Getting firsthand information from an actual car owner is one sure way to get an idea of car performance once it leaves the lot. Autobytel features real consumer reviews that give the unbiased experience of a car.
2002 Oldsmobile Alero - GLS Sedan
Pros: All the AUTO Stuff - door locks - lights
Cons: No arm rest
Advice: After approx 1 month of driving - I luv it.For me this works ... small, comfortable and easy to drive. Handles nice.
2002 Nissan Maxima - GLE (A4)
Pros: Overall quality
Cons: Front wheel drive and dull appearance
Advice: Bargain aggressively, they are not selling as fast as they would likeIt's always a compromise when you purchase a car, be it price, performance or any of your favorite features. I think 2002 Maxima is a good compromise. The 2004 version is going to be even better with rear wheel drive and added power, but you have to wait for 2 more years. I managed to negotiate for the GLE for $1000 below invoice before the $1000 factory rebate because dealership feared that Maxima will sit in the lot with new design of Altima.
2002 Hyundai Elantra - (M5) Sedan
Pros: 140 hp
Cons: stereo is less than i wanted. I'll upgrade
Advice: List the things you want from a car before you buyI have 1200 miles on my Elantre and it definatley has some get up and go when needed. Rap the accelerator and it takes off, in town or at expressway speeds. Just right for the daily comute. I chose it over the competetion for this and the little bit of extra leg room it has. The transmission seems to get confused when the car is cold at low speeds, and the am/fm cassette sound system is marginal. The trunk is one the mafia would be proud of. Lots of room. A good choice for the price. And what a warranty.
2002 Honda Accord - 2.3 LX (M5) Sedan
Pros: supposed to be solid built
Cons: noise, uncomfortable seating, low mpg at this class
Advice: never trust the rating from internet site. Have a full test drive first.I have about 800 miles on my new accord. It's not as good as claimed by many internet sites. The noise of road and wind is huge. The mpg is ordinary(22 for city and 28 for highway). After 300 miles I noticed the dashboard noise. I have been to the dealer's 3 times and it's still there. Overall average quality compared with Buick or Camry. Never buy it again.
2002 Toyota Camry - XLE V6 (A4)
Pros: I love the GPS Navigation and heated seats.
Cons: No multi-disc CD changer.
Advice: Buy itMy Wife and I recently bought a 2002 XLE V6 with all the bells and whistles, it's like being a kid in a candy store! The car is exceptionally quiet and very very comfortable! I recently had a 6'+ passenger in the back seat and he commented on the leg room and comfort. Plenty of power too! If I could only pry the steering wheel from her hands long enough so I could drive it!
2002 Volkswagen Passat - GLS (M5) FWD Sedan
Cons: Interior seat & door material quality
Advice: Get the leather & the Monsoon sound system. I'm sorry I didn't.Mechanically, a great car. No problems after 7 months...but did you ever try to CLEAN those velour SEATS??? It's IMPOSSIBLE!!! I've spent more money on fancy brushes designed to clean this material, but to no avail. And the best part...my dealer recommends DUCT TAPE, as they can't find anything to clean it either!!! Frankly, it makes me so mad, I most definitely would NOT have purchased this car if I knew this. My wife bought me a huge roll of EXTRA WIDE DUCT TAPE for Christmas!!!
2002 Nissan Maxima - GLE (A4)
Cons: torque steer
Advice: Unless you want the prestige of an Acura or Infiniti or etc.The only 2 less than stellar aspects of this car are (1) fairly boring (and a little odd) styling and (2) torque steering that can be severe. The plus side to issue number one is that the car can be picked out in a crowd... (+ or - ... you make the call...). The plus to item 2 is that the Maxima is one of the fastest sedan/sport sedans on the market. My other car is a Miata. While the Maxima handling is not nearly as responsive as the Miata, it's far superior to both the Camry and Accord, and easily in the same league as the Infiniti I35 and Acura TL-S. The only sport sedan I drove that had discernibly better handling characteristics was the BMW 328i... For MANY thousand more dollars. An added note: The first car I drove at the Nissan dealership was the 2001 Maxima GLE. Frankly, the car was less than inspiring. The 2002 model is a distinct step up in several areas. OK... One more note: I drove the new Altima, maxed out. Power and handling are comparable to, but, IMHO, not quite up to the Maxima standards. While it listed for a couple of grand less than the maxed out Maxima, the salesman couldn't discount it as much because Altimas are selling so well. Just my opinion... If you're offered the same dollar deal between these 2 cars... The top of the line Altima is not nearly as nice (especially the interior!!!) as the top of the line Maxima.