Compact cars usually play a second fiddle to crossover vehicles, which have become increasingly popular in recent years with an increased need for more versatility. The difference between these two types of cars is an emphasis on performance and versatility; while compact cars are generally considered to be responsible, reliable, and comfortable, they don’t have the punch of crossover vehicles, are considerably less efficient, and are loaded with added weight. However, there are still a handful of really good compact cars available in this market, and we have been keeping a close eye on them for you to find out who is coming out on top and who won’t have you either screaming in exhilaration or falling silent at the silence itself. Below are our picks for the twelve best compact cars of the year:
1. Hyundai Tucson
We certainly know a good thing when we see it, and the Hyundai Tucson is one of the best-performing compact cars currently on the market. The Tucson is one of Hyundai’s latest entries into the compact car market, and the brand has certainly improved upon its previous models to craft this latest offering, especially in terms of performance and efficiency. Thanks to the four-cylinder engine, the Tucson is surprisingly capable off the line, sprinting from zero to 60 mph in an impressive seven seconds flat. This more powerful option also comes with a four-wheel steering system, which gets around even the steepest obstacles with no fuss or muffling.
2. MINI Cooper
Another compact car to avoid in your search for the best compact cars is the MINI, which is something of a relic of the 1980s, and most who are looking for a compact car today probably aren’t really enticed by the MINI’s quirky looks. However, this car is more than a collection of style and styling; it does have some decent fuel economy, comes with a variety of good options, and is quite versatile in terms of standard equipment. The fun, quirky exterior might not grab most buyers, but the minimal emphasis on excessive crash strength makes this compact car a long-term investment for everyone else.
3. Kia Soul
Kia seems to have had a few underperformers in the compact car market lately, but the Soul is one of the better ones they do. This diminutive car offers respectable economy and an engaging ride, has decent value for money, and yet it is one of the most approachable of its breed. The joy of the Soul comes from the small design, fun, funky colors, and playful vibe. The trim levels range from SE and SEL levels to LX and LXL levels, making this cheap little car reasonably comfortable on all levels. A 2.0 liter, 3-cylinder engine and choice of either 6 or 8-speed transmissions is good on the economy front, and the cabin space can be impressive considering the sub-four-ton body.
4. Mazda 3
With a small and compact body size, the Mazda 3 is another car that is well-suited to the compact car market. The turbo engine in this new entry into the compact car market, paired with a continuously variable transmission, offer a good combination of performance and economy. Although this car isn’t the most exciting in terms of ride or horsepower, it is at least comfortable and stable on the road. When cruising through the city, you can forget about using large amounts of gas, and then when you want to take on a longer trip you can just say cheese.
5. Mini Clubman
The Mini Clubman is another compact car that will deliver a good ride if you are looking for comfort and a comfortable ride, without the extra weight and size of most of the other compact cars on the market. The hard-top models with the MINI hardtop can really help you save on cost, especially because it can be pitched lower than many of the other hardtop vehicles on the market, thus lowering fuel consumption. And for those in need of a ride that’s well powered, this car will certainly deliver on that front, with 2.0 liter engine paired with the already efficient six-speed automatic transmission.
6. Subaru Crosstrek
A lot of cars in the compact car market, especially those that are larger than a compact car, have involved an unfortunate compromise in terms of fuel economy. Luckily, Subaru has managed to dodge the bullet with the Crosstrek. The 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder engine on this car is quick and fuel efficient, with an efficient and low-thirsty V6 option, that should help you move long distances between refueling with relative ease. If you want to be proud of the automotive action on the road, this compact car will definitely top the list of most fun compact cars out there.