Top-Rated 2018 Small Cars in Performance and Design

Christian Wardlaw | Jul 25, 2018

The annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study measures new-vehicle owner satisfaction with the performance, design, interior, and equipment of their cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. Survey respondents have owned their new vehicles for at least 90 days.

Power Circle Ratings are derived from this information, visually summarizing the APEAL Study’s findings in an easy-to-understand way. The ratings are designed to help consumers make the best choice when shopping for a new vehicle.

2018 Kia Rio 4-door front quarter right photo

This buyer’s guide highlights the top-rated 2018 Small Cars from the J.D. Power 2018 APEAL Study. Each model is listed in alphabetical order, and receives a Power Circle Rating of 4 or 5 out of a possible 5 for overall appeal.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

An electric 5-door hatchback, the Chevrolet Bolt EV offers an estimated 238 miles of driving range on a full charge, and is priced just under $30,000 after applying the federal tax credit. Two trims are available: LT and Premier. For 2018, sliding sun visors are standard and an automatic heated steering wheel is available.

The 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Chevrolet Cruze

Available in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles, the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze is sold in L, LS, LT, Diesel, and Premier trim levels. Buyers choose between a turbocharged gas and turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder engine, and between a manual and an automatic transmission. For 2018, Chevrolet expanded availability of the turbo-diesel engine to the hatchback body style.

The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Chevrolet Sonic

Offered in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles, the 2018 Sonic is available in L, LS, LT, and Premier trim and with a 1.8-liter or turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Manual and automatic transmissions power the front wheels. This year, Chevrolet makes a handful of minor changes to the Sonic.

The 2018 Chevrolet Sonic receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Honda Civic

Honda’s Civic is the only mainstream car offered in coupe, hatchback, and sedan body styles. Trim levels range from the basic LX to the performance-tuned Type R, and vary depending on the body style. Multiple engines are also available, each paired to a manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission. Honda made no changes to the 2018 Civic.

The 2018 Honda Civic receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2018 Kia Rio

Kia redesigned the Rio for 2018, and continues to offer the car in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback configurations. Trim levels include LX, S, and EX, and each Rio is equipped with a 130-horsepower, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a 6-speed automatic optional.

The 2018 Kia Rio receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Small Car segment.

2018 Toyota Corolla

For decades, the Toyota Corolla has provided car buyers with affordable, dependable, practical transportation. Today, the car offers one of the roomiest interiors in its segment. Hatchback and sedan body styles are available, the latter offered in an array of trim levels. Toyota even has a sporty SE trim with a 6-speed manual transmission. No major changes are made to the 2018 Corolla.

The 2018 Toyota Corolla receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Toyota Yaris

There are two different versions of the Yaris. The hatchback is built in France, while the sedan is a rebadged Mazda 2 that is made in Japan. They are distinctly different vehicles, with unique powertrains, design, interiors, and engineering. And yet, owners of both versions of the Yaris rate the car highly for overall appeal. For 2018, the hatchbacks received updated styling, enhanced standard equipment, and upgraded infotainment technology.

The 2018 Toyota Yaris receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Volkswagen Golf

Freshened for 2018, with updates including a new infotainment system and impressive warranty coverage, the 2018 Golf is available as a 5-door hatchback or 4-door station wagon called the SportWagen. Model variants include the rugged Alltrack, the electric e-Golf, the sporty GTI, and the performance-tuned Golf R. Drivetrain selections are dependent on the model variant.

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2018 Volkswagen Jetta

In its final year before a complete redesign, the 2018 Jetta sedan came in S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, 1.8T Sport, SEL, and GLI trim levels. Depending on the trim, a turbocharged 1.4-liter, 1.8-liter, or 2.0-liter engine powered the front wheels through a manual, automatic, or dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Compact Car segment.









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