Small cars have a lot of amenities too

It seems as though it wasn't too long ago that most Americans wanted big vehicles. But now, many are re-discovering smaller, more efficient cars.

"They now have options that are much nicer than the options they had before," said Dan Hall, Auto Pacific analyst.

Like Mazda's all-new Mazda 3 compact. Often a choice of enthusiasts, it may get additional interest from buyers trading down from larger vehicles, but learning they don't have to sacrifice.

"Features and functions that they were use to in their bigger or more expensive coming down to this right-size vehicle," said David Matthew, Mazda spokesman.

The Mazda 3 has often been the choice of driving enthusiasts with its spunky engine and crisp handling, but it also brings lots of amenities to the compact class.

Anyone considering trading down from a larger vehicle to a smaller one might be surprised at all the options you can get. The Mazda 3, for example, can be equipped with a navigation system, heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and a Bose audio system. Things you didn't used to find on smaller cars.

Essentially this is what many drivers in Europe prefer -- a trim car with luxury. Some experts say the Mini helped changed everything.

"Mini proved that you could make a small car that a manufacturer could make money on. Also people really liked it and realized maybe they didn't need so much room. They sold them in volume, made a lot of money, the other manufacturers sort of had 'Mini envy'," said Hall.

So domestic brands like Ford are joining in. One hundred Ford Fiestas recently arrived here from Europe and will soon be in the hands of selected people who will help market them through social networking like Twitter and Facebook.

Ford was often criticized for selling too many trucks, but now they say the time is right for smaller cars.

"Our Ford enthusiasts have said 'bring over the Ford European cars', and really, this is the first opportunity for it. It has a broad appeal, especially here in Southern California where fuel efficiency is top of mind and 'green' is top of mind," said Al De la Garza, Ford spokesman.

The Fiesta will officially go on sale here next year in a changing car market.

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