2021 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Premium Compact Cars and Crossovers

In the past, if manufacturers elected to move up or downmarket, they would create a new sub-brand to market the vehicles. BMW launched MINI when it wanted to move downmarket and Honda, Nissan and Toyota respectively breathed life into Acura, Infiniti and Lexus to market their luxury products. Conjuring up a new vehicle marque and promoting it is a fiercely expensive process and one that has fallen out of favour.

Manufacturers now prefer to stretch the boundaries of what their established brands represent to setting up sub-brands if they decide to move out of their traditional market segments. In addition, some specialist vehicles from mainstream manufactures, are priced sufficiently above traditional vehicle categories that they must be placed into a category that reflects their unusual nature.

To track this trend and move with the times, the APA created a new Premium Compact category several years ago and continues with it for 2021. A number of cars and crossovers in this category don't really fit into the sections other vehicles bearing the same brand name are generally found in, and so are in this Premium Compact section.

Vehicles covered within in the envelope of Premium Compact category include the CLA, GLA and GLB from Mercedes-Benz and the Q3 from Audi, all four of which represent a move downmarket by their makers. Occupying this category as well are cars from MINI, which are premium priced, and the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf, which are priced far higher than conventional cars of the same size. Another car covered in this section is the Acura ILX.

There is little new this year other than a significant late-cycle update for the MINI Cooper. The Chevrolet Bolt iand the Hyundai Ioniq are in their last year in their current forms and Audi discontinued its A3 model with no replacement on the horizon, odd considering it sold 2057 units in 2020. The 2020 Kia Niro was still on sale in March of 2021 and may miss this year altogether. 

Acura ILX  Hyundai Ioniq  Mecerdes-Benz CLA  MINI Countryman 
Audi Q3  Kia Niro  Mercedes-Benz GLB  Nissan LEAF 
Chevrolet Bolt  Mercedes-Benz A-Class  MINI Cooper  Subaru WRX & STI 

2021 Acura ILX

 

 

What’s new
The Acura ILX was not expected back for 2021, but here it is for a tenth, and likely last year in its current form.  
Performance
The 2.4L 201 horsepower four is smooth, flexible and punchy, but its tuneful exhaust system becomes tiresome in daily driving. Steering weight and gearing are particularly well judged but there is little feel bubbling up to the steering wheel from the road. While firm, the ILX's ride exhibits good resilience and surprising suppleness over large bumps, especially when viewed against its impressive cornering ability. Strong brakes with good pedal feel. Wind noise is well suppressed but road noise is greater than expected from a car in this price bracket. Big door mirrors are a necessity as vision for lane changes is limited.
Tight rear legroom. Very comfortable and supportive front seats. Excellent driving position. Elegant, conventional dashboard. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the cabin design but cabin materials are underwhelming at this price point. Reasonable trunk space. Unimpressive audio system. With only 750 units sold in 2020, this car borders on pointless. 

Comments
The ILX, based on the previous Civic, is, except for straight line speed and low-speed refinement, totally outclassed by the new Honda Civic Touring. The sole power team for 2020 is a 2.4L four hooked up to an eight-speed dual clutch automated manual. 

Pricing
Upgrading from the base to the Premium trim, which includes popular equipment such as leather upholstery, heated, power front seats and blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings, is very good value. The Premium A-Spec is well worth the price supplement if you like the equipment and the Tech version of the same balances price and content quite precisely. This car is expensive and outmoded and the Honda Civic Touring sedan is a cheaper and better option. The ILX is a very good lease value for 2021. 

Reliability: Predicted reliability is above average, like the previous Civic it is based on.

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
2.4L‑4 (201HP)

Transmissions: 8A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.9L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  7.0L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, a lane keep assist system and adaptive cruise control. Optional blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors  
Warranty: 4/80,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: n/r

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: P

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Chevrolet Bolt

 

 

 

What’s new
The delayed 2021 finally went on sale in February of 2021. Chevrolet has unveiled an updated Bolt, and a Bolt UEV companion model, which should go on sale by the fall of 2021.  

Performance

The electric motor of the Bolt is very strong and delivers vivid acceleration. Handling is very competent but not as precise as that of the Volkswagen e-Golf, but more satisfying than those of the Hyundai Ioniq, Kia Niro and Nissan Leaf. The suspension is firm and can clunk loudly on poorly maintained roads. The steering of the Bolt has a reassuring heft. The interactive infotainment screen used in the Bolt engages and repels users in equal measure.

Comments
The Bolt is Chevrolet’s all electric car meant to go head-to-head with the Nissan Leaf, and now the Hyundai Kona electric and the all-electric version of the Kia Niro. When introduced, the Bolt looked like a breakthrough product in the affordable electric vehicle field but other makers are quickly catching up. 
According to Chevrolet, the 200 horsepower electric motor can reach 100 km/h from a stop in about seven seconds. GM predicts a maximum range of up to 417 kilometre.
GM notes that the Bolt is a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot and the MyChevrolet Mobile App will help the driver to monitor vehicle charge status, start the car remotely and pre-condition cabin climate inside the cabin while the car is plugged in, which minimizes energy draw once the car is under its own power. The EV-specific navigation system of the Bolt is set up to maximize range and also display local charge points.
The tall hatchback body looks crisp and modern. Except for height, the Bolt is smaller is all dimensions than the Nissan Leaf but offers greater cabin space than the Nissan. The cabin of the Bolt is dominated by a sweeping dashboard with a large touch screen at its heart. While the cabin is roomy and dramatically styled, cabin materials are disappointing for a car in this price segment. 

Pricing
The base LT trim is reasonably priced, especially considering its performance. Moving from the LT to the Premier adds blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, roof rails, a Bose-branded audio system, heated rear seats, wireless cellphone charging and a number of other comfort and convenience features, but is about $1000 overpriced. On the LT, the $795 Driver Confidence package adds rear parking sonar and blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors. The Driver Confidence II package contains forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, a lane departure warning and a lane-keep assist system, for $795, but requires the Driver Confidence package to be selected first. The Driver Confidence package is standard on the Premier trim.
The Bolt is a poor lease value for 2021, demonstrating Chevrolet does not want this car back at the end of a lease and have established terms to discourage leasing. Stackable rebates of $8000 from Quebec and $5000 from the Federal government, are available to Bolt buyers.

Reliability
Very few complaints have been received. The budget cloth covering the driver's seat car wear prematurely but will be replaced during the warranty period. Electric cars are often reliable due to their simple mechanical elements. The battery pack warranty is eight years/160,000 km. 

Specifications


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
Electric motor (200 HP)
Transmissions: None
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  n/a
Highway Fuel Economy:  n/a
Electric Mode Operation: 417 km

Active Safety Features: Optional forward collision warning, including pedestrians, blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane departure warnings, and a lane keeping  system 


Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, 8/160,000 (on electric drivetrain)
Current Generation Debut:  2017
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: A

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: A

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Hyundai Ioniq

 


 

 

What’s new
Minor packaging shuffles for the Ioniq in its last year in its current cycle.

Comments
About the same size as an Elantra, the IONIQ is built on a different platform designed to accept conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric powertrains.
The exterior is modern, crisp and tidy but doesn’t signal the car is powered by alternative powertrains. With a 0.24 co-efficient of drag, the shape is very slippery. The cabin is practical and straightforward; rear seat legroom is more adequate than generous. In order to try to save some weight as well as reducing the use of oil, the hood and tailgate of the Ioniq are formed from aluminum. The interior door trims are fashioned from plastic, powdered wood and volcanic stone, with sugar cane materials employed to fashion the headlining and carpets.
A 104 horsepower 1.6L four is the basis for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Total system horsepower for the hybrid is 139 and maximum electric-only range for the plug-in is 37 kilometres. The hybrid and the plug-in send power to the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission but the all-electric variant dispenses with a transmission altogether.  


Pricing

Hybrid (HEV) model: Moving up from the Essential to the Preferred trim adds blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, L.E.D headlamps, heated rear seats, Keyless Go and a sunroof, is very good value. Migrating up to the range-topping Ultimate model brings a forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, leather seating, a Harmon-Kardon branded audio system and wireless cellphone charging, at a tempting price. PHEV: Migrating from the Essential to Preferred trim adds L.E.D. headlamps, heated rear seats, Keyless Go, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel and blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, at a bargain price. The Ultimate trim, with leather seating, a power driver's seat, navigation, a Harmon-Kardon branded audio system, and a plethora of minor items, is a bargain. BEV: only the Preferred and Ultimate trims are offered on the BEV variant. The Ultimate includes leather seating, L.E.D. headlamps, a power driver's seat and a sunroof, at a bargain price. Opting for the PHEV version of the Ioniq over the HEV will cost from $5200 to $7000. Migrating from the PHEV to the BEV version of the Ioniq will set you back from $6450 to $7750.
Rebates of $1500 for the PHEV and $3000 for the BEV are available from Briish Columbia. The Federal government offers rebates of $2500 for the PHEV and $5000 for the BEV.

Reliability: Insufficient data. Below average reliability predicted. 

Specifications


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.6 L-4 H (104 HP gas, 27 kW electric, 139 combined)*, 1,6 L-4 H Plug-in (104 HP gas, 45 kW electric), Electric (100 kW)
Transmissions: 6A (dual clutch/Hybrids)
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive
City Fuel Economy:  4.3L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  4.1L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning, including pedestrians and cyclists (BEV and PHEV), autonomous emergency braking, a lane departure monitor and a lane keep assist system and adaptive cruise control on the BEV and PHEV Ioniqs. Optional blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors
Warranty: 5/100,000, 8/160,000 (on electric drivetrain)
Current Generation Debut:  2017
Country of Origin:  South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


2020 Kia Niro

 


 

 

What’s new
The 2021 Niro was a no-show as late as March of 2021.
Comments
Based on the same component set as the Hyundai Ioniq, the Niro is a five-door tall hatchback that Kia markets as a compact hybrid CUV. The Niro’s 103 horsepower Atkinson cycle 1.6L four combines with a 43 horsepower electric motor for a total system output of 146 horsepower.
The plug-in hybrid version of the Niro has a maximum possible full-electric range of 43 kilometres under ideal conditions; with a combined power rating of 139 horsepower. The full electric model produces 201 horsepower and a whopping 291 lb-ft of torque. A 64 kWh battery pack can take on 160 kilometres of charge in 30 minutes when using its standard Level 3 charger, and can be fully charged using a Level 2 charger in 9.5 hours.
Though tidy enough and unlikely to offend, the exterior styling of the Niro is not the styling tour-de-force observers have come to expect from Kia. Design aside, the Niro's exterior envelope encloses a commodious cabin with good space for four adults and whatever chattel they choose to bring with them. Attractive instrumentation, practical controls and attractive materials make the Niro a good space to inhabit. 

Pricing

Hybrid: Moving up from the L to the EX is extraordinary value and includes convenience features such as Keyless Go, heated steering wheel, wireless cellphone charging as well as blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors. Moving up to the EX Premium adds active cruise control, lane keep assist, leather upholstery and cooled front seats, at a tempting price. The price for migrating to the SX range-topper reflects the value of the additional content. The Niro hybrid is a poor lease value for 2020. 
PHEV: The PHEV is offered only in the EX Premium and SX Touring trims. The EX Premium, with forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, rear cross traffic and driver awareness monitors, lane keep assist and a lane centring device, is good value. Moving up to the SE Touring adds LED headlamps, heated rear seats, cooled front seats, leather seating and a name-brand audio system, at a bargain price. The PHEV versions of the Niro are priced $6000 (EX Premium) and $4500 (SX Touring) higher than the equivalent hybrid models. Quebec provides a taxpayer subsidy of $4000 for Niro PHEV buyers and the Federal Government offers a $2500 subsidy for the purchase or 48 month lease of a new Niro PHEV. The Niro PHEV is a reasonable lease value for 2020. BEV: The BEV version of the Niro is offered only in EX and SX Touring trims. The PHEV and BEV variants only intersect at the SX Touring trim, the BEV version of which commands a $16,500 supplement. Of the BEV models, the SX Touring, with LED headlamps, leather seating, front and rear heated seats, cooled front seats, a name brand audio system, a heat pump system and a full suite of active safety equipment such as forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings, active cruise control and a lane keep assist system, is priced to reflect its additional equipment. Niro BEV buyers enjoy an $8000 taxpayer subsidy from Quebec and a $5000 subsidy from the Federal Government. The Niro BEV is a reasonable lease value for 2020. 
Reliability
Not rated as too little information is available on Kia's hybrid system reliability. It is important to maintain the car using the "Severe Service" schedule exclusively at a Hyundai dealer and to keep all service receipts to prevent Kia backing out of a warranty claim. A Kia extended warranty is recommended if you plan to keep the car past the warranty period. 

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB

Occupants: 2/3

Engine: 1.6L-4 H* and PHEV (139 HP combined), BEV (201 HP)

Transmissions: 6A (dual clutch)  

Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy: 4.6L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy: 5.1L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Hybrid: Optional forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, rear cross traffic and driver awareness warning, a lane keep assist system and an adaptive cruise control system. PHEV: Standard forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, rear cross traffic and driver awareness warnings, a lane keep assist system and adaptive cruise control. BEV: Optional forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, abd rear cross traffic monitors, a lane keep assist system and adaptive cruise control

Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut: 2017

Country of Origin: South Korea

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 MINI Cooper

 


 

 

What’s new
The MINI Cooper is treated to a surprisingly significant remake for a car in its seventh year of production. Exterior updates include L.E.D. headlamps, restyled grille, front fascia and Ùnion Jack pattern taillights. Cabin changes encompass a new TFT gauge cluster, an updated centre infotainment screen, revised dash vents, refreshed cabin material, a heated steering wheel option and an electric parking brake. The active cruise control now features stop and go and a lane departure warning is newly available for 2021.

Performance
The 1.5L turbo triple is quick, flexible and smooth at normal speeds and now has a smoother idle than it did when the current Cooper was released in 2015. The big 2L turbo in the Cooper S furnishes strong acceleration with an engaging exhaust note, but is quiet when cruising. Though very firm, the ride of the Cooper S does not jar occupants, and allies with impressive handling controlled by near telepathic steering.
The cabin of the current MINI may appear to be virtually the same as the last one, but its ergonomics, with easily scanned gauges and logical controls placed where you expect them to be, is a huge improvement over the previous MINI. Front seat occupants enjoy comfortable seats and plenty of legroom, but those in back will find space tight and access limited. Trunk space is short from the back of the rear seat to the tailgate but the space is deep below the window line and regularly shaped. Cabin materials and fit and finish are impressive. 

Comments
Two and four-door hatchbacks and a convertible are available. The base engine is a 134 horsepower 1.5L turbo, with two versions of a 2L turbo four, the 189 horsepower Cooper S and the 301 horsepower John Cooper Works, also available. The electric MINI features a 32 kWh battery pack, produces 184 horsepower and under optimal conditions, has a predicted range of up to 250 kilometres.  

Pricing
The five-door body style is priced $1300 higher than a three-door of the same trim level. Moving from the 1.5L T Cooper to the 2L T Cooper S costs $4300. The John Cooper Works super-performance model is priced $7650 higher than the Cooper S. With automatic transmission, the cabriolet is priced from $4900 (Cooper) to $5100 (Cooper S) higher than a three-door equivalent. The MINI SE electric variant is priced up to $17,000 more expensive than a Cooper 1.5 T of the same trim level. The MINI website is poor in terms of exploring details of the car and also if you try to build one.

Reliability
Not rated as too little information is available on the new generation. The previous generation was rated below average. Warranty ends at four years 80,000 km, with no subsequent powertrain warranty.

Specifications


Body Style:  2CV, 2HB


Occupants: 2/2


Engines1.5L-3 T (134 HP-Cooper)*, 2L-4 T (189 HP-Cooper S, 301 HP John Cooper Works), MINI Electric (184 HP)


Transmissions: 6M, 7 DSG*/8A/M  


Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive


City Fuel Economy:  8.4/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.5L/100 km


Active Safety Features: Optional adaptive cruise control with autonomous emergency braking and a lane departure warning. 


Warranty:  4/80,000 with no additional powertrain warranty


Current Generation Debut:  2015


Country of Origin: England and Holland


IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: n/r

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.:n/r

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: P

 

NHTSA Rating:


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