2017 Audi S3 — Driving excitement in a small sedan

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Full disclosure: We are big fans of small high-performance cars — especially four-door compact sedans that will move four adults in comfort — that are infused with extraordinary horsepower, cutting-edge cornering capabilities, impeccable handling, and overall driving dynamics. Throw in a stylish luxury package, all the better. So spending quality time with the refreshed compact 2017 Audi S3 was a very pleasant experience.

Toyota Yaris iA — Attractive car at attractive price

By David Finkelstein

Heavily influenced with Mazda engineering, Toyota Motors is offering the 2017 Yaris iA sedan at an attractive price point in order to allure budget minded consumers. Sold under the Scion Division from Toyota in the previous model year, the '17 version has a dramatically sporty look about it plus agile road handling capabilities.

Ford Fusion Energi — 21 miles of all-electric

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Ford Fusion is a stylish and well-built mid-sized sedan that features a variety of engine options; but the most intriguing powertrain for us is the Fusion Energi Hybrid Plug-In that delivers 21 miles on pure electric and very competent performance when the hybrid system switches over to the gas engine.

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 SE

PHOENIX — When shopping for a new car, the Mitsubishi brand is one that seldom bubbles to the top of consumers’ consideration set. That isn’t a surprise, since the Japanese automaker has little relevancy compared with stalwarts like Toyota, Honda, Nissan and others. Mitsubishi has had an on-again, off-again approach, with a complicated marketing history.

Mitsubishi Lancer — A good value proposition

By David Finkelstein

Positioned in the popular sub compact category for 2017, you'll discover the Mitsubishi Lancer four door sedan. It is cross shopped with such nameplates as the Toyota Corolla, Kia Forte, Nissan Sentra, Mazda3, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra. The Lancer has a base starting price point of $17,795.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

PHOENIX — When it comes to pioneering vehicles that get exceptional fuel economy, Toyota is the world’s leader, with more than 25 years of alternative fuel vehicles under its belt. Product offerings include the gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid and even a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in a few select markets.

2017 Mercedes CLA250

INDIANAPOLIS — Every generation of entry-level compact Mercedes endured criticisms.  My grandmother loved her 1987 190E and drove it 170,000 miles, but that car received constant carping from journalists for its cramped interior, underpowered engine, and supposedly low-rent interior materials.  Having driven many 190E miles, the first two were correct, but the last is nonsense.  I’ve heard similar carping about today’s compact Mercedes, the CLA250.

Buick Encore — Small and attractive

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Luxury in a small, fuel-efficient package is the new hot commodity in the automotive world and the Buick Encore certainly fills the bill. It’s stylish and seems to suit the tastes of those who expect luxury appointments, a quiet cabin, an excellent driving position, and the ability to carry four adults in relative comfort.

2017 Kia Forte

PHOENIX — When it comes to shopping for compact sedans, most buyers immediately think about small-car stalwarts like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, with good reason. They have an excellent reputation for quality construction, reliability, and bang for the buck — and those manufacturers spend a lot of money on advertising.

Lexus CT 200h — Luxury hybrid hatchback

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

After six years the Lexus CT 200h purpose-built hybrid has less than 90,000 sales to its credit. But the niche vehicle soldiers on for a seventh year with a 2017 version offering luxury buyers a good looking compact hatchback rated at 42 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. Buyers find that the CT 200h's combination of attractive styling that has worn well over the years and upscale amenities is appealing, while its hatchback body style can accommodate a wide variety of cargo.