Rivals: City sedans face-off on San Francisco's hilly streets
If you've gone car shopping lately you may have found yourself a little bit surprised.
Many standard compact cars have gone on a high fat diet, and they now fit cleanly into the midsize segment.
today we've got three such cars, the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and the Toyota Corolla.
And we're gonna throw down on San Fransisco's infamous hills and traffic, to see how they stack up in daily driving.
And to start us off today in our daily driving adventure here in San Francisco, I've got the 2016 Toyota Corolla.
Now this is the special edition.
Don't confuse that S on the back for sport, it means special editions.
Which means I've got some fancy wheels and a little bit of contrast Hand stitching on the inside.
And I'm in the 2017 Hyundai Elantra.
This goes for a base price of 17,500 for the SE model and we're in a fully loaded limited trim model and that goes for about 27
I'll be testing the 2016 Honda Civic Touring.
At least on paper it seems like the shoo-in for the win.
But we'll see what we end up with at the end of the day.
All right so let's get rolling in this 2016 Honda Civic by entering a destination.
Now on the dashboard we've got Honda's excellent seven inch navigation system that uses Garmin for its map and routing.
But we've got Android auto in Apple Car place.
So I'm gonna go ahead and use that.
Mostly because since it's linked to my Google account I've got every place that I've ever searched for on my phone or on my computer already stored here so I don't really have to do any sort of fumbling around to figure out where I'm going.
Is that cheating?
Well, I prefer to think of it as winning.
Now, driving through San Francisco here, I'm going to set my navigation.
But, looking at Hyundai's native navigation system, they don't show perspective view maps.
Only flat view so I'm gonna switch to Apple CarPlay which is supported here and use my phone which is cabled to the car, use its navigation Pull up there and get my nice perspective view maps from Apple maps.
Destination, destination search.
Where would you like to go?
400 Taylor Street.
Saving directions for 400 Taylor Street, San Francisco.
Easy as that, I've got my destination entered.
Route guidance is on.
So Toyota uses the N Tune system, which is pretty good, although not really mind blowing.
But I'm going to use the voice activation to put in my destination.
What would you like to do?
I need directions to an address.
I need directions to an address.
Still need directions to an address.
I need directions to an address.
For directions to an address, please say the full address, including the city, or state or providence without the zip code.
2-4-0-0 Taylor Street, San Francisco, California.
Which city in Tennessee?
[LAUGH] I need directions to an address.
2400 Taylor Street San Francisco, California.
I heard 2400 Healer Street, San Francisco, California.
Is that correct?
So that wasn't really the fastest way to input my destination, but she did understand what I was saying, which is more than I can say for a lot of other voice recognition Ignition system.
Now that we're under way let's talk about performance even at it's base model the 2 liter port injected engine, the Honda civic is the most powerful vehicle of the three the EPA estimates that civic will do around 35 miles per gallon combined which breaks down to 31 city 42 highway I've only gotten around 28 or 29 miles per gallon during my first hundred miles of testing, but is no mere standard Civic.
Under the hood we've got Honda's new turbocharged and direct injected 1.5L That's gonna output 174 horsepower and 152 pound feet of torque.
But those numbers were pretty much blowing away everything else in today's shootout.
The CVT doesn't make the best first impression.
It's not a great performing transmission for responsive driving, but I was surprised by how quickly I got used to this gearbox.
Around town, it gives you really good off the line acceleration and it really excels in those situations where you need surges of power.
Things like Country road driving, or when you go to make a pass on the freeway.
And the Honda more than makes up for any perceived slights in its performance which steering that gets well sorted and suspension that's very responsive.
Handling is some Honda historically done a good job of, and this one is no exception to that rule.
Whoa, look at that.
[LAUGH] That's right.
My 1.8 liter four cylinder engine has made it to a CVT, that's right, continuously variable transmission.
But Toyota's done a lot of work on this.
And sometimes it does seem like it's more of a traditional six speed automatic rather than a rubber bandy [NOISE] drony kind of transmission that you find with other CVT's.
The one thing that is great about a CVT is that they produce better than average gas mileage and the Corolla is going to get you 29 in the city and 37 out on a highway.
And there's even a little sport button, but when I press it all it really does is change my throttle response and has a tendency to make it kind of.
Stabby and herky jerky so I've pretty much left it alone the whole time.
And those four cylinders are packing 132 horsepower and 128 pound feet of torque.
Now, this really ain't no speed demon, if you know what I'm saying.
But it certainly does get me around the city as reliably and as economically as possible.
This Elantra is pretty comfortable and relatively quiet.
It's not really a driver's car.
I mean not many cars really are, this especially can be a little bit bouncy over bumps.
But in general, it's comfortable.
As this Celantra has a two litre four cylinder engine.
That's the only engine you can get with it, and what I find interesting is it uses an Atkinson cycle which is a valve timing scheme that they usually use in hybrid drive trains That means, it doesn't have as much torque, but it gets better fuel economy.
And I really notice that lack of torque in driving this car around, I certainly feel it a bit.
The overall specs are 147 horsepower, 132 pounds [UNKNOWN] of torque.
Those are weak to average numbers for a car like this.
Now, this engine and this six speed automatic transmission helps this car get 37 miles per gallon on the highway, 28 in the city.
And I'd seen it stick around mid to low 30s, so those numbers are accurate.
And that's not bad.
And we couldn't test these three cars in San Francisco without dragging them up one of our cities super steep hills just to see how the difference in power really feels.
With the most power of the bunch and a continually variable transmission which does really good job of accessing the torque.
The Honda Civic pretty much make sure it worked up this hill.
The continuously variable transmission, which isn't really great for responsive driving, really comes into play with giving you best access to your torque, when you're coming up this hill.
So it's not a whole lot of stuttering.
And now for the Toyota up the hill.
Yeah, it doesn't like this.
[LAUGH] Don't like this at all, and it's only gonna get steeper.
[LAUGH] My gosh, I really have to put so much gas onto this.
I'm only at 20 miles an hour.
And the CBT just doesn't know where to go.
It's going up and down and up and down and up and down.
So even with a steady amount of throttle control, the CBT just wants to bring it down as low as possible as soon as possible to save gas and at that moment.
That's not what I want.
I need my revs high because I need all the power I can get to get up Taylor Street.
Time to see how this Elantra can tackle a San Francisco hill.
It's not going very fast and the transmission which is fixed gears unlike the other cars.
It's down shifting a bit and I can really feel it struggling but it made it.
So the Honda's got the most power.
It is definitely the most efficient car in the lineup, but it's also the most expensive.
Its starting price of around $18,640 is higher than either the Hyundai or the Toyota, but we can increase that gap even more.
As tested here, we're looking at $27, 335.
So it's the best you gotta pay to play.
The touring model comes standard with such driver aid features as Honda's lane keeping assisted steering, Honda's adaptive cruise control system which works all the way down to zero miles per hour which makes it useful in traffic.
We've also got Honda's lane watch camera system which sorta hangs off of the passenger side view mirror and gives us a view of the blind spot when I activate my turn signal.
It's pretty useful during the day but all but Useless at night when you're on the highway.
I'd prefer a more traditional blind spot monitoring system that uses sensors and works on both sides, but hey, the setup we've got here is better than nothing, and it's pretty much better than anything that Wayne and Emmy are dealing with right now.
My Corolla comes in at a couple thousand dollars less than the other models in this test and where you can really see that difference is in the drivers aids.
Lane keeping assist.
Blind spot warning.
Adaptive cruise control.
[LAUGH] You're hilarious.
It doesn't have any of those.
The in tune screen is pretty small at about six inches.
But its color and it's pretty well defined.
But I do wish that it were raised up just a little bit.
Right now it's toward the center of the dash and it's not really in my eye line.
So, in all, the Corolla seems to be a fair choice.
I mean it doesn't knock my socks off but Neither does it make me hate it.
It's just kind of there.
It offers reliable transportation.
It's just not that exciting.
I'm really impressed that Hyundai offers a lot of driver assistance features here.
I mean, I've got lane keeping assist, I've got adaptive cruise control, and thing that is really cool is the blind spot monitor system actually warned me about a bicyclist in the bike lane next to me.
I'm finding with this Elantra and I'm sure my colleagues are finding with their formerly compact cars too, that this cabin is pretty roomy.
You can easily fit five people here, and one really interesting thing is that these seats are stuffed with a soy based foam, so no dinosaurs were killed in making these seats.
This one's base price is $17,100 or so for the FE trim.
That's that it doesn't have much in it.
We're actually in a limited trim fully optioned up and that's about 27,700.
So this one prices up pretty high when you really load it.
Well we finished our drivers test on the mean streets of San Francisco and we're going to give you an added bonus test of the trunk space which the Honda Civic handily won.
Now I've been spending all my time today in the Toyota Corolla and I think we all agree, this one's pretty much the worst of the bunch.
I mean, all it really has going for it is price at $20,635 it certainly is the least expensive of the three.
But, There's just nothing special about it.
So you want reliable, but maybe boring transportation?
The Corolla's it.
The Hyundai Elantra earns our second place spot.
It's got a lot of great tech or driver systems, and in the dashboard is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well, but none of us were really crazy about the driving dynamics of this car.
They're okay, just not great.
So if looking for performance, you'll look no further than our number one pick, the 2016 Honda Civic.
It's got really good dashboard tech that's similar to what we've seen in the Elantra and a comprehensive suite of driver aid features that are a little bit weird.
Some things we like better in the Elantra, but we think most people are going to be happy with what Honda's offering you.
Plus it's the best looking of the bunch, so we have no reservations about declaring the winner of this roadshow rival the 2016 Honda Civic tourig.
Well there you have it.
I can't believe it, we all agree for once.
But the winner of the Roadshow Rivals is the Honda Civic.