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Low End Sedans (under $16k)



  • shriqueshrique Posts: 338
    The rankings listed above are strictly on drivability. Everyone really likes the focus for what it is but Ford can't quite pull off the reliability. Hopefully as soon as Mazda starts designing their small engines it will turn around.

    I would really like to be able to buy an American car. They just can't get the reliability down. Saturn is about as close as I would go relibility wise but their fit and finish isn't that good.
  • My whole point is--even if the editors of CR LOVED the Focus, how can they rate it #1 when their own research shows it is not #1? You would think an organization like CR would penalize the Focus on its bad reliability record.
  • shriqueshrique Posts: 338
    The car itself drive wonderfully from what I understand, it's just that down the road it will go bad only. Plus the list isn't which car is best it's which ones they liked to drive. There is another chart that runs through the reliability.

    It's funny on the reliability part the Chevrolet Prizm is higher in reliability that the Toyota Corolla. Figure that out.

    Ah statistics....
  • They did penalize it. They don't recommend it.

    Think of it this way. The rankings do not take reliability into consideration.

    When they decide whether or not to recommend a car, then reliability does come into play.

    Understand now?
  • Where do you see the Prizm is rated higher in terms of reliability than the Corolla in Consumer Reports?

    I have the 2002 Buying Guide in front of me and I see no such thing.

    In fact, I see the opposite. For whatever reason, the Corolla scores higher (i.e., has less problems) in more of the individual trouble spots.

    Both the Prizm and the Corolla get the red check mark for overall reliability and they receive the top mark for predicted reliability.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    In Kiplinger's December 2001 edition, they rate the 2002 cars. In the under-$16,000 category, the Focus ZX3 is their top pick, followed by the Civic. Note that the ZX3 does fall into the under-$15,000 category. They do consider safety, 20% of their overall rating, but interestingly they use actual accident statistics vs. the crash tests to rank cars on safety.
  • Backy, is that issue still on the newsstands?
  • lleroilleroi Posts: 112
    cars do on the safety using the actual statistics?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    I saw the mag on the newsstand at the Minneapolis airport this morning. I didn't buy it (c'mon, that costs money!) but saw the cover story on 2002 cars so had to take a peek. I scanned the article and zeroed in on the discussion of the under-$16k cars. As for how they can rate safety using actual stats even on Korean cars, there is an organization (darned if I can't remember the name now, maybe it will come to me later or someone else knows what it is) that tracks actual loss data by insurance companies. That would apply to all cars in the U.S., regardless of where they're made. They have a couple years of data now on the Focus and Echo, three years on the Protege, a full year on the Civic and Elantra, etc. As I said, this was not an exhaustive analysis of the article, just saw the section on their top picks and a discussion of how they rated the cars, including the safety factor, which I thought was notable since it used real-world loss statistics vs. lab tests. Maybe if I have some extra bucks and can find it again I'll pick it up next time I see it.
  • lleroilleroi Posts: 112
    just go to kiplinger.
  • 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

    My Personal Ranking
    1.Mazda Protege-The best choice
    2.Honda Civic-The safe choice
    3.Volkswagen Jetta-The pricy choice
    4.Toyota Echo-The odd looking choice
    5.Volkswagen Golf-The funky choice
    6.Ford Focus-The "Born in the USA"choice
    7.Toyota Prius-The "green" choice
    8.Hyundai Elantra-The low price choice

    However, I think all of these vehicles are pretty good machines and would serve their owners well.
  • lleroilleroi Posts: 112
    1.Elantra-stylish choice
    2.Focus-USDA choice
    3.Jetta-Audi second choice
    4.Golf-PGA choice
    5.Echo-Ronald McDonald's choice
    7.Prius-Sophie';s choice
    8.Civic-homeboy's choice
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    I want to wish everyone, a Happy Thanksgiving. Please be safe in all your travels, Zoom Zoom!

    God Bless,
  • lleroilleroi Posts: 112
    and your family.
  • shriqueshrique Posts: 338
    majorthomecho: I'm actually looking at the online version of Consumer reports. They have a section that is "Reliability by Category" and in there they have the Prizm a skinny hair above the Carolla for reliability.

    In that same list they have the PT Cruiser NEON listed higher than the Protege which absolutely blew my mind.
  • bill_1bill_1 Posts: 97
    Sorry for jumping in on this, but I must say that I have over the past few years become increasingly disenchanted by their car reviews. They present them as objective but they seem to be all over the place. How exactly can two cars that are in many respect virtual twins (The Golf and the Jetta) appear at essentially opposite sides of the ranking list?

    Even their reliability results are I feel somewhat suspect. Sure they probably do give a general impression of the overall quality of a car, but with respect to requiring unscheduled maintainance or worse stranding the driver, I suspect that the difference between the top of the list and the bottem is that the top of the list will not start on one day in 10 years while the one at the bottem of the list will not start on 1.7 days in 10 years.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    Overall quality of cars has gotten a lot better in the last decade, but CR forces a bell curve pushing the bottom end off the recommended charts. Also, if I understand their rankings correctly they count quantity of problems and not quality. Thus a total engine failure and a minor problem both count one point. This has tended to favor Japanese cars in the past over generally reliable but more minor glitch prone American cars. Or do I misunderstand these ratings?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    Part of the reason that "twin" cars like the Golf/Jetta may get different rankings is that CR typically buys and tests only one model of a car at a time. Sometimes they will "check test" a different version, e.g. a 5-speed when they do a full test on the automatic. So with the wide variety of Golf/Jetta models available, with different engines and trim levels, it's understandable that they could rank different models differently. Likewise, I'll bet they would not rank a Focus LX at the top of the chart, nor would they rank a Civic DX way up near the top. I am curious as to how they will rank the Elantra GT, if and when they test it--and they should have a test of the new 5-doors, like the GT, Protege5, and Focus ZX5 pretty soon.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    lleroi, do you have a URL for the Kiplinger article on 2002 cars that was in their December 2001 issue? I checked out and I saw some stories on cars, including a brief story on small cars, but this was not the same as the article I saw in the magazine (maybe they want us to acutally buy the magazine!).
  • I have the issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance now and I will get to discussing it later, but I wanted to talk about CR first.

    Contrary to what one poster in this thread stated, CR does give you some indication of the severity of problems. They ask owners about the realibility of their cars in 14 different areas. Problems with paint and trim, which I would consider minor, are not reported in the same category as the problems with the engine or another more major component.

    I find it suspect that people whose cars don't do as well in the survey of reliability seem to be the ones who have the biggest issue with CR.

    Now back to Kiplinger. One thing that Kiplinger reported on was the five year service costs for the various vehicles. Service costs were "estimated five-year cost of maintenance and unscheduled repairs, based on past costs."

    What I did not understand was if the unscheduled repairs portion were for the cost of repairs outside the warranty or inside the warranty. Either way you slice it, I thought the five year service costs were a little on the high side for Hyundais.

    What do the others who have seen the issue think?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    You're right, Major, the five-year unscheduled repair costs for Hyundais (also Kias) should be very low (may have to replace tires, wiper blades and other wear items outside of warranty). Maybe Kiplinger's was using an annual mileage of more than 12,000 when they estimated five-year repair costs--did they say what their mileage assumption is? If over 12,000, that would put owners outside the bumper-to-bumper warranty in less than 5 years. But powertrain repairs would still be covered up to 100,000 miles.

    Re paint problems... a lot of them are minor, like dirt in the paint, but some paint problems can be biggies, like where the paint comes off in large patches, requiring a repaint (and probably a lot of hassle for the owner getting the manufacturer to pay for the repaint).
  • bill_1bill_1 Posts: 97
    The simple fact of the matter is that no matter how they divide them up, their reports simply do not give adequate information regarding reliability. I imagine few people, even their readers, would be able to tell you how much more likely a car that is ranked unreliable in an area is to have a problem than one that is ranked reliable. Without knowing this data, and how it is collected, you really don't have enough info to make a good decision.

    Like I pointed out later, the fact that cars that are essentially twins, or worse are twins (like the Corolla/Prism) can be ranked differently certainly calls their rating system into question.

    For the record I do not own a Korean Car.
  • It is not a matter of a car being rated reliable in one area as opposed to another being rated unreliable in the same area. CR does not state that this car will have a reliable engine while this car won't. It doesn't work like that. Results for the 14 areas are given and then these results are compared to results of other cars and this leads to the overall reliability verdict and the predicted reliability forecast.

    And CR does give a guide as to what the various colors of "dots" mean.

    There are so many false claims and mischaracterizations being made (by the people who complain about CR) that it makes me wonder if you guys really read CR carefully.

    Now back to Kiplinger's and Backy's question. The article does not say how many miles a year they use in figuring out the service costs. They do say that Intellichoice compiled the figures. One would have to believe that the same method of computation is used on all the cars.

    I do wish they had broken service costs down into regular maintenance and unscheduled service and explained whether the figures for unscheduled service were within warranty or outside the warranty. I would have found the information even more useful and informative.

    If anyone would care to go to the Intellichoice website and see what they can find out, I would appreciate it. I have been to the website, but have never been able to figure out how to access the service cost data.
  • I went to the Intellichoice website one more time and I was finally able to access the service cost data. Intellichoice does break down service cost into maintenance and repair, but I still have no idea if repairs are within warranty repairs or outside warranty repairs.

    I did a quick comparison of the figures for my Echo and a Hyundai Accent. My Echo has a lower cost for maintenance and a lower cost for repairs.

    Edit: I found out how IntelliChoice figures repair costs. They base it on a 5 year extended warranty with a zero deductible and a mileage limit of 70,000 miles.
  • lleroilleroi Posts: 112
    For all the pretense of scientific means of quantifying findings CR (and the others)still cannot tell you the diffence between an excellent rating and a poor.The safety tests are the same.For instance different size people will experience different results in the same crash.Also I can ram the same car in the rear 20 times and go to 20 places and get 20 different repair estimates.I would get 20 different estimates at the same place as well.
    The tester is the wild card.Two different people will see different pluses and minisus in the same car.A hard ride could mean "sportscar like"handling to one tester(+) and lousy comfort to another(-).These mags are good to narrow your test drive choices,but other then basic specs are not that useful to determine what car to buy.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    A possible reason for the $174 difference in Intellichoice's estimated maintenance costs for the Accent vs. ECHO (I used 2001 base 2 doors for comparison) is that they may have used a 3000 mile oil change interval for the Accent and 5000 for the ECHO. That's what uses in their maintenance calculator. That's 14 oil changes for the ECHO over 70k miles vs. 23 for the Accent, at about $40 per oil change (so says, that's $360 more right there. So cars with an oil change interval of 5000 miles or more (e.g. the Civic with 5000 miles and Elantra with 7500 miles) may come out better in this comparison, especially since Intellichoice uses the same labor rates for all cars (at least non-luxury cars).

    Basing repair costs on the price of an extended warranty for 5 years/70,000 miles is an odd way of calculating repair costs. But then, how else would they do that unless they surveyed owners, which would cost a lot more than just using some arbitrary warranty costs. What they are saying is that an Accent owner would expect to pay $698 for an additional 10,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage during the first five years of ownership, while an ECHO owner would pay $565 for two additional years and 34,000 miles of warranty. I find that hard to believe, since I know I could have bought an additional five years and 40,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper warranty from Hyundai for my '01 Elantra for around $1000. In the real world, how many Accent owners would shell out $698 for 10,000 more miles of warranty? Not too many I'd wager. I think it is more likely that the actual unscheduled repair costs for a car that is not under warranty will be higher than for a car that is under warranty. Even for a reliable car like the ECHO--its probability of a problem during years 4 and 5 is not zero. I'll grant that the probability that the Accent will require unscheduled repairs in years 4 and 5 is greater than that for the ECHO, based on Toyota's historic high reliability vs. Hyundai's record, but at least the repair costs for the Accent will be zero up to 60k miles, wear items excepted. I wonder if Intellichoice's methodology adequately accounts for the long-term warranties in Hyundais and Kias?
  • Backy, I did not catch that about how they figured the repair costs so thanks for pointing it out. I agree that it is stupid.

    As far as maintenance goes, Intellichoice stated that they follow whatever the maker's recommendations are. However, they don't say if they follow the severe driving schedule or the normal driving schedule.

    Toyota recommends oil changes for my Echo every 5k under severe driving conditions and 7.5k under normal driving conditions.

    I believe that is the schedule for all Toyotas so perhaps if someone who has a Hyundai can post what the oil change schedules are, we can reasonably assume the schedule for the Accent would be the same even if the person posting does not own an Accent.
  • bill_1bill_1 Posts: 97
    Yep, the big problem with the reports that claim to provide scientific data is that there is always a user bias. Not to pick on Edmunds or in fact any of the other car magazines, but look at how likely it is that they will give a favorable review to a BMW. Over time a user bias develops that can distort the observation. There is no intentional bias, but if you are told a BMW is a great car enough you are apt to believe the one you are driving now is a great one too. This is not saying the BMW is not a great car, just that the views are not necessarily unbiased.
  • Is that your unbiased opinion, Bill? ; )
  • People without real knowledge of the cars they are talking about will fall back on the publicly perceived notions about the cars. How many people on these boards who talk about Kias being junk have ever driven one? How many people thinking BMWs are the best have ever driven one of those?
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