Hooniverse Asks: How should a cheap new car be equipped?

Last week I drove the new 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. I cannot yet tell you anything about it (Autotrader video review lands tomorrow). But by the very nature of the type of vehicle, you can probably ascertain a fair bit about it. This has me thinking though… how do you think automakers should equip their “cheaper” models?

Let’s say you were redesigning a Nissan Versa or Mitsubishi Mirage. What would you offer in terms of content? What type of wheels? How would you package the engine, transmission, drivetrain options? What level of safety equipment would you put on the car? And what would be your target price tag?

If you were tasked with creating a brand-new entry-level automobile, how would you equip it? Be mindful of reality on this one. Obviously, it’s not going to have heated seats and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

5 Comments

  1. OK, I’ll play…

    Introducing the 2022 Honda Fit

    • Throwback 1990s styling, inside and out.
    • 158 hp / 138 lb. ft., naturally aspirated 2.0L.
    • Choice of CVT or 6-speed manual. Manual comes with a limited slip differential.
    • 5 door hatchback. 2500 lbs. Comfortable seating for four. Magic Seats stow away flat.
    • Fun and predictable handling, yet stable and quiet for long distance driving.
    • Console mounted shifter.
    • 0-60 in 7 seconds. 38 mpg highway.
    • 16” alloy wheels.
    • Cruise, AC, ABS, ESC, 4-wheel disc brakes.
    • Indirect TPMS.
    • Side curtain airbags.
    • A cubby near the radio (that just happens to hold a phone for use as a GPS, while hiding the cord).
    • Manual climate and other controls.
    • Durable woven cloth seating, with matching door cards.
    • 4-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and aux-in. Analog look on dash, no touch screen. Steering wheel stereo controls.
    • Analog speedometer with digital odometer.
    • Multifunction in-dash screen performs the following functions:
    • Back-up camera.
    • Your choice of which widgets to display as virtual gauges, giving you access to the full array of sensors in your vehicle.
    • OBDII diagnostic mode.
    • $18,500 for CVT, $19,500 for 6-speed manual.

    (A lot of what I’m suggesting is taking the best things from the outgoing Fit, the EP3 Civic Si, taking the base engine from the current Civic, and adding in some touches where modern cars seem to fall short. It would probably still be a failure.)

  2. “Be mindful of reality on this one.”

    Well, I’m of no help this time around, then. I’m still opposed to automatic chokes.

  3. I actually like this idea!

    A 2022 Ford Festiva!

    A 3dr hatch powered by the mighty 1.5l EcoBoost 3cyl!

    Manual and automatic transmission options.

    The Basic Sync system WITH an AUX input.

    Power door locks and windows because nobody knows what to do without them.

    Airbags, and plenty of them because nobody wants an unsafe car.

    Steel skinny wheels with hubcaps.

    Rubber carpet, outdoor furniture fabric for the seats.

    No lane departure, no parking sensors, no back up camera, no heated seats, no nanny devices.

    Should start around $20k

  4. Hmm, what I would like to see out of a new, cheap car.

    First, I would like a playful engine. Something rev happy and eager. Around 130-140 hp would be plenty. And it should be maed to either a slick shifting six speed manual transmission or perhaps a dct. Next, it needs to handle well. To do that it should have a multilink rear suspension and rear disc brakes. This will also help keep the unsprung weight low, improving the highway ride.
    Speaking of weight, keep it light. No more than 2,500 pounds. The interior can be kept fairly simple, but made of reasonably good quality materials. Plenty of well placed kubby holes and storage areas, perhaps a decent radio and a wireless phone charger (at least as options). I imagine it’s going to need half decent safety equipment for it to sell. And wrap it up in an attractive body and a base price of $17,500.

  5. The typical cheap car buyer (not the typical Hooniverse reader) is looking for reliability, economy, safety and style/fun/gadgets, probably in that order.

    So, what they basically want is a 10 year old Prius.

    Honestly, the problem with the current new $14K Mitsubishi Mirage is that a $14K used Prius is probably a much better car in almost every way.

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