2020 Toyota Corolla LE Sedan red

10 Best Small Compact Cars

Although crossovers and SUVs are hugely popular, there are still are plenty of good reasons to go with a small compact car instead. There’s no sense in having seating for a small army if you don’t need it, which makes something small a better choice for those who don’t have big families.
 
Smaller cars are also more affordable and offer better gas mileage, so they’re easier on the budget and they’re easier to manage in urban environments. Our list of 10 best small compact cars ocuses on finding the best small car for your personal priorities. Whether you’re looking for something sporty, an efficient electric, or more of a luxury vibe, there's a wide variety in our list to suit just about any driver and their needs.
 

  1. 2019 Nissan Sentra
  2. 2019 Toyota Prius Prime
  3. 2019 Subaru Impreza
  4. 2019 Mazda Mazda3
  5. 2019 Kia Forte
  6. 2019 Volkswagen Golf
  7. 2019 Hyundai Veloster
  8. 2020 Toyota Corolla
  9. 2019 Nissan Leaf
  10. 2019 Honda Civic
2019 Nissan Sentra

2019 Nissan Sentra

The 2019 Nissan Sentra is a small compact car that offers a surprisingly roomy interior. There’s plenty of room for five passengers, and three adults won’t find themselves squished in the rear seats. The Sentra also has a large trunk offering 15.1 cubic feet, along with 60/40 split-folding rear seats for managing longer cargo. The range of six trims is affordably priced, from $17,890 for the base to $25,940 for the sporty Sentra Nismo. Even with its low price of entry, the Sentra is well-equipped with a standard 7-inch infotainment screen, cruise control, and automatic emergency braking (except when equipped with a manual transmission).

2019 Toyota Prius Prime

2019 Toyota Prius Prime

The 2019 Toyota Prius Prime is the plug-in hybrid cousin to the Prius. Plug-in hybrids are the middle ground between hybrids and electric cars. They offer the benefit of plug-in charging when it’s convenient, without the range anxiety that comes from worrying you won’t be able to find a charger before you run out of juice. The Prius Prime has a range of 640 miles combined gas and electric, with an EPA-estimated 133 MPGe. There’s an electric driving range of 25 miles at speeds up to 84 mph, so it’s easy to run errands around town without ever using that gas engine. Pricing starts at $27,350 for the base trim, and goes up to $33,350 for the top trim in the lineup.

2019 Subaru Impreza

2019 Subaru Impreza

The 2019 Subaru Impreza is small compact car that is perfect for those who live where the snow flies, thanks to its standard all-wheel drive. There’s a choice of either a sedan or hatchback with pricing from $18,595, making it an affordable vehicle. Standard features include a 6.5-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also EyeSight driver assist technology available across the lineup, even on the base trim. This includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure and sway warning. While not standard, making this available even if your budget doesn’t allow for the top trim in the lineup is a bonus.

2019 Mazda Mazda3

2019 Mazda Mazda3

The 2019 Mazda Mazda3 is a small compact car with upscale appeal. Its refined styling gives it an elegance often reserved for larger and far more expensive vehicles. There’s a choice of either a hatchback priced from $23,600 to $28,900, or sedan priced from $21,000 to $27,900. Regardless of which body style you choose, the Mazda3 is equipped with a responsive 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. There’s a standard 8.8-inch infotainment display screen, two USB ports, cruise control, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats to accommodate cargo. Hatchback trims also include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless smartphone connectivity. Top trims offer amenities including heated leather seats and dual-zone automatic climate control for a more luxurious experience.

2019 Kia Forte

2019 Kia Forte

The 2019 Kia Forte is a small compact car with a range of four trims. It is affordable across the lineup, with a starting price of $17,790 for the base FE with a manual transmission, up to $21,990 for the top EX trim. Even that base trim is well-equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The top trim adds a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats, dual USB charging ports, and safety features including blind spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert. The Kia Forte combines affordability with a host of features, so you don’t have to feel like you sacrificed just to stay on budget.

2019 Volkswagen Golf

2019 Volkswagen Golf

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf is an affordable choice. It starts at $21,845, equipped with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The top trim is priced from $24,145, and both come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission or an available 8-speed automatic. Its compact dimensions make it ideal for those who live in more urban environments where parking is tight, while its fuel economy makes it a solid commuter car. It gets an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg combined. An affordable starting price and good fuel economy make the Volkswagen Golf a good compact small car for those on a budget.

2019 Hyundai Veloster

2019 Hyundai Veloster

If you’re looking for a hot hatchback, then check out the 2019 Hyundai Veloster. Base trims get a modest 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, with a starting price of $18,500. The Turbo R-Spec trim gets a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, along with a 6-speed manual racing sport shifter, at a price of $22,900. Finally, there’s the first-ever Veloster N with a starting price of $26,900. It has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, or you can opt for the more powerful variant with 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Veloster is a small compact car that’s big on performance.

2020 Toyota Corolla

2020 Toyota Corolla

The 2020 Toyota Corolla is all-new, and it offers a wide range of choices for small compact car buyers. In any guise, it’s an affordable option with excellent fuel economy, especially if you opt for the hybrid. The sedan starts at just $19,500, while the 2019 model-year hatchback starts at $19,990. Even the hybrid is priced affordably, starting at $22,950. Fuel economy is the second part of the affordability equation, and the Corolla certainly delivers. The sedan gets up to an EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined, while the hatchback improves on that number with up to 36 mpg combined. If fuel economy is a top priority, your best option is the hybrid featuring an EPA-estimated fuel economy of up to 52 mpg combined.

2019 Nissan Leaf

2019 Nissan Leaf

Make the move to electric with the 2019 Nissan LEAF at a starting price of $29,990. This small compact car has a range of up to 150 miles of all-electric driving. That more than covers the average person’s daily drive. It’s also a great choice for a commuter car, with an EPA-estimated 112 MPGe combined. If that range isn’t enough, then there’s also the new Leaf Plus. It has a range of up to 226 miles with a starting price of $36,550. There’s a slight dip in fuel economy to an EPA-estimated 108 MPGe, but that’s still an impressive number. Especially if gas prices rise, the Leaf will help keep fuel costs in check.

2019 Honda Civic

2019 Honda Civic

The 2019 Honda Civic perhaps is one of the most fun small compact cars you can buy, and it offers a wider range of configurations to suit most any buyer. It’s available as a sedan, coupe, or hatchback, so you can choose a body style that works for your lifestyle. The coupe offers a sportier vibe, while the sedan is a more practical choice for those who plan to have backseat passengers. The hatchback falls in the middle, offering the convenience of four doors and the versatility for cargo with a wide rear opening and up to 46.2 cubic feet behind the front seats. Pricing ranges from $19,450 for the base sedan, up to $29,670 for the top hatchback trim.