2013 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Small

 

The small car segment, a crucial and very competitive one in Canada, contains some of Canada’s best-selling cars.
Cars in this segment are no longer cheap, but equipment levels, refinement and performance are equal to those of mid-size cars a decade ago. Other than a need for greater cabin space, there is no compelling reason to move beyond this class.


Over the last few years, new cars in this segment have arrived as relentlessly as waves on a beach. New entries for this year include the Acura ILX, Dodge Dart, Hyundais Elantra GT and Elantra Coupe, Nissan Sentra, Subaru XV/Crosstrek and the convertible version of the Volkswagen Beetle. The 2012 Honda Civic was panned by critics when it was released in the spring of 2011, has been given a thorough makeover and went on sale in December of 2012. A segment stalwart, the Toyota Corolla, is in its last year in its present form, and its platform mate, the Matrix, a solid seller in Canada, is in its last year as U.S. sales volumes are too small to consider doing a third-generation of the car. Kia gets a jump on 2014 by putting its second-generation Forte on sale in the spring of 2013.


The better cars in this class are economical to operate, very reliable, and have excellent resale value. Interestingly, the highest-rated cars are often very competitive on a monthly payment basis, and are the only ones that offer a lease worth considering. The average and below average cars in this segment can seldom be leased, and though finance payments may be low, so will the resale value if you trade in the car before the six year mark.


A note about mileage: The APA's posted fuel economy figures for 2013 differ from those published by the Canada EnerGuide. Starting in 2012, the APA is using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA), numbers for fuel economy as they better reflect real-world fuel economy. For more information, read APA President George Iny's article regarding the inadequacies of the Canada EnerGuide test cycle.

Acura ILX  Hyundai Elantra  2012 Nissan Cube  Subaru Impreza, XV Crosstrek  
Chevrolet Cruze 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT  Nissan Juke  Suzuki SX4 
Chevrolet Volt  2014 Kia Forte  2012 Nissan Leaf  Toyota Corolla 
Dodge Dart  Mazda 3  Nissan Sentra  Toyota Matrix 
Ford Focus  MINI Countryman, Paceman  Scion tC  Volkswagen Beetle 
Honda Civic  Mitsubishi Lancer  Scion xB  Volkswagen Golf, Golf GTI, Golf R 
2012 Honda Insight  Mitsubishi RVR Scion xD  Volkswagen Jetta 

Acura ILX

Specifications

NEW

 
 

What’s new
The Civic-based ILX replaces the CSX in Canada.  

Comments
The Civic-based ILX replaces the CSX in Canada and gives Acura in the U.S. an entry level car that it hasn't had since the demise of the RSX hatchback. With a totally bespoke exterior and cabin, the ILX bears no resemblance to the Civic, something that could never be said for the badge-engineered CSX. The ILX is a neat styling job overall, and has a similar silhouette to that of the first-generation Mazda 3. The ILX's interior benefits from the Civic's space efficiency, and can easily accommodate four adults. A conventional dashboard, with proper gauges, replaces the space-age oddity fronting the Civic. Cabin materials are not as nice as those in the 2013 Civic, and disappointing in a car with such lofty market ambitions. Acura moved the TSX model strongly upmarket to make space for the ILX as its base car. Around 2000 Canadians per year stepped up to a CSX over a top-spec. Civic. The ILX has been very well received, selling at twice the rate the CSX did in its last full year on the market.   

Pricing
 
An ILX Tech is priced roughly $7500 higher than the similarly-equipped Civic Touring.
Reliability: New car, not rated. The Civic is rated above average.

See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
2L-4 (150 HP)*, 2.4L‑4 (201HP),  1.5L-4 H (111 HP combined) 

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  n/a
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 5 (Tier 2 Bin 3 [Hybrid])
Warranty: 4/80,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Chevrolet Cruze

Specifications


 

 

 

 

What’s new
Buick: Turbo model. Rear camera standard on top models. Buick powertrain warranty changed from five years/160,000 km to six years/110,000 km. Both: park sensors, blind-spot detection and rear cross traffic alert available, MyLink (Chev), IntilliLink (Buick) phone-audio interface offered. Cruze: Late entry diesel option. 
Performance
Equipped with the 1.4 turbo and an automatic transmission, the Cruze launches strongly and is smooth and quiet. Light, yet precise steering. Very good ride-handling compromise for a big-volume mainstream touring car. Impact noise from the rear suspension on big bumps. Strong brakes. Conservatively elegant, well-finished cabin with impressive attention to detail. Big, clear gauges, and logical controls. Comfortable front seats, but the backrests, which tip in at the top, don't suit all occupants. The hard rear seat combines with just adequate rear legroom to undermine rear passenger comfort. The ECO model was not noticeably more economical than the mainstream 1.4T, which is no mileage champion itself.  The Cruze tied toe Ford Focus for second spot in an APA four car comparison test that included the first place Honda Civic and the fourth place Hyundai Elantra.

Comments
The base engine in the Cruze is a normally-aspirated 1.8L four that produces 136 horsepower. Starting with the LT trim level, the Cruze is powered by a turbocharged 1.4L four that produces about the same horsepower as the 1.8L, but significantly more torque. A new diesel variant powered by a 148 horsepower 2L engine that cranks out 258 lb-ft of torque, will be marketed in the spring of 2013 as a 2014 model. Cruze sales increased by about 10 percent in 2012 to about 36,000 units, which is more than the Focus but still nearly 30,000 less than the Civic. The Buick Verano is Cruze based, but, with bespoke styling and a its own cabin design, is a unique vehicle and not just a badge-engineered variant. The exterior displays numerous Buick styling cues and the cabin is quite sumptuous. Power stems from a 2.4L version of the Ecotec four found in various GM products. With 180 horsepower and strong torque, the Verano delivers brisk, relaxed performance, and, with Buick's "Quiet Tuning" sound abatement measures, serenity as well. The 2L turbo is very quick. The Verano has been a major success and is Buick's best seller by a wide margin.  

Pricing
Cruze: Upgrading to the LT includes an array of extra features as well as the Turbo motor for $4340.  Good value LTZ package. The LS+ package is poor value but the LT+ group is a bargain. Good value leasing. Verano : top 2.4L Verano priced $2250 more than the top Cruze but has a better warranty. Good lease terms.  
Reliability: Insufficient data, not rated. Few complaints have been received thus far.  


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
Cruze: 1.4L‑4 T (138 HP)*, 1.8L‑4 (136 HP), 2L-4TD (148 HP), Verano: 2L-4T (250 HP),  2.4L-4 (180 HP)  

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: N/A
Warranty: 3/60,000 (Cruze), 4/80,000 (Verano), 6/110,000 (both)
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Chevrolet Volt

Specifications


 

 

 

 

What’s new
Body colour roof and tailgate. Lane departure and forward collision alerts are now optional.  

Comments
Built on the same wheelbase as the related Cruze, the Volt is 99 mm (3.9 inches) shorter, slightly narrower and 46 mm (1.8 inches) lower than its mainstream showroom companion. The Volt drives very much like a mainstream compact car. Precise, nicely weighted steering. Supple ride. Very quiet in normal driving. The brakes are hard to modulate. The Volt ran in full electric mode for a predictable mileage at which time the gasoline generation kicks in to generate electricity to power the electric motors to get you to your destination. The gas generator has two different operating modes. The first mode is essentially silent, but the second one which uses higher revs can be heard from inside the cabin. Restricted visibility due to multiple blind spots. Surprisingly, the very sedan-looking Volt is actually a hatchback. The exterior styling lacks verve, with the black-painted band under the door windows being a bit awkward. The cabin is fronted by a swoopy dash housing a bright, crisp digital display package with speedometre, fuel gauge, battery consumption rate and electrical charge state, among other things. the Touch-sensitive controls on the dash centre stack are poorly placed and can be slow to react. Adequate space and comfortable in front, but rear legroom is lacking. Good cargo capacity and versatility. Primary power is furnished by a 149 horsepower electric motor drawing off the 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a range of 40 to 80 kilometres. A full recharge can be done in four hours at 240 volts or 10 to 12 hours at 120 volts. Weak heating in winter conditions. Very low running costs if the Volt is fully charged for its daily commute so it runs totally in electric mode. The Volt is a well-conceived technical tour-de-force that functions seamlessly. With nearly 1300 sold in Canada last year, the Volt outsold the Nissan Leaf by 500 percent and trumped the Mitsubishi iMiEV by an even bigger amount.
Pricing
Starting at around $43,000, the Volt is expensive, but government rebates of $8321 in Ontario and $7769 in Quebec are available. GM doesn't seem to want people to buy the Volt as only leasing is available this year..    

Reliability: New vehicle, insufficient data, not rated. Few complaints received thus far.

See the Hybrid and Electric car section. | See our "Recently Driven" entry.


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/2

Engines:

Electric motor (63 kW/149 HP); generated by electricity: 1.4L‑4 (84 HP) 


Transmissions: None
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  6.7 L/100 km (gas); 22.5 kW/100 km

ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: N/A
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/160,000, 8/160,000 (on electric drivetrain)
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Dodge Dart

Specifications

NEW

What’s new
Based on the Alfa-Romeo Giulietta, the Dart replaces the Caliber.  2.4L R/T was renamed the GT early in 2013.
Performance
Resurrecting a name not used since the 70s, Dodge has named its Caliber replacement, an Alfa-Romeo Giullietta-based compact sedan, the Dart. Chic, clean and contemporary styling. The 1.4 turbo four used in the Fiat 500 Abarth, powered both test cars sampled. They lack any real urge at low revs, not feeling potent until 4000 rpm approached. This lack of low-down grunt is exacerbated by overly long gearing that augments the low-speed torpor. One engine was zingy and effervescent; while the other would stumble and suffered from temporary output lapses. Precise gearchange. Clutch engagement was delightful on one car but grabbed very late in a long travel path on the other. The linear, precise steering lacks feedback. Carefully developed suspension results in confident handling and a comfortable ride. Some drivers find the brakes are overboosted. Well-suppressed wind and road noise. Stylish, solidly constructed cabin, but some details like the gauges and red cabin accents, are not to all tastes. Large, thickly padded seats ally with good space front and rear, though rear access requires suppleness. Precise, logical controls. The touch screen interface on our test car works superbly. Sonorous audio system. The Bluetooth system kept dropping previously paired phones. Space in the large, regularly shaped trunk is slightly impaired by very large trunk hinges.

Comments
Three four-cylinder engines are offered. They include a 160 horsepower 2L, a 2.4L with 184 horsepower and a turbocharged 1.4L that churns our 160 horsepower. Six-speed transmissions, a manual and an automatic, are offered with the two larger engines. The 1.4T can be linked up to a six-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission.

Pricing

The SXT upgrade lacks content for the money. Moving up from an SXT to a Limited is great value and the Rallye package justifies its supplement compared with the SXT. Comparably equipped, a Dart SXT is priced about the same as an Elantra GL.

Reliability: New car, not rated.  Dodge cars generally have launch glitches. An extended warranty is recommended if you plan to keep the car past the warranty period.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.4L‑4  T (160 HP), 2L-4 (160 HP)*, 2.4L-4 (184 HP) 

Transmissions: 6M, 6A*, 6A automated manual (1.4T) 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: N/A
Warranty: 3/60,00, 5/100,000
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Ford Focus

Specifications


 

 

 

What’s new
With the full electric model and the turbocharged ST, the Focus range is complete. SEL trim level discontinued. 
Performance
The smooth 2L four sounds sporty when extended. Acceleration feels a bit soft for 160 horsepower. The automated manual transmission generally upshifts smoothly, but downshifts reluctantly. The manual-mode quickens downshifts via a shift-lever mounted toggle. Loud clunks accompany some shifts, especially in traffic. Ford has already altered transmission programming to improve shift quality. Precise, perfectly weighted steering, crisp handling and a resilient ride. Weak air conditioning. Awkward ignition key placement. The Focus is reasonably quiet but some of cars the APA sampled suffered from suspension squeaks. The Focus cabin contains lots of matte finishes, soft-touch plastics and chic faux alloy accents. Crisply-marked gauges, but turquoise needles and secondary MPH readouts are not to all tastes. Complex controls. The MyFord touch screen reacts slowly when its surface is touched for changes. Very tight cabin, little headroom and severely limited rear legroom. Try the back seat before you buy a Focus. Large, comfortable front seats. The Focus tied for second place with the Chevrolet Cruze, behind the Honda Civic, and ahead of the Hyundai Elantra, in an APA four car comparison test. Driven briefly by the APA, the Focus electric was smooth, quick and quiet. It is especially pleasant in town as the jerky automated manual transmission on gas-engined versions is eliminated. Various displays coach drivers to get as much range as possible from the batteries. Like other pure electrics, range and re-charging time are major concerns. Concerning as well was a "stall' experienced with the test vehicle. As with other Focus versions, the interior is very attractive and nicely-finished but poorly packaged. The battery pack reduces trunk space.

Comments
The all-new third-generation Focus debuted in Europe and North America at the same time. Power stems from a 160 horsepower 2L four that sends power to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual clutch automated manual with a full automatic mode. The turbocharged 240 2L four sitting under the hood of the 2013 Focus ST will send power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. The Honda Civic found twice as many buyers in 2012 as the Focus did and the Focus was also outsold by the Chevrolet Cruze as well.  

Pricing

Upgrading from the S to SE trim level is priced to reflect the extra content in SE contains. Overpriced Titanium package. The hatchback body style commands a $900 supplement on SE and Titanium trim versions but the gap shrinks to $500 on the SE Plus model  The SE sedan is priced about $1000 more than a similarly equipped Toyota Corolla with the Enhanced Convenience Package. Poor lease value. The $15,000 higher price for the Focus electric compared with a gas-engined Focus SE is partially offset by an $8000 government rebate. 

Reliability

Average reliability. The erratic function of the automated manual transmission, MyFord Touch and steering have consumer complaints. Unproven turbo engine in the ST; an extended warranty is recommended.


Body Style:  4HB, 4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
2L-4 (140 HP)*, 2L-4 T (250 HP [ST]), Electric (107 kW, 143 HP) 

Transmissions: 5M, 6M (ST), 6A automated manual* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  8.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 4
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Honda Civic

Specifications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s new
Heavily revised 2013 Civic. Exterior updates give the Civic a more substantial, upscale look. Inside, the dashboard retains its odd two-level gauges but has more elegant audio and climate controls and is fashioned from more luxurious-looking components. Soft-touch surfaces on the dash and front door tops. Lavish standard (except for the manual only DX) equipment includes Bluetooth phone and audio, text messaging, a USB port, and heated seats. The power units are unchanged but there is a stiffer front subframe, revised steering, suspension bushings and spring rates to improve rolling fluidity and reduce noise, helped further by more sound-proofing and thicker glass in the front doors and windshield

Performance
The smooth, flexible, and very economical 1.8L engine is well-mated to the responsive five-speed automatic transmission. Predictable handling, with less lean than in the 2012 model. The Civic delivers a firmly absorbent ride that shrugs off major bumps. The electric power steering is precise, nicely weighted and has great directional stability on the highway. Smooth and quiet for a mainstream compact with less road noise than in the 2012 Civic. The two-level gauges are still an answer to a question nobody asked but work well enough and look quite attractive when lit at night. The Audio and HVAC controls look more integrated than in 2012. Comfortable seats reside in a cabin with plenty of space for four adults. The Civic's low roofline slightly hampers access to the cabin. The 2012 Civic was the winner of an APA multi-vehicle comparison test that also included the second-place Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus and the fourth place Hyundai Elantra. The revised Civic model increases the length of its lead over the three other cars for 2013. 

Comments
The revised 2013 Civic is a quick recovery from the 2012 model that was widely-panned by the press when it was released. Media consternation never hurt sales, as the Civic retained is :"Best Seller" crown last year.  With crisper exterior detailing, a much plusher cabin and enhanced refinement, the 2013 is a much-improved car and has one of the most lavishly equipped and most luxurious looking cabins in its class. Most Civics will be powered by a 1.8L four that can be teamed with either a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic. The Si model houses a 2.4L four under its hood, with power reaching the front wheels exclusively through a six-speed manual transmission. If released for 2013, the hybrid model will be powered by a 93 horsepower gasoline engine combined with an electric motor to produce 111 horsepower that reaches the road via a CVT. Unlike other hybrid systems, Honda's electric motor provides an assist to the gasoline engine, and won't move the car by electricity alone.

Pricing

Upgrading from the DX to LX, EX and Touring models are all good value. The coupe body style will cost $400 more than the equivalent sedan except for the Si, which is priced the same as the sedan. Very good value leasing. Good resale value.  

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Predicted reliability is above average as the new Civic 1.8L Civic shares its mechanical units with the previous-generation car. 

See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD*, 2CP
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.8L-4 (140 HP), 2.4L-4 (201 HP [Si]), 1.5L-4 H (111 HP combined[hybrid]) 

Transmissions: 5M, 6M, 5A*, CVT 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  8.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 5 (Tier 2 BIn 3 [Hybrid])
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, 8/160,000 (hybrid components)
Country of Origin:  Canada and the United States.

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



2012 Honda Insight

Specifications


 

 

 

 

What’s new
Delayed 2013 model not expected until the summer of 2013.

Performance
The gasoline engine is smooth enough in normal driving but becomes harsh when pushed. The idle-stop mechanism saves fuel when the car is stopped, but lacking a full electric propulsion mode, the frequent starts and stops in heavy traffic are tedious. Adequate, but unenthusiastic handling in normal driving, accompanied by considerable lean in corners. Stiff ride. Big blind spots in the rear. The easily-scanned speedometer glows green, blue respectively for frugal, normal and aggressive driving. Minor controls are more straightforward than their confusing predecessors. Good cabin space for a car this size and reasonable cargo space as well. Cabin materials are more attractive than before. Honda's hybrid system renders the Insight unpleasant to drive. If you don't need a back seat, Honda's Insight-based CR-Z, is chic inside and out and a much nicer car to drive. The Toyota Prius is a much nicer, more economical car than the Insight, and is well worth the extra money Toyota charges for it. 

Comments

The Insight sat the year out in 2011 and returned for 2012 only to be spurned by buyers once again, leading to a massively-delayed 2013 model. 

Pricing
Only one trim variant, a well-equipped LX, was offered for 2012. Good lease value.

Reliability: Not rated, insufficient data. Predicted reliability is above average. 

See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.3L‑4 (88 horsepower gasoline engine, 98 combined with the electric motor)

Transmissions: CVT 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  5.7L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 3
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Country of Origin:  Japan

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Hyundai Elantra

Specifications


 

 

 

What’s new
The 2013 Elantra sedan and coupe were released in the early summer of 2012. Sedan updates include revised steering knuckles for improved steering feel, darker faux alloy accents inside the cabin as well as an eight-way power seat on the Limited model.

Performance
The engine delivers good acceleration but becomes loud when strongly exercised. The automatic transmission upshifts smoothly and can be reluctant to downshift. Its programming seeks the highest gear possible in the interests of fuel economy, often at the expense of on-road elan. The ActiveEco function amplifies this tendency but can be switched off. The manual-transmission has a crisp gearchange and a docile clutch, but the top two cogs are geared so high that you need to downshift to fourth gear to maintain momentum on even modest hills. Prior to 2013, the Elantra's suspension gave the impression of agility and a smoothly compliant ride. However, when the going got rough, the Elantra, with its crashing front and bouncing rear suspension, betrayed a lack of final development finesse common on a number of current Hyundai offerings. Although Hyundai doesn't admit to any notable changes to the Elantra's suspension for 2013, a GLS coupe sampled in the summer of 2012, with steady handling and an acceptably absorbent ride, was a car transformed. The GL and GLS models have sensible wheel and tire packages but the Limited (sedan) and SE (coupe) are shod with low-profile 45 series tires that add nothing to handling crispness but do compromise ride comfort significantly. The Elantra is noisier than the Chevrolet Cruze or the Ford Focus. Nicely weighted, but numb steering. Strong brakes. The conservatively elegant cabin is fronted by a dashboard housing large, clear gauges and the controls are straightforward except for the fussy climate interface on the Limited. Good legroom front and rear, but rear seat riders will find both toe and headroom in tight supply. The flat and oddly-padded front seats prove comfortable enough. Spacious trunk. Strong air conditioning. Good audio equipment.  

Comments

The styling of the Elantra sedan, both inside and out, has attracted a lot of attention and buyers. The coupe is the same size as the sedan so cabin space is uncompromised. Hyundai expects to sell up to 2000 coupes, and along with the new GT, could move the "Elantra" badge close in on the sales crown held by the Honda Civic for many years.  All Elantras are powered by a 1.8L four producing 148 horsepower. Power reaches the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. 

Pricing
Sedan: upgrading from the L to the GL trim level exactly balances price against value. The GLS package is very good value and $2000 price bump for the Limited brings roughly $3000 worth of equipment. The GL trim level is the best value in the line up. Coupe: the coupe is only marketed in GLS and SE (the SE is equipped the same as a Limited sedan with navigation), trim levels. Coupes and sedans are priced the same. While still a great value, the Elantra, and Hyundais in general, are no longer the "bargains" they used to be. Unimpressive lease terms.    

Reliability

Insufficient data, not rated. Most Hyundais released since 2006 have been rated above average


Body Style:  2CP, 4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.8L‑4 (148 HP) 

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  8.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 5
Warranty: 5/100,000
Country of Origin:  United States (sedan), South Korea (coupe)

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Hyundai Elantra GT

Specifications

NEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s new
Available in the summer of 2012, the GT replaced the Elantra Touring in Canada. Base L model introduced in the spring of 2013.
Performance
The GT's 1.8L four is smooth, spirited and quiet except for a pleasing snarl as it approaches the redline. The Elantra is quick enough, but doesn't feel as punchy as its 148 rated horsepower would lead you to expect.

The six-speed manual transmission has a precise, short-throw gearchange that is allied to a smooth, progressive clutch. Tall gearing allows for low-rev cruising but does blunt acceleration at higher speeds, necessitating downshifting a gear or two to maintain momentum on hills.

The GLS version tested handles competently and has an acceptably absorbent ride. Avoiding the SE trim (which is equipped with low-profile 45 series tires) is a way to reconcile handling, ride and tire life (low-profile tires generally wear more quickly) in an Elantra GT.

The steering is nicely weighted and geared, but transmits little about the road surface beneath the wheels. Power assist can be set to Normal, Comfort or Sport, but the differences between the settings are barely detectable.

The panoramic sunroof has a large opening and seals tightly when closed, but there is a lot of wind buffeting with it open. Powerful air conditioning and an excellent audio system.

Though clearly reflective of Hyundai's current styling, the GT's interior is unique to the model. The cabin is fronted by a hooded binnacle housing big, crisply-marked gauges separated by a digital readout displaying several vehicle functions. The dash centre stack features logical controls that function with cushioned precision.

The front seats (power adjustable for the driver on the GLS) are comfortable and clad in a trio of attractive fabric patterns. Legroom is good in front and class competitive in the rear. With a longer roofline, headroom in the GT is much better than it is in the sedan. Rear seat comfort is enhanced by a proper height seat cushion.

Cabin materials are very attractive, with soft-touch surfaces on the dash and door tops as well as convincing faux alloy and piano black accents. The level of cabin finish exhibited by the Elantra GT would have been regarded as astounding five years ago. The Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze set new standards for cabin appearance in this segment and Hyundai has followed with the GT. With big door bins, a large cubby at the bottom of the dash centre stack and a substantial lidded console bin, oddments storage is impressive.

The trunk is regularly shaped and quite long, but is shallower than it could have been because of the multi-segmented storage bin residing under the trunk floor. It's carefully finished.

Comments
Based on the i30 model Hyundai sells in Europe, the South-Korean built GT replaces the Touring in the Canadian market. The GT is powered by the same 1.8L four as the U.S.-built Elantra sedan and employs the same six-speed transmissions. The SE is equipped with a rear-view camera located under a hinged panel on the tailgate, which keeps the camera clean when not in use.

Pricing

There is no entry level GT model equivalent to the cheapest L trim level sedan, but GL, GLS and SE (instead of the Limited trim level on the sedan) models are available. Moving up from the GL to the GLS trim level delivers roughly $3600 in content for $2200. The SE trim level, priced $1800 higher than a GLS with automatic (standard on the SE), contains roughly $2200 worth of content. At $2000, the SE Tech package is priced to reflect the value of the navigation system and rear camera contained in the upgrade.

Hyundai charges $900, $1400 and $1150 more respectively for the GL, GLS and SE trim levels of the GT compared with the equivalent GL, GLS and Limited versions of the sedan. The base L is about $1200 cheaper than the GL but lacks desired equipment such as Bluetooth and keyless entry. The GL with steel wheels will have limited appeal for buyers, leaving the GLS, which has a plethora of features, but avoids the SE's low-profile tires, as the best value of the line-up. Leasing is available, but payments are too close to those for financing to be attractive.    

Reliability

New car, not rated. Most Hyundais released since 2006 have been rated above average.


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.8L‑4 (148 HP) 

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  n/a
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: N/A
Warranty: 5/100,000
Country of Origin: South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Not tested

Side: Not tested

Rollover: Not tested

Rear: Not tested

NHTSA Rating: 



2014 Kia Forte

Specifications

NEW

 

 

 

What’s new
All-new second-generation Forte arrives in sedan form first, followed by a coupe and a hatchback.

Comments

The second-generation Forte sedan went on sale in sedan form in the spring of 2013, with a coupe and hatchback expected by the summer. Built on a 51 mm (2 inch) longer wheelbase, the 2014 Forte is 28 mm (1.1 inches) longer and marginally wider than before. Twin to the Hyundai Elantra, the Forte shares its base 1.8L four and six-speed transmissions with that car. A 2L four with an estimated 173 horsepower is the standard engine on the SX, with a 200 horsepower turbocharged 1.6L four optional on the SX versions of the coupe and hatchback. An "Eco" model featuring idle stop-start technology, is offered. Like most recent Kias developed under the watch of Kia's chief designer, Peter Schreyer, the new Forte's design is clean, elegant, well-proportioned, nicely detailed and looks more upscale than many cars in its class. The cabin, with big, clear gauges, simple controls and nice materials, is quite chic. Class competitive cabin and trunk space. High luxury features such as xenon headlamps, cooled seats, heated rear seats, memory settings for the driver's seat and dual-zone climate control are available. Like with the Rio, Kia has exceeded what the market expects in terms of cabin content and finish in the Forte's segment.

Pricing

Pricing details to follow.

Reliability

Above average reliability predicted like those of other recent Kia offerings.


Body Style:  2CP, 4HB, 4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.6L-4T (200 HP), 1.8L‑4 (148 HP)*, 2L-4 (173 HP) 

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  n/a
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: N/A
Warranty: 5/100,000

Country of Origin: South Korea

 


IIHS Ratings:

Front: Not tested

Side: Not tested

Rollover: Not tested

Rear: Not tested

NHTSA Rating: 


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