2011 Mini Cooper vs. 2012 Fiat 500

If you are looking for a small car with excellent handling, high quality interior and distinctive styling, performing a 2011 Mini Cooper vs. 2012 Fiat 500 comparison is worth doing. Each of these front-wheel drive, two-door tiny cars are from European auto brands and have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) that starts under $20,000. While many people think of Mini’s when they think of small cars, the 2012 Fiat 500 is actually smaller in exterior size than the Cooper.

The 2012 Fiat 500 recently went on sale in North America. It is one of the first 2012 model year cars to go on sale. It is an important model for Fiat as it makes its return to North America, after a 28-year absence. More Fiat models are expected to follow. While many buyers think of Ferrari and Lamborghini when it comes to Italian auto manufacturers, Fiat hopes to become a player in much more affordable segments of the American automotive marketplace. The 500 is assembled in Mexico.

The model was reviewed in the April 2011 edition of Motor Trend magazine. The 500 is offered with a 1.4-liter 101 horsepower four-cylinder engine. With a five-speed manual transmission, the 500 gets EPA rated fuel economy of 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway. In comparison, the 2011 Mini Cooper base with its 1.6-liter 120 horsepower four-cylinder transmission gets an estimated 29-mpg city and 37-mpg highway. With a five-speed manual weighs, the 500 weights 2,333 pounds while the Cooper weighs 2,535 pounds.

The 500 comes in three trim lines: Pop (base model), Sport, and Lounge (fully loaded). The POP has an MSRP of $15,500, while the Sport starts at $17,500, and the Lounge starts at $19,500. The Lounge comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission. This transmission has fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 34-mpg highway.

Motor Trend praised the 500 Sport’s road manners, calling it refined and noting that at speeds up to 90 mph the 500 was calmly cruising with its tachometer barely above 3000 rpm. The tester also reported low tire, wind, and engine noise. This is impressive as most cars of this size with this small an engine struggle at higher freeway speeds. The reviewer also called the leather seats in the 500 Sport quite comfortable, even after more than 100 miles of driving.

Despite its small, impotent engine, a Motor Trend editor called the car “delightful” to drive after taking it on a figure eight track. The cars light weight, excellent handling, and suspension make it a fun car to drive. While the 500’s 0-60 time was just 9.7 seconds and its quarter mile time was 17.2 seconds, Motor Trend dismissed its slow speed times by stating, ”Blacklisting the Fiat 500 because it’s slow in the quarter mile is akin to not flirting with Olivia Munn (American comedic actress, model, television personality and author) because she has a weak bench press. There are other attributes to consider.”

For a car that technically fits into the A-segment of vehicles, along with the Cooper, Smart ForTwo, and upcoming Toyota iQ, the Fiat 500 received raves for its driver interior space. One 6’6” valet who drove the 500 proclaimed that he had more room in the 500 than driving a Cadillac CTS luxury sedan. The back seats are small with just 32.2 inches of rear legroom. This compares with the Cooper, which has 29.9 inches of rear legroom. Overall the Fiat is about two inches narrower and a half a foot smaller than the Cooper in wheelbase and length, but surprisingly the 500 has larger interior dimensions.

Fiat expects to release a turbo-charged version of the 500 within the next year, which will allow it to better compete with the Mini Cooper S, which as 181 horsepower. The 500 Turbo is expected to have about 150 horsepower. A 500 convertible is also in the works. When these new trim lines are released, prospective buyers will have even more reason to perform a Mini Cooper vs. Fiat 500 comparison.

Originally posted 2011-03-24 07:43:57. 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

2012 Cheapest New Car

The day of the under $10,000 new car is dead. 2012 marks the first year in automotive history that car buyers cannot buy a new car for this price. Last year there were two new models with MSRPs below $10,000, the Nissan Versa and Hyundai Accent. For the 2012 model year, there are none. Prices are up for 2012, particularly in the subcompact class.

But the increased prices is not necessarily a bad thing. New safety regulations take effect this year that required every car sold in the U.S. in 2012 to offer standard electronic stability control and auto manufacturers are offering more features to buyers.

The 2012 cheapest new car is the Nissan Versa. The Versa could be had for an MSRP of $9,990 last year. The 2012 model has raised $1,000 in price to an MSRP of $10,990. However, buyers get more standard features. The 2012 Versa comes standard with air conditioning and AM/FM/CD/AUX stereo, unlike the 2011 model. The Versa was also the cheapest 2011 new car sold in the U.S.

The Versa is also the cheapest automatic model for 2012. The Versa 1.6 S CVT, with its continuously variable transmission starts at $12,760. This engine gets 33-mpg combined fuel economy. The top trim Versa 1.8 SL CVT starts at $15,660 and offers great features such as Bluetooth, USB input, and a touch screen navigation system.

Creative Commons License photo credit: pulloa
Benson and his Nissan Versa
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rhea C.

Despite the hatchback accounting for nearly 80% of its sales, only the Versa sedan is a new generation model for 2012. The Versa sedan is built on Nissan’s new front-wheel drive global “V” platform. With its redesign and fewer components, the 2012 Versa sedan weighs about 150 pounds less than it did in 2011. The sedan has actually shorter in length and height than 2011 but has the same wheelbase and width dimensions.

While the engine is lighter weight for 2012, output is almost unchanged at 109 horsepower and 107-pound feet of torque in the 1.6-liter engine. However, fuel economy in the base sedan improves to 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway compared to 26/34 in the 2011 model. This still lags its competitors in the subcompact class, many of which are rated at 40-mpg highway driving.

One area the Versa really shines in is passenger room. The model offers more rear legroom that the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which is a large luxury sedan. Unfortunately unlike Nissan’s other more upscale subcompact, the Cube, the Versa did not make the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of safest 2011 small cars.

It will be interesting to see how the largely unchanged 2012 Versa hatchback fares against the all-new Chevy Sonic and the new generation Hyundai Accent it competes against. The Versa is currently the number one selling subcompact car in the U.S.

As the 2012 cheapest new car, the model represents Nissan’s commitment to providing affordable automotive transportation. The Versa is assembled in Mexico.

Originally posted 2011-08-12 23:41:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2011 Chevy Cruze

The 2011 Chevy Cruze is an all-new compact sedan from the American automaker. It replaces the dated Cobalt in Chevy’s product lineup. Chevy has aimed to make a dent out of the sales of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus in the compact class. The Cruze is offered in the U.S. in sedan form only with four doors and seating for up to five passengers.

The 2011 Cruze is offered in five trim lines with two different engines. The trims are: 2LS, 1LT, 2LT, ECO, and LTZ. The base 2LS has an MSRP of $16,525 and comes standard with power door locks, air-conditioning, and power windows. The 2LS offers a 1.8-liter, 136 horsepower four-cylinder engine that gets 26-mpg city and 37-mpg highway with standard six-speed manual transmission. The optional six-speed automatic gets EPA rated fuel economy of 22-mpg city and 35-mpg highway.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG

The Cruze is offered with a second engine type. The 1LT is offered with a 1.4-liter 138 horsepower turbo-charged four-cylinder engine. This engine is all-new to Chevy and GM and helps boost torque while still being miserly on gas. The 1LT has an MSRP of $18,425 and comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Its fuel economy is rated at 24-mpg city and 36-mpg highway.

The top trim LTZ has a starting MSRP of $22,225 and comes standard with leather seats. Sunroof and a navigation system are optional features. In the LTZ trim, the Cruze has a 0-60 time of nine seconds according to Motor Trend magazine. For fuel economy minded drivers, the ECO trim, which has the 1.4-liter Ecotec Turbo engine is rated at 28-mpg city and 42-mpg highway when paired with the six-speed manual transmission.

All Cruzes come standard with a host of great safety features including ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, and driver, passenger, and side airbags. The Cruze made the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Picks” list making it among the safest 2011 small cars.

The Cruze has a sleek styling and is roomy for a compact. Among compact sedans, only the Volkswagen Jetta has more trunk space. However, some writers in the automotive press have complained about the Cruze’s powertrain, especially the 1.4-liter Ecotec engine.

It does seem that Chevy could have done more to differentiate the two engines offered in the Cruze as they offer similar power and fuel economy. The model is also heavy for the compact class. The 2012 Honda Civic weighs nearly 500 pounds less than the Cruze and the 2011 Hyundai Elantra weighs nearly 400 pounds less.

Chevy is selling hatchback trims of the Cruze in Europe but is not currently offering them in the U.S. It will be interesting to see if Chevy changes this in 2012. The Cruze is assembled in Mexico. Other compact sedan competitors include the Mazda Mazda3, Kia Forte, and Subaru Impreza.

If you like the Cruze, vote for it in the poll in our “Best 2012 Compact Cars” post.

Originally posted 2011-06-14 15:40:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Honda Civic News

The 2012 Honda Civic is already on sale in the U.S. However, supplies are limited. Honda has announced that production delays caused by the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 will allow for only 50% production capacity until this fall. This should have a significant impact on 2012 Civic sales. It is expected that competitors such as the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, and Hyundai Elantra will benefit from the diminished supply of Civics.

The new Civic, which includes the sporty Si and Civic Hybrid, is a big part of Honda’s portfolio, as it is the number one selling compact car in the U.S and number five on the list of best selling 2011 cars overall. The Civic is actually assembled in Greensburg, Indiana and Alliston, Ontario but relies on key supplies of Japanese made electronic parts and raw materials in its production. Honda expects that production will return to 100% by August for its other models. The delays have not caused any layoffs at Honda’s 14 North America production plants.

Creative Commons License photo credit: micah.d
Creative Commons License photo credit: irrezolut

Honda has increasingly shifted production to North America, as it is a key market and it does not use union labor keeping costs down. In 2010, 87 percent of the Honda and Acura cars sold in the U.S. were assembled in the market. This is actually a significantly higher percentage than American based manufacturers such as Ford and GM, which assemble many of their car models in Mexico.

In more positive news for Honda, the 2012 Civic made the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety’s list of “Top Safety Picks”. The Civic joins competitors such as the 2012 Ford Focus and 2011 Hyundai Elantra in the group of safest small cars. Among a recent group of 13 compact cars tested, only the Suzuki SX4 and Dodge Caliber received “Mediocre” ratings in some crash tests.

In other compact car news, Mazda announced reaching the sales 3,0000 unit sales figure for its Mazda3 model. The Mazda3, which was first introduced in 2004, is the fastest selling model in the company’s history. It has sold more than 1.1 million units of the model in North America alone.

The 3,000,000th Mazda3 rolled off the assembly line on April 26th at its Yamaguchi, Japan production facility. The model is also built at the Changan Ford Mazda Automobile plant in Nanjing, China and at the AutoAlliance in Thailand. The 2012 Mazda3 should continue its momentum as it has a more fuel-efficient engine and other updates to keep the model fresh. It should also benefit from the limited supply of 2012 Civics.

Originally posted 2011-05-28 03:48:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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