2011 Honda Civic or 2012 Mazda 3 i touring? Or another car completely?

My 23 year old Volvo is at the point where it’s down for the count more often than not, so I’m getting a new (at least to me) car. Unfortunately, all I know about cars is what I’ve learned over the past week from Edmunds and Consumer Reports.

The problem is, I’m chronically ill and have no reliable future income except probably disability at some point. I have some money in a savings fund and my parents are willing to contribute some. I wish I didn’t have to take any money from them, but I will be able to get a better car for it, and given the lack of future income, I need this car to last me as long as possible as cheaply as possible.

And if it could be a fun car, that would be fantastic. I love to drive, and my Volvo is a turbo, so I’m used to a good amount of zip. I sit at home reading reviews and think to myself that I can live with a sedate car, but then I drive mine and think, “I *have *to have a fun car.” Though if it saved me a good amount of money and I’d still have enough acceleration and handling to not die on the highway, I’d get over it.

So I’d been looking at used Honda Civics as being my best bet for cars that are good to drive, get good gas mileage, and are very reliable, but a local Mazda dealer has a great sale on, and my parents think it’s a good idea. I’m nervous about spending/costing them that much money (about $16,500 before fees and taxes) so I have a couple of questions.

Actually I suppose my first question is: will I get that much more time out of a new car rather than one that is 2-3 years old? Given the lack of future income, does it make sense to go with as new and reliable a car as I can possibly afford right now?

And now the question in the actual title: the Mazda 3 i touring is on the table, and the equivalently priced Honda Civic would be a certified 2011 one. I realize you can’t make any guarantees and reliability varies by individual vehicle, not just by model, but which do you predict would last me the longest and cheapest? Or is there another model that would be better? (Um, and no offense, but if you have statistics to back you up, all the better. Anecdotes still welcome, though.)

Oh, and I don’t know how to drive manual, so these need to be automatics, if that makes any difference.

Thank you for reading all of that, and for any advice.

Something by Kia or Hyundai might be good. They offer 10-year, 100,00 mile warranties on their cars. I think the Kia Forte or Hyundai Elantra might be in your price range.

Either one is good, screw HyundaiKia! :wink:

Civic: probably higher reliability, but not by much. Drawback… generic?

Mazda: people who drive these say they’re fun. I drove a Mazda6 I think for a tiny bit and it seemed nice. You could maybe drop the “i touring” to save some scrap. The only non-functional trim additions for that I see are 17" alloy wheels, and ABS and side airbags are standard not optional.

Drive the Mazda first of course. My friend’s older 3 is nice but spartan, manual locks etc. With the i maybe that’s not an issue.

Used is better almost always. I saw an article that showed when it wasn’t. Only exception I can remember is a Honda non-sedan (Pilot?).

Subaru are fun but maybe out of your budget.

I like my Mazda 3 itouring quite a bit (it’s a 2007). But Mazdas are somewhat expensive to maintain, especially when they get older. I would go with a used one though if you are worried about money.

Last I checked (it’s been a few years back), Hondas were only dropping $2-3K in value max for the first several years. A late-model, low-mileage used car was very close in price to a new car (once you haggled 'em down). So I went with new when I got mine.

Hondas have a terrific reputation. I’ve only had two (2006 civic was totalled, now have 2008 civic) so I can’t really say if it’s deserved. Their scheduled maintenance is much farther apart than I’m used to (~ 6K miles, IIRC - it’s got a computer scheduler).

I can say that when my first Civic was totalled, I bought another one. I was stopped on the interstate (rush hour sudden stop) and was hit from behind at 50 mph (guy was looking away to change lanes and never even slowed down) and smashed into the car in front of me (causing a 3 car chain reaction up ahead) - and I walked away with bruises. The front & back ends were accordianed, but the passenger compartment was untouched - all doors & windows still worked. Which is why I turned around and got another one. The cop who showed up for the accident was pretty impressed, too.

I looked at a Mazda (3, I think) and it was a fun little car. However, I’d already decided that I’m never buying another car with a timing belt again, so the Mazda was out.

My Civic (manual) is a pretty zippy little beast if you’re willing to leadfoot it, but you do lose some mileage.

Consumer Reports doesn’t like the Civic’s latest redesign. I assume the problems they have with it were only introduced this model year, but just in case, you may want to do research on that to make sure you get one without the issues they saw.

I have a 2004 model Mazda3. Still going strong, fun to drive. Only problem I’ve had with it is a solenoid valve that was defective - it was repaired under warranty. Other than that, it’s just been regular maintenance. I’d buy another - and probably will in the next year or two.

I have a 2006 Mazda 3… my husband and I were so pleased with it that we wound up buying a second Mazda 3 (the hatchback model) within a year.

Six years later, they have been very worry-free and low-maintenance cars. The Mazda 3 gets an A+ in my book.

I have owned Mazdas since I got out of college umpteen number of years ago. The size is comfortable for me since I’m short, and they’ve last a while. They seem to get expensive with maintenance around the 8-10 year mark, which is about when I buy a new one. I’ve also read that the new Mazda 3s have improved gas mileage (40 for highway).

I have a 2002 Mazda Protege5 (which turned into the 3 hatchback in, oh, 2005ish) and love it. It’s got 140K miles on it, runs like a champ, only routine maintenance. (It is just now starting with a bit of rust, though. Wheel wells and front pillar.) I routinely get 30+ mpg, still. My sister and brother-in-law bought a 3 hatchback a few years after I got my Mazda, and they seem pretty happy with it as well.

Mine’s got 130 hp (I understand they have more, now) and has always felt reasonably sporty to me. That said, I grew up driving Honda econoboxes, so the feel of my Mazda is really similar. I’m not sure I’d feel the same way coming from a Volvo turbo (but I don’t know how sporty your turbo feels either). Definitely drive both first.

When I bought my Mazda, I was also considering the Honda Civic. Matter of fact, I went to the dealers pretty certain that I’d be driving away in a Honda. (My dad is an avowed Honda lover. He swears by them.) I liked the Civic, I loved the Protege5.

Oh! My Mazda is a manual, if it matters.

A lot of people don’t like the interior on the newer Civics, I test drove one and didn’t see that it was so bad. The car drove good and got ~39 MPG if I recall correctly.

The Mazda is more unique and probably more “sporty.”

Test drive both and see what you think. I don’t know if either will compete with a turbo, for that you’d need a Mazdaspeed3 or possibly a Civic Si.

I had a 1994 Honda Civic that I bought used and drove for ten years. It’s by far the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. The only reason I got rid of it was because I got married and my wife couldn’t drive a manual transmission. After that I got a Honda Accord. I would reccomend a Honda Civic to anyone.


Gah, I completely forgot about this thread. Sorry about that.

I test drove both cars and unfortunately, no matter how I adjusted the seat, the Mazda made my back hurt too much, so in what I gather from other similar car threads is the SDMB tradition, I went with the Honda. And it is a very nice car, I love it. Thank you for your replies, everyone.

I vote for the Mazda. Hondas are great for gas mileage, but IMO they are very uncomfortable. The seats are very stiff.