2018 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. Luxury features like leather seating, navigation systems, Keyless Go and heated steering wheels, are optional on many cars in this segment. Active safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning and radar cruise control, once offered only on super-luxury cars, are increasingly available on cars in this segment.

There are two key new entries for 2018, the Hyundai Accent and the Kia Rio. Both share the same platform and mechanicals but spin the shared elements into different cars. Nissan introduced an all-new larger Micra in Europe for the 2017 model year but Canada continues to get the previous-generation car for 2018. The new Micra's platform, if not its outer form, is available underneath the new Kicks tall hatchback, which, while marketed as a crossover, is exclusively front-wheel drive, making it a Supermini. Ford introduced a new-generation Fiesta in Europe for 2018 but Canada continues to get the previous generation for one more year, after which the nameplate may be discontinued in this market.
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 Micra 
Chevrolet Spark  Hyundai Accent  Mitsubishi i-MiEV  Nissan Versa Note 
Fiat 500  Hyundai Veloster  Mitsubishi Mirage  Smart ForTwo 
Ford Fiesta  Kia Rio, Rio 5  Nissan Kicks  Toyota Yaris Sedan 
      Toyota Yaris

2018 Chevrolet Sonic

 


 

What’s new
A Driver Confidence package is new for the Sonic in its EIGHTH year on the market. GM has announced that the Sonic will not be replaced once the current model is done. 

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 Premier 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 on the hatchback model. 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). 
Pricing
Hatchback model: the True North package contains much of the equipment of the Premier, the 1.4L turbo and a six-speed automatic transmission, for a good price. The Premier hatchback is the only Sonic that offers Driver Confidence package that includes forward collision and lane departure warnings as well as a reverse parking sensor. The sedan is proposed in a single LT trim. An LT sedan sells for $1000 less than a similarly equipped hatchback. No leasing was available as of April 2018.  


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:  9.3L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  7.0L/100 km

Active Safety Features: Available forward collision and lane departure warnings. 

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: 


2018 Chevrolet Spark

 


 

What’s new
No changes of note for the Spark in 2018. GM has announced that it will abandon this segment once production of the current Spark ends. 

Performance
The $10,095 manual transmission 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 works unobtrusively and keeps revs low while cruising 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 gauge 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 $10,095. 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 $10,095, the Spark is the cheapest new car available in Canada. Even the base model is equipped with a rearview camera and a large dash touchscreen. 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 around $2500. The 1LT upgrade, which includes a full power group (windows, door locks with a remote, mirrors) and alloy wheels, is equipped the way most buyers want and is very good value. The 2LT range topper is priced to reflect the value of its contents, which includes a forward collision and lane departure warnings. However, larger vehicles such as the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio start to look pretty compelling compared with a fully-loaded Spark. Higher than average depreciation is expected. Leasing is not worth considering for 2018. 

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: 


2018 Fiat 500

 


 

 

What’s new
The normally-aspirated 1.4L engine has been discontinued, with the return of the low-pressure turbo engine as the base engine for the car. Steady sales declines have led Fiat to turn the 500 into a higher profit per unit boutique specialty car.  

Performance
The low-pressure turbo engine exhibits brisk, flexible power characteristics. The six speed conventional automatic transmission works well enough but sometimes feels a bit slow off the mark in town. 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".  Two turbo fours, with 130 and 150 horsepower, are available.  Two transmissions, a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, are offered. With sales of the 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

No pricing was available as of April 2018.  

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 T (130 HP)*, 1.4L-4 T (160 HP: Abarth 5M, 157 HP Abarth 6A) 

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

City Fuel Economy:  n.a.
Highway Fuel Economy:  n.a.
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: 


2018 Ford Fiesta

 


 

 

What’s new
The 1L turbocharged three-cylinder engine has been discontinued. Though a new-generation Fiesta has been on sale in Europe for up to a year, Canada continues to get the previous-generation car and Ford has announced the end of Fiesta production and its withdrawal from the supermini segment and, except for the Mustang, abandon the passenger car market altogether.   

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 much of the time but can judder in stop and go traffic and its operation, different from that of a conventional automatic transmission, can put people off even if their car is subject to transmission failure. 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 Fiesta, like all of the Ford passenger cars, has languished and grown old and stale as Ford concentrates almost exclusively on the light truck market. 
Pricing

Those few buyers picking the Fiesta (fewer than 2000 sold in 2017) can opt for the sedan and hatchback body styles at the same price. The base S trim is equipped with air conditioning but is not offered with automatic transmission or a power group. The SE trim upgrade, with expected convenience features like power windows and cruise control and appearance items such as alloy wheels, is priced to reflect the value of its additional content. With leather upholstery, a sunroof and navigation, the Titanium range topper is luxurious and comprehensively equipped, but is a bit expensive for what you are getting, at over $25, 000, there are a lot of tempting alternatives to attract buyers. The high-performance turbo ST is undermined by the lack of an automatic transmission but is a formidable sporting package for the price. Monthly payments for the Fiesta SE automatic hatchback are roughly the same as for a Honda Civic LX sedan. Poor value leasing.   
Reliability

Average reliability thus far. The dual clutch automatic transmission is a weak point and even when working properly owners may think there is a problem due to its unique shifting style. 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: 


2018 Honda Fit

 

 

What’s new
The 2018 receives a mid-cycle remake for its fourth year on the market. Exterior changes include revised frontal styling and new taillights at the back. The cabin is gently revised. Structural improvements, retuned shock absorbers, a thicker windshield and enhanced soundproofing result in greater refinement and driving precision. The Sport trim replaces the previous SE model. All Fits with automatic transmission are now equipped with the Honda Sensing active safety suite. 

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. 
Power stems from a direct-injected 1.5L four that produces 130 horsepower. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or a CVT. 

Pricing
At just over $15,000, the base DX trim, lacking air conditioning or automatic transmission, even as options, is offered simply to be able to advertise the lowest possible base price. The next model, the LX, has air conditioning but does not offer automatic transmission, taking it out of the running for most buyers. The price gap between the DX and the LX is roughly $1000 higher than its extra content can justify. Compared with the LX, the LX HS, with automatic transmission and the Honda Sensing active safety suite, is a bargain. The Sport HS trim upgrade is priced to reflect the value of the additional equipment in the upgrade. The EX HS and EX-L Navi HS trim upgrades are good value but at nearly $24,000, the EX-L Navi HS makes a number of larger cars look like compelling choices. Unless you live in a congested urban environment where the tidy footprint and spectacularly space-efficient body of the Fit will serve you well, you can finance or lease a Honda Civic LX for roughly the same monthly outlay as a Fit LX HS.

Reliability
The previous Fit was rated above average. The reliability of this new Mexican built Fit has generated few complaints. 

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:


2018 Hyundai Accent

 

NEW

 

What’s new
An all-new Accent went on sale in early 2018. 

Performance
Tested with the sedan body and automatic transmission, the new Accent is a pretty pleasant companion. 

The 1.6L four is strong, flexible and, unless really extended, when is gets a touch raucous, is smooth and quiet. The upshifts of the conventional six-speed automatic transmission are imperceptible, downshifts are swift when desired and it permits low-rev cruising. The Accent's steering is quick, and nicely weighted but it reveals little of the road beneath its wheels. Handling is crisp but at the expense of ride, which is very abrupt, to the point of being a deal breaker for some buyers. Wind noise is low and road noise itself is subdued but the overly firm suspension is clunky over large road imperfections. Braking is strong, with a reassuringly firm pedal and no lost motion. 

The driver faces a dashboard stocked with big, soberly-designed gauges of remarkable clarity. Controls for the climate and audio functions could not be more straightforward and the dash infotainment screen is a snap to use. The Accent's seat heaters are quick and the heated steering wheel was most welcome on cold days in February when the APA had the car. Strong heating and defrosting.     

The front seats are comfortable and the driving position is commanding. The tilt and telescope steering wheel allows most drivers to find a comfortable seating position. The rear seat backrest is a bit too vertical and rear seat legroom is tight unless those in front take some pity on those in back and move their seats up. 

Comments
Hyundai Canada showed the 2018 Accent at the Toronto auto show in February of 2017 but the car actually went on sale a year later. While a sedan is available in the U.S. and Canada, the hatchback body is the overwhelming favourite here and is exclusive to the Great White North. 

The sole engine for Canada is a direct-injection 1.6L four producing 130 horsepower. Power reaches the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

Active safety equipment has been migrating downmarket for a few years; forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking are available on the new Accent. The new Accent went on sale in early 2018. 

Pricing 
No pricing details are available as of April 2018. 

Reliability
Good reliability predicted. Unproven engine and transmissions.  

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: 8.3L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.2L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning

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

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: NR

Mod. Front: NR

Side: NR

Roof: NR

Rear: NR

NHTSA Rating: 


2019 Hyundai Veloster

 

NEW

 

What’s new
The second-generation Veloster goes on sale in mid-2018.    

Comments
Based on the just released new-generation Accent, the new Veloster exhibits similar design cues as its predecessor. The asymmetric door format remains and affords easy entry to the rear seat, which benefits from better headroom this year.

Power stems from either the Elantra's 2L four or the returning 1.6L turbo. The 'N' model (named after Hyundai's Namyang technical facility and the Nürburgring), slated for a late 2018 release, has a 2L turbo four under its hood.

Pricing

No pricing details available.  
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 the previous six-speed dual clutch transmission used in some versions of the last Veloster.   

Specifications


Body Style: 3HB
Occupants: 2/2
Engines:
1.6L-4 T (201 HP estimated), 2L-4 (147 HP estimated) 
Transmissions: 6M, 6A, 7A (clutchless manual: turbo)
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive
City Fuel Economy: n/a
Highway Fuel Economy: n/a
Active Safety Features: Blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings
Additional airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2019
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, automatic 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 comprehensively 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:  8.5L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy: 6.4L/100 km

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: NR

Mod. Front: NR

Side: NR

Roof: NR

Rear: NR

NHTSA Rating:


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