Pros/Cons of 2014 Engines and Transmissions

Thinking of car shopping and have done extensive research with the CR car buying guide as well as numerous online sites. Still need to do majority of hands on test driving.

I know what CR and online sites have to say but also would appreciate pro and con feedback from those of you here on the forum with mechanical expertise and/or ownership experience with the following 2014 engines and transmissions, please.

Toyota Camry 2.5L 4-cyl w/ 6 speed trans

Toyota Camry 3.5L 6-cyl w/ 6 speed trans

Honda Accord 2.4L 4-cyl w/ CVT trans

Honda Accord 3.5L 6-cyl w/ 6 speed trans

Ford Fusion 2.5L 4-cyl Duratec w/ 6 speed trans

Ford Fusion 2.0L turbo w/ 6 speed trans

Chevy Impala 2.5L 4-cyl w/ 6 speed trans

Chevy Impala 3.5L 6-cyl w/ 6 speed trans

I’ll add that I’m leery of the new stop/start engines. I know that manufacturers all have their own design protocols which vary considerably but all rely on either beefed up starters and/or secondary (and in one case tertiary) batteries. I’m also leery of the turbos given my driving habits of short trips with lots of stops at multiple locations; I’m worried that type of driving might tend to “coke” the turbo engines.

If there are any other engine/transmission combinations truly worth looking at, I’m open to suggestions.

So, please help expand my very limited automotive mechanical knowledge.

…still reading, still learning

I’ll add my non-scientific opinions here

The Camry is fine, boring, and will hold its value well

The Accord is fine, a little less boring, has a more sophisticated suspension, and will hold its value even better than the Camry

The Fusion is an all around good car. More bang for the buck, its suspension is also more sophisticated than the Camry, but it won’t hold its value as well as the Camry or Accord

The Impala got excellent reviews from most/all of the major car magazines. it seems GM hit the bullseye with this one.

I would say, of all of those cars you listed, the Camry is the least progressive. I happen to like Toyota, and have owned several over the years. I think I’m in a position to recognize that Toyota has stood still, while some others have moved forward. This statement does not apply to the Prius, only the “regular” cars, such as the Corolla and Camry.

By the way, I have no real opinions about the reliability of any of these cars

If I had to choose one of those cars, I’d opt for a non-turbo and a conventional automatic transmission. I know CVTs have gotten better, but I’d stick with the tried and true.

There have also been several articles implying that the recent turbo family cars do NOT actually get the fuel economy that they’re rated for. It seems the smaller turbo engines are NOT the silver bullet they were supposed to be.

@db4690 Thank you for your response.

I’m leaning toward the idea of traditional engines with traditional transmissions. The plethora of new turbos and stop/start engines and the CVTS all seem untested for long durability yet. I get the impression car companies have boiled up large pots of pasta, tossed them against the wall and are waiting to find out which pieces stick around the longest.

I have been looking up and comparing depreciation rates, both by dollar amounts and percentages. For example, Civics are worth 2% more at 5 years than Accords but have much bigger depreciation in the first year. That tells me that many people buy a Civic and after a year trade it in for something else despite the high satisfaction ratings.

I’ve also checked insurance rates for various makes, models and trim levels. Interesting to find how little my insurance would increase for a new car. That tells me the saftety improvements over the past 7 years are real.

I did test drive some small SUVs – CRV, RAV4, Forrester, Equinox and have concluded they simply aren’t as comfortable for my arthritis as a sedan despite some nice aspects to the small SUVs.

So time to start test driving sedans.

I would also take a spin in the Fusion Hybrid…perfect for your type of driving…With this design, the start/stop engine issue does not exist. You can’t tell if the gas engine is running or not, the transition is that seamless…

@Caddyman – Couple questions regarding hybrids.

  1. How long do the hybrid batteries usually last? I’m having trouble finding that information although I know they cost an average of $2,500 to $3,000 to replace.

  2. Would I need to add gas stabilizer to each tank of gas so it doesn’t get stale since my driving habits would make heavy use of the electric part of the hybrid system?

The engines and transmissions listed all have good records, except the CVTs which are still a bit of an unknown, but look promising. The issue really is the sudden plethora of new electronics.

In general, electronics have gotten extremely reliable, I’m banging away on a 10+ year old computer right now. But if something goes wrong, it will be expensive and it may take a lot of time to get it fixed. There aren’t that many trained automotive electronic technicians out there right now.

My daughter just bought a 2014 Camry 4 cylinder and she loves it. Unless you have an overriding and compelling reason to go with a different vehicle, that would be at the top of my list. I just bought a new Subaru Legacy, but I did have an overriding and compelling reason to chose that vehicle even though I am uncomfortable with a flat engine and CVT transmission and the AWD issues. I’d rather have kept the 97 Accord, it was just fine.

Not sure about how driver’s seats on new cars feel as I haven’t started serious test driving but from being a passenger in friends’ cars as well as what I’ve researched I think that finding a comfortable seat is going to be a challenge. I prefer a flatter seat both on the bottom and back than the overly bolstered seats I’m seeing on new cars.

One thing that ticks me off is that to get a power seat which can have the front end of the seat tilted down more than any manual seats are most models package both sunroof and navigation system with the power seat. I don’t want a sunroof. I wouldn’t use it and it will eventually leak, they all do. And I don’t need or want a navigation system. Sorry, but I’ve handily driven coast to coast and almost border to border several times in past years with just maps and AAA books. And with a smartphone I’ve got mapping apps available.

But, first things first. Sort out the best of the possible engines, transmissions, suspensions, safety and reliability ratings, then start test driving for details of comfort.

The 2014 stuff is too new to have any history, but the performance of past models is the absolute best indicator of what should be expected from the new models.

The Camry and the Accord are as comparable as you can get. Both are dead-on reliable. Either will bore you to death for hundreds of thousands of miles. I’ve owned a Camry for 242,000 miles (gave it to my son), I currently own a Scion tC (Camry engine) with 209,000 miles, and we had Accords where I worked.

I have zero experience with or knowledge of the Fords or Chevys. I’ve only owned one Ford, a '64 Fairlane (wish I still had that one), and my prior experiences with GM ownership have left a sour taste in my mouth, but they were both many years ago.

I’m not an “early adopter”, not a new-technology risk-taker, so I’d avoid the CVT. But that’s a personal issue.

@tsm – Agreed about not being an early adopter of new tech. That’s part of why I’m thinking of going ahead and replacing the Impala now, given its troubled history and how almost all the makes and models are suddenly being redesigned with a wild array of new engines and transmissions with no known history yet. I’m inclined to grab known reliable, durable tech while I can, while I can get the most for trade or sale of the current car, and before new car prices get any higher. If the Impala hadn’t had so many major components fail so early, I’d just keep driving it for years to come but now it needs engine mounts at only 54,000. That’s just something more going way too early. Very frustrating.

I’m a professional mechanic, so my take on this may be a little different than the others, but as far as predicting the reliability and durability of the WHOLE CAR you’re going to be in the dark unless you get significant input from a dealership tech who can speak to warranty work of new cars. The engines and transmissions you list above are by and large proven and reliable, maybe not as much for the Ford Turbo and Chevy 4 cyl. But there’s so much more to a car than an engine. It doesn’t help to have a great engine if you’ve had to replace all the window mechanisms and steering gear by 100,000 miles. These other costs add up quickly, if and when needed. In my experience major engine work on a well-maintained car is getting to be quite rare.

Also, my opinion is you’re going about this backwards. Drive several of the cars you’re interested in and then do research if you desire about the reliability and longevity. What’s the point of having a reliable economical car if you hate the way it looks and the seats are uncomfortable?

If you do find a car you seriously like, call around to Hertz/Enterprise/Whatever and see if you can rent a model for a weekend or whole week and use it as you normally would. This will give you a much better feel for the car than a 15 minute test drive.

@asemaster – Thank you! I’ll start test driving and find what is and isn’t comfortable. I like your idea about renting for some days to confirm my impressions.

What questions do you suggest I ask the dealership techs?

I personally prefer Marnet’s approach of listing the reliable ones and then test driving those on the list. But I admit to not being a risk taker. And I know for a fact that I should have bought that Spitfire back in the mid '70s rather than letting my “reliability intellect” win out. I’ve missed a lot of fun in my time by always being safe.

In my experience the dealerships sales people don’t know much about cars. Read reviews on edmunds and kbb. I would start with a test drive of the Camry. They are the bread and butter of that size and if it is comfy for you, then I think it is the safest bet. Now you can still get a lemon:)

If you find the Camry boring, since the Accord has the CVT, I would take a look at the Mazda 6 for a more fun ride.

I am still staying away of CVT’s and turbo’s. But have caved in and bought a Ford Focus with Direct injection, it is a bit noisy, but noticeable more powerful than the Civic or Corolla with decent gas mileage. This is my first time being an early adopter, but then I am near midlife :slight_smile:

The more I think about it, the better the 2.5 Camry looks. The sunroof is good for two things: If you tip the back end up while moving, it will get rid of excess heat in a hurry. If I ever think of the second thing…

I have been driving a 2013 Rav4 and the 2.5 engine has a lot of power, the six speed transmission seems about right for a Camry and kind of good for a Rav4.

Forget the new Impala, the reviews are nice but I think the deal is off after 40,000 miles.

If you have a travel mug or drink coffee in cups from one place only, check out the cup holders with each type of cup or learn how to curse like a pirate if they are as bad as mine. I have to stuff napkins in them so my small cup is high enough to be removed easily. Some travel mugs do not fit if there is a handle on them.

I have lots of time but limited advice unless you want to learn to curse better than Andrew Dice Clay. I don’t do that these days but I might have set some world records a few decades ago.

@galant – What is the difference between fuel injection and direct injection?

@pdv2 – Hadn’t thought about the cup holders. I’ll keep that in mind. I know I’m picky about being able to easily access straightforward controls for the a/c/heat and, to a lesser extent, the radio. And how much the shifter hurts to use as well as seat comfort is a big factor. (All shifters hurt my hand to use, just a matter of how much.) Anyway, if I run out of cuss words I can always switch to several in German I learned from my generally ladylike grandmother until she stubbed her toe on the rocking chair one day. :slight_smile:

Any thoughts on the comparative pros and cons of the Camry and Fusion hybrids? Any idea about how long the hybrid batteries tend to last. No techs seem to want to answer about the life of hybrid batteries.

@pdv2 – Uhm, how do you keep a sunroof from eventually leaking???

Some people seem to have no trouble with the Prius batteries-Kevin( at least 200K?)

I presently own a Toyota with a six speed. My only complaint is with this many gears is that they will be used unnecessarily at times. I worry enough about longevity to frequently use the S mode to lock out higher gears much of the time for non intestate travel. It can be a pain. This is nothing we had to do with four speeds. But, if the alternative is a car that weighs 4000 lbs and gets close to 30 mpg at 75 mph, it is worth it. Personally, I would wait on a Toyota till I was sure when Toyota will be using direct injection throughout their fleet. That will have a huge influence on making choices, more so then a transmission. The idea that then Toyota could offer a 4 cylinder truck with over 200 hp without turbo charging, which I “hate the idea of” that gets nearly 30 mpg with the use of a this six speed, is intriguing. It would also go far in eliminating 6 cylinders in the Camry.

TSM: “I’ve missed a lot of fun in my time by always being safe.”

I assume you’re not just talking about cars…