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



  • allfiredupallfiredup Posts: 736
    Here's how I'd rank them-

    1- Mazda3
    2- Civic
    3- Forenza
    4- Cobalt
    5- Focus
    6- Elantra
    7- Spectra

    The Mazda3 is the class least until the '06 Civic takes the first place spot (if it does). The Civic is still a heck of a car (does everything well if nothing exceptional). The Forenza is an amazing value, great warranty, decent performer. Cobalt is decent looking, fairly strong performance and (I think) a pretty nice interior (it's better than most give it credit for as I think the '05 Saturn Ion also is). The Focus has great handling but a little weak on power and it's just plain old and outdated. The Elantra is also a good value...but god is it ugly! Spectra- have nothing good to say, so I'll say nothing at all.
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    Which editor do we kill if the Mazda3 doesn't make no. 1?


  • jkobbjkobb Posts: 51
    I have 2 lists the first list is if they were all the same price ,i t goes mazda,Elantra ,Focus, Civic, Spectra,Cobalt , Forenza. The second list is if you figure the actual cost of the vehicles it goes. Elantra, Spectra,Focus,Civic,Cobalt,Mazda3,Forenza.
  • smith20smith20 Posts: 256
    I think having two separate lists such as you made is a wise way to look this since, particularly in economy cars, not everyone's idea of "best car" is the absolute best performer. The "best car" doesn't seem so great to me when I consider that it might cost me 20-30% or maybe even more than some of the competitors.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Indeed, the article will be an "economy car" review and we'll probably change the name of this discussion when the review hits the site.

    So the economy factor is indeed an important criterion.
  • jkobbjkobb Posts: 51
    For me it is not a real easy task to rate these in order. I consider all of them to be at least average in reliability , they all get good to quite good gas mileage and they all as far a I`m concerned decent looking cars . There is not one on the list that I would say I absolutely would not want. If some one were buying any of these cars I wouldn`t criticise their decision , we each have different opinions , as to what looks good and doesn`t . In a nutshell you can`t go to wrong buying any one of these. :)
  • My list in terms of value...
    1&2 Elantra/Spectra (tied) essentially the same car (newly discovered reliability)
    3 Civic (reliable)
    4 Cobalt
    5 Focus
    6 Forenza
    7 Mazda 3

    My list if I was Bill Gates...
    1 Mazda 3 (I think Mazda is overrated and their mpg is below avg. but I'll give it up)
    2 Elantra (I like the unique looks)
    3 Cobalt (Actually looks sporty)
    4 Spectra (looks good but a notch below Cobalt)
    5 Civic (bland)
    6 Focus (blah...)
    7 Forenza (cheap, but do they have reliability? Not yet...)

    So there you go...
  • igor2igor2 Posts: 148
    sad car :cry:

    j/k but I am anxious tosee it finally posted.. :-)
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    My list would look like this:


    The hard part would be which COLOR Ferrari do I feel like driving TODAY!


    I could always just take the limo - or the CHOPPER (not the Harley) - OR the LEARJET

    A train load of money comes with some hard decisions!

    The how much does it cost factor is always an issue - impossible to do a valid review on two cars that have a price that is 20-30% apart.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Igor2, it's barely 9 am in California. No one ever said putting this one article up would be the highest priority of the day for the web staff. ;) :shades:

    Z71bill - um, nice list, wrong topic!! :D :P
  • igor2igor2 Posts: 148
    I forgot Edmunds is in Cali (I got it mixed up with Car and Driver - they are in Michigan...

    SORRY.. :-)
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    No problem! But "Monday" could mean anytime at all today, not right off - just thought I should mention that!

    I'm watching for it so I can link it here.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    I'm actually in the market to buy one of these cars. The only thing is I need a hatch. Given that, I would choose


    Elantra is currently at the top because it has the best balance of giving me what I want at a good price. A lot of overlap between Spectra & Elantra, with the tradeoff for me being smoother ride of Elantra vs. better styling of Spectra.

    I would rate Focus higher, but for hatches they only come with oppressively black interiors.

    I drove the Forenza's hatch version, the Reno, and really felt it was a step above most cars in its class and price range, from a styling and fit-and-finish standpoint. Also, its ride is much smoother and quieter than most others. I think it is important to note that most commuter driving does NOT include a lot of fancy handling; So I give the Suzuki points for smoothing out my ride even if it doesn't do too well in the slalom. Knocks against it are poor gas mileage with poor power and the secondary status of the Suzuki brand.

    Mazda3 is clearly the class of this group, but the question is whether it is worth the higher price. For my purposes I've decided it isn't.

    I put the Cobalt and Civic at the bottom of the list because they are not available in a hatch with AT, so I haven't really looked at them.
  • forzaforza Posts: 36
    Which editor do we kill if the Mazda3 doesn't make no. 1?

    Well, mdaffron, I guess there's no need to kill any editors. :P

    That's the second comparison test that the Mazda 3 has won. Wow!
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Thanks for the link, forza! :-)
  • maxamillion1maxamillion1 Posts: 1,467
    would win.

    Especially considering the 05 model Civic was used. But I think even if the 06 Civic had been factored in, the Mazda3 probably still would have won.
  • igor2igor2 Posts: 148
    Wow, besides that and the surprising low finish of Elantra, I am happy Edmunds confrmed my dislike of GM (Chevy and Suzuki) :-)

    (now without the GM jokes) great review, great reading. Thanks

  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 12,036
    i think it's kind of funny that there is a 'cupholder' catagory, but not 'tmv'.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • allfiredupallfiredup Posts: 736
    I'm a little surprised the Civic placed as high as it did. I guess it just goes to prove what a solid design it has been all along. The same can be said of the Focus as well. I'm also shocked the Kia placed third....I still hate it.

    Wonder why they used the base model Cobalt with no power windows or cruise or numerous other convenience items. The LS model would have compared more favorably. Might even have placed a little better.
  • cticti Posts: 134
    I was off by one. I had the Cobalt ranked several places too high, but otherwise the order was correct. A couple other people did the same.

    And do we know the Edmund's editors or what? We all get lollipops for picking the Mazda!

    Now it is off to read the article...

  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    I wasn't trying to "guess correctly". I merely gave my opinion, which is no more or less ''correct" than that of Edmunds.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    I'm thinking cti is referring to my "challenge" when I opened this discussion.
  • Concerning this latest article, I'm ready to jump! Have been reading these various threads now for sometime (very similar demographics to backy & VERY similar it's scary! Kid's future sled, the "Mrs.", value for the dollar etc. etc.). Was reeeeeeeally honing this decision down to which year-end model Elantra I was going to buy in the next month or two...until this article. Now it's happening again - I'm being pulled back to my disease - zoomzoomitis! I can't shake it.

    As a super satisified owner of a 2000 Protege' LX with 173,000 blips on the radar (and still merrily Zoomin' BTW!), ol' Mary the Mazda has about run her course in the household this Fall... me thinks. Turning into a pumpkin maintenance-wise in a couple thousand miles since I don't want to put the bucks into such a high mileage roadster. Thus the need to enter "The Zone" (kinda like the twilight zone but with car salesmen! I think ya'll know what I mean). Have researched backwards, forwards and upside down so much so that I'm starting to know these cars better than the yahoos sellin' 'em. Anyways, had finally decided on the "dated" (the author's word, not mine) Elantra GT hatch...I think. Looking for a nice commuter (ride, decent gas mileage, "value", hatch-functional/practical etc.). Want the ABS. Would much prefer the 5spd over the auto. Could care less about the leather or the sunroof which tosses in the GLS hatch as a valid choice since you can option ABS without the sunroof which is not the case on the GT. But the GT in my area does tend to be in numerous supply in this setup whereas the 5 door is very limited. Supply and demand on year end models does enter into this equation. Best I've seen for a 2005 GT hatch (w/pkg #8 - "the works") - about 15K (auto)/14.3K (manual) give or take a dumb dealer fee here or there. Which brings me too...

    Fifth place out of seven (Argh!!!!) and of course the car I've been tryin' ever so much to put outta my mind (simply based on cost at this point) comes in #1 just about across the board in this article! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! I'm going mental fella's! How do you guys justifiy spending $3000 to $4000 more on a comparably equipped "Zoomer" that in your heart of hearts you know is truly an outstanding and superior automobile to the South Korean entrant in this field? Do we bite the bullet and see if my favorite car company will finally put a reasonable rebate on the 3 this Fall, close my eyes and sign the painful papers or do we roll the dice on this 5th place finisher? Damn, why'd they have to write that article...and why did I read it?!!!!!

    Going crazy! :mad: :confuse: :cry: ...I don't even know which icon to pick!
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    ... that the 3 was criticized (mildly) for its lack of cupholders compared to another entry.

    Lordy, it's got SIX! This is a car, not a Coke machine!!!

  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,236
    to jump in this clean pool of car enthusiasts, looking for a bargain and a value and a good influx of sport. Good review, very well-written and entertaining. I enjoyed the reference to food along with fine economy cars, too.

    It's nice to see the whole package being researched and written about. After reading this review I would only say that the Spectra looks even a better bargain and a better buy than I knew it to be before reading the article. And the well-honed bodystyle? Absolutely unbeatable IMHO! Kia has once again proven that their bodystylers are stylin' and smilin.' I would state it this way, if I had the software program and the clay modeling setup, the new Kia Spectra would be a great final product for a smart and stylish little sedan. Well done, my South Korean friends!

    The Mazda 3 tries in the stylin' department, yet falls woefully short of the Kia. Where it turns a certain way in it's lines, it should have turned another way. It still suffers from that Mazda "blocky-chunky-itis" that I can spot even with a big 'ole roast beef sandwich in front of me and Guess Who classics blaring in my ears. Mazda should get a 'B' for trying, though.

    All in all a good review and a must-read for y'all. Enjoy. :D

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • igor2igor2 Posts: 148
    use the employers discount price and look at the focus...

    I know people call me "all american" but truly, the focus offers the same value, and quality, and with new engine, new interior and 4 body styles, it is only second to the utterly expensive Mazda..

    you can get a 3 door (ZX3 SES ) with almost every option for 14k (i got mine for 13.5 with college grad discount) If you want a five door, tag a grant and a half on top of that. I think that still beats elantra...

    then again, I didn't all your other posts in other forums, so I don't know ll of your needs.. but I just wanted to put this out there..
    And n the end, i didn't listen to my friends either when I bought the Focus. (they all have the 3's)

  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    "Blocky-chunky-itis" is in the eyes of the beholder. You should know, with how long you've been posting here, that posts about "looks" are taken with a grain of salt. To each his (or her) own!

    And "where it turns a certain way in its lines"? Well, at least the Mazda's lines are straight! Seems Edmunds found the Kia to be a little "out of round," with comments such as on the exterior, both the hood and trunk lid were misaligned.

    Mazda3 "falls woefully short" of the Kia in the style department?

    There's nothing revolutionary going on in the cabin when it comes to design, which editors described as "clean, if uninspired," "a bit plain but tasteful," and "basic, functional, very reasonable."

    Mazda should get a 'B' for trying, though.

    Well, you're just a fellow student here. The teacher gave it an A+. Kia's got some homework to do.


  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,236
    may have given it an 'A' for many other reasons, and not for stylin', though. Kia smashes the 3 handsomely in the stylin' department, hands down.

    The Mazda was heaped with praise in the driving categories, which it very well may deserve. If I can't get past the looks, I look no further though. When paying as much as one does for a new car, I want it to look great. When it's all packaged and bowed the Kia Spectra is my overall best choice. The Spectra powertrain is solid, too, and the comfort of the cabin and low noise levels are very impressive. There's just way too much to like and not nearly enough to not like with the Spectra-meister. :D

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • ctalkctalk Posts: 646
    The Edmunds "teacher's" may have given it an 'A' for many other reasons, and not for stylin', though. Kia smashes the 3 handsomely in the stylin' department, hands down.

    Maybe you should re-read the review because no where can I find Edmunds bash the 3 in styling.

    But, styling is subjective and in your opinion (not edmunds) the Spectra smashes the 3 in styling.

    IMO the 3 is the best looking car in the group.

    "Beautifully styled, the 2005 Mazda 3 was the only economy sedan in the test that got us excited just walking up to it in parking lots."

    "Editors were unimpressed by the Spectra's sheet metal, but there's nothing offensive about it."

    *If you look at the Editors evaluation Category Mazda got 9.1 and Kia got 6.9 in exterior design.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    Don't get tied up in knots by some ranking - it is only one tool that you should use to decide which car should be your new ride.

    I like to read them (the reviews & comparisons) - but have never every based by final decision on which car ranked 1st (or last)

    Look at the rating - how the points are broken down - they base 10% of the score on PERSONAL RATING and another 10% on RECOMMENDED RATING - it looks to me like these are pure fluff -

    Feature Content 10% - big difference in the way the cars were optioned - the Cobalt didn't even have power windows - how did they pick the model that was used?

    The PRICE and FUEL ECONOMY factors only get 25% COMBINED? Why only 5% for fuel economy? Why only 20% for price? These are economy cars shouldn't these ratings be weighted higher?

    Do the % they used match your needs? It sounds like you care more about $$. So lets change the rating to match (what I think) is more important to you.

    If I change the purchase price weighting to 40% and fuel economy to 35% and give all the other ratings 5% the order changes to TO/FROM in points and FROM/TO in ranking

    Mazda 80.8/84.3 and 1/4
    Civic 87.8/76.5 and 2/1
    Kia 84.8/74.0 and 3/2
    Ford 80.7/73.0 and 4/5
    Hyundai 79.4/68.0 and 5/6
    Cobalt 82.1/66.5 and 6/3
    Suzuki 75.4/61.6 and 7/7

    The question is what is important for you - go take a test drive - actually negotiate the price - and make the decision based on that - not some ranking.
This discussion has been closed.