Mini Roadster

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a clear choice if you are looking for an affordable two-seat convertible. It is the cheapest two-seat convertible you can buy as a 2012 model with a starting price under $25,000 and has been highly regarded since it debuted more than 20 years ago for the driving experience it provides.

After the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky ended their brief runs after the 2009 model year, the MX-5 Miata was the only model of this type available in its price range. It has no direct competition. However, this is about to change as the Mini Roadster will go on sale in North America in mid-2012.

A True Convertible

Mini already offers a convertible offering for the four-seat Cooper. It is a fully automatic soft-top that retracts in just 15 seconds. The soft-top also has a built in sun roof. The Cooper convertible starts at an MSRP of $25,650 offering Mini’s 1.6-liter 121 horsepower base engine.

The convertible is also available in the Cooper S trim,with the turbocharged 181 horsepower engine, and the John Cooper Works trim, which gets 208 horsepower out of its turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

What separates the new Mini Roadster is that it is a true two-seat convertible. The concept of the model was first shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show and the model is set to make its formal debut at the January 2012 Detroit auto show.

MINI auf der IAA 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jürgen Stemper // Bloemche

Engine and Power

The Mini Roadster will feature the same engines as the Cooper. The base model with the 121 horsepower engine is expected to start at about $24,000, which is comparable to the MX-5 Miata. However, the Mazda offers a 2.0-liter 167 horsepower engine and a 0-60 time of about 7 seconds. The base Mini Roadster will be significantly slower but should offer very crisp, agile handling.

To have superior acceleration, buyers will need to step up the Mini Roadster S or Mini Roadster John Cooper Works. However, the Roadster S will likely start at a price near $30,000.

Differences Between the Cooper Convertible

Mini began offering the Mini Coupe for the 2012 model year. It is a two-seater with a trunk, unlike other Cooper models that have a hatchback. The Roadster will essentially be the convertible version of the Coupe. The Roadster will have stainless-steel rollover bars, a more steeply raked windshield, and have a roof height 0.9 inches lower than the Cooper convertible.

The Roadster will also have a manual soft-top, with a center-mounted latch on the windshield header. However, raising the roof is made easier by a push button that activates pneumatic springs to hasten the time it takes to put the roof in place. Unlike the Cooper convertible, which comes in three different colors and racing stripes, the Roadster will only be offered with a black top.

MINI Cooper Cabrio * MIautumn
Creative Commons License photo credit: jiazi

Advantages and Disadvantages the MX-5 Miata

The Mini Roadster has several advantages over the MX-5 Miata. One clear edge is in trunk space. The Roadster has 8.5 cubic feet compared to just 5.3 cubic feet for the Mazda. It also offers an optional six-speed automatic transmission whereas the Mazda has just a five-speed automatic transmission.

While fuel economy has not yet been announced, the Mini Coupe S has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 35-mpg highway, which is about 20% better than the Mazda. The 2012 MX-5 Miata has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.

The Roadster’s disadvantages to the MX-5 Miata are topped by the fact that it offers significantly less power at a comparable price. It also does not offer a power top, unlike the MX-5 Miata, which has retractable top trim lines. Learn more about affordable new convertibles in our Cheap Convertibles article.

Originally posted 2011-10-31 22:53:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Worst Small Cars

To make our worst small cars for 2011 list, a model needed to be: (1) a subcompact or compact, (2) offer an optional 4-speed automatic transmission, and (3) not make the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Picks”, which includes the 2011 safest small cars. If a model does not fit into all three of these categories, they could not be included in our list.

The good news is that quality has gotten improved considerably in recent years in the compact and subcompact class. New generation models such as the 2011 Hyundai Elantra and 2012 Ford Focus have helped raised the bar in the compact class and offer optional six-speed automatic transmissions. Models such as the 2011 Honda Fit and 2011 Ford Fiesta have really improved the quality of the subcompact class.

2011 Chevrolet Aveo
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB
2011 Chevrolet Aveo
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB

Our picks for the top three worst small cars of 2011 are:

1. Chevy Aveo/Aveo5 – The Aveo is made by Korean automaker Daewoo. Fortunately, the Aveo will die in 2011 to be replaced by Chevy’s all-new subcompact model, the Sonic.

2. Kia Rio – On the bright side, despite having a four-speed automatic, the Rio LX gets a respectable 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway. However, the model does not even offer traction control and electronic stability control. This will change in 2012.

The Rio and Rio5 are being totally redesigned for the new model year and will be a much higher quality vehicle. The model is said to offer stop-start technology and a six- speed manual or automatic transmission that will help boost fuel economy to 30-mpg city and 40-mpg highway.

3. Hyundai Accent – The Accent was a blight on Hyundai’s otherwise quality lineup in 2011. That will change for 2012 as the Accent will be all-new offering many of the features seen in its sister vehicle, the Kia Rio.

The only real appeal in buying these cars is their price. These cars are among the cheapest 2011 cars with each having starting prices under $12,500.

With all the changes coming to the above model in 2012, small car buyers have much to look forward to. It will become increasingly difficult to come up with a worst small cars list. Furthermore, 2012 federal law requires all cars sold in the U.S. (weighing less than 10,000) pounds to have standard electronic stability control, which is a great safety feature.

Models such as the 2012 Mazda Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris should also be significantly improved from 2011. In other small car news, Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed that a new compact hatchback will replace the Dodge Caliber hatchback by the 2013 model year. The new model will make its debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

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Originally posted 2011-06-17 17:09:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Best Small Cars of 2012

Compact models are safer, more fuel efficient, and more spacious than ever before. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced its 2012 “Top Safety Picks”. An impressive 19 compact models made the list, giving small car buyers plenty of safe models to choose from.

We make our picks for the 5 best small cars of 2012:

#1. Chevrolet Sonic – The Sonic is Chevy’s all-new subcompact model that is offers as both a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. The model features a 1.8-liter 138 horsepower four-cylinder engine and an optional 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that returns great fuel economy of 29-mpg city and 40-mpg highway with the standard six-speed manual transmission. The Sonic hatchback has a starting MSRP of $14,635 and comes standard with 10 airbags.

2012 Sonic
Creative Commons License photo credit: Stradablog

#2. Honda Fit – The Fit, a five-door hatchback, is refreshed for 2012. Besides solid driving dynamics and Honda build quality, where the Fit really stands out is in cargo room. The Fit has more cargo room than the Hyundai Tucson SUV.

#3. Hyundai Elantra – The Elantra was redesigned for 2011 but Hyundai has improved the model’s steering for 2012. The Elantra gets impressive EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29-mpg city and 40-mpg highway with a 1.8-liter 148 horsepower engine.

The Fit has more cargo room than the Hyundai Tucson SUV

#4. Mazda Mazda3 – The Mazda3 has been a big hit for the Japanese automaker. For 2012, the Mazda3 gets a refreshed interior and exterior but the biggest news is the addition of the new SkyActiv engine technology. The optional 2.0-liter 155 horsepower SkyActiv engine returns fuel economy of 28-mpg city and 39-mpg highway for the hatchback, which is about 20% better than the base 2.0-liter engine.

#5. Subaru Impreza – The Subaru is also offered as both a sedan and hatchback and comes standard with all-wheel drive. It also boosts fuel economy considerably. While the model’s engine has decreased in size and power, its lighter weight and better efficiency increases fuel by 20% to 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway. This makes the 2012 Impreza the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive model sold in the U.S.

All of the above 5 best small cars of 2012 were IIHS “Top Safety Picks”. The Honda Civic is also a strong contender but has been criticized for a lower quality interior in the 2012 model. The 2012 Ford Focus is also a solid pick. The model was redesigned for 2012 and has the most powerful standard engine in the compact class.

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Originally posted 2011-12-22 00:22:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Cheap Convertibles

With warmer days and sunny skies, spring is the time of year where people get out side more and start thinking about how great it would be to have a convertible. The ability to fully enjoy the sunshine, have the wind running through your hair, and get fresh air are big draws. However, with regards to new cars, the number of cheap convertibles is limited. Only two convertible models currently start at a price below $20,000 and European manufacturers make both.

The cheapest convertible among new cars is the Smart Fortwo Passion Cabriolet. It is also the smallest convertible and has an MRSP of $17,690 for the 2011 model. The Fortwo Passion Cabriolet comes standard with a 1.0-liter 70 horsepower gas engine that is rated at 33-mpg city and 41-mpg highway. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning (in case it gets too hot), power windows, and power door locks. It also offers an optional navigation system. The Fortwo Passion Cabriolet comes with standard safety features that include ABS brakes, traction control, electronic stability controls, and driver, passenger, and side airbags.

The second cheapest convertible in America has just arrived – the 2012 Fiat 500c. This four seat eccentrically styled “mini car” starts at an MSRP of $19,500. The 500c features a dual layer multi-position power-retractable cloth top. This model is designed to deliver all-season driving and has a wide glass backlight to allow for visibility as good as the 500 hatchback. It has the same engine as the hatchback, a 101 horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which gets an EPA rated 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway.

Chrysler dealers will sell the Fiat. Fiat is an Italian automaker that has recently returned to the American marketplace. The company owns a 30% share in Chrysler. According to Chrysler, the top of the 500c can be retracted to the rear spoiler at speeds of up to 60 mph. Buyers of the 500c can choose from three exterior soft-top colors and 14 exterior colors.

Surprisingly the third cheapest convertible is an SUV. The Jeep Wrangler Sport has an MSRP of $22,065. It has a soft top, which is a lot of fun with its off-road capability and higher vantage point. However, The Wrangler’s fuel economy for 2011 is rated at 15-mpg city and 19-mpg highway.

If you move up in price to the $25,000 price range, consider the Mini Cooper Convertible and the excellent Mazda MX-5 Miata hardtop convertible. The Miata is also offered with a retractable hardtop. In the $30,000 range, the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and the Mini Cooper S convertible are all solid choices. In the $35,000 range, buyers have the choices of additional models such as the Volkswagen Eos and Nissan Z.

If you are on a more limited budget, you can find cheap convertibles by buying used models. However, demand is highest for convertibles this time of year. Better deals can be had when demand is lower after the summer season. But if you can’t wait, these cheap convertibles can really help you enjoy the nice weather.

Originally posted 2011-05-05 17:29:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2011 Ford Fiesta

The 2011 Ford Fiesta is an all-new subcompact car. It comes to North American markets after success in other parts of the world. Ford has already sold more than 500,00 Fiestas to customers in Europe and Asia. Due to its success and increasing U.S. demand for affordable, fuel-efficient cars, Ford has increased production of the Fiesta lineup.

The Fiesta is offered in five trim lines with either four door sedan or five door hatchback versions. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 119 horsepower powers the Fiesta. Standard features include power locks, air-conditioning, ABS brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, and driver, passenger, and side airbags

The Fiesta comes standard with a five speed manual or there is an optional six-speed automatic transmission. With the automatic transmission and Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS), the Fiesta is rated at 29-mpg city and 40-mpg highway. It is currently one of only a few gas-engine vehicles on the road that reaches the 40-mpg highway plateau.

The Fiesta S Sedan has a starting suggested retail price of $13,320 while its top trim line the SES Hatchback has an MSRP of $17,120. The SES comes standard with power windows with a leather seat option. The Fiesta received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, one of only two subcompacts to earn the award, the other being the Mini Cooper.

The Fiesta shares some parts with the Mazda2, which is a new subcompact hatchback from Mazda. Ford owns a small percentage of Mazda and the two companies have a strategic partnership through joint ventures and exchanges of technological information. However, there are many differences in these models. They have separate styling and separate engines. Also, the Fiesta is assembled in Mexico while the Mazda2 is assembled in Japan.

Early sales of the Fiesta in North America have been favorable. Gas prices have risen considerably in recent months and Fiesta sales have been strong, especially in California, the nation’s largest state. California typically sees some of the country’s highest gas prices. The Fiesta has also received mostly good reviews from the automotive press.

Originally posted 2011-03-22 15:53:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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