Twenty years ago small cars were generally seen as low cost transportation that would generally only get you from point A to point B. Small cars have come a long way from that in today’s automotive market with manufacturers like Ford, Hyundai, Chevrolet, BMW and Audi just to name a few. Why do I say that? Mainly because in the last year we have seen auto makers put options in small cars that used to be reserved only for the upper echelons. The 2012 Ford Focus has Park Assist where it will basically park itself. The 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited comes with heated front and rear seats…standard. To that end, small cars are also changing how people feel about safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reaffirmed this last week with their latest Top Safety Pick awards.
The cars in the latest Top Safety Pick announcement from the IIHS included the 2012 Ford Focus, 2012 Honda Civic (zombie not included), 2011 Hyundai Elantra, 2011 Lexus CT200h, 2011 Nissan Juke and 2011 Toyota Prius. In order to be given this top honor from the IIHS the vehicles have to receive the institute’s highest rating of “good” for front, rear and rollover incidents and also be equipped with electronic stability control. As I said above, these awards are going a long way to change the perception of small cars in the U.S. automotive market. The other interesting thing is that this is on the heels of the Volt and LEAF also winning Top Safety Pick awards last month.
Bottom line—today’s small cars aren’t your father’s small cars…and now they even come with navigation, heated seats and some pretty fly styling for cars that can get 40-mpg or better.