2017 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Superminis

Superminis (referred to also as B-Segment cars) were once cramped, stark, slow and noisy. Those days are gone. Levels of comfort, cabin space, performance and refinement have increased to such an extent that for many people, there is no need to move beyond this segment unless you are seeking greater cabin space. Desirable features such as air-conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors are either standard or optional on all of the cars in this category, with some cars offering luxury features like leather seating, navigation systems, Keyless Go and heated steering wheels, as options.

There are no new entries for 2017 but Kia has shown a new Rio and Hyundai unveiled a next-generation Accent, both of which whould be on sale by late 2017. The Chevrolet Sonic undergoes a late-cycle update for its fifth year on the market. 

Vital safety features like side-curtain airbags, ABS and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), once reserved for luxury cars, are standard on the cars in this segment, with advanced safety features like frontal collision detection and lane departure warning, are optional on several cars in this segment this year. 

The better cars in this class are economical to operate, very reliable, and have excellent resale value. However, unless you are a cash buyer, please pay attention to monthly payments for financing and especially leasing, which are often as high as they are for more expensive cars in the next size class up. 

Once covered in this section, the MINI Cooper has been moved to the Premium Compact section as most examples carry enough options to push the model out of the supermini price segment.

Chevrolet Sonic  Honda Fit  Kia Soul  Nissan Versa Note 
Chevrolet Spark  Hyundai Accent  Mitsubishi i-MiEV  Smart ForTwo 
Fiat 500  Hyundai Veloster  Mitsubishi Mirage  Toyota Yaris Sedan 
Ford Fiesta  Kia Rio, Rio 5  Nissan Micra  Toyota Yaris 

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

 


 

What’s new
Simplified model range with just two (LT and Premier) trim levels offered on the five door and a sole LT trim offered on the sedan. New front fascia and redesigned headlamps, grille and hood, with a new rear fascia as well. The MyLink infotainment interface now offers Apple CarPlay and Android auto connection. 
Performance
The refined base 1.8L four pulls strongly. The six-speed automatic transmission seeks the highest gear possible as quickly as possible but does react willingly to downshift requests. The 1.4L turbo is strong, smooth and sonorous. The turbo is best-suited to the automatic transmission as the manual is undermined by an abrupt clutch. Precise, nicely-weighted and communicative steering. The Sonic rides with a firm resilience and handles crisply without a trace of wallow. In town, the low-profile tire-equipped Sonic LTZ allows bumps to intrude into the cabin. Large turning circle. Elegant, traditional cabin styling replaces the slightly avant-garde pre-facelift interior. Comfortable seats offer good support. Spacious front seating. Rear passengers enjoy a comfortable seat and abundant legroom. Excellent headroom. Spacious trunk on the sedan. Vertical storage space on the hatchback is lessened by high trunk floor concealing a large under-floor storage bin.

Comments
Sedan and four-door hatchback versions of the Sonic are available. Engine choices include a normally-aspirated 1.8L four and a 1.4L turbo. Both produce virtually the same horsepower but the turbo generates greater torque at a lower RPM. Power reaches the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission or manuals with five (1.8L) or six speeds (turbo). The Sonic placed third in a four-car test that included the previous version of the Kia Rio and the current Hyundai Accent and Toyota Yaris.

Pricing
The True North package on the hatchback includes the more desirable equipment of the Premier trim, the 1.4L turbo and a manual six-speed transmission. Active safety equipment like a forward collision warning, a lane departure warning and rear parking sonar, is only offered on the Premier tirm. Sedan: the True North package is packaged with the 1.8L engine and automatic transmission. An LT sedan sells for about $1000 less than a similarly equipped hatchback. Good value leasing. 

Reliability
Not rated due to insufficient data. The vehicles the Sonic replaced were rated below average. Possible trouble points could include the turbo engine and the suspension. Free oil changes (up to four changes, based on oil life monitor in the car) for two years or 40,000 kilometers.   

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB*, 4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.4L-4 T (138 HP)*, 1.8L-4 (138 HP)

Transmissions: 5M, 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive
City Fuel Economy:  9.7L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.9L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard
Additional airbags: Knee airbags for front occupants and outboard rear side airbags,
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/160,000
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 


2017 Chevrolet Spark

 


 

What’s new
No changes of note for the Spark in 2017

Performance
The $9995 manual trasmission 1LS base model tested by the APA was a revelation. The 1.4L four is smooth, flexible and surprisingly punchy. While clutch engagement is a bit late in its travel, the clutch is light and easy to modulate. The gearchange is not the last word in precision but is nicely weighted and never fails to find the gear selected. Overall gearing is a bit on the high side, which permits low-rev cruising but does demand you drop and gear for even modest hill. Steering lacks in road feel but is quick and nicely weighted. The brakes work well but could use greater initial bite. Some controlled lean is experienced while cornering but handling is sound and is allied to a surprisingly supple ride for a car with such a short wheelbase. Driven briefly, the CVT in a 2LT worked unobtrusively and kept revs low while crusing at highway speeds. Wind noise and road noise were much lower in the new Spark than on its predecessor, but tire noise borders on intrusive.
Unlike its avant-garde predecessor, current Spark drivers face a clear, very conventional guage package. Even on the base model, the top-centre of the dash is dominated by a large touch screen, below of which are simple audio controls as well as a straightforward three dial climate controls. Seat fabrics and other cabin trim are more attractive than most people will expect for $9995. Some APA testers thought the front seats to be a bit on the small side, they were quite deeply padded and acceptably supportive. Access to the rear seat is better than expected and rear seat space (especially on the passenger side if the front passenger gives up some room for those in the rear) is surprising for such a small car. Trunk space, while not copious, is tall and regularly shaped. The sound quality of the base two-speaker audio system in the Spark 1LS was impressive and even the base car is equipped with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.
Comments
Though sold for many generations overseas under the Daewoo Matiz nameplate, the new Spark is only the second-generation of the car to reach North America. Replacing the crude and noisy 1.2L four, a new 1.4L produces 98 horsepower, 14 more than before. Power reaches the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT. Available active safety equipment includes blind spot and lane departure warnings. 

Pricing

With a base MSRP of $9995, the Spark is the cheapest new car available in Canada, even cheaper than the Nissan Micra. Even the base model is equipped with a rearview camera and a large dash touchsreen. The nearly $4000 price jump between the base 1LS manual to the 1LS automatic is partially explained by the transmission and air conditioning, which is valued at aroung $2500. The 1LT upgrade, which includes a full power group (windows, door locks with a remote, mirrors) and alloy wheels, is a bargain. the ILT is priced a bit higher than a 2017 Nissan Micra SV but boasts alloy wheels and is a much fresher design than the Nissan. The 2LT range topper is priced to reflect the value of its contents, which includes a forward collision and lane departure warnings. HIgher than average depreciation is expected. No leasing offered as of February 2017. Nissan sold nearly 10,000 Micras in Canada in 2016, more than twice the number of Sparks registered. 


Reliability
New vehicle, not rated. Previous GM cars from South Korea had a poor reputation. GM's previous attempts at CVT transmissions have not been successful.   

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.4L-4 (98 HP)

Transmissions: 5M, CVT* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive
City Fuel Economy:  7.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.2L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Available blind spot and lane departure warnings and forward collision alert as well.
Additional Airbags:  Standard front occupant knee airbags and rear seat outboard side airbags. 
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/160,000
Current Generation Debut:  2016
Country of Origin:  South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: NR

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: NR

Rear: NR

NHTSA Rating: 


2017 Fiat 500

 


 

 

What’s new
The 500 enters its sixth year with few changes other than a wider-ranging Pop trim level, the elimination of the previous Sport model, as well as the disappearance of the low-pressure turbo variant.

Performance
The normally-aspirated 1.4L engine sounds gruff and strained much of the time. The six-speed automatic transmission permits mechanically relaxed cruising and works well enough in the countryside but poorly chosen lower gears, bad programming or a combination of both result in a car that always seems to be in the wrong gear in the city. Downshifts are eager enough. Putting the transportation in "Sport" mode leads to less in-town lethargy, but also increases revs at highway speeds. The steering, which is light and quick for tight turns and parking in town, firms up at higher speeds, but lacks feedback. The firm ride has a resilience that absorbs most of the harshness from large bumps. The 500's diminutive size confirms a certain agility but handling demonstrates considerable lean in curves and lacks any sense of fun. The 500 is pushed around by crosswinds. Firm, progressive brakes with a high ABS engagement threshold. The Abarth's fizzy 160 horsepower turbo engine accelerates briskly. Pronounced wind noise. Clear instrumentations. The very attractive cabin features a large exterior-body colour insert on the dashboard. The radio controls, previously diabolical, and now straightforward. Very good audio system with deep lows and crisp highs. The satellite radio signal cuts out frequently. Efficient heating and defrosting. The air conditioning was not as cold as desired on really warm days. The front seats are deeply padded but some found them a bit firm, with the backrest being too firm and flat for some drivers. Low windshield header. The high roof permits easy cabin access, and while rear legroom is tight, headroom is adequate and ingress/egress is better than on a number of other small cars. The rear seat head restraints are poorly placed and very uncomfortable. The massive sunroof of the cabrio model seals tightly and causes little wind noise. The top itself opens and closes easily and includes an interlock that precludes the top opening fully above a certain speed. Little wind buffeting with the top fully open up to around 100 km/h. When fully retracted, the roof blocks the view of the rear view mirror, but the substantial door mirrors are helpful. On the hatchback, the trunk is tall, regularly shaped and reasonably roomy for such a small car. The trunk on the cabrio has a small opening but the space inside is quite decent and is not compromised by the folding top. 

Comments
The 500's look was inspired by the Nuova 500 of 1957. Fiat's new car was styled by Frank Stephenson, the same designer who penned the first BMW MINI. The 500 is beautifully detailed and extremely chic. Labelled a cabriolet, the open-top 500, which has a cloth roof that unfurls electrically between fixed roof pillars, has traditionally been referred to as a "transformable".  A normally-aspirated 1.4L four, as well as a 160 horsepower 1.4L turbo, are available. Two transmissions, a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, are offered. Sales of the originally 500 have dropped precipitously and the 500X, the car that needed to sell well to consolidate the Fiat franchise in Canada, failing to stir buyer interest, Fiat may not have a long-term future in Canada.    

Pricing

The Pop trim level now offers a broader range of optional features, including air conditioning, which will make moving up to the Lounge model unnecessary for many buyers. If you opt to move up to the lavishly equipped Lounge, its price is much less than the value of its content. When additional standard features of the Abarth variant are accounted for, its extra 59 horsepower costs a very reasonable $1300. The convertible is very expensive given that is essentially a gigantic cloth sunroof. Poor resale value. 

Reliability
Not rated due to insufficient information. Some complaints received regarding powertrain electronics. 

Specifications


Body Style:  2HB, 2CV
Occupants: 2/2
Engines:
1.4L‑4 (101 HP)*, 1.4L-4 T (160 HP: Abarth 5M, 157 HP Abarth 6A) 

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

City Fuel Economy:  8.7L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  7.1L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard
Additional Airbags: Driver's side knee airbag
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin:  Mexico

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: P

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 


2017 Ford Fiesta

 


 

 

What’s new
No changes of note for the Fiesta in its seventh year on the market. 

Performance
The Fiesta's 1.6L engine lacks response at low revs but does perform enthusiastically at higher revs. Gearing favours fuel economy more than performance. Except for excess gear whine, the manual transmission, with a silken smooth clutch, is a delight. The dual-clutch automated manual transmission works well but shifts can be abrupt, especially in traffic. Nicely weighted, precise steering. A resilient ride and precise handling reflect careful suspension development. Strong, progressive braking. The traction control cannot be turned off to allow for some wheelspin if you are stuck in the winter. Attractive gauges. Except for confusing radio operation, controls are straightforward and work well. Tight cabin space, especially in the rear. The Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note are significantly roomier, with the Accent and Rio more welcoming as well. Good cargo space on the hatchback, with the sedan having an enormous trunk for such a small car. The ST is a thrilling drive but the bolstering of its Recaro seats is too extreme for many body types.

Comments
The Fiesta is available in sedan and hatchback forms. The Fiesta's mainstream engine, a 1.6L four, can be hooked up to either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. The ST is equipped with a 197 horsepower 1.6L turbo four that is mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged A 1L turbocharged three-cylinder engine is available.   
Pricing

At just over $18,000, the base S hatchback is equipped to suit most buyers but cannot be paired with automatic transmission. Hatchback and sedan body styles of the same trim level are offered at the same price. The cheapest Fiesta with automatic transmission is the SE, priced at around $21,500. The 1L turbo triple is priced the same as the 1.6L four, but cannot be hooked up to an automatic transmission. The Titanium trim level looks expensive but so equipped, the Fiesta is a smooth, luxurious package. Leasing is poor value and not worth considering.  
Reliability

Average reliability thus far. The dual clutch automatic transmission is a weak point. Avoid the unproven 1L three-cylinder turbo engine. Avoid the 1L turbo triple. Reports of rapid brake wear and steering component failures.

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB, 4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.6 L‑4 (120 HP)* , 1.6L-4 T (197 HP), 1L-3 T (123 HP)

Transmissions: 5M*, 6M (ST), 6A (automated manual)*

Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  8.6L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.4L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard
Additional Airbags: Driver's side knee airbag

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2011
Country of Origin:  Mexico

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: M

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 


2017 Honda Fit

 

 

What’s new
New SE trim level has been inserted between the LX and EX models.
Comments
Fit styling is crisp and clean, with an interesting Pininfarina-esque profile indentation.
Passenger space, cargo capacity and versatility are all extraordinary for a car of the Fit's size. What is new for the Fit is an upscale look to the cabin, as well as an array of luxury features including Keyless Go, sunroof, and heated leather seats. All Fits are equipped with Bluetooth phone hookup as well as a multi-view rear camera. High-end models feature Honda's Lane Watch system that debuted in the 2013 Accord.
Power stems from a direct-injected 1.5L four that produces 130 horsepower. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or a CVT. Canadian market Fits are now sourced in Mexico.

Pricing 
Though the cheapest Fit, the DX, is advertised at $14,950, without air-conditioning or automatic transmission, even as options, it is merely a sleight of hand. Equipped with automatic transmission, the $19,050 LX is the least expensive Fit most people will buy. The SE, with alloy wheels, an upgraded audio system and a number of trim items, is very good value. The EX and EX-L Navigation trim upgrades are minor bargains if you like their equipment. Reasonable value leasing. With Monthly lease and finance payments between the Fit LX and Civic LX more or less equal, people are picking the Fit because of its versatility and small footprint for urban driving, not because of value. Excellent resale value. The supplement you pay to acquire a Fit compared to something like the Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent will be repaid at trade-in time.  

Reliability
The previous Fit was rated above average. The reliability of this new Mexican built Fit is unknown.

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.5 L-4 (130 HP)

Transmissions: 6M, CVT* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive
City Fuel Economy:  7.0L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  5.9L/100 km

Active Safety Features: Available passenger side-view camera

Additional airbags: None


Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2015
Country of Origin:  Mexico

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: NR

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating:


2017 Hyundai Accent

 

 

What’s new
2017 is the last year for the current Accent as the 2018 model, shown in Toronto, will go on sale in the fall of 2017. Updates include standard Bluetooth and satellite radio on the LE trim and a $300 price cut on the SE model. Sedans and hatchbacks are priced the same this year. 

Performance
The smooth, direct-injected 1.6L four delivers fairly lively acceleration but excessively tall gearing on the manual transmission leads to downshifts on even modest grades. The precise gearchange is allied to a smooth clutch. The responsive, crisp-shifting six-speed automatic transmission permits serene highway cruising. Well-suppressed wind noise but road noise and ping from road debris are intrusive. The nicely weighted and geared steering lacks the precision of the related Kia Rio. Except for excess rear suspension rebound over big bumps, the Accent has a well-judged ride-handling compromise. Matte-finished textured hard plastic and elegant fabrics make for a chic cabin for this market segment. Big, clear gauges and logical, slick-acting controls. Strong air conditioning, good heating and comforting heated seats. The small rear window wiper clears only a small part of the window. Comfortable seats combine with good cabin space for this segment. Tight toe space under the front seats. Enormous trunk on the sedan and a spacious, versatile cargo area on the hatchback model. The Accent was ranked second, behind the Kia Rio, in a four car test that included a Chevrolet Sonic and Toyota Yaris.

Comments
The fourth-generation Accent is available in sedan and hatchback forms with the hatchback accounting for the majority of sales. High-end technologies like direct fuel injection and six-speed transmissions are standard on all models. One engine, a 1.6L four with 138 horsepower, can be hooked up to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. 

Pricing 

The low-low base MSRP of the Accent gets buyers into Hyundai showrooms but the advertised car will be hard to find, even if buyers wanted it, which they do not. The $2500 or so demanded to move from the L to the LE adds an automatic transmision and air conditioning, but no power accessories group. A power group is part of the $1500 higher GL trim level.  However, for only $600 more, the SE includes a sunroof, alloy wheels and fog lights, which are worth close to $2000. The GLS trim upgrade is very expensive considering its additional features.

Reliability
Good reliability predicted. Unproven engine and transmissions.  

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB*, 4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.6L-4 (138 HP)

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive
City Fuel Economy: 8.9L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.6L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None

Additional Airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin:  South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: P

Mod. Front: G

Side: A

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 


2017 Hyundai Veloster

 

 

What’s new
There are no changes of note for the Veloster this year.   
Performance
The normally-aspirated direct-injected 1.6L four is smooth and refined, but has little pull below 2500 rpm. Manual transmission gearing exploits the power available in the lower gears, with fifth and sixth gears for cruising only. The crisp, short-throw gearchange is allied to a smooth, progressive clutch. Quick, nicely-weighted steering is more precise than that of the Accent but still lacks in road feel. On smooth pavement, the Veloster exhibits little lean, even in brisk cornering, However, rougher road surfaces upset the rear suspension and larger bumps can deflect the car off its intended path. Firm ride on all types of bumps on our car shod with 18" wheels; the 17" wheels and higher profile tires on the base model may ride better. Strong, progressive brakes with firm brake pedal feel suffers from premature ABS interventions under hard braking. Restricted rear visibility.

Comments
Built on a longer wheelbase and longer overall and wider than the Accent, the Veloster is more than just a simple spin-off of Hyundai's B-segment stalwart. With cycle-type fenders, asymmetric (one door on the driver's and two-doors on the passenger side), side profiles and fully-integrated Siamesed rectangular rear exhaust outlets, the Veloster is one dramatic piece of road sculpture. The base engine is a normally-aspirated 1.6L four that can be hooked up to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. The optional turbocharged engine can be linked up to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. 

Pricing

No pricing details available in April 2017.  
Reliability
Good reliability predicted, like the Accent it is based on. The dual-clutch automated manual transmission and the turbo engine are unproven and some complaints have been received about unsolvable issues with the six-speed dual clutch transmission.   

Specifications


Body Style: 3HB
Occupants: 2/2
Engines:
1.6L-4 (132:[auto]*, 138 HP: manual]), 1.6 L-4 T (201 HP)

Transmissions: 6M, 6A (clutchless manual; base)*, 7A (clutchless manual: turbo)
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive
City Fuel Economy:  8.3L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.7L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None
Additional airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin: South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: NR

Mod. Front: NR

Side: NR

Roof: NR

Rear: NR

NHTSA Rating: 


 

2018 Kia Rio, Kia Rio5

 
NEW

 

 

What’s new
All-new 2018 Rio went on sale in the fall of 2017. 



Comments

While instantly identifiable as a Rio, the styling of the third-generation model reflects the conservative wind blowing through the design studios at Hyundai-Kia. Marginally bigger than its predecessor, the car has roughly the same interior packaging as its predecessor. The Rio's cabin is conservatively stylish, with expensive looking crisply marked gauges and a dash centre dominated by a large free-standing screen which is flanked on each side by infotainment access buttons and a rotating knob in each lower corner for volume and tuning. Upscale features like heated seats and heated steering wheel are standard on all trims. 

Buyers in other markets have a wide variety of engines available but the sole powerplant for Canada will be a 130 horsepower 1.6L four. Transmission choices include a two six speeds, a manual and an automatic.

Active safety equipment, once the purview of carriage class luxury cars, is democratizing rapidly, now reaching down to the Rio's market segment with autonomous emergency braking available on the EX Tech Navi range topper.   

Pricing

Without available air conditioning or automatic transmission, the $14,995 base LX trim is listed simply to advertise a low MSRP. With automatic transmission, air conditioning and cruise control, the $17,995 LX+ version,is the defacto base model for most buyers. The EX trim upgrade, with a sunroof, alloy wheels, telescoping steering wheel, automatck temperature control is very nicely equipped but at about $21,000, it is getting expensive for a car in this class. The value of the EX Sport trim is a mystery but the range-topper EX Tech Navi, while comprehensivly equipped, but its price, nearly $24,000, opens up a lot of excellent compact cars that may have less equipment but are cars that can serve as the sole vehicle for a family of four. Poor lease value at the beginning of the 2018 model year.  


Reliability
Good reliability predicted, with few complaints received thus far.

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB, 4SD*
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.6L‑4 (130 HP) 

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

City Fuel Economy:  n/a
Highway Fuel Economy:  n/a

Active Safety Features: Autonomous emergency braking. 


Additional Airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2018
Country of Origin: South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: NT

Mod. Front: NT

Side: NT

Roof: NT

Rear: NT

NHTSA Rating:


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