2014 Subcompact Car Buying Guide

2014 Fiat 500

2014 Fiat 500

A two-door coupe and convertible smaller than even the Chevy Spark but with retro styling reminiscent of the 1950s Italian original. The 500C convertible is really a roll-back-roof-section take on the coupe, but both suffer confining, hard-to-access rear seats. Base models are disappointing performers. Turbo version is entertaining and our favorite, but comes only with manual transmission. Sporty Abarth editions are quick but pricey. Fuel-economy ratings span 30-34 mpg combined. Base-price range is $16,995-$26,895.See the CarPreview.com 2014 Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Buying Guide for a review of the 2014 Fiat 500e EV pure-electric model.

 

2014 Fiat 500L

2014 Fiat 500L

Introduced for model-year 2014 as a four-door hatchback companion to the smaller 500 line, the 500L approaches the compact-size-class dimensions of its Kia Soul and Mini Countryman competitors. You sit tall in an airy cabin with good rear-seat room, but the driving position is as awkward as in any 500. Cargo volume and composed ride and handling are assets. Fuel economy is mediocre and the twin-clutch automatic transmission drains driving enjoyment; try the manual. Fuel-economy ratings span 27-28 mpg combined. Base-price range is $19,900-$24,995.

2014 Ford Fiesta

2014 Ford Fiesta

A global design sold in basically the same configuration worldwide, these four-door sedans and hatchbacks shine for European-grade driving dynamics and a plethora of available features. A tight rear seat and a recalcitrant automatic transmission are big demerits. A model-year 2014 facelift brings a Ford-family front end and optional – and problematic — MyFord Touch telematics. Also new is an overachieving turbocharged three-cylinder engine option to go along with the standard four-cylinder. Top dog is the pocket-rocket ST hatchback with 197 horsepower but manual-transmission only. Fuel-economy ratings span 29-37 mpg combined. Base-price range is $14,795-$22,195.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]