By on May 20, 2022

We return to the Ford Festiva once again today, as the subcompact Mazda-designed hatchback stormed North American shores. It did so wearing a Ford badge and a South Korean VIN, courtesy of a Kia factory. But North America wasn’t the only place it landed.

As we learned last time, the Festiva was built in several different countries and assumed many identities over an extensive history. The Festiva still has not reached the end of its life, but we’ll cover that in a separate article. We pick up today in North America, circa 1987.

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By on May 12, 2022

We return to our Rare Rides Icons coverage of the Ford Festiva today. An important world vehicle for the likes of Ford, Mazda, Kia (and eventually many others), the Festiva arrived at a time when rear-drive subcompacts were being replaced by much more efficient models that were front-drive. And the Mazda-designed Festiva was certainly more efficient and more front-drive than the Fiesta it replaced.

(Read More…)

By on April 29, 2022

We embark on the important and global tale of a subcompact hatchback today. Your author referenced it last week in Part I of our Kia large cars series, and now it’s time for the promised comprehensive Rare Rides coverage! Manufactured in various places around the world, our subject vehicle lived a long life and had no fewer than 10 identities over its impressive 17-year span. We’re going to party, karamu, Festiva, forever.

(Read More…)

By on February 3, 2021

After we covered American and Japanese trios of $25,000 subcompact crossovers, round three means it’s time for the Korean offerings. But there are only two Korean brands in North America, so today we cover both of their entries and another from Japan.

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By on January 29, 2021

In our last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we took a look at three subcompact American CUVs competing at the $25,000 price point. Most of you seemed to agree they were all terrible, but the Trax edged out the Buy in the comments.

Let’s see how you feel about the Japanese competition.

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By on January 25, 2021

They’re small and space efficient because they’re hatchbacks, and they sell well because they’re called crossovers. Which small American CUV is worth buying with real money if you’ve got a $25,000 budget?

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By on August 17, 2020

2020 Nissan Versa sedan - Image: Nissan

No Yaris. No Fiesta. No Sonic. No Mazda2. No Fit.

America’s subcompact car segment is decimated. According to Tyson Jominy, the vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power, 40 percent of last year’s subcompact sales are gone. Jominy doesn’t mean “fewer sales.” He means that the nameplates responsible for 40 percent of the sales are gone.

And is it any wonder? As recently as 2014, subcompact cars produced 3.8 percent of all U.S. auto sales. Collectively, the few remaining subcompact cars now account for just 1.4 percent of the American light vehicle market.

At the current rate of decline, fewer than 1 percent of the vehicles sold in America in 2022 will be subcompact cars. But we all know the current rate of decline is hardly an accurate harbinger. If subcompacts own 1 percent of the market in 2021, we’d be surprised.  (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2020

The Rare Rides series has previously featured many Pontiacs, and today’s hatchback is our ninth to wear the Red Arrow badge. It’s also the smallest Pontiac we’ve ever featured.

It’s not a Chevette, but it is the Chevette’s sporty Driving Excitement cousin! (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2020

2020 Toyota Yaris XLE sedanJust when Toyota’s Yaris finally adorned the name of a fun car, the brand kills it.

It was once the Scion iA, but a couple years ago, Toyota bestowed it with the Yaris moniker after retiring the Scion brand. Once attached to underwhelming subcompacts, the name was now slapped on the side of a more-fun small car.

It’s not shocking that the brand killed the Mazda 2-based Yaris sedan. The culprits? Slow sales and new regulations.

Slow sales is a big story in the subcompact class, and in 2019 the Yaris was down 5,000 units from the year before. Coronavirus may have ushered the Yaris out the door, too, since Toyota planned to limit North American production to adjust to the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

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By on July 8, 2020

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

This was a long time coming. In fact, Wednesday’s announcement of the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact was expected to arrive by the end of last year, not halfway through the present one.

Regardless, the small hatchback and sedan that greeted buyers near the outset of the 2010s will not last more than a year into the 2020s. It’s dead come October.

Sad? (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2020

Bad news to share — especially for those of you enamored with cheap, entry-level passenger cars. The Toyota Yaris sedan and hatchback will vanish after the 2020 model year.

Reworked versions of the Mazda 2, the guppy-faced Yarises greeted North American buyers in two phases after the “real” Yaris bowed out, first as a sedan and later as a hatchback. Get one while you can. (Read More…)

By on November 18, 2019

mitsubishi

This should help sweep every last thought of the Ford Mustang and its hip new sibling out of your mind.

Teased not long ago by an excited Mitsubishi, the newest Mirage is now ready for a round of eye feasting. Get your fill. And, while the subcompact model hasn’t adopted a new platform or anything like that, it has donned its largest grille to date, plus some additional finery to drive cost-conscious boys and girls wild. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2019

Mitsubishi Motors

Christmas just came early for many of you. The Mitsubishi Mirage, a truly inexpensive vehicle sometimes seen wearing a worrisome shade of magenta, will soon be even better than before.

That’s because the subcompact hatch and sedan is about gain an even more dynamic and expressive exterior. Brace yourselves. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2019

Image: Honda

Honda last revamped its subcompact Fit hatchback for the 2015 model year, tossing the entry-level model a styling refresh for 2018. Now, there’s a new Fit on the block (or Jazz, depending on market), but its availability in the U.S. remains a question mark.

Sales of most subcompact cars have followed a trajectory traced by their compact and midsize stablemates, and it points nowhere but down. If Honda feels it’s worthwhile shipping the Fit across U.S. borders, what you see here could be yours. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2019

Two months and change after Ford Motor Company ceased production of North America’s smallest Blue Oval vehicle, Europeans are waking up to news that their tiniest offering has a date with death.

The Ka+, a name this writer can’t read without imagining a Bostonian pronouncing the word “car,” will disappear from the marketplace thanks to —what else? — fuel economy regulations that disproportionately impact small vehicles. (Read More…)

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