By on February 11, 2019

2019 Mazda CX-3 front quarter

The Napoleon complex, of course, is where those of smaller stature overcompensate by being overly aggressive. Named for the legendarily short French emperor (who may or may not have actually been all that tiny), those so afflicted may be excessively loud, with a temper matching their height.

We car enthusiasts tend to anthropomorphize our four-wheeled friends, at the very least giving them names, if not attributing characters and personalities. The original Mini, for example, is frequently compared to an English bulldog.

Thus I feel compelled to toss the Napoleon complex label on the 2019 Mazda CX-3. It’s appropriately tiny, but with spirited handling well beyond the typical in the class. It’s also quite loud.

(Read More…)

By on September 7, 2018

2018 Nissan Kicks

Not concerned with offering all-wheel drive, Nissan’s recently launched Kicks subcompact knows its ground clearance, styling, and low, low entry price is what customers will take notice of, not its perceived off-road prowess. It doesn’t have any (though on dry and flat boulder-free trails, it would probably do fine).

After Nissan unveiled its pricing in the U.S. and Canada, we noticed that the normal north-of-the-border markup was missing in action. As a result, buying a base Kicks S in Canada is just eight bucks pricier than an American purchase ($17,998 vs. $17,990). Both Canada and the U.S. love their big trucks, I said at the time, but this little ute will do better north of the border.

It’s always nice to be proven right. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2018


Nissan may have discontinued the North American-market Juke earlier this year, but the model remains a popular item in the European market, dating back to its 2010 debut. There, its polarizing looks and role as an enjoyable to drive city car helped keep the model relevant.

As even the freshest of takes can get stale after seven years, the Juke is due for a redesign. But will Nissan change the formula to give the small crossover broader appeal, or will weirdness, once again, rule the day? Considering Americans no longer have to contend with its quirks, as we have the subcompact Kicks working as its replacement, there’s real no reason for the brand to pull any punches. Likewise, Nissan global design boss Alfonso Albaisa’s description of the second-generation model promises anything but an average automobile.  (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2018

2017 Mirage GT

Having already bastardized the Eclipse name by affixing it to a new crossover vehicle, there’s palpable fear within the automotive media that Mitsubishi might try the same with another iconic property. While FTO and 3000GT don’t have the right ring to them, we can imagine trendy performance SUV wearing an Evolution badge — to our chagrin.

In our fantasies, we imagine Mitsubishi bringing back a new, harder-hitting Lancer compact and a menacing mid-sized Galant. Maybe the Starion could even make an appearance. However, those models probably wouldn’t sell outside the Land of Make Believe even if they were stellar models. Sport utility vehicles and crossovers are where the money’s at right now, and cash is exactly what Mitsubishi is after.

Keeping that in mind, a new rumor claims the brand is working with Nissan to get its Alliance partner’s modular platform inside the Mirage, or whatever replaces it. The end result will be a small crossover with sporting pretensions, which doesn’t sound bad in the least.  (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2018

The phrase “Nisan just built its one-millionth Juke” would probably be the first question on a Voight-Kampff test for automotive lovers residing in North America. The information is totally incompatible with everything you thought you understood about the world around you, and processing it begins scrambling your brain as you frantically hunt for an escape from it. An open window? The sweet release of death?

Relax. While the news is scary and difficult to comprehend, don’t forget that there is an entire world out there with a populace that’s not subject to the same predilections as ours. The Juke may have been too funky to become a massive hit in the United States and Canada, but it had a few good years and Nissan planted seeds all across the globe.

Japanese sales of the model almost matched the U.S., despite having a comparatively minuscule population. Volume also exceeded expectations in Europe, and China has a weird luxury version of the Juke called the Infiniti ESQ. But it wasn’t a good fit for North America and sales suffered as a result, forcing Nissan to call in the Kicks as the Juke’s successor after annual deliveries started plunging a few years ago.  (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2018

Image: Honda

There’s probably no shortage of eyeball rolling over this headline, as manual transmissions wouldn’t be fading out of the marketplace if buyers actually desired one.

Once upon a time, a stick-shift guaranteed better fuel economy, but those days are pretty much gone. It was also a great way to reduce the entry price of a particular model, but automakers’ thirst for larger margins and fewer configurations means what few base, stick-shift models roll off the line are often hidden from consumer view in the real world. This only serves to sink popularity even further.

The ongoing trend has apparently reached the Honda HR-V, which undergoes a mild refresh for the 2019 model year. As part of this update, say goodbye to the six-speed manual in Honda’s smallest ‘ute. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2018

Managing Editor Tim Healey is currently behind the wheel of a new, subcompact 2018 Nissan Kicks in the unlikely and extravagant first drive locale of Southern California, but you aren’t allowed to know how it drives until Friday. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, you’re allowed to know exactly how much Nissan’s entry-level crossover costs, and guess what? There’s a value proposition at work. Mind you, there’s no all-wheel drive availability with this little model, which could take it right off many buyers’ must-have list, but Nissan clearly wants to appeal to the cost-conscious consumer who shuns steep and muddy terrain and doesn’t live in the depths of the snow belt. (Read More…)

By on April 8, 2018

With its new UX crossover in tow, Lexus now has a utility vehicle competing in every segment. However, it wants to make sure its getting the right customers behind the wheel. If the gargantuan GL is intended for large families with a fair amount of pocket change and an abundance of parking space, the UX is certainly aimed at childless urbanites who want something upscale but haven’t yet amassed the same level of wealth.

Lexus is aiming low for the subcompact luxury crossover’s base price, hoping to tap into the youth market. That’s important because the average owner for a Lexus-badged vehicle is around 60-years old. However, a cheap and youth-oriented vehicle for Lexus doesn’t mean the same thing as it does for Toyota and the MSRP is going to reflect that — despite UX’s downmarket push. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2018

2018 Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport, a new (to North America) subcompact crossover hastily inserted at the bottom of the Blue Oval’s lineup, went on sale in January of this year. No TTACer who sat in the vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit walked away impressed, and it was odd to see a new model introduction go without the obligatory first drive event.

Still, the vehicle, which starts at a hair under 20 grand and carries a 1.0-liter three-cylinder as a base powerplant, isn’t being ignored by the buying public. March EcoSport sales in the U.S. topped that of the well-regarded — but not especially capacious — Mazda CX-3. Still, as all things truck continue to garner ever greater market share in the U.S., the little Ford faces a difficult upward climb. (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2018

2018 Hyundai Kona

It’s probably a little too on the nose for any automaker to launch a car in the city, state, or region it’s named after, but that didn’t stop Hyundai from bringing media to Hawaii to drive the newest entry into the subcompact crossover class.

Hyundai did so not just because of the “synergy” (ugh) between place and name, but because the company wanted to show us scribes how sporty and fun and well-suited to outdoorsy folk the Kona is. Never mind that most compact SUV buyers aren’t hauling long boards – they’re hauling little humans.

Every automaker does this — projecting their crossovers as the key to adventure. And I have no doubt that equipped with the correct accessories, the Kona can haul your bikes to the trailhead just fine. But most of these are going to be found in traffic on city streets, just like most of the crossovers buyers will cross-shop against the Kona.

The bigger question, then, is where does the Kona fit in a segment Hyundai calls the “Wild West?”

(Read More…)

By on February 27, 2018

Image: Lexus Europe

The only thing missing is a cabriolet. With the unveiling of its new UX subcompact (“urban compact crossover” in Lexus parlance), Toyota’s premium division now spans the utility segment gamut, with models ranging from ultra-small unibodies to full-size, body-on-frame luxo-barges.

Lexus’ European arm pulled the wraps off the UX on Tuesday, ahead of the global model’s world premiere in Geneva next week. In the model’s sights are a trio of pint-sized Germans and a singular Japanese foe, all competing for a slice of a segment with unclear growth prospects. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2018

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai

As we told you earlier this month, Hyundai’s newest offering, the B-segment Kona crossover, arrived with a base price below that of its subcompact competition. At $20,450 after delivery for a base, front-drive SE, the Kona slots below the entry MSRPs of the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Chevrolet Trax, and Mazda CX-3.

Value, the Kona trumpets, has arrived.

Well, not if you’re leasing the Kona’s volume trim: the SEL model. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2018

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai

We’ll have to wait until Nissan releases pricing for its weirdly named Kicks before we can declare the 2018 Hyundai Kona the least-expensive subcompact crossover in America, but that’s the way it is for now.

The Korean automaker released its pricing list for the Kona on Wednesday, revealing a vehicle that undercuts every one its American and Japanese rivals in entry cost. Starting price for a Kona? $20,450 after delivery for a front-wheel-drive SE model. (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2018

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai

Hyundai’s smallest utility vehicle arrives as the automaker tries to put a troubling year behind it. Sales fell significantly in both the U.S. and Canada in 2017, the first annual drop since the recession. The blame for the 13.4 percent U.S. drop and 6.1 percent Canadian decline lies in our growing aversion to small, fuel-efficient cars, of which Hyundai has many, and our insatiable lust for large utility vehicles, of which Hyundai does not have enough.

There’s nothing large about the Hyundai Kona, but it’s still an important player in the raft of new or revamped crossovers bound for Hyundai’s stable. And, just like in the small car segment it’s slowly replacing, economy matters in the small crossover segment. So, now that the Environmental Protection Agency has seen fit to test the Kona, how does its thirst stack up against its rivals? (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2018

2017 Honda HR-V
Remember how Beanie Babies were a national phenomenon in the mid-1990s? The country couldn’t seem to get enough of the little darlings and many ended up going for astronomical prices. But, like most stupid trends, their popularity was short lived. It wasn’t long before the once-collectible toys held the same value as a used pair of underwear.

Subcompact crossovers may be suffering a similar fate. With the CUV craze in full tilt, automakers have been capitalizing by providing budget-minded shoppers with small and affordable variants. However, the group currently faces the heaviest depreciation of any automotive segment.  (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • Scoutdude: The way the EPA test works is that it is all done on a dyno so that the exhaust can all be collected in...
  • Carlson Fan: “Home charging is painfully slow with the 110 charger.” Not really. I’ve been charging...
  • Art Vandelay: @jack…you can get an abortion in every state in the Union. I’ve lived in the bluest and the...
  • Scoutdude: Actually it depends on the vehicle and the exact tuning of how the adapt to the fuel. There has been...
  • Carlson Fan: Agree that the marketing of the Volt sucked. But let’s call a spade a spade. The Volt was...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States