T Nation

Rice Burners

If you were in the market for a 2002 / 2003 rice burner for under $20k what would you buy; based on performance, reliability, and looks? (Cars not Motorcycles)

As a former owner of an Acura Integra Type R and Subaru WRX, I think I can add some suggestions for you. First of all, I don’t like the term rice burner for all cars. A true rice burner is someone who takes a stock civic and puts on an intake, header, exhaust, stickers, rims and springs and acts like their car is fast! That’s a rice burner! And it is not what sport compact cars are about. Once you buy something that actually has some “go” from the factory, you’re getting into sport compacts such as the Type R and WRX. Now, if you’re looking for a new car in the $20K range, there are some decent ones to choose from. But I’d wait a little longer since Honda/Acura hasn’t released anything new in a while. They should be bringing another Type R to the market this coming year. In the meantime, the only good cars I see out there right now is the Subaru WRX, Dodge SRT-4 and Mazdaspeed Protege. They are the only cars I’d consider right now. I loved my Type R and have even considered buying another one if Honda/Acura doesn’t bring a new one to the U.S. Market anytime soon. I also liked my WRX, but it needed too many upgrades to make it handle better and get more speed. But it is a nice car. The new Dodge SRT-4 is actually quite a freakin’ good deal for under $20K. This car does 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 14.2. This is a stock car from the factory, with a warranty, turbo, huge intercooler and a new, more reliable engine. For the money, nothing can beat it…not even the WRX. The mazdaspeed protege is one of the best overall handling cars you can get, but they messed up a few things. Buy using a stock tranny and engine internals, they had to keep boost low. Which means, if you decide to put a bigger intercooler, new exhaust and boost controller, you will definitely run the chance of blowing up the engine because it wasn’t meant to handle more than what it does now. But overall, it has been rated quite well with handling, road feel, etc. And it’s pretty cool looking and comes with some cool stuff (Sparco gear knob and pedals, Kenwood stereo system). So if I were you, I’d debate what you really want. Overall power and speed? Handling? Economy? Or you could wait a while longer to see what else comes out in 2003. I’m looking into new cars for late 2003 as well.

First - anything by Honda. Bought one used with 114,00 on it, traded it in with 178,000 on it and no problems. Bought an integra new in 93 and now drive it everyday despite the odometer reading over 217,000. No problems and still the original clutch - only had to replace the timing belt, muffler, shocks. Still gets over 30 mpg on the highway.

Second - not a rice burner, but rather a knockwurst burner? VW Jetta. Lot’s of amenities and good reliability and safety, starting around 18,000.

Both the Honda and the VW have TONS of aftermarket parts available to really crank up the HP if you’re into that sort of thing. I, for one, don’t like to have to spend money buying a car very often. I’d rather have it for my house or early retirement so I just buy what will last the longest.

I am not normaly a big… Buy american or it is crap guy. And intil now if you wanted a fast little car you had to buy a rice burner, but that has changed for $19,999 you can buy dodge’s SRT. The only thing faster in there line up is a viper. Now I am not a dodge fan BUT it will do 0-60 in some thing like 5.4 or 5.6. Take a look at Dodge’s site. It is a inter colded turbo charged six I think. The best part about it is that dodge is going to sell aftermarket parts that YOU can put on and still keep you’r warranty. Nothing can touch it off the factory line. In less it is 25,000 or more and that would be a wrx and still they start out about 5-6 grand more for the base modle. Think about it. We are not talking about a car invented buy old guys. The person who headed the operation was 26 I think.

Well I have a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer and I love it. The OZ package is around 16k, but all of them are the same performance wise. 120Hp/130lbs Tq. It’s a quick car for its class, but not a world beater by any means. Throw a turbo and some other minor mods on the car for about 5grand, and you’re running the 1/4 mile at about 95-100 mph.

It’s a very good looking car and is not nearly as common as a civic. The aftermarket is still developing as it’s a new car to the US. The Evolution Lancer will be coming out in a couple months 28-32k and pushing 270 HP or so (US specs not released yet).

I really enjoy driving this car. I’ve had mine for about 9 months now.

Don’t get a 7th gen civic, they are slow as hell, the EX model is only 127 hp which is crap, and even w/I/H/E mods, you’re only gonna gain like 10hp tops…not worth it IMO…

Also, honda has their Si out now, but it’s a hatch and IMO it looks like crap, like the Odyssey mini van with the bottom cut off…

If you’re into speed at a good price, go with a VW 1.8t GTI or Jetta if you can get it cheaper than $20, I know you can get the GTI for that price…and the plus is, for $500 you can get a chip upgrade and you now looking at 240hp!! The 1.8t already pushes 180hp, but an extra 60hp for 500 bucks is pretty good…

I just got a 350Z! Now, to the question. WRX is a good car. I hate Chrysler cars. They are JUNK. I have had nothing but problems with them. And I used to be an engineer and do testing on their cars…all JUNK. However, if you were only planning on keeping it a few years, the SRT is your best bet since it has some go, plus any problems would be covered under warranty. Oh and for the record, Chrysler is no longer an American car company. If you planned on keeping the car past any warranty, I would go with the WRX.

D an K makes a very good point about the VWs (and the chips). VWs are quality cars.

I don’t like the VW’s but they do have nice chips for them. The GTI was recently in an 8-car shootout in Sport Compact Car magazine and ranked 7th behind the Honda Civic Si. If you’re going to go for German engineering, I’d go with an Audi and then work on putting in a chip and a few minor upgrades. They are sweet cars with AWD and turbo power…but you pay big bucks for them. Since we’re looking at $20K, you’re best bet at this time is the SRT-4 or the Mazdaspeed Protege…unless you wait a little longer for something new or buy a used Type R. I agree with Scott about the quality of Chrysler. Also, my WRX was nice, but it wasn’t as high-quality as I thought it would be especially compared to my Type R. Unless it’s a Honda, I wouldn’t keep many cars past the warranty expiration.

I bought a 2001 Toyota Celica and I love it. I got the super white. It kicks ass. Nice and quick when needed just rpm up to 7.5k and you are out. It is also loaded with cargo space for a sporty car. Drop the back seats and you can haul damn near anything you need. I am happy with my little white car. oh yeah and chicks really dig it. I have only put 20k in it and no problems yet. I put my friends head through my moon roof and they fixed it free of charge warrenty. haa ha.

I looked at the nissan SE-R SPEC-v…I really like that one the best so far. 175 HP, 182 FT-LBs of Torque. Handles nice…can even haul my kids, but the interior is kinda ugly, but the outside looks nice.

I’d go with the Mazdaspeed Protege or SRT-4 before the SE-R. It looks like a good car, but it’s not as good as it seems. Power and Torque is decent, but handling, redline and suspension isn’t quite up to par. Check out the recent edition of Sport Compact Car for the 8-car shootout with cars under $20K and that should help you make a better decision. I think the SE-R ranked five or six in the shootout. SRT-4 ranked 1st, Mazdaspeed Protege ranked a close 2nd, and then it went from there.