Ford or Hyundai for a Reliable Hatchback?

I’m in the market for my first car and have narrowed my search down to the Ford Focus and Hyundai Accent (Mazda3 and Kia Forte are potential alternates still).

I’m trying to stick with slightly used 2012 models in order to find ones with a nicer trim that are still in my price range ($14-18K). I prefer the design and interior of the Focus, but am concerned about all the transmission problems people have reported with the 2012 model. The Hyundai also has the warrenty advantage, but I’m jut not as as in love with the overall package.

Any one have advice or opinions about either car that might give me a different perspective on the decision? I live in the city, so the car will be used only sparringly during the week, and mostly on the weekends. My girlfriend’s family also lives across state, so 500 mile weekend roundtrips every other month will be the other primary use.


Ford transmissions in general have not been all that great in general, and the new Focus transmissions have been even worse. Some people have said they got their transmission reprogrammed and it improved it greatly, while other’s have got it replaced. I too would be concerned with the transmission in these cars.

That said, I would be at least equally concerned with a Hyundai transmission not being just as bad, or maybe worse. I actually looked up the number of transmission replacements performed by dealers yesterday at work, and the count for Hyundai is alarming. Additionally, everyone I know to ever own a Hyundai has had a transmission fail every 30k or less like clockwork. Same with Kia (although I know far fewer Kia owners). Most of them were under warranty but our local dealers may take over 2 months to finish the job and won’t even give a loaner until one month has passed.

What about a 2010 or 2011 Focus with low miles? Do you know if they have a different transmission in the 2010/2011 models? I think they might but I’m not really sure. The rest of the car is pretty much the same.

Of the choices you list, the Mazda 3 Hatchback is the best. I would also look at a Toyota Matrix. You might also find a Honda Fit which is a great little hatchback.

Hyundai quality and reliability has improved immensely in the past 5 years. I would not hesitate to buy a low mileage Hyundai Elantra hatchback.

Hyundai quality has definitely improved. Other once common issues like blown engines etc are all down, but heir transmissions are still very bad. Fortunately, they have a very long warranty, that I think carries over to used vehicles as well.

I forgot entirely about the Fit. I would second taking a look at a Fit as well.

The Accent really isn’t equivalent to the Mazda3 or Focus; it’s smaller and has fewer features. The Mazda3 offers the most of the 4 cars you mention, and has fewer initial problems. Maintenance costs are less than the Ford, too.

IF you are considering the Accent, then also look at the Mazda 2 which is closer in size/class. Also note that the extended warranty for the Hyundai would not transfer to the 2nd owner, just the basic. Are there any manual shift Focus’s you would consider?

I don’t believe the full Hyundai warranty transfers when purchasing used.

You would need to check the small print to be sure but don’t go into this assuming that the 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty will be yours as I think this cuts down to 5 years/60,000 miles on used cars.

However that did not stop me from recently buying a lightly used Kia Soul. Basically Kia is an arm of Hyundai and I am quite please with this car.