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Honda Civic vs Volkswagen Jetta



  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Civics and Jettas shouldn't even be a comparison.

    Well, when prices and size classes overlap, it's hard not to compare. They are very different machines, I'll give you that. The Civic has EXCELLENT fuel economy (30/40) with good power (7.7 sec for Manual Transmission LX Sedan per Motor Trend) and handling, while the Jetta has iffy fuel economy (22/30) with good power (8.3 sec 0-60 per Car and Driver, I think) and EXCELLENT handling. The Civic has the nicer-sounding and higher revving engine, while the Jetta has more low-end pull and a less refined engine note.

    I feel like the Jetta is the car for people that want to get in on the "German" bandwagon, and the Civic is more of a practical piece. To each his own - people have these choices for a reason.

    The Jetta can be optioned to over $30,000 though; more than an Accord with the 244 horsepower V6 and Navigation with a larger interior. Lots of features for $30k on both vehicles.

    Reliability still scares me on VW - too many people getting burned just after their warranties are expiring, and unlike Honda, they don't have a good Customer Service department from what I've heard and witnessed.

    Sure the Civic is more reliable but I hate the way it drives. I test drove one back in 2000

    Remember, that 2000 model Civic debuted in 1996 - hardly comparable to anything of today (11 years later).

    I wish you and your Jetta the best; sounds like yours may be a winner!

    BTW, what model Jetta do you have?
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    ..."Civics and Jettas shouldn't even be a comparison."...

    I say why not!?? Indeed, I live with both side by side.

    For example, if one has a need/want for a specific purpose driven task, i.e., 54 mile R/T commute and weekend run about. The majority of days (5/7=) 71.4% and miles (14256/18222 per year=)78.2% are in a TOUGH commute. By getting a Civic vs a VW Jetta (TDI in my case) there is a savings of $5436. in acquisition costs. Over 250,000 miles (38/50 mpg @ 2.39/2.60 per gal)there is a difference of 6579/5000 gals =1579 gals MORE (x 2.39= -$3,774. or $1,662.00 total saved.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Sorry, that statement you took as my quote was something I quoted from someone else. It wasn't my original statement. I forgot to make it in bold, and it can't be changed now! :)
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    Well hopefully no harm no foul? Just maybe a continuation of the discussion. :)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Certainly, just clarifying my stance. :)

    This forum got quiet lately, I guess everyone's out driving in the snow!
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    My daughter had a 2004 Civic. She loved it - until the day she got t-boned. Her Civic's doors, if they had beams in them, failed and her passenger door was on top of her center console, which led to a concussion and gash on her head. My 99 Civic was no different as far as the strength of the door was concerned.

    When looking for a replacement, we put safety and structural integrity on top, and IMO, no Japanese car in this segment has the structural strength of a German car. This is my opinion based on my searching and looking at the new Civics, Mazdas, Acuras, Mitsus, and Subarus. Nothing inspired confidence for her safety.

    Then we looked at the Germans. We looked at BMW, Audi, and VW. Audi's were nice, but I didn't want to contend with MMI and she didn't want a hatch. BMW's are wonderful cars, but I didn't want her in a new 3 Series as we prefer the E46's from the previous generation. Pricing was still kinda high for what we were wanting.

    So we looked at VW. She fell in love with the Jetta. Doors - solid as a rock. Suspension, a bit soft, but you can fix that with some aftermarket shocks/springs, but it still handled well. Braking - VERY nice. The 2.0T engine with a 6 speed manual was her dream come true (she likes to row her own gears). The features and interior quality convinced her and my wife that VW was what was going to be sitting next to my Jeep in the driveway. Neither one wanted to even CONSIDER VW, but I insisted and told them they might be surprised.

    We pick up her 2007 Jetta GLI today.

    Honda's are great cars for what they are (I'll leave it to you to determine what that may be :D). After owning a 99 and an 04, I just am NOT convinced safety and strength are two of Honda's stronger suits. You can argue till you're blue in the face about it, but I've got my daughter's Honda in a junkyard telling me something entirely different - that for her to feel safe, a Honda will NOT be our driveway.

  • targettuningtargettuning Posts: 1,371
    No argument from me but you will soon get replies informing you that the 2006 Civic is a "gold" pick from the IIHS after its testing including off set front, rear and side impact. Although I own a 2006 Civic I am not a Honda fan...just imparting information. Further, Subaru has a very good IIHS score also I believe.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    While this is not germane to the main point of your post, the suspension is actually a very calibrated and precise system. The struts and shocks are made by SACHS, and they are extremely well built. Bottom line: do not "fix" it. Longer term use has shown the springs good to 250,000 miles. Unless you experience fluid leakage, your shocks and struts are easily good to 150,000 miles with a very normal pretty slow gradual aging (believe it or not it is a synthetic vs conventional oil debate, in the strut/shock fluid.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    To my sotp experiences, the Civic has a much more "nervous" ride compared to the Jetta. I would ask why would I want that type of nervousness? Or what is the utility of that nervousness? Indeed if you are "set" on the firmer ride, the Koni Yellows/Reds might be the ticket in that they're adjustable.

    On the other hand I say this with 75,000 miles on a Z06. Again you will never guess who oem's the shocks on this!? YUP, SACHS.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Yeah I know about the Civic's rating, as well as Subaru's, but when I can open/close a door and have it warp as I'm closing it (they seemed to twist at the hinges a bit), that tells me I don't feel comfortable with it.

    She was hit hard in that Civic. I don't blame her one bit for not wanting another. And I know her Civic is the gen prior to the current one and I'm sure the new ones are MUCH better, but still, if she isn't comfortable in it, she isn't driving it.

  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    My experiences show the Honda is a solid performer suspension-wise, esp with my 99 si. But the German suspension just feels so much more planted, despite the body roll, which is what I'd REALLY like to reduce.

    BMW's active roll stabilization is pretty cool. Wonder if VW will do something like that in the future.

  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    You might want to ask HER if it REALLY matters!? :) My swag is she could probably care less. Also a suspension change starts to get into big bucks. A DIY depending on the components can start at 250. And unless you know the tricks, you should probably get it aligned again (50-100). But as you probably know one change will affect/effect the other and now the shocks and springs sway bar(700 )are now not good enough and the rims tires are suspect 1000-2500. :)

    I am not sure what "solid performance" means (to you) in terms of the side by side comparison. Body roll is very easy to compensate for, a rear sway bar will work wonders. However it does change the handling dynamics. I actually have all the upgrades: Sof Springs, Bilstein Shocks, Rear Sway Bar. But the oem stuff is doing just fine.

    So if her and your approach could possibly be a "goldilocks" approach, the adjustable Koni's are really the ticket.

    As you can tell it doesn't matter to me and I drive a Z06. :)

    My take is no, unless they see the typical VW driver willing to pay the extra freight.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    The safety matters to her, my wife, and me. As for the ride, it is something my wife and I really felt. She hasn't mentioned it, but she and I both know that one thing affects the other.

    My other ride is a modified Jeep Wrangler. Can't change one w/o changing a bunch of other stuff. If she decides she wants to change things, it'll be on her to do the research and not just pick up the shiniest thing on the shelf at the store. ANY mod has pros and cons, and by building the Jeep, we realized that it was more involved that we originally thought. Even more so for a street car. :)

  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    "The safety matters to her, my wife, and me."

    That is usually a given. I am not sure how this would apply?
  • eldainoeldaino Posts: 1,618
    that planted feeling is probably due to the fact the german cars have a tendency to weight a whole heck of a lot. (i.e. my 06 civic handled exceptionally well, but because of the weight of my rabbit, it feels more 'planted'.)

    So the doors on the 06 civic were warped when you closed them? Very strange, i actually think that the thud on my civic sedan sounded nicer than the one my rabbit currently produces!

    Don't want to argue until your blue in the face, but to say that you don't really care about the new ratings is a little ignorant.

    Perhaps she liked the jetta more for other reasons other than safety. Especailly if its a gli!! ;) The civic has done exceptionally well in new crash tests, they even came up with a new body structure to achieve it. 04 compared to the 06+ body style is just centuries apart man! Again i think that if you establish that you want a safe car, look into that first and then the rest comes up to personal preference; and since you guys went with the gli, its safe to say that it possessed many qualities that the civic did not, to make you want to purchase it.

    But safety can't be one of them. if you were shopping for an 01-05 civic, ok i'll give you that one, but if you ever had any safety concerns about the new civic, you should be just as worried about the jetta since they both achieved great ratings. (in all fairness, how safe do you think the 01-05 jetta was in comparison to the new ones? See my point? its a bit unfair.)

    I agree that there is no comparable feeling to a solidly built german car, but i do miss the light tossability of my civic.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    A lot of it boils down to that she just didn't want to be in a Honda again.

    The newer Civics are certainly different from the previous generation and probably warranted a look, and their styling is very polar (love em or hate em), but she just wouldn't go there or consider them. With her making the payments, she's the one who got to decide what she wanted. I was just there to point her at possibilities (and cosign).

  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    For sure, it is her choice and from what I can gather, both your nickel (s). Since we have them side by side, in one sense we prefer them both. :) Just to get a sense of the IIHS actuarial take, get a side by side comparison as to your insurance costs. Something tells me, the Civic's have gotten in more accidents than Jetta's and the insurance price difference/s would probably reflect this. Let us know what you find and all the best!
  • eldainoeldaino Posts: 1,618
    A lot of it boils down to that she just didn't want to be in a Honda again

    i figured it was more this than acual consideration for crash test ratings; otherwise the civic would have been a strong contender for her.
  • tazerelitazereli Posts: 241
    that the side impact may have been a bit higher that IIHS tests side impact. More speed with its inherently more kinetic energy may very well shove the door in to the point of contacting the center console. if it was similar to IIHS's speed, then I'd be a little more worried. i feel pretty safe in my 98 civic when compared to similar cars of that vintage.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Yeah, I think the IIHS impacts are at 40 MPH or less, but I am not sure on that.

    Her impact was in a 45 MPH zone, but cars routinely go 50-65 (and sometimes higher through there). I'm being conservative when I say she was probably hit at around 55 mph.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I can almost see not wanting to be in that kind of car again after such a bad wreck, and I can't help but wonder if I'd feel the same way. Although, if she were hit and hurt like that in a VW, I wonder if she'd be looking at a Honda?

    It sounds more mental than practical (although VWs are very safe, heavy cars) that she would want a different kind of car.

    In 1995, my grandmother was hit at 55 MPH in the passenger side of her 1991 Civic DX. She had only bruises from her seatbelt and a bump on the head from hitting the window glass. The fact that it held up so well from a hit at that speed made her want ONLY a Honda after that. The car was totaled, but she walked away.

    I don't say this to talk about the Civic's integrity, because that is really hard to debate on these models that aren't made anymore. I say it, to say that it is a mental thing. "This car kept me safe so I won't buy anything else" is likely as common as "I got hurt in this car so I'll never buy it again," even if a different car may have gotten them much more injured. It's not logical, but it is how we as humans work. Not saying you or your daughter are wrong in any way, just trying to give a little outsider's perspective (and just one perspective, at that).
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    I imagine your analysis is correct. If she gets popped in the VW, she may very well go down the "It saved me and that is all I'll drive" road or "I got hurt, so forget VW's entirely now" road.

    My dad was t-boned in 04 in a Mazda 626 (pre 6) and won't drive one again, even with side bags being available (his didn't have em).

    My wife had an accident in 05 where her car went airborne due to excessive speed (long story), she came down and went into a phone pole that had been converted to a fence post at probably something between 50-60 mph. She walked away with no scratches, a few bruises, a sore throat (from the airbag dust), and that's it. We put her in another one just like it.

    I think you hit the nail on head as to why she didn't want another Honda (or Acura) - it hurt her and didn't protect her as well as it could/should have.

    She called me a couple of hours ago after driving to and from school, saying how much she loves her new car. She just got it yesterday and is already outside washing it. :) Gotta love black. hehe

    BTW my 99si was black too. NEVER AGAIN even though black cars are darn nice looking for the 5 minutes they're clean after a wash.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Black IS a NIGHTMARE to keep clean (and over the years shows scratches quite well), but looks darn good when it is shiny... like a Tuxedo on wheels. I tend to like cars that are colors (I have a red and a blue/gray one), so they aren't exactly easy to keep clean, as say a silver or gold car would be.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    You guys are making a good case for SUV's! :)
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Can you say Tourag (however you spell the darn thing), Q7, X5, X3, or Cayenne S? :)

  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    So far two consumeables on the Honda are wearing 2x faster than on the Jetta: alignment and tires. Both cars were baselined at each respective dealer when new. I needed an alignment at app 42,000 miles with the Honda. Tires while very evenly worn, do not look like they will go past 55k. The Jetta so far with 89,000 miles has not needed an alignment and the tires will probably go 120k to 130k. The Jetta is run on the highways at higher sustained speeds than the Honda.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I'm a little confused, your Jetta is run on the highways more than the Honda?

    My 1996 Accord went 141k miles before ever having brake pads put on the car. I still have the orignal rear ones. It ran lots of highway miles.

    I'm curious if your Honda is run on the same route as the VW, your post almost makes it sound like it might be (the highway comment) or you may just drive it faster; I wasn't really clear on that.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    Actually correct. It is the one that we use when we do longer trips and cross country. It has been R/T'd cross country.

    Yes the daily commute is EXACTLY the same route. During the RUSH HOUR commute, it is HARD (and actually dangerous to drive one faster or slower than another. So I apologize if that was not too clear.

    On the brakes for sure the rears will run 125k on the Jetta. I actually think the fronts will go at least that, but am prepared to do the rotor and pad change when and if needed, as the fronts do the majority of the braking.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Then it sounds to me like the Honda lives the more abused life. More cornering comes to your Honda (it ONLY does your city commute, whereas your Jetta gets to split that with long straight highway trips). Also, if your city is anything like Birmingham, AL where I live, the roads in town are much worse than those outside of town, bumpy and pothole filled vs. smooth 70 MPH interstates.

    So, with that stated, your post seems logical. The car getting more (abuse isn't a good word) stress will be wearing faster (the Honda). Highways are a velvet pillow for a car. They stay at optimum operating temperature, you don't stop and go, you don't use the brakes (much!), and you don't corner at all. You're Jetta gets all the treadmill time, while your Civic is doing the triathalon.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,869
    I would agree with you, except for the fact the Jetta has double the miles on the (same) commute than the Honda. We do take the Honda on highway trips, but shorter highway trips such as 1000 mile r/t. In that commute, the Civic is the gas guzzler with 38-42. The Jetta gets 48-51.
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