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Toyota Corolla vs. Mazda3 vs. Volkswagen Jetta vs. Chevrolet Cobalt



  • I used to average at least 30 on the road in the Impala on trips from Clovis NM to Dallas. There were small towns and 2 lane and 4 lane roads. I normally went 70-72 except for 35 in the small towns and there was often heavy traffic and several lights between Jacksboro and I-820 in Ft. Worth. On steady freeway travel I would usually average 30-32. In town it was normally 19-22. I felt that a smoother ride and enough horsepower to pass someone as well as comfortable seating for 5 and plenty of luggage space outweighed the small difference in gas mileage. The Chevy Impala is a good all-around car. A Corolla isn't. It is simply too small. Another thing to factor in is the ridiculous dealer charge for the "15,000 mile checkup" and so on on Toyotas and Nissans. With the Chevy all that is done is to change the oil periodically. I did it at 3,000 miles - the book calls for 7500 as I recall. If you follow the book on Japanese car services it will cost much more than an American car will, out -weighing the gas savings.
  • I bought a Corolla CE with NO options, not even floor mats (about $50) and I find it well equipped. With HEPA filtered A/C, full instrumentation including tach, two trip gauges, and outside temp reading, remote control mirrors, rear defogger, ample interior lights, a CD player and push button AM/FM, trunk and hood lights, cable trunk and gas filler door release, large padded arm rest/storage, pockets in the doors, locking glove box, lumbar adjustable reclining bucket seats, lightly tinted glass, seven inch wide steel rims with 15" tires, and more even a CE comes well appointed.

    The only option I even considered getting was the $550 power window and remote door lock upgrade pkg. but then I realized I could just reach the passenger door lock from the driver's seat. These are strictly convenience features. ABS brakes have gone up from $75 to $300 [different system?] and side airbags remain $660. Stability control compensates for those who steer the wrong way in a skid. You might need some or all of these safety options. I switched from a loaded Chrysler LHS and except for lack of a graphic sound equalizer find little difference in comfort or convenience. Despite the size difference, I have never felt crowded, quite the opposite, these seats are more supportive and comfortable (just not leather).

    Competing models like the Kia Optima S are also well equipped. Mazda 3i's come loaded from Japan so you can't really compare them with low end Corollas, especially late in the calendar year. There were very few 5-speed 3i's in the SE US when I was buying last Dec. The closest price I could get was about $800 more for a non-touring Mazda 3i. It feels and drives like a mini BMW 3-Series, well worth the price if performance is an issue. If economy and reliability are priorities, you can't beat the Corolla for long term reliability, parts availability, and total cost of ownership. The best feature of the Corolla is that it cruises the interstate at 70, under 3,000 RPMs. I really do average nearly 40 MPG in suburban driving. After 5 years of refinements including roller bearing shifter and simplified rear shelf light in 2006, you can expect zero design defects on your new Corolla.
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    The new chevy impala might be good. But I had bad experiences with it. Loose trim pieces falling apart, EGR valve replacement at only 5,000 miles(I don't know what this thingamajig even does, but the dealers said I had to replace it, and I had to never replace this thing in my camry) , spark plug replacement at only 15,000 miles, and a terrifying depreciation rate.(bought an impala 2006, for $26,250, sold it just over $17,000, with 15,670 miles). I mean in the gas part, its pretty good, but for the price, I might as well get a Honda, which gets more mpg, and a better reliability record.
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    oh man. I liked the traditional real wood looking textures, that are reddish, to orange. I really don't like the dark grained textured thing, like my Acura TL S has. I'd rather have metallic trim.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    The problem with the new Impala (as opposed to the previous model -pre 2006) is that the gas mileage is a lot lower. We were averaging 28 mpg on the 2004 model vs. 24.5 on the 2007 model with the SAME driving mix.
  • So true. My Impala gets 32 mpg hwy consistently. (3.4L).
  • Ok, but do they have the same engine size? My 2004 has the smaller 3.4L.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    Both have 3.4L engines.
  • Chevy did not put any 3.4L engines in the 2007 Impala. Perhaps you bought yours used and the original engine was swapped?
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    ...the Mazda3gets the same fuel economy as the Honda Civic EX. Mazda3 gets 30 overall vs the Honda at 31 overall. This is on their list of "Top 12 Gas Savers". Surprisingly, they Toyota Corolla is not on this list.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    That is odd. CR got 28 mpg for the Civic EX AT they most recently tested, but 29 mpg for the Corolla LE AT. So putting the Civic on the "top 12 gas savers" list but not the Corolla is very strange, especially since the AT versions are the most popular.

    Actually, in CR's tests the Mazda3i got better overall FE than the Civic EX. The Mazda3i got 30 mpg overall with the AT and 33 mpg with the MT. The Civic EX got 28 mpg overall with the AT and 31 mpg with the MT.
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    I heard some people in the Mazda 3 forum complaining about tranny problems, at 70k miles. Is this true? Are there more problems?
  • nsbio1nsbio1 Posts: 75
    Brand-new 2008 Mazda3i, real-world mileage, 2nd tank (1-st refueling after the dealer-filled tank), 29.1mpg in mixed driving. Mileage might even improve with mileage (pardon the pun), after the car is fully broken in.
  • flpcguyflpcguy Posts: 24
    BTW the new 2009 Corolla abandons the great power train with higher drive ratio for Scion or Matrix parts so mileage drops considerably even after they detuned the new engine firmware. Revs are up a lot. Red light racing is improved at the expense of cruising (no more cruising I-95 at 3000 rpm to do 75), engine life is reduced, noise increased, and fuel economy way down. The 2009 is just like all the clones. I hope it is a lot cheaper to build (fewer, cheaper parts) and the savings are used to hold the line on pricing not increase profit margins. Also, the new nose is ugly and looks cheap.

    My advice, buy a 2008 CE 5-speed while you can, especially while the factory to dealer $1500 incentive applies. Otherwise, the basic Mazda 3i 5-speed (non-touring) is the clear choice over the 2009 Corolla, even for economy minded drivers like me.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I heard some people in the Mazda 3 forum complaining about tranny problems, at 70k miles. Is this true? Are there more problems?

    If there are a select few that are complaining, then obviously those individuals have had issues. According to most every source that rates reliability, the Mazda3 is a consensus pick.

    Is the Mazda3 perfect? No. Do you stand a chance with something going wrong? Yes. Name a vehicle that has been perfect? Can't think of any? Thats right, there are none. I know a few of you might say Corolla or Civic, but, there is no hiding the fact that they have had their issues, especially the 2006+ Civic.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    If styling is most important to you I agree the Mazda is probably the easiest on the eyes but Mazda have never been known for having good mileage cars so that appears to be their only downfall. When I used to sell Mazda's 20-years-ago they had their smallest compact (don't remember the name) that only got low 20 mpg highway and was priced at a ridiculous $20,000 at that time.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Mazda have never been known for having good mileage cars so that appears to be their only downfall.

    I would disagree. I see older Mazdas, and newer ones, in our service shop that have very high mileage and are just in for routine maintenance. The Miata, Protege, and 626 have been vehicles that have been reliable. Out of Mazdas newer product, they all have been reliable as well.

    When I used to sell Mazda's 20-years-ago they had their smallest compact (don't remember the name) that only got low 20 mpg highway and was priced at a ridiculous $20,000 at that time.

    Back then I believe it was the Mazda 323 GLX 4x4.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Twenty years ago isn't now. The Mazda3i gets very good fuel economy, e.g. the Mazda3i AT actually got better overall fuel economy (30 mpg vs. 29) than the Corolla AT in CR's road tests, even though the Mazda has a larger, more powerful engine.
  • m_goshm_gosh Posts: 1
    I'd looked for a stylish small car for the last four years. I drove the Civic, Corolla, Mazda and Cobalt - over and over again. AND I checked all specs, customer satisfaction and RESALE value (can only have a great resale if people like it). I have to admit, I really wanted to buy the Cobalt because it's a Chevy, but a close friend and a family member had some quality problems after one year. I decided against it. I've liked the Mazda3 for years. Style-wize, it's a definite win for me. What I didn't expect was that it was definitely the most fun to drive and it has an awesome resale value. That pretty much sums it up. The resale wouldn't be so great if the auto wasn't in demand (because PEOPLE FIND IT A GOOD BUY). I bought one this year and it drives tight, concise and gets GREAT gas mileage for the size and fun it offers.
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