Jump to content
William Maley

2014 Review Wrap-Up: Subcompacts and Compacts

Recommended Posts

With 2014 coming to a close and your's truly still having a number of vehicles that need to have reviews written up, I thought it would be a good idea to finish up the year with the remaining vehicles from the 2014 model year. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a number of quick reviews. This will be leading up to my favorite vehicles I drove in the past year.

Let's begin with the smallest vehicles that I reviewed: subcompacts and compacts.

First Up: 2015 Honda Fit EX

If there was one model that defined the current subcompact class, it would have to be the Honda Fit. When it was first introduced back in 2006, the Fit featured a clever back seat to increase the practicality of the vehicle; impressive driving dynamics, and sipping fuel like no other. Now the subcompact field has grown in terms of quantity and quality of vehicles. Honda has responded by introducing the third-generation Fit this year. How does the new Fit stand up to the new crowd?

The Fit retains the shape it has for the past two-generations, but it gets a bit more aggressive and sleeker. The front looks like Honda’s designers watched a bit too much of Iron Man with the solid one piece grille. Other items of note on the front include larger air ducts and slimmer headlights. The side profile boasts two character lines to help give it an identity. Around back are a set of tall taillights and a set of faux vents in the bumper.

2015 Honda Fit EX 10

Stepping inside the Fit, Honda has reworked the dashboard layout with controls for the radio and climate control system angled towards the driver. Material quality has seen a noticeable improvement with soft-touch materials and faux aluminum trim used throughout. The touchscreen radio is easy to use and quick to respond. The big downside is Honda deciding use capacitive-touch buttons for volume and home. There were times when I had to hit the volume button more than once to get it to respond. Honda, please go back to normal buttons and knobs.

Even though the new Fit is about 1.6 inches shorter than the previous model, Honda was able to increase passenger space by 4.9 cubic feet. This is due to a longer wheelbase and a thinner, center-mounted gas tank. Sitting in the back. I found more than enough head and legroom. Now the increase in passenger space means cargo space has dropped by about 4 cubic feet. Still, the Fit cargo’s space is impressive with 17 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 53 cubic feet with the seats down.

The back seat is also one of the most versatile I have ever come across in a vehicle. The Fit’s ‘Magic’ seat can be set up in four different ways to provide added functionality. Those include:

  • Folding the rear seats down to create more space
  • Folding one part of rear seats (60/40 split) to make room for cargo, while retaining some seat space for a passenger
  • Folding the seat bottoms up to carry tall items
  • Folding the front seats back to create a sudo-bed

2015 Honda Fit EX 4

Power comes from a 1.5L EarthDreams four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. In my tester, the engine was paired up to a CVT. The engine has to be worked to get up to speed which is normal for this type of car. What I’m not so happy with is the amount of buzzy-ness that is coming from the engine. Honda has said they have worked on trying to improve NVH levels in the Fit, though I find that hard to believe due to the amount of engine noise in the cabin. Thankfully, the powertrain does quiet down when you settle into speed. The CVT does behave nicely and doesn’t have the whine that most transmissions of this type are known for till you get higher in the revs. Fuel economy wise, the Fit with the CVT is rated by the EPA at 33 City/41 Highway/36 Combined. My week saw an overall average of 38 MPG. I should note that I did see 40 MPG when I took the Fit on a trip to Northern Michigan.

The Fit earned a reputation for being a fun to drive subcompact, and for the most part that still holds true. It feels playful when going through the curvy bits and the chassis keeps the car grounded. The steering is a bit too light, and it doesn’t have quite the feel that the last generation model was known for. But what surprised me is how Fit did on a long drive. Being a subcompact, I thought the Fit would be uncomfortable due to its short wheelbase. But Honda has made some improvements to the suspension to make it more comfortable for long trips. This means the Fit was able to deal with bumps and imperfections without having any of the passengers feeling it. After doing a drive to Northern Michigan, I had no aches or pain when I got out of the Fit.

The Honda Fit still stands tall in the subcompact class with its impressive versatility, fuel economy, and driving dynamics. Hopefully Honda has plans in the works for improving the NVH levels in the engine. Otherwise, the Fit is worth a look if you’re shopping for a new subcompact.

Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Fit EX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

2015 Honda Fit EX 4
Album: 2015 Honda Fit EX
10 images
0 comments

Year: 2015

Make: Honda

Model: Fit

Trim: EX

Engine: 1.5L 16-Valve DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder

Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT

Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6600

Torque @ RPM: 114 @ 4600

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 33/41/36

Curb Weight: 2,630 lbs

Location of Manufacture: Yorii, Japan

Base Price: $17,560

As Tested Price: $19,180 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge)

Options:

N/A

Next Page: 2014 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim)

Click here to view the article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the Mazda in particular would make a nice commuting car and would be fine (and easier on the wallet!) with the smaller engine option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Mazda 3s Touring with the newly available 6spd manual is pretty appealing, though it's priced about the same as the 6 Touring. You do get slightly more luxuries in the 3, but I'd have a hard time picking it over the bigger, sexier 6. Once the '16 model is available with its gorgeous new interior (and assuming the 6 Touring keeps its 6spd manual option), it'll be even tougher. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only one of the cars I can see myself in is the Mazda 3. Mazda is slowly but surely becoming a quiet giant in standard performance for smaller cars. The Mazda 3 also has good size, and handles like a champ. Go Mazda!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Mazda 3s Touring with the newly available 6spd manual is pretty appealing, though it's priced about the same as the 6 Touring. You do get slightly more luxuries in the 3, but I'd have a hard time picking it over the bigger, sexier 6. Once the '16 model is available with its gorgeous new interior (and assuming the 6 Touring keeps its 6spd manual option), it'll be even tougher. 

 

Yes, if you are comparing the 3 sedan vs. 6, it would be the 6. But the utility of the 3 hatch out-triumphs the bigger sibling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great reviews.  Your assessments are pretty much spot on.  I was looking at all three of these vehicles, but I went in another direction and recently purchased something used and cheap instead.  I'll post something about it soon.

 

As for the Fit, I find the exterior design more bland than the last generation, but the interior room is amazing, and Honda infused the car with many more features.  The Soul has a commanding driving position and is much cheaper than crossovers.  It doesn't drive like a penalty box.  The new model is much nicer than the old one.  Mazda3s get very pricey, especially with a loaded Grand Touring model like yours.  But these are also a class above competitors such as the Civic, Elantra, Cruze, and Focus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

despite the age and all that, I'd still look at a cruze first and a focus second when it comes to smaller cars.  

 

I think the Mazda3 lost some of its look at me thing. Its a styling dud now.  The Fit is great but still looks like a minivan and they could put more snort under the hood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

despite the age and all that, I'd still look at a cruze first and a focus second when it comes to smaller cars.

I think the Mazda3 lost some of its look at me thing. Its a styling dud now. The Fit is great but still looks like a minivan and they could put more snort under the hood.

Really, we must be styling polar opposite. I think the 3 is easily the best looker in the group. I like the Cruze too, but not for its looks

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest kita

I have to say I like the Kia Soul the most even though the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine do not seem to be particularly impressive. I just adore the sophisticated interior design and

spacious cargo space. With added luxury features like the heated seats, rearview camera, sunroof and Infinity audio system, this baby is sure to be on my Christmas wish list this year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

A Mazda 3s Touring with the newly available 6spd manual is pretty appealing, though it's priced about the same as the 6 Touring. You do get slightly more luxuries in the 3, but I'd have a hard time picking it over the bigger, sexier 6. Once the '16 model is available with its gorgeous new interior (and assuming the 6 Touring keeps its 6spd manual option), it'll be even tougher. 

 

Yes, if you are comparing the 3 sedan vs. 6, it would be the 6. But the utility of the 3 hatch out-triumphs the bigger sibling.

 

 

That may be true, but if you want fun and real utility, you'd probably go with the grand-daddy of hatchbacks, the Golf. It's a full 8" shorter yet has more room for rear passengers and a nearly 3 cubic feet more cargo room. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have to agree with the price issue on the 3...that might hold some back. But otherwise my fave.....new Soul looks angry up front. Fit just looks bloated......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not usually a huge fan of Mazda, but for this Mazda 3 I am sold, at least comparing to this Honda and Kia. Great design, got the fit just right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




  • Today's Birthdays

    1. IDJosh
      IDJosh
      Age: 39
  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      Despite the popularity of compact crossovers, it seems somewhat odd there isn’t a large number of hybrid variants. In fact, there is only one available, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Going hybrid usually means a hit in performance and cargo space. But in the case of the RAV4 Hybrid, it is quicker than the standard model and cargo space isn’t greatly affected. I spent some time with the RAV4 Hybrid over the holidays where it was driven to Northern Michigan and back. This is what I learned.
      The RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 2.5L four-cylinder, three electric motors (one acting as the engine starter and battery charger, the other two drive the wheels and provide AWD), and a Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 194 horsepower. Power is routed through a CVT. Fuel economy figures are noticeably better than the RAV4 SE AWD I drove last year - 34 City/30 Highway/32 Combined for the Hybrid vs. 22/29/25 for the standard RAV4. My average for the week landed around 30.7 MPG. I think the average could have been higher if Michigan had not experienced a cold snap where temperatures fell to single digits at times, causing the engine to run longer to keep the vehicle warm. The hybrid also feels slightly quicker than the standard RAV4 thanks to the electric motors providing instantaneous torque when leaving a stop. But merging on to a freeway or passing becomes a bit unpleasant as the engine pegs at high rpms to provide the power needed. This also brings forth a lot of noise from the engine and CVT. Doing a lot of driving on the freeway and country roads made me really appreciate the smooth and compliant ride of the RAV4 Hybrid. Most bumps and road imperfections are smoothed over. Some credit has to go to the 17-inch wheels on the XLE. Handling is competent as the suspension keeps body motions in check. However, the rubbery steering and low-rolling resistance tires will make drivers think twice about pushing the RAV4 Hybrid.  The low-rolling resistance tires also hamper traction in snow. I could tell when driving in deep snow, the all-wheel drive was working a bit harder to keep the vehicle moving. If you live in a snowy area, I would highly recommend swapping the low-rolling resistance tires for a set of all-seasons or winter tires. At first glance, the RAV4 Hybrid looks like any other RAV4. It is only when you get closer that you will notice the blue-tinted emblems and ‘Hybrid’ badging on the front fenders and tailgate. The interior is much the same as any other RAV4 aside from a different gauge cluster and a button to activate the EV mode. This is ok as the RAV4 is an ok place to sit in with a utilitarian design that puts various controls within easy reach for driver and passenger. Materials are what you would expect to find in a vehicle of this class, a mix of soft and hard-touch plastics. The back seat is still a plus point to the RAV4 as there is plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space in the hybrid is about 3 cubic feet smaller than the standard RAV4 due to the battery with the rear seats up or down. Still, the hybrid’s cargo space is one the of the largest in the compact crossover class and I was able to fit luggage for myself and my brother, along with gifts for various relatives with no issue. All RAV4 Hybrids come with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen. The system is becoming quite dated in terms of the interface and features - no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for example. On the upside, Entune is easy to master thanks to a simple layout and physical shortcut buttons to various functions. 2017 saw Toyota make a number of active safety features standard on all RAV4s. That includes radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and lane keep assist. I would like to see blind spot monitoring added to this suite. The 2017 RAV4 Hybrid begins at $29,030 for the base XLE, about $4,000 more than the RAV4 XLE. Taking into consideration the noticeable fuel economy increase and better performance, I would be willing to spend the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the RAV4 Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Toyota
      Model: RAV4 Hybrid
      Trim: XLE
      Engine: 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle 16-Valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Two 650V Electric Motors
      Driveline: CVT, AWD
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 5,700 (Gas), 105 kW (Front Electric Motor), 50 kW (Rear Electric Motor), 194 (Combined Output)
      Torque @ RPM: 152 @ 4,400 (Gas)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 34/30/32
      Curb Weight: 3,925 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Obu, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $29,030
      As Tested Price: $31,965 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Convenience Package - $1,905.00
      Tonneau Cover - $90.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Despite the popularity of compact crossovers, it seems somewhat odd there isn’t a large number of hybrid variants. In fact, there is only one available, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Going hybrid usually means a hit in performance and cargo space. But in the case of the RAV4 Hybrid, it is quicker than the standard model and cargo space isn’t greatly affected. I spent some time with the RAV4 Hybrid over the holidays where it was driven to Northern Michigan and back. This is what I learned.
      The RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 2.5L four-cylinder, three electric motors (one acting as the engine starter and battery charger, the other two drive the wheels and provide AWD), and a Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 194 horsepower. Power is routed through a CVT. Fuel economy figures are noticeably better than the RAV4 SE AWD I drove last year - 34 City/30 Highway/32 Combined for the Hybrid vs. 22/29/25 for the standard RAV4. My average for the week landed around 30.7 MPG. I think the average could have been higher if Michigan had not experienced a cold snap where temperatures fell to single digits at times, causing the engine to run longer to keep the vehicle warm. The hybrid also feels slightly quicker than the standard RAV4 thanks to the electric motors providing instantaneous torque when leaving a stop. But merging on to a freeway or passing becomes a bit unpleasant as the engine pegs at high rpms to provide the power needed. This also brings forth a lot of noise from the engine and CVT. Doing a lot of driving on the freeway and country roads made me really appreciate the smooth and compliant ride of the RAV4 Hybrid. Most bumps and road imperfections are smoothed over. Some credit has to go to the 17-inch wheels on the XLE. Handling is competent as the suspension keeps body motions in check. However, the rubbery steering and low-rolling resistance tires will make drivers think twice about pushing the RAV4 Hybrid.  The low-rolling resistance tires also hamper traction in snow. I could tell when driving in deep snow, the all-wheel drive was working a bit harder to keep the vehicle moving. If you live in a snowy area, I would highly recommend swapping the low-rolling resistance tires for a set of all-seasons or winter tires. At first glance, the RAV4 Hybrid looks like any other RAV4. It is only when you get closer that you will notice the blue-tinted emblems and ‘Hybrid’ badging on the front fenders and tailgate. The interior is much the same as any other RAV4 aside from a different gauge cluster and a button to activate the EV mode. This is ok as the RAV4 is an ok place to sit in with a utilitarian design that puts various controls within easy reach for driver and passenger. Materials are what you would expect to find in a vehicle of this class, a mix of soft and hard-touch plastics. The back seat is still a plus point to the RAV4 as there is plenty of head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space in the hybrid is about 3 cubic feet smaller than the standard RAV4 due to the battery with the rear seats up or down. Still, the hybrid’s cargo space is one the of the largest in the compact crossover class and I was able to fit luggage for myself and my brother, along with gifts for various relatives with no issue. All RAV4 Hybrids come with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen. The system is becoming quite dated in terms of the interface and features - no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for example. On the upside, Entune is easy to master thanks to a simple layout and physical shortcut buttons to various functions. 2017 saw Toyota make a number of active safety features standard on all RAV4s. That includes radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and lane keep assist. I would like to see blind spot monitoring added to this suite. The 2017 RAV4 Hybrid begins at $29,030 for the base XLE, about $4,000 more than the RAV4 XLE. Taking into consideration the noticeable fuel economy increase and better performance, I would be willing to spend the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the RAV4 Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Toyota
      Model: RAV4 Hybrid
      Trim: XLE
      Engine: 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle 16-Valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Two 650V Electric Motors
      Driveline: CVT, AWD
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 5,700 (Gas), 105 kW (Front Electric Motor), 50 kW (Rear Electric Motor), 194 (Combined Output)
      Torque @ RPM: 152 @ 4,400 (Gas)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 34/30/32
      Curb Weight: 3,925 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Obu, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $29,030
      As Tested Price: $31,965 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Convenience Package - $1,905.00
      Tonneau Cover - $90.00
    • By William Maley
      It feels a bit odd to be spending some time in the 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe after driving the CT6 earlier this year. In a way, it felt like I was stepping back into the past where Cadillac was making some dumb decisions that ultimately would hurt their vehicles. The ATS coupe is a prime example of this where Cadillac had a legitimate challenger to likes of the BMW 3/4-Series and Audi A5 in terms of performance and handling. But some bone-headed decisions would regulate it to the mid-pack.
      The ATS Coupe is still quite the looker. It features the classic rear-wheel drive proportions of a long front end and a short rear deck.The low roofline and raised belt line give off an impression of aggressive elegance. Our test car came with a set of machined-finished, 18-inch wheels that help the design pop. Move inside and it is clear that the interior hasn’t aged so well. For example, the sheet of piano black trim with the silver capacitive touch buttons really look out of place. The trim is also a magnet for fingerprints. Cadillac’s designers deserve a bit of credit for providing a nice mix of materials such as the Bordello Red leather upholstery, suede microfiber covering parts of the dash and door panels, and carbon fiber trim. The front seats are very comfortable for long trips and do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. The rear seats are best left to be used for additional storage as leg and headroom are minuscule. Trunk space is quite small for the class at 10.4 cubic feet. CUE is still a bit of a mixed bag. While the overall usability is better with quicker response times and the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the touch capacitive buttons are still hit and miss in terms of responding. Power comes from a 2.0L turbo-four producing 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. We had the eight-speed automatic that was introduced last year, but a six-speed manual is available as an option. The 2.0L turbo is a punchy performer. Power comes at a smooth and steady rate. The engine does lose some points under hard acceleration as it is not refined as some competitors. The eight-speed automatic is the weak point for the ATS. It is slow to downshift when you need the thrust to pass a slower vehicle. We have to assume this comes down to the programming which is tuned more for fuel economy than performance. Gear changes, for the most part, are seamless. One area that Cadillac hasn’t messed with is the ATS’ handling. The coupe is a willing accomplice down a twisty road with sharp reflexes, little body roll, and steering that provides the right balance of steering feel and weight. We had the optional V-Sport Suspension package which adds a performance suspension and a set of summer-only, run-flat tires which only improves the handling. The downside to this handling goodness is a very stiff ride. Compared to the last ATS we drove (not the ATS-V), this coupe transmitted more bumps and imperfections, making for a very uncomfortable ride. Some of this can be laid at the V-Sport Suspension package. The ATS coupe seen here is the Luxury model - one step above the base model. It carries a base price of $41,395. Our test car was loaded with $12,055 in options, bringing the as-tested price to $54,445. You might be wondering why not jump into the Premium Luxury or Premium Performance if you’re planning to spend that much cash. That is because those two trims only come with the 3.6L V6. If you want the 2.0L turbo, you have to go either the base ATS or Luxury. If I was to buy this car, I would skip the V-Sport suspension package, performance exhaust kit, slotted rotor and brake pad upgrade, and the 18-inch wheels. That would drop the price to a somewhat reasonable $48,490. Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the ATS Coupe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (Author's Note: And that is the final review for 2017. (Hooray!) I'll be revealing my favorite vehicles before the end of the year, so stay tuned. As for 2018, there will be a mix of some leftover 2017 models mixed in with the first batch of 2018 models. Expect to see reviews start back up around the Detroit Auto Show. In the meantime, have a safe and joyous holiday. -WM)
      Year: 2017
      Make: Cadillac
      Model: ATS Coupe
      Trim: 2.0T Luxury
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DI VVT Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 3,000 - 4,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 
      Curb Weight: 3,571 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, Michigan
      Base Price: $41,395
      As Tested Price: $54,445 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      V-Sport Suspension Package - $2,265.00
      Performance Exhaust Kit - $1,650.00
      Safety & Security Package - $1,500.00
      Morello Red Semi-Aniline Leather - $1,295.00
      Slotted Rotor and Brake Pad Upgrade Package - $1,190.00
      Power Sunroof - $1,050.00
      18" Bright Machined-Finish Alloy Wheels - $850.00
      Black Chrome Accented Grille - $820.00
      V-Series Rear Spoiler - $665.00
      Phantom Gray Metallic - $595.00
      Black Chrome Rear Trim - $175.00

      View full article
  • My Clubs

  • Who's Online (See full list)

About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We  Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×