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  1. #26
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    I have 60,000 trouble free miles on my Mazda3 5 dr hatchback ( 5 sp and 2.3 engine ). It is a joy to drive on twisty mountain roads and my only complaint has been the fact that it's expensive 17 inch performance tires only last around 25K miles.
    Yeah, that's the same complaint my mom had about her Mazda3, when she had to swap out the tires at 25k miles. That and the gas mileage (she averages around 22 MPG with mostly city driving and the AC on most of the time) are her only gripes about the car. Strange that our Mazda5, which shares the same platform except with a larger and heavier body, has higher fuel mileage (about 25 MPG in mixed driving) and the OEM tires lasted about 50k miles, although they were noisy with not the best roadholding.

    The 3's a lot of fun to drive, and very responsive with go-cart-like reflexes. Our 5 is not quite as sporty, but still more maneuverable and tossable than any minivan out there. And the Ford Focus, which shares the same platform, continues to get rave reviews for how it drives. My test drives will begin soon.
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  2. #27
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    Hey Wooch,

    I just ditched my Audi A4 recently and picked up a Buick La Crosse. Here are some links you might be able to utilize in trying to make your decision:
    Japanese cars voted most reliable by huge margin in Consumer Reports survey - NY Daily News

    Used Cars, New Cars, Reviews, Photos and Opinions - CarGurus

    Based on your original list my first favorable reaction was for the Honda Fit/Civic.

  3. #28
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Hey there Wooch.

    Not sure if you're still shopping, but my wife and i went through a very similar search this fall. We considered many of the same cars you mention. We ended up getting a 2012 Hyundai Accent.

    Some highlights:
    up to 40mpg
    Bluetooth
    usb/iPod connectivity
    steering wheel audio/phone controls
    hatchback
    4 wheel discs
    anti-lock brakes and traction control
    European look and feel to the interior
    amazing warentee
    $17,050 for a fully loaded SE with 6 speed automatic, alloys, cruise control, XM radio, etc, etc.

    here are a few shots of it in our driveway.

    The Mini is my car. Steer clear of them if you want reliable/affordable. But there's hardly another choice besides Mini if fun is what you're after.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Car Talk: I'm looking for a compact hatch-hyundai-driveway-2.jpg   Car Talk: I'm looking for a compact hatch-hyundai-driveway.jpg   Car Talk: I'm looking for a compact hatch-new-car-1.jpg  
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  4. #29
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Looks like I've made the decision -- I'm going with the Mazda3. Unless something falls apart on the price quote and the financing, I will take delivery in the next couple of days.

    After going to the Auto show, and looking at pricing, features, offers, etc. For my test drives, I essentially wound up with the same three cars that I started with -- the Mazda3, Ford Focus, and VW Golf TDI.

    The Mazda3 and Ford Focus are very similar, with each car offering up different tradeoffs. The Golf TDI is a very different car that just went over the budget that my wife and I agreed to.

    Here are my overall driving impressions of each car ...

    Mazda3
    What vaulted the Mazda3 over the top was the new Skyactiv drivetrain, which is remarkable considering that it can deliver up to 40 MPG. This combo has gotten a lot of positive press, and dropping it into an already excellent chassis really decided things for me. And surprisingly, it was the new automatic transmission that floored me.

    The engine itself is not a barn burner. It's designed to maximize fuel economy, but it has a very linear powerband. Nothing like the high-revving Integra VTEC I currently drive where the engine is relatively tame until it hits the high RPMs. On passing maneuvers, I thought that it had just enough extra power on tap. It's also much more refined than the previous MZR 2.0/2.3/2.5 engines.

    The automatic transmission was a revelation. Having driven sticks most of my life, I never thought I'd opt for an automatic. But, the Skyactiv AT is easily the best automatic I've ever driven. Granted, I don't have a lot of experience with luxury cars or dual clutch trannies, but I've never driven an AT this responsive and flat out fun to take around the curves. I have driven several ATs with manual shift gates, and all of them (including the non-Skyactiv Mazda3) had some sort of lag and disconnect in the responsive. On the test drive, I pulled the 3 into a few hard turns that required two and three-gear downshifts, and the response was as quick as a manual -- very impressive.

    As with my previous drives, the Mazda3's strength remains with its handling and all around sure-footedness on the road. Remains much more engaging than the compact Toyotas, Hondas, Hyundais, Kias, and Chevys I've drive in recent years.

    The interior is where the Mazda3 has indeed fallen behind the competition a little bit. Nothing wrong other than newer models stepping up their game, and the current Mazda3 now about 3 years old. And things like USB outlets and auto climate control are actually not available with the Skyactiv models.

    Just a very odd choice of option packages that go into the Mazda3. If I was wedded to a manual tranny, I might have written off the Mazda because they don't currently offer a sunroof with the Skyactiv engine and a stick shift (my local dealer says that might change, but he won't know for at least another month).

    But, in the end the Mazda3 simply had the best balance between performance, features, and price.

    Ford Focus
    Another compact car that has gotten a lot of buzz. The new version is a huge leap over the previous model. It shares a platform with the Mazda3, so not surprising at all that the Focus is an equally deft handler. Pulling into tight turns, the Focus was

    The Focus also has a very well laid out interior. More attractive than the Mazda, with a much wider range of available options. And I would give the Focus the nod on the exterior styling as well.

    Where the Focus did not match up quite as well was with the drivetrain. The Focus engine is a little bit rougher than the 3, and in my highway driving, I thought that the power tapped out a bit sooner than the 3. Seemed like it had more bottom end push, but not as linear a powerband. It's actually a very good engine -- better than I recall with the previous Focus. Just not as refined as the Mazda.

    The transmissions are also where Ford needs to do a little more work. The manual transmission was only a 5-speed, and it felt like an older design. Longer throw than I'm used to, and a bit mushier than the better manuals I've driven. The Focus' automatic tranny uses a dual clutch design -- very advanced for this class/price point. While it shifts very quickly, and is very responsive in the manual mode, the Focus' AT lurches at low speeds.

    I know that Ford's dual clutch trannys have been knocked for purported reliability issues, but I can't help thinking that a lot of people equate this lurching to a mechanical failure. Supposedly, Ford is doing some software recalibration to try and fix this issue, but it's very noticeable in city driving.

    Basically, the tradeoffs between the Focus and Mazda3 come down to the drivetrain versus the interior options. The Mazda3 offers up a more refined engine and tranny, but limits a lot of choices with the options if you go with the Skyactiv model. The Ford Focus is rougher around the edges with the drivetrain, but has a huge list of available technology options and an attractive price.

    VW Golf TDI
    First time I've driven a diesel in about 20 years, and I must say this is nothing like my previous experiences. The Golf is a mightily impressive car all the way around. Another great handling compact car, it probably holds the turns a little tighter than the 3 and Focus, but it has a slightly rougher ride.

    But, the really story is the diesel engine. Like the reviews have indicated, the Golf TDI has gobs of torque and has a very quick pick up when you punch the pedal. I actually spun the wheels a couple of times. Some of the reviews indicated that the TDI engine starts to give out above 4,000 RPM, but I did not notice this at all. I thought there was plenty of power on tap for any number of situations, especially passing.

    I drove the manual. It's a 6-speed and I did not have any impression of it one way or another. It feels better than the Focus manual, but it's not one of the better manuals I've driven. I was hoping to try the AT (which is also a dual clutch design), but the dealer did not have any.

    The interior is also very sharp and tastefully done. The model I test drove had a touch screen, but it was not excessively done like the Focus' optional MyFordTouch screen. But, as with my other experiences with VWs, there are a lot of oddities with how certain things operate (I wound up with a signal light that wouldn't turn off because of how I made a gear change).

    Where the VW Golf TDI faltered was with the price. It costs about $4k more than the gas engined Golf, and about $6k more than the Mazda3 and Focus when optioned up for a sunroof (requires the nav package). I also saw that their technology package includes a Dynaudio audio system -- very tempting, but not with a list price pushing $29k. Even with a very attractive offer from the dealer, it went outside of our price range. The dealer told me that the TDI manuals are actually easier to get a deal on, as the automatics are mostly sold at or above MSRP.
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  5. #30
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett A View Post
    Hey there Wooch.

    Not sure if you're still shopping, but my wife and i went through a very similar search this fall. We considered many of the same cars you mention. We ended up getting a 2012 Hyundai Accent.

    Some highlights:
    up to 40mpg
    Bluetooth
    usb/iPod connectivity
    steering wheel audio/phone controls
    hatchback
    4 wheel discs
    anti-lock brakes and traction control
    European look and feel to the interior
    amazing warentee
    $17,050 for a fully loaded SE with 6 speed automatic, alloys, cruise control, XM radio, etc, etc.

    here are a few shots of it in our driveway.

    The Mini is my car. Steer clear of them if you want reliable/affordable. But there's hardly another choice besides Mini if fun is what you're after.
    The Accent was a bit smaller than I was looking for, otherwise I would have definitely looked at it. I would have also considered the Elantra, but it was not available as a hatch. I looked at the Veloster as well, but sitting in it at the Auto Show, it seemed smaller than I wanted as well.

    I do like the Minis as well, but again, just a little smaller than I wanted.
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  6. #31
    RGA
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    Unfortunately the Lemon Aid guide is not sold in the U.S. but if you visit Canada go to chapters and buy the book. They are not homers to brands and it's based on actual repair history and they give you the real gas mileage.

    I would add the Hyundai Elantra Touring model. This is ranked number one (along with the regular version) as the most reliable car on the market. It did well on every other parameter as well. Supposedly German engineered (not that that is worth much since the Lemon Aid pretty much rips Mercedes and B&W for reliability.

    It's not all that flashy; however, it does have some nicer interior aspects due to it's Euro design. Review: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

    Review: 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring | The Truth About Cars

  7. #32
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
    Looks like I've made the decision -- I'm going with the Mazda3.
    Nice. I'm sure you'll be happy and thanks for taking the time to do the write up of the other contenders!

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    I would add the Hyundai Elantra Touring model. This is ranked number one (along with the regular version) as the most reliable car on the market. It did well on every other parameter as well.
    My wife and i went to the Hyundai dealership specifically to drive an Elantra Touring and ended up with the Accent.

    The thing that really surprised me about the Touring was how much road noise was present. It left me a little incredulous as to how they could go through all the cost and trouble to build a car and not put a sufficient amount of sound insulation between the road and cabin. (We also found the Honda Insight to be very loud inside and rather cheap feeling). The 2012 Accent rides much quieter.

    (I measured all the cars we drove with an SPL meter, so it's not just a subjective report)
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  8. #33
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    I would add the Hyundai Elantra Touring model. This is ranked number one (along with the regular version) as the most reliable car on the market. It did well on every other parameter as well. Supposedly German engineered (not that that is worth much since the Lemon Aid pretty much rips Mercedes and B&W for reliability.
    Problem with the Touring model is that it carries over the previous Elantra design, which I found to be a colossal bore to drive. What good is reliability if the drive puts me to sleep? Supposedly, the new Elantra is a big step up in performance, but I did not consider it for my purchase because it's not available in a hatchback.

    German cars are generally not as reliable because they tend to live on the technological edge. Things like direct injection, dual clutch transmissions, and touch controls were brought to market first by the German manufacturers. Huge leaps forward in performance, but as with any brand new technology, there are bound to be bugs. I know you like to knock German engineering, but for the driving experience, something like a BMW is hard to beat.

    And in the case of the Mazda3, its platform was also engineered in Germany at Ford's design center in Cologne (Ford Europe, Ford North America, Mazda, and Volvo each sent engineering teams to Germany, where they worked for two years to design the C1 platform). Reliability record has been excellent, and it doesn't perform like it's on Nyquil.

    A CR article this year also found a big correlation between the age of a car design and its reliability. Generally, an older design will be about 15% more reliable than a newly revised model. But, older models also tend to go into a precipitous sales slide beginning about their 3rd year (just when the reliability shows big improvements).

    Mazda rose to the top 5 in both the JD Power and Consumer Reports reliability rankings this year, but a lot of that is attributable to the simple fact that Mazda did not have introduce any new models in 2011. I actually expect them to drop this year because they are introducing two new models and an entirely new drivetrain. Conversely, Ford's drop from #5 to #22 this year is almost entirely due to their new touch screen controls and dual clutch transmissions. (And as I mentioned, I think at least some of the rancor over Ford's dual clutch transmission is because consumers aren't aware of how differently a dual clutch design operates.)

    Car companies can also go conservative and not change much, but that stung Honda in a huge way when their tepid Civic revision got slammed by auto reviewers and continued to show sales losses.

    Hyundai took a big gamble by letting their California design center (it was designed in Cali BTW) loose on the new Elantra, and that has paid off for them. And their manufacturing processes have indeed resulted in big gains in product reliability.

    But, before we go anointing Hyundai for halo status, they did get called out recently for fudging their fuel mileage claims on the Elantra. (Various auto enthusiast forums have been calling out Hyundai for months on this issue) Hyundai has made the 40 MPG claim the centerpiece of their marketing, and consumers have responded in a huge way. Right now, Hyundai and Mazda are the only companies that can claim 40 MPG on a stock compact sedan (rather than special high mileage versions with tweaked aerodynamics, tall transmission gearing, and/or low resistance/performance tires). If Hyundai is forced to retract their fuel mileage claim (keep in mind that the EPA does not test every car, and relies on manufacturers' tests for 4 out of every 5 mileage ratings), that would be a black eye that you know every other manufacturer will pounce on in a hurry.

    Consumer Watchdog Urges EPA to Re-Test Elantra 40 MPG Claim, Hold Hyundai to Account | Consumer Watchdog

    And some industry insiders are seeing signs of "big car company syndrome" at Hyundai (i.e., the hubris, greed, and shift from product focus to profit and volume focus that brought GM and Toyota back down to earth). The next few years will be interesting to see if Hyundai can maintain that edge and product focus that they have developed over the last few years, or if they're going to dumb down their products in pursuit of market share and profits.
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  9. #34
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Here's the new ride!



    So far, I'm enjoying the drive. The car is still in the break-in period, so I've not done a lot of hard accelerations or cornering yet (just one accidental run up to the redline when I had the transmission stuck in 1st gear in manual mode).

    On the first tank, the trip computer is showing 34 MPG, with a lot of city driving and accelerating/decelerating cycles for drivetrain break-in.

    The negotiated price on the car came out to about $20,300 (before tax, title, etc.), and the sticker price was $21,995.

    In order to get the sunroof, I had to opt for a $1,400 option package that also included the dreaded Bose Centerpoint audio system. Bose's car audio systems cause every bit as much controversy on the car audio forums as they do with their home audio products here. Basically, the quality of the Bose systems can vary a lot from model to model, and I've been less than impressed with most them, especially considering the cost.

    Ideally, I would have just gone with the factory head unit, and added my own amps and speakers later. So, I was bracing for impact, especially after I saw how the system came with 10 speakers, and a wild almost disjointed array of different speaker sizes (two 1" high mounted tweeters, one 3.25" center speaker, two 6.5" door speakers, two 5.25" door speakers, two rear mounted 3.25" mid/tweeters, and a 9" subwoofer mounted in the spare tire).



    To my surprise, the system sounds fairly decent -- better than most of the other Bose car audio systems I've heard over the years. Like so many other car audio systems I've heard, it's a little bit bottom heavy, but not excessive like some of the others. The midrange is better than average and there aren't a lot of gigantic peaks and valleys in the frequency range.

    The trunk-mounted subwoofer is an interesting design because it's mounted onto the spare tire. The same design was used in the Acura RSX, and not surprisingly, that was the other Bose car system that I thought sounded pretty good.



    Of course, as with so many other purported Bose innovations, the system also has some gimmicky processing schemes with fancy trademarked names. The system actually sounds best with all of the processing turned off. The Centerpoint surround mode basically does the same thing as a Dolby Pro Logic II decoder, by creating a pseudo 5.1 effect with a two-channel source. The system uses a 3.25" center speaker, mounted on the dashboard above the center vents, facing straight up. Needless to say it timbre matches horribly with the L/R speakers, and it's apparent with the Centerpoint mode steering much of the sound into the center. The Centerpoint mode creates some ambient cues, but it also narrows the soundstage and muddies up the overall sound.

    Another Bose car audio feature is the Audiopilot2 mode, which is Bose's version of noise compensation. Most other car audio systems with this feature will vary the level according to the car's speed. The Audiopilot mode uses a high mounted microphone to measure the ambient noise, and supposedly varies the level and also applies EQ. I say supposedly, because I have yet to notice much difference in the sound with the Audiopilot engaged. Definitely not as noticeable or effective as the more conventional speed-based level adjustment. The only potential effect is some strange phase shifting with a couple of MP3s. I've not done enough critical listening to really see if Audiopilot causes this or what benefit the feature has, but I'm leaning towards leaving it turned off as well.

    It's too bad that Bose has to keep on touting these gimmicky processing features, because the audio system by itself is pretty good.

    BTW, some other reviewers apparently agree with my assessment of the audio system. Edmunds' comparison test actually ranked the Mazda3's Bose system higher than competing factory-installed systems from Harmon/Kardon, Dynaudio, JBL, Alpine, and Rockford Fosgate.

    Positive Feedback: Issue 55 - Bose Centerpoint Car Audio System
    2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Audio Review
    Comparison Test of Six Budget Premium Audio Systems - Edmunds.com

    The option package was $1,400, and on other cars, the sunroof as a standalone option will generally cost $800 to $1,000+. So, I essentially paid at least $400 for the premium audio upgrade. Compared to the base audio unit on our Mazda5, the Bose system is a definite step up. And it might cost about that much for a decent system upgrade to begin with.
    Last edited by Woochifer; 01-08-2012 at 04:30 PM.
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  10. #35
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Congrat's on the new car! Enjoy the ride! I have always liked the Mazda 3. I have owned 4 Mazda's in the past. Never had any major problems with them- 2 1980's Mazda 626's and 2 MPV's.
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  11. #36
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    First trip to the gas station! I'm now 351 miles in.

    My average fuel economy came out to 33.0 MPG. Very impressive considering that I'm deliberately doing a lot of city driving and acceleration/deceleration cycles for breaking in the drivetrain.
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  12. #37
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Congrat's on the new car! Enjoy the ride! I have always liked the Mazda 3. I have owned 4 Mazda's in the past. Never had any major problems with them- 2 1980's Mazda 626's and 2 MPV's.
    Thanks! I think we're now officially a Mazda family. Both of our cars are now Mazdas, plus my mom drives a 2009 Mazda3 and my dad used to drive a Mazda MPV.
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  13. #38
    RGA
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    FWIW the Mazda 3 and Elantra were the only cars in the class to get 5/5 stars.

    The Elantra 2012 just won car of the year. Hyundai Elantra is 'Car of the Year'

    The Hyundai Elantra comes in a hatchback - it's called the Touring. They have a new 2012 model as well.

    They've come along way since the laughable Pony. My friend has the Accent - nice little car if a bit go-cart in feel.

    I like the looks of the Mazda the best in this class though - it looks more like a sports car.

  14. #39
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    FWIW the Mazda 3 and Elantra were the only cars in the class to get 5/5 stars.

    The Elantra 2012 just won car of the year. Hyundai Elantra is 'Car of the Year'

    The Hyundai Elantra comes in a hatchback - it's called the Touring. They have a new 2012 model as well.

    They've come along way since the laughable Pony. My friend has the Accent - nice little car if a bit go-cart in feel.

    I like the looks of the Mazda the best in this class though - it looks more like a sports car.
    That would depend obviously on who's writing the review! The Ford Focus and VW Golf offer comparable driving dynamics to the Mazda3 (which shares its underpinnings with the Focus), and are superior to the Mazda in some areas, especially with the interior.

    Unfortunately for Hyundai (and for me, I guess), they chose to carry over the previous Touring model. I'd driven the last generation Elantra as a rental, and did not like it at all. Felt too much like someone at Hyundai put a Toyota Corolla on a pedestal and said, "Copy this!"

    The current generation is a clean break from Toyota both in styling and supposedly driving dynamics as well. It was a risky move for Hyundai, but it seems to have paid off. Alas, it's only available in the U.S. as a sedan.
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    Wooch, congrats on the new ride. You did a lot of great research on the contending models and I think you choose wisely.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
    Unfortunately for Hyundai (and for me, I guess), they chose to carry over the previous Touring model. I'd driven the last generation Elantra as a rental, and did not like it at all. Felt too much like someone at Hyundai put a Toyota Corolla on a pedestal and said, "Copy this!"

    The current generation is a clean break from Toyota both in styling and supposedly driving dynamics as well. It was a risky move for Hyundai, but it seems to have paid off. Alas, it's only available in the U.S. as a sedan.
    You're not far off - about 10 years ago Hyundai hired all the top engineers away from Toyota and Hyundai's reliability greatly improved and Toyota fell into the toilet.

    Hyundai I think wanted to tackle reliability first - it's what made the Japanese basically destroy the American car makers who sold complete caca in the reliability department.

    The 5/5 rating comes from the Lemon Aid - which is based on actual repair records, survey reports - Phil Edmonston is the Ralph Nadar of the car industry. He was talking about the sudden surges in Toyota cars well before(several years before) it cam to light.

    Lemon-Aid author talks tough about buying cars | Wheels.ca

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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    You're not far off - about 10 years ago Hyundai hired all the top engineers away from Toyota and Hyundai's reliability greatly improved and Toyota fell into the toilet.
    "All the top engineers"? C'mon, I know you're a fan of Kia/Hyundai, but I would have to assume that's a rather exaggerated view. Toyota's a huge company and their car development is done by teams all over the world. Are you saying that all of Toyota's top engineers from around the world not only quit the company, but went to work for a Korean rival?

    Remember Toyota stopped being Toyota well before 10 years ago. It was nearly two decades ago when they began decontenting their vehicles, using more common parts between different models, and designing their cars around profitability and price targets. This is how most other car companies design their vehicles, and Toyota simply applied those types of cost cutting and streamlining methods when they decided to make profit growth and becoming the #1 car company in the world their primary goals.

    The Toyota Way, as it existed until the mid-90s, relied on a very close knit relationship between the management, engineering teams, production line workers, and suppliers. But, this type of tight collaboration could not keep up with Toyota's explosive growth and mushrooming number of geographically dispersed plant locations. So, they had a choice to either stay a smaller car company focused on product and engineering goals, or a profit and volume-driven car company with the stated goal of becoming the world's #1 volume car maker. They chose the latter.

    Toyota's reliability didn't fall into the toilet. The quality control systems at their plants and engineering resources still rank among the best in the world, and the cars themselves are still in the upper reliability tier. But, they no longer fanatically overengineer their cars, and Toyota simply fell back in line with the rest of the industry. But, falling back towards the industry average is not how Toyota built their reputation. If not for the green halo that they wear thanks to the Prius, Toyota right now would be just another car company that makes boring commuting appliances with above average reliability (rather than exceptional reliability).

    And if you check JD Power's latest IQS results, Hyundai this year fell below the industry average, two years after they ranked as the #1 non-luxury brand. As I wrote in an earlier post, Consumer Reports found that the reliability will often correlate with the time elapsed since the last model revision, and it's no surprise that Hyundai dropped in the rankings in a model year where they had three new models introduced, along with a brand new drivetrain.

    There's a big difference between the ambition to be a big car company versus becoming the #1 car company. The hubris and arrogance underlying that kind of ambition ultimately undid GM, and it brought Toyota back to earth. VW now has its sights on becoming the #1 car company in the world, and their new decontented cars show they are chasing after volume and profit, rather than focusing on the driving experience and product quality. Right now, maintaining their product focus is the challenge facing Hyundai as they grow as a car company.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Hyundai I think wanted to tackle reliability first - it's what made the Japanese basically destroy the American car makers who sold complete caca in the reliability department.
    That's probably the best place to start. Over the past decade, Hyundai has made all the right moves, but they also need to resist the temptation to overreach, as some industry observers have accused them of doing (i.e., their 40 MPG claims that have come under scrutiny from Consumer Watchdog, which was founded by Harvey Rosenfeld, one of Ralph Nader's former deputies). They've begun loading up their cars with all sorts of tech gadgets. Might look good on a checklist, and attract more interest from younger car buyers. But, larding up a car with crapulent (one of topspeed's favorite terms) tech features is also a very quick way to send the reliability rating into a nosedive, as evidenced by Ford's tumble in the reliability rankings and even Hyundai now dropping below the industry average. This is something that the Toyota of old would have never done.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    The 5/5 rating comes from the Lemon Aid - which is based on actual repair records, survey reports - Phil Edmonston is the Ralph Nadar of the car industry.

    Lemon-Aid author talks tough about buying cars | Wheels.ca
    I know you keep pushing the Lemon Aid guide, but when I looked at it a few years ago, I recall that it relies entirely on secondary data sources such as service bulletins and recalls, along with some selected anecdotal quotes from readers. And I'm skeptical of using those sources as a reliability barometer, because there's no consistency with how or when service bulletins and recalls are issued. It's very useful for informing the public on potential problem areas on specific car models or manufacturers, but poor for drawing comparative conclusions about different car companies.

    Unlike JD Power, Consumer Reports, and True Delta, Lemon Aid does not conduct its own reliability survey, which means that it does not have a consistent database to draw apples to apples conclusions between different models. Yes, all of those surveys have their own issues, but at least the conclusions are drawn from comparable data and large sample sizes.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    He was talking about the sudden surges in Toyota cars well before(several years before) it cam to light.
    And on Toyota's sudden acceleration recalls, my opinion has basically been that 1) the majority of the sudden accelerations resulted from driver error; and 2) Toyota rushed their drive-by-wire systems to market as part of their massive decontenting and cost cutting program, and they got caught in the same first-to-market reliability issues that are normally associated with German car makers.

    On point 1, drivers can alleviate sudden acceleration by simply shifting the car into neutral. At the risk of stereotyping, IMO Toyota attracts a lower percentage of the enthusiast drivers that would know this. Their clientele will tend to be people who don't care as much about the driving experience itself, but simply want a reliable appliance that takes them from point A to point B. Also, Toyota drivers are far likelier to opt for automatic transmissions than buyers of competing models, and thus likelier to encounter sudden acceleration, since it's a non-issue with a manual transmission.

    With that said, the manner in which Toyota widely deployed drive-by-wire systems in a very short time goes squarely against the revered Toyota Way. They introduced their electronic throttle and ignition systems before competitors did, and installed them in nearly all of their best selling models very quickly.

    In decades past, Toyota was fine with letting the competition go to market first with newer technologies, and have them deal with fixing the bugs. But, replacing two mechanical systems with one electronic system in this case also saved money and fit in perfectly with their new-found decontenting ethos where they were trying to reduce the number of unique parts and systems in their cars.

    In actuality, electronic throttle and ignition systems are far more reliable than the older mechanical designs. The problem is that a failure on an integrated electronic system is more serious, and by combining the ignition with the throttle controls, Toyota provided a single point of failure for what used to be two separate systems. Sudden acceleration also occurs with older cable throttle linkages, but it's a somewhat easier recovery with a stuck accelerator pedal than a failed electronic throttle control.

    One of the mainstream science magazines (forget which one) found that Toyota's electronic control units were installed without EMI shielding, and speculated that made the system more vulnerable to seemingly random failure. That also potentially explains why tests by the federal govt and Stanford University were unable to replicate the Toyota sudden acceleration issue, since I don't think they ever tested EM interference (the much publicized SIU test that created sudden acceleration in the lab was done under conditions very unlikely to occur in real life). Other car companies have been more deliberate about deploying drive-by-wire systems, and likely learned from Toyota's mistakes, in much the same way that Toyota used to do with them.
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    Just to be clear - I am not a fan of any car company. I like the fact that Hyundai has stepped it up but I have never owned one and with luck I never will.

    The lemon aid is model specific but I don't see that as a problem since I am not a "fan" of looking at the company - If I plan to buy a given kind of compact car - then I could care less if the company builds a great truck or a lousy truck - or for that matter whether they build a truck at all. I want comparisons on the long term (not IQS) of the vehicle - the short term ownership is protected under warranty so it would be less important how it does during the first 18 months. Most cars survive the early going - it's in year 6 out of the warranty that I wand to know about - and it's usually here where the American cars with their golden IQS suck the big one.

    As for Hyundai and engineers - I did not check this information - it was from a mechanic (no affiliation with and non Korean car owner) . Korea is very close to Japan - not much of a commute - couple hours by boat ride from Fukuoka. Looking it up - it might be a little semi-theft that helped Hyundai Hyundai might have Stolen Toyota Corporate "Secrets" - Motor Trend The General Forum Forum

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    Just to be clear - I am not a fan of any car company. I like the fact that Hyundai has stepped it up but I have never owned one and with luck I never will.

    The lemon aid is model specific but I don't see that as a problem since I am not a "fan" of looking at the company - If I plan to buy a given kind of compact car - then I could care less if the company builds a great truck or a lousy truck - or for that matter whether they build a truck at all. I want comparisons on the long term (not IQS) of the vehicle - the short term ownership is protected under warranty so it would be less important how it does during the first 18 months.
    The IQS is actually a very good predictor of long-term reliability. Issues with the drivetrain and specific components will begin to show up within the first year of ownership. Issues that come up early are likelier to continue cropping up as a group of vehicles ages. Since Lemon Aid only bases its conclusions on anecdotal repair reports, it has no real data on true reliability rates.

    Historically, Toyota and Honda have been loathe to issue recalls on their cars, opting instead to issue service bulletins. It's that unwillingness to do a recall that ultimately cost Toyota dearly. American car companies are less hesitant to issuing recalls, even though they know the PR hit that they will take. And different car companies have different policies as to when/if they issue a service bulletin or a recall. That's why you can't read into this and draw conclusions between different car companies and car models.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Most cars survive the early going - it's in year 6 out of the warranty that I wand to know about - and it's usually here where the American cars with their golden IQS suck the big one.
    Unless you're buying a used car, knowing something about the reliability of a 6 year old car says nothing about a current model that's selling at a dealership brand new. For one thing, most car models undergo substantial changes within a 6-year timeframe that render info from that long ago meaningless. As indicated in that Consumer Reports post from last year, the reliability of a car model will generally increase as it goes through its production cycle. The ~15% variance that Consumer Reports observed between a car model in its 1st year versus one in its 4th year is actually wide enough to represent the difference between landing in the top 10 versus the bottom 10.

    The 1999 Ford Focus (its first production year) was by all accounts an unreliable car. But, that says absolutely nothing about later model years, where the Focus became an above average reliability car. The revised Focus came out last year, and issues with the touch screens and dual clutch transmissions have already been reported. But, that doesn't say anything about how the newer Focus models will perform (touchscreen issues are relatively easy to fix, and a software update has already been issued), nor anything about how the car will perform as it goes through its current production cycle.
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    Looks like the compact hatchback club will gain another new member. For all of the Hyundai recommendations on this thread, I didn't give them much of a look, because I wanted a hatchback and the Elantra Touring wagon was a carryover of the previous model, which I did not like.

    Lo and behold, Hyundai is now set to debut the two-door coupe and five-door hatchback versions of the Elantra. This looks like a seriously competitive car for this class. Depending on how Hyundai prices the Hyundai GT hatchback, it could really challenge the Focus, Mazda3, Impreza, and Golf. As one of the other enthusiast sites said, the compact hatchbacks now available in the U.S. have never been better.

    2013 Hyundai Elantra GT delivers lightness, functionality



    In terms of styling, I generally like lines on the Elantra GT, but the proportions look a bit stubby in the back (but they increased the interior space by making the car taller, which probably gives it those slightly awkward looking proportions). The interior though looks great.



    The bottomline on the Elantra GT is that it's nearly a foot shorter than the Focus, Mazda3, and Impreza, and a few inches longer than the Golf. However, it has more interior space than all of them. While the Elantra GT has a less powerful engine, it also weighs less than all of them and ties the Mazda3 Skyactiv for the highest EPA fuel economy.

    What remains to be seen is how the car performs, and how the fuel economy measures up in real world driving. And the new hatchback is much smaller than the current Elantra Touring wagon, and it looks like Hyundai will not bring the wagon back.

    Like the Focus, Hyundai loaded the car with technology features, which has its benefits and drawbacks. The benefit obviously is that the manufacturer can wow the customers with a long list of standard features and eye-popping technology. The disadvantage is that these cutting edge features can be frustrating to operate while driving, and they tend to be very buggy.

    Ford's experience with loading up its newer models with technology gadgets led to a big drop in its reliability ranking. And Hyundai, which debuted many of these features on other models, has seen its reliability ranking drop as well (in the latest JD Power IQS ranking, Hyundai is now below the industry average, after rating #1 among non-luxury brands just two years ago).

    The reliance on gadgetry was one reason I wound up not going with the Focus (base models are available, but in order to get options that I wanted, most of those cars I saw also came with the bug-ridden tech features that I did not want).

    Seeing Hyundai seeming to hit its stride is now a glaring contrast to how far behind Honda has fallen. The new dumbed-down Civic is still selling well, but how much longer can they continue pumping out bland and unimaginative cars before their sales do start to decline as other manufacturers continue to raise the bar and aggressively try to one up each other.
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    That's certainly an appealing hatch back, though as you say, objective evaluations are still pending.

    Hatchbacks in this league are a bit small for our needs, though. I'm still very inclined to the Mazda5 later this year IF I can get a good deal with some kind of trade for my old Taurus wagon.

    Chevrolet has come out with the 'Orlando', obviously intended to compete with the Mazda5. I await reports; if they are good and the Orlando is cheaper than the Mazda5, I might consider the Orlando.



    As I recall Ford was also planning an apparent Mazda5 competitor, the C-Max but it isn't available yet, at least not in Canada.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    That's certainly an appealing hatch back, though as you say, objective evaluations are still pending.

    Hatchbacks in this league are a bit small for our needs, though. I'm still very inclined to the Mazda5 later this year IF I can get a good deal with some kind of trade for my old Taurus wagon.

    Chevrolet has come out with the 'Orlando', obviously intended to compete with the Mazda5. I await reports; if they are good and the Orlando is cheaper than the Mazda5, I might consider the Orlando.
    Unfortunately, GM opted not to bring the Orlando to the U.S. Kia also stopped importing the Kia Rondo to the U.S., but continues to make it available in Canada. I guess the market for MPV/space wagons is stronger in Canada.


    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    As I recall Ford was also planning an apparent Mazda5 competitor, the C-Max but it isn't available yet, at least not in Canada.
    Ford is still on track to bring the C-MAX to all of North America. Unfortunately, they will not bring over the larger 7-passenger version, and apparently, Ford will only sell the 5-passenger C-MAX with a hybrid or plug-in drivetrain -- no conventional gas-powered drivetrains available at all. Given how hybrid sales have nosedived over the past year, this is not a good sign. From what I see, Ford is now looking at the C-MAX as its version of a halo vehicle -- a niche product to burnish its green credentials (and presumably boost its CAFE rating) and serve as a test platform for its EV drivetrain, rather than a product to market and sell to the masses.

    Car and Driver Blog Ford Cancels 7-Passenger C-Max for U.S., Will Sell Only 5-Seat Hybrid and Plug-In Models



    In Europe and Asia, MPVs are huge sellers, so Ford sells the C-MAX in those markets like any other conventional car. Since MPVs are almost viewed as an alien species in the U.S., I guess Ford did not want to do the heavy lifting to seed the market for a MPV-type car. So, they have relegated the C-MAX to the green ghetto, because it's a "unique" design (to U.S. buyers at least) that they can tout as their green car.

    And in some ways they are right. The only runaway success among hybrids in the U.S. has been the Toyota Prius, which has a unique and immediately identifiable design. This appeals to those buyers who are trying to make a statement with their car purchase (no different than the image statement that a lot of SUV buyers have been making). Sales for all of the hybrids that simply drop a hybrid drivetrain into an existing car design have been miserable and dropping fast. For all of the attention that hybrids get, their numbers are only a drop in the bucket.

    It's really too bad that no one seems willing to do a concerted marketing and sales campaign to establish a mainstream market for MPVs. The Mazda5 has the U.S. MPV market to itself, but still does virtually no marketing and advertising for that. And Mazda deliberately limits the number of Mazda5s that they import to North America in order to reserve more units for the more established European and Asian markets. What would the market look like if MPVs like the Mazda5, Rondo, Orlando, and C-MAX received the same types of the megadollar ad campaigns that helped fuel the SUV craze in the 1990s? Of course, practicality and "just right" austerity don't make for the same kind of sexy marketing pitch as the whole rugged outdoorsy "freedom" image making that accompanied the SUV commercials (who cares if it's really a minivan/station wagon in drag -- it can go off-road, even if it never does).
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    Looks like the C-Max (in Canada) will be available as as a hybrid or an electric. Neither of these is of interest to me since the extra cost of these types is too high to justify based on the mileage we do.

    I so see plenty of Mazda5's on the road here southern Ontario. I'm surprised the Orlando won't be available in the 'States, as I was that the Rondo isn't. I seems Canadians are more inclined to smaller and cheaper vehicles. I don't thing Canadians are more environment-conscious; it's just that Canadians have a bit less disposable income and face higher vehicle prices+taxes and higher taxes of fuel. Yes! you can influence public purchasing habits using tax policies.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Looks like the C-Max (in Canada) will be available as as a hybrid or an electric. Neither of these is of interest to me since the extra cost of these types is too high to justify based on the mileage we do.
    Yep, no conventional gas-powered drivetrain for the C-MAX at all in North America. Responses like yours are exactly why I think Ford is shooting itself in the foot by limiting the C-MAX to the green market.

    Ford is trying to position the C-MAX as a standalone eco car in North America. They figure that because the Prius sells like crazy, while using a separate and distinct body style, they could do the same thing with the C-MAX. Never mind that the C-MAX is just another gas-powered MPV in Europe and Asia, and that Honda's CR-Z and Insight models (both of which have their own distinct body styles and sold only as hybrids) are flops.

    I would have preferred to see Ford offer the C-MAX as a mainstream volume car (i.e., with a gas engine, and with a full range of options), and back it up with a marketing and sales campaign befitting that type of vehicle. If it flops, then so be it. But, at least make an honest effort to establish a market for that type of car in North America. There have got to be others like myself that are frustrated with the lack of alternatives to the 3-box sedan/minivan/SUV troika that currently dominates the U.S. car market.

    I know that Ford is also planning to make hybrid and plug-in drivetrains available with the Focus and Fusion. But, as I mentioned already, hybrids based on existing car designs have mostly flopped. Ford seems to assume here that limiting the C-MAX to hybrid/plug-in drivetrains will actually help the C-MAX's sales potential by giving it a green halo. Problem with this assumption is that the Prius represents the only big hybrid success story and other hybrid-only cars have flopped.
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  25. #50
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    All this car talk Woo, I think you jinx me, my old SVT Contour is limping along now and I too am in the market for a replacement now. Unlike you I'm not concern with green so I have narrow my choices to the players below:



    05 Chrysler Crossfire SRT 6, A Mercedes in Chrysler clothing @ 330 HP



    05 Mercedes C230 Kompressor, Sport feel with 4 doors like my old SVT.
    HT
    Pioneer Elite SC lx502
    Pioneer Elite N50
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    Pioneer Elite BDP 85FD

    Vizio P series 2160p
    Panamax 5300 EX

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