Besides the Corolla, Civic and Focus, we compared the Mitsubishi Lancer, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cobalt, Nissan Sentra and Mazda3, all in sedan form. To our surprise, cars once thought to be clear value leaders didn’t necessarily hold up when all the cars were equally equipped with the aforementioned features.
OK, so it’s not a startling revelation, but when optioned with our requirements some of the compacts retailed far past their tantalizing entry-level price. Fortunately, as a testament to automakers’ growing commitment to safety, just about every one of these compacts (except the Mazda3) comes with standard side-impact airbags or side curtain airbags, and the majority with both.
W/O Equipment, base MSRP — Prices do not include destination charges
- Hyundai Elantra: $13,625 (GLS)
- Mazda3: $13,895 (i Sport)
- Mitsubishi Lancer: $13,990 (DE)
- Chevrolet Cobalt: $14,225 (LS)
- Ford Focus: $14,775 (S)
- Honda Civic: $15,010 (DX)
- Toyota Corolla (’09): $15,250 (Base)
- Nissan Sentra: $16,040 (2.0)
W/ Equipment — Prices do not include destination charges
- Mitsubishi Lancer: $16,090 (2.0 ES)
- Hyundai Elantra: $16,375 (2.0 GLS w/Popular Equipment Package)
- Chevrolet Cobalt: $16,535 (2.2 1LT w/cruise control, ABS)
- Toyota Corolla (’09): $16,895 (1.8 LE w/keyless entry)
- Ford Focus: $17,000 (2.0 SE w/cruise control, ABS)
- Nissan Sentra: $17,070 (2.0 S)
- Mazda3: $17,495 (2.0 i Touring Value)
- Honda Civic: $17,760 (1.8 LX)
Sitting on top as the value leader for our comparison is the Mitsubishi Lancer in ES trim. Surprised? So were we — it’s a recently redesigned model, also a favorable car. To top it off, there’s also a $1,000 cash back incentive available in our area on the Lancer. The best incentive comes with the Focus with $2,000 cash back on 2008 models. Most incentives vary by region so make sure to head over to the Cars.com incentives page for what’s available in your area.
What we want to know from you is this: Would you forgo these features for a less-expensive entry-level price, or are these options truly a necessity for a comfortable daily driver?