Compact sedans

Thanks to their low prices, fuel-efficient engines and commendable utility, small sedans rank as some of the best-selling vehicles of all time. There's something for everyone in this class, from practical entry-level models to higher trims with all the bells and whistles.
2021 Honda Civic
1
Redesigned in 2016

Honda Civic

MSRP
$21,050 - $28,100
Edmunds Rating
8.4 out of 10
Combined MPG
32 - 36
2021 Kia Forte
2
Redesigned in 2019

Kia Forte

MSRP
$17,890 - $23,290
Edmunds Rating
7.9 out of 10
Combined MPG
28 - 35
2021 Hyundai Elantra
3
Redesigned in 2021

Hyundai Elantra

MSRP
$19,650 - $28,100
Edmunds Rating
7.7 out of 10
Combined MPG
28 - 54


Hot hatches

The hot-hatch formula is as simple as it is appealing. You start with a sensible small hatchback, add significant power and handling upgrades, and throw in extra style for good measure. What's not to like?
1
Redesigned in 2015

Volkswagen Golf R

MSRP
$40,395 - $41,495
Edmunds Rating
8.6 out of 10
Combined MPG
24 - 26
2
Redesigned in 2016

Honda Civic Type R

MSRP
$37,495
Edmunds Rating
8.4 out of 10
Combined MPG
25
3
Redesigned in 2015

Volkswagen Golf GTI

MSRP
$28,695 - $37,745
Edmunds Rating
8.2 out of 10
Combined MPG
26 - 27

Compact wagons

Small wagons are small cars with big versatility, and they're well-suited to a range of lifestyles. Some offer all-wheel-drive stability and basic off-road capability, while others are meant to be driven with enthusiasm, but they all come with wagon practicality.

RankVehicleAdditional Information
1
Redesigned in 2017

Audi A4 allroad

The Audi A4 allroad has a lot of appeal thanks to an expansive cargo area, a comfortable ride, enhanced off-road capability and a wealth of standard features. The allroad is both an excellent luxury wagon and an enticing alternative to a crossover SUV.
MSRP
$44600 - $53650
Edmunds Rating
8.1 out of 10
Combined MPG
26
RankVehicleAdditional Information
2
Redesigned in 2015

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

With all-wheel drive, a cavernous cargo area and familiar Golf goodness, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack has a lot going for it. Just don't expect too much in the way of real-world all-terrain capability, although the Alltrack might surprise you on moderate trails.
MSRP
$26895 - $36095
Edmunds Rating
7.4 out of 10
Combined MPG
24 - 25
RankVehicleAdditional Information
3
Redesigned in 2015

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

The Golf SportWagen expands the cargo-carrying capabilities of the regular Golf hatchback. But it's heavier than the hatchback, which makes it more "wagen" than "sport." This, in combination with a relatively high price, makes the SportWagen tough to recommend.
MSRP
$21895 - $29995
Edmunds Rating
6.8 out of 10
Combined MPG
31 - 32


Compact crossovers

Small SUVs are among the hottest vehicles in today's market, thanks to virtues like reasonable pricing, excellent versatility and a just-right size. They've even begun to supplant midsize sedans as a sensible family vehicle.

RankVehicleAdditional Information
1
Redesigned in 2017

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is easy to recommend since its spunky turbocharged engine and a comfortable, roomy interior with tons of cargo space make it a strong pick. There are a few mild annoyances from the infotainment system, but overall this Honda is a front-runner in multiple ways.
MSRP
$25350 - $35150
Edmunds Rating
8.1 out of 10
Combined MPG
29 - 30
RankVehicleAdditional Information
2
Redesigned in 2017

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 has interior quality and driving dynamics to challenge some luxury vehicles. Cargo space behind the second row isn't class-leading, but the Mazda's strengths still make it a top pick.
MSRP
$25270 - $37405
Edmunds Rating
8.1 out of 10
Combined MPG
24 - 28
RankVehicleAdditional Information
3
Redesigned in 2021

Nissan Rogue

Nissan's Rogue scores well for the qualities most people consider priorities for a small SUV. It's comfortable, practical and comes with a lot of features for the money. There are a few issues, such as elevated road noise, but overall the latest Rogue is a smart pick.
MSRP
$25650 - $36830
Edmunds Rating
8.0 out of 10
Combined MPG
28 - 30



Edmunds' experts test 200 vehicles per year on our test track. We also test them using a 115-mile real-world test loop of city streets, freeways and winding canyons. The data we gather results in our ratings. They’re based on 30-plus scores that cover performance, comfort, interior, technology, utility and value.


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FAQ

What's the best compact car to buy?

Buyers in the market for a compact sedan have quite an array of choices, from basic transportation to mini-luxury cars. Out of all the available choices, we think the Honda Civic provides the best combination of economy, practicality and refinement at an affordable price point. The Civic is roomy and comfortable, and it comes well equipped with many modern conveniences and advanced driver aids. To further broaden its appeal, the Civic also comes in three body styles: coupe, sedan and hatchback. With so many choices, it can sometimes be difficult to choose a winner, but the outstanding Honda Civic makes our decision easy. Learn more

What is the best small car for 2019?

Small cars have come a long way in the last 10 years, and we think the 2019 Honda Civic is the best of the recent bunch. With good fuel efficiency and dynamite maneuverability, the Civic excels at what a small car should do. The Civic punches well above its weight with its spacious and comfortable interior packed with modern tech and clever storage options — and it costs much less than larger cars offering fewer standard features. The Civic is also a lot of fun to drive even if you don't choose the sporty Si or aggressive Type R trim level. We think it sets the benchmark for small cars. Learn more

What is the most reliable used compact car?

We don't track reliability data on Edmunds, but in general, we recommend looking into owners' forums to see what kind of issues they are experiencing. If you're buying from the prior owner, ask for maintenance records to see what repairs have been performed. Learn more

What is the best small used car to buy?

The best small car for you will depend on your needs, your budget and, of course, local inventory. If you need a bit more storage, we'd suggest looking at a hatchback such as the Honda Fit, Hyundai Elantra GT or Volkswagen Golf. The Honda Civic can also be had as a hatchback, but you might have more luck finding the sedan version, which should be cross-shopped alongside the Kia Forte, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla. If you live in a place that gets a decent amount of inclement weather every year, keep your eyes peeled for something all-wheel drive such as a Subaru Impreza or its slightly higher-riding sibling, the Crosstrek. Learn more