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2019 Subcompact Car of the Year: Fit, Accent or Rio?

Auto123.com will be crowning winners of the 2019 Auto123.com Awards for best vehicles of the year on November 21 in Toronto. We’ve already unveiled the three finalists in each of the 19 categories; today we look in more detail at the Subcompact Car of the Year finalists.

Our comparison of the 2018 Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio

Honda Fit
Review - Specifications

The Fit may be small, but its relatively roomy interior makes it a practical choice for smaller families. And of course there’s that great Magic Seat that substantially increases the versatility of the interior space, so you can lug what you need without too much fuss.

Faced with the onslaught of SUV large and small on the market, the subcompact car segment hangs on, thanks to the vehicles’ great price points, fuel stinginess and nimble handling. It’s also so much easier to park these things in tight spots, many of them totally inaccessible to midsize crossovers, for example.

Honda Fit
Photo: Honda
Honda Fit

Hyundai Accent
ReviewSpecificationsphoto gallery

The Accent, the most affordable model from an automaker dedicated to offering affordable vehicles to its clientele, got a substantial redesign for 2018. And in the view of our first reviewer Benjamin Hunting, Hyundai has nailed most of the key characteristics that budget-minded buyers will be shopping for.

The Accent comes with a 130-hp 1.6L 4-cylinder engine as standard equipment, matched with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is not its strong point, but it cruises just fine on the highway. The suspension is tuned with comfort as the biggest priority, and the great fuel economy it provides makes up for any lack of pizzazz when stepping off the line.

Hyundai Accent
Photo: Hyundai
Hyundai Accent

Kia Rio
ReviewSpecificationsphoto gallery

When reviewing it, we commended the 2018 Kia Rio for offering exceptional value for the price point – something that is rapidly becoming a trademark of the Hyundai and Kia brands.

The 2018 Rio 5-Door comes equipped with an impressive range of features, especially given its pricing and the category it competes in. Now standard in all trims of the Rio is a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the gear knob is leather-clad as well. These little touches of luxury are highly appreciated when you’re choosing a car based on price and fuel economy, sort of like finding a second toy in the kinder egg!

For 2018 Kia also made its little Rio a little less… little, as the interior is now larger (thanks to a longer wheelbase and total length). That interior features the unavailable (this price point) collection of plastic element and surfaces, but quality of construction is solid.

Output for the 1.6L 4-cylinder engine is 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque. Performance and fuel-efficiency were improved on since 2017, however. The standard 6-speed manual transmission can be switched out for a 6-speed automatic.

Kia Rio
Photo: Kia
Kia Rio