2014 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. 2014 is no exception as three popular cars in the compact segment, the Kia Forte, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla are all new this year. Volkswagen introduced its seventh-generation Golf in Europe in the fall of 2012, but the model won't be available in Canada until the spring of 2014, as an early 2015. The only Golf offered for the 2014 model year is the wagon, which is based on the Jetta that debuted for the 2006 model. With 2013 introductions co-inciding with the beginning of the 2014 model year, it is unlikely there will be 2014 verstions of the Honda CR-Z or Nissan Leaf.

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.

Buick Verano  Hyundai Elantra  Nissan Juke  Subaru XV Crosstrek  
Chevrolet Cruze  Hyundai Elantra GT  Nissan Sentra  Toyota Corolla 
Dodge Dart  Kia Forte  Scion tC  Toyota Matrix 
Ford Focus  Mazda 3  Scion xB  Volkswagen Beetle 
Honda Civic  Mitsubishi Lancer  Scion xD  Volkswagen Golf Wagon 
  Mitsubishi RVR  Subaru Impreza  2015 Volkswagen Golf VII 
      Volkswagen Jetta 

Chevrolet Cruze

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Cruze: Diesel went on sale in the spring of 2013. Satellite radio is standard on all Cruze models this year. The Technology package is now standard on 2LT 1SB variant. Sun and Sound option includes an upgraded audio system when a sunroof is ordered. Buick Verano, previously twinned with the Cruze, is now in our Premium Compact section.   
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 new diesel variant powered by a 148 horsepower 2L engine that cranks out 258 lb-ft of torque, went on sale in the spring of 2013.

Pricing

Lacking air conditioning, even as an option, the mission of the $15,995 1LS base model is to entice potential buyers into the showroom so they be convinced to buy the 2LS. The $2100 price supplement to move from the 1LS to the air conditioned 2LS is roughly twice what it should be when additional equipment is accounted for. The price jump from the 2LS to the 1LT includes the higher torque turbo engine and about $600 in extra content for $1400. Upgrading from the 1LT trim level to the 2LT is exceptional value, but the LTZ is significantly overpriced. The diesel is priced $2100 higher than the similarly-equipped 2LT. Based on a fuel price of $1.30 per litre, 30,000 kilometres driven annually and a .7L/100 km greater fuel economy of the diesel compared with a 1.4 turbo, it would take almost eight years to recoup the addition initial outlay for the diesel. However, if the Cruze diesel maintains its value as well as diesel-engined variants of various Volkswagens do, much of the additional initial expense will come back to the owner on trade in. Good lease value. 
Reliability: Not rated, Insufficient data. Few complaints have been received thus far but there have been eight recalls on the Cruze since it was launched.   


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:  9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional Airbags: Front occupant knee airbags and ourboard rear airbags standard on Cruze
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/160,000 (Cruze)
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: M

NHTSA Rating: 



Dodge Dart

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
The GT trim level replaced the RT during the 2013 model year. The 2.4L four, restricted to the RT/GT last year, is standard on the SXT, Limited and GT trim levels for 2014. The 1.4 turbo is now restricted to the single specification "Aero" model. Rallye Sport Appearance and Cold Weather packages available on the SXT this year. 
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 from around  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.

Pricing

Upgrading from the SE to the SXT includes roughly $3500 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 balances value and price almost exactly. The Dart SXT is priced $800 higher than the Toyota Corolla LE, but has 50 additional horsepower. 

Reliability: Not rated, insufficient data. Few complaints received thus far. 


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
Additional airbags:  Two knee airbags and outboard side airbags for the rear seat

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: A

NHTSA Rating: 



Ford Focus

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Updated Sync with WiFi connectivity. New SE appearance group. Titanium range-topper is newly available with manual transmission. Turbocharged ST model went on sale in the summer of 2013.  
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. The Honda Civic found twice as many buyers in 2012 as the Focus did and the Focus was outsold by the Chevrolet Cruze as well.  

Pricing

The SE and Titanium trim upgrades are priced to reflect their additional contents. The hatchback body style is priced $900 higher than a sedan of the same trim level. 

Reliability

Average reliability. The erratic function of the automated manual transmission, MyFord Touch and steering have generated 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 (252 HP [ST), Electric (107 kW, 143 HP) 

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

City Fuel Economy:  8.7L/100 km


ESC: Standard
Additional Airbags: None
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: A

NHTSA Rating: 



Honda Civic

Specifications

 

 

What’s new
Coupe: exterior revisions include new fascias front and rear, restyled headlamps and taillights and a new grille. Cabin trim updates. Suspension revisions on the coupe said to sharpen responses. Sedan: revised cabin trim. All: new exhaust systems lead to three extra horsepower on the 1.8L and four more horsepower on the 2.4L Si.  A CVT replaces the previous five-speed automatic. Revised navigation screen with tap and swipe functions. Keyless Go and Lane Watch blind spot monitors standard on the EX, EX-L and Si coupes and the EX, Touring and Si sedans.The Civic hybrid returns for 2014 with a new Lithium-Ion battery pack and accoding to Honda, the ability to run in full electric mode.

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 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.  

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.

Pricing
Standard equipment on the high-volume LX trim level inclueds Bluetooth, a USB port and heated seats. Very good value LX and EX trim upgrades. The Touring package price reflects the additional equipment provided. Good value leasing. 
Reliability

Predicted reliability is above average. 

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:  na

ESC: Standard
Additional Airbags:  None
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, 8/160,000 (hybrid components)
Country of Origin:  Canada and the United States.

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Hyundai Elantra

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Mid-cycle refresh includes revised front and rear fascias and restyled front and rear lighting outside as well as a revised dash with repositioned vents, new centre stack with restyled climate controls and updated audio and navigation systems. Mechanical updates include a 173 horsepower 2L four in the Limited sedan and both coupe trim lines, driver selectable steering with comfort, normal and sport modes and Hill Start Assist to prevent the Elantra rolling back on hills. According to Hyundai, numerous noise attenuation measures have improved refinement.

Performance
The engines deliver good acceleration but become loud when strongly exercised. The automatic transmission, is programmed for smooth, natural operation which gives the car a sprightly, eager feel, unilke the soporific reactions of some other cars which have programmed specifically to flatter 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 both toe and headroom in tight supply. 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.   

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. Most Elantras are powered by a 1.8L four producing 148 horsepower, but the Limited sedan and all coupe variants boast a new 173 horsepower 2L four. Power reaches the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. 

Pricing
Sedan: the Limited with Technology Package is priced to cover the value of its contents but all other trim upgrades are bargains. The GL is the best value of the lineup and has all the equipment most buyers are looking for. Coupe: the coupe is only marketed in GLS and SE (the SE is equipped the same as a Limited sedan with navigation), trim levels. Leasing is uncompetitive.


Reliability

Good reliability predicted. 


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:  8.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additonal Airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000
Country of Origin:  United States (sedan), South Korea (coupe)

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: A

NHTSA Rating: 



Hyundai Elantra GT

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
New 2L direct injected four with 173 horsepower, 25 more than the 148 horsepower 1.8L it replaces. Model went on sale in January 2014. 

Performance
The GT's previous 1.8L four was smooth, spirited and quiet except for a pleasing snarl as it approached the redline. The new 2L should be a punchy, flexible performer, but fuel consumption is about 1L/100 km higher than it was with the 1.8L. 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 new 2L four as the top Elantra sedan and coupe. Six-speed transmissions, a manual and an automatic, are available on the GL and GLS models. Only the manual transmission is offered on the L trim level with automatic being the sole choice for the SE. 

Pricing
The GL and GLS trim upgrades are bargains, with the SE being very good value. The SE Tech package is very expensive for the equipment provided. Poor value leasing.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Good reliability predicted. 


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
ESC: Standard
Additional Airbags: Driver's side knee airbag
Warranty: 5/100,000
Country of Origin: South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: N/R

Side: N/R

Roof: N/R

Rear: N/R

Sml. Front: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Kia Forte

Specifications

NEW

 

 

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

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 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.

Comments
The second-generation Forte sedan went on sale in sedan form in the spring of 2013, with a coupe and hatchback launching in the fall of 2013. 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. An "Eco" model featuring idle stop-start technology, was proposed but not yet on sale. 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 and nicely detailed.
Pricing
Automatic transmission is very expensive option on the LX trim level, as is the sunroof package. Upgrading from the LX to EX trim level is very good value and migrating up to the SX range-topper is an absolute bargain. Reasonable value leasing. Hatchback and coupe pricing is not yet available. 

Reliability

Good reliability predicted. 


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:  9.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional Airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000

Country of Origin: South Korea

 


IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: P

NHTSA Rating: 


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