Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New year, new subcompacts

During the 2009 calendar year, the U.S. will see a myriad of new subcompacts--both '09 models and 2010 models. Here are some highlights of what's to come and, in some cases, what's already here.

Kia Soul

Kia's latest forray into the small car world will be the Soul. With it's boxy, funky, and practical shape, Kia could have a winner on its hands. Powered by a 2.0-liter four cylinder, the Soul should provide a good mix of performance, economy, and practicality. Plus, the Soul will have a plethora of dealer options and accessories to personalize the vehicle.

Nissan Cube

Here to possibly snatch up previous 2004-2006 Scion xB buyers is Nisaan's Cube. Smaller than a second-gen xB, and certainly pumped full of funky styling, the Cube will certainly serve its niche. Like other tall-wagon-style vehicles, it will dish up the practicality in heaps, and should also prove a competent performer, thanks in part to its 122 hp 1.8 liter engine. Like Scion and Kia's Soul, the Cube will have tons of options and unique accessories to make sure you don't look like a square ... er ... do look like a square ... uh ... you get it.

Pontiac G3 and Chevrolet Aveo

For buyers looking to buy a subcompact GM vehicle, The General offers the redesigned Chevrolet Aveo and the new Pontiac G3, which is a badged-engineered Aveo. The Korean-built cousins are powered by a new Ecotec 1.6 liter 106 hp engine delivering up to 34 mpg on the highway. Other features include standard OnStar, standard side-impact airbags, and variable intermittent wipers. The G3 will start at $14,995; the Aveo5 at $12,625. An Aveo sedan is also available.

Toyota Yaris 5-door

Finally, the U.S. gets the five-door Yaris. The extra two doors mean it's easier for passengers to get in the back seat. There was a minor refresh to the front end, too. The Yaris five-door gets decent mileage; an EPA rating of 29/35 for the four-speed automatic, which, by the way, is the only choice of transmission if you want five doors. Although powered by a small 1.5 liter DOHC engine, the car only weighs about 2,300 lbs. Also new for '09 are standard side-impact airbags and a new "S" package for both 3- and 5-door liftbacks.

Honda Fit

The 2009 Honda Fit has been for sale already for a few months, but it is an '09 model. Powered by a 117 hp 1.5 liter VTEC engine, the Fit is a fine choice of subcompact. The all-new design is spacious, versatile, and attractive. Like the previous-generation Fit, it has nimble reflexes, great fuel economy (35 highway mpg), and a lot of standard features that many believe make it the king of subcompacts.

2010 Toyota iQ

What could be one of the most anticipated Toyota releases in a while, the Smart-fighting iQ will bring some competition to the micro car market. Debuting as soon as early 2009, the iQ will seat "3+1"people (three adults, and one child), possibly be powered by a 1.5 (via the Yaris) or 1.3 liter engine, and may come with ABS, skid control, and other driving aids. (Full details are not known yet.) There's even a possibility the vehicle could appear under the Scion brand. Stay tuned.

2010 Suzuki Swift ????

For a few years, there have been rumors that Suzuki will reintroduce the Suzuki Swift to the U.S. market. A far cry from the Suzuki Swift most Americans may (or may not) remember, the latest Swift has won over automotive journalists world wide. The car has been on sale in other parts of the world for a couple of years. The U.S. currently gets the Suzuki SX4, which rides on the Swift platform. I haven't heard any news lately on whether or not the vehicle will hit U.S. showrooms or not, however, I hope it does. More to come--hopefully.

2011 Ford Fiesta

The highly anticipated Ford Fiesta is a 2011 model, and unfortunately won't show up on U.S. soil until 2010. So anticipated, the '11 Fiesta has been dubbed Ford's "Best Hope For the Future" by Time magazine.

2009 Pontiac G3
2009 Chevrolet Aveo
2009 Toyota Yaris 5 Door
2009 Honda Fit
2011 Ford Fiesta


D2M said...

I have to say, I'm surprised at how good the new Aveo5 looks. While I wouldn't call it "sporty" at least it's not 'frumpy" like it use to be. I wonder how it'll drive?

The Soul looks really cool. If there's a Kia dealership near by when we move back to the States, I might take a look at it.

The Cube is.. well. Cubish. I've seen it in person, the old and new version. I dunno, it really does look TOO square to me. xD

Ah, the Fiesta.... I wish it was coming out a year earlier. I really wanted to give that thing a spin....

As for the Fit, well.. I've been drooling over that all year. I'm really looking forward to finding out how it drives.

Andy Lilienthal said...

I think they're all worth at least looking at. Whenever people I know are asking for car advice, I always tell them to drive everything they're interested in. Yes, it might make the process a bit longer, but you'll really get an idea of what you like and what you don't.

nlpnt said...

I actually like the Pontiac version of the Aveo/G2 better than the Chevy (new or old); I wish they'd offered these with the original Euro Kalos nose instead of trying to give it a "smiley face".

The Soul is nice, but I still like the Rio5 better, less overdone. Either one, I'd like to see Kia ditch the plastic wheelcovers from the non-alloy-wheel-option versions in favor of the 15" open steelies from the base Rio sedan.

I'm reserving judgement on the Cube until I see the real thing. It'll either be the next "it" car or disappear without a trace.

Yaris 5-door/Fit; I chose an '08 3-door Yaris over a Fit due to the former's lower price and the latter's impending obsolescence. The mandatory slushbox plus extra premium Toyota's charging for 5 doors completely kills the Yaris's price advantage, leaving it with a tiny trunk and power accessories still on the option list.

Could the iQ wind up replacing the 3-door Yaris? Not right away, but at the next full model changeover?

Fiesta; With a real 3-pedal manual 'box still a question mark (but if you can get one on a Fusion...) the 5-door's a definite go. If those two line up with a factory sunroof option you don't need to add a ton of other stuff to get, and a "Made in USA" label, it might tempt me back into the new-car market faster than was the original plan....the Yaris will be paid off in January 2011, by then the Fiestroit will have a year of production under its' belt....

D2M said...

I saw the Cube again today when we went to the mall. While I still don't know what to think about the style, it's much bigger than it looks on the internet. Somehow the box shape makes it look small, but it's actually pretty lengthy.

I think it'll catch on in the states.