Monday, February 5, 2001
Niche market vehicles are usually developed as an afterthought. Sure, manufacturers have to develop a new shell and body panels, but essentially, the basic frame and the engine were all sourced from existing parts. The story is no different when the cute-as-button mini-SUVs began to invade the market. The Toyota RAV4 for instance used a modified Corolla chassis and was powered by a Corona engine. On the other hand, the Honda CR-V was based on the Civic chassis and engine.
The battlefield of the 1.6-liter sedans has never been this big. Long before, people had only two choices: the Mitsubishi Lancer and the Toyota Corolla. Pretty soon, other car manufacturers came into the picture offering their own brand of compact-sized family car. Now, the field has no less than seven competitors: Chevrolet Cassia, Ford Lynx, Honda Civic, Mazda 323, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla. This huge array of choices makes buying a compact-sized sedan much more difficult than shopping for hotdogs at a local supermarket.