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Compact Sedan Comparison

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I'd like a small sedan that gets good gas mileage but is also fun to drive. A full array of dashboard options, i.e. Intermittent wipers, trip odometers, outside temp gauge, cruise control, etc., is important. I also want a good sound system that allows me to plug in my iPhone to play music. It's also important that the car have a relatively quiet ride - my Scion xD is a nice car, but it is very noisy at highway speeds.

Priorities: Quietness / Handling / Audio & nav systems / Fuel economy / Reliability & durability

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Errands about town / Long trips

Primary Driver(s): Senior driver / Short driver

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 50000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: US $ 21000

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Response from mkaresh

8:29 pm May 19, 2014

The two compact sedans that are the most fun to drive are the Mazda3 and Ford Focus. The Mazda has a reliability edge (though the Focus has been improving) while the Ford is quieter.


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Mazda Mazda3
Ford Focus

Response from semaj82

1:29 am May 20, 2014

Hi Maggie!

Good luck on your car search!

Coming from an xD- I think you'll find most new compact sedans a big step up in refinement and comfort. I'd like to highlight three models that have specific attributes that may be important to you.

In this class of car, I think there are few cars out there with a "fun-to-drive' factor higher than the current Ford Focus. Ford brought a European designed car stateside, and it shows in the car's excellent handling and somewhat stiff ride. Depending on your size, you may find the interior somewhat cramped; I'm approximately 6'2 and found it a little cramped compared to the competition, and the interior is definitely busy, as are most current Ford cars. According to TD, the Focus is getting better from a reliability standpoint, though it's behind the class leaders.

The class benchmark, which I think is actually a pretty solid compromise on all fronts is the Honda Civic. Honda's very proud of their car, and it shows in the list price; however I'm not sure there is a car in this class that does the small car schtick as well as the Civic. It has better handling than most of the cars in this class (save for the Mazda, Ford, and maybe the VW), is as quiet as most (save the Toyota and VW), has a great reputation for reliability which is backed up by TD stats, and in EX trim has all the options you're looking for.

The last car I'll offer as a suggestion is the VW Jetta. This car has been somewhat skewered by the press as being cheaper than the car it replaced, but according to TD, the reliability is significantly better. I would argue that rather than the quality declining, it's simply regressing to the mean. The interior feels as nice as the Honda, which would put it towards the front of the pack. The FE isn't as good as some of the other offerings, but the fun-to-drive factor is better than most, and overall the car feels more "grown up" than many cars in this class.

Regardless of what you buy - best of luck, and happy motoring!



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Honda Civic
Ford Focus
Volkswagen Jetta
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