Golf vs. Civic? : LUSENET : like sands : One Thread

What kind of car should I buy?

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001


Don't do it! Buy a bicycle or an old but cute VW beetle. What do you need a car for anyway?

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

oh, got carried away there.

Just from the commuter car, reliability point -- I'm sold on hondas.

I've owned 3 hondas (2 civics & prelude) and one Honda motorcyle.

I've also owned a Chevy Caprice, and a Dodge Neon.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Oh, and my sister had an cute old vw bug (it was too much of a rust bucket, and she didn't really want to rely on it to drive the 200 miles or so to see our parents., so she sold it last year.)

She BTW, didn't have a license until she was about 30. She just never needed or wanted to drive very much. And she's spent most of her life living on or near the University of Florida campus, and rode her bike alot.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Why do you think you need or want a car?

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Hey, I have 242 posts. I'm like top posting whore on your forum (if we had nicknames).

Back on topic - Buy a Harley. Wear leather with "Tight-Science" on the back. Remember you live in SF. Nothing is really odd.

You know, the outfit to go pick up a few veggies on the weekend.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Check out the Subaru line. They are good performers (especially the WRX), have all wheel drive, and a reputation for reliability and longevity. The all wheel drive would be nice to have during winters in all of those hills. Also the Toyota Prius hybrid electric seems like something you should test drive. It is pretty impressive and quite comfortable.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I loved both hondas I had, one a crx (a little car that yearns to greatness) and one a civic. They are reliable and have a high resale value, which would be important to you if you are buying new. I'd go for the honda. Excellent gas mileage. I guess the hybrid vehicle is pretty expensive or I'd say go with that.

That said, I know a lot of people who love their volkswagens and don't seem to have the electrical problems they are rumored to have. Why not get a New Beetle? What I really want is a EuroVan.

I now share a subaru with my partner and its stood us well thus far. I have a thing for the forester, like most organic food-eating, on the verge of baby-making lefty women. They are expensive though.

I don't know Jen, you sort of can't go wrong, but conventional wisdom would say go with the Honda for the resale value. But hey, you only live once so if you find the Golf you like, get that. its a bunch of money. How will this change your lifestyle?

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Hey! Nobody is answering the question properly except for Jen! I'm either getting a Golf or a Civic, period. Those are the only two small cars which are highly recommended by Consumer Reports, have a good reliability history and high customer satisfaction, and fit my budget.

As for why I need a car, it's mostly for shopping and other errands (I am tired of having to walk a mile to the grocery store every other day) and for out-of-town trips. Reliability is vital, so there's no way I'm getting an old Beetle (my parents had one when I was a little kid, and even 25 years ago it was a clunker!).

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Well you have it narrowed down between Golf and Civic and listed your preferences for each and sounds like it is a close battle. My suggestion is to test drive a few of each to see which you feel more comfortable driving. I suggest a few each because you'll get a better feel for the car, ones suspension might be tighter than normal for that model etc... Another suggestion is to not skimp on options you might want, trust me on that. Get that CD player system upgrade, or the moonroof, the air, etc... don't leave off an option because it will save you $10 - $20 a month. You'll regret it, trust me I did.

Why not a Volkswagen Bug. I mean isn't that what all the hip people are driving these days? =)

Just some thoughts from the masses. Blake

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I know you're just kidding, but I've always thought those New Beetles were butt-ugly. Also, they got the lowest possible rating for Reliability from CR.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I bought my first new car this past december, and basically came to the same conclusions as you did. I needed a small, safe, reliable city car with excellent gas mileage and preferably a hatch, since I tend to haul a lot of stuff. Test drove the honda, the golf, and the subaru forrester, and while all are excellent cars, there was no contest. The 2001 golf was a dream to drive, beautifully designed inside and out, and already comes with many features that would be considered extras on the other two brands. I did spring for the sun roof and in-dash CD player, since I tend to keep my cars for 10+ years I figured I might as well get exactly what I wanted. After 8 months, I'm still in love with this car. I've always driven japanese makes in the past and this car has a feeling of solidity and road handling that the others can't compare to. Plus, I've been able to fit a king size bed in the back (broken down of course) with side tables while moving- can't do that with most compact cars! Of course, this is just my two cents- what's most important is that you get what makes you happy, since you've already done the research on what would be practical. Good luck!

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001


-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

love my civic. absolutely love it.

although i have the DX model, if you can do it, splurge for the ex model... the moonroof is so much fun.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Well, I don't know if these are the kind of cars you're looking at, but I've had great success with Nissan and Mitsubishi. I bought a used Nissan Maxima that was already 10 years old when I got it, and it still rode like a dream, had almost no problems in the four years I had it, and had all those fun perks. Then I bought an Altima when it first came out; and again, smooth ride, no problems, etc. We currently have a Mitsubishi Galant; too expensive but we've been driving it for a year without any problems. We went with a lease to drop the payments a little. Just my .02

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I don't own a car but I can tell you that salespeople will often encourage most people to look at used cars initially because the markup on used cars can be a lot higher than new cars. They are usually less of a pain to sell too because if they fall apart after the customers drive them off the lot, the dealership has little to worry about (depending on state laws). Most of the used cars in Oregon are sold "AS-IS" meaning "Good luck, don't come back."

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I like my Saturn. They usually have pretty good ratings, plus they have plastic bodies so you don't get dents. That's a nice situation.

Oh, get the Golf. It's cuter and cooler. You'll feel Eurohip.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Civic's reputation is definitely a selling point. I think the later models (2001+) are ugly, personally. I've seen the ratings on the Golf and they're pretty darn good too. They also have very cool blue- glow dashboard lighting too! (oops, that's my shiny object affection showing.) However, the Golf is so SMALL compared to a Civic, and it's more money! For myself, I can't justify paying more money to feel like I'm living in a confined space.

I too was looking at the Golf and Civic when I was buying a car. I went around the whole issue and got an Accord. *grin*

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

The Golf is a few inches shorter than the Civic on the outside, but it actually has a slightly larger interior (by a matter of inches). The two cars are basically the same size, at least with the 2001 model.

Anyway, I'm 5'1" and have a small parking space, so smallness is actually an asset for me.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I grew up with Volkswagons. My Mom had two Squarebacks and then a Rabbit, and my Dad had an air-cooled Beetle and then a GTI (which he still has, 17 years later; of course, he's only put 45,000 miles on it, so don't read too much into that; he has done things like replace the gas tank in that time).

I bought my first car in 1990, and VWs were among those I looked at, but they were (and are) relatively noisy, and at the time were at a low point in their production value; simply put, the Golfs and Foxes of the time were rated among the less reliable small cars by Consumer Reports.

Eventually it all came down to a Honda (Civic or Accord) or Toyota (Corolla), though I did briefly consider a Mazda 323 or a Dodge Colt (which - at the time, at least - featured a Mitsubishi engine, IIRC, so it wasn't like I'd really be buying an American car). I eventually bought a 1987 Civic hatchback, which got great gas mileage (topped out at 50 MPG on a few tanks) and lasted me until 1999 (and about 125K miles) living in Boston, New Orleans and Wisconsin (i.e., extreme climates) with only one major repair job. (As a friend of mine put it, "every car with 80,000 miles on it needs $1000 worth of work.")

I was extremely happy with that car, and when I finally decided to get a new car when I moved to California, Hondas were again my car of choice. I ended up getting a 2000 Civic EX coupe. Okay, I admit the sunroof and power windows sold me on the car. But my Mom (who was sold on Hondas herself after comparing my old one to her old VW Rabbit) later bought the exact same care, only the DX model, and it drives basically the same.

I get around 33 MPG in my new car (today's cars are heavier than 80s cars, for a variety of reasons, and hence the gas mileage isn't as good), and I've been quite happy with it.

If you're looking at getting a stick shift Civic (which is what I have; why pay $1000 for automatic transmission I don't need?), be aware that there is a small design flaw in their manual transmissions, which has been around since the 80s: Sometimes the transmission won't go into reverse, especially after the car's be sitting overnight. This is easily fixed by putting it into second gear (which somehow "clears" the transmission) and then putting it into reverse. A little trick I learned from the Acura dealer who sold me the first car...

As for modern VWs? They generally seem to be better cars than the VWs of a decade ago, but it's the Jetta, not the Golf, which seems to be really popular these days. (Jettas seem to be a real "chick car", since almost everyone I know who owns one is a woman.) I personally think Jetta and Golfs are kind of ugly; nothing like SAABs (which are grotesque), and not as boxy as Volvos, but I still think of them as far from elegant. I think Civics look better. (But what do I know? I think Mazda Miatas look cool, and I've been repeatedly informed that those are also "chick cars"...)

Since reliability is my #1 requirement in a car (hey, if I want safety I wouldn't be buying a subcompact!), I think Hondas pretty much beat out everything else on the road in that aspect, so that's why I've stuck with them. That's my take on the subject.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Oh, by the way, Trish Homis is nuts about the moonroof in the Civic EX model because of the time she's spent sitting in my car...


-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Buy a Saturn! My little SC2 has been a great car for the last 4 years... no problems!

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

CIVIC. Get the EX with CD player, it is worth it. You will get great enjoyment from the amenities, trust me. Plus, parts are less expensive for Civics.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

To answer your question, Jen, between the two, I'd go for the Golf.

There are many in my family, and it gets nothing but raves. (My family also goes for weird colors like Kermit the Frog Green, but that's another story.) Of course there are lots of Civics in _any_ family, but... well, to me that's not a good thing.

I research my brains out too, but in the end, I go for instinct and feel. I think you like how the Golf felt wrapped around you (and I would, too, versus a Civic), so I say, go with it.

Besides, Jen. As one who comes from that impractical, unrealistic school of thought that one's car is a reflection of one's self, you seem to me more a VW "Zoom zoom zoom" (not literally, of course) than a Honda "reliable and... just there" kind of person. :)

Then again, I just got a minivan...

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

If you plan to keep the car for any length of time, pick the Civic. As you know, they keep running forever, and I would expect that they have a higher resale value (?).

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

its true about the Civic. The darn body will rust away from the engine in 25 years, but it will hit 250,000 miles.

Have you looked at insurance costs? Maybe the Honda is more expensive to insure and will eat up the $2K you are saving initially. And I agree with everyone who said to go for the slightly higher level of Honda (not the DX) if you can afford it. My DX was very bare bones, which was nice because not much broke, but it was a pain to hand roll up the windows sometimes. And air con is a good thing is cars you intend to travel with.

I hate car dealerships. I hope I can continue to buy cars from my parents for the rest of our lives!

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

The Golf and the Civic cost about the same to insure (actually, the Golf is a few $ a month more). As for resale value, I do plan to keep this car for a while, but I figure that with depreciation, it's probably not going to be worth a whole lot by the time I'm ready to sell it no matter which car I get.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

My girlfriend has an old Civic that she uses as her "around town car", and yes, their half life exceeds that of uranium. She's only had to have some minor repairs done in the 2 years she's owned it (incidentally it's a '90 model). The paint is peeling off the roof and it looks pretty gnarly in the daylight, but what it lacks in aesthetic appeal it more than makes up for in reliability.

One factor nobody has brought up is the possibility of theft. I remember hearing 3 out of the 5 most frequently stolen cars are Hondas. And seeing as you live in the city, that is definitely something to consider. Of course, if you have theft insurance that is a moot point. But sometimes stolen cars are recovered and they are damaged. The insurance company pays for the repairs, but those problems have a way of recurring. At least that's what happened to a couple of my friends.

So you don't want any more vacillating you say? Dammit fine! Here's my answer: Get the Golf. It would be a nice change for you. Plus it seems as though you like the Golf's lines better, and liking the way your car looks is important. Picture yourself in cool shades behind the wheel of the Golf.


p.s I just started reading your journal, and you sound like a very sane person (no matter what Kara says).Talk about back-handed compliments.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

It's surprising to me that Consumer Reports would have such a poor review of the new Beetle because it (as well as the Audi TT) is based on the Golf's chassis and engine.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Who is Kara?

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Rich, the thing CR found unreliable about the Beetle is the electrical system and hardware, which have been rated as below average for every year that car has been in production. These areas have also been rated poorly for the Golf in recent years, but have improved of late.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Computerized drive-by-wire and high-way-like gas efficiency in stop and go traffic.


-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I was reading an earlier message board, one in which you asked how one goes about refusing to go on a date with someone (in your case the Ed Gein-esque next door neighbor) without hurting their feelings and among the messages posted was one from a Kara, who has a very 50's outlook on dating and marriage. She berated you for just having close male friends and alluded that men find such a woman too aggressive or flaky...or something. I don't quite understand her reasoning. But anyhow, she suggested the reason for you being single was that men were scared off by your penchant for male friends, and that you were damaged goods in some way. So, that's what I meant by the Kara comment. Note to self: Don't be so long winded.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I recommend the Auto-Lock $55-60 (as seen on TV), but you can buy in places like AutoZone and Pepboys now.

Short of dynamite or a tow truck, your car won't be stolen. Everything else, can pretty much be defeated (including steering clubs) in a couple minutes.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Correction:I just realized I was referring to two separate messages posted by Kara. One on the subject of male friends, and one on the next door neighbor. My bad.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I should add, the Auto-Lock is a hassle to use on small cars, because you just don't have the room to maneuver it like you do in a Dodge truck or other vehicles with large cabins. But it's a small price to pay to see your car still there, day after day. (and you do get faster in putting it on, even in complete darkness)

And if you don't do something stupid, like leave something valuable in plain site (like me), they'll have no reason to break into your car at all.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

I faced exactly the same decision in 1990. The Honda Civic DX then was touted as being more reliable and possessing significantly better resale value after four years. Nevertheless, I opted for the Golf GL, and I have never regretted it after eleven years and 271,000 miles. Volkswagens at the time had mediocre to poor service records in Consumer Reports, yet mine has not had anything other than what I would consider routine maintenance. My experience with VW dealerships (at least the ones that either sell exclusively Volkswagens or perhaps one other make) has been excellent.

If you can strike a deal, though, you might take a look at the Jetta. Perhaps slightly less practical without the hatch, but a fairly sophisticated sedan for the money.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Jen...get the Golf....the way people drive out here in calif you need to be as safe as possible! Oh, also, the statistics show that civics are stolen more often because they are easily hot-rodded by teens etc.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001


You should definitely buy an AMERICAN CAR and NOT AN IMPORT. We are in the middle of a recession and many of our fellow Americans are being laid off from their jobs. We need to keep those dollars in the United States!!!

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

you gonna let me drive it? i promise i won't hit a bus.

we can take it on the 5 and see what it tops out at. the jetta topped out at about 110, but i bet the engine in that golf is a lot better. ooh, if you get a stick i bet we could redline it to at least 130.

uh, not that i would ever drive that fast.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

Yeah, I agree with Kara 1000%, but I think you should take it one step further - don't just buy an American Car, buy yourself an American and make him just carry you around on his back all day. Help a guy who is out of work, an AMERICAN guy, plus think how much more environmental it would be than a car.

I would have suggested he pull you around in a rickshaw, but I don't think you can get an American made rickshaw.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

Uh, nevermind. I'm not going anywhere near the car. Not that I know how to drive one or anything. In fact, I'm not allowed to even sit on the bus much less ride in a car. So yeah, walking... walking is great! Yay for walking!

Oh, and hi Mr. Wade! Didn't know you read these post things.

I have to go kick myself in the ass now.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

I've lived in NYC for 20 years, so I've only owned one car in my life--a 1975 Dodge Dart which I bought used from my brother, who bought it new--which I owned in Florida. I know nothing about cars and couldn't care less about them. (The obsession with cars in our culture--especially among men--has always baffled me. If I never had to own or drive another car in my life I would be happy. I think this country needs a mass-transit network such that no one would have to own cars if they didn't need to.)

The above being said, I'm startled you think the new Beetle is "butt-ugly;" not only do I think it's the best-looking car out there right now, I think it's one of the best-looking cars I've ever seen. If I HAD to buy another car, this is the first one I'd look at.

What are the criteria, by the way, for CONSUMER REPORTS' "reliability" judgements?

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

Do you have to buy some kind of insurance if you "rent an American" to carry you around on his back? That might be a plus.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

Kristin, I like your idea a lot! And I should have no trouble finding an out-of-work dot-commer in these parts to fit the bill!

As for your question about CR reliability, Robert, it's based on the number of people reporting problems with the car in previous years. In the case of the Beetle, more than 14.8% of people who've bought a '98 or '99 have had trouble with the electrical system or hardware. In comparison, for the '98 and '99 Civic, fewer than 5% have had problems with any aspect of their car.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

yeah, health insurance is even more expensive than cars. Make that ex-dot-commer an independent contracter so you don't have to pay the insurance!

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001


I bought a 2001 civic ex in february. i'm up to 5500 miles now and it got me to vegas and back on only two tanks of gas.

When I decided I was going to buy a new car, the Civic was the last one I wanted. How would I find my car in a parking lot? Everyone and their mom has one. However, in terms of affordability, efficiency, parkability, and lastability (those aren't words, I know), it came down to the Civic and the Golf.

I ultimately decided on the Civic because I read in consumer reports that many VWs ended up being recalled the last year because of electrical failures...and it was much more expensive to get the options I wanted (sunroof, more hp, etc) came down to spending more money on a cooler looking car but getting fewer luxuries, or getting the car i didn't really want for less money and more features. I learned to like the civic.

You get more for your money with the Civic. A couple warnings, however (my cousin, who bought the same car, can also attest to this so its not just my car) was recalled (twice) for fuel pump/clamp/gauge problems (fixed for free at dealership), and the gas gauge reads inconsistently.

Good luck!

xo Lan

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

p.s. get a club for your car, don't fix it up, and it will be safe from teens.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

The club is more of a visual deterrent than anything. Those shallow locks are easy to pick.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

Buy a used car! For example, my used '94 Toyota Camry was just under $5000, runs well, has better standard features than a Civic, and is a lot cheaper to insure.

New cars depreciate so much at the beginning of their lives. Even if you can afford a new car, it just seems like a worse value to me.


-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

"The Club" is a waste of time. New Golfs and Civics come standard with immobilizer systems so only the most determined thieves (pros) will make off with your vehicle (and the club provides no protection against such individuals).

I'm going to weigh in on the side of the Civic. Jen, you've hit on my one complaint with the Civic, its somewhat harsh ride. This is the price one pays for better handling. The Civic is better looking IMHO. It's definitely a better value, as you have pointed out. It's significantly more fuel efficient. Also, the Civic comes standard with a 115Hp motor, the base Golf has only a 90Hp engine which is underpowered and requires premium gas to boot - avoid this engine at all costs, if you're going with the Golf upgrade to the 115Hp (2.0L) engine. Don't forget to compare the final cost on the Golf with all the features you want to the final price of the Civic with all features.

My standard advice to those buying a new car: say no to all protection packages. Paint protection and rust protection are a waste of money. Fabric protection is okay, but should only be $50 (I recommend buying a couple cans of Scotch-Guard and applying them yourself, it's exactly the same stuff they use). If you really want these things you can get them at an aftermarket place for a fraction of what the dealers charge.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

the club may be a minor deterrent, but it can be the difference between a young punk running off with YOUR car, or running off with the next civic over, because they didn't want to bother with the 10 extra second to deal with your club.

a carjacking alarm works too. only $350 and the thieves can't drive more than 20 seconds away from your car without disarming it. works like a charm.

-- Anonymous, August 23, 2001

About six months ago I helped my daughter (age 20) buy a Honda Civic EX. She wanted new, but I refused to cosign on a new car. I didn't get a new car until I was 30, she can wait.

I suggested that she get a used Civic that still had at least 5000 miles of initial factory warrenty on it. It was hard to find, but after a long Saturday we had located a pickel green hatchback with the high dollar wheels and a moonroof, that had 29,0000 miles. It seemed in perfect shape.

The salesman immediately came down almost three thousand dollars from the window price and we drove it off. Six months latter my daughter loves the car ( I think green is a hideous color, but what do I know?), and the only thing that has gone wrong with it is that a backup light burned out.


-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

I've bought both a Civic and a Golf for my daughters. While the Civic is extremely reliable, its also so vanilla - boring. Also my daughter is short - 4'10" and she sometimes has trouble seeing out the back with the Civics high seats. Not that you'll be probably taking many long trips, but its ride gets pretty old after a while and you get stiff. The Golf looks butt ugly in my book, but my daughter adores it. She wanted a standard transmission so I had to teach her that and she picked it up pretty quick. We bought it used and it comes with a moon roof. We've had no problems with it at all and its fun to drive. My recommendation is to go with the Golf. One question though - if the 2002 Golfs are already coming in, why would you want to buy a 2001? Thats like buying a used car, but paying a new car price.

-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

I've owned 2 Honda's...a CRX and Civic. The CRX was a fun car to push on twisty New England back roads... they used to run those modified at Lyme Rock (racetrack) I think. Plus I could fit the CRX in parking spaces that 95% of the other cars couldn't fit. The Civic is the most dependable car there is... well engineered. Honda improved them every year, instead of starting with a brand new design like most other car- makers do every 5 years. The early-year design problems are worked out. All Civics (i think) come with the same package, so you get power windows and mirrors, air, moonroof, elect-lock doors, CD- player... all things I'd rather not have or pay for, but they do add re-sale value if you don't intend to keep the car forever. The Civic had a "Si" version that really had if you're considering the Golf because of it's "get-up-and-go" ability, drive an Si for comparison. Of course, the versions sold in Calif may be slightly different. Size-wise, the Civic is one of the few cars I can sit in comfortably (I'm 6-3)... don't think that's an issue with you Jen... Personally, I'd get an Audi-TT...0-130 in 35 sec's.

Insurance... shop'd be surprised the range of costs. I surprisingly got way better gas-mileage with my old Dodge Neon (50mpg). There's also no such thing as an "American" car anymore.. Honda's are assembled in TN I think...half the parts in Ford/Chevy's are made in Mexico. BTW... for a more informed info on the reliability issue of the Golf's engine, suggest you go to some Automobile post-boards and pose the question... you'll get feedback from guys who work on those cars for a living...with no bs.

-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

OK, this indecision is killing me. How about if we lock a Golf and Civic in a candle-lit garage with a magnum of super unleaded and just buy the resulting ubermobile?

-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

Lan: I meant that the club would be a waste of time for Jen, since her new car will have an immobilizer. For those of us without immobilizers the club does have some value. But they sure are a pain - I have one and after a few months I just stopped using it. I really should get around to installing a secret switch. I had a secret switch in my CRX and it saved it from being stolen twice. I still had to repair the door lock and the ignition switch but at least some kid wasn't able to go joy riding in my vehicle.

One other important thing to consider when buying a new vehicle: seat comfort. You might not notice the comfort level on a short test drive but you should try to get a feel for whether or not the seat agrees with you. An ill fitting seat can be a real problem on those longer drives.

-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

Between the VW and the Honda, I'd have to say go for the Honda (although the Toyota Corolla also worth considering).

American vs import? Who can define that these days? I used to have a Dodge Caravan... American? Well, the engine was made by Mistubishi and the car was assembled in Canada. I had a couple of Chevy Novas... they were built in California in a plant jointly owned by GM and Toyota and if you looked at the engine block it said "TOYOTA"... and the Honda Civic might actually have been built in the U.S. So you should just ignore that stuff. (Besides which, if the "American" car is not the best buy for you, then those who are saying you must buy American are really saying that you should spend more of your money to buy an inferior car built by a union autoworker who makes far more money than you do!)

Almost two years ago I bought a new Toyota Corolla and gave my 1992 Honda Civic to my teenage daughter and thirty thousand miles later she's still driving it...

You said you did Consumer Reports research, etc. Also be sure to check out (or equivalent) and do some on-line comparisons of different models with and without various features. For one thing you may find out that some options you would like come standard on a higher version of the car but the total cost might be less than adding them onto the lower level model. More importantly, you will get a good idea of the dealer cost. When you go to negotiate a purchase price always think in terms of bargaining up from the "dealer cost" price (which isn't exactly the dealer cost 'cause they get various rebates and discounts from the manufacturer) instead of down from the list price. Sure, they have to make a profit, but it doesn't all have to come out of your pocket. Remember -- they need your business -- you don't need them, there are lots of car dealers! You do not need dealer-added rustproofing, soundproofing, undercoating, or seat fabric protection.... Refuse to pay for any of that. Some of those undercoatings actually encourage rust! And you can buy a spray can of scotchguard at Wally World and protect the upholstery yourself. Also avoid extended warrantees (also known as pure and simple extra dealer profit), just a waste of money.

And speaking of money... unless you have the purchase price stashed away in your piggy bank... be sure to shop around for a loan (is there a University employees credit union?)... and always get the dealer negotiating on the actual price of the car (they'll try to turn it into "how much per month") and only after that is settled do you want to discuss a loan. Sometimes your credit union or your bank may have the best rates; sometimes (due to factory incentives, etc.) the dealer may actually offer a better rate, but they'll try to nail you for a monthly figure and then pump in all kinds of profit into that. Let them know that if you aren't happy with the deal, if they aren't doing serious negotiating, you are perfectly willing to go elsewhere... lots of car dealers in California.

And remember, you're going to be driving it for a long time, so don't nickle and dime yourself out of a feature that you absolutely love...


-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

OK, I bought a 2001 5-speed Golf GLS 2L this morning. It's silver with a gray interior. I got insurance this afternoon, and I'm heading over to Oakland tomorrow morning first thing to pick it up.

-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001

Congrats on the new car. I've gone through four in about six years, a Saturn, two Dodges, and finally a Honda CRV. In the end, you have to go with the car you feel the best in, regardless of resale value, and all that other crap. Get the good radio and CD player, because you'll need it sitting in this San Francisco traffic.



-- Anonymous, August 25, 2001

Congratulations! I went through the same decision process a few months ago and finally settled on a Civic, and haven't regretted it. But my feeling is that you can't go too far wrong either way.

And the Golf probably has a better sound system.

-- Anonymous, August 25, 2001

I should add that it took me about 3 months to choose. So I'm impressed with your decision-making alacrity. (Or perhaps I should be embarrased at my own lack thereof.)

-- Anonymous, August 25, 2001


-- Anonymous, August 25, 2001

Why silver?

-- Anonymous, August 25, 2001

Come to Vegas, and I'll race you out at the drag strip.

-- Anonymous, August 26, 2001

I haven't driven in a decade and know nothing about cars. The last time I remember seeing a Civic was sometime in the 70s. But: yesterday I was doing laundry, stepped out of the laundromat to get some air, and right in front of me was parked the cutest little car, the color of old pearl with the faintest silver/grey cast. Such a great shape, and a hatchback, which I think is so nice and handy and good looking too. I stepped around and the cute car was... a Golf. Which before your post I hadn't even known existed. I don't know much about reliability and gas mileage. But I do know cute, and cute's never failed me yet. That's my 1 cent. ......

-- Anonymous, August 27, 2001

I don't know what its like in SF, but here if you park your Golf in the street chances are that the next day you won't be driving it but someone else will. The Civic might be less cool but surely the smarter move, given your previous experiences. Then again, go wild, get the Golf. Or better yet, as Golf is such a plain car here in Europe, get a zoomy hip and going machine like the Citroen XM

-- Anonymous, August 28, 2001

Argh! looks like I got to this site to late to urge you to get a TDI instead of the GLS. The diesels are absolutely bombproof engines, diesel fuel is cheaper, and thier fuel economy is unmatched. Something to think about for others with Jen's (former) dilemma.

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2001

is anybody selling a honda 88-91 civic hatch or a CRX?? please help out, i live in Beaverton, Oregon and you can E-mail me at

-- Anonymous, November 13, 2001

Hm, I am faced with a similar decision, Golf, or Golf, hehe, Trust me do not Buy Civic, it is plainly to say garbage, as well as are many other Japanese cars, Buy German or nothing, they make the best cars. Golf GTI with its about 140 hp, can race a Civic SR with about 170 hp. Golf is a solid car built well. Well plain and simple GET A GOLF.

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

An even better car to drive are the new WRX. I have seen them in a hachback. fast, nice in side, and good on gas.

That is what i think

-- Anonymous, March 18, 2002

had a golf and a civic. both good cars ,but golfs always keep there looks and feel ,civics look like dated junk after a few years

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2002

honda civic SI b16 DOHC VTEC engine, 8000 rpm redline!! best bang for the buck, volkswagon is garbage !!!!

-- Anonymous, April 07, 2002

Too bad you ruled out a big ol' Chevy. Nuthin' says "I'm here and I'm one bad ass scientist!" like a jacked up gas guzzlin' monster. Not to mention the sex appeal of a purty gal that can just peer over the steering wheel.

I expect that since you have a car now you'll be "road tripping" it out to see ol' rudeboy once the restraining order you filed is lifted.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2002

Hi, Jen!!!!!!!!

First and foremost, I have a fetish (of the non-sexual persuasian, thank you) for hatchbacks and rear-wipers. I like sub-compact cars and both the Civic and the Golf are small enough for my tastes, yet boast a spacious interior. I would also like to say that I only like the OLDER (94 to 98) Civics and Golfs because the new ones are much bigger and clunkier looking.

I think when it comes down to it, the Civic is better looking and is probably more reliable. I've seen many a Civic with 250K miles on it and still going strong. I read reviews on Golfs and everyone seems to experience the same problems--- radiator breaks easily, leaky moonroof, loud brakes even when new, noisy engine and almost every consumer review has made mention that the buttons and knobs on the interior panels break very easily. Also, lots of electrical problems and the vinyl panels on the side of the Golf fall off consistently. The only complaint I read about the Civic is lack of power, which is expected in this class of car.

If you can find a good deal, I'd go for the Civic, but they are pricey even for used ones. I personally have a 97 Corolla and the car is super reliable, so get one of those if you can. I had a hand- me-down 90 Corolla that had 180K miles on it and never gave my parents any trouble. Unfortunately, it got totaled in an accident! Well, hope this helps!! p.s. If you love hatchbacks, drop me an email!

-- Anonymous, May 27, 2002

Hey Jen!

I found this looking for VW parts, and I can give you a fair answer... I've driven both... a friend has a 2000 Civic... nice car, decent amount of room front and back. I'm 6'4" and with some adjustments I can still drive both cars... The comparisons are kindof apples to oranges... but in terms of features... the clutch on the civic doesn't feel as solid as the VW... I have driven stick on both... There no accidental drops into Reverse on the Golf, while I have run into that on the civic occasionally. In terms of option, the civic has more little storage cubbyhole than the golf, which to me is an important convenience (wallet, phone, planner, etc.) The stock engines feel comparable... I haven't looked into how they measure up in ftlbs and hp, but I get off the line plenty quick in the VW and I have yet to feel that control over speed in the civic. I think there are more custom options for the civic cosmetically... under the hood, everything is very clear in the VW... just looking at it for 5 minutes let me see where everything was without even cracking a manual (there's a little map inside the hood.)

Overall, there are a lot of little perks that come standard with the Golf that you would pay extra for elsewhere... cruise, auto-power windows, TONS of safety features 5 airbag system (Front driver, passenger, seat sides and even a side curtain bag that extends from front to rear windows.) There seems to be a little less leg room in the back on the golf, but the seat fold down with engineered precision... i.e. the seat fill the gap behind the front seat so when you have stuff in the back, you wont risk it rolling under the front seats, etc.)

That being said, I leased a Golf 2002 this year... will have paid around $10000 at the end of my lease term for 4 years of use, with extensive warranty coverage over that time... I dropped $2,500 and pay a little over $220 a month. Kindof got taken, but I didn't bring out any printout from the vw site to the dealership...

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2002

GET THE GOLF!!!!!!!! the engines are alot better on the volkswagens then the honda engines.

-- Anonymous, July 02, 2002

Get the Golf!!!! I have a 99 Civic and it is so gutless. When I have the AC on, I often have to go into 2nd gear to get up a very slight gradient! After a while, the Civic becomes so boring to drive even if it is reliable. The style of the Golf is so much better and it's more powerful.

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2002

I don't know much about Golfs but I use to own a VW Fox, average car, I own a '89 Civic w/ 152,000 miles on it, a couple things wrong with it, nothing major, I also own 2001 Honda Civic Lx, nice car so far, as far reliability, so far I'd have to go with Toyota, I traded off my '97 Corolla for the '01 Civic, a very hard decision to make but I got a good deal on it, but for a five yr. old car I didn't stick a dime into the Toyota for repairs, and as far as buying american, Corollas are made alongside Geo Prisms in a California plant and Honda Civics in Ohio,,,,,,,

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2002


-- Anonymous, August 17, 2002

Hands down the Golf, Ive owned both honda and volkswagon, one accord, one crx and two vw gti's, and between the two i would choose the golf, i will never go back to the honda, they just have a cheap feel to them, the handeling is ok after a lot of mods, the gold on the other hand is blast to drive right out of the box, power, comfort and handeling, the germans know where its at when it come to cars, buying a vw your buying form a large family of german cars, Audi, BMW, Porsche, you cant say that about any honda know can you? theres my two cents and good luck vw all the way!

-- Anonymous, September 06, 2002

I would say go with the civic i own a civic its a 02 coupe ex for a year now and i had the same problem so i talk to a couple mechanics and it came down to the VW is more expensive to buy and maintain. I know someone with a 90 civic hatchback with over 400ks and its still runs great aslong as you do your reg. maintenance... I still LOVE driving my ex...

-- Anonymous, October 03, 2002

I own a very large Ford pick-up truck... all I can say about either the golf or the civic is :

SQUISH!! I'll walk away from our wreck, will you?

but if you have to choose, go with the GOLF. Remember this, the Europeans and Americans are innovators and the Japanese and Chinese are imitators.

-- Anonymous, October 18, 2002

Jen, I would hope you've made your decision by now ;-) I have to say, having driven both, the golf is by far the better car. standard ABS, front, side, and side curtain airbags contribute to safety, resale value is (imho) at least as high as the civic, ride quality is better, and THAT CAPATIOUS, BEAUTIFUL HATCH!!! Oh, and one other thing 50 mpg TDI!!!!

-- Anonymous, October 29, 2002

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