Honda City, Hyundai Accent or Toyota Vios

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Mar 10, 2012

Hi, Botchi!

I currently own a 1994 Mitsubishi Lancer, and I have never looked forward to buying a brand-new car simply because I can't afford one and I am pretty much still comfortable with my old car. I received a promotion recently, however, and this allowed me to avail of the company's car-plan benefit. That's where my confusion began.

As I've said, I've never experienced this confusion in the past because I wasn't interested in new cars and I rarely read magazines for reviews about this car and that--not until now. You can just imagine all these information suddenly creeping up on me.

I need a car that will get me going in both city and highway driving. I need your help and expert opinion on the right car when it comes to durability, efficiency, power and speed given my three choices: Honda City, Hyundai Accent and Toyota Vios. If you have other options for me, please do suggest.

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Thank you very much and more power.


Hi, Andy!

I know what you mean. As much as I love driving the newest cars myself, I very rarely buy a new one to replace my current cars. Newer cars tend to be more complicated, but they do offer benefits that old cars can't--safety and efficiency, plus a good dose of boosted performance.

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Here's what I think about the cars you mentioned:

1. Honda City - This feels most like a proper junior executive car. It's firm and sporty, and it gives an almost European feel to the suspension. It has  excellent brakes, steering feel and responsive engine--probably the best engine in its group as Hondas are known to be obsessively engineered particularly in the engine department--and a solid build quality. It's also roomy inside, thanks to the ingenious ULT (universal long and tall) seating arrangement system, which allows you to flip and fold seats out of the way to make room for large cargo. It looks a bit serious on the inside though; it's not very fun-feeling especially when compared to the Honda Jazz. But the Honda City is a very good car--probably the best in this segment in terms of providing a somber, luxurious and serious feel.

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2. Toyota Vios - In terms of reliability, there is one proof that the Vios is as reliable as death and taxes. It's a good thing indeed, but image-wise, it just kills the Vios. The Vios is a favorite of taxi fleets. Taxi fleets want something very tough, very simple, easy to maintain, sips fuel like a miser, and has very affordable parts that are readily available. Driving the Vios is okay--nothing really special--but there's also a sense of indestructibility about it. Resilience is a better word to describe the feeling of safety that the Vios offers. Whereas the City feels like a solid structure hewn from a single block of metal, the Vios feels like an organic, shape-changing and adapting material that wraps around you. It feels rubbery, less sharp, less precise to drive, especially when you're on the move. But traffic driving is a strong suit of the Vios because it's engine is very responsive low-down, whereas the City's engine tends to pull all the way to red line better with a slight loss in low-end grunt as a compromise.

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3. Hyundai Accent - Ah, the surprise, left-field entry. I love this car because driving it really surprised and amazed me first time out. It has good driving dynamics, and spacious-feeling front seats although passengers have complained that the back seats feel tight. The dash layout and architecture are very nice, very modern and the higher-end variants come with a nice dash-integrated audio system. It feels light and quick on its feet but, admittedly, it doesn't have the same solidity as the City, and it's about similar to the Vios in terms of feel. I do think the Accent looks fresher and newer. Because of that, it's more attractive.

The Honda City represents the very extreme right-wing choice for many executives looking for an entry-level company car because it feels very much like a big, grown-up car, with a big-car feel and air about it. The Toyota Vios is the safe middle-ground default choice, most likely due to aggressive fleet sales discounting but also because it hardly breaks and, if something does, rest assured it will be cheap to repair. The Vios feels very much like a tool in that sense--a simple device to get you from point A to B, in the safest, most fuel efficient manner possible. The Hyundai Accent, despite its growing popularity, is still a left-field choice but a very good one nonetheless. It drives well without the somber feel of the City, yet is as efficient as the other two, and has a quirky design that makes it stand out, but in a good way. It is the newest one, too!

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Hope this helps, good luck and God bless! Drive safe.

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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