In our most recent small sedan tests, we reported on the class’ progress in overtaking midsize sedans to become the best-selling car segment, opining that perhaps this signaled a convergence in North American and European tastes. C-cars rule over there, and wouldn’t we feel that much more virtuous, parsimonious, and efficient if we’d all just squish into smaller cars? Nah. Our roomy parking lots and boulevards fit bigger cars, and bigger cars fit us better. Besides, newfound energy reserves have brought our nation closer than ever to energy independence, and with gas prices still a fraction of Europe’s, we feel less compelled to downsize. Nevertheless, the compact C segment grew 7.8 percent last year, while midsize C/D sales barely wiggled. Might stylish, highly equipped, great-driving compact cars now be making the grade on their merits and features, rather than on moral or fiscal imperatives? To wit: Today’s compacts offer S-Class-worthy gear such as adaptive cruise control, collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, all-LED headlamps, and full telematics connectivity. For this gathering we aimed for the heart of the segment, establishing a $22,500 base-price ceiling, with an as-tested price target of $25K. The guest list started with the defending champ Kia Forte (EX),… Read full this story
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