Basic Japanese Compacts From 2008

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Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn trio are the 2008 versions of the same Japanese compacts from last time. Many of you were split on the relative goodness of 1998’s Civic versus Corolla, but agreed Sentra should burn. Do those views change when the cars are from 2008?

Honda Civic

The eighth-gen Civic is in its third model year in North America, where it’s available in sedan and coupe formats. Civic is a bit edgier and serious-looking than its older Nineties sibling but promises the same overall value. In 2008 there are seven total trims That range in price from $14,800 to over $23,000. The most affordable sedan is a DX trim with a five-speed manual transmission. DX uses a 1.8-liter inline-four good for 140 horses and asks $15,010.

Nissan Sentra

Sentra entered its sixth generation in 2007 and continues unchanged for the 2008 model year. Sentra is available only as a sedan and rides on the same C platform as the Rogue. Unlike Civic which offers standard automatic transmissions, Sentra is offered only with a six-speed manual or a CVT. Five trims are available that range in price from $16,140 to $20,570. The base 2.0 has a CVT, so we upgrade to the 2.0 S for its six-speed manual. 140 horses arrive via the 2.0-liter engine. Nissan asks $16,370.

Toyota Corolla

The Corolla is in its ninth generation, and its final model year; it’s been on sale since 2003. Not to worry, Corolla was refreshed for 2005 to keep with the times! North America receives only the Corolla sedan, though wagons and hatchbacks are available elsewhere. Trims are three and have a narrow price range of $14,405 to $16,250. The cheapest CE with a five-speed manual asks $14,405. A trailing 126 horses arrive at the front wheels from the 1.8-liter engine.

Three late 2000s economy sedans, all of which are arguably build with less care and concern than their Nineties counterparts. Which one is worth buying?

[Images: Toyota, Honda, Nissan]

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