Comparing the top compact sedans of 2023
2023 Toyota Prius
Starting at an MSRP of $28,545, the 2023 Prius offers a range of features and impressive fuel efficiency. The base model, LE FWD, is equipped with a Hybrid 2.0L I4 engine and Front Wheel Drive. Its starting Market Avg. is $29,574. Key feature highlights include Adaptive Cruise Control, In-Car WiFi, Apple CarPlay, Remote Engine Start, Rear Parking Sensors, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot System, Keyless Ignition, Brake Assist, and Proximity Keyless Entry.
- Significant power boost without compromising efficiency
- Improved ride quality and handling
- All-wheel drive option available for all trims
- Rear seating area is somewhat cramped
- Driving experience lacks engagement
The combined mileage of the 2023 Prius ranges from 49 to 57 mpg.
Overview: Compared to its previous generations, the redesigned 2023 Prius hybrid stands out with numerous improvements. However, it does have a few weaknesses, such as reduced cargo space and a tight rear seating area that might deter some hybrid shoppers. The Prius is a five-seat hatchback available in three trim levels.
The most popular trim, LE FWD, starts at $28,545 and offers a Hybrid 2.0L I4 engine with Front Wheel Drive. This Prius model is estimated to achieve 57 MPG in the city and 56 MPG on the highway.
The 2023 Prius underwent a complete makeover, transforming from an unattractive hybrid to a visually appealing compact hatchback. Although it lost some headroom and cargo space, it gained improved handling, a more comfortable ride, an updated interior, and a remarkable 60% increase in power while maintaining its best-in-class fuel efficiency. The base model even achieved a 1 MPG improvement over the previous L Eco trim.
While crossovers and SUVs are becoming more popular among car shoppers, the Prius still holds its ground with a few direct competitors. In most comparisons, the Prius comes out on top. The Kia Niro hybrid, the only crossover in its competitive set, offers slightly more cargo space at a slightly higher price. The Hyundai Elantra hybrid, similar in size, comes close to matching the Prius lineup in fuel efficiency at a lower cost. Toyota's own Corolla hybrid, priced lower and of comparable size, is also a contender.
Despite the reduced headroom, the Prius surprises with an airy front cockpit area, boasting the most front legroom among its rivals. However, it shares the least rear legroom with the Corolla hybrid and stands alone with the least rear headroom. Nevertheless, the 2023 Prius outperforms its competitors with its power and overall fuel efficiency, while also offering a much-improved appearance.
2023 Hyundai Elantra
The 2023 Hyundai Elantra offers a range of features and stands out among compact sedans. It starts at an MSRP of $33,445, with a starting Market Avg. of $35,806. Highlighted features include Pedestrian Detection, Wireless Charging, Start/Stop System, Front Cooled Seats, Panoramic Moonroof, Power Trunk/Liftgate, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, In-Car WiFi, a 3-year/36,000-mile Basic Warranty, and an 8-year/100,000-mile Hybrid/EV Warranty.
- Spacious interior compared to other vehicles in its class
- Comprehensive list of safety features
- Industry-leading warranty
- Abundance of hard interior plastics
- Base engine performance is average
The combined mileage of the Elantra ranges from 23 to 54 mpg.
Overview: The Hyundai Elantra maintains its strong position among compact sedans, offering a roomy interior, a wide range of standard safety features, and an impressive warranty. It provides various models to choose from, including efficient hybrids and a high-performance variant. The Elantra is a five-seater vehicle available in seven trim levels.
The most popular style is the SEL IVT, starting at $23,315, equipped with a 2.0L I4 engine and Front Wheel Drive. This Elantra model is estimated to achieve 30 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway.
The 2023 Hyundai Elantra distinguishes itself with its sharp and faceted sheet metal design, featuring a broad grille with integrated wraparound headlights. It combines style with substance, offering a range of options. Positioned between the smaller Accent and midsize Sonata in Hyundai's lineup, the Elantra provides an affordable base trim, highly efficient hybrids, and a sporty alternative. It even offers a higher-performance Elantra N model with 276 horsepower.
Compared to other sedans in its class like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Elantra stands out with its spacious cabin, abundant standard features for the price, and the industry's longest warranty. Although it doesn't come in a sportier hatchback body style, the 2023 Hyundai Elantra's numerous strengths more than compensate for that omission.
2023 Hyundai Sonata
The 2023 Hyundai Sonata offers sleek styling, an appealing interior, and a wide range of trim options. It starts at an MSRP of $31,625, with a starting Market Avg. of $32,481. Noteworthy features include Pedestrian Detection, Wireless Charging, Parallel and Perpendicular (Back-In) Automatic Parking, Start/Stop System, Front Cooled Seats, Heads-up Display (HUD), Curve Adaptive Headlamps, Panoramic Moonroof, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and a 4-year/50,000-mile Basic Warranty.
- Extensive trim lineup to cater to various preferences
- Availability of hybrid and performance engine options
- Good fuel economy
- No all-wheel drive option
- Modest power output from the base engine
The combined mileage of the Sonata ranges from 27 to 52 mpg.
Overview: The Hyundai Sonata showcases slick styling and an attractive interior across a wide range of trim levels. It offers multiple engine choices, including a modest base engine, a powerful performance option, and an efficient hybrid, allowing customers to find a Sonata variant that suits their comfort and driving preferences. The Sonata is a five-seater vehicle available in eight trim levels.
The most popular style is the Hybrid Blue, starting at $29,365, equipped with a Hybrid 2.0L I4 engine and Front Wheel Drive. This Sonata model is estimated to achieve 50 MPG in the city and 54 MPG on the highway.
The Hyundai Sonata caters to a broad audience with its diverse trim options. With nine trims available, including gas engines and a hybrid variant for those prioritizing fuel efficiency, it offers something for everyone. While the base engine delivers good performance, midrange trims provide a more responsive option. There's also the performance-oriented N Line with a powerful engine. The interior is comfortable, featuring high-quality trims that are typically not found in sedans at this price point. Alongside a comprehensive infotainment system and a wide range of standard and optional safety features, the Sonata proves to be an excellent choice.
In the segment, the Toyota Camry and the upcoming redesigned Honda Accord have long been popular choices. While they offer similar features and are strong competitors, they generally come at a higher price point compared to the Sonata.
2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The 2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI starts at an MSRP of $31,625, with a starting Market Avg. of $32,481. Highlighted features include Pedestrian Detection, Wireless Charging, Parallel and Perpendicular (Back-In) Automatic Parking, Start/Stop System, Front Cooled Seats, Heads-up Display (HUD), Curve Adaptive Headlamps, Panoramic Moonroof, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and a 4-year/50,000-mile Basic Warranty.
- Sporty and appealing styling
- Enjoyable and engaging performance
- Spacious front seats
- Audio and temperature controls on higher trims might be distracting
- Rear seat space can be tight for three passengers
The combined mileage of the Golf GTI ranges from 27 to 28 mpg.
Overview: The Volkswagen Golf GTI remains true to its legacy, combining the practicality of a four-door hatchback with exceptional performance and handling. Beyond its sporty driving characteristics, the GTI excels as an everyday driver, offering a comfortable interior and impressive fuel efficiency. The Golf GTI is a five-seater vehicle available in four trim levels.
The most popular style is the 2.0T SE DSG, starting at $37,225, equipped with a 2.0L I4 Turbo engine and Front Wheel Drive. This Golf GTI model is estimated to achieve 24 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway.
The eighth-generation GTI, introduced last year, features fresh styling, increased interior space, and a powerful 241 horsepower engine, making it the most potent GTI in its 40-year history in the U.S. market. It is one of the few new models that comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. The GTI delivers sheer driving pleasure, especially on winding mountain roads, with smooth and confident power delivery even with its front-wheel drive setup. It also performs exceptionally well in daily driving scenarios, offering a comfortable and quiet ride, ample cargo space, and respectable fuel efficiency with a highway rating of 34 mpg.
The GTI boasts a high-tech interior with a customizable driver display and a large central display screen. Higher trim levels feature a larger screen, but the absence of volume and tuning knobs can make interacting with the infotainment system a bit challenging. The interior surprisingly offers ample space and comfort, and the iconic plaid sport seats pay homage to the original GTI. The front seats provide excellent support even during long drives. While the rear seats are more spacious than expected, they may feel cramped for three passengers.
Competitors to the Golf GTI include the Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Veloster N, Subaru WRX, and Mini Clubman John Cooper Works Classic.
2023 Honda Civic
The 2023 Honda Civic starts at an MSRP of $24,845, with a starting Market Avg. of $25,593. Noteworthy features include Wireless Charging, Start/Stop System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Remote Engine Start, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Lane Keep Assist, and a 3-year/36,000-mile Basic Warranty.
- Modern and comfortable interior
- Powerful and efficient engines
- Introduction of the new Type R performance model
- Absence of hybrid and plug-in hybrid models
- No coupe variant available
The combined mileage of the Civic ranges from 24 to 36 mpg.
Overview: The Honda Civic has been a best-selling car in the U.S. for decades and underwent a highly successful makeover for the 2022 model year, earning accolades such as the North American Car of the Year. The recent addition of the hot Type R model further enhances its appeal. The Honda Civic is a five-seater vehicle available in eight trim levels.
The most popular style is the Sport Sedan CVT, starting at $26,445, equipped with a 2.0L I4 engine and Front Wheel Drive. This Civic model is estimated to achieve 30 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway.
The Honda Civic offers more than just economy, reliability, comfort, and safety—it provides a level of driving enjoyment that sets it apart from other compact cars. This fun-to-drive character is exemplified by the new Type R variant, but even without it, the Civic delivers a high level of entertainment.
One of the reasons behind the Civic's enjoyable driving experience is its compact size. Both the sedan and hatchback models have modest footprints while offering ample interior space. The current-generation Civic sedan shares a similar height and length with its previous generation, maintaining a formula that its rivals have sought to replicate. Key competitors for the Civic include the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Mazda3, and Hyundai Elantra. American automakers Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors have exited this category, leaving the Volkswagen Jetta as the sole European-designed model. While the Civic can seat five adults, it is most comfortable for two passengers in the rear seat. It is available as a four-door sedan and a four-door hatchback.