Mini Me Mini Car

The conversion of the American automotive dream from land yachts to tidy little people pods is not quite complete. Ford and Chevy pick-ups still rank as the best selling vehicles overall and even brands like VW — which defined the small car concept with the original Beetle, now celebrates the brisk sales of its mid-sized Passat sedan!

But the current wave of small car mania is strong and making market share in-roads. The sub-compacts and even mini-cars now proliferate offering mileage stats in the 34 — 38 mpg range. There’s the stylishly redesigned Toyota Yaris, the solid little Mazda 2 and it’s Ford cousin the Fiesta, and the awkward looking but great handling Nissan Versa.

For nostalgia the spunky Fiat 500 has made quite a splash — hoping to follow in the tracks of the hot BMW MINI franchise — as a halo retro delight. While the $27,000 Abarth specialty sport edition of the Fiat is great fun, the $15,500 model is truer to the bare-bones ethic that made the original 500 the Italian love-bug!

In this category virtually every “Best List” is topped by or includes the Honda Fit — at the moment one of the highlights of the brand. Chevrolet followed up the debut of the handsome sub-compact Sonic sedan, by doubling down with the $16,000 Spark — a sprite 84 horsepower mini-car. Never to be outdone — Toyota’s Scion IQ is the year’s mini-me mini-car entry with 37 mpg mileage ratings and a $17,000 price tag. All the hoopla about tiny cars begs the question — why is the SMART Car’s future in the US market still uncertain!