By Cars.com EditorsMarch 14, 2012
About the video
Cars.com compares seven subcompacts under $16,000 to see which is best for today's family. We were joined by MotorWeek and USAToday, using input from a real family.
<v Narrator>Cars.com auto review. Hi. I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with Cars.com. We're here with "USA Today" and "MotorWeek" for a shootout test among seven subcompact cars, all priced under $16,000.
Competing were the Chevrolet Sonic, the Ford Fiesta, the Honda Fit, the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio, the Nissan Versa, and the Toyota Yaris. Let's take a look at the top three. In third place was the 2012 Hyundai Accent GS hatchback. As we expect from Hyundai, the Accent is packed with features, including power windows, locks, and mirrors; a USB port; and a driver's seat height adjustment, not one of which was a foregone conclusion in this test. As we've come to expect from Hyundai more recently, the interior is high in quality. A few of our editors took issue with the rear visibility, however, perhaps a downside of the car's versatile hatchback body style. Behind the wheel, the Accent was surprisingly peppy with well-behaved transmission. Upscale standard features played a part here too in the form of disc rear brakes whose influence was evident in its strong linear braking. Characteristic of our top performers, the Accent is a well-rounded machine. In second place is the 2012 Kia Rio LX sedan. Kia's showing is no surprise because it's a corporate sibling of the third-place Hyundai Accent, and as such, it shares many components, as well as an emphasis on generous standard equipment and the same warranty coverage, the longest in our test. The Rio's many extras included sliding sun visors with mirrors, power lock switches on both front doors, and the only steering wheel-based audio controls in the whole test. Though its materials and textures are more conservative than the Accent's, the Rio's cabin drew raves from our testers for its quality and layout. The Rio's driving experience also compared to the Hyundai's, with good marks for its acceleration and criticism for its steering. Though noise was likewise a problem, the Rio seemed better in comparison, perhaps because it's a sedan rather than a hatchback. The body style held the Rio back in one regard: its trunk couldn't match the utility of our other top performers. And finally, the winner of the subcompact car shootout by a comfortable margin is the 2012 Honda Fit. The first chapter in this hatchback story is one of roominess, especially cargo capacity and versatility. The lift gate is a doorway to a large, tall cargo area with rear seats that fold down completely flat or can be raised to accommodate bulky items in the backseat area, leaving the cargo floor behind them open for business. Does the driving experience suffer because of all of this utility? Absolutely not. The Fit begs to be driven hard from the first moment, and though our base model was a tad less composed in the curves than the more expensive Sport version is, it was still one of the best handlers in the shootout. It rides firmly overall but not uncomfortably, and definitely better than this Fit Sport. The drivetrain was also a crowd pleaser, with its no-nonsense transmission and a capable engine that's certainly audible like the others but has a smoother, less grating sound. The Fit has its downsides, though, most of them aesthetic. By contemporary standards, the cabin materials aren't up to snuff. The upholstery is a throwback to the velour days, and some of the technology is also showing its age. Understandably so. The Fit was last updated in 2009, and its six competitors were introduced or fully redesigned for the 2011 or 2012 model year. And yet here the Fit is at the top of the pack. The Honda Fit is a triumph of packaging, a small car that provides ample cabin space, generous cargo room and versatility, and the best-rated visibility in this shootout. And fun to drive too? Sounds like a winner to us. For the full rankings and all the details, go to Cars.com. <v Narrator>For more car-related news, go to Cars.com or our blog, KickingTires.net.