Consumer Reports were not so kind to the Toyota entry into the subcompact segment, claiming that the Yaris “continues to underwhelm.”
This is a definite setback for the Japanese automaker, especially when you consider that they were once completely dominant in the small car market. Toyota has been struggling to keep pace with the other automakers in this segment, and while some are quick to point to the tsunami as the problem, the truth is that it’s really only a small part. Consumer Reports’ chief of automotive research David Champion spoke about the improvements that have been made in the subcompact segment in recent years. He spoke in detail about the old “penalty box” mentality, and how just a few short years ago the vast majority of small cars was loud, uncomfortable and offered little in the way of performance. He then went on to praise the advances that have been made in both design and fuel economy, both of which have given small cars a much needed boost.
The Korean-made cars were the top picks in the magazine’s assessment, with the Kia Rio EX being the top pick in the subcompact sedan category, and the Hyundai Accent running a close second. The US was also represented, with the Chevrolet Sonic also doing well. The praise for the Sonic was mostly positive, but Consumer Reports did have a couple of beefs with the vehicle. They were unimpressed by the fuel economy, and they also felt that the turbocharged Sonic LTZ was overpriced and failed to meet its sporty aspirations. Also coming in for a little bit of criticism was the Nissan Versa sedan. The vehicle was completely redesigned for 2012, and CR reviewers felt that it had actually taken a step backwards, despite the promise made by Nissan during its initial launch. There was some good news for Japanese automakers in the hatchback category, with the Honda Fit leading the way, just slightly ahead of the Nissan Versa SL and the 2013 Kia Rio. [Source: Consumer Reports]