Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Compact Sedans



  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,041
    A reporter is interested in talking with recent buyers of the Chevy Cruze, Ford Fiesta or Ford Focus. If you care to share your comments, please email your daytime contact info to no later than Monday, May 16, 2011.
    Jeannine Fallon
    Corporate Communications


    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    edited June 2011
    MT just did an 8-way comparo of compacts: Civic, Corolla, Cruze, Elantra, Focus, Forte, Jetta, and Mazda3. Pretty much all the major compacts except Sentra and Impreza (with the Impreza's redesign coming very soon).

    To no surprise, the Corolla came in last. Guess what came in first? rison/index.html
  • dchevdchev Posts: 38
    Backy, we know that you are Hyundai fan, so praising new Elantra is pretty normal coming from you:)
    Elantra is a very sharp looking car, and it has lots of standard futures that even much more expensive cars don't.
    Elantra does not have only one thing-it has not proved (in a long run, which is 5-10 years) that it will be reliable, free of any mechanical problems transportation, with holding its gas millage numbers overtime.

    What makes me wonder is how come Elantra has 6 speed auto transmission vs. Corolla's 4 speed auto, and Corolla's fuel economy is 27.6 MPG vs. Elantra's 25.6 MPG fuel economy? These are real world numbers provided by Motortrend in their test drive!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    edited June 2011
    I am a Hyundai owner, yes. But I am brand-agnostic when it comes to owning cars (see my profile). For example, current daily driver is a Sentra.

    Actually, the compact I am looking forward to most of all is the 2012 Impreza. The Elantra is a nice car, but now that one must pay nearly full price for one of them, it's no longer the killer value it once was. And the idea of owning an AWD car in Minnesnowta, especially one with excellent fuel economy, is compelling to me.

    I also like the Cruze although the rear seat room is much less than I'd like. It even has less room in back than the new Accent I checked out today.

    But I have to disagree with your statement about long-term reliability of the Elantra. I bought a 2001 Elantra new in October 2000 and a 2004 Elantra new in March 2004. I still have the 2004 and my sister owns the 2001. Both have been extremely reliable cars... and they are two generations removed from the current Elantra. Hyundai's reliability has improved markedly in the past 10 years.

    Also I have to disagree with the comment on long-term fuel economy. My 2004 just got its 60k service and is getting over 37 mpg on the highway... and it has an EPA highway rating of only 29! It was doing 34 or so before the tuneup. I think that is very good for a car that was designed in the late '90s, with a relatively ancient iron-block engine (Beta) that goes back to the mid-'90s.

    The old slogan for Hyundai was, "Driving is Believing". I think that was a pretty good slogan for them. :)
  • dchevdchev Posts: 38
    Thanks for your reply, Backy!
    When I asked about fuel economy, I compared 2011 Corolla and 2011 Elantra.
    In MT test, Elantra got 25.6 MPG fuel economy vs. Corolla's 27.6 MPG fuel economy. I am trying to make a point here! Even though, Elantra has 6 speed Auto Transmission and "so fuel efficient" engine in Real World Driving, Corolla has better gas millage-think about that Corolla has only 4 Speed Auto transmission.
    Many people bash Toyota (Corolla, Camry....) for having bland cars, however, Toyota cars compare very well with any other competitor.
    Many "MT experts" kept saying how ride of Corolla is pretty good; however, steering is kind of numb...... Well, they said the same thing about Elantra! Hyundai has been copying Toyota, building cars that are comfortable, simple and easy to maintain. Hyundai has added one more thing-they started to implement nicer quality interiors.
    In comparison, Toyota Corolla S interior is not bad at all. If you do not care for plastics that are all over the cabin, the car is actually very well build.
    I just purchased 2011 Toyota Corolla S, and I can tell you from all my observations that this car has very good ride, easy to operate (layout is simple), easy to maintain, and it has good proportions-back seats are not cramped. The gas millage for first 4000 miles has been between 32-34 miles, and this is average gas millage with AC working all the time!
    Something else important-the car was $2200 off MSRP with 0% APR.
    In my book, these facts scream VALUE!
    Toyota has been selling Corolla for more than 30 years, so reliability, affordability, good ride, good fuel economy, safety ...... has been always top notch. This is what 16000-22000 people see each month in Toyota Corolla, so they buy it and most of them enjoy it. I say "most of them" because there are always people who buy cars based on name, but not on going and test drive the car first and then buy it. When you buy a car, you should test it and find out if it will suit your needs, otherwise is just waste of your time and money!
    I agree with you that Hyundai has made a huge progress toward building excellent cars! This fact can just make me happy because you, I and everybody else could benefit from it. Competition brings better products to us consumers:)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    edited June 2011
    Toyota cars compare very well with any other competitor.

    Well, it appears not in the eyes of MT. ;)

    Corolla has a smooth, quiet ride and decent fuel economy. That's about it. In other areas--interior quality, features for the dollar, interior room, power to name a few--it is not competitive. Which makes sense because it's one of the oldest cars in its class now. Only the Sentra is older, when the new Impreza comes out in a few months. So Toyota needs to play catch-up now.

    BTW, last month the Corolla slipped out of the Top Ten list. But the Elantra had its best-ever sales month, topping 20k units. Reputation will only get you so far. It's a very strong compact car field now, with the new offerings from Honda, Ford, Chevy, Hyundai, VW, soon Subaru... and the Mazda3, Sentra, and Forte are no slouches either.

    I'm glad you like your Corolla, but it's not my cup of tea. Whenever Hertz tries to give me one, I try to get something else.
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    "I'm glad you like your Corolla, but it's not my cup of tea. Whenever Hertz tries to give me one, I try to get something else."

    Last July, I was stuck in an insurance rental for 32 days. Some twit on her cell phone rear-ended my Mazda3 and did over $8k in damage and it took that long to repair it to my satisfaction (I refused it twice because I wasn't 100% happy with all of the repairs).

    I'm am an insurance agent, so I called her insurance company and insisted that they provide me a rental the following morning. The only rental agency in my small town is Enterprise, so that's where I told them to arrange the rental. My only request was that I didn't want any Chrysler vehicle! When I arrived the next morning, they had an orange 2010 Dodage Avenger R/T waiting for me....I protested and asked for anything else, but the only other choice at that moment was a PT Cruiser!!! I'm convinced it was the evil State Farm claims rep who did this to mess with me, but I digress....

    I took the Avenger on a Friday morning, drove it 12 miles home and it sat in the driveway until Monday. I drove my decrepit second car all weekend- a 1995 Grand Cherokee with 220k miles and some freaky electrical issues. But it was still better than the alternative. On Monday, I drove it the 12 miles back to Enterprise and told them to give me something else or I'd just turn it in and go 10 miles down the road where there were several agencies to choose from. I saw a Pontiac G6 in the front, but the manager bluntly told me that it smelled like vomit (no thanks).

    The only other vehicle on the lot was a 2010 Toyota Corolla LE, so I took it. I wasn't embarrassed to be seen in it, unlike the Avenger, but that's one of the few complimentary things I can say about it. The fuel economy was the other bright spot, even under my heavy foot it averaged close to 30mpg overall. The positive attributes end there...

    The electric power steering was horrible and the car 'wandered' at highway speeds. Driving at 75mph, it was difficult to keep it in one lane and required constant, tiny steering corrections to do so. The handling was another serious deficiency. I have never driven a compact that wallowed like a Buick and the nose plowed into turns like a parade float! I expected the generic, low-rent plastic wheel covers to fly off each time I turned into my driveway. =)

    The interior was also full of unpleasant surprises. I noticed several wide and/or uneven gaps between trim pieces. Even the one of the two silver plastic 'blanks' on the steering wheel was crooked. Not only did they remind the driver that the car lacked cruise control and audio controls on the steering wheel, but they added insult to injury by installing one of the blanks more crooked than Whitney Houston's wig after few bong hits.

    There were visible lines on some plastic pieces from where they were cast or molded during the manufacturing process. One on the glovebox door was so noticeable that I wanted to take a sanding block to it...but I refrained. The metallic-look trim on the center stack and console was starting to wear in places and the car only had 12k miles on it. In another 12k, I can't imagine how they'd look. The seat fabric looked like a cross between mid-70s GM velour and mouse fur. There were also a few squeaks and rattles, especially evident on less-than-perfect secondary roads. As a whole, from the driver's seat, everything I could see and feel screamed CHEAP! The only other car in recent times that I recall feeling so cheap and flimsy is the Chevy Aveo (which is actually a Daewoo). It didn't have nearly the interior fit and finish issues of the Corolla, but the plastics inside were the most unpleasant looking and feeling that I've ever experienced. So there is at least once vehicle I dislike more than the Corolla, but that is faint praise, to say the least.

    One other issue was the 4-speed automatic. More specifically, the gearing and how it affected driveability and power delivery. If I floored it from a stop, it pulled hard and felt surprisingly quick off the line in 1st gear. But when it shifted into 2nd, it felt like someone had attached a boat anchor to the back. The Kia Forte and Soul have a very similar problem, although the 2011 Forte has a 6-speed automatic that improved acceleration and fuel economy significantly and eliminated the 2nd gear/boat anchor sensation.

    The 4-speed can also be a problem when passing on a two-lane highway. I live in a semi-rural area and the closest town is about 12 miles away via two lane highway. There are four different spots where it is legal to pass (dotted/broken yellow line) and I usually don't even need to shift out of 5th gear in my '06 Mazda3 to pass old ladies driving 40 in a 55 zone. While the Corolla readily downshifted from 4th to 3rd, it made more noise than power. And it could take a few seconds for the revs to get into the power band. I learned this the hard way when I tried to pass an 18-wheeler that had slowed to 15mph on the two previous inclines and the steepest grade was still ahead. As soon as the yellow line broke, I floored it and moved into the other lane. Ten seconds later, I was still only about half way past him and I suddenly I an oncoming car was headed my way. My only choice was to stab the brake pedal and fall back in behind him. Emergency maneuvering is also scary in the Corolla, it wobbled as I swerved back into the other lane. I didn't attempt to pass again after that experience.

    Initially, I was hoping that State Harm would total my Mazda3 (and it would have been cheaper for them after the repair costs, rental for 32 days and Diminished Value claim). But after a month in the Corolla, I was thrilled to have my 5yr old Zoom-Zoom back! =)
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    "BTW, last month the Corolla slipped out of the Top Ten list. But the Elantra had its best-ever sales month, topping 20k units. Reputation will only get you so far. It's a very strong compact car field now, with the new offerings from Honda, Ford, Chevy, Hyundai, VW, soon Subaru... and the Mazda3, Sentra, and Forte are no slouches either."

    I think the Nissan Sentra is probably the most underrated compact car on the market. While it's not the best in any area, it is adequate in most areas and even above average in a few. The interior design and quality blows the Corolla and the new Jetta off the map! It may not be Audi-quality, but it is attractive and assembly quality is excellent in the examples I've seen. It's sort of the Jan Brady of the Nissan line, with the smaller Versa and mid-size Altima getting all the praise and attention. =(

    Actually there is another compact even more underrated and invisible (to consumers) than the Sentra- the Suzuki SX4. Even with a 100k powertrain warranty, it still doesn't sell anywhere near the other Japanese compacts. I think it drives quite well and ever since the redesign of the Aerio's interior for 2005, they have been making some of the best looking, highest quality and well assembled interiors to come from a Japanese brand. Of course, that doesn’t apply to the Verona, Reno or Forenza, which were rebadged Daewoo models. They were also Suzuki’s best selling cars ever (Reno and Forenza) but they also did more damage to the Suzuki brand image than any other vehicles! Hence the pathetic sales of the SX4 and far lower sales of the Kizashi, an amazing car among it’s competitors, IMO!
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I think the Nissan Sentra is probably the most underrated compact car on the market. While it's not the best in any area, it is adequate in most areas and even above average in a few. The interior design and quality blows the Corolla and the new Jetta off the map

    I would put the Sentra right at the bottom with the Corolla. I don;t think the Sentra does anything particularly well. I really am not impressed with the interior, or that of the Altima either. Both are very bland. Well put together, but, very unimpressive.

    It seems as if Nissan puts the lease amount of effort into the Sentra out of all their cars. The Maxima and Murano are top-knotch when it comes to materials, build quality and content. I do think the Altima and Sentra are very lacking, although sales of the Altima do not flow with my opinion.

    I would expect something new from Nissan as far as the Sentra goes. It is was overdue.
  • fushigifushigi Chicago suburbsPosts: 1,389
    While I'm not gaga over the Sentra's interior - it is bland and things like the door arm rests are too narrow for my taste - it does do one thing well and that's provide headroom. The main thing I remembered from my auto show "test sit" was that front seat or back, head room is plentiful unlike the Cruze, new Elantra, and some others.
    2017 Infiniti QX60 (me), 2012 Hyundai Elantra (wife)
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I like the "test sit" line...

    My concerns are usually leg room. I'm rather tall at 6'4".
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    edited June 2011
    Since I own (actually lease) a 2010 Sentra S, I'll give my 2 cents on it. I think it does some things very well:

    * Great interior room for a compact, including roomy back seat.
    * Comfortable driving position, even on long trips.
    * Very good materials quality inside for an economy car--as good or better than most in class, trailing maybe only Cruze. I especially like the HVAC controls (very smooth) and the faux aluminum bits that dress things up.
    * Very quiet at cruise with CVT--revs hit 2000 at around 70 mph.
    * Great inside storage including a HUGE glovebox.
    * Pretty smooth ride for the class--not anywhere near as jarring as the likes of the Mazda3, more like the Elantra.
    * Very good fuel economy--I've done much better than the EPA averages driving with a light foot. Upper 30s on the highway, upper 20s to low 30s around-town depending on weather and how much freeway driving there is.
    * Good connectivity--USB input standard even on S model.
    * Versatile and roomy trunk--headrests fold flat for easy seat folding, plus the rear seat bottom pulls up, rare in this class.
    * Has side moldings to protect doors--hardly any cars have that now.
    * Very reliable--zero problems in first 15 months.

    Minuses are:
    * Trip computer has poor ergonomics--have to push a button in the instrument cluster repeatedly to cycle between odometers, MTE, avg and instant FE, etc.
    * Electric power steering doesn't have a crisp feel.
    * No trunk release on keyfob.
    * ESC is not standard (at least not on the S, and not in 2010).

    That's about it. I've been very satisfied with the car in its first 15 months. I may keep it when the lease is up... depends on what else is out there in two years.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Interesting comparo between the interior of a Sentra and Cruz. From what I have read, the interior on the Cruz looks nice, but, materials and build quality are not so great. I have not been in one myself.... I would say the new Elantra and Focus have the best combination of build quality / materials available today. The new Focus is put together really, really well. The Mazda3 is well put together as well, and in the s model, there are even better materials used, however, it could use a refresh. We will see if much attention was paid to it when we get the refreshed 2012.

    I would not call the ride of the Mazda3 "jarring"...that's a bit of a stretch, but, to each their own...

    Nissan builds a good car, so the fact that you have had no issues is not surprising.

    I have driven the current gen Sentra many times, and I do feel that other manufacturers offer more and do better in other areas. Just my .02...

    With company's like Hyundai, Ford and even Chevy stepping up their game in this segment, it is time that Nissan does as well. The Sentra is overdue...

    Now, if I had my wish, I would buy a car that looks like the Elantra and drives like a Mazda3!! I just can't get used to the look of the Mazda...
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    I've been in a few Cruze's and I think the material quality is very good, especially considering the price point. The Elantra is also good, certainly has more "style" than the Sentra but quality not significantly better. The Focus is "uneven"--some really nice bits, but other parts seem cheap to me. For example, the HVAC knobs are not nearly as smooth as on the Sentra. The Sentra has pretty nice quality all around. Also the controls are much easier to use than in either the Focus or Elantra. The Mazda3 has a pretty nice interior but it's dour (in black anyway) has some cheap pieces. Back seat much tighter than the Sentra also.

    "Jarring" is pretty accurate I think. Or maybe "nervous". Definitely a great handler, but the trade-off with ride quality isn't worth it to me. I've had several Mazda3 rentals over the past few months, and they're fine as long as the roads are smooth. Which I haven't experienced much of.

    The perfect small car to me would be one that looks like (and has the interior room of) the Elantra, handling of the Mazda3, and ride of the Cruze. And priced like a Versa, or Accent. :)

    The Sentra is due for a redesign, but I am surprised how well it has held up over the years. It does need better fuel economy (has to hit that magical 40 mpg EPA number now), and the steering needs tightening up. With that and a few other little tweaks (and I suppose a new wrapper, just because), I think it will be fully competitive in the class, even against the new designs.
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Posts: 574
    With 2012 being the 6th model year of the current Sentra, is 2013 the MY for an all-new Sentra?

    My mother owns a 2005 Sentra and it's a great "around town" car for her. I've driven it many times and with only 41,000 miles on the clock, it's got several good years left in it.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    I scratched my head over the 2005 Sentra and that whole generation because while it had some plusses, including fuel economy and a pretty nice interior, the back seat was REALLY tight--moreso than even the prior generation. Nissan rectified that in the current design.

    I've leased 3 Sentras--a 1992 2-door, a 1997 4-door (both sticks), and my current 2010. They were all solid, reliable little cars. I sold my 1997 to my sister and she drove it for many more years after my lease was up. What's kind of amazing, though, is that my 1997 GXE, which was a pretty basic car by today's standards with a stick, two airbags, no ABS, steel wheels, and power windows/locks/mirrors/cruise, listed for about $16k. That is about what a comparable compact lists for today, but the modern car has a lot more safety features, and probably more power (vs. 115 hp) with better fuel economy.

    Cars really have improved in the past 15 years.
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    "MT just did an 8-way comparo of compacts: Civic, Corolla, Cruze, Elantra, Focus, Forte, Jetta, and Mazda3. Pretty much all the major compacts except Sentra and Impreza (with the Impreza's redesign coming very soon).

    To no surprise, the Corolla came in last. Guess what came in first?"

    I finally had a chance to go back and read the entire test on the MT website and I was surprised by the ranking of several models, but the Corolla and Elantra seem appropriately placed, IMO. Here are the ones that disappointed, concerned, shocked and/or irritated me-

    #7- KIA Forte EX
    - This one is a disappointment. KIA upgraded the outdated 4-speed automatic to a new 6-speed automatic with the promise of improved acceleration and better fuel economy. The 0-60 time has been reduced from 10.3 to 9.2 seconds, which is a solid improvement. But the overall fuel economy of 23.9mpg is unacceptable on a car with EPA ratings of 26/36. The overall cheap look of the interior and seats that aren't all that comfy for the long haul were problems I had noted when I test drove a 2011 Forte SX 5-door. Now that Hyundai has reinvented its lineup, they need to give this model some of their 'magic'- I still love the exterior design, but the rest needs some work...

    #5- Ford Focus Titanium- An overly-complicated high-tech interior design distracts from what is a fundamentally GREAT car in almost every other area. That's what I've been saying from the beginnings and the guys at MT seem to agree. Drive a Focus SE 5-speed manual and you'll see and feel how good this car can really be!

    #4- VW Jetta TDI
    - MT requested a 2.5L model, VW still sent a TDI- it shouldn't have been allowed to participate, IMO.

    #3- Mazda 3 i Touring- Where is the logic in putting the lower-level 'i' model against top trim levels of the Cruze, Focus, Civic and Elantra??? It was the least expensive test by a large margin- the second least expensive Corolla was $824 more and the highest priced Cruze was $4,595 more! Would the additional features and/or options on a Mazda3 s Sport or Grand Touring outweigh the lower fuel economy from the 2.5L engine? The i Touring model tested didn't even include the available Moonroof/6CD/Bose Package which only adds $1395 to the price. The total would have been very close to the Forte EX and Civic EX's sticker prices and still well below the Cruze, Focus, VW and Elantra! At that price, it would've included a Power Moonroof, 10-speaker, 265-watt Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system and In-dash 6-CD changer.

    #2- Civic EX
    - I honestly can't tell any difference at first glance, and I thought the previous model was HIDEOUS, so this new one is hardly a beauty queen! Honda has become lazy, or so it seems....even if they do get the best MPG of all.

    It's interesting to see the results form a similar, but smaller (only five cars), comparison in the April 2011 issue of Car and Driver. Here's how they ranked the five they included-

    5- VW Jetta SEL
    4- Chevy Cruze LT
    3- Hyundai Elantra Limited
    2- Mazda3 s Sport 4-door
    1- Ford Focus SEL 4-door

    Either way, the Elantra and Mazda3 landed in the top three of each they're the two I'd be considering, if I was actually in the market for a new car right now.

    When Mazda's new SKYACTIV 40mpg highway 2.0L hits the roads later this fall, I may be one of the first in line....
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    I guess only Mazda USA can say why they sent a Touring into the MT comparo. Maybe C/D was using the only S available at the same time. ;)

    The test results were predictable. C/D puts sharp handling above everything else. The car could knock your fillings out, but if it handled as if on rails it would place very high if not first. The MT test seemingly tried to look at the cars as a "typical" compact car buyer would. So they placed high value on attributes like rear seat room, ride quality, and interior design, vs. handling (although handling was a factor also).

    Considering C/D didn't have a Civic to test and the two Jettas were like two different cars, the results were pretty close. Take those two things into account (i.e. discount the TDI factor), and the Focus, Elantra, and Mazda3 were in the top 3 of each list, just a different order. What mystifies me is how low the Cruze placed in each test. C/D anointed it "best in class" in their initial road test. Then they rank it 4th out of 5. And it was well down on MT's list also, despite having one of the nicest interiors, good ride/handling balance, and exceptional safety features. But a tight rear seat and so-so fuel economy. But if FE is most important, a Cruze buyer would get the Eco.

    I'd love to see some mag test all the "40 mpg" cars out there, but test with an emphasis on driving for best fuel economy... not best 0-60 times.
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    I kind of get the sense that they are splitting hairs with some of the comparisons. I also think Backy's point about C&D likes handling, MT likes a different balance, R&T something different still, and CR something yet different.

    What I find is that once you get to a certain level of performance and reliability, all the cars are essentially similar. At this point, between the vehicles compared in the article, I don't know that there is a bad choice or a car that "sucks." What I do think is there are cars that emphasize different atributes more than others. If your main measure is rear seat leg room, you would pick a different vehicle than if your emphasis was on handling prowess. Similarly, fuel economy might be a primary purchase reason, while for others, power or audio system quality might drive the purchase.

    Now that I finally got a chance to drive a few of the vehicles, I agree that the Focus SE hatch/5spd manual is more my thing than the Titanium, but if you look at the content of the Titanium, it compares favorably to vehicles like the A3. I would like the Mazda3 (There are a few 1st generation Mazda3s in the family) but can't get past the smiley face.

    I also think its so odd to me that after growing up in Southern California and seeing most Hondas as aspirational vehicles I'd want to own, the Civic really does nothing for me, nor the new Accord, for that matter. The Sentra (especially the SE-R) was also very big in the So Cal compact scene. It seems to have taken a different path (not bad, just different).

    Like I said though, the choice is driven by individual wants and needs.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,041
    A reporter is hoping to talk with the owner of a new VW Jetta. Please email by Monday, June 20, 2011 with your daytime contact information and a few words about your experience with the car so far.


    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    What I find is that once you get to a certain level of performance and reliability, all the cars are essentially similar.

    I have to disagree. Just in this group of cars, there are major differences in some attributes important to many buyers. For example:

    * Sharp handling: Mazda3, with Focus and Civic pretty good also. But there's a major difference in how those cars handle compared to others e.g. Corolla, Elantra, and Sentra.

    * Performance: Big difference in acceleration in the class, since some cars have ~135 hp and others have 160-170 hp, with "sport" versions with even more power.

    * Interior room: Huge range there, especially in rear seat room. Some cars such as Jetta and Elantra have very roomy rear seats for the class; others such as Corolla, Cruze, Focus, and Mazda3 have tight rear seats.

    * Luxury features: Some cars do well just to offer a moonroof. Some such as the Corolla don't even offer leather, let alone other high-end features becoming increasingly common on cars like the Focus, Mazda3, and Cruze.

    * Fuel economy: Huge range there. Some compacts like the Jetta 2.5 struggle to hit 30 mpg highway EPA, while others are over 40 mpg.

    Those are just a few examples of the wide range of offerings in the compact class. Which is a good thing... easier for just about everyone to find something they like.
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    "I also think its so odd to me that after growing up in Southern California and seeing most Hondas as aspirational vehicles I'd want to own, the Civic really does nothing for me, nor the new Accord, for that matter."

    I am from one of those "Honda families". I have two cousins with 25+ years as Honda mechanics, my brother-in-law has worked in a Honda/Acura body shop for 21 years and my one of my uncles worked at another Honda dealership's body shop for 28 years. Back in 1996, for about four months, I even sold Hondas at the dealership where my cousins and bro-in-law work. Despite outselling all but two long-term salesmen during that time and making a lot of $$$, discovered that I have an affliction that is fatal for a sales person- a conscience! =)

    But I drove a Honda from the day I got my license in 1991 (when I got my sister's hand-me-down '85 CRX Si) followed by six others over the next 14 years. I had an '89 Accord LXi 4-door, '90 Acura Legend L 4-door, '92 Accord EX 4-door, '94 Civic EX 2-door, '96 Accord EX 4-door and '99 Accord EX 4-door- all 5-speed manuals, too! It was never a question of which car to buy, but which Honda to buy!? My sister followed much the same pattern as me with a few Preludes thrown in. We even bought '96 Accords on the same day, in the same color- both were EX 4-door 5-speeds in Heather Mist Metallic (silvery gold). Mine was just the stock EX, but she managed to get a set of the EX Coupe wheels and she added the rear spoiler, sunroof deflector, had the windows tinted and even the hideously tacky 'gold' emblem package. Even though they started out as identical twins, you could definitely tell them apart after she finished 'accessorizing'.

    When I totaled my '99 Accord in December 2005, I went to the Honda dealer the following morning to pick out my next one. That's when I saw the 2006 Civic for the first time and I test drove an EX 4-door with manual and an automatic. I couldn't believe how much I hated it- from the wonky exterior design (a cross between a doorstop and a suppository) and the two-tier digital/analog dash felt anything but Honda-like. I couldn't even find a color combo that I would consider if I did entertain the thought of buying one, which I didn't.

    I genuinely liked the 2006 Accord, but my budget was around $18k and definitely not over $19k. The EX 4-door I wanted was over $23k and the LX was too plain-looking and still over $20k. I was confused and, for the first time, realized that my next car wasn't going to be a Honda. I ended up getting a 2006 Mazda3 s 5-door and I'm still happy with it 5.5yrs and 82k miles later! Some of my family considered it treason, at least that's how they acted. But over the last five years, I've watched almost every one of them do the same thing....

    The 2008 Accord was the final sign to me that my days as a Honda owner were over. They no longer had anything I'd want to drive, much less own. The 'magic' that made my '85 CRX, '89 Accord and '90 Legend feel so unique and made them so enjoyable to drive was lost years ago. My '99 Accord still had the 'feel', but felt more polished and not as sporty as the earlier model.

    I was hoping for a 2012 Civic that was slighlty less hideous, but they changed it so liittle that it would hardly seem like a 'refresh' much less a real 'redesign'. They also carried over the powertain which was no more than adequate in the old car. One of the car mags commented that they followed the Corolla's lead in terms of ride and handling. So it is now freaky looking and morre boring than ever before...
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    edited June 2011
    I'd love to see some mag test all the "40 mpg" cars out there, but test with an emphasis on driving for best fuel economy... not best 0-60 times

    How about a blend of performance and economy? Fuel economy is only half the equation. If we were only concerned with fuel economy, we would be seeing 100hp engines in this class that get 50 mpg.

    Manufacturers seem to be seeing who can get the best FE and best performance in one package.

    I will agree, I would really like to see a battle of the 40mpg club. I would like to see who builds the best all around car assessing economy and performance.

    I find it a bit weird that no one has driven a Mazda3 SKYACTIV just yet. The car is due here in the fall, perhaps as early as September. Maybe Mazda has been keeping the lid on that in combination with the disaster in Japan. Even us dealers have no more information than is currently available to the general public.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    edited June 2011
    I think the current crop of compacts DO offer a blend of performance and economy. How many of the current cars offer 140 hp+, which a few years ago was typical for a V6 mid-sized car? Let's see... Civic, Elantra, Focus, Forte, Impreza, Mazda3, Sentra, SX4 all offer at least 140 hp in their base models, and the Jetta offers a 170 hp gas engine or 140 hp TDI in all but the base trim. Only the Corolla and Cruze are below 140 hp, and they're in the 130s.

    The reason I posed the "what if?" about a test focusing on fuel economy is that the car mags usually thrash the cars they test, and get far below the EPA specs in fuel economy. I just thought it would be interesting to have a test where the cars are driven more like normal people drive them, or even with some basic techniques (not hypermiling) to get maximum fuel economy, like using a light foot on the gas, sticking to speed limits, coasting up to lights when appropriate etc.

    P.S. There is a near-100 hp engine in this class, in the base Jetta: 115 hp. But it doesn't get anything close to 50 mpg. I don't think 100 hp engines are the magic answer to better fuel economy, except maybe in very small cars. If we were interested in maximum fuel economy, we'd have small, light cars with 6-speed sticks and diesel engines. Guess how many of THOSE would sell in the USA? :P
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    I think you are making a point that defines what I was trying to say. Any of these vehicles is going to get you to work and back, safely and reliably. I also think that they would be fine for a small family. Fuel economy, for the most part, seems to be within 10% of each other. It comes down to what is important to the individual. Any of these will do just about anything one *needs* them to do, but some people will *want* one more than another.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,175
    Check out on Monday. They have been doing a comparison test of some compacts and I think they focused somewhat on real world MPG. Don't know if it will fit your criteria but it's worth a look.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    Cool, thanks for the tip!
  • tenpin288tenpin288 Posts: 804
    edited June 2011
    I think this is the story Backy is referring to... test

    also in USA Today
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    That's kinda the idea, but it wasn't clear that the drivers were doing anything special to get highest possible fuel economy out of the cars. But it looked like a more realistic test than what the auto mags usually do--real-world stop-and-go traffic, suburban traffic, and freeway traffic. Also they were looking at the cars overall vs. focusing on just one attribute such as handling or acceleration.
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Posts: 574
    edited June 2011
    I'm amazed that these "tests" rely on a vehicles trip computer to report mileage. I realize these handy devices are far more accurate than they were in the past, but I prefer filling the fuel tank to a known level, driving XXX number of miles and re-filling to the previous known level then calculating the actual mileage achieved.

    Another note of interest was the statement in the 2012 Focus and Civic have been available since last September........."The combined average transaction price — including all options, discounts, rebates and shipping, but not taxes and license fees — for Elantras, Civics, Fortes, Focuses and Cruzes that dealers sold in May was $19,843, up about $1,500 just since September, the first month that all five shootout cars were available." After reading that line I tossed this article aside. Trip computer for fuel economy and clueless as to availability? Come on guys. Read more here if you missed this one: Today
Sign In or Register to comment.