Sunday, June 28, 2015

2015 Nissan Sentra vs. 2015 Hyundai Elantra vs. 2015 Ford Fiesta

So I've had a chance to drive all three of these in recent weeks on various business trips.

The Fiesta (a hatchback, auto) I drove around Key Biscayne, FL for four days, the Sentra around San Francisco for a week and the Elantra around New Hampshire for a week.  At the end of the period I'm shocked at what a difference there can be between such budget minded vehicles.  I would have thought that the drive to cut costs would have homogenized the experience across brands.

The Sentra was by far and away the best of the three in nearly every capacity.  While none of the three were particularly quick or sporty the engine on the Sentra is at least willing, capable and dependable.  The CVT in the Sentra is acceptable given the good MPG it returns (30 and 38 I believe in city and highway driving) and its 130 HP is well managed.  The transmission does have a "sport" and "eco" mode but neither one made any noticeable difference to the performance of the vehicle.  The engine in the Elantra was just there...a bit loud, though the whole car was loud compared to the Sentra with seemingly far less sound deadening included.  The Fiesta was the real disappointment.  Like the Sentra it had a "sport" mode but whether in Sport or regular mode the automatic transmission had no idea what it was doing.  Hit the gas and the car didn't respond right away.  Then when it did respond it behaved like a drunk looking for his next bar--up, down, high, low, over revved, under revved.  Truly the engine management was a complete disaster.  There were numerous times during my week with the car that my wife and I thought it was going to break down and cease running because the engine performance was so erratic.  A massive disappointment.

Interior and overall looks wise the Sentra again takes the win by a large margin.  From the outside the Sentra looks like a baby Altima or Maxima.  Enough curves to give it a  sporty appearance without making you look like a boy racer.  Interior on the Sentra was also well done with quality interior components and a well laid out dash and comfortable seats.  Again the Elantra's interior was seemingly just there.  Nothing different, nothing noticeable, nothing to really remember...functional.  That is except the radio/speakers.  The audio performance of the Elantra was so ungodly bad that I thought there should be an 8-track player in the dash.  I've never heard an audio system sound so cheap...cost cutting gone way too far...tissue paper woofers and tweeters shouldn't exist these days.  The Fiesta's exterior was nice and was the only hatchback of the three.  Its dimensions made it easy to maneuver wherever we went and I wasn't COMPLETELY embarrassed to drive it...just a little bit.  The Fiesta's interior though is a complete disaster.  I've never seen so many buttons in all my life, nor in such a horrid layout.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the positioning, only a desire to completely overload the driver/passenger and to try and impress upon them that this is a "high tech" doesn't work.

Easy grading here...Buy the Sentra...ignore the paid shills who have been reporting over the past two years that the Fiesta is a great, sporty little car...the platform may make a decent rally car once its been gutted, caged, engine reworked or upgraded, in the ST version, etc.  As it comes on a dealer's lot in its stock form?  Its a dog...And the Elantra?  Forgettable...which might be better than my impression of the Fiesta...

No comments: