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Jetta vs Civic vs Impreza


I’m buying a new car for the first time ever, and first time buying in 7 years. I’ve narrowed it down to the VW Jetta, Honda Civic, and Subaru Impreza. I’ve had my heart set on a Jetta for some time, but I know they have a reputation for being high cost when it comes to maintenance. Speaking only to longevity, and cost of maintenance, which would be the better of the 3? I’m also partial to the Subaru’s AWD since snow is an issue where I live. Any help would be much appreciated!

consider the last two first-Kevin (subaru for traction,civic for reliability)

You will find that Subarus are VERY popular in Colorado. I have heard that they are the MOST registered new car brand. While I might see one or two Subarus a DAY in my area, I saw a dozen go by a restaurant in Woodland Park just while I was eating lunch last summer. That was AFTER I noticed the trend, and started counting. There is a reason for that. It also means that there are a lot of knowledgeable technicians out there, should you ever need non-dealer service.

My second choice would be the Civic, but it’s a distant second. The Jetta? Forgetta.

I suspect any of the three would be good. However my choice would be the Subaru for that area. Maybe the most important factor is YOU. Drive them consider which one might fit your lifestyle best (Think snow in the mountains) and be sure to test drive all three

The OP’s question is “Speaking only to longevity, and cost of maintenance, which would be the better of the 3?” If you really only consider longevity and cost of maintenance the Civic is the clear winner. Historically the Civic is the lowest cost to maintain and has the highest resale values of any car sold in the USA. This makes it the cost of ownership winner by far.

Perhaps this will not the be the case in the '12 or '13 model year Civic, but it has been true for so long (since the '90’s) that I see no reason to not expect the current Civic to keep up the performance of past versions.

Now, there are other attributes that might not favor the Civic, handling, interior quality, etc. But for longevity and cost of maintenance Civic is still king of the road.

According to Identafix, the Jetta had only minimal problems since 2007. The Civic had significant engine problems in 2009, otherwise, only minimal problems since 2005. The Impreza had only minimal problems since 2005. There isn’t much difference in repair costs. the Jetta 5 year estimate at Edmunds is $1012 vs. $797 for the Civic and $974 for the Impreza. But those are predictions - there is no real information on the future. Unless you’re talking maintenance. The Jetta maintenance cost is $3198 in the 1st 5 years, Civic is $3505 and Impreza is a whopping $5422. You’ll buy premium gas for the Jetta and regular for the Civic and Impreza. Based on M&R costs, I’d put Jetta even with Civic and both way ahead of Impeza. But that’s because of maintenance costs. And those are not at all hard to predict.

The new Imprezas are much more economical, comfortable but unfortunately, slower than the previous. If you can stand the reduced performance, they come highly recommended by CR and may be as reliable as any of your choices, better then the Jetta. The added cost new has to be weighed against your preference for awd. They can do things that fwd cars can only dream about, but what they can do may not be that important to you. To determine that, you must try an awd car out in slippery conditions to see if indeed, the added new car cost is worth it. Traction control is enough for most people unless you see slippery conditions and hills regularly in the winter.

I’ll just muddy the water a bit - if I was looking at these vehicles, first on my list would be the Mazda 3 with the high mpg setup.

AWD will require more maintenance over the long haul. You’ll have differential fluid to change, you’ll need to match all 4 tires(most tire shops will tell you this when you bring it in for a puncture or replacement) and be fairly religious with tire rotations.

My first Jetta TDI logged 480k miles, and went to Germany with my son when he deployed. My next Jetta TDI logged 418k miles, and transmission linkage and clutches died out, sunroof died, car had electrical issues, and was completely wore out. Fahrvergnugen! My third Jetta TDI is now at only 298k miles, runs like new, on it’s third turbo, five or six timing belts, Italian injectors, Royal Purple trans fluid. These cars need care, you need to have the computer interface from Ross-tech, and a few special tools. I’ve never had these cars at the dealer for service. The savings on cost of fuel at 48mpg over the three vehicles has paid for the third one. I’m now shopping for another, either the little Golf TDI or the Golf R. The R has AWD and runs like a bandit…it’s an awful stressful decision :slight_smile: And then I have to choose a color…

For what OP wants, the Civic would be the best of the three. However, a Mazda 3 (now top rated by Consumer Reports) or a Corolla would also fit he bill for long life and low maintenance. Since OP wants to keep the car for a long time, trade-in value is not really important.

If deep snow driving is a criteria, the Impreza would be my choice.

Xstek99,very good post you have found the magic formulae for the VWs, also proving common sense and a good crew chief can go a long way,got a VW Folks? take care of it and its an excellent auto(do the same thing with anything and you will rewarded)-Kevin

"AWD will require more maintenance over the long haul. You’ll have differential fluid to change, you’ll need to match all 4 tires(most tire shops will tell you this when you bring it in for a puncture or replacement) and be fairly religious with tire rotations. "

Aside from the one added differential, what is the difference in maintaining a fwd car ? FWD cars eat tires if you aren’t fastidious about rotating them and you should never drive any car with out matched tires. Plus, Subarus even with awd are more reliable then most other cars with just fwd.

I’ve owned a lot of different cars over 40 yrs, but my favorites were VWs. I currently have a Jetta (2.5 gas) and it is a wonderful car. In 90K miles, it has cost very little - one set of new rear brakes plus oil changes, plugs and tires. It rides great, even at triple digit speeds, and is great fun to drive. I suspect the ‘high maintenance’ tag is due to the dealers who want to do twice the suggested maintenance, and at twice the price. However, what VW requires is not much different from the other makes compared.

@Xtek99 : the only happy VW owners I have known were engineers who could second-guess what their cars were up to. Plus they did a lot of work themselves. Many of my wife’s friends ask me for advice when buying a new car. I can’t recommend any VW model, since none are prepared for and capable of that competent TLC that these cars need.

Glad you were able to manage them over the years. When last in Rio de Janeiro, we hired a cab and driver for the day to take us around. He had a locally made Jetta with 500,000 KM (312,500 miles) on it and it ran fine. Got regular maintenance no doubt.