2011 Kia Soul

Subcompact hatchback cars are becoming increasingly common. They offer roomy interiors in a small, fuel-efficient package, often representing a good value. The 2011 Kia Soul is a five-door subcompact hatchback that is worth considering if you are purchasing a car in this class.

The Kia Soul is offered in four trim lines: Base, Plus (+), Exclaim (!) and Sport. The Soul Base is the only trim to offer the less powerful 1.6-liter 120 horsepower four-cylinder engine. The other Soul trims have 2.0-liter engine producing 142 horsepower. Standard safety in all Souls includes electronic brake assistance, ABS brakes, traction control, and a vehicle stability control system. The Soul earned a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Soul Base is only offered with a five-speed manual transmission, which returns fuel economy of 26-mpg city and 31-mpg highway. It has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $13,300. At this price, the Soul is one of the top ten cheapest 2011 cars.

Standard features in the Soul Base include air conditioning, tachometer, tilt steering, tilt steering column, tire inflation/pressure monitor, trip computer, and CD player. To add more features, buyers will need to move up in trim lines. The Soul Base weights 2,560 pounds.

The Soul +, !, and Sport trims offer an optional four-speed automatic transmission, along with a variety of other features. Starting MSRPs for these trim lines are $15,495, $18,495, and $18,495, respectively. Fuel economy is 24-mpg city and 30-mpg highway with the automatic, which is below average for its class. For example, the new 2011 Ford Fiesta, which has a 1.6-liter 119 horsepower f-our-cylinder engine, offers an optional six-speed automatic transmission that helps it get mileage of 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway.

The Soul seats five passengers, although it will be pretty tight for three adults in the rear seats. It does offer a spacious 39” of rear legroom, which is excellent for its class. Front legroom is 42.1”. Total interior cargo room for the Soul with the rear seats folded flat is 53.4 cubic feet and 19.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up.

In short, the Soul’s positives are that it offers a spacious passenger area, useful and well-designed interior and bold exterior color choice. Its negatives are its below average fuel economy for its class, weak acceleration, and outdated four-speed automatic transmission, which is not even offered on the base trim.

The 2011 Kia Soul has been marketed to younger buyers that offers the practically to suit drivers of all ages. It offers a sporty, more desirable look than boxier, more spacious competitors, the Scion xB and Nissan Cube. The Soul is unchanged in 2011, having made its debut in 2010. It is assembled in South Korea. Competitors to the Soul include the Honda Fit, Dodge Caliber, and Nissan Versa hatchback.

Originally posted 2011-03-27 09:27:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Safest Small Cars

Many people buy smaller cars for their lower price and higher fuel economy. But the historic perception of small cars is that they are not safe. New crash test data supports that small car safety continues to improve. We look at some of the 2012 safest small cars based on these tests.

The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, a non-profit organization funded by auto insurers, conducts annual safety tests on new car models. The IIHS puts cars through frontal off-center, side impact, rear impact, and rollover resistance tests. The rear collision tests also evaluate how the seat/head restraints protect against injuries.

Small Car Crash Results

Already more than 115 car models have been tested, many of which are compact cars. Below are the safest small cars of 2012 in the compact class based on IIHS crash data reports:

Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Sonic
Ford Focus (4-door)
Honda Civic (4-door)
Honda CR-Z

2012 Ford Focus SEL
Creative Commons License photo credit: lotprocars

Hyundai Elantra
Kia Forte (sedan)
Kia Soul
Lexus CT200h
Mazda Mazda3

Mitsubishi Lancer (except Ralliart and Evolution),
Nissan Cube
Scion tC
Scion xB
Scion xD

Subaru Impreza (except WRX)
Toyota Corolla
Volkswagen Golf (4-door)
Volkswagen GTI (4-door)

2011 VW Golf GTI
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG

All of the above models scored “Good” in all crash tests and were named “Top Safety Picks 2012”. The Volkswagen Jetta and Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen were also top picks, but grouped into the “midsize moderately priced cars” category. The all-new Buick Verona is a compact model that was a top pick but was placed into the “moderately priced midsize” segment.

Other Safe Small Cars

In the “minicars” segment, the “Top Safety Picks” were:

Fiat 500 (built after July 2011)
Ford Fiesta (sedan & hatchback)
Honda Fit
Toyota Yaris hatchback (only 4-door models)

The good news for drivers is that more models than ever before made the “Top Safety Picks” list in 2012. If you purchase one of these 2012 safest small cars, you will likely have better protection for yourself and your passengers in the event of a vehicle collision. This is an important factor for many drivers.

For more information on this topic, see our Safest 2011 Small Cars article.

Originally posted 2012-02-24 20:58:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2011 Mini Cooper

While not among the cheapest new cars, the 2011 Mini Cooper is an upscale subcompact car that starts at a price under $20,000. It is offered in six trim lines: base, base convertible, S, S convertible, John Cooper Works, and John Cooper Works convertible. Mini Coopers are known for their diminutive size, distinctive styling, high quality interiors, and go-kart like handling.

The base 2011 Cooper has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $19,400. It comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower. Unique to its class, the Cooper comes with a six-speed manual transmission with an optional six-speed automatic transmission.

Standard features in the base Cooper include: power door locks, power windows, air-conditioning, CD player, ABS, traction control, and stability control. Optional features include sunroof, leather seats, and navigation system. Fuel economy, which is helped by the six-speed transmission, is rated at 29-mpg city and 37-mpg highway in the base Cooper.

Mini also offers the Cooper S, which is a turbocharged version of the model. It offers spirited driving with legendary handling and a stout 181 horsepower for a car that weights 2,679 pounds. Its MSRP is of $23,000 but its price can easily top $25,000 with options. Standard features, besides the engine, are essentially the same as the base Cooper. Its fuel economy is rated at 26-mpg city and 34-mpg highway.

The Cooper is also offered in the John Cooper Works trim line, which produces an even more impressive 208 horsepower from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It has an MSRP of $29,100. A sunroof, navigation system, and leather seats are still optional features. However, since the trim line is intended for performance enthusiasts, no automatic transmission is offered. Fuel economy is rated at 25-mgp city and 33-mpg highway. A convertible John Cooper Works with options can easily top $35,000.

Mini has expanded its product lineup in recent years. The Mini Clubman is also a subcompact model that is larger than the Cooper, but several thousand dollars more expensive. And new for 2011, is the Mini Countryman, which is a premium compact SUV, Mini’s largest vehicle and first-ever SUV. In the 2012 model year, the Mini Coupe is making its debut.

The 2011 Mini Cooper is a stylish, high quality, subcompact two-door hatchback. There have been a few issues with reliability but the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety named the Cooper a Top Safety Pick winner. Minis are assembled in Great Britain, just as the original Minis were since first introduced in 1959. However, German automaker BMW now owns and produces Mini. Minis have proven to have strong resale values, an added selling point.

Originally posted 2011-03-22 16:02:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Top 3 2012 Cars for Under $15,000

Car buyers on a budget have a lot of quality models to choose from. There are numerous subcompact 2012 cars under $15,000 with many of them with a surprising amount of advanced technology and safety features included. Those interested in buying a new car at the lowest possible price will be pleased at the selection offered by some of the most prominent auto manufacturers.

2012 Kia Rio Sedan

Kia, which is owned by Hyundai, introduced the Rio as a low-priced, fuel-efficient sedan that would compete favorably in the compact class. Over the years this car has been upgraded in terms of interior conveniences, yet the price for the Rio remains quite low. The Rio starts at around $13,300 for the base trim.

Interior of the 2012 Kia Rio

Interior of the 2012 Kia Rio photo: theKCB

The Rio’s engine has been upgraded for 2012 producing 138 horsepower, but the fuel efficiency is excellent. The Rio averages about 40-mpg gallon highway and nearly 30 mpg on city streets. There are eight exterior color options, each of which complements the interior beige or black very nicely.

Standard features include a full set of airbags, child safety components such as tethers and anchors for booster seats, manual air conditioning and cloth seats. The up-level SX will cost just above $15,000 but features a CD player, automatic headlights, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, delayed courtesy lighting, and keyless entry.

Rio carries an exceptional 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the power train. The car’s resale value is modest, but many owners can keep their Rio for years without any thought of trading up. Drivers on a budget would also be wise to consider the Hyundai Accent.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic Sedan

The 2012 Chevy Sonic is one of the best buys for under $15,000. The base trim starts at just under $14,000, with the up-level LTZ going for around $18,600. The Sonic offers drivers over 40-mpg highway fuel efficiency with a 138 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

Standard features on the base trim include a rear window defogger, pass-through rear seat, AM/FM stereo, front reading lamps, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Sonic also comes with a trial subscription to satellite radio, and the safety equipment includes front and side airbags, child safety door locks, and a full OnStar® system.

Driver side interior of the 2012 Chevy Sonic

Driver side interior of the 2012 Chevy Sonic photo: peltierchevy

Automatic headlights and daytime running lights are standard equipment on the bases trim. The Stabilitrak® electronic stability system is also included. The Sonic has become quite popular with the younger crowd, and the resale value is quite good. It also offers excellent safety features, and is among the safest 2012 small cars.

2012 Ford Fiesta

With a starting price of under $13,200, the 2012 Ford Fiesta offers buyers a roomy interior, plenty of cargo space, and a good number of interior conveniences. Although quite compact in size, the Fiesta has a surprising amount of storage area. This sedan is one of the lowest priced automobiles on the market today.

The base trim has a 1.6L engine that delivers a total of 120 horsepower. The car gets about 38-mpg highway regardless of the transmission type selected. The steering wheel is manual tilt, the air conditioning is electronically activated, and the power door locks have an optional auto-lock feature. The 2011 Fiesta was an all-new model for the U.S.

Front quarter view of the 2011 Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta photo: Stradablog

Many of the lowest priced cars on the market have very few standard convenience features unless the buyer chooses an up-level trim. These top 3 2012 cars under $15,000 have excellent fuel economy, come with a superior warranty, and will retain their value well comparable to other models. The cheapest new car of 2012, the Nissan Versa sedan, did not make our list.

Which of these 3 2012 models under $15,000 is your favorite?

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Originally posted 2012-04-08 01:17:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Toyota Yaris

The 2012 Toyota Yaris is a refreshed version of this subcompact model. While the model has many changes for 2012 perhaps the biggest change is that the sedan is no longer offered. With the growing sales of hatchbacks and their greater cargo capacity, Toyota has decided to refocus the Yaris as a hatchback only.

The Yaris comes in thee primary trim lines: L, LE, and SE. The SE trim is offered as a five-door only and has 16” alloy wheels. The L and LE offered three door trims. USB, Bluetooth, and auxiliary connections are standard.

2012 Changes

The 2012 Yaris has a sharper exterior with new front and rear fascias and new headlights and taillights. While the 2009-2011 Yaris had an awkward appearance, the 2012 Yaris looks a bit sportier, more along the lines of the new Hyundai Accent hatchback. The model’s height has been lowered by 0.6” inches to improve handling and balance.

The 2012 Yaris has a new instrument panel and redesigned thee-spoke steering wheel. The wheelbase grows by 1.9” allowing for greater interior room. Cargo room increases by an impressive 25% over the 2011 model. The Yaris also offers an impressive nine airbags standard.

Engine & Fuel Economy

Toyota seems to be going the way of Honda and making only modest engine changes. The model still has a 1.5-liter 106 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

The Yaris also retains its antiquated four-speed automatic transmission option (a five-speed manual is standard) while several of its competitors offer six-speed transmissions. Toyota has made the engine lighter and extracted more fuel economy in the Yaris.

The 2012 Yaris’ fuel economy improves to 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway with the manual and 30/35 with the automatic, which is comparable to the Honda Fit and Mazda Mazda2. According to Motor Trend, the 2012 Yaris SE has a 0-60 time of 9.1 seconds with the manual.


The 2012 Toyota Yaris has a starting MSRP of $14,115 with the 3-door L model. The top line Yaris 5-Door SE with the four-speed automatic starts at $17,200. The 2012 Yaris is on sale now.

Originally posted 2011-12-05 01:19:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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