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…)

By on April 13, 2019

Inmage: Nissan

Regardless of which angle it’s viewed from, Nissan’s next-generation Versa stands atop a box and screams “Nissan!” for all to hear. From the side, you’d be forgiven for thinking someone shrunk the Maxima. Looking at the upward-sweeping character line and upstairs/downstairs door handles, its identity could be that of the new Altima. Head-on, a pedestrian might think they were being run down by a Leaf.

Yes, the 2020 Versa keeps it in the family in terms of design, donning a corporate grille and styling flourishes borrowed from its larger siblings. Perusing the car’s specs, it seems that — flat-bottomed steering wheel aside — its mission hasn’t changed one iota. (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2019

Image: Toyota

The first quarter of 2019 reflected a long-predicted cooling off of U.S. auto sales, with volume falling 2 percent. A few automakers bucked the trend, but the news was generally unpleasant. Of course, rising average transaction prices and a bevy of high-margin trucks, SUVs, and crossovers softened the blow for those who got their lineups in order ahead of time.

One segment that gets very little attention — for many reasons — is the lowest rung of all: subcompact cars, which traditionally provide a stepping stone for buyers just entering the market. Many journos bemoan the loss of low-priced cars, claiming relatively cash-strapped Millennials stand to be priced out of the new vehicle market by rising MSRPs and interest rates. It’s true — the herd is thinning, with the last quarter bringing about the death of the Chevrolet Cruze. (This writer actually bought one; the jury’s out if anyone else out there did.)

Still, despite the industry flux, some nameplates continue to earn the love of buyers who choose to spend as little as possible on a new car. (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2019

public domain

It’s already half here. The Toyota Yaris sedan, formerly the Scion iA, is the rebadged twin of the subcompact Mazda launched in Montreal in 2015. You’ll note that Mazda does not sell a second-generation 2 in North America, making that launch a relatively pointless endeavor for the automaker.

Now that Toyota has gone ahead and killed off the Toyota Yaris hatch (the Yaris that’s actually a Toyota), a space has opened up. Chances are good that the little hatch we didn’t get in 2015 will finally arrive in 2020, bearing another brand’s logo. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2019

In a less-than-shocking turn of events, Toyota has confirmed to CarsDirect that its Yaris Liftback, a slow-selling model that managed to score itself a facelift a few years back, is dead in the United States.

Official confirmation of the model’s discontinuation came from Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell. Starting at $16,565 after destination, the diminutive hatch’s sales paled in comparison to that of its Mazda-based namesake, the Yaris sedan. To all observers, the Yaris hatch was a dead car … driving.  (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2018

Rumors of the Ford Fiesta‘s American demise have swirled ever since the 2016 launch of the seventh-generation model in Europe. On sale for the 2017 model year, the current-gen Fiesta overseas is not the current-gen Fiesta we see here. No, the older model continues on in North America, as whispers of its impending execution come and go.

Most recently, a Wall Street Journal report claimed the Fiesta would end production this year, with the Taurus sedan following it to the grave not long after.

That’s not what VIN decoder document obtained by TTAC claims.  (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2018

I nearly bought a Suzuki Swift once. If memory serves me correctly, and who knows if it does, it was a 1991 model. Or a 1993. Black, with two doors and the big, honkin’, pavement-pounding 1.3-liter inline-four. A real brute!

Alas, without much money in my pocket (I was, what, 18?) and a pressing desire to not be seen as the guy in the Geo Metro, I made a fateful choice. That Swift stayed exactly as I found it, slowly decomposing in the back corner of a sketchy used car lot, and I turned my attention to another. Sadly, the affordable object of my affection turned out to be a total lemon that soured me on Chrysler Corporation for many years.

But enough about the Plymouth Sundance.

Once in a blue moon, I wonder how different my life might have turned out had I purchased that Swift and become a card-carrying member of the subcompact crowd. Maybe you don’t have to imagine the experience, though. Maybe a very small car wormed its way into your heart and never really left. (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2018

Image: Toyota

With Monday’s announcement of a refreshed 2019 Yaris sedan comes the last shovelful of dirt heaped on Scion’s grave. Toyota has an updated version of the subcompact four-door ready for an official unveiling at this week’s New York International Auto Show, but don’t go looking for that tell-tale “iA” model nameplate. It’s gone.

The complicated history of Toyota’s smallest sedan begins with the automaker’s defunct youth brand, Scion. As the brand grew more confused (and mainstream), Toyota borrowed the recently introduced second-generation Mazda 2 sedan, slapped a Scion badge on it, and rolled out the iA. Mazda had second thoughts about offering the car in this market, making the iA and the CX-3 the only domestic adopters of the car’s platform.

For Scion, grafting a large, unusual grille onto the wee car proved sufficient in de-KODO-ifying the model. During the inaugural 2016 model year, however, Toyota grimly loaded a single round into its shotgun, took the Scion brand behind the barn, and did what it had to do. The two newest Scion models — iA and iM — kept their model names and took up residence in the Yaris and Corolla lineups for 2017, adopting their sibling’s name as a prefix (despite not sharing the same architecture).

Now, both models enter 2019 free of vestigial Scion badging. (Read More…)

By on October 20, 2017

2018 Honda Fit LX - Image: © Timothy CainSubcompacts, if they ever were in favor, have quickly fallen out of favor in the United States. In 2017, sales in the first three-quarters of the year plunged by more than a fifth, year-over-year. The Honda Fit, modestly updated for the 2018 model year, is on track in 2017 to fall to a five-year low of around 50,000 sales, a far cry from the nearly 80,000 American Honda sold a decade ago.

The Honda Fit, not now in third-gen form nor in any prior iteration, has never sold on the strength of style. There have always been less expensive subcompacts, faster subcompacts, and better-equipped subcompacts, as well.

There have not, however, at least not during the Fit’s tenure, been any subcompacts that offer the flexibility of the Honda Fit. But does the fact that the 2018 Honda Fit is likely the only current subcompact that could operate as my family’s lone vehicle make up for the fact that the Fit lags behind rivals in key areas? (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2017

2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door - Image: © Timothy CainDuring a year in which Kia is about to drop a BMW 3 Series-rivalling sports sedan with a price tag that rises above $50,000, it’s not hard to see why the arrival of a new Kia subcompact hatchback goes relatively unnoticed.

It’s not hard to see why the arrival of any subcompact goes unnoticed. In the United States, subcompact car sales are a pittance, forming just 2 percent of the market after losing one-fifth of their collective volume so far this year. Kia’s entry, meanwhile, fills only a narrow gap in America’s subcompact niche, suffering from a 51-percent year-over-year sales drop to only 11,952 sales in 2017’s first nine months, equal to just 4 percent of the subcompact market.

This is nothing new. U.S. interest in the Kia Rio, valued at over 50,000 annual sales way back in 2002, perked up with the dawn of the outgoing third-generation model half a decade ago but quickly diminished. Kia USA averaged fewer than 30,000 annual Rio sales over the last three years.

But you can forget the Stinger for a moment, you can set aside the K900, ignore the Cadenza, and temporarily dismiss the Sorento SX Limited. This is the 2018 Kia Rio. Kia won’t even let you spend more than $20,000 on this subcompact hatch. (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta sedan and hatch - Image: FordAt TTAC, we’re big fans of Ford’s 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. In the right application — the sixth-generation Ford Fiesta — the EcoBoost triple is a happy revver, a fuel miser, a torque manufacturer, a smooth operator.

In fact, we’re such big fans of the EcoBoost three-cylinder that our editor-at-large bought and paid for a Fiesta 1.0 EB long-termer with his own money. That’s a strong recommendation. Recommendations don’t come any stronger than that.

With the existing, aged, increasingly antiquated Mexico-built Ford Fiesta continuing as a 2018 model year subcompact whilst much of the world benefits from the launch of a new generation of Fiestas, Ford is trimming the Fiesta lineup. The standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder persists; the Fiesta ST forges on.

But the Ford Fiesta’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder is signing off. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta ST three-door - Image: FordOver the last seven years, America, you didn’t buy many Ford Fiestas. Fewer than 430,000, in fact. For perspective, in the much smaller United Kingdom market, Ford sold over 500,000 Fiestas in just the last four years.

But the Fiesta’s lack of popularity — and its dramatic loss of popularity in America — is not a unique-to-Ford situation. U.S. sales of subcompact cars plunged by more than a fifth, year-over-year, during the first eight months of 2017. That tumble comes after U.S. sales of subcompact cars declined in 2015 and 2016, as well.

Nevertheless, it comes as no surprise that Ford, after exploring America’s affordable avenues for one generation of Fiesta, isn’t bringing the seventh-generation version to America. And now we have confirmation that there is absolutely no hope the next-gen Ford Fiesta ST will come stateside, either. (Read More…)

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