For the most part, the USA seems to be homogeneous in it’s love of pickup trucks and SUVs, with the Ford F-Series and Toyota RAV4 dominating sales. However, larger SUV and crossover models, that seem to be a desirable combination of the two, such as the GMC Yukon, are not selling as well. This is partly because they are too large to maneuver around town, but also because such rugged, off-road-capable automobiles aren’t really needed in sunny Florida, unless it’s monsoon season.
Subsequently, it’s not overly surprising that a lot of smaller vehicles are doing well in this metropolitan area. These include several compact sedan models, all bearing Japanese or Korean logos, since these automakers seem to have mastered the art of packaging the best value into the smallest footprint. Here is a quick breakdown of what makes these cars so popular.
The best seller after the ever-desirable F-Series pickup, the Camry was once the most popular passenger car in the US. Clearly, it hasn’t lost as much shine as some would say, considering how crossovers are besting sedans in most other markets. Standard with a four-cylinder engine, the attractive Japanese car is also available with a powerful V6. This supplies it with loads of kick for such a small vehicle, though this forgoes the option to spec on the all-wheel drivetrain.
If fuel economy is more important to you than sheer power, then the hybrid option may appeal to you. It hangs on to the inline-four but adds a mild-hybrid system that improves mileage from 28/39/32 mpg city/highway/combined to 51/53/52 mpg. Luckily, this adaptation does not rob the hybrid Camry of any cargo space, as it offers the same 15.1 cubic feet as its standard variant.
On top of all this, the sedan also boasts an impressive safety suite in the form of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and lane tracing assist. The infotainment system is great too, with smartphone integration and SiriusXM accessed via the seven-inch touchscreen.
The main downsides are that the trunk is subpar for the segment, the materials aren’t as high-quality as could be expected from the brand, and that cabin noise gets a bit bawdy at higher speeds.
Even cheaper than the Camry, Toyota’s second smallest sedan is definitely an appealing offering. It presents a choice of two four-cylinder engines, with the weaker of the two also offered as part of the optional hybrid powertrain. The standard setup is more than adequate for commuting, but this is not a car designed to ever give many thrills.
Instead, it boasts a comfortable driving experience with excellent safety ratings at an affordable price. Naturally, the interior matches the relatively low asking price, but it manages to look good despite this. There is also plenty of standard tech, such as a seven-inch infotainment suite paired with a six-speaker sound system, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, and full smartphone integration. It also gets the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite mentioned above.
Since it is a bit smaller than the Camry, you do have to accept a few sacrifices, mostly in terms of trunk and back-seat spaciousness. You can easily fit the kids or even teens in the rear seats, but taller adults may start to complain if the ride goes on for too long. The optional sunroof helps to air out the cabin, but it’s not really worth springing for the top-tier trims.
Not quite the third runner-up, the Civic sits below a pair of practical crossover models, one from Toyota, and the other from its own lineage. However, it presents shoppers with an entirely different experience to either of those two vehicles, or the two sedans already mentioned. It is available as a sedan, a coupe, a hatchback, or one of several more performance-oriented configurations.
Even in its regular form, though, the Civic is a capable vehicle that focuses more on fun than sheer practicality. Skip over the base four-cylinder engine in favor of the turbocharged one, and you get access to 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The CVT transmission is a little lackluster, but it doesn’t detract too much from the driving experience.
Plenty of safety features come standard, but desirable tech such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not included on base-model trims. This shouldn’t be a problem if you skip the boring base engine, which is restricted to the first two trims. When you add in the fact that it’s actually a very comfortable car and that it won’t present you with a crippling gas bill even if you drive it like a hoonigan, it’s not hard to see why it sells so well.
Small fish in a big sea
Of course, these are just a few of the more popular sedans in the area. The top-selling pickups and crossovers have been briefly mentioned, but there are plenty others that may likely catch your eye, such as Chevrolet Silverado or Nissan Rogue. But, if you prefer something smaller and don’t want to just follow the high-rider bandwagon, these are the cars that you should be lining up for a test drive.