2015 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Small

Small cars represent the biggest chunk of the car market in Canada and carmakers work hard for every sale by offering impressive products and tremendous value. Cars in this segment are often little more expensive than they were 15 years ago and are now faster, smoother, more economical and safer than ever before. Other than a need for greater cabin space, there is now no compelling reason to move beyond this class.

With three popular cars being all-new for 2014, there is little new for 2015 other than the Volkswagen Golf. The Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Jetta all undergo mid-cycle refreshes this year, and a few segment stalwarts, the xD from Scion and the Toyota Matrix, retired at the end of the 2014 model year.
The highest-rated cars are often very competitive on a monthly finance payment basis, but only some cars have leasing arrangements worth considering. Please refer to the pricing section of each car review to determine whether that car is a good lease value.

A note about mileage: The APA is using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA), numbers for fuel economy as those from the Canada EnerGuide were not available while the research for this section was being compiled.

Chevrolet Cruze  Hyundai Elantra GT  Nissan Sentra  Toyota Corolla  
Dodge Dart  Kia Forte  Scion tC  Volkswagen Beetle 
Ford Focus  Mazda 3  Subaru Impreza  Volkswagen Golf
Honda Civic  Mitsubishi Lancer  Subaru XV Crosstrek  Volkswagen Jetta 
Hyundai Elantra  Mitsubishi RVR     

Chevrolet Cruze

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Mid-cycle remake with mild exterior revisions and minor cabin updates. GM's OnStar system is now 4G LTE enabled to make the car a Wi-Fi hotspot. The MyLink system can now read text messages through the audio system of the car.

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 the 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. Driven with the 2L turbo four, the Verano was quick, smooth and quiet, with a good ride-handling compromise.

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 diesel variant powered by a 148 horsepower 2L engine that cranks out 258 lb-ft of torque, is available.

Pricing

Upgrading from the LS to the 1LT tirm level is good value and the 2LT is very good value. The LTZ upgrade is priced to reflect the value of its extra content. The diesel engine, priced $2100 higher than a similarly-equipped 1.4L turbo, is only offered in a super-luxury model. Good value leasing.
Reliability

Average reliability predicted. Fewer complaints have been received for the Cruze than on the Ford Focus.Some complaints regarding steering rack and heater core issues.    


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

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

City Fuel Economy:  9.4L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.5L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None
Additional Airbags: Front occupant knee airbags and ourboard rear airbags standard on Cruze
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/160,000 
Current Generation Debut:  2011
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: M

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Dodge Dart

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
No changes of note for 2015.
Performance
The 1.4 turbo four used in the Fiat 500 Abarth, powered both test cars sampled. The engine lacks any significant urge at low revs, but feels strong starting at about 4000 rpm. This lack of low-down grunt is exacerbated by overly long gearing that augments the low-speed torpor. The engine in one car 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 two six speed transmissions, a manual or a dual clutch automated manual. The Dart hasn't been embraced by compact car buyers as it is outsold by all competitors except for the ancient Mitsubishi Lancer and premium-priced Subaru Impreza.

Pricing

Upgrading from the SE to the SXT includes roughly about $3700 worth of features plus the bigger 2.4L engine for just $3000. The GT is very good value compared with the SXT and the Limited is a bargain. The 1.4L turbocharged AERO model is priced $4000 more than the 2L SE but includes about $3300 worth of equipment as well as the 1.4L turbo four. The GT trim upgrade is a bargain; with the Limited offering an astonishing wealth of equipment for very little money. The Dart SXT is priced roughly $700 higher than the Toyota Corolla LE, but has 50 additional horsepower. 

Reliability: Not rated, insufficient data. Few complaints received thus far. An extended warranty from Chrysler is recommended, especially on cars powered by the 1.4L turbo. 


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:  10.2L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.7L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None
Additional airbags:  Two knee airbags and outboard side airbags for the rear seat

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2013
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: A

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Ford Focus

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
The mid-cycle remake of the Focus includes a new grille, front fascia, hood and taillights. Interior updates include a restyled centre console, dash centre stack with fewer bright accents, a bigger glovebox, new fabrics and an optional heated steering wheel. Optional for 2015 is a 1L turbocharged inline three-cylinder engine. Blind Spot monitor with Cross-Traffic Alert and a new Lane Keeping system are options.
Performance
The smooth 2L four sounds sporty when extended. Acceleration lacks the eagerness expected for a car with 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 altered transmission programming a few times 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 find the exhaust note too prominent. With massive, flexible power, docile clutch and crisp gearchange, the turbocharged ST gathers speed enthusiastically. The ST's steering is quick, communicative and perfectly weighted, but 250 horsepower sending power to the front wheels leads to "fist full of snakes" torque-steer when accelerating hard. Superb handling is accompanied by a surprisingly resilient ride devoid of any jarring over major road imperfections. Very easy to drive normally, the ST only reveals its impressively sporty nature when you want it to. Powerful, progressive brakes with good pedal fees. The Focus cabin contains lots of matte finishes, soft-touch plastics and chic faux alloy accents. Crisply-marked gauges. Complex controls. The MyFord touch screen still garners a lot of negative comments but becomes less intimidating with familiarization. Very tight cabin, little headroom and severely limited rear legroom. Try the back seat before you buy a Focus. Large, comfortable front seats in the mainstream models but the aggressive bolstering of the Recaro sports seat in the ST suit only the super slim. Big trunk on the sedan but the cargo area of the hatchback body is shallow below the window line. Driven briefly by the APA, the Focus electric was smooth, quick and quiet. It is especially pleasant in town as the somewhat 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. The battery pack reduces trunk space. 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

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 252 HP 2L four sitting under the hood of the Focus ST will send power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. A new 1L three cylinder turbo that produces 123 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque is priced higher than the normally-aspirated 2L four. The triple is only offered with a six-speed manual transmission. 

Pricing

The sedan and hatch body styles are priced the same for 2015. The SE trim upgrade is priced to reflect the value of its additional equipment but the Titanium model is very good value if you like its features. Many of the most sought after equipment of the Titanium (like leather upholstery) can be added to the SE package for less money than you would pay to upgrade to a Titanium. Reasonable lease terms for 2015. Ford charges an extra $1600 to replace the 160 horsepower 2L four with the 1L three-cylinder turbo with 123 horsepower.


Reliability

Average reliability. The erratic function of the automated manual transmission, MyFord Touch and steering have generated consumer complaints. Some steering rack issues reported. Unproven turbo engines in the ST and the new 1L three cylinder. An extended warranty from Ford of Canada is recommended.


Body Style:  4HB, 4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1L-3 T (123 HP), 2L-4 (160 HP)*, 2L-4 T (252 HP [ST), Electric (107 kW, 143 HP) 

Transmissions: 5M, 6M (ST, 1L), 6A automated manual* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.2L-100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.2L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Blind sport and rear cross traffic and lane keep assist are optional.
Additional Airbags: None
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: N/R

Mod. Front: N/R

Side: N/R

Roof: N/R

Rear: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Honda Civic

Specifications

 

 

What’s new
No changes of note for 2015. No news on whether hybrid will return for 2015.

Performance

The smooth, flexible, and very economical 1.8L engine is well-mated to the CVT automatic transmission. Predictable handling. 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 but road noise, long a Honda fault, is louder than it should be. 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. 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 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.

Comments

The Civic now has one of the most luxurious-looking, best-appointed cabins in the compact class. Most Civics will be powered by a 1.8L four that can be teamed with either a five-speed manual transmission or a new CVT. The Si model houses a 2.4L four under its hood, with power reaching the front wheels exclusively through a six-speed manual transmission. No news on a hybrid model for 2015.

Pricing
With neither air-conditioning nor automatic transmission available, the base DX lets Honda advertise a low MSRP to get customers in the door for a car they will never buy. With air conditioning, a power group, Bluetooth and heated seats, the LX is equipped the way like most buyers like it and is the most popular model. LX and EX trim upgrades are very good value but the Touring is priced roughly the same as the value of its extra content. Except for the Si coupe that is priced the same as its sedan equivalent, Honda charges $400 more for a two door than it does for a four door. Good value leasing. 

Reliability
Predicted reliability is above average except for the CVT, which is unproven. 

See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD*, 2CP
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.5L-4 H (Hybrid 110 HP combined) 1.8L-4 (Sedan 140 HP, Coupe 143 HP), 2.4L-4 (Sedan 201 HP, Coupe 205 HP) 

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

City Fuel Economy:  7.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None
Additional Airbags:  None
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, 8/160,000 (hybrid components)
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin:  Canada and the United States.

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Hyundai Elantra

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
New Sport Appearance package on the GL trim level includes a sunroof, alloy wheels, fog lights and illuminated vanity mirrors. A 2L four replaces the previous 1.8L four on the GLS model. The navigation system that was previously part of the Tech package on the Limited is now standard.
Performance

The engines deliver good acceleration but become loud when strongly exercised. The automatic transmission, is programmed for smooth, natural operation in contrast to the transmissions from other manufacturers which seem programmed merely to flatter the U.S. fuel economy tests. 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. Hyundai has done a lot of work on Elantra's suspension, and while the rear will still bottom out on really big bumps, the car now has a much more composed ride than before, especially on the top-end Limited model. The Elantra, once noisier than major rivals, is, unless the engine is really pushed, benefits from the noise attenuation measures Hyundai claims it made for 2014. 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 headroom in tight supply and tight toe space under the front seats. The flat and oddly-padded front seats prove comfortable enough once you get used to them. Spacious trunk. Strong air conditioning. Good audio equipment. The navigation system was easy enough but prompted a few turns after the required intersection had passed. The coupe has been discontinued in the U.S. but will continue in Canada. 

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 is lumping Elantra sedan, coupe and GT sales together in a quest to beat the Honda Civic. L and GL trim level Elantras are powered by a 1.8L four producing 148 horsepower; with the GLS and Limited sedans and all coupe variants having a 173 horsepower 2L four under the hood. Power reaches the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. 

Pricing

The basic Elantra L sedan bears a low $15,999 MSRP, but, with no automatic transmission option and air conditioning only offered as a $1579 dealer-installed option, it is a retail mirage kept around to advertise a low MSRP. The $20,099 GL with automatic is the true base Elantra for 2015. The new Sports Appearance package, which contains roughly $2000 in features for only $400, includes the most desirable features of the GLS trim level for much less money, and is the best value of the Elantra range. Good value GLS and Limited trim upgrades. Reasonable lease terms as of January 2015, but check value at the time of purchase as Hyundai's lease values do change more often than some other firms. The GL and GLS coupes are priced $100 higher than the equivalent sedan; with the SE coupe bearing an MSRP $100 more than the Limited sedan.

Reliability

Average reliability. Excess oil consumption can lead to engine troubles on 2011-2013 Elantras powered by the 1.8L four. Adhering to Hyundai's service schedule and keeping all receipts for service are imperative if Hyundai is not to deny a warranty claim. Dismantle and lubricate the rear disc brake components annually to prevent expensive repairs.  


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

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 

Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.9L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard
Additonal Airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2011
Country of Origin:  United States (sedan), South Korea (coupe)

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: A

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 



2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Mid-cycle remake of the Elantra GT includes a new grille, a new Limited range-topper to replace the previous SE Tech and a new GLS Tech group with navigation and a rearview camera. 

Performance
The 2L four is a punchy, flexible performer. 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 Limited 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  attractive fabrics. 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. 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 is available with two six-speed transmissions, a manual and an automatic.

Pricing
The basic L trim level cannot be had with automatic transmission which will limit its appeal but does allow Hyundai to advertise a low MSRP of $18,449. Moving up the GL not only brings about $2100 worth of additional equipment for only $1300, but allows buyers to opt for automatic transmission as well. The GLS trim upgrade, which delivers features such as a power driver's seat, panorama sunroof, alloy wheels among other things, is an outright bargain. The $1100 GLS Tech package boasts navigation and a rearview camera. The Limited model, which boasts leather upholstery, is priced to reflect the value of its contents. Poor value leasing.

Reliability

Average reliability predicted, like its sedan equivalent. 


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
2L-4 (173 HP) 

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

City Fuel Economy:  9.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  7.1L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None
Additional Airbags: Driver's side knee airbag
Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2013
Country of Origin: South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: N/R

Mod. Front: N/R

Side: N/R

Roof: N/R

Rear: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Kia Forte

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Kia claims improved fuel economy for 2015. 
Performance
Tested in SX form, the Forte's 2L four delivers brisk, flexible performance with impressive refinement. Smooth, responsive six-speed automatic transmission. Despite low-profile 45 series tires, the SX rides with a resilient firmness that never devolves to harshness. While not the last word in feel, the steering on the SX is, precise, nicely geared and pleasantly weighted. There is so little to difference in steering weight between the three settings as to reduce the feature to mere specifications filler. Road and wind noise are very well suppressed. The 1.6L turbo four was smooth, flexible and swift.
The cabin is fronted by a dashboard stocked with crisp gauges and uncomplicated, but elegant controls. Minor controls for the audio and climate systems worked with a smooth precision. Large, supportive front seats and good space for front occupants. The rear seat is comfortable and legroom is class competitive but headroom is a bit tight. In SX form, the Forte's cabin looks very upscale and is better-designed and appears more luxurious than the entry-level models of revered manufacturers. High-luxury features such as xenon headlights, Keyless Go, heated steering wheel and a cooled driver's seat are standard on the SX model. Spacious trunk and a sonically pleasing audio system on the SX model tested. Straightforward Bluetooth hookup. The longer roofline of the Forte 5 hatchback makes for improved headroom for back seat riders as well as offering greater versatility. The Forte5 SX 1.6 turbo came in second in a recent APA road test against a 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8, Comfortline. Coming in second was not so much a reflection on the Kia, which was highly regarded, but the overwhelming excellence of the Golf. 

Comments
Twin to the Hyundai Elantra, the Forte shares its base 1.8L four and six-speed transmissions with that car. A 2L four with 173 horsepower is standard engine on the SX, with a 200 horsepower turbocharged 1.6L four optional on the SX versions of the coupe and hatchback.  
Pricing
With air-conditioning, cruise control, heated front seats and alloy wheels, the LX Plus package is exceptional value and includes the equipment most buyers seek. Buyers seeking more luxury features will find the EX trim level very good value, with the super-luxurious SX stocked with a level up upmarket features that are generally reserved for very expensive luxury cars, being an outright bargain. The sedan, coupe and hatchback line-ups don't really intersect that often but when they do, the coupe and hatchback are priced about the same, and both are around $500 more expensive than an equivalent sedan. Leasing was reasonable value in January 2015 but can vary so it is important to check at the time of purchase.

Reliability

Good reliability predicted with few of the 1.8L engine issues being reported on the Elantra cropping up on the Forte. 


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

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

City Fuel Economy:  9L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None
Additional Airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2014

Country of Origin: South Korea

 


IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: M

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 


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