In our never-ending search for family vehicles that strive to meet many of consumers’ wants and needs, we’re always excited to see what’s new--particularly in the new model year offerings from automakers. In this two-part series we take a look at the best 2011 affordable small sedans.
2011 Chevrolet CruzeEnlarge Photo
Much anticipated after its success in Europe, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is finally here in the United States. And Cruze delivers a great deal in the value equation so important to many American families. With starting manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) that begin at $16,275 and fuel economy that is impressive at an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city/36 mpg highway (in Cruze LS with 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine and standard six-speed manual transmission), Cruze also beats the competition (Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra) by providing 10 standard airbags (the competition only has six) and electronic stability control. Turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engines, available in LT and LTZ trims, achieve EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway. Arriving later this fall is Cruze Eco, expected to deliver up to 40 mpg highway.
Actually a subcompact or minicar, the all-new 2011 Ford Fiesta is the first mini car to be awarded a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). On sale in Europe since 2008, Fiesta is another eagerly-anticipated small car finally making its way stateside. Auto reviewers have been unanimous in their praises of Fiesta, a fun-to-drive, high-build quality, upscale comfortable cabin for the price, and offering hybrid-like fuel economy of 29 mpg city/38 mpg highway (automatic) and 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway (manual) from its 120-hp 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine. What’s more, Fiesta offers consumers features rarely seen in this class, from an airbag for the driver’s knees to heated seats to Ford’s Sync system. Competition for the Ford Fiesta includes the MINI Cooper, Honda Fit, and Mazda MAZDA3.
2010 Honda Civic Si Coupe
2010 Honda Civic Si CoupeEnlarge Photo
With its classic styling and high fuel efficiency, along with plenty of power and a smooth and satisfying ride, the Honda Civic has long been a favorite compact sedan for many American families. For some, it may be a commuter vehicle, while for others Civic does double duty as a small family hauler and second vehicle. With EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers of 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway (automatic) and 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway (manual) and MSRPs that start at $15,805, the 2011 Honda Civic sedan continues to rank high among consumers. For those who want even higher fuel economy, the Honda Civic Hybrid sedan, with a starting MSRP of $23,950, provides an EPA-estimated 40 mpg city/43 mpg highway. The company’s reputation for building vehicles with high levels of fit and finish, impressive reliability and low running cost are other reasons Civic has been one of the most popular cars sold in America since the model’s launch in 1973.
Available in Blue, GLS, and SE models, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra offers affordable family transportation (seating for five), a 138-hp 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, and fuel economy estimated at 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway (Blue, five-speed manual transmission), and 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway (GLS and SE, four-speed automatic). All Elantra models have six standard airbags, but electronic stability control is only standard in SE (it’s not even an option on Blue and GLS). Hyundai has been making great strides in recent years, and does offer one of the longest warranties for Elantra in its class. Low base price (Elantra Blue’s starting MSRP is $14,145), low ownership costs, comfortable rear seats, good driving dynamics, and excellent cargo space are other Hyundai Elantra plusses.
Want to see the rest of the story? Don’t miss Best 2011 Affordable Small Sedans: Part Two.