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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • Sorry Spiritz if you are some what overwhelmed, but it makes sense that Backy's and my posts would be directed most to the cars we own and drive most often.

    I also own a domestic low end car, but I do not drive it very much so I don't talk about it. It has nothing to do with my not being "proud" of it in case anyone, who is concerned with pride, is wondering.

    It is a 1993 Ford Escort Wagon with about 160,000 miles. It has been a fairly reliable car. The longest time it was out of service was when I had to have it repainted due to a scratch made by one of my children. It was pretty good quality when I bought it and it has aged fairly well in terms of mechanics.

    If the Escort was the same quality and still being made when I bought my Echo, I might have ended up in a 2001 Escort instead.

    I did look at and test drive the Escort replacement, the Focus, and I was not impressed. I felt that the interior was cramped and the acceleration seemed tepid. I am not looking for a speed demon car, but I wanted a car that I felt was capable of getting out of its own way. The backend had a rattle which did not score it any points.

    In terms of domestic low end cars, I also looked at the Neon. Pretty car, but I felt the performance could have been better.

    And I looked at a Chevrolet Cavalier, which was the worst of the domestics. VERY cheap looking, VERY poorly put together, and VERY uncomfortable to drive.

    I am curious as to why you are here. Your profile says you are looking for a BMW 5-series, currently own a Sonata, and your dream car is a backhoe. None of those could be considered low end cars. Do you feel you are slumming? ; )

    I hope this brief (for me this is brief) posts gives you some insight to my feelings on three current domestic low end cars.
  • I think the '00 Echo is more of a new design than the '01 Elantra. The reason being that there was no '99 Echo while there have been prior model year Elantras all the way back to '92, I believe.

    Speaking of which, have you checked out the stats on the '92 Elantra. According to the NHTSA, there were zero recalls, twenty-six TSBs, and eighty customer complaints.

    How well did Hyundai get the kinks out? Well, the '93 Elantra had zero recalls, twenty-three TSBs, and fifty-five customer complaints.

    They improved, but compare that improvement to the improvement shown by Toyota when it comes to the '00 and '01 Echoes.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    Spiritz asked, "I'd like to know how do you think about domestic low-end cars. Have you test-driven them?"

    Yes, actually not just test-driven them but have driven some of them for days at a time, as rental cars. Those I have the most experience with recently are Cavalier (Sunfire too but it doesn't quite make the $15k cut for this board), Focus, Escort, and Neon. It has been awhile since I last drove a Saturn SL and an Esteem (but it was the same design as today's car). I've also driven (and owned) Sentras, Civics, Corollas, a 626, a Galant, a Mystique, a Vega (I was real young and foolish then) and a couple of Caravans.

    So what do I think of the domestic low-end cars? Of the lot, I like the Focus the most. It's roomy, has good handling and a compliant ride, and interesting styling. I looked closely at Focus before buying my Elantra last fall. What finally turned me off from the car were reports of poor initial quality (recalls etc.) plus my direct experience with the car, e.g. parts falling off the car--and some of these units were brand new! Since I had had a bad experience with reliability on my Mystique, I thought I'd stay clear of the Ford Focus. The other thing that turned me off was that the driver's seat was not very comfortable for me, while the Elantra's was very comfortable.

    As far as the others, here's a capsule opinion:
    Cavalier - outdated and outclassed design, uncomfortable seats, decent styling, cheap-looking interior bits, noisy and underpowered base engine, unrefined ride and handling.
    Neon - good interior room, cheap-looking interior bits, decent power, no power rear windows (c'mon, Chrysler, this is 2001!), so-so handling.
    Saturn SL - love the plastic panels (except for atrocious panel gaps), uncomfortable front and rear seating, nice dealers, cheap looking interior bits, overpriced for what you get.
    Escort - not a bad car--for 1996. It gets you where you want to go. Proven design. The rest is pretty negative, I'll forgo it.
  • I have seen that commercial and I thought it was one of the better ones I have seen. However, I think the guy in it is nuts. If I had to choose between looking at a girl and looking at my car's manual, I know which one I would choose.
  • Backy, understand that I am not denying that I said (at one time) that I wanted a tach and a temp gauge. What I am saying is that the items are of so little importance to me now that I even forgot saying it.

    And your words seemed to make a bigger deal of my saying it one time than what it deserved.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    There are some folks, Major, who would like to talk about other cars besides the ECHO and Elantra, but you have a way of stating things that begs for response.

    "I think the '00 Echo is more of a new design than the '01 Elantra."

    The '01 Elantra is an all-new design with the exception of the engine, and they did some improvements in the engine bay e.g. hydraulic motor mounts. That's pretty "new". Would you feel differently about this if Toyota had retained the Tercel name for their entry-level car instead of using ECHO?

    "Speaking of which, have you checked out the stats on the '92 Elantra. According to the NHTSA, there were zero recalls, twenty-six TSBs, and eighty customer complaints."
    "How well did Hyundai get the kinks out? Well, the '93 Elantra had zero recalls, twenty-three TSBs, and fifty-five customer complaints."

    Do you really need to go back 10 years to attempt to make your point? OK, so zero recalls for either the '92 or '93 Elantra (and the '92 was a first-ever Elantra, kind of like the first-ever ECHO in '00, which has had two recalls). Also, over the past decade, the '92 Elantra has had a total of eighty customer complaints, and the '93 55 in 9 years, compared with 36 for the '00 ECHO in just two years. At that rate, the ECHO will pile up over 200 customer complaints in its first 10 years.

    "Memo to Hyundai, if you are going to name a car a GT, at least give it a more powerful engine than the sedan version."

    Is 140 hp not enough for you? Not only is it the most power of any car in the low-end class except the Neon ACR (150), but it also tops or equals many more expensive cars--such as the Toyota Celica GT. Are you going to write a letter to Toyota and complain that they gave the Celica GT "only" 140 hp? How about complaining to Toyota that they put the same engine in the Corolla S(port) as in every other Corolla? Anyway, if rumors about dropping the 2.7L V6 into the GT are true, you will soon get your wish--oh, except the rumors also say that the sedan may get the V6 also, in a GTS variant. So the GT hatch still won't have more power than the sedan. Oh well, you can't please everyone.

    OK, let's talk more about those domestic cars now. Anybody out there own a Neon ACR, the racer of this group?
  • Likewise, you have a way of stating things that ask for a response.

    If the Tercel had not been canceled and the Echo was the Tercel instead, then yes I would feel the same way about it as I feel about the '01 Elantra and previous Elantras.

    And regarding complaints. If the percentage decrease of complaints between the first two years of the Echo is any indication, then complaints will be few and far between. Compare the decrease with the decrease of complaints for the first two years of the Elantra.

    And one has to wonder just how many early model Elantras are on the road. Perhaps there are no complaints because the number of them on the road are so low. Please understand that I am NOT saying this is the case OR that I believe this to be the reason. I am just giving a POSSIBLE explanation.

    I did not mention those other cars because the Elantra GT was the topic of discussion. FWIW, I own a '93 Escort as I have said, but I also owned a '92 Escort GT which had a more powerful engine than the regular Escort. I guess this biased my view on the subject, but as far as any other cars go, if ANY car maker has a car that is supposed to be thought of as sportier than a car with the same name, then yes, I think those cars should have more powerful engines.

    FWIW, you forgot the Neon R/T which also gets the 150hp engine.

    BTW, don't you know, we are men and we can't have too much power. ; ) j/k.
  • Iluv, you asked if I had seen anyone who had bigger tires on their Echo and I said no. I do know of one Echo owner who says his Echo came with 195/65R14s and the standard tire size I have seen is 175/65R14. However, he would not be able to tell us if the handling on his Echo is better since that is the size he has always run and thus would not be able to compare to running the Echo with the standard tires.
  • I agree that we need some people in here who are owners of American low end cars. We could also stand to have the view points of people who own other low end cars not previously represented like the Corolla, the Civic, the Rio, etc.

    Perhaps Pat could post a message and a link regarding this need in various low end sedan threads. (hint, hint).
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    I agree, it would be good to get some fresh opinions on this board, re domestic cars or whatever. I will be traveling on business for a few days, so I won't be "hogging" the disk drives. I'll be interested to see all the new thoughts when I get back.

    Major, FWIW I didn't forget the Neon R/T; it is outside the $15k range I thought we had agreed to as a ceiling for this board so I didn't mention it. Out of respect for the other followers of this board, and the need to move on, I will resist responding again to your continued comparison of Elantras built in 1992-3 to ECHOs built in 2000-1. I'll just agree to disagree and let it go at that. BTW, I saw a first-generation Elantra on the road this morning--no rust even! I don't recall seeing a Tercel of that vintage for awhile, but I know they're out there. Their powertrains would probably last forever if the road salt didn't send them to an early grave.
  • Backy, my mistake. I thought the ACR was also outside the 15k boundary so I thought you had thrown that out the window.

    Take care on your business trip.
  • shriqueshrique Posts: 338
    Personally I'm in favor of buying an American car. IF they can produce the same quality of design and execution that the Japanese car manufacturers can. So far ford seems to come the closest with Crystler and then GM. GM couldn't find quality if it hit them in the head.

    Everyone that compares a Cavaliar to anything else on the road is imediately struck by how dated the car is. And guess what, the Cavaliar that you have come to know and love will be the same car you will be able to buy from GM until 2004 (late 2003) when they replace it with a german designed (read Opel) counterpart.

    Oh well

    Anyone tried to the Protege or Protege5? The P5 doesn't swing the 15k cap but the other models of the Protege have been upgraded to the same 2.0 liter 130hp engine all the way across the board. That brings the base model in under 15k with some options. I personally find that it's the best value. it's good a really good ride and feels very roomy compared to Honda's and Corola's.

    Peronsonally I own a 97 Saturn SC2 and I've very sick of it's lack of quality. The dash is cheap and it's squeaks and groans constantly and it only has 67k. I bought it in a moment of weakness. (sigh) If all goes well I'll have a Protege5 by the end of hte month.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    I've driven a lot of 1999-2001 Proteges, mostly LXs with the 1.6L engine. If you are looking for a roomy, sharp-handling small car with very good reliability and quality, I think the Protege is an excellent choice--even more so now that even the DX model comes with the 2.0 engine. I think it blows away anything the U.S. car companies can offer, with the possible exception of the Focus. Right now Mazda is offering 0% financing and no payments for (I think) six months on the remaining '01s. So if you can find a leftover LX 2.0 you could probably get a real good deal and low payments, if you can get the 0%.

    Gotta catch my plane now...
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Majorthomecho - and others - you can copy this link /direct/view/.eeca63c and paste it with an invitational message to any other discussion you'd like.

    That link will allow folks to get here still logged in - it will show the last 20 posts to anyone who clicks on it.

    So go get 'em! :-)

    Sedans Message Board
  • Major :
    Thank you for your "short" reviews. I appreciate so much.
    I am pretty satisfied with my Sonata but I need second(or first) car for my wife. I (not my wife) decided to save as much money as possible and buy Hyundai Mortor Company's stock. I already bought 1,000 stocks, well worth for base Camry. I'm quite willing to take low-end car instead. I hope the stocks turn into BMW530 in years to come. BTW, don't laugh at me please.
    Why BMW? Because my dad has one, I drive it frequently and I personally know that it's a good car. But as you possibly know, I am not as rich as him and I already have 3 gready todlers =^.^=

    Backy : Thank you for your input.
    My experience with domestic cars were not bad. I've bought and owned a used(over 7K miles)Taurus years ago, it served us well. A Malibu I once rented for a week was a total disapointment, though..

    Major and Backy :
    Comparison test performed by Edmund's was informative, but I want reviews written by "real world" drivers, like you.
    I've read many, many posts written by both of you. I can say both of you are not aggresive, nor biased when you're not accompanied by another.
    Please bury the hatchet. There are a lot of people that admire your knowledge and experience out there.

    Thank you again, Major, Backy, and other members..
  • Hey Backy, we have a fan club! LOL.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    Thanks for the comments, Spiritz, but there is no "hatchet" to bury. I have nothing personal against the Major. I would react in the same way to those posts even if he were not the author.
  • I feel the same way as Backy. I have nothing personal against him as I have nothing personal against anyone online and a lot of my recent posts that he took issue with were NOT written in response to any of his posts. The reason for my writings were due to posts by other people.

    Backy, am I right in thinking that you are on your business trip, but found an Internet connection somewhere to check up on us?
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Thank you for the link. I ordered a couple of brochures because it's hard to judge styling from the web sites pictures. Please, don't get hissed off, but honestly, I didn't care for the Elantra GT styling from what I saw. Hence, I ordered the brochure. Thanks, again! :-)

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    No, I have no Internet connection where I am. I am using brainwaves. If you believe that thinking in HTML is easy, try it sometime! ;-)

    Major, is it OK with you if I disagree with posts that are not directed specifically at me, this being a public forum and all? I don't have any problem if you want to disagree with anything I post--well, moot point, since you usually do disagree with whatever I post. :-)

    Larry, no skin off my back if you don't like the Elantra GT's styling. I think styling is a very personal choice. As I posted earlier, I think the GT could use a redo on on the grill and tail lights at least. Other than that I think it's fine, but it looked better to me in person (especially in pewter) than in the little pictures on the Web. The interior looks better (and smells better, and feels better) in person also.
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Yea, your right. I don't know if I would have time to stop by the dealer, however I'll wait for the brochure AND see one in person, on the road before passing judgment.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    Larry, thanks for the link--very handy.

    Just saw a pic in the December Car and Driver (p. 30) of the 2003 Tiburon, due this spring. The caption claims that there is a resemblence to the Ferrari 456. Well, whether it looks like a Supra or a Ferrari, it looks a lot more mainstream than the current model. The question is will Hyundai keep the price below $15,000, at least for the base 4-banger.

    Speaking of expensive European cars, the November C&D had a review of the new BMW 745i. If you see it, take a good look at the hood creases, but particularly the bustle-butt trunk. Remind you of anything?
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Speaking of expensive European cars, the November C&D had a review of the new BMW 745i. If you see it, take a good look at the hood creases, but particularly the bustle-butt trunk. Remind you of anything?

    I know, I know, the BMW 745i reminds me of a KIA Rio! Ok, just kidding!


  • fangio2fangio2 Posts: 214
    BMWish -overall the car still looks good.
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    CONSUMER REPORTS 2002 BUYING GUIDE: Small Car Rankings-

    1.)Ford Focus*
    2.)Volkswagen Golf
    3.)Honda Civic
    4.)Toyoya Prius
    5.)Toyota Echo
    6.)Mazda Protege
    7.Hyundai Elantra*
    8.)Volkswagen Jetta

    * Not Recommended because of below average reliability.
  • How can Focus be ranked #1--but not recommended due to bad reliability?
  • If your point was that Elantras are no good--it only placed one spot below your Protege. Besides, eighth is not so bad considering how many hundreds--dozens anyway--of small cars are on the road.
  • If we ignore any vehicle that is not recommended and further, we throw out any vehicle that is over our $15,000 cap, the Echo is the first place car on the list.

    I say this because the Civic that they tested had an MSRP of $18,150 while the Echo they tested had an MSRP of $14,460.
  • Clay, you're right. You don't get it. ; )

    The rankings come from how Consumer Reports feels about the cars. The recommended or not recommended comes from when they factor in the survey on reliability done among actual owners.

    Thus, the Focus is rated high by the editors of Consumer Reports, but the reliability has been worse than average overall so it is not recommended.
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