For years the lowly hatchback languished, derided by many as a cheapo, low-content ride with no power and little style. In short, hatchbacks were considered not-for-me transportation choices suited only for the least fortunate.
2011 Ford FiestaEnlarge Photo
That was then, this is now. Hatchbacks, all of a sudden, it seems, are hot once more. Leading the pack, according to Ford Motor Company, are the hatchback versions of its Focus compact and smaller Fiesta subcompact.
The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker says 41 percent of its Focus retail sales are hatchbacks – and the car has only been on sale a few months. In addition, about half of Fiestas sold are hatchbacks, says Ford.
Why the surging interest?
What accounts for the surging consumer interest in hatchbacks? Some say it’s a natural market shift as buyers search for alternatives to crossovers, sedans and SUVs.
They want the same attributes they’ve always had in family cars: safety, comfort, features, fuel economy, power and handling and styling. And automakers are eager to deliver just what customers want.
It isn’t just Ford that has the goods. Other automakers have, or soon will have, hot new hatchbacks on the market.
2012 Hyundai AccentEnlarge Photo
Hyundai estimates that up to 40 percent of buyers for the company’s new 2012 Accent subcompact will opt for the hatchback version.
Besides styling, the Accent has the coveted 40 mpg highway fuel economy going for it. No special package is necessary, unlike opting for the SFE (Super Fuel Economy) package in the Ford Fiesta SE (sedan or hatchback).
Hyundai’s Accent is the carmaker's third model that gets 40 mpg on the highway cycle, and it does it in both manual and automatic versions.
2012 Chevrolet SonicEnlarge Photo
Chevrolet’s all-new 2012 Sonic subcompact – the smallest in the Chevy lineup – will have a hatchback model. The Sonic also boasts 10 standard airbags and class-leading 138-horsepower 1.8-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine.
The upgrade 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder available in LT and LTZ models is expected to deliver 40 mpg highway fuel economy.
2011 Kia Forte 5-Door SXEnlarge Photo
2012 Kia Rio HatchbackEnlarge Photo
Kia Forte 5-Door and Rio5
Korean automaker Kia says its Forte 5-Door compact hatchback is exceeding sales expectations.
And this fall, Kia will debut yet another hatch: the all-new 2012 Rio5 subcompact which, like its corporate sibling the Hyundai Accent, is expected to achieve 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway fuel economy.