Ah, the hatchback: the love child between a sedan and a wagon. Or perhaps you could think of them as short SUVs. However you see them, hatchbacks are slowly making a comeback in the United States as car shoppers come to realize that their added utility doesn't have to equal dowdiness or cheapness. Indeed, some of the most appealing cars on the market now have a hatch for a back. Some are body-style variants of sedans, others are stand-alone models, and some are even available in two- and four-door variations. We also call out performance and hybrid and EV versions, so there should be a recommended hatchback for everyone.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Ford Fiesta: The 2017 Ford Fiesta Hatchback is proof that a small, inexpensive car doesn't have to be dreary to drive. It's a terrific city vehicle with an interior that's fairly upscale for its segment, and its sharp handling should be able to put a smile on your face. Most Fiestas you'll come across feature the reasonably peppy 120-horsepower four-cylinder, but if you're game for changing your own gears, the optional 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost engine provides punchier acceleration and superior fuel economy. Plus, because this is the Fiesta hatchback we're talking about, you do get a bit more cargo versatility and arguably more attractive styling than the sedan offers.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Honda Fit: If you're looking for the most possible interior space in the smallest possible package, it's impossible to do better than the Honda Fit. Despite its subcompact exterior dimensions, it has a maximum cargo capacity that rivals that of quite a few compact SUVs. It pulls that off thanks to its clever "Magic" backseat, which can fold completely flat into the ultra-low load floor or flip its bottom cushion up to allow for storage on the backseat's floor area. Rear seat space also can't be beat by subcompact competitors. Beyond its versatility, the Fit boasts thrifty fuel economy and surprisingly strong performance. You also get a more comfortable and refined driving experience than in past Fits.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 MINI Hardtop: This is the car that used to officially be called the Mini Cooper. It was also previously just a two-door model, but today the Mini Hardtop comes in two- and four-door versions. In either instance you're looking at a more upscale, refined and, yes, expensive entry than the above hatchbacks on this list. You're also looking at one of the most fun cars to drive and own, and not just for a subcompact hatchback. Besides its sharp handling and punchy engines that constantly please when behind the wheel, its quirky styling, unique interior design and nearly endless customization possibilities make the Mini like no other car on the road. Two doors or four, it's a great little car.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Honda Civic: The hatchback body style returns to the Civic lineup for 2017, joining the sedan and coupe body styles. There's more to the Civic hatch than just its different cargo opening, which conceals the longest and widest cargo area in the segment behind the backseat. It's also a bit sportier to drive than the other body styles, with more responsive steering and a suspension tuned for sharper handling and a bit firmer ride. The hatchback's styling is also a bit different, and there's a unique Sport trim level. Still, even with these differences, it's no less excellent than the rest of the efficient, versatile and refined Civic lineup.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Mazda 3: Given how good the new Civic is these days, Mazda made sure not to get left behind by updating its compact hatchback for 2017. Besides its slightly tweaked styling, the Mazda 3 gains a more useful center console, extra equipment, improved handling and a smoother ride. Good news all, but Mazda is really just improving a car that was already impressively entertaining, efficient and stylish. Plus, not only does the hatchback version add versatility, but we'd also say it looks a bit better than the sedan.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Volkswagen Golf: One of the biggest reasons why we like the Honda Civic and Mazda 3 so much is because they have both followed the lead of the Volkswagen Golf. It has long been the benchmark for providing a more premium car experience than is typical at this size and price point. The 2017 Golf features near-luxury cabin quality, a comfortable and composed ride, and a powerful standard turbocharged engine. It also boasts best-in-class maximum cargo capacity thanks to its boxier hatchback design that prioritizes utility over styling.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Ford Focus ST: The Focus ST boasts a potent combination of grin-inducing turbocharged power, sharp handling and daily driver utility that represents exactly what we expect from a "hot hatch." The fact that it looks pretty cool and has a surprisingly high-end cabin is icing on the cake. The Focus ST sends its considerable power to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission (no automatic is available), and sounds sufficiently snarly doing it. Just as important in a hot hatch, though, are its superb handling balance, clever electronic differential control and precise steering. If you're looking for a well-rounded performance car for not a lot of money, this is a pretty good place to start.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI: The GTI was the original hot hatch, and we're happy to report that its latest iteration lives up to its illustrious predecessors. What does that mean exactly? Well, the GTI has always been about providing driving fun in a practical package. It sticks to the road through corners yet has enough cargo space for a weeklong camping trip. It can pin you to the back of your seat with its ample turbocharged power, yet it'll pamper you and your passengers with its high-end cabin appointments and generous space. Plus, unlike the Focus ST, you can get it with an optional automatic transmission.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Volkswagen Golf R: Right, so all that stuff we said up there about the GTI? Ditto for the Golf R, which is essentially a GTI turned up another few notches. It has more power and a smart all-wheel-drive system that helps put it to the pavement without the seesawing of the wheel typical of high-powered front-wheel-drive vehicles. All-wheel drive also aids handling, which further benefits from the now-standard adaptive suspension that does a bang-up job of assuring superior traction and a more livable ride. Sure, its nearly $40,000 price tag is steep for a VW Golf, but it's important to remember that the R comes loaded and that the nearly mechanically identical Audi S3 costs about $51,000 when equally equipped.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 BMW i3 with Range Extender:The BMW i3 with Range Extender has everything we like about the all-electric version — the cool looks, the same funky-yet-functional interior, the same playful nature and the same city-friendliness — but without the range anxiety. Though it's not a cross-country cruiser, the 650cc two-cylinder engine and its small fuel tank give the i3 with Range Extender another 83 miles of range after the batteries are spent. It's a safety net we rarely used, but always appreciated.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Chevrolet Volt: Admittedly, the Chevrolet Volt is less hatchback-like than most other vehicles on this list. It has a modest 10.6 cubic feet of cargo room with the backseats raised, and lowering them offers only a little extra versatility compared with a sedan. The Volt, nevertheless, shines. Its 53 miles of electric-only range is tops among plug-in hybrid cars, and its gasoline-electric engine is quieter and more efficient than its predecessor. The Volt is also pleasant to drive, with ample power, controlled body motions and a comfortable ride. If you're in the market for a hybrid, EV or something in between, check it out.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Toyota Prius: The car that's synonymous with the word "hybrid" remains the one to beat in this segment. Though its styling isn't for everyone, the latest Prius is otherwise a big-time improvement over its predecessor. Besides easily achieving an EPA-estimated 52 mpg combined (or 56 mpg with the Eco trim), the Prius offers a quieter and higher-quality cabin, a more comfortable driver seat, a plusher ride and improved handling. It also remains quite adept at carrying stuff beneath its hatchback — a big perk given that so many hybrids have compromised trunks and cargo areas.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 BMW i3:It may look a bit odd, but the i3 is a remarkable vehicle. Its main structure is made of light but strong carbon fiber — usually the stuff of exotic sports cars. Its surprisingly spacious cabin is a modern automotive work of art with unusual but cool eco-friendly materials. Its small dimensions, quick reactions and aggressive regenerative braking (you rarely need to touch the brake in stop-and-go traffic) make it one of the best-suited cars to urban driving. Oh, and it's an EV. With its base 60-amp-hour battery pack, the i3 can go 81 miles before needing a recharge, and for 2017, it's now available with a 94-amp-hour battery that ups that range to 114 miles. Plus, the i3 range-extender model, complete with its small gasoline-powered generator, is still available for those who'd prefer a safety net.