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Economy Sedans (~$16k-$20k)



  • rem717rem717 Posts: 1
    Which would you buy?... a 2004 Mazda 3s with 20,000 miles or a 2003 VW Jetta GLI with 30,000 miles. Both are priced the same.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    Mazda, hands down.
  • 200 HP VR6? VW with an extended warranty any day :)

    The GLI is simply an amazing drive.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    so.... you admit the VW isn't a good deal unless there is an extended warranty? What, aren't they reliable? :P
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    Maybe what he meant to say was that the GLI is an amazing drive... when it isn't in the shop. ;)
  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    do you own one?
  • joe97joe97 Posts: 2,248
    He says he owns an Elantra...
  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    for someone to write nothing but positive things about the vw, you would think that would be the only type of cars he would own. I personally like the elantra.
  • zodiac2004zodiac2004 Posts: 471
    Which would you buy?... a 2004 Mazda 3s with 20,000 miles or a 2003 VW Jetta GLI with 30,000 miles. Both are priced the same

    That depends on a lot of things - your personality, resources, lifestyle, location etc.
    Me personally, I'd buy neither. But in general, between the 2, the 3s is a better choice unless you are VW aficionado.
    But as I said, if you are after bang for the buck, there are better options available.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371

    Shouldn't the Corolla be in this comparison thread also?
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Sounds good to me!
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    What I see a lot of on this (and other multiple car boards) are fans of a given car promoting their favorites. It might be better (imo) if people would try to concentrate on multicar comparisons. I know when I was buying last year, I posted to a hatchback forum and posted my impressions of all the hatchbacks I was looking at, then several people responded to my impressions to let me know how valid they thought they were. As a result of those inputs I actually looked again at a car I had considered and dismissed, and ended up buying it.

    I think that rather than arguing about who's got the better car, boards like this work best when the members are trying to help someone decide what kind of car to buy and also discussing multi-car comparisons from auto magazines, etc., to bring out the intangibles that the auto mags often neglect but are a real consideration for many of us (resale value, maintenance, reliability, etc.)

    (my $.02)
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    And a very wise two cents it is!! :D
  • dc_driverdc_driver Posts: 712
    Great post. I also think that many folks have individual needs that really also factor into a decision. If a person wishes to get the best fuel economy then a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris may be a better fit (no pun intended) than a Mazda 3 or Nissan Sentra.

    If a person's main concern is reliability then the Toyota Corolla is a great vehicle.

    It really helps if folks point out what it is that matters to them in a car. The fact of the matter is that there are some tremendous cars out there in this price range and all have their particular strengths and weaknesses. I for one, now wish I would have test driven the Hyundai Elantra before buying. I saw a GT hatchback on the road yesterday (don't see too many of those in my area) and wished I would have test driven one before buying my Mazda 3.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    It is really smart to spend some time researching and driving all the alternatives before plopping down one's hard-earned money. You might not have liked the Elantra GT (doesn't handle as well as the Mazda3, for example), but you would have known for sure with a test drive.

    In this class, I don't see a huge difference in reliability between the Corolla, Civic, Impreza, or Mazda3, and not a big step down to the Elantra. The only catch with the Civic is that it seems to have some teething pains in its first year, but that is typical for new designs.
  • dc_driverdc_driver Posts: 712

    I drove the Mazda3, 06 Civic, and 06 Corolla S. I quickly narrowed it down to the 06 Civic and the Mazda3 and then finally decided on the MAzda3. Not sure why I did not take a closer look at the Elantra GT hatchback. I recently drove a Hyundai Sonata (4cyl and 6cyl) and was extremely impressed. Next time I will make sure to check out the Elantra :) Hyundai is a really good value and has stepped up IMHO.

    Agree with you on the Civic being new. I never buy the first year of a new model (made that mistake once and swore I would never do it again).
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    The Elantra is a six-year-old design now, so it doesn't have all the advantages of a new design (e.g. side curtain airbags). I think the new Elantra will be more competitive with the likes of the Civic and Mazda3. That being said, I enjoy my '04 Elantra GT 5-door.

    I think the Mazda3 and Civic are at the top of this class now. It will be interesting to see what the new Sentra and Elantra are like and what Toyota comes up with next year with the new Corolla.

    It used to be you could buy a first-year Japanese car with great confidence, because they were rolled out in Japan a year or more before the U.S. Not true in most cases anymore (the Fit being a huge exception).
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    Looks like the site has more info on it now.
  • dc_driverdc_driver Posts: 712
    Not sure how I feel about the exterior styling (although it may look better in person) but the interior looks very classy.. Man, Hyundai has come a long way fast....
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    I took the new Rabbit for a spin today. Here are my impressions including comments re Rabbit vs. Mazda3, which after driving the Rabbit It think is its closest competitor:

    backy, "The Forums Test Drive Team" #182, 1 Jul 2006 2:12 pm

    One correction (noticed it after the Edit mode expired): I meant EBD instead of EBS. Also, when I talk about optional safety features it is in relationship to the 3-door. The 5-door Rabbit has rear side airbags optional also.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    2007 Elantra:

    Engine: 2.0L with 138 hp, 136 torque
    Total Legroom: 78.5 inches
    EPA passenger volume: 97.9 cubic feet
    Trunk volume: 14.2 cubic feet
    Curb weight (auto): 2747 lbs.
    MPG (auto): 28/36

    2006 Corolla:

    Engine: 1.8L with 126 hp, 122 torque
    Total legroom: 76.7 inches
    EPA passenger volume: 90.3 cubic feet
    Trunk volume: 13.5 cubic feet
    Curb weight (auto): 2595 lbs.
    MPG (auto): 30/38

    2006 Civic:

    Engine: 1.8L with 140 hp, 128 torque
    Total legroom: 76.8 inches
    EPA passenger volume: 90.9 cubic feet
    Trunk volume: 12.0 cubic feet
    Curb weight (auto): 2690 lbs.
    MPG (auto): 30/40
  • On top of that, Honda must think the body is made of GOLD when you look at the price that they want for it. I'm so happy with the quality and performance of my Elantra, that when I pay it off, I'm going to keep it, and get a Tucson to boot.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    That's really good for the Rabbit 5-door. I'm disappointed the IIHS didn't rate the 3-door or include it in their Silver Award--that's the Rabbit I'm most interested in because of the value. It appears what happened is that the IIHS simply applied the scores for the Jetta to the Rabbit. They couldn't do that for the 3-door, at least not for side impact, because of the differences in the structure compared to the 5-door (and 4-door Jetta). I wish they would test both the 5-door and 3-door Rabbits directly. Even the 5-door has a different body structure in back compared to the Jetta, and the 3-door is much different than the Jetta in back.
  • luvmbootyluvmbooty Posts: 271
    I was comparing the interior and exterior numbers to the Jetta, Civic, and Mazda 3. All numbers are just about equal. Why is it considered Mid-size? Is it based on exterior length only?
  • luvmbootyluvmbooty Posts: 271
    I noticed Jetta isn't in helpful links and isn't listed under what discussion is about. IIHS lists the Jetta under mid sized sedans. compares the Jetta with the Civic, Focus, and Mazda 3. I tried to go to but received a bad request.

    How is a car's size determined? Is it the length of the car? I see that all the above mentioned cars are under 180 inches in length. I checked some midsize sedans and they are all 180 or over(Audi A4, Volvo S60, Subaru Legacy). If this is so the Jetta just misses midsize by .7 inches.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    I think your question, which was posted in multiple discussions, was answered elsewhere, but basically different organizations determine vehicle "class" in different ways. For the EPA it's interior volume, for the IIHS it's weight. The Jetta is a mid-sized car according to the IIHS because it's pretty heavy for its size. Length is misleading. For example, the Elantra and Prius are both under 180 inches yet both are classified as mid-sized cars based on interior volume. The Sonata is about the same length as many mid-sized cars yet is classed as a large car by the EPA.
  • nhgirl2nhgirl2 Posts: 2
    Hi everyone,
    I just graduated from college and landed my first (very low-paying) job. I'll be relocating from NH to NC and my '97 Taurus isn't going to cut it. I need a new car within the next few days, and here's what I'm down to (both cars are brand new):
    -'06 Honda Accord Value Package. They'll give it to me for $17,860. I would be paying it off forever, but everyone says it's the better car.
    -'06 Toyota Corolla LE. I can have this one for just under $15,000. The monthly payments would be slightly less and I'd own the car two years earlier than the Accord (the interest rate is significantly lower on this one).
    Obviously, I'd love to take home the Accord, but the Corolla is also appealing to my just-out-of-college budget. My biggest hesitation on the Corolla is that it doesn't have ABS. I've never driven without ABS in bad weather (or at all, really), and my parents seem to think it's very important. I guess I just want to know which car is the better deal, though I know they're not really comparable, and whether the Accord is significantly safer than the Corolla (enough to justify the price difference?)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    The Accord has ABS and also has side airbags and curtains standard. You didn't mention if the Corolla has those (they are optional) but if not, the side crash test scores without them are not too good. So IMO the Accord wins hands-down as the safer of the two.

    Before paying out all that money for your new car, have you considered some alternatives in the $15-17k price range such as the Civic (could get a DX or LX in this range with both ABS and side bags/curtains), Rabbit 3-door (a stick with ABS and side bags/curtains lists for $15.6k, 6-speed automatic is $1000 more), Elantra GT (loaded with leather, ABS/traction, side bags, moonroof, and alloys would be under $15k with stick), Sonata GLS (can be had for around $16k with ABS/traction, stability control, and side bags/curtains--and even a 234 hp V6 if want it), Mazda3i (around $16k with alloys, ABS, and side bags/curtains), Mazda6i (stick can be had for around $16k with ABS and side bags/curtains), and Fusion ($16-17k with ABS and side bags/curtains). Have you driven any of these? These are just some of the other good choices in this price range.
  • dc_driverdc_driver Posts: 712

    If you have not looked at other cars, then I agree with Backy you should really see what else 15-17K will buy you.. I own a Mazda3i and a Honda and have found my Mazda to be just as reliable and upscale as the Honda.

    If you have made up your mind and it is between these two cars, I would drive them back to back, but I would personally go with the Honda. It is just a much nicer car for 2K more and Honda's really hold their value.

    Good luck!
This discussion has been closed.