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Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla vs Mazda3



  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    If you want comfort at the top of your list I would go with the Elantra. Sporty, the Mazda 3. Combo of the 2-Cobalt. My 2 cents.

    Neither than Cobalt or the Elantra are in the league with the 3, Civic or Corolla. They are both competent, but noisier, less refined, more NVH in general. They're in a different class, and the resale value bears that out. As for longevity, the Elantra beats the Cobalt, I'm afraid.

    YMMV, but having driven them all extensively, that's my opinion.
  • steve333steve333 Posts: 201
    You say you've driven them extensively and you say the Cobalt is noisier than the Corolla? I find that hard to believe. The Corolla's engine sounded like a bad lawn mower with absolutely no passing power and barely enough power to enter the freeway. Only jamming on the gas and waiting until the transmission lurched into gear enabled the Corolla to move. Combine that with a very uncomfortable seating position and a soft suspension leaves the Corolla at the back of the list. The only thing it has going for it is reliability and good gas mileage.
    Personally, I like to drive, and I would gladly give up a few MPGs for a car that handles well and has pep, like the Cobalt. It is also noted for its quiet cabin by the way.
    As for the Civic, I never got to drive the new model, only the previous one which the Cobalt was a lot better than. I assume from the reviews that it handles well and finally has adequate power. I will take their word for it but the dashboard is a major turn off.
    The best car of the bunch in my opnion is the Mazda 3. I was in the market for a recent used car and couldn't find a 3 to buy so I went with the Cobalt.
    You couldn't pay me to drive a Corolla.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    I have to disagree and I drove them all extensively over the past year while I was between vehicles.

    The Cobalt was a major disappointment and I have to say that it reminded me of the Cavalier with a little better interior and a little less comfort. It is a very noisy vehicle. Before I bought one of those, I would have bought the 2nd generation Malibu which handles well despite the blandness of the interior.

    The Mazda 3 was a tight fit for this driver and the mpg was always under 30 mpg which was a real disappointment for a vehicle that small. I drove three of them and they all seemed a lot different.

    The Corolla is nothing very exciting but the vehicle was quiet and the drive fairly pleasant.
  • targettuningtargettuning Posts: 1,371
    I never drove or rode in a Cobalt so no comments for it and it has been a while since I rode in or drove a Corolla we but rented a Mazda 3 over Christmas and had it for a week, rented a 2007 (new version) Elantra earlier in the fall, and own a 2006 Civic. I disagree about placing the Elantra in a lower class (along with the Cobalt) with regard to refinement...noise...and NVH (in general).
    1. seemed more refined than the Civic and much more so than the 3. Don't mistake refinement for a "sporty" feel. The engine was dead smooth and quiet at idle.It rode and drove more smoothly and quietly inside than either, especially the Civic, which is like a "go-cart" on the bumps and in steering feel (twitch the steering wheel and off you go in another direction).
    2. Mazda 3 rode better than the Civic but the model we rented (must have been the bottom model) had no sound insulation and riding in the rear seat sounded like the rear tires were in my lap with every thump and bump in the road and every rear suspension action magnified by the 'echo chamber" trunk and wheel well...noisy to the max!!!
    3. we own the Civic and it is a taunt, noisy car. Tire (road) noise and wind noise compete with suspension noise and I don't know which is worse. The engine is fairly quiet at idle though.
    talking longevity...probably any of them (with proper maintainence) will last as long as anyone would care to own them.
    They are in different "perceived" classes and for the life of me I cannot understand why the Civic is thought to be so special nor why the Elantra is always an "also ran". I have no strong opinion about the Mazda one way or the other but probably won't be buying one if I buy another car in this class.
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    Prefer the Civic to anything out there now and I've driven them all. Think the 3 comes in at 2nd place but since we own the "S" model, the car accelerates much better and seemlessly with nothing felt between shifts. Personally, love the two-tiered dash as one's eyes don't leave the road and after about an hour with the car, became a non issue.
    The daughter will be looking for her 1st car this fall and she's already mentioned the Elantra as her choice. Of course we'll have her try everything from the Aveo and Accent up through the Civic. She's a new driver in many respects, so she'll get what drives the best and is the most comfortable...and what her budget can allow.
    Should be interesting to see what she finally ends up with in the end. Time will tell. But I still love my Civic and for what's out there, the wife still prefers her 3s.

    The Sandman :)
  • ahightowerahightower TXPosts: 539
    Mazda3 won again! Granted your priorities might differ, but I always enjoy a little validation.

    I just rolled over 2,000 miles in my new 2008 3i Touring, and love it. The steering is just perfect. The gas mileage gets a little better on each tank, recently did very close to 34 mpg. Granted I've managed to avoid heavy traffic lately (going into the office pretty early), and have been driving like a grandpa (never over the 65 mph speed limit) just to see how high I can get it. I'm very satisfied so far.
  • steve333steve333 Posts: 201
    How does your car handle bumps and potholes?
    Im also curious how much you paid for it. Thanks.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I certainly agree with the comments about suspension, tire & road noise on the Civic. Especially in the rear seat, it's nearly deafening.
  • gene2gene2 Posts: 10
    May I suggest you take a peek at the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety's Website ( Compare Civic, Mazda3, and Elantra side impact crash test results. The Civic's superb crash test scores is why I bought it and not the Mazda3 or Elantra. I intend to drive the Civic for a few years and then pass it down to my oldest daughter. Because my daughter will be someday driving this car, economy, reliability, practicality, and SAFETY were very important factors in my decision to buy the Honda. Surprise - after 21,000 miles, I'm still astounded at how much FUN the '07 Civic LX is to drive. Also got 39 mpg (highway) on a trip from Delaware to North Carolina during Christmas break. No fluke - also got 39 mpg on the return trip.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    The Civic's superb crash test scores is why I bought it and not the Mazda3 or Elantra.

    Did you happen to see the notation "2005-08 models mfg. after Aug. 2004 without side airbags" in reference to the Mazda3? This is a major problem as to the rating on this car, it has not been tested with the same equipment as others in its class. How is that a fair comparison?
  • gene2gene2 Posts: 10
    Yes I did. You're right, it's not a fair comparison, but that's Mazda/Ford's problem, not mine. I'm left to wonder why Mazda/Ford will not give the IIHS a side air bag equipped Mazda 3 to test. If I were running Mazda/Ford and I were confident about my car's crash-worthiness, I would happily give the IIHS another vehicle to destroy. I would pay any price to prove that my product deserves a test score other than POOR. Since Mazda/Ford will not do this, I'm forced to make my buying decisions with the facts that I have to work with. Oh, and just because a car has side-mounted airbags does not necessarily mean that the vehicle (and passengers) will do well in a side impact. For example, take a look at how the 2006 Hyundai Elantra (with side airbags) did in the IIHS's side impact test - POOR. Am I being too cynical? Perhaps.

    Finally, one anecdote - I was speaking to a woman who owns a 2006 Honda Civic sedan. She was T-boned on her side of the car. The impact was so violent that witnesses were sure this lady was dead. Once the paramedic/rescue people cut her out of her smashed Civic, they discovered she was only suffering from minor cuts and bruises.

    Please forgive me if I sound harsh; I don't mean to. You asked a very valid and reasonable question. I simply suspect that Mazda/Ford is intentionally not offering a side air-bag equipped car to the IIHS because Mazda/Ford already knows it will not do well. Therefore, due to my perhaps unfounded cynicism, I would rather put my family in a car that I know does well in a crash based on various tests.

    Finally, did I mention the Honda's fun to drive?
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    Did you happen to see the notation "2005-08 models mfg. after Aug. 2004 without side airbags" in reference to the Mazda3? This is a major problem as to the rating on this car, it has not been tested with the same equipment as others in its class.

    My understanding is that the manufacturers are asked to submit a model for testing. If that's the case, why does Mazda not submit theirs with side airbags?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    FWIW the current Elantra has not been tested yet by the IIHS for side impact. So it's unfair to compare the scores of the current Civic and Mazda3 to those of the Elantra, since they reflect an old design that hasn't been sold in the U.S. since the fall of 2006.
  • gene2gene2 Posts: 10
    I also agree with you that it's unfair to compare scores of the current Civic and Mazda3 to those of the Elantra, since they reflect an old design that hasn't been sold in the US since the fall of 2006.

    However, I am forced to make buying decisions using old crash test data because that's the only data available on Mazda3s and Elantras. The new Mazda3s and Elantras might do very well in IIHS side impact crash tests. Until I know that for a fact, however, I would rather drive a vehicle I know will do well in a side impact versus driving a vehicle that MIGHT do well in a side impact.

    BTW, just to muddy the waters, I will point out that you cannot buy a Civic with electronic stability control (ESC) unless you buy the Si. In a Mazda3 "S" line and above, ESC is available. This is a big deal to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS), as they won't even recommend a vehicle unless it's equipped with ESC. They feel so strongly about ESC because the IIHS claims that roughly half of all fatal vehicle accidents are single-vehicle accidents. In other words, the driver lost control of the car. The IIHS believes that ESC MAY reduce those fatal accidents by fifty per cent.

    Pick your poison. If you're more concerned about surviving a side-impact collision, then buy a Civic. If you're more concerned about maintaining control of your vehicle, and possibly avoiding an accident entirely, then buy a Mazda3.

    IF the new Mazda3's get a GOOD rating after the IIHS's NEXT round of crash testing, then to me, if one is concerned about buying the safest vehicle that's also a hoot to drive, then buying a Mazda3 would be a no-brainer. Good crash test scores AND electronic stability control! Wouldn't that be cool!
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,281
    Good crash test scores AND electronic stability control! Wouldn't that be cool!

    Learning how to drive is even cooler...

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • I have to agree that superior handling, braking, and inspired driving confidence (not to mention driver skill, certainly the most important) trumps whether the side door is going to protect you. My main gripe with SUV's is their perceived "safety" qualifications. What happens to a 5k pound truck when you emergency maneuver at 70mph? There is more to safety than crash test scores.
  • My understanding of IIHS testing is that they do not "get" cars from the manufacturers. I once watched either 60 Minutes or Dateline about their testing procedures. They go to a dealership and buy them off the lot, sort of to make sure what they're getting is something a regular consumer would get. Therefore, it's up to the IIHS and not Mazda to retest the Mazda3.
  • gene2gene2 Posts: 10
    Roadburner: "Learning how to drive is even cooler ..." That's pretty funny, but you're right. This is what my daughter's doing right now - learning how to drive. Sure, she's had driver's training, is responsible, is a good driver, has good judgment, but nothing changes the fact that she is a new driver. I read somewhere that the most dangerous time in a person's life is their teen driving years. I'm trying to do everything I can to improve her odds of surviving beyond her teen years. Right now, she's driving the family minivan. After a few years of that, I intend to put her in the Honda.

    Roadburner, you're right. All the airbags and safety whistles and bells are no substitute for safe, attentive, smart, anticipatory driving skills. I think, however, that we're probably smoking dope if we think that a brand new driver, no matter how well trained or responsible, has all those great driving skills right out of the box.

    Am I making the right decisons? Are you making the right decisions? I only hope we never find out.
  • Exactly. We do the best we can. If some clown runs a red light and hits me I would rather be in an Escalade; however, I wouldn't want to be in one whizzing down the highway. I drive a pretty safe 4 door sedan (Audi A4) and, believe it or not, I feel much safer in this vehicle than I would in a supersized SUV. We all have to make a choice; hopefully it is the right one. Cheers!
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,281
    I'm trying to do everything I can to improve her odds of surviving beyond her teen years.

    I would strongly recommend that you look into Street Survival.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    I don't think that's true. I remember reading on the IIHS site that a manufacturer can pay a fee to the IIHS to have the car tested earlier than the IIHS' test schedule. That would mean the car does not come from a dealer. Also, for frontal impact tests most IIHS tests now are done by the manufacturer using the IIHS' procedure, and the results are reported to and published by the IIHS. You can read in the ratings whether the test was done by the manufacturer or by the IIHS. The IIHS still does all the side and rear tests themselves.

    So anyway, Mazda could pay the IIHS to re-test the Mazda3 with side bags and curtains. It's likely the IIHS won't test it again until the redesigned Mazda3 comes out in a year or two.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    I agree with you that I'd rather go with known crash test results than unknown ones. But your previous post was comparing results of a current design to an old design, which I think is unfair and misleading. It would have been more accurate to say that the Elantra got a Good on the IIHS frontal test and hasn't been tested yet by the IIHS for side impact.

    Also, FYI ESC is standard on the Elantra SE for 2008, and the Elantra also has 4-wheel disc brakes, compared to rear drums on some Civics. I think the Mazda3 has discs all around also.

    The 2009 Corolla, due out next month, should get excellent crash test results, with its heavier structure and six airbags standard, but those results haven't been done yet (or at least not published yet). But VSC is standard only on the rare XRS trim; optional on others however.
  • gene2gene2 Posts: 10
    Backy: I'll say it again - I agree with you, I AM being unfair by comparing more recent crash test scores with older crash test scores. However, I'm forced to make buying decisions based on the data presented to me. The fact that some manufacturers haven't had their vehicle destroyed by the IIHS in the last two years is not my problem.

    Thank you for correcting me about the Elantra. You're right, the higher end SE DOES have ESC. Didn't mean to mislead anyone. BTW, I've owned 2 Elantras (an '03 and an '05). I loved them both. Not so good handling, but what a great, comfortable ride for straight-line driving! The '03 I used primarily to commute between San Antonio and Houston. This thing had the most comfortable driver's seat of ANY car I've ever owned, it was reliable, the ergonomics were wonderful, and it had plenty of power. After 2 years and 60K miles, I foolishly traded it in (gave away) for a car I'm too embarassed to mention. After getting rid of the embarassing car, I went back to Hyundai. It was like going back to an old friend. Unfortunately, after running over a trailer hitch with the '05 Elantra, it was never quite the same, and I sold it (after numerous repairs) and bought an '07 Civic. The Civic I'm finding to be far less comfortable than the Elantra, but handles 10X better.

    With the '03 Elantra, I only had two problems - both low beam headlight bulbs burned out, which Hyundai replaced for free and with no hassle. The problems I had with my second Elantra I believe were all related to the trailer hitch fiasco, which filleted the bottom of my car.

    I was very impressed with both Elantras, and look forward to seeing how they fare in the next round of crash tests. Thank you for correcting me about the Elantra's ESC. Thanks to you, this car's back on my radar screen.
  • gene2gene2 Posts: 10
    Roadburner: Thank you for the tip. I will look into "Street Survival."
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    This directly from their web site:

    "The Institute buys the vehicles we crash test directly from dealers. We try to cover as much of the marketplace as we can, choosing vehicles to test that represent a range of manufacturers and the largest portions of new car sales. See our vehicle ratings page for a complete list of all vehicles the Institute has tested. We don't release information in advance about individual vehicles or categories of vehicles we plan to test. Subscribe to our RSS feed for notification of when new crash test results are posted to our site."

    The manufacturer has absolutely nothing to do with what vehicles of theirs are tested. Hence, IIHS has chosen not to test the Mazda3 with side airbags and side air curtains.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    A few things about the quote from the IIHS:

    * In some cases the IIHS has published crash test results on new designs almost immediately after, sometimes even concurrent with, the release of the car to the general public. Case in point, the IIHS published the side impact test results for the 2008 Accord in a press release on Nov. 15. It would have been difficult for the IIHS (but not impossible) to buy a car from a dealer in time to perform the tests for that press release.

    * As I noted earlier, the IIHS doesn't perform most frontal offset tests anymore--they are performed by the manufacturer instead. In those cases, the cars are not purchased from dealers, but are selected by the manufacturers and the tests are conducted by the manufacturers and reported to the IIHS. The IIHS reserves the right to re-run the test if they choose.

    Verification ratings are based on 40 mph frontal offset crash tests conducted by manufacturers for vehicles meeting requirements established by the Institute. Manufacturers supply information on basic vehicle and test parameters, measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury data recorded on a dummy representing an average-size man in the driver seat, and video of the tests. Institute engineers review this information and rate vehicles based on the same evaluation parameters used for the Institute's frontal offset test. To ensure manufacturers' good faith participation, the Institute is conducting audit tests.

    * Manufacturers can ask the IIHS to test a car outside the IIHS' regular test schedule, but the manufacturer must pay for the car then.

    Each year, the Institute offers to test Top Safety Pick candidates early in the model year. The policy is for manufacturers to reimburse the Institute for the cost of vehicles if the tests aren't part of the group's regular schedule.

    When side airbags are optional, the Institute tests without the option and will conduct a second test with the optional airbags if the manufacturer requests it and reimburses the Institute for the cost of the vehicle.

    So all Mazda has to do is ask the IIHS to re-test the Mazda3 with the optional SABs and reinburse the IIHS for the cost of the test car.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    interesting.....since the mid year change will add side air bags as standard equipment on all models except the base i Sport, I wonder if they will retest it.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    I really doubt it, unless Mazda asks/pays for it. Usually if a car is close to a new design, they just wait for the new design. Isn't the 3 due for a redux for MY 2010, coming out next year?
  • ahightowerahightower TXPosts: 539
    I could swear I saw the 2008 Editors Most Wanted awards on Edmunds recently, and the Mazda3 won. But now I can't seem to find them again. Pretty impressive considering the 3 is an older design than the Civic that won last year.
This discussion has been closed.