Smart Sedan Choices
When it comes to choosing a family car, most shoppers today immediately think of an SUV or minivan as a first choice. But in many cases a four-door sedan will do the job — and not just the obvious midsize models. For many families of four persons or less, a compact, fuel-efficient sedan could be the best choice, saving money at both the car dealership and the gas pump. Here’s a look at some popular compact sedans that would easily fit the bill for fledgling families — and all have starting MSRPs of less than $19,000.
Price: Starting at $16,490
Following record sales in 2015, the refreshed 2017 Kia Forte is already on the market as sales continue to climb for 2016. Styling updates for 2017 include a new front bumper, revised tiger nose grille, redesigned headlights with available Xenon HID, and new taillights with optional LEDs. The new standard 2.0-liter engine produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, combined with a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed automatic. An optional 2.0-liter GDI produces 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 6-speed automatic. Now available in LX, S and EX trim levels, the new S trim includes sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED positioning lights, a rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust tip, black cloth seats with contrast white stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather-wrapped shift knob. The top-level EX trim includes LED taillights, a Smart Key with approach lighting, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control.
Price: Starting at $16,780
The 2016 Nissan Sentra has been redesigned to reflect Nissan’s new design language, aligning it with the look of the new Maxima and the redesigned 2016 Altima. Exterior changes include new front and rear fascias, grille, fenders, hood, headlights, taillights and a new 17-inch wheel design. Inside, the Sentra receives a new steering wheel, an available power driver’s seat with power lumbar, and a new center stack, audio display, console and seat fabrics. The revised Sentra has increased body stiffness, retuned suspension and revised electric power steering mapping for improved driving dynamics. All trim levels are powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque, combined with the Xtronic CVT automatic that now includes D-Step Logic for a more natural shift feel. Available tech goodies include Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Price: Starting at $16,975
The redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is larger, lighter and built on a more rigid architecture that improves driving dynamics as well as efficiency and safety. The new standard turbocharged 153-horsepower 1.4-liter direct-injection engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed automatic and achieves 40 mpg highway, with start-stop technology improving efficiency in stop-and-go driving. Cruze also has next-generation Chevrolet MyLink with smartphone integration that includes compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as a standard 7-inch-diagonal screen and an available 8-inch-diagonal screen. Available advanced safety features include Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert. Available in more than 40 countries, Cruze is Chevrolet’s best-selling model around the world with more than 3.5 million sold since 2008.
Price: Starting at $16,995
For 2016 the Dodge Dart offers an available Sport Appearance hood for GT and SXT trims with the Rallye or Blacktop Package, 18-inch Hyper Black Wheels are standard on the GT trim and new 18-inch Gloss Black 10-spoke wheels are optional. Dart offers a bit more power than some other compacts — its 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 4-cylinder engine is standard on the SXT, Limited and GT, putting out 184 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque for spritely performance. The high-efficiency 1.4-liter turbo — standard on the Dart Aero — produces 160 horsepower while boasting up to 41 mpg on the highway.
Price: Starting at $17,150
Hyundai got a jump on the 2017 model year when the redesigned 2017 Elantra began arriving at dealers in January 2016. The new design features a signature hexagonal grille that ties the Elantra closely to the current Sonata design and includes available HID headlights with Dynamic Bending lights, as well as vertical LED daytime running lights. Inside, the new interior design incorporates soft-touch materials and high-tech details with a wide instrument panel. The 2017 Elantra offers two new powertrains, with the SE and Limited trims powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, combined with either a 6-speed manual transmission for SE or a 6-speed automatic. The Elantra Eco trim is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 128 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission to achieve an EPA-estimated combined city / highway fuel economy rating of 35 mpg. Available new technology includes Smart Trunk, Dynamic Bending Light and Smart Cruise Control.
Price: Starting at $17,225
Ford’s compact Focus is one of the best-selling models on the planet. For many years, American drivers were not able to get the same car as the rest of the world, but today’s Focus is a world car. For 2016 the Focus offers new SYNC 3 with conversational voice recognition and an available 8-inch LCD touchscreen with swipe and pinch-to-zoom functionality. Focus also features an impressive array of safety technology, including a rearview camera, a blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic alert and a lane-keeping system. Although probably not considered a typical family car, the high-performance Focus RS joins the lineup for 2016 with a high-performance all-wheel-drive system powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine producing 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
Price: Starting at $17,845
The 2017 Mazda3 receives subtle exterior updates including a bolder grille, available LED headlights, available LED taillights and a new rear bumper for the 5-door model. The interior moves upscale with available perforated black or almond-colored leather seating surfaces, an electronic parking brake and a sliding cover for center console storage. The Mazda3 also debuts G-Vectoring Control — Mazda’s new vehicle dynamics control technology that uses the engine, steering, throttle inputs and suspension for sharper chassis control. Safety technology includes available Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring, Traffic Sign Recognition and a new full-color Active Driving Display. Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE features include Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart City Brake Support and Smart Brake Support for highway speeds.
Price: Starting at $17,895
Despite Volkswagen’s issues with diesel emissions and the absence of diesel models from its vehicle lineup, the Jetta continues to be one of the best-selling passenger cars in America. Offering a good value in a fun-to-drive 4-door sedan, the base-level Jetta S is powered by a new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that produces 150 horsepower while delivering up to 40 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in the city. Features such as Bluetooth with audio streaming, a USB port, a multi-function trip computer, a color touchscreen display and cruise control are standard.
Price: Starting at $18,295
Available in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles, the 2017 Subaru Impreza incorporates Subaru’s hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights with a more sculptured body design. Riding on a wheelbase that is an inch longer than the previous model, both bodystyles are 1.6 inches longer and 1.5 inches wider for more interior room. The revised 2.0-liter 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed boxer engine produces 152 horsepower, and the available Lineartronic continuously variable transmission features a 7-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters on top trim levels. The new Impreza Sport features 18-inch wheels, sport suspension, Active Torque Vectoring and exclusive exterior styling. Inside, the Sport received the Subaru STARLINK 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start, aluminum pedals and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Price: Starting at $18,640
The redesigned 2016 Honda Civic began the year earning the North American Car of the Year award at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and continues to impress as the number one Honda model and the top-selling compact in the U.S. through August 2016. The 2016 Civic features two new engines, including a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine to power the top-of-the-line EX-T sedan and EX Coupe, producing 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque from 1700 to 5500 rpm, combined with either a continuously-variable transmission or a 6-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy is rated as high as 42 mph highway. The 2017 Civic 5-door hatchback is scheduled to arrive this fall — the first time the 5-door version has been offered for the U.S. market, adding a further option for families.
Price: Starting at $17,300
Toyota’s compact Corolla was redesigned for the 2014 model year with a sporty, more aggressive design; it continues to be the second-best-selling Toyota model in the U.S. market behind the midsize Camry, and second to the Honda Civic in the compact category. The 2016 Corolla features 41.4 inches of rear-seat legroom (comparable to larger models) and boasts up to 42 mpg highway with the Corolla LE Eco. Standard power comes from a 132-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, and the Eco bumps up to 140 horsepower despite attaining that highest highway fuel economy number. The 2016 Corolla Special Edition includes 17-inch wheels with gloss black finish, black interior with red stitching, red interior accents, Smart Key with pushbutton start and three exterior colors: Absolute Red, Black Sand Pearl and Super White.