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untchabl Reader
9/12/21 8:29 p.m.

I'm getting tired of my 21 year old Mazda Protege daily driver. It's got over 250k miles on it and it's starting to annoy me with seemingly constant small issues. I'm considering a brand new appliance since used prices are insane and I kind of want to treat myself to a daily that only needs basic maintenance.

I'm looking at the Corolla SE Nightshade (sedan or hatchback), Civic Sport, Forte GT or Elantra N-Line. All are around $25k before tax and fees. Must be an automatic so SWMBO can drive, so all are CVT except the Forte GT and Elantra N-Line which are 7-speed dual clutch.

I've driven the N-Line once on a short test drive. Seemed nice, SWMBO did not like the large grab handle on the passenger side of the center console.

I feel that the dealership experience will be better with the Toyota and the Honda. Bonus that I have 2 Honda and 2 Toyota dealers within 30 minutes of my house. Kia and Hyundai are over an hour away. 

untchabl Reader
9/12/21 8:33 p.m.

I'm hoping to hit the local dealerships tomorrow and drive the Civic Sport and the Corolla so I'll have some hands on experience with each one.

The closest Kia dealer that has a Forte GT is around 80 miles away according to what I've found on cars.com so I won't be able to check one of those out in person for at least a couple weeks.

lnlds Reader
9/12/21 10:45 p.m.

Any reason why the Mazda3 isn't a consideration? Seems like the logical next step coming from a protege.

untchabl Reader
9/12/21 11:23 p.m.

Honestly no, I didn't think about the Mazda3. I've actually owned 2 previously, an 08.5 that was the only car I ever bought new but was young and got tired of the payment pretty quick so I sold it. And an 04 that we bought used as SWMBO's DD a few years ago. I enjoyed both of them. 

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try to go look at the 3. Unfortunately the closest dealer is over an hour away so it might be a couple weeks before I have the free time.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/13/21 7:43 a.m.

The Civic Sport will fit a lot of tire under stock fenders and responds well to a tune. Might not be your most important criteria, but good to know.

02Pilot UltraDork
9/13/21 8:02 a.m.

+1 for the Mazda3. Interiors on modern Mazdas are really, really good - an important consideration in a DD, I think.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/13/21 8:18 a.m.

I dug up some reviews that might help in your decision:

I personally drove the 3 and the Civic Hatch if you have any questions.

ProDarwin MegaDork
9/13/21 9:22 a.m.

Civic sport hatchback would be the top of my list.

FWIW, the Elantra and Forte have a pretty not-great beam axle rear end on the lower end cars.  The turbo/upper trim levels get the multilink rear.  There is a substantial difference between the two.  Also, on the 1.6 turbo cars with DCT, lots of chatter on Hyundai forums about issues with them.  I would avoid.

Since automatic is on the table, why not Prius?

chaparral Dork
9/13/21 9:26 a.m.

Civic and Mazda3 are the best to drive of that bunch.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
9/13/21 9:36 a.m.

EDIT: Can you wait for the 2022 Civic?  The new version of that car comes with a nicer interior than in the current car's and the exterior is a little less... exciting, which I think is a plus.  

I wish they would offer a wagon version of the 2022 Civic but the hatch doesn't seem bad.

ProDarwin MegaDork
9/13/21 9:42 a.m.
pres589 (djronnebaum) said:

I wish they would offer the Si in hatchback form.


FSP_ZX2 SuperDork
9/13/21 9:44 a.m.

Look at a Jetta R-Line?  $24K.  Roomy. Nicely equipped, 4/50 warranty and no goofy CVT, if you must have an auto.  Also comes with eLSD diff.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
9/13/21 11:19 a.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

I myself don't really care about what the Si brings to the table and I wish that the rear hatch/load area wasn't covered by such a sloping backlight.  The tall, square profile of my Suzuki SX4 allows for taller items to be placed into the hatch area and stay under with the hatch closed.  It's probably not a make-or-break item but my preference would be more like a Civic Sportwagen instead of a pretend-sedan.

amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/13/21 11:34 a.m.

Of your list, I'd definitely go Elantra.  That car was pretty fun to drive even if it had some torque steer from the turbo engine.

Not on your list (but already mentioned), Mazda 3.  Not as powerful as the turbo Hyundai but a nice driver.


CVTs are just soul sucking to drive...

RX Reven'
RX Reven' UltraDork
9/13/21 12:09 p.m.
chaparral said:

Civic and Mazda3 are the best to drive of that bunch.

As of a few weeks ago, there were still some new CX-3's available...pretty much all were the lowest Sport trim level and AWD but if that would work well for you, a good deal may be had as everyone knows they'll be an orphan starting in 2022. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/13/21 12:21 p.m.

Speaking of the CX-3 slated for retirement, isn't the Mazda6 also slated for retirement?  Could that bigger car be bought for cheaper?  

Speaking of Mazda6 retirement, isn't the Fusion done too?  Are there still Fusions languishing on lots or are they all gone?

untchabl Reader
9/13/21 8:18 p.m.

Drove to 4 different dealers today. 2 Honda and 2 Toyota because they are the closest. Neither Toyota dealer had a single Corolla on the lot, not even a base model (their websites said they did have some). One Honda dealer had zero Civics. One dealer did have a 2022 Civic Sport on the lot and I was able to test drive it after waiting for 2 other people to look at it. 

It was a nice car, no real complaints with it. I fit in it comfortably, drove nicely on the short test drive. I didn't look over all the tech/features but I'm sure it's amazing compared to what I'm used to. Unfortunately it was black and I refuse to buy a brand new car that is black or white. 

Thinking about taking tomorrow afternoon to go farther away and check out the Mazda3, try to find a dealer with a Corolla and maybe even look at the Jetta R-Line suggested above although I've never been a VW fan.

untchabl Reader
9/14/21 5:53 p.m.

Well, I bought a brand new car today. Got a 2021 Mazda3 hatchback Select. And I went completely 180 from any car I've ever owned before and I got the Soul Red Crystal Metallic. I was going to play it safe and get Machine Grey Metallic but one of the salesman actually owned a new Soul Red 3 hatch that he let me look at and I really liked it when I saw it in person.

They had to do a dealer transfer so it won't be delivered until Thursday and I won't be able to pick it up until Saturday due to work. 

Thanks for all the advice from everyone. The Civic Sport was a close 2nd but the Mazda felt like a more comfortable/nicer car inside and I'm just not a huge fan of CVT. I'm giving up a few MPG with the Mazda but I'm ok with that.

Sonic UltraDork
9/14/21 6:33 p.m.

Great choice, congrats!

GTwannaB GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/14/21 8:43 p.m.

Is that a new record for recommendation question to new car purchase on this forum? That would have taken me eight months to commit. 

untchabl Reader
9/14/21 8:54 p.m.
GTwannaB said:

Is that a new record for recommendation question to new car purchase on this forum? That would have taken me eight months to commit. 

The wife is still shocked that I bought a new car. This is the first vehicle I've owned in years that cost me more than $2,000. My current DD 2000 Mazda Protege was $400 around 4 years ago. DD before that was another 2000 Protege that I drove after the wife totaled it and got herself another DD.

I've talked about buying something "nice" for a couple years now but I always end up talking myself out of it. This time, I didn't give myself enough time to change my mind. I do wish I would have bought a "nice" used car a couple years ago when $10-15k would get you something nice with low miles. I've looked at several used cars between $15-20k and they looked like crap and had 40-60k for a car that was $25k new. 

amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/14/21 9:09 p.m.
untchabl said:

The wife is still shocked that I bought a new car. This is the first vehicle I've owned in years that cost me more than $2,000. 

I've talked about buying something "nice" for a couple years now but I always end up talking myself out of it. 

Congrats! Great choice.  I felt the same way about my first new car but yolo and you need to treat yourself now and then when your budget allows. 

Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
9/14/21 10:03 p.m.

Great choice!  I picked up a 19' Mazda 3 Hatch in the mid-level preferred trim in 2020 as a leftover model just before the new car market went insane.  My timing was just right.  It has done about 20k trouble free miles and is exactly what I wanted.  Very nice place to sit inside for the price and class.  Not as sporty as they once were, but that isn't the purpose for this car in my fleet.

CyberEric Dork
9/15/21 1:24 p.m.

Congrats! And I like your choice, especially the color. I haven't driven the new 3, but I like how these don't have a CVT and don't have a turbo. I've heard of issues with the Civic 1.5t mixing oil and coolant. No bueno.

untchabl Reader
9/16/21 3:18 p.m.

Several things fell into place and I'm actually picking up the car after work tonight. I'll try to remember to take a few pics at the dealership and post them on here. Thanks again to everyone for the suggestions and info.

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