New Cars - Help Wanted

HateEternal

Mac Metal Head
Hi Guys.

I've been driving my self nuts trying to find the best car for me, and I am tired of hearing idiots from other boards make stupid remarks. I come here because I know people on this board are a lot more mature than any where else.

Here is my situation. My 92 Accord needs some repair work done, not to critical stuff, new exhaust mainly. I had been holding out to get a new car until I graduate, but now I am going to just ditch it and get a new one. I'm a senior in college, working part time and I have an offer (at the same place) for when I graduate. Not working full time right now puts a little tighter restrictions on the monthly payments I, but I still should be able to get something decent. Looking for something around 18-19k.

I've spent a lot of time researching, reading reviews, and test driving and I've narrowed it down to two options.

1. Mazda3 5door (with ABS package)
2. Scion tC

Here is why:

1. Price range. Both the cars fit nicely in the price range, the tC a little better than the 3.
2. Performance, both cars perform about the same, the tC is a little quicker and the 3 handles a little better.
3. Made in Japan (Sorry I really don't like any US companies) - Both cars are made near 100% in japan. The tC is made by Toyota which is reassuring quality wise, and the Mazda has received good ratings as well, I have heard of a few problems with the transmission though...
4. Features - the tC really wins this one with a ton of standard features, but the 3 has some good ones too

Here are my problems with these cars
Mazda3
1. NO IPOD CONNECTIVITY!!! Unless they changed it for '06, the best you can do is a FM Transmitter, no Line in or anything - you can get an iPod compatible deck in the tC which allows you to browse and do most things you can on your iPod.
2. Weak A/C - Almost everyone who has one of these complains about this
3. Few people have mentioned Transmission problems

Scion tC
1. Feels cheep compared to the 3
2. So many features crammed in to a low price tag, makes me worry about the real quality
3. Not nearly as much room, especially headroom. With the Passenger seat straight up my head is almost hitting the roof, I am only 5'10" or so.

I like both of these cars, except I think I enjoyed the 3 a bit more. I need to drive it again, but I think if it weren't for the iPod issues and the fact that I can't get a sunroof with out getting the six disc changer option I probably would jump for the 3 right away. I would also like to point out that with Scion it is a lot easier to get exactly the options you want, you don't have to choose as much from what is on the lot because most of the options are dealer installed.

So what do you guys think? Does any one else have one of these cars?

Also, other cars I had considered:
1. Acura RSX - To many people have the same problem with the transmission, costs more
2. Subaru Impreza 2.5i - Costs more, no fold down back seats, no one around here has a 5spd in stock.
3. VW GTI - Poor reliability track record
 

mdnky

[Bobs/Prog/Design:~] mod%
Staff member
Mod
The Mazda 3 (2004+) is based on the Volvo S40/V50 platform (c1 platform). That's a big bonus safety wise (and insurance-cost wise)...though it won't have all the "extras" you'll find on the Volvo. As far as it being near 100% Japanese...you may want to double check that on the sticker just to be sure before you buy (if it's that important to you). Depending on how they claim origin, it's most likely only in the 70% range. I am curious though...why the 5-door and not the sedan?

I've test driven one (sedan) and was impressed with it. Not as refined as I'd like, but then again it is an entry level car...definitely not bad for the price.

  1. Radio Issue: Add an after-market radio with an iPod setup. You'll get better quality sound out of it (iPod or no iPod). Clarion has a nice setup ...have it and love it. Mine ran $300 or so, but you can get by a bit cheaper. Other manufactures have similar products.
  2. AC issue: Do you live in an area that requires the absolute best AC? The one I test drove did fine here in Baton Rouge in August...it's definitely warm here then. Maybe this has been fixed...
  3. Transmission Issues: Buy the manual version...better gas mileage and more fun to drive...cheaper to fix. If they are having tranny issues, it's probably their autos.
  4. Sunroof Issue: Ask the dealer about a dealer-installed one. Most every dealer out there does this and your warranty is still in effect. Worse case...buy the package. $900 for a sunroof (factory installed) isn't that bad really compared to others.

My little brother looked at a Scion TC...luckily he didn't buy one. I haven't had a chance to drive one, but from just looking on a lot with him I'm not at all impressed. Brands like Yugo (80s era) are what come to mind when someone mentions Scion to me since then. Toyota brought the line out as a "hip" thing for the younger crowd...that should tell you loads about the brand.

I've been told that the insurance rates on the TC are high...not sure if it's true or not, but it's not surprising given the demographic they're targeting. Your best bet is to check with your company and see what they'll charge.

--

I'd buy the Mazda 3 if it was down to only those two cars. If it wasn't just limited to those two...well that's another story. The Mazda will also hold it's value better in the long run...so that's another plus.
 

HateEternal

Mac Metal Head
mdnky said:
The Mazda 3 (2004+) is based on the Volvo S40/V50 platform (c1 platform). That's a big bonus safety wise (and insurance-cost wise)...though it won't have all the "extras" you'll find on the Volvo. As far as it being near 100% Japanese...you may want to double check that on the sticker just to be sure before you buy (if it's that important to you). Depending on how they claim origin, it's most likely only in the 70% range. I am curious though...why the 5-door and not the sedan?
Last time I was at the dealer it was in the 90% range, it doesn't really matter if its 100% japan or not, more so that it isn't a Chevy, Ford, Chrysler etc. I know Mazda is owned by Ford, but I believe this car is more Mazda than Ford. The 5 door has a lot more storage room, plus I think it looks a lot better.

mdnky said:
  1. Radio Issue: Add an after-market radio with an iPod setup. You'll get better quality sound out of it (iPod or no iPod). Clarion has a nice setup ...have it and love it. Mine ran $300 or so, but you can get by a bit cheaper. Other manufactures have similar products.
  2. AC issue: Do you live in an area that requires the absolute best AC? The one I test drove did fine here in Baton Rouge in August...it's definitely warm here then. Maybe this has been fixed...
  3. Transmission Issues: Buy the manual version...better gas mileage and more fun to drive...cheaper to fix. If they are having tranny issues, it's probably their autos.
  4. Sunroof Issue: Ask the dealer about a dealer-installed one. Most every dealer out there does this and your warranty is still in effect. Worse case...buy the package. $900 for a sunroof (factory installed) isn't that bad really compared to others.
  1. Are there aftermarket radio's available? The way everything is built into the dash I assumed that it would be a pain in the ass to replace that thing.
  2. I don't require amazing AC, and I don't really know how "weak" it is, all I know in my accord the AC is pretty weak when you aren't crusing on the highway, and even then its not the coldest, it can get uncomfortable on a hot day up here.
  3. Most of the problems I have seen with the tranny are with the 5 Speed giving out, which is what I was going to get anyways, I hate driving automatic cars.
  4. The sunroof isn't a huge deal, just one of those nice to haves. Looking at the dealer by me's inventory it looks like I might end up with a sun roof and leather seats... they don't have any w/ the ABS and Side airbags w/o the leather and sunroof. Gonna cost more though :-/ Hopefully they get some more in soon...

I have a whole day to go check stuff out around town on Wednesday, I am planning on visiting all the used lots and seeing if I can get a Subura Impreza WRX for under 20k and in good condition, or perhaps something German.
 

ora

Registered
A good friend of mine has an Impreza WRX, its a wonderful machine, but i remember him saying they dipped in quality after 2000 i think, i can check with him if you're interested, he's a total petrol-head.

Off topic, he also pointed em at http://www.sniffpetrol.com/ ,rather amusing :)
 

lbj

Registered
Why not consider the new Civic? Your last Honda appears to have treated you very well. Plus, I think that all the new Honda's offer iPod compatability.
 

HateEternal

Mac Metal Head
lbj said:
Why not consider the new Civic? Your last Honda appears to have treated you very well. Plus, I think that all the new Honda's offer iPod compatability.
I do like the Hondas but I don't care that much for the new civic, the reviews weren't that great and it is a little under powered. Also, typically for any car, the first model year is a bad year to buy. They have the majority of their problems then.
 

lbj

Registered
If you like last year's model, you can probably pick one up for a steal as dealers try and clear their lot for the new design.

Otherwise, I would vote for the Mazda, but only after the Impeza. Do you get snow?
 

HateEternal

Mac Metal Head
It really depends on the year, but typically we get a decent amount of snow, which is why I want to find an Impreza.
 

mdnky

[Bobs/Prog/Design:~] mod%
Staff member
Mod
The radio shouldn't be too bad to workout...it'll just require a mounting kit and a harness adapter (so you can just plug & play, no cutting). Most after-market radios are universal...you just have to get a kit to fill that hole left from the stock one. I checked a few places and they're showing single DIN as what the Mazda 3 will take.

According to Apple's site an iPod capable solution is coming to the Japanese for 2006 Mazdas. I know that bit of info doesn't help you any...but it leads you to believe the US spec cars should eventually get it.

---

Since you brought up the WRX...darn good car and so much fun; it should be illegal, especially the STi edition. That was the only other car that's even come close to swaying my opinion of the BMW M3 being king of the hill. It didn't quite beat the Bimmer...but it was close.


Had a link to a nice 01 M3 for sale (e46) for the $22K...but them and snow don't play well together.

Not sure where this is or you are, but here's a nice 05 WRX STI for $26,999 and 16K miles....04 WRX with "low miles" (give them the descriptive ad of the year award!) for just under 20K. You might be able to find one in your area of nearby.

I'd probably buy the WRX over the Mazda 3, even a slightly used WRX. Of course, AWD and a ton of HP is just TOO MUCH fun to pass up IMO. Your insurance agent will love you too. :D
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
I have the 2004 RSX Type S. It is a great little car and most definitely gets up and go. Also the gas milage on the car is 32 + (miles per gallon) on the highway with 28 in my limited city driving. The only "transmission problem" I have ever had (it's a 5 speed manual) is getting use to how tight (how close the gears are) it was compared to older cars I have owned.

I picked the car I wanted by reading the reviews and forums at Edmunds.com. I urge you do a little reading over there and pay attention to the general feel of user's comments by going backward in time for the past year.
 

HateEternal

Mac Metal Head
I read almost all of the user reviews at edmunds and yahoo. That is where I noticed people were having the same grinding problem with their RSX 5 spd transmissions.
 

CaptainQuark

93 93/93
I once swore never to buy a car that didn't go up and down on command – I used to be a big fan of Citroën. I started off with a BX and then graduated to a CX 25 GTI Turbo2. AWESOME car! But it got temperamental and I had to get rid of it as it had got to the stage where it was 50/50 as to whther it would start on any given occasion. The electronics were looking decidedly second hand. I could have had the whole car re-wired, but it would have cost more than the whole car was worth!

I looked around for a suitable Citroën replacement, but they had 'left the path of wisdom', and had started making things like the hateful Xsara, which were just so dull and clunky as to be useless. I tried a Beemer or two, but it just didn't float my boat.

We British (if not all Europeans) have this thing about manual 'boxes, but, while visiting my folks in Australia, I got used to driving my father's automatic Holden. Not bad!

When I got back to the UK, I saw a Honda Civic auto and gave it a test drive. I'm going off on a tangent that our brethren from across the pond may not understand ;) , here, but this thing handled! You could chuck it at corners that used to command respect, but now with total abandon, confident in the knowledge that it would just stick.

In spite of the fact that it was pig-ugly, I fell totally in love with that car. Unfortunately, so did a bunch of car thieves, who stole it, thrashed the tits off it, took it to a rough part of town and burned it out completely!

:mad: AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH!! :mad:

I couldn't find another Civic of the same model, but came across an Accord Coupé that I quite liked. It doesn't handle like the Civic (it's made in the US! ::ha:: ), but it's great for driving from one end of the country to the other.

So my advice to you is to go for the latest Accord Coupé. ::love::
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
HateEternal said:
I read almost all of the user reviews at edmunds and yahoo. That is where I noticed people were having the same grinding problem with their RSX 5 spd transmissions.
Yes I have noticed this too. It was a little annoying because the only fix to my forcing the gear change was to double clutch third gear all the time. I have become so use to it I don't even realize it most times.
 

HateEternal

Mac Metal Head

mdnky

[Bobs/Prog/Design:~] mod%
Staff member
Mod
Congrats on the new car.
 

chemistry_geek

Registered
Consider a Mini Cooper, they're owned/made by BMW now. Small car, good fuel mileage, good quality, and iPod connectivity.

http://www.miniusa.com/crm/load_mini.jsp

If I was considering a small European car, I would definately look at the Mini Cooper. I don't like Japanese/Asian brands, due to their lack of longevity: They do very well up to approximately 100 - 170K miles, then everything goes bad at once, mechanically and unibody literally rots from the inside out. If ultimate fuel economy is your prime objective, then buy a Honda Civic, the one that gets about 60 miles per gallon.

You could also buy a used vehicle. I purchased my uncle's 1999 Saab 93 with 24K miles on it, still under warrenty, for $12K. It still drives like new now that I've had it for 3 years and now at 70K miles - would recommend one to almost anyone, though the fule mileage isn't there, but it's a very solid and heavy car, and gets 22 - 27 city, 28 - 33 highway. Turbocharger also increase fuel mileage while also increasing performance. This car moves with a purpose when it has to. Consider buying a newer 2002 onward, I think General Motors (now owns Saab) put 7 or 13 speaker stereos in them with MP3 connectivity through a standard 1.5mm mini jack. My car is too old for that so I have to go the FM transmitter route to listen to my iPod in my Saab. also consider used BMWs, they're good quality too.
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
And while we're at it: Good used Toyotas, Mercedes etc. can be found, too. ;) ... He already _bought_ the Mazda, though.
 

bbloke

Registered
fryke said:
And while we're at it: Good used Toyotas, Mercedes etc. can be found, too. ;) ... He already _bought_ the Mazda, though.
Hehehe

I was going to keep out of it, not really being a car expert and having only started driving recently. I did find, however, in various car reviews that it was consistently the Asian cars (Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc.) that did very well in terms of driver satisfaction and in terms of reliability.

I was amazed when chemistry_geek said Asian cars tended to fall apart, as this seems to be the opposite of what I have heard and witnessed. Then again, I was also surprised by the expectation that cars should last 170,000 miles+, as most cars I know (regardless of manufacturer) would fall apart by then. Then again, I've had the impression that driving in Europe can be tougher on cars than driving in the US.

But, hey, what do I know, I'm new to this! ;)
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
Yeah, I almost added a rant, too, about how good Asian cars actually fare in all tests and long-time reviews etc. (And two people in my family drive Toyota Corollas that are older than 15 years, have more than 300'000 km and still run fine... They actually are about to switch cars now because they simply _want_ to.) ;)

About the "driving in Europe can be tougher on cars": I guess that really depends on _where_ you're driving and how... I've been to Leipzig (Germany) last weekend, and have to say that the amount of idiots who switch from the middle to the fast lane without blinking or even looking in their mirrors is dangerously high on German Autobahnen. But I think after you're dead, you won't really care whether your car survived. :/
 

bbloke

Registered
I agree that Toyotas are good, but I'm biased... ;)

As far as references for cars (in the UK) go, here are some links:

http://www.topgear.com/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/survey/
(note the car survey)

http://www.whatcar.co.uk/

http://www.parkers.co.uk/

There are some useful databases and road tests in the above links. The car surveys are also rather telling. Asian cars consistently do very well!

With regards to how tough different roads can be, fryke is right that it really depends on where you are driving and what sort of driving you are doing. I expect that US roads are bigger, tend to have slower speed limits, and that people are more likely to do "long hauls" than in Europe. I also think European roads can be very congested and therefore a bit stop-start, and that this takes its toll on operation of the clutch and gearbox. Again, I'm new to all this, so I don't state this with certainty, but it is the general impression I have. :)
 
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