An array of all-new small cars and crossovers are hitting the streets for 2013 with impressive performance and top-level sophistication.
With gas prices fluctuating between $3 and $4 the past few years, it’s no surprise that automakers rushed to develop what amounts to an entirely new fleet of fuel-efficient compact and subcompact cars and crossovers. What might surprise some car shoppers who still equate “small” with “shoddy” is how sophisticated the latest crop of small cars have become, both in terms of performance and interior accommodations.
Here’s a look at nine top-notch small cars and crossovers that are all new for 2013:
• Acura ILX. Acura’s more luxurious and formal looking version of the compact Honda Civic sedan comes powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the base model that delivers 150 horsepower and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. An alternately available 2.4-liter I4 produces a quicker 201 horses, but comes only with a six-speed manual. A fuel-saving hybrid-powered version is also available.
• BMW X1. This sporty subcompact crossover SUV features a choice of a turbocharged 240-horsepower, four-cylinder engine or a faster 300-horsepower turbo inline-six; the base engine includes a start-stop function to help boost fuel economy by automatically depowering while at idle. An automatic transmission is standard across the line. BMW’s advanced xDrive all-wheel-drive system is available to enhance the vehicle’s handling prowess on either wet or dry roads.
• Buick Encore. Mechanically related to the Chevrolet Sonic, this subcompact crossover SUV packs a 140-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, though unlike most crossovers it’s not available with all-wheel drive. It promises a smooth ride and a quiet interior thanks to a high-tech noise cancellation system. Available features include forward collision-alert and lane-departure warning systems.
• Cadillac ATS. The ATS is a compact rear-drive luxury sedan that borrows styling cues from the larger Cadillac CTS and rides on a crisp-handling sport suspension. It comes powered by a choice of 200- and 270-horsepower four-cylinder engines and a 3.6-liter V6 with 320 horses. Available tech goodies include a multi-touch LCD touch screen that works like an Apple iPad.
• Chevrolet Spark. The Spark is a small, four-door “micro car” hatchback in which a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine produces just 85 horsepower, with fuel economy as its main virtue. The car is attractive and well-finished inside though its size limits its appeal to budget-minded city dwellers and others having only modest vehicular needs.
• Ford C-Max Hybrid/Energi. The hybrid-powered C-Max is a compact wagon with a tall roofline that maximizes interior room. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine teams with an electric motor/generator to get an impressive 47/44-mpg. The Energi is the plug-in version that packs a larger battery and can run for an extended number of miles on electric power. Push-button start and a rear-view camera are standard with options including an automatic parking function and a foot-operated power tailgate.
• Dodge Dart. This attractive compact sedan is built in the U.S., but with styling and engineering that comes via Italy’s Alfa Romeo. Either of three four-cylinder engines are available that range from 160 horsepower to a lusty 184 horses; transmission choices include a six-speed automated manual. A long list of dealer-installed accessories affords maximum customization.
• Mazda CX-5. This curvy compact crossover replaces the Tribute in Mazda’s line. Its 2.0-liter “SkyActiv” four-cylinder engine generates 155 horsepower and gets good fuel economy at 26/33 mpg, with handling that’s a notch sportier than the norm. Powertrain choices include a six-speed manual or automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel-drive.
• Subaru XV Crosstrek. This crossover SUV version of Subaru’s compact Impreza features a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and drives all four wheels via either a five-speed manual transmission or gearless CVT automatic. Available amenities include a rear-view camera and a voice/touchscreen controlled navigation system with real-time traffic information.
© CTW Features