Two well-equipped sub-compacts square off
It’s been a while now since subcompacts were bottom-rung driving instruments devoid of any modern luxuries or conveniences. Years ago features like air conditioning, automatic transmissions, power windows and sunroofs became more and more prevalent in these little runabouts.
But today’s consumer wants more; a lot more. Subcompacts are no longer being bought just because they are the cheapest vehicle on the market. These cars are now purchased by environmentally conscious consumers who appreciate stellar fuel economy, or by those living in dense urban areas where roads are tight and space is at a premium. Just because someone wants a smaller sized vehicle, doesn’t mean sacrifices need to be made in style, comfort and convenience; right?
Well, manufacturers are listening and the segment is seeing an infusion of new models boasting increased power, better efficiency, new features and some actual design. Two vehicles at the forefront of the upscale subcompact revolution are, surprisingly, the Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Sonic.
VETERAN VS NEW COMER
The Accent has been a stalwart in the subcompact segment for over 15 years now. Originally the poster child for cheap, no frills transportation, the Accent has been moving upscale with every new generation, with the latest refresh in 2012 continuing this theme.
Now available in the Accent are features like automatic climate control, a sliding center armrest, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a sunroof. Even with all these options checked off, a 2013 Accent SE hatchback with an automatic transmission still retails for just $18,790 after destination charges.
Taking on the Accent is the Chevrolet Sonic. Debuting two years ago as a replacement for the much lamented Chevrolet Aveo (another sub-compact backmarker), the Sonic takes the concept of a premium subcompact further in both price and content. Coming in at $20,695 after destination chargers, our 2013 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ hatchback also came equipped with an automatic transmission and features like the MyLink touchscreen infotainment system, leatherette seats, heated front seats, automatic headlights and Bluetooth connectivity.