Reviewing The Top 5 Compact Cars!
While the colossal trucks, gargantuan SUVs, and crossover behemoths continue to dominate the sales charts and hog the spotlight in marketing materials, let's not forget the little guy - the compact car, especially hatchbacks. These small wonders may not be as flashy as their larger counterparts, but they have their own unique charm. They're reasonably sized, efficient, and won't break the bank. Plus, with the intense competition in the market and the explosion of tech features, the classic four-door compact has transformed into an elastic superhero, stretching from a boxy ride to a sleek and sporty coupe. No matter what you need, there's likely a compact car out there that's just right for you. We've even gone ahead and ranked them for your viewing pleasure, from the ones that make us cringe to the ones that make us want to do a victory lap.
5. Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra is a compact car that polarizes opinions on its appearance, with some considering it the best-looking and others the worst-looking model in its class. However, regardless of its looks, the Elantra is generally a subdued car, except for the high-performance Elantra N, which boasts over 270 horsepower. The standard powertrain is a 147-hp four-cylinder paired with a CVT, similar to its sibling, the Kia Forte, resulting in a driving experience that may be lackluster for some. Alternatively, a more fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain is available, which delivers 139 horses at its peak, as well as a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower. Both engines come with either a six- or seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox, while the Elantra N offers a six-speed manual or eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. Regardless of the engine choice, the Elantra features a spacious interior and a user-friendly infotainment system. Although the 2023 Elantra is a solid pick among compact sedans, it falls short of being the best, with a starting price of $21,765 and a rating of 8.5 out of 10.
4. Volkswagen Jetta
For those seeking value in a compact car, the Volkswagen Jetta is a top contender. While its interior may feature subpar materials, and the standard 158-hp turbo four-cylinder engine may not deliver the most engaging driving experience, the Jetta compensates with a roomy interior and trunk and a comprehensive list of standard features. Furthermore, the Jetta is one of only a few compact cars to offer a manual transmission option for all powertrain choices. However, those looking for a more thrilling driving experience should opt for the 228-hp Jetta GLI. Nevertheless, the GLI's base price of $32,680 detracts from the value-oriented nature of the Jetta lineup, which has a starting price of $21,750 and earns a rating of 8.5 out of 10.
3. Toyota Prius
Compared to its unappealing predecessor, the 2023 version of the Prius boasts a striking transformation, resembling a beautiful swan. However, its low-slung design has affected the interior's space and rear visibility. Nonetheless, the latest Prius significantly improves upon its previous model, with a more comfortable and ergonomic interior that eliminates the center-mounted instrument cluster of the past. Its powertrain delivers 194 horsepower in front-wheel-drive models, and all-wheel-drive models generate 196 horses, while still maintaining impressive fuel efficiency, with up to 57 mpg combined as per the EPA. Additionally, the plug-in Prius Prime offers a total of 220 horsepower and the capability to travel short distances solely on electric power. The new Prius Prime is expected to surpass its predecessor's EPA-rated range of 25 miles on a full charge. The 2023 Prius has a starting price of $28,545 and earns a rating of 8.5 out of 10.
2. Mazda 3
The Mazda 3 brings a luxury car's refinement to the compact car segment, elevating it beyond its $23,615 starting price. Its sharp exterior styling and high-quality interior materials make it feel far more expensive than its actual price point. Buyers can choose between a sedan or hatchback body style, and select from a 191-hp naturally aspirated four-cylinder or a 250-hp turbocharged setup. Most models come with a six-speed automatic, including all-wheel-drive variants, while the front-wheel-drive 3 hatchback offers a six-speed manual transmission. Although the 3 is no longer the driver's car it once was, it still provides a more engaging driving experience than most other compact cars on the market. While its driving dynamics are more akin to an Audi A3, we wish it drove more like a budget BMW 2-series coupe. The Mazda 3 has a starting price of $23,615 and earns a rating of 9 out of 10.
1. Honda Civic
The Honda Civic may lack some of the luxurious touches found in the Mazda 3, but it more than compensates with its engaging driving dynamics. Available in sedan or hatchback body styles, and with a range of powertrains to suit different preferences, the Civic offers varying levels of excitement for different types of drivers. The entry-level Civic Sport sedan and hatchback feature a naturally aspirated 158-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with the hatchback available with a six-speed manual gearbox. The turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with 180 horsepower, is standard on the EX sedan, EX-L hatchback, Touring sedan, and Sport Touring hatchback, paired with a CVT, except for the Sport Touring hatchback that offers an optional six-speed manual. For those seeking even more power, the Si sedan or Type R hatchback is available, boasting 200 and 315 horsepower, respectively, but these models are only available with a manual transmission. While some Civic variants are better than others, the entire Civic model line is solid and well-rounded. It has a starting price of $26,145 and a rating of 10/10.