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icedragon
My brother is in the market for a 2006/2007 mid-size, moderately-priced car.
He is looking for something sporty, but with good safety and reliability.

He is considering:

Honda Civic
Mazda 3
VW Rabbit/Golf
VW Jetta
Subaru Impreza

Which 2006/2007 mid-size, moderately-priced car would you suggest?

(He is NOT considering the 2006 Toyota Corolla since the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it DISMAL side and rear safety ratings.)
CRiZO
Whatever he test drives and likes. The Jetta isn't sporty, but the rest are good choices.
Mitlov
If safety is a major factor, consider dropping the Mazda3. It has lackluster crash test ratings compared to the other four (all others get "good" front and side crash test ratings from the IIHS; the Mazda3 got a "poor"). If reliability is a major factor, consider dropping the VWs. VW is one of the worst brands reliability-wise according to both JD Power and Consumer Reports. Now, in all fairness, the Mazda3 has a great reputation for reliability, and modern VWs pretty much all earn silver medals for safety from the IIHS. But if he wants BOTH great safety and great reliability, I think the choice comes down to the Honda and the Subaru.

As for the Civic and the Impreza, he should test-drive both. Both are IIHS gold medal winners for safety, and both have excellent reliability ratings (and reputations). The Civic is going to have less body lean in turns, it will have nicer interior materials (though a wierd layout), it will have a smoother manual transmission, and it will be a LOT more fuel-efficient (expect mid-30s instead of mid-20s for mpg). The Impreza has a five-door hatch body option (very useful), more power, a helluva lot more torque, a more traditional-looking interior (even if the plastics are harder), and the balanced feel in turns that full-time AWD gives you. Both are sporty, reliable, safe options for under $20k though.

By the way, these are COMPACT cars. Midsize cars are cars like the Mazda6, VW Passat, Honda Accord, and Subaru Legacy.
clarkma5
OMG safety. Any modern car that is safe enough to avoid being the subject of a 60 minutes report is going to be safe enough to make a 5 year old best-in-class car look pretty crappy...so, ignore Mitlov (my advice).

I'd say the 3's the one to get, though the Impreza has a little more character AND AWD (instead of FF) in exchange for a little refinement.
Mitlov
QUOTE(clarkma5 @ Apr 20 2006, 11:26 PM) *
OMG safety. Any modern car that is safe enough to avoid being the subject of a 60 minutes report is going to be safe enough to make a 5 year old best-in-class car look pretty crappy...so, ignore Mitlov (my advice).

The original poster said that this guy didn't want a Corolla because of its safety ratings. The Mazda3 is no better. All I did was bring that to his attention.
clarkma5
ha well I got owned.

Congratulations Mitlov to answering the original poster's question. Boo to icedragon's friend for putting so much stock in safety ratings. I would never cross a car off my shopping list due to safety ratings.
Mitlov
QUOTE(clarkma5 @ Apr 20 2006, 11:29 PM) *
Boo to icedragon's friend for putting so much stock in safety ratings. I would never cross a car off my shopping list due to safety ratings.

Different people have different priorities. I don't put much stock in trap speeds, for example, but I wouldn't boo DZ for choosing cars based partly on their trap speeds.
Tirminyl
The poor rating of the Mazda 3 was for side impact of a model tested without side airbags. I don't think anyone has retested it with side airbags.

I vote the 3.
fiber optic
Obligatory Focus suggestion.

Of those, Mazda3 or Impreza.
b0mb3r
I bet the new golf will be the most refined/comfortable of the 5. Too bad they will be made in mexico!
clarkma5
QUOTE(b0mb3r @ Apr 21 2006, 02:56 PM) *
I bet the new golf will be the most refined/comfortable of the 5. Too bad they will be made in mexico!

Actually all the MkV Golfs (aka Rabbits) sold in North America will be made in Germany.
b0mb3r
QUOTE(clarkma5 @ Apr 21 2006, 03:14 PM) *
Actually all the MkV Golfs (aka Rabbits) sold in North America will be made in Germany.


so only Jettas are made in mexico? BAHAHAHAHA

This could very well be the cheapest german made car sold in USA.
dance.gif dance.gif dance.gif dance.gif
milkmandan
I've only driven two of the cars so for what its worth...

My rent's have an 06 Impreza 2.5i (auto) and one of my friend's has an 03?-05? Mazda 3 (5 sp). Depending on my priorities I'd recommend either. The 3 is more fun to drive (stiffer suspension, more responsive engine) but the Impreza was roomier and more comfortable. It also felt torquier. I'd probably take the 3 just cause it was more fun to drive. I can't comment on safety for either cause I don't know their respective ratings, but if the 3 is too unsafe the Impreza is a pretty fun car.
moe
I voted 3, because I own one, and just came drove 800km in it over the last couple days. This was all at high-speeds on "deristricted" roads. I've never been in a compact car that is so well composed at speeds over 100mph. It also has handling, and steering feel that would put many "sports" cars or coupes to shame. Besides that, it's been completely reliable (other than a whistling sound from the engine that Mazda can't seem to diagonse), with decent interior quality, and a stylish exterior and interior. The ride is a bit firm, and can even get uncomfortable on poorly surfaced roads, and if you live outside the US, the 1.6L could really use a bit more grunt. Other than that, it's a great car.

Of the others you mentioned, the Jetta is a bit too dull. The Rabbit is an excellent choice, but I've heard bad things about them reliability-wise. The Civic looks awful, both inside and out, though that's just my personal opinion. The steering could use a bit more feel, and the interior plastics are okay, but could be better. As for the Impreza? I've never driven one, but despite it's mundane appearance both inside and out, I'd definately get a test drive in one before I bought a 3 if I could do it over again.
Mitlov
QUOTE(moethepaki @ Apr 22 2006, 07:41 AM) *
As for the Impreza? I've never driven one, but despite it's mundane appearance both inside and out, I'd definately get a test drive in one before I bought a 3 if I could do it over again.

I agree 100% with the "mundane" interior comment (not ugly, just a bit bland), but I really disagree about the exterior. I think it's agressively styled for a compact car. Far more aggressive than the VW offerings, without being just plain wierd like the Civic:





By the way, as long as the Impreza is winning, let me give some advice. I'm not normally a fan of spoilers, but if he gets the Impreza sedan, he NEEDS a spoiler. Not the flamboyant STi wing, just the normal spoiler. The Impreza just looks far more balanced visually with one.


moe
QUOTE(Mitlov @ Apr 22 2006, 11:21 PM) *
I agree 100% with the "mundane" interior comment (not ugly, just a bit bland), but I really disagree about the exterior. I think it's agressively styled for a compact car. Far more aggressive than the VW offerings, without being just plain wierd like the Civic:


I'll agree the fron-end is really agressive, but the rest of the shape looks average rental car econobox. Mainly though, I forgot they facelifted it... X.gif
PBB
QUOTE(Mitlov @ Apr 22 2006, 04:21 PM) *
I agree 100% with the "mundane" interior comment (not ugly, just a bit bland).

So what? It's very ergonomic, but obviously, interior "quality" these days doesn't have anything to do with ergonomics. It's all about the fine chinchilla pelts and 6,548 way folding seats.
clarkma5
I love the Impreza interior. It's cleanly designed, durable, functional, and just exceedingly...right.
Mitlov
QUOTE(PBB @ Apr 22 2006, 02:07 PM) *
So what? It's very ergonomic, but obviously, interior "quality" these days doesn't have anything to do with ergonomics. It's all about the fine chinchilla pelts and 6,548 way folding seats.

I didn't say it was BAD, just very plain. Some people like plain and some don't. It was just a description, not a value judgment.
fiber optic
QUOTE(clarkma5 @ Apr 22 2006, 04:08 PM) *
I love the Impreza interior. It's cleanly designed, durable, functional, and just exceedingly...right.


Do they still have the cupholders that pop out of the dashboard above the radio? I hated that.
clarkma5
QUOTE(fiber optic @ Apr 23 2006, 12:38 PM) *
Do they still have the cupholders that pop out of the dashboard above the radio? I hated that.


Ha, I dunno, but you're right, those are lame. They still have a cupholder in the center console though, albeit only for 12 ounce cans...
Mitlov
QUOTE(fiber optic @ Apr 23 2006, 12:38 PM) *
Do they still have the cupholders that pop out of the dashboard above the radio? I hated that.

Nope. Two cupholders in the center console. Larger than a 12 ounce can but smaller than a 1 liter Nalgene.
leif
I love the cup holders that pop out of the center console...it kicks ass! and I have neevr had any problem with fitting drinks in the other holder...frankly if you think your car needs to hold a 1L big gulp...maybe a midsized sedan/wagon is not the right car for you.
Mitlov
QUOTE(leif @ Apr 23 2006, 04:50 PM) *
I love the cup holders that pop out of the center console...it kicks ass! and I have neevr had any problem with fitting drinks in the other holder...frankly if you think your car needs to hold a 1L big gulp...maybe a midsized sedan/wagon is not the right car for you.

Never heard of a Nalgene water bottle? You buy them at outdoor's stores. They're very durable water bottles that last for years of abuse. They normally have a one-liter capacity. I carry mine with me wherever I go. Most athletic and/or environmentally-conscious twenty-somethings I know do the same. My Civic had a cup holder that held a Nalgene. That was great. One gripe about my Subaru is that both cupholders are too small for a one-liter Nalgene.

Mr b00st
Jetta. So far my MKV has had 17,000+ miles put on it in like 10 months and no reliability issues. Everyone talks about the Mexican plant as though it's a problem; get real, everything automated in the first place. It's a tightly assembled car.


the 2.5 isn't the greatest engine. If you can spring for a 2.0T or a TDi on either end of the spectrum, do that. I mean, the 2.5 isn't wretched but it's just dammed unexceptional.

It's the only one of those that feels "premium." It's a pleasure to operate, good to drive - strong brakes, pleasantly hefty steering at highway speed, VERY good high speed stability, comfortable and attractive interior, etc etc.

Fuel economy on the 2.5 is not a Forte. Honduh has it beat there.

The VW Community is certainly more pleasant than the Honda community, if that's an issue.

I don't rate the car as bland. A Camry is bland. An Accord 4Cyl or a Mazda 6 is bland. The Jetta has character. It's just grown up a bit. But it's still fun.

This is all coming from about a year of experience; feel free to argue with me all you want, but in the end i do know what i'm talking about more.
Mitlov
QUOTE(Mr b00st @ Apr 23 2006, 08:26 PM) *
Jetta. So far my MKV has had 17,000+ miles put on it in like 10 months and no reliability issues.

huh.gif Mr b00st: the Jetta's out of commission till next week. A brake pad prematurely wearing out, severely overheating, and blackening after just 10,000 miles does not count as a reliability issue? In my book, any unscheduled maintenance that leaves you without your car for a week is a reliability issue.
leif
QUOTE(Mitlov @ Apr 23 2006, 09:23 PM) *
Never heard of a Nalgene water bottle? You buy them at outdoor's stores. They're very durable water bottles that last for years of abuse. They normally have a one-liter capacity. I carry mine with me wherever I go. Most athletic and/or environmentally-conscious twenty-somethings I know do the same. My Civic had a cup holder that held a Nalgene. That was great. One gripe about my Subaru is that both cupholders are too small for a one-liter Nalgene.



I have a few nalgene's...and frankly, I figure the screw lid keeps the liquid in if you tilt it...so i have no problem tucking it in between me and the center console, failing that there is the seats beside or behind me.

Miltov...as much as you probaly hate to hear it...I think you and I are very simmilar!
Mitlov
QUOTE(leif @ Apr 23 2006, 10:24 PM) *
I have a few nalgene's...and frankly, I figure the screw lid keeps the liquid in if you tilt it...so i have no problem tucking it in between me and the center console, failing that there is the seats beside or behind me.

Yeah, those things WORK. But they're nowhere near as convenient as actually having a beverage holder that can hold your beverage.

QUOTE
Miltov...as much as you probaly hate to hear it...I think you and I are very simmilar!

Is this where you tell me to join the dark side? wink.gif
leif
no...that would be if you were my son...which would be weird...and would require some quantum physics.
moe
QUOTE(Mr b00st @ Apr 24 2006, 06:26 AM) *
Mazda 6 is bland. The Jetta has character. It's just grown up a bit. But it's still fun.


Uhh yeah okay. Great handling, steering feel, sleek and sexy exterior, slick-looking interior, bland? WTF? The Jetta is a Golf/Rabbit minus the character, plus the trunk. The old Jetta had character.
nismo
B00st, the new camry is not that bland
DakianDelomast
QUOTE(moethepaki @ Apr 24 2006, 08:30 AM) *
Uhh yeah okay. Great handling, steering feel, sleek and sexy exterior, slick-looking interior, bland? WTF? The Jetta is a Golf/Rabbit minus the character, plus the trunk. The old Jetta had character.


lolz moe you're arguing with a fanboy.
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