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5 Great New Small Cars for 2011

Updated December 5, 2014

For the 2011 model year, small is the new big when it comes to car. A host of intriguing new small cars are coming on to the market. Here’s a brief profile of five that are generating lots of buzz.

1. Fiat 500 The Fiat 500 is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated cars for 2011. To suggest that the 500 has a cult following is a bit of an understatement. The tiny two door cars have not been marketed in the US until now, but are hugely popular across Europe (the days of the highly unreliable, junky Fiats we remember from the 70s are over). There is something quintessentially cool about the 500 that is extremely difficult to articulate in to words. They will certainly present stiff competition for the Volkswagen Beetle, the Toyota Yaris, and the Mini Cooper, the three cars currently available in the US that most closely compare to the 500. Details about the 500’s American debut are still somewhat hazy. The engine will certainly include a power boost from the base European model, which is only 64 hp. Fiat 500s for the US will most likely include an engine in the 100 horse power range. The Fiat 500 line also includes a rally inspired version called the Fiat 500 Abarth, which will cram an impressive 170 hp engine in to the tiny car. The price point is as yet unknown, but expect something in the mid teens (and probably significantly more for the Abarth version).

2. Ford Fiesta While we’re on the subject of micro cars, the Ford Fiesta is also returning in 2011. Forget about the boxy jalopies that we came to know in the 80s. The new Ford Fiesta is available as either a sedan or a sleek five door hatchback that draws aesthetic comparisons to the redesigned Chevrolet Aveo (see below) or the Honda Fit. The Fiesta 2.0 promises a host of performance features that render it an entirely different car from the earlier models that shared its name. The top of the line SES model will include a 1.6 liter Duratec Ti-VCT I4 engine and an optional six speed transmission. The Ford Fiesta will be competitively priced with an advertised starting MSRP of $13,320.

3. Chevrolet Volt The Chevrolet Volt has received an inordinate amount of buzz since it was announced by General Motors. Most of the chatter surrounded its novel engine configuration. It’s a hybrid gas/electric, but with a twist. You start out driving in electric mode, and you can stay in electric mode for a distance of about 40 miles. Once that range is exhausted, the engine switches to gas. Hypothetically, if you’re careful to keep the battery charged and tend to drive short distances, the Volt could function as an almost exclusively electric driven vehicle. That makes the Volt an attractive option for eco minded auto buyers who have a short daily commute to work. There has been some confusion surrounding how to accurately state the Volt’s fuel efficiency in MPG terms. GM originally boasted something in the vicinity of 230 mpg, but has whittled it down substantially over time and is now advertising something closer to the 100 mpg range, a huge decrease but still an incredible difference from what you could expect even from a Prius or Insight. Obviously the fuel efficiency of the Chevy Volt is highly contingent upon how you choose to drive the vehicle. The exact MSRP remains to be seen. Edmunds.com currently lists it in the $40,000 range, a steep offer for a relatively small sedan. However, the actual cost will be abated dramatically by federal (and possibly state) rebates.

4. Mini Cooper Countryman First we got the Mini, then the Mini Clubman, and soon we will have the third variation, the Mini Cooper Countryman. The Countryman is essentially the Mini’s take on a crossover SUV. It shares the same general styling as the other two Minis, but is advertised as a vehicle that can comfortably seat five people and still has cargo room available behind the back seats. The Mini Cooper Countryman will feature all wheel drive, and a bit more horse power than its siblings. But be prepared to pay significantly more for this latest Mini offering, somewhere north of $30,000 is likely though the precise MSRP is not yet known.

5. Honda CR-Z If you were a child of the 80s or 90s, you probably remember the near mythical stories told about the Honda Civic CRX-seemingly endless longevity and eerily great performance. For some befuddling reason, the Civic continued on without this legendary sub-model, but the spirit of the vehicle is returning in the form of the CR-Z, a hybrid sports car. You can definitely seem remnants of the CRX’s styling in the CR-Z. Rumors are that it will essentially be an Insight on steroids, and offer a six speed transmission.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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