Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Smaller Cars, Bigger Features

Gas price inflation was a blessing in disguise for automakers that manufacture small and fuel-efficient cars. And the auto trend is likely to continue. This is because inflation is likely to linger.

Another part of the small car trend is environment concerns. But the crucial part is the small cars’ big features. Uh-huh. Big things may come in small packages.

Boston.com has this list of exceptional small cars:

Toyota Yaris ($11,150 to $14,250):
Look no further, if you want good fuel economy (34 city, 40 highway), reliability and style on a budget. The Yaris comes in two basic model styles: a 2-door with a hatchback, and a 4-door sedan.

Toyota Corolla ($14,305 to $16,315):
The bulletproof Corolla comes with a higher level of standard equipment than the Yaris and feels like a more substantial vehicle. It is.

Honda Civic ($14,810 to $24,350):
Honda boasts that it offers the most fuel-efficient lineup of cars on the planet. If that's so, the Civic can take a lot of the credit. Even with an automatic transmission, the gasoline-powered Civic gets 40 mpg on the highway. A hybrid version hits 51 mpg.

Honda Fit ($13,850 to $15,970):
A half-step below Civic in size, price and utility is the new Fit. One of Fit's strengths is how well it does divvying up space between front seats, back seats and cargo bay. It delivers excellent fuel economy in the mid-to-upper 30 mpg range.

Nissan Versa ($12,550 to $15,550):
Advertisements for the Versa stress that it is one small car that doesn't make its occupants feel squeezed. Engineers have done a good job of squeezing the fat out of the design, not its occupants.

Mazda 3 ($13,795 to $23,955):
Mazda enjoys a sportier image than some of its competitors. But the 3 compact also offers good driving dynamics, an engaging interior design and build quality that will keep an owner admiring the purchase long after the loan is paid off. Fuel economy could be a bit better for a vehicle this size, but there is an inevitable trade-off for all that "zoom-zoom."

Ford Focus ($13,480 to $17,550):
Not as much fun as its cousin, the Mazda 3, the Focus still has a loyal following. The 2007 model is the last in a line of vehicles that have been around, with few changes, since 2000.

Toyota Prius ($22,175 to $23,070):
Though the Prius is classified as a compact car, this environmentally friendly hybrid feels like it is in a class by itself. It's not fast, doesn't handle all that well, could be roomier and more comfortable, and its looks are an acquired taste. But there is no arguing with Prius' fuel-saving benefits for the planet, as well as your wallet.

Mini Cooper ($18,050 to $25,400):
The Mini Cooper is a compact car with 40 mpg fuel economy, more style per square inch than any car in the industry, and a fun-to-drive quotient that will leave you with a permanent grin plastered to your face.

Take your pick. Indulge.

posted by Car Addict @ 1:13 AM  
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