON'T have are rear discs (the Focus has shorter stopping distances anyway), side airbags (an additional $300, but I couldn't find one so equipped even though I wanted it), heated locks/mirrors (who cares, living in upstate NY I have never needed them), daytime running lights (thank GOD I don't have those), and illuminated vanity mirrors (somehow I will live without them). To kit out a Golf with the same equipment is, WHOOPS!, over $18,000, and even then you don't get a glass moonroof, you get an opaque SUNroof... Unless you spring for the GTI, in which case you are moving up and out of the Focus' league, as well you should for $19 grand.

    So... Before you pooh-pooh the Focus any further with specious reasoning and questionable accusations, look at what you get for your dollar. Next time around I might spring for a GTI, but I am more than happy with my Focus. It is the best driving, most reliable, and flat-out fun car I have ever owned.

    2001 ZX-3 5spd
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    50 mpg highway (which I do 95% anyway), can't argue with that.

    TDI's tend to last much longer anyway (maybe I got brainwashed by the diesel-geeks I work with).

    Ouch....the price, but since I'm planning for keeps...I figure by something I won't regret....GLS TDI, which includes (with options):

    Security system (std on Golf)
    Side & Curtain airbags (std on Golf)
    Sunroof(option on GLS)
    Alloy wheels (option on GLS)
    Heated seats ($150 option on GLS)
    Full-Size Spare Tire (std on Golf)

    just some features...let's see if it lasts as long as my Camry I'm replacing

    The never really caught my interest. I'd own a Ford anyday over GM or Chrysler....Focus, it just some reason, I have no interest in it.
  • shov6shov6 Posts: 177
    Yes, good choice if you do mostly hwy driving. A guy I used to work with had a diesel Jetta, still does probably... That thing had over 200k miles on it and was still running strong. Cosmetically suspect, but mechanically sound (this was a pre-85 model, don't know what year). Slow as a glacier, but I know the newer ones are MUCH more sprightly.

    2001 ZX-3
  • Fortunately I rented a focus sedan before having to replace my ancient 1985 golf diesel which was put back into service at 210,000 milesafter my 95 jetta was totaled.

    The focus had a very loud clunking sound originating from the trunk area. Upon returning the vehicle to national, I told the service rep that something was wrong, and they should take a look at it. He said all of their foci (math plural) had them, and the dealer couldn't do a thing about it.

    Beside the disappointing ride and interior quality,I noticed the gas milage wasn't that hot. I was glad to get back into my old golf.

    I realize cost is an issue if you simply don't have the cash up front, but in the long haul quality and value reign, and if you put in the driving qualities of volkswagen, so much the better.
  • shov6shov6 Posts: 177
    I really don't know how to respond to the prior post (but will anyway), since it just seems painfully obvious to me that you simply DON'T LIKE the Focus, and you are picking up on other people's complaints and using them to make your own point seem stronger.

    Interior? You are saying the Focus' interior quality is disappointing, and your comparison is the 85 and 95 VW's? Having owned a VW representative of the 85 (a 90 Jetta) and having spent two weeks driving a 95 Jetta VR6, this simply doesn't make any sense. The 85, especially, was a hodgepodge of hard, brittle, shiny plastics and creaky door materials, easily-broken air vents, and only semi-durable seat materials. I loved that car like like it was my child, but I knew even as I was looking at it on the dealer's floor that there were other cars available at the time that had nicer interiors. The 95 was much better, and I still have access to that car (belongs to a friend who treats it like it's a priceless Duesenberg), and therfore I have a recent memory of it, and its' interior isn't anything special, either. A quantum leap ahead of the A2 chassis, but nothing that shames a similarly-appointed Focus. You should also realize that the NEW Golf is in a class of its' own, interior-wise... Its' being better than the Focus in this regard is not a failing of the Focus, as it has a nicer interior than ANY car in the $15-25k range. One can make a reasonable assumption that this is where a large chunk of the price premium over the Focus came from, and when I was car shopping, a nicer dash simply wasn't worth two or three grand to me.

    "Disappointing ride?" This is one of the, if not THE, best-riding cars in its' segment. Actually the ride is almost TOO good (IMHO), I would gladly trade a little of the ride quality for some stiffer springs (in a sense I already did that by getting the bigger wheels and low-profile tires). Automobile magazine even refers to the suspension of the Focus, or at least the quality of the persons involved with its' tuning, as being more or less on par with BMW. Not a bad comparison.

    Mileage? Well if mileage is your only gauge, you shouldn't even bother looking at a Focus. Go get an Echo. You'll be bored to death, but boy will you get good mileage. I think it's fair to say that your needs don't match up with most others', in that absolute mileage doesn't mean a buy/no buy decision. The miles you rack up pretty much makes that point for you, and if you are going to pooh-pooh a car on the basis of your own narrow definition of what makes a car desirable, you should qualify it as such.

    Clunk in da trunk? Well I don't own a sedan, but this one is news to me. The sedan and the hatch Focii are about as different from each other as the Golf and the Jetta, which is to say not very... And neither I nor anyone I know who has a ZX3 have any such untoward noises. By the way, using a rented car as a representation of all cars of its' type is fraught with pitfalls, as those cars are frequently abused and subject to much higher wear per mile than one owned by an individual. Not only that, but did it occur to you that the person at National was just making that up to cover for a fault in a specific car, hoping you wouldn't complain any further and he could just get you out the door? He might've just wanted to prevent you from asking for any kind of refund for being given a faulty vehicle.

    Long-haul quality... Well as much as I love Volkswagens (and will very likely own another in my lifetime), I am aware that they are not any better than average in long-term reliability. Mine was subject to a half-dozen visits to the dealer in the first 18 months, and maybe ten in total before the drivetrain warranty ran out at 50k. I spent a lot of money keeping that car running over the 120k miles I owned it, so I simply don't abide by the "long-haul quality" argument (and a few long-term tests of various VW models that I have read lead me to believe that things haven't improved all that much in the last ten years). 15k miles and 14 months after picking up my Focus, it still hasn't seen the dealer for any warranty repair. I've changed the oil, put in gas, and replaced a defective tire (Firestone, go figure). That's it.

    Driving qualities of a VW... Yes, I am quick to admit that a VW is a wonderful car, but it's not like some high priest with a flowing robe tunes the suspension and his magic can't be duplicated by anyone outside of the VW round-table. The driving qualities of the Focus are well-known and highly praised by the automotive press, as evidenced by its' continuing presence on various "top ten" or "best of" lists. You will note that no VW's appear on any of these lists. I recommend you forget your rental car experience and just go test drive a ZX3, ZX5 or ZTS on a saturday afternoon and see for yourself.

    So to sum up... Golfs/Jettas are wonderful cars, no doubt about it. They're just priced rather dearly for what you get. If you have the extra $$$ or don't mind stretching out your payments over a longer period of time, by all means, go for it. If you want great mileage, go buy a diesel Golf and have at it, but that will run you even MORE money than a gasoline Golf... FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS more than my ZX3 with similar equipment, and the Golf is still missing some things I have on my car. You are going to have to drive the whee out of that diesel car to make up for the price differential.

    Not to mention, when I looked into it a year ago, the Focus' insurance premiums are less than those for the VW (at least in my NYC suburb).

    BUT... If you want a wonderful little car that is widely lauded by professional auto reviewers, drives like (and basically IS) a European car, is practical and relatively economical, take a look at the various Focus models. You likely won't be disappointed.

    The Focus range and the Golf/Jetta range are all superb automobiles... Just ask yourself if the $2500-$4000 (that's about 15-25%, depending) price premium is worth it to you.

  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    Focus is a well done package for its size. I just wish it had a better engine. I found the seat of the Focus to be a bit short in length, and the tilt and telescope feature of the steering wheel to be a bit short in travel. The optional traction control on the Focus is said to be top notch, and leather is an option. As to the Golf, I think it is a better built car and probably safer in a crash too. I think that all VWs are at the top for front seat comfort, although Focus is up there in the next tier and ahead of Civic and the new Corolla in my opinion. MPGs on the gas models of either one are nothing to write home about. Rear seat leg room is a lot better in the Focus. All in all, I think the Golf is a better car out of the showroom....what the 2 of them cost to maintain and repair I'm not sure, but I expect the VW to cost more to fix and insure over a lifetime.
  • shov6shov6 Posts: 177
    What, exactly, is "wrong" with the Focus' engine? Compared to the naturally-aspirated Golf, the Focus engine has more horsepower, more torque, in a car that weighs in at about 300 pounds less. This makes for, surprise, a faster car. What's so disappointing then? I think it's the GOLF that is disappointing. They even get about the same real-world mileage (with the Focus coming out marginally ahead).

    Before anyone suggests the 1.8T version of the Golf, keep in mind that it's now only available in the GTI, which means if you want the 4-door you're stuck with the 115 horse engine... and that GTI with the lux pkg is over 20 grand.

  • if you rented the focus, you probably had the "LX" sedan which comes with the base, old-escort carry over engine (not the DOHC engine that is standard in the more optioned out Focus's). Also the LX doesn't have the same suspension setup.
  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    Nothing is wrong with the Zetec, but it disappointed me. There appeared to be little oomph in second gear, in both the auto and manny. My Elantra GT's four is not one of the best either (I cede that to Toyota and Honda), but it definitely has more power. You are right about the Golf 2.0....I would get the TDI.
  • In Europe, where there are more safety standards mandated, a Focus is more comparable. On a European spec Focus you will get rear headrests, folding mirrors, repeat signals on the fenders, a diesel engine choice, interesting interior fabrics, extra lights in the bumpers, etc. I was in Europe recently and the Focus there is more substantial.

    In the USA, Ford recently put rear headrests on a few Focii for a short period of time and then stopped. The mirrors and door handles look like black recycled plastic. I have seen quite a few mirrors broken off and held on with tape. This is a cheap car and it shows. The VW is more expensive in other respects (repairs, inurance) but at least you get something solid and classy with more safety features.
    When I see a Focus at a dealer with an $18,000 sticker price I just laugh. When they start making this car more substantial, then they can justify this price.
  • shov6shov6 Posts: 177 well my "cheap" car has held up. Everything is still attached and it's never been in the shop.

    Can't say the same for the Jetta I had for six years... However much I loved that car, even I will have to admit that it was in the shop 15 minutes after I drove it off the lot (body pieces were falling off, and I am not exaggerating), and it got to go back quite a number of times for various ills. My ex-gf has a '98 Jetta that is apparently possessed by an evil spirit, since it has some rather amusing electrical gremilins (intermittent failure of the rear-window motors, radio only plays when it feels like it) and the INTERIOR mirror keeps falling off. I won't even get into the creaking noise in the back seat, which actually goes away when someone is sitting there (solution? always carry someone in the back seat).

    Since you brought it up, please elaborate on the extensive safety standards in Europe that we don't have to follow here in the USA. Side marker lights, rear headrests and folding mirrors are not good examples... And the European bumpers (on the Focus), much smaller than ours here in the USA, are LESS "substantial". Furthermore, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Golf/Jetta and the Focus receive exactly the same marks for crash-test survivability (even though the Focus, which is not quite as overweight as the Golf, might be expected to do slightly worse). Explain how US-market cars are not as "substantial" as European models, please...

    If you think it's funny to see an $18k Focus, I find it downright hysterical to see a $24k Golf. So much for an "economy car". If you don't mind black plastic door handles, a not-as-nice interior and mirrors that don't fold away, then you can just sit there and smile as you save SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS. Six grand may not be a big deal in Lexus territory, but an additional 1/3 premium for a nicer interior and a car that doesn't have quite-as-good handling dynamics is a bad tradeoff for ME right now... I'll take the better-driving car and the cheaper interior, thanks. Also keep in mind that the stripper Focus undercuts the stripper Golf by a huge margin, butting up on THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS. That's a lot of dough in this price range.

    Maybe later when I have more money to blow on a car I will spend more to get less. More money to buy, more money to fix, more money to insure... Nice as the VW's are, and believe me I do love them and will likely buy one again, they are not the hot ticket for someone who needs a car and doesn't want to or can't justify the nicer interior and pretty, painted door handles. They are, frankly, overpriced. If you can accept that, and are willing to pay for it, by all means... But if you want a car that will do all the same stuff and cost a lot less (and is a perennial favorite of knowledgable enthusiasts and the auto press), get a Focus.


    P.S.- Funny, too, how I have not seen a single Focus (or indeed any car) with "mirrors broken off". Maybe you live in an area where people vandalize cars? Foldaway mirrors can still be broken off by people who are doing it purposefully, you know. Should my friend's Contour be called "cheap" because the antenna was intentionally broken off by someone?
  • I never said US market cars were not as substantial as European cars. I was comparing the Focus of Europe to USA! That's why I said you can't compare them. I have no desire to buy a Focus after checking them out and seeing all the problems in the forums.
    Mirrors get broken off when you park on narrow street and someone drives too close. If you fold them you can get them out of the way. And tell your rear seat passengers that they don't need head support if you get rear-ended. I'm sure they will appreciate that.

    Good luck with your Focus. I'm glad you like it.
  • shov6shov6 Posts: 177
    To be perfectly honest, I am more concerned about seeing out the rear window... And the view is substantially blocked by ANY car's rear-seat headrests (except those that have auto fold-down headrests, like some M-B sedans, a feature you won't have in a hatchback). Seeing what's behind me, not seeing headrests for the one day out of 100 that I have back seat pax, means more to me.

  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    You could always remove the rear headrests anyway and stow it in the hatch somewhere.
  • I'll make this quick and painless. The ZX3 is the way to go. Much less expensive, better equipped, better looking, better built, more performance and 5 star safety rated.
    Can you tell I'm very happy with my ZX3?
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    Spend some time at a Ford & VW dealership. Drive both, learn about both, then eventually make up your mind.

    THe Focus has a major price advantage which is a plus.

    I'd tell you to buy a Golf (because I love my 2002 Golf TDI)...but you gotta figure out which one you like better.
  • slava2slava2 Posts: 1
    I don't think you know what you are talking about, orangelebaron, but My '00 ZX3 is a real great car and I haven't had any problems with it whatsoever, instead I've been hearing most of my friends say that german cars(vw's)are the ones with the electrical problems. So before you say something like that first do some research.
  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    A ZX3 to a GTI? Otherwise, a ZX5 would be in order. I've driven both a lot. Also just drove a ZTW and am agonizing over that and a VW. The ZTW was loaded with traction control, ABS, and side air bags, has a $1,000 rebate and can be had in the low 17s. Jetta wagons are a few thousand more. Personally, I think the front seating in the VWs are superior because you can do more with the height of the seat. I also like VW's folding mirrors and side head curtains. Look at the just released Consumer Reports. They still can't recommend the Focus because or reliability issues and VWs run the table on safety.
  • norwaydougnorwaydoug Posts: 249

    As the initiator of this topic, back in 1999, I wanted to give an update. I chose to buy a 2000 Focus zx3 because it had more interior room than the VW and I had 3000 dollars of Citibank Visa money to buy a Ford. Quite an incentive.

    I had to trade my 2K zx3 in because it was a lemon (only in my opinion) and purchased a 2001 automatic zx3. I have been very pleased with my 2001 and I believe the Consumer Reports report is mostly based on the 2k and all its recalls. I would look at the CR reports with a grain of salt if you are buying a 2002 zx3 or zx5.

    My 2001 has been great for the 20K driving miles. No issues except a dash rattle that can't seem to be fixed. I can live with the noise as long as it keeps running the way it has been running.

  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    In fact, I traded in my 2001 ZX3 on a Golf. Both were stickshift. The ZX3 was far superior - more horsepower, sportier engine, superb handling, better ergonomics (wide room for your knees), and came with cruise control. It was much quieter on the freeway.

    I traded in the ZX3 due to an air quality problem Ford couldn't diagnose. I got tired of waiting for their slow response and I was getting a cough from whatever was coming through the vents. To Ford's credit, they gave me a $2k owner appreciation certificate in case I wanted to buy another Ford within a year.

    The VW was fine. I got an extended warranty out of fear it would break down, but after 30k miles, still no problems.

    Right after 9-11 I saw a ZX3 with an auto for an absurd price. I used my coupon and got it. Guess what? It was a model year later, but after a few thousand miles the air quality problem came back. For 7,000 miles, though, even the auto outdrove the Golf - actually it had the 16 inch wheels, so its handling was even better, though the ride was a little worse (than the former ZX3, still better than the Golf).

    The moral of the story is, the ZX3 is great to drive, but I wish Ford would improve quality control. Maybe I was lucky with my single sample Gold and unlucky with my dual sample ZX3's, but after reading owner comments on other websites, it seems like about 50% of the ZX3's are almost lemons, some are bulletproof, and some are just a little troublesome. One newsgroup even had a posting from an anonymous Ford engineer who averred that if an owner could bear with the warranty perior issues, thereafter he/she would have a great car.

    I still like the ZX3 better than the Golf. But what am I going to do (maybe the next gen Golf will have some real handling, less NVH like the ZX3, and not cost so much).
  • Norway Doug.
    I was reading this forum with interest. many points being made both ways.
    I have had three mirrows either broken off, or the plastic cracked, one by a kid, the other two going down a very narrow street (Philly, old city section) and not paying attention to a Burger King window sticking out. Ouch!

    But, my question is, how is the resale value for both cars? That is as important as the initial payment, it it money invested. It may be you get some of that extra thousands in the VW back in resale.
    Any thoughts?

    I drive the ZX3, '00 and am looking around for a reliable newer car. Maybe the ZX5 or a Golf or P5.

    Whats the deal with a Diesel engine?
    More economy? More horses? Why is it being offered?
    How hard is it to find a station with diesel?
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    It costs more (about $1000 over the 2.0L motor)

    Fuel Economy:
    5-speed manual: 42 city 49 highway
    4-speed auto: 34 city 45 highway

    Less horsepower more torque (90 bhp @ 3750 rpm; 155 lb-ft @ 1950 rpm)

    Why not? It's an excellent alternative to gasoline engines.

    How hard to find it in the Jetta wagon?
    Ask the guys in the Jetta wagon forums (I drive a Golf TDI)
  • shov6shov6 Posts: 177
    Two reasons, neither of which may mean much to you.

    1- Although the fuel economy IS better in the diesel model and diesel is less expensive to purchase on a per-gallon basis (usually 3-5 cents as per the national average), you would have to drive a startling number of miles to have the reduced fuel expense make up for the additional cost of the car in the first place (which, by the way, is closer to 1300 dollars than a thousand). I ran some numbers really quickly using the current average fuel prices for regular and diesel, and that number is approximately 80,000 miles... If the rated fuel mileage of the diesel and the 2.0L gasoline model are to be believed (I used the highway figures only). If you plan to keep the car that long, this may be something to think about... If not, I think you will find the resale value is lower on diesels, too.

    2- Depending upon where you live, diesel may not be as easy to find as you might like. For instance, there is only one fueling station within a five-mile radius of where I live that sells the stuff. The aggravation of having to go out of your way to find diesel may be more than it's worth.

    The real reason I can see someone buying a diesel is if:

    1) Diesel is less expensive by far than gasoline where you happen to live.

    2) You do almost all highway driving, as this is where the greatest benefits are to be realized.

    Just my $.02,
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