GM Inside News Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've been car shopping and I saw this review section on the site. I generally don't post but for anyone who may be in the small car market I thought I had some good info to share.

First car: Olds Alero - Sticker price as drove: 14,990

This is the first car I drove. I swung by the Olds dealer figuring there'd be some heavy incentives to move them since they're out of production. I dunno if this is everywhere but the dealer I went to (an Olds/Cadillac dealer in Ohio) they had $4200 marked off sticker. I drove a GX (base) model. It had power locks, manual windows, the 2.2 engine, and automatic trans. Had other things but I didn't really pay much attention I was more concerned with the feel of the ride. Obviously it was very close to my Grand Am (well in its younger days), but that is a good thing. It was smooth and fairly responsive for a mid-size car w/ a 4cyl engine. The interior was pretty refined and had plenty of room for me and the back seat would be suitable for others. What I would have been interested in is the GX sport package (2 door coupe w/ 5-speed) but they only had 2 Aleros on the lot and both were automatic. I would most definitly suggest checking it out as part of research if you're in the market for a new car. $4200 off sticker was HUGE and brought a car that would have been out of my price range into it. The salesguy woudln't figure out a price for me w/ tax, tags, title, and options I want and wanted me to do the math myself which pissed me off espeicaly at a CADILLAC DEALER but maybe that is the problem I was shopping a low end car at a premium dealer and the guy felt I was wasting his time I dunno. I do know that the way I wanted the car it'd come out to about $16,500ish with all costs figured in and the $4200 off. But you have to move fast because once they're sold they're sold.....

Second car: Mazda3 - Sticker price as drove 18,000ish

Option for option this car blew the other 2 away. It had several options one doesn't generally find on compact cars (such as auto-stick, side repeating blinker lights, in steering wheel stereo controls, and telescopting steering column). The interior was fantastic in my opinion except there were some cheesey LED effects on the stereo when you changed things. The one I drove had a 160 HP 2.3 Liter 4cyl engine. In the stick mode i was driving 50mph in second gear and still had about 1500RPM till redline. It has a good ride (4 wheel independed suspension double wishbone up front) and was very quick - especialy in stick mode. I drove the 5 door version and despite the fact it was a hatchback even with the seats folded down cargo room was kind of weak. Although not a concern of mine may be to others. I would also suggest checking it out, however (at least in Ohio) they have virtualy no incentives (3.9 financing is their offer) on it making it the highest priced car by far. The backseat is criminaly small (surely and issue w/ all compacts though) but that doesn't matter to me cause I'd never be sitting in it. Again though at this price option for option I think you get the most from this car which hurts because I hate to have to give the japanese companies credit (and one owned by FORD no less). Price for it the way I would want it with costs figured in comes out to 19,000 w/ no incentive pricing which sucks.

Third car: Saturn ION - Sticker price drove 17,000ish i think... maybe more..

Here I finaly drove a 5-speed. It's been a while since I drove stick and have never owned a stick car of my own so I'm not fantastic at it, but that isn't to say I don't know how becuase I've done it several times. It was a very easy manual to drive, but it felt like I was throwing a yardstick when shifting. The shifter was also kind of 'loose' I guess and I hit 5th a couple times going for 3rd but I'm sure its something you'd get used to. This is the car that has that rediculous gauge cluster in the middle of the dash which made me completely forget to look at the speedometer. This particular one had leather interior, mood roof, power options, and a hideous green exterior. It had a funny smell (like burning electronics) while we were driving which the salesman told me is something that the exhaust is coated with that is burning off and happens w/ all of these cars at first. It wasn't as tight on turns as the Mazda3. The salesman also tried to tell me it has the highest horsepower in its class at 140HP which I didn't call him out on but isn't true especialy since I had just drove the 160HP Mazda3 two days earlier. The interior is so-so mostly because of the rediculous gauge cluster and also looked much cheaper in comparison to the Alero and Mazda3 and the back seat is not a place anyone but a small child would wish to sit. Priced out the way I wanted it however it was also the cheapest car (the car had some pretty heavy incentives on it as well $2500 cashback and these 'coupon' things he was telling me about each worth $250 and the ION comes w/ 3 for some reason) The way I'd want this car figured out to be around $13,500 after the $3250 in incentive pricing.

Overall it's kind of a toss up. The Mazda was most definitly the nicest but also the most expensive. The ION the cheapest but would fall in 3rd definitly but does its cheap price and heavy incentives make up for it? With the Olds time is of the essence which I have several other cars I wish to drive before I make any desicions and would like to save over the summer for a downpayment which could be too late. Also the Olds and ION both have the quad-four which has a bad reputation for quality and my best friend who is a mechanic says "I recomend against the Alero." I dont nessicarily subscribe to these ideas of an engine being bad and if you take care of it, it should be OK, but is something to be taken into consideration. The Mazda3 had a 50,000 mile warrenty where the two GM had the standard 36/36,000. To close off I'm not particularly sold on any of these cars and have much more work to do, but by driving them they didn't make me NOT want them which I'm sure will happen with some of the other cars I plan on looking at. If anyone found this helpful let me know and I'll write about the other cars I look at over the next few weeks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,973 Posts
I like your review. Altough personally I like to buy used large american cars wich cost at most 6-8k instead of new expensive econo boxes, I find your reviews helpfull and well writen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Interesting choices... Independent of price, I'd definitely go for the Mazda3. It's the newest and most interesting design. If I were getting an Ion, I'd wait for the 2005; it's supposed to have better materials on the inside.

Two minor quibbles, though: The Alero and Ion have the Ecotec, not the Quad4. Also, I think Olds carries a 4/50 warranty; I know they did for a while after the phaseout began.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
Yes, the Olds and the Saturn Ion have the ecotech, which is a very well-engineered all-aluminum twin cam engine. I think once the novelty of the Mazda3 wears off, you're going to feel like a boy racer driving around in it. You're going to get more respect driving the Oldsmobile, which has classier styling and would look right at home parked next to a Lexus and a BMW. Also, for that price, you're going to look and feel like you've spent twice as much. As for the Saturn Ion...I can't say I like it. Like the Mazda3, the novelty wears off, and you're looking and feeling like you're driving a teenager's car.

Spend less, look like you spent a lot more, go with the Olds and come out ahead in more ways than one is what I have to say. I honestly think that it's the car that you can keep for years to come and not feel like you have to go out and replace it.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Almost 20 grand for a Mazda 3? No way. Wait for it to age a little and get incentives on it.

I've always liked the looks of the Alero, and that is a decent price.

I'd test drive a Suzuki Forenza / Suzuki Verona if price and features are your interest.

I'd also take a look at the 2005 Pontiac Vibe that's on the lots now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
651 Posts
I drove a Civic, Mazda3, VW Golf Diesel and Pontiac Vibe almost back-to-back (all manuals). The Civic was the best bang for the buck but was only a coupe and didn't have as much spirit as the Mazda or VW. The VW Diesel was very cool with a very strong engine (100hp/170tq), unfortunatly after reading consumer reports I won't go near it. The Vibe was ok, not very fun to drive, not the best styling and sorry everyone but compared to the other 3 it just felt cheap inside and it have the worst tranny. Finally, the Mazda3 hatch was strong, had everything I wanted (moonroof, AC, power everything) all stuffed into a fairly attractive package and the price was in the middle. This would be my recommendation to anyone looking for a vehicle in this size although I have yet to see what a new Cobalt can do for me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
glad to read your reviews! looks like i'll be shopping for something new soon, and i'd actually consider the three cars you drove. i wish the cobalt was out now... anyone know how soon we can expect them?

as for your impressions of the vibe frenstall, i'm surprised. i own one, and find it the best looking of the lot you looked at, with a decidedly upscale interior and wonderful transmission. however, at 78,000 kms mine seems to be done! there's a wicked rattle/shudder in the front end... the the point that i've checked a few times to see if the wheels were loose! the pontiac technician couldn't locate any problems, so he told me to drive it until it gets worse. it's under warranty (thank goodness for the extended warranty!), so i'll just drive carefully and wait and see. additionally, the a/c stopped working properly last year (had it recharged) and isn't working again. and the starter is giving a horrid squeal most times i start the car. add some pretty severe stone chips off the hood (yes, i know stone chips happen... but my '92 tempo has fewer than the vibe), and i'm all of a sudden very unimpressed with the car. doesn't scare me off GM, but i'd not touch nother NUMMI product again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
Originally posted by paul8488@May 28 2004, 02:06 PM
glad to read your reviews! looks like i'll be shopping for something new soon, and i'd actually consider the three cars you drove. i wish the cobalt was out now... anyone know how soon we can expect them?

as for your impressions of the vibe frenstall, i'm surprised. i own one, and find it the best looking of the lot you looked at, with a decidedly upscale interior and wonderful transmission. however, at 78,000 kms mine seems to be done! there's a wicked rattle/shudder in the front end... the the point that i've checked a few times to see if the wheels were loose! the pontiac technician couldn't locate any problems, so he told me to drive it until it gets worse. it's under warranty (thank goodness for the extended warranty!), so i'll just drive carefully and wait and see. additionally, the a/c stopped working properly last year (had it recharged) and isn't working again. and the starter is giving a horrid squeal most times i start the car. add some pretty severe stone chips off the hood (yes, i know stone chips happen... but my '92 tempo has fewer than the vibe), and i'm all of a sudden very unimpressed with the car. doesn't scare me off GM, but i'd not touch nother NUMMI product again!
Man, Paul, you must rack up the miles, er, kilometers! We've put around 21,500 miles (~35,000 km) on our Vibe in 14 months and I thought that was a lot.

I don't like hearing about the problems you are having since I don't have the extended warranty. So far, there's not been a thing wrong with ours, other than the stone chips you mention (not the first time I've heard this about the Vibe), and one of the fender flairs in the back was mysteriously pulled loose. Since there were no marks on it, I think an auto car wash may be to blame, but I still think these things should be fastened better.

Here's hoping your experience with the Vibe gets better, and that I don't have any of the problems you have!!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
yeah, i drive alot. i've only owned the car 2 years and one month... and i even parked it the first winter (6 months)! but that's what a cars for, right? my problems make me very nervous though... because i don't know of anyone else who's driven their vibe as much as me. it might be a special case, but i'm curious to find out if any other 75,000+ km vibe owners have noticed anything like this.

aside from the problems, i really love the car. and i'd forgive some crappy paint or perhaps the a/c flaw. but the old shake and rattle isn't as forgiveable! here's to hoping it's nothing major, and that you have better luck!

so radiohd, any closer to a decision?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
651 Posts
Originally posted by paul8488@May 28 2004, 09:06 AM
glad to read your reviews! looks like i'll be shopping for something new soon, and i'd actually consider the three cars you drove. i wish the cobalt was out now... anyone know how soon we can expect them?

as for your impressions of the vibe frenstall, i'm surprised. i own one, and find it the best looking of the lot you looked at, with a decidedly upscale interior and wonderful transmission. however, at 78,000 kms mine seems to be done! there's a wicked rattle/shudder in the front end... the the point that i've checked a few times to see if the wheels were loose! the pontiac technician couldn't locate any problems, so he told me to drive it until it gets worse. it's under warranty (thank goodness for the extended warranty!), so i'll just drive carefully and wait and see. additionally, the a/c stopped working properly last year (had it recharged) and isn't working again. and the starter is giving a horrid squeal most times i start the car. add some pretty severe stone chips off the hood (yes, i know stone chips happen... but my '92 tempo has fewer than the vibe), and i'm all of a sudden very unimpressed with the car. doesn't scare me off GM, but i'd not touch nother NUMMI product again!
Sorry, I was primarily speaking of interior looks, I do like the exterior of the Vibe (2004), tho not as much as the Mazda, but I still can't bring myself to enjoy any pontiac interior (save for the bonenville). The other issue I had was that to move into a few other options like ABS (+$1400 package) or a moonroof it would have been priced right out of my field. The Matrix was cheaper but I hated the saleman and I don't like the idea of increasing Toyota's sales figures, plus I would assume quality to be similar even though they are built in different plants (Cambridge Ont.), but the Toyota dealer may tell you different!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
Originally posted by frenstall@May 28 2004, 03:07 PM

Sorry, I was primarily speaking of interior looks, I do like the exterior of the Vibe (2004), tho not as much as the Mazda, but I still can't bring myself to enjoy any pontiac interior (save for the bonenville). The other issue I had was that to move into a few other options like ABS (+$1400 package) or a moonroof it would have been priced right out of my field. The Matrix was cheaper but I hated the saleman and I don't like the idea of increasing Toyota's sales figures, plus I would assume quality to be similar even though they are built in different plants (Cambridge Ont.), but the Toyota dealer may tell you different!
ah no worries, in matters of opinion no one can be wrong!

as for the matrix / vibe quality... i'd say there's a significant opportunity for quality differences. when i bought the car i assumed that it'd be typical high toyota quality, since toyata had a huge part in the development of the vehicle. i still am confident that the engine and transmission will last as long as any corollas would, but not so sure the rest of the car will.

several months back someone posted a report that over 1000 vibes had been built (at NUMMI), and they had to stop production and pull the cars back in to make repairs. i have no idea how a situation like this can arise, but apparently there were some pretty glaring flaws with the cars.

i'll have to find out what the problem is before i fully understand, but some flaws can be engineered in and some can arise during the manufacture of the vehicle. engineered in problems would show up in the matrix eventually too, while manufacturing ones would likely be confined to vehicles from one plant or the other. either way, the vibe just lost one fan! most of my driving has been relaxed highway cruising, so i'm confident i haven't driven the car to an early grave.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Originally posted by paul8488@May 28 2004, 09:58 AM
i don't know of anyone else who's driven their vibe as much as me. it might be a special case, but i'm curious to find out if any other 75,000+ km vibe owners have noticed anything like this.
Try visiting www.genvibe.com - lots of forums & such there.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
Originally posted by Ming+May 28 2004, 03:34 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ming @ May 28 2004, 03:34 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-paul8488@May 28 2004, 09:58 AM
i don't know of anyone else who's driven their vibe as much as me. it might be a special case, but i'm curious to find out if any other 75,000+ km vibe owners have noticed anything like this.
Try visiting www.genvibe.com - lots of forums & such there. [/b][/quote]
thanks ming... signed up yesterday, actually! though my heart stays with GMi!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top