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Honda Civic vs. Hyundai Sonata



  • redflearedflea Posts: 16
    This is an interesting area for marketing types, I'm sure.

    My experience for myself and watching my friends/family car buying experiences is that the buying process goes from general to specific, starting with some high-level decisions about key requirements (e.g., cost, MPG, car style, size and comfort level, performance, etc.) that drive (excuse the pun) someone to a car category (e.g., family sedan) that they believe best fits their overall requirements.

    Then they review offerings in that category and either narrow down to a car, or if they don't find what they want they review their requirements and try another category. I can't remember hearing someone tell me they were looking at SUVs and found a great deal on a minivan, so they snapped it up. (Though I'm in an upper-middle class income group, maybe that is more common at lower income levels.) From what I've seen, people want an SUV, for example, and shop until they find one they like and can afford.

    BTW - my "silly" comment wasn't directed at the posters in this thread, but more at the idea that there are a sufficient number of shoppers out there trying to choose between the Sonata and the Civic such that we need a multi-page thread on it. (But since I'm contributing to the thread I'm looking pretty silly myself.) :-)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    It's not that there are a large number of people making this decision, but it does at least pose a decent discussion (131 posts now). Not too bad for a little bit o' car talk, eh? :)

    Personally, I just like talking about and learning about most new cars in general, whether or not I'm in the market (which I currently am not - I'm quite happy with my car).
  • moocow1moocow1 Posts: 230
    I really don't think the Sonata is THAT big or powerful actually. And remember her fuel economy is ONLY 3-4 mpg less than the civic! We're talking about a damn efficient midsize sedan here, not some old 1980's gas guzzling buick.

    Also I've found the ride and handling are pretty damn good. Obviously not sporty, but I consider it right in the middle between sporty and cushy. Remember the size different in length is really only about 12 inches. Civics have grown a ton. They're no longer the tiny subcompacts people keep imagining.

    Now if we were comparing a Fit against Sonata...the size difference would be much bigger :) And yes I actually did compare the Fit against Civic and Sonata in my buying. Fit's are just too pricey for what they offer to me. I preferred stepping up to something compact/mid.
  • moocow1moocow1 Posts: 230
    I've basically learned to ignore all the marketing about car type/size/type. That's how my brain functions on making purchasing decisions for everything. I look at the actual specifications and functionality based on the prices and then decide. Once you get past all the bs, you realize you're comparing a 177 inch car vs a 189 inch car (Civic vs Sonata) with similar prices, not that different fuel economy, and various different features/interior/etc. The same can be applied for any car comparison if you're willing to break down the real details.
  • redflearedflea Posts: 16
    I is best to ignore marketing hype, filter based on a few objective factors like price/safety equipment/MPG, etc., and go see/drive the car. Did that, and I can tell you that the Sonata just isn't comparable to the Civic or other cars we drove.

    In addition to the Sonata being both 1 foot longer and 500 lbs (20%) heavier, it also has a different setup in terms of suspension firmness and dampening, tires (I didn't look, but I don't think it has low-profile 205/55 tires like the Civic), steering dampening/feel, etc. The Sonata is designed to provide more isolation from the road and more cush for the tush, if you will, and does so well. It also doesn't provide the great (to some) road feel and fun, sporty experience of the Civic. All about design trade-offs and market segments being pursued.

    We drove the Elantra, Sonata, Corolla, and Civic back-to-back in that order, and the Sonata stood out as very different from the rest of the group - it didn't fit in. Remember the old Sesame Street jingle..."One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong...) It was one of those moments. :-) Didn't dislike the Sonata, it just wasn't what we were looking for, and I expect 95% + of Civic/Elantra/Corolla/Mazda3 shoppers would feel the same, unless they were shopping for the smaller sedans because of price, and really want a larger sedan and didn't think they could afford it...the Sonata would fit that need very well.

    In fact, I emailed a buddy of mine looking for a new sedan to replace his aging Camry, telling him that he should give the Sonata a test drive. I think he'll like it quite a bit...another buddy who currently drives an Acura sedan is thinking about a Sonata for his next family sedan.
  • snoopy185snoopy185 Posts: 8
    Redflea, I am considering the '09 Sonata. Your comments have been helpful regarding that car. Would you be so kind as to provide us more of your impression of the car based upon the test drive you recently took.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I really don't think the Sonata is THAT big or powerful actually. And remember her fuel economy is ONLY 3-4 mpg less than the civic!

    True, the Sonata is efficient, but we are talking about a 3200lb full-size car with 168lb-ft of torque versus a 2,600lb compact with 128lb-ft.

    Remember the size different in length is really only about 12 inches. Civics have grown a ton.

    Civics have grown a lot on the outside (176" vs. 189" for the Sonata), but on the inside it is still pretty small. On the flip side it drives small too, making my Accord feel giant in comparison (and its an 06 Accord, which is smaller and lighter than the Sonata).
  • redflearedflea Posts: 16
    My overall impression is that it is a well designed sedan, nicely appointed, much more refined than earlier Hyundais that I had ridden in. They really appear to be heading in the right direction.

    Still some roughness around the edges...engine noise intrudes a bit under acceleration, but it's not a problem like w/the booming sound with the Elantra. The Sonata engine sound at higher revs isn't exactly pretty, but it's not harsh like my long-departed Mazda 626 (which sounded like a lawn mower at high revs). Ride is smooth, more dampened than I like. There is a fair amount of lean in turns, but things feel under control. As I noted above, it is a bit muted in terms of steering feedback/road feel. The overall ride is very smooth.

    If I was shopping for a sedan in that class I'd include it in my list to drive/consider. The bang for the buck is very good in terms of features and interior appointments. I haven't been in a Camry/Passat/Altima in years, so can't compare it to those cars in that range.
  • snoopy185snoopy185 Posts: 8
    Thanks so much for the review! I hope that it was as helpful to others as it was to me.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    How would you compare the overall interior noise level of the Sonata to the Civic? I've driven both and I find the Sonata much quieter. The Sonata's engine can be heard on hard acceleration, but I do that so seldom it's not an issue for me (and I don't mind a brief engine snarl on acceleration). With the Civic, the engine is smooth but there was constant road (tire) and wind noise which I would find tiresome on a long drive. With that tradeoff, I prefer the Sonata in the noise category.
  • redflearedflea Posts: 16
    I don't have measured DB levels, but the Sonata is definitely quieter than the Civic both under acceleration and when cruising. Of course, additional noise insulating materials is part of what makes up 500lb difference between the Sonata and the smaller Civic, Corolla, Elantra, etc. :-) If the Sonata wasn't quieter it would have missed one of the key proof points for its segment.

    I think the Elantra is a little quieter than the Civic when cruising, likely partly due in part to the thinner, less aggressive tires on the Elantra. (Under acceleration the Elantra is the loudest car I've driven in recent memory.)

    I have taken my son's Civic on a few freeway cruises over the past few days ranging from 30 minutes to an hour, and have been pleasantly surprised that the noise level hasn't felt like it would be a big problem on a longer drive. We didn't buy it for long drives, of course, so that wasn't a factor in our purchase decision. If we drive to Vegas or to go skiing, we take my 5-series or the Sienna mini-van.

    I think the worst noise w/the Civic, actually, is on rougher asphalt surface streets, rather than on the freeway. There is a shopping area near our home where the road noise along-side the parking lot is pretty loud at lower speeds. Luckily the total time involved on that road is about a minute, so the overall impact isn't a problem. However, if I had to drive a long distance on roads like that it could be unpleasant. I should note the noise is also there, albeit muted, in our other cars. It's just not a nice road.

    I have not noticed significant wind noise w/the Civic. Most of the noise I hear comes from the tires. I haven't looked them up yet online to see how they fare in the noise ratings against other tires in the same size.

    Overall I'm very happy with the Civic's balance of factors like size/comfort/noise/MPG/handling...I've been driving it while my car has been in the shop. My son got his license yesterday and will be taking over driving the Civic more and more as we get comfortable with him driving on his own. I'm going to miss driving the Civic. :-)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    Noise perception is interesting. Turns out that by the sound meter, the Elantra is quieter than the Civic at full throttle (76 dBA vs. 79, per C/D's tests published in December 2006). Also quieter at idle (by 5 dBA) and at 70 mph cruise (by 3 dBA). Sometimes people are sensitive to certain kinds of sounds. That may be true in this case. In fact, the Civic was the noisiest car C/D tested back then (also Mazda3, Sentra, Rabbit, and the previous-gen Corolla) in every case except it was 1 dBA quieter than the old Corolla at 70 mph cruise. The Civic has many virtues; noise isolation isn't one one them.
  • redflearedflea Posts: 16
    Thanks for posting the numbers...I don't know what, if anything, has changed since 2006, but I would bet my wife's chihuahua that the Elantra is noisier than the Civic under acceleration. (And also bet that the Chihuahua is noisier than both.) :-)

    I think the issue may be the "full throttle" part of the statement...I haven't had either car at full throttle, but have had both at I guess what you'd call moderate to moderat+ throttle (to get the car to go up a road with an incline, to accelerate around other cars) and the Elantra was definitely the one that caused our ears to bleed in those real-world situations... ;-) Driving up an incline was particularly annoying in the Elantra...resulted a steady booming sound in the cabin .

    I did look up the Civic tires (Goodyear Eagle RSA 205/55HR16) and wasn't surprised to read that they get low marks on noise, among other issues - complaints about wet/snow traction as well, lucky we live in the sunbelt. They do handle well in dry.

    When we replace the original tires in the future (with another brand) we'll see a reduction in road noise, possibly an up-tick in mileage depending on what we pick.
  • moocow1moocow1 Posts: 230
    That kinda makes sense because the Civic is definitely designed to be a bit sportier than most other compacts. I honestly didn't really notice that much noise in my friend's top of the line Civic, but I don't think I've really gone through a ton of different situations there. Also we always have the music system on, which really drowns out other sounds. Anyways tires are always replaceable if that's a big issue at least. I guess Honda has one definite thing to improve on for the next Civic.

    The Elantra's engine is one of the by far biggest reasons why I'm not a current fan. I dislike the loud unrefined snarl that happens at high rpms. It just doesn't have that proper asian smoothness that I see from comparable cars. Decent power just doesn't replace a good sound and feel.
  • hatch82hatch82 Posts: 1
    i'm have a mazda 626 whit a 24 valve dohc motor whit 200 hp and run good special edition is a fun to drive and drift
  • dgs4dgs4 Posts: 66
    Dude my beacon score when I purchased my 09 Limited V6 Sonata was 740. I'm in the upper echelon of credit scores in this country. Additionally I make $60K plus a year (the plus are bonuses). I could have easily purchased any Honda they make, as well as any Acura for that matter. Guess what Mr. Condescending, I bought my Sonata because I WANTED to, not because I had to. I test drove the new Accord and I hated it. The ergonomics are whack, the ride is way too stiff and bumpy, and the wind noise on the freeway was intolerable during my test drive. I took an 08 Accord EX-L sedan out for a nice long test drive, and I simply hated. The salesman was shocked that I hated the Accord, like I was one in a million. He said to me, "you're the first person who I've taken for a test drive in an Accord who did not like it." Yeah, right...

    It seems to me you are not an anomaly, as I'm getting the feeling Honda sales people think they're selling some incredibly superior product and that you need them, not the other way around. I was completely ignored when I walked into the Honda dealership, and finally had to ask if there was a sales person who could help me. My experience at the Hyundai dealership (Absolute Hyundai in Mesquite, TX) was so incredibly different, in a good way. The level of attention I received, and the whole buying experience was a pleasure. Although they didn't need to do much, as the Sonata basically sold itself. 15 minutes into the test drive and I knew this was the "one." I've had a [non-permissible content removed] eating grin on my face for the past month every time I get behind the wheel of this fantastic vehicle.

    Thank you for reaffirming what I already felt after my experience test driving a Honda. I will make sure Honda NEVER gets my business in the future.
  • nissannissan Posts: 3
    I would have to agree. Honda sales people are the worst. They act like they are doing you a favor to buy there "superior" vehicle. Hyundai is giving great customer service. Here, the give the first 3 oil changes FREE, FREE car washes for the life of your car, FREE car loaners for services, FREE shuttle service. etc. Honda WILL NEVER give you these. You may get a few hundred dollars more for your trade, but your service will not be good
  • nissannissan Posts: 3
    I too was considering a Honda Fit Sport (2009 new design). But in considering this I thought, is it really worth the discomfort of sitting in an economy car that has only 118 hp (2009 model) vs sitting in a near luxury car (2009 Sonata SE V6) with only 8 MPG difference? SE V6 has 249 HP (2009) and very good fuel economy. Also has 5 year UNLIMITED mileage roadside assistance, something Honda does not even have? No comparison. :)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Here, the give the first 3 oil changes FREE, FREE car washes for the life of your car, FREE car loaners for services, FREE shuttle service. etc. Honda WILL NEVER give you these.

    Not sure how much good information about a Honda from a guy named Nissan, but I actually appeared in a commercial for my local Honda dealer before they moved. I touted their "3 year, 36,000 mile free maintenance plan." Also, they have carried me to work when my Accord has been at the dealer. They don't wash my car, but they are on a small lot in town, and don't have the room for an automated car-wash facility.

    I'm not a big-shot once-a-year car buyer; I have 180k miles on one Accord, with 33k on another, and am 20 years old. Everybody gets good treatment, regardless of age.
  • 2002slt2002slt Posts: 228
    Honda sales people are the worst. They act like they are doing you a favor to buy there "superior" vehicle.

    There are several Honda dealerships in my area (4 within 10 miles). I visited three of them and none were alike.

    - The first dealer was very appeasing and found me a car to test-drive, alone. After the ride I told him I was still just looking and not ready to buy. He summand his manager over to try and talk me into a "today only" deal. I walked out after telling him the same thing.

    - The second was also very nice and got me a car to drive, but insisted on coming with. Afterwards, I told him I was just looking and was able to leave without incident.

    - The third was the strangest. I walked in, looked around and was never able to make eye contact with a salesman. I walked out in their lot, checked out a few cars and came back in. Again, I couldn't find anyone willing to even acknowledge my presence. I walked out...

    If you've been buying new cars as long as I have, you would learn not to base an opinion on one or two dealerships. All Honda salespeople, and their sales practices, are not alike. This is true for every manufacture.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    The third was the strangest. I walked in, looked around and was never able to make eye contact with a salesman. I walked out in their lot, checked out a few cars and came back in. Again, I couldn't find anyone willing to even acknowledge my presence. I walked out...

    I had the same experience at a local Chevrolet dealer. Makes you wonder how they sell anything. I wasn't looking to buy, but wouldn't have minded seeing in the then-new Malibu (those on the lot were locked).
  • I just traded my 98 Civic, 104k miles for an 08 Sonata. I am 6 ft tall and over 240lbs, so it was time. I loved my Civic, bought it new and it only broke down 1 time. It was just time for me to get a "grown up" car. It depends on what you are looking for. Hyundai has something to prove and their quality is their focus. Honda is Honda, reputation is that good for a reason.
This discussion has been closed.