2010 Mazda 3i Touring vs. 2009 Civic EX Coupe

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A friend of mine is in the market for a new car. It's going to be her first car and she does not plan to keep it for more than five years. At first, she was looking at a Yaris, but I told her to consider other cars. After test driving the Elantra, Civic Coupe, Altima Hybrid, Fit Sport and Mazda 3, she has narrowed it down to either the 2010 Mazda 3i Touring or the 2009 Civic EX Coupe. To me, here are some pros and cons for both cars: 2010 Mazda 3i Touring PRO: Good handling, standard stability control, slightly more powerful than the Civic, upscale feel, better interior quality CON: First year problems that are associated with a redesign, $800 more than a similarly equipped Civic EX coupe. 2009 Civic EX Coupe PRO: 4th year of the current generation (no reliability concerns), stronger resale than the Mazda, available in a Coupe body style CON: Noisy on the highway, stability control not available unless you purchase the leather option, dated design, rapid front brake wear To me, the Mazda 3 is the better car. It is safer since it has stability control, it handles better, has an upscale feel and is simply a more pleasant car to drive. While I am concerned about the reliability since it's a first year car, my friend will be keeping the car for less than 100k so I doubt any serious issues will arise. What do you guys think?
 
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Go with the Civic. I've now seen both the new sedan and hatchback versions of the Mazda3 on the road and I want to see them as infrequently as possible! From the photos, I thought the front end was the bad part of the redesign, but the side and rear views are much worse. Sorry, I had to get that rant off my chest. The sedan didn't actually offend me nearly as much as the hatchback. I'd probably buy another pre-2010 Mazda3 if mine got hit, and they probably haven't changed much under the skin. The Civic felt kind of cramped and less connected to the road compared to the Mazda3, but I'd be willing to own one provided it had no sunroof (at 5'10", I guess I'm just not accustomed to having my hair brush the headliner while driving). I don't think she'd regret buying either car.
 
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I hate the Mazda 3 happy face front end, looks like a character from a Disney movie. My 2007 Civic EX sedan has been trouble free for the past 65K miles, its a great car for the money.
 

cos

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I'd say go with the Mazda but choose a darker color to reduce the look of the front grill which looks like it's smiling.
 
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I'll buck the trend here and say go with the Mazda. Seen a couple of the road, and I think they look great, personally. Even tho it is a redesign, it isn't a 'ground up' new model; so I don't think the reliability concerns are valid. That said, I do like the Civic, and you can't go wrong with those...
 
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It would be hard to go wrong either way, personally I like both cars. I guess I like driving the Mazda3 a bit more, but the one I've driven was the 2.3(2.5?), I'm not sure the 2.0 is any upgrade from the Honda 1.8. The only thing I would point out is that those are probably the most expensive cars in that class. Scion TC?
 
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The interior of the new Mazda 3 is a slam dunk...looks and feels WAY more expensive than the Civic's. I had a 2004 3i and LOVED that interior, but the new one is even better. While I don't agree with Mazda's new nose, the car as a whole is still much better looking than a Civic. Like stated above, darker colors seem to hide the smiling grille. The 2.0 is a carry-over from the previous gen and is a fine engine. VVT and a timing chain, so there's no maintenance beyond the typical. If you're interested in the manual transmission version, car mags are saying that the transmission in the i and S is better than the outgoing Mazdaspeed 3, which is saying a lot. One thing I'd suggest, if she's not in a hurry, is to check out the Kia Forte Coupe due to hit dealerships soon. It's a sharp looking car, and while similar to the Civic Coupe, I think it's better looking. It's always good to have a few options so that you end up with the car that you really want.
 
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 Originally Posted By: bepperb
Scion TC?
That's a real option if she's wanting a coupe. Reminds me of their Celica ancestors. Knew a lot of girls in HS and college with Celicas. Of course, it's just as "dated" as the Civic. Honestly, I don't find either dated.
 
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I would go for the Civic, but I'm biased. I like the first gen 3 but this new one will take a while to get used to. The front end is too disproportionate. Maybe she should also check into insurance premium for each car to help her make a decision. In my experience, Civics cost a lot to insure with a young driver.
 
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I wouldn't worry so much about the 2010 3 as it's basically a refresh rather than a full redesign. Same powertrain, slightly stiffer chassis, and I think slightly different rear suspension. I haven't driven a 2010 3 but here are my thoughts based on my 2007 Civic EX coupe, and my experience driving my friend's 2005 Mazda3i and the 2008 Mazda3s we bought for my GF several months ago: - Looks go to the Civic coupe IMHO. For one, it's a coupe :) and also I think the proportions between the front and back of the car (hood and trunk lid) and more pleasing on the Civic. The 3 has kind of a "stubby" trunk lid. Along these lines the Civic's trunk opening is more usable IMO. Plus the Civic doesn't have the 3's Joker grin. - Power-wise the 2.0 3 is very close to the 1.8 Civic. Low end torque is slightly better on the 3 probably because of more displacement and continuous cam phasing (vs the 2 mode VTEC system in the Civic). That said they are geared similarly (at least the MT models -- all I've driven of both cars) and the Civic actually makes peak torque 200 RPM lower than the 3. Very similar powertrains. - The 3's clutch is easier than the Civic's. Not sure this applies here though -- is she looking for MT or AT? - As far as noise goes, the Civic has more engine noise but the 3 has more road noise IME. The 3's engine note is more pleasing than the Civic's IMO. The Civic has more noticeable vibration at idle than the GF's 2.3 3, but IIRC the 2.3 has balance shafts which the 2.0 does not so this may be a wash. - The Civic will probably get better gas mileage. - The Civic coupe seems to have more leg and knee room than the 3 in front. Also the seats are much better bolstered. This may be different on the 2010 though. - 3 has a much bigger glove box if that matters, and probably has lumbar support which the Civic does not. - The handling difference between the 3 and the Civic coupe is not that huge. The Civic has a bit more body roll, but that can be taken care of by cheap Civic Si sway bar upgrades if one cares. Day to day, while the 3 does feel a little more "sporty" it's just not that noticeable. I have not driven a Civic sedan but IIRC the coupe's got different spring rates. All in all, can't go wrong with either car most likely. Personally, I made the decision based on gas mileage and number of doors. I still think those are good criteria if choosing between these two particular cars. EDIT: Actually I want to expound on the handling a little more. The Civic has lighter and quicker steering than the 3, whether that's good or bad is up to the driver but I like it. What it comes down to, I think, is that both cars have plenty of grip and are plenty agile for what they are -- but neither of them are sports cars of course.
 
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 Originally Posted By: asiancivicmaniac
Maybe she should also check into insurance premium for each car to help her make a decision. In my experience, Civics cost a lot to insure with a young driver.
Ah yes, do this. The EX coupe tends to be pricey to insure.
 
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Go for the Civic. Proven to be bullet-proof. Extremely reliable, great engine, plenty of power, exceptional mpg, attractive styling (don't get why you think it's 'dated'). I think the only drawback would be the driving position in the Civic and how a person would like/dislike the long sloping window and brace. Some ergonomically hate it while others love it. As for the interior.....I think it's very nice. I would stay away from the lighter colors though as they tend to show dirt quickly. And you're right about resale....folks love Honda's....and for a very good reason.
 

The Critic

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Thanks guys. With the current market conditions, I can get a 2009 Civic Coupe EX Automatic for 17,670, but a similarly equipped Mazda 3i Touring with the Moonroof package will cost 18,782. That's about a $1100 difference. Of course, a 3i Touring without the Moonroof package is going to cost exactly the same. But apples to apples, the Mazda 3 is quite a bit more expensive. My friend is going to go test drive the cars again tomorrow, back-to-back. I've also told her to call her insurance company so she can compare the rates on the two cars.
 
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Looking forward to see what she thinks after the test drive. Since you say she's going with the auto, though, I wonder if the 3 might be better given IIRC it's got a manual shift mode and the Civic does not. OTOH maybe she doesn't care about that?
 
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The top trims on these cars IMO are really calling into question what "economy car" really means. Sure, they get good gas mileage, but when you've got power everything, moonroof, navigation, leather, etc I'm not sure they really count as economy cars at that level. With the Mazda3 when you add in the "s" trim engine upgrade the gas mileage goes down too, making the definition even murkier. I still call my Civic EX an economy car even though it cost a fair amount, but I don't know what to call my GF's 3 given its bigger engine. "Compact car" is the best I've come up with.
 
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Exactly. Everybody gets hung up on size or pedigree or whatever. But really, many of the so-called economy cars have amenities that were only optional on bigger cars just about ten years ago.
 
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The only options I need in an economy car are A/C,an automatic trans, and a radio. But a Toyota Corolla base with those options is $16k without sales tax. Probably our economy in the pitts is bringing the prices up.
 
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I've seen local dealers offering them with those options closer to $14k. Toyota brought the prices up on many of their cars/trucks over the past few years.
 
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