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Six new 2003 economy cars were tested back-to-back under identical road conditions.
Dodge SX 2.0

Hyundai Accent

Kia Rio RX-V

Mitsubishi Lancer ES

Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

Suzuki Aerio S Fastback
2003 Economy Car Comparo
Space and sportiness are cue words for new economy cars

By Bill Roebuck

Each October, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) sponsors a Test Fest of new vehicles in every vehicle category, including economy cars, family vehicles, luxury cars, sports coupes and sedans, performance cars, station wagons, minivans, and sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

Teams of automotive journalists from across Canada participate and the results are tabulated by an independent auditor. Category winners will be announced Nov. 21 in Montreal, and the 2003 Canadian Car of the Year and Truck of the Year will be revealed in February 2003, on the eve of the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto.

Here's's report from the Economy Car Under $18,000 category.

TestFest 2003 featured vehicles ranging in price from just over $14,000 to just over $140,000. Despite this vast range in prices, there were several interesting models with nice features in the low end of that range.

Manufacturers entered six new 2003 models in this year's Economy Car classification, all priced at under $18,000. The lineup consisted of two domestic models (Dodge and Pontiac), two Korean (Hyundai and Kia) and two Japanese (Mitsubishi and Suzuki). Prices ranged from $14,795 to $17,957.

All but one of these are four-door models that claim five-passenger capacity. The Kia and Suzuki also are hatchbacks. The Pontiac Sunfire is the only two-door coupe here. All have economical four-cylinder engines. None offered ABS brakes as tested.

The range of features included on the models varies widely -- one has a basic radio and not much else -- while the least expensive of the bunch has a nice CD player plus an automatic transmission to boot.

The models below are reviewed in alphabetical order.

Dodge SX 2.0 (Finalist)

Hyundai Accent 

Kia Rio RX-V 

Mitsubishi Lancer ES (Category Winner)

Pontiac Sunfire Coupe 

Suzuki Aerio S Fastback (Finalist)

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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