When you think of the best compact cars, the vehicles that come to mind would probably be the Mazda 3, Honda Civic, and the Toyota Corolla. Read on to find the best models you can get now.
The best compact cars usually come with improved gas mileage, with some hitting 41 mpg. Also, they offer incredible value for money that the bigger siblings cannot match.
If you are looking for the best compact cars as your daily driver, you’ve come to the right spot. Stay connected and strap in as we search the world for the best compact vehicles you can get today.
Table of Contents
- Best Compact Sedans
- Best Compact cars – Hatchbacks
Best Compact Sedans
While many argue that hatchbacks have larger storage space than sedans, we can’t look away from these sedans’ compact feel. You can get through the tight city roads and get quick maneuvers.
Compact sedans have good fuel economy and appealing looks. Please think of the 2022 Toyota corolla and its specs. They might not be as powerful as their sports car siblings, but they work best in intra-city navigation.
That being so, the best compact cars come with certain trade-offs like legroom and headroom, and this compromise means you won’t have the space to stretch like you would in a minivan. Speaking of minivans, you can learn about the longest minivans right here.
Alright then. Let’s get this race started on the best compact cars. Which one do you think is going to top the list?
However, you will get to know the mileages and get informed before purchasing.
2022 Honda Civic
- Mileage City (MPG): 26 – 33
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 36 – 42
The all-new Honda Civic looks grown-up with a great glow that adds new features and a refined cabin design. It comes with four-cylinder engines, including a turbocharged 1.5-liter variant.
However, you may not prefer the absence of an all-wheel-drive version as Honda insists on keeping the standard front-wheel drive.
The compact sedan has updated tech features like a larger infotainment screen, wireless mobile connectivity, and improved driver assistance.
These feature updates have kept the Honda Civic one of the best compact cars, staving off competition from the Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla. But does it have what it takes to win you over?
The powertrain remains the same as the previous generation. You can opt for the base 158-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine or pick the turbocharged 1.5-liter engine that spins out 180 horsepower.
After leaving the manual transmission behind, this new model comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The odd choice may not go down well with you, but the hatchback comes with a six-speed manual. Would you pick that over the sedan?
Another part of this car you will enjoy is the streamlined interior. It has cleaner lines and features a full-width honeycomb-patterned mesh design in the dashboard. In addition, the wider center console has fewer clusters than the outgoing model.
Honda says the cargo bar is more generous, but passenger space is the same as the previous model.
2022 Kia Forte
- Mileage City (MPG): 22 – 31
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 31 – 41
If you are looking for an exciting and compact ride at an affordable price, check out the Kia Forte. The styling and equipment in this vehicle look like they came straight from the Stinger sports sedan.
However, Stinger’s winning performance remains absent in this vehicle. You will have to make do with the modest 147-hp engine and a chassis with more comfort tuning than a sporty feel.
Kia has a more powerful 201-hp GT model that sits at the summit of the lineup, but it still falls short of competition like the Honda Civic Si and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Nevertheless, it still offers more value.
The Kia Forte comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission, ditching the manual. It’s not as fast as the competition, but it will impress you with its minimalistic design and high-quality materials.
Two adults can sit comfortably on the back seats for long trips without complaint. If you are willing to spend a little more, Kia will include dual-zone automatic climate control and heated/ventilated front seats. Furthermore, you will enjoy a slightly more storage capacity than the Toyota Corolla.
2022 Hyundai Elantra
- Mileage City (MPG): 25 – 33
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 34 – 43
The 2022 Hyundai Elantra is one of the best compact cars with its unique styling and spacious interior. You will marvel at the futuristic cabin with several high-end features despite the sleepy 147-hp engine in the entry-level model.
The base version comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), but you can opt for the hybrid powertrain or a 201-hp turbocharged model. What do you think of that?
Hyundai has groomed the Elantra to compete with heavy hitters like the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, and the Nissan Sentra. The style and value-oriented packaging make it a solid choice among compact vehicles.
While the base 147-hp variant goes with a continuously variable automatic transmission, the hybrid model pairs with a six-speed automatic, it makes less power than the former but promises better fuel economy.
Notwithstanding, you can pick the performance-oriented Elantra N if you want a fun ride. The cabin carries a futuristic design, wrapping the dashboard and the center console around the driver for an immersive experience.
Hyundai opted for a more minimalistic approach on the passenger side but included a single LED across the dashboard. In addition, you will find a generous passenger room in this vehicle.
The Hyundai Elantra has enough space to compete with roomier rivals, including the Sentra and the Volkswagen Jetta. Also, this vehicle has a competitive trunk capacity.
2022 Toyota Corolla
- Mileage City (MPG): 28 – 32
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 36 – 41
Toyota has built quite a reputation for its Corolla model. The car looks attractive with standard safety features despite being affordable and compact.
There is no doubt that the Honda Civic and Mazda bring more driving fun, but the Corolla gives a comfortable ride quality.
You can still get the sporty models for a firmer ride, and notwithstanding, the engine sounds coarse regardless of which variant you go for.
The Corolla has selected manual transmission models for those who love the six-speed manual gear shifting. Thanks to its fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain, it continues to be a popular choice among buyers who want style and safety.
The base models pair a 139-hp 1.8-iter four-cylinder with a continuously variable automatic transmission. Notwithstanding, you can opt for the zestier versions that pair a 169-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a CVT or a six-speed manual.
The dashboard comes streamlined with soft-touch materials to bring a touch of luxury. You can still upgrade it with ambient interior lighting, dual-zone climate control, and heated seats.
The Corolla sedan is surprisingly roomy for its size, but the cargo space could do with more space. Unfortunately, the storage space is lagging behind the competition.
2022 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
- Mileage City (MPG): 25
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 35
The 2022 A class is a compact car with the soul of an S-class luxury sedan. Over the years, premium features have trickled down from the flagship vehicles to the entry-level models. As a result, you will find luxury touches in the new Benz A-class sedan.
This vehicle comes with a modern and tech-filled cabin that outshines the competition, making it one of the best compact cars. Four-wheel drive comes as standard in this luxury sedan.
You will find the powertrain of a turbocharged four-cylinder engaging to drive compared to the BMW 2-series Gran Coupe and the Cadillac CT4. The interior lives up to the Mercedes Benz standard, bringing all the premium features you will expect.
Passengers will enjoy the front and rear seats without much complaint during a long journey. In addition, the cargo space offers enough storage for your belongings.
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
- Mileage City (MPG): 26 – 31
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 36 – 43
Thanks to its refined design and roomy interior, the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta is one of the best compact cars. It rides with exceptional smoothness and quietness than rivals like the flashy Hyundai Elantra.
You can pair the 158-hp turbo four with a manual transmission if you want more engagement. Nonetheless, the Jetta GLI brings a spicier driving experience if that is what you need.
The base model Jetta comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but an eight-speed automatic is an option. It is a front-wheel-drive vehicle that will satisfy you, except if you are a car enthusiast.
The sophisticated design and generous passenger space of this vehicle will surprise you. It enjoys several popular infotainments and active safety features, but you might need more coins.
The features keep getting better as you climb higher in the trim levels. You can be sure that the interior will cater to you while maintaining excellent exterior visibility.
You will have to go for the most expensive models if you need features like customizable interior lighting, ventilated front seats, and wireless device charging. Furthermore, the trunk is generous, giving you more space than most competition.
The interior has useful door pockets and a deep bin in the center console.
2022 Nissan Sentra
- Mileage City (MPG): 29
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 39
The 2022 Nissan Sentra breathes new styling to the compact car segment but lacks any fun-driving flare. You should probably look elsewhere if you are looking for excitement behind the wheel. Nevertheless, it is an efficient option for a daily city driver.
This car comes with standard active safety features and styling to provide passenger comfort. Unlike many rivals that offer turbocharged engines, the Sentra maintains a simple powertrain devoid of excitement.
There is no manual transmission or all-wheel-drive system available for the Sentra. The SR model offers sportier suspension and 18-wheels but falls short of expectations.
Every Sentra comes with a 149-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels and pairs with a continuously variable automatic transmission. It doesn’t offer much for speed and a quiet ride.
The Sentra features an independent rear suspension and wheel sizes of 18 inches. You will find the steering a bit weightier than rivals in this segment. Aside from these shortfalls, this vehicle shines with its interior, making it one of the best compact cars.
The interior features simple analog gauges with a 7-inch display on all but the base model. A trio of circular air vents sits above the sturdy climate controls at the dashboard’s center.
You will find soft-touch materials in the places you touch the most in this vehicle’s interior. The quilted upholstery adds flavor to some models regardless of being at odds with the sporty-car, flat-bottom steering wheel.
Another feature wow you is the extra-comfy zero gravity seat, which offers support and space. The sunroof will immensely augment the interior but at the expense of the cabin’s headroom.
2022 Subaru WRX
- Mileage City (MPG):
- Mileage-highway (MPG):
The new 2022 Subaru WRX aims to reignite the passion for rally-inspired sport compact cars. This enthusiast-focused breed comes with a new architecture for improved driving dynamics.
It is probably the most powerful among the best compact cars on this list. The vehicle comes with a 271-hp turbocharged flat-four-cylinder engine that improves the outgoing model.
Its upscale interior design and a massive 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system are among rivals like the Hyundai Elantra N and the VW Golf GTI.
Also, the Subaru WRX comes with an all-wheel-drive system but lacks the muscle to compete with the 315-hp VW Golf R. You won’t enjoy the option of a gasoline-powered STI model because Subaru is offering the WRX STI as an electric vehicle.
While waiting for the EV, you can enjoy this sporty bodywork that is fast and fresh. The 271-horsepower engine produces 258 pound-feet of torque and pairs with either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission.
You can still feel the joy of paddle shifters if you go for the automatic and select three different drive-mode settings. In addition, the auto-only GT trim adds adaptive dampers.
The WRX looks like other contemporary Subaru vehicles but features carbon-fiber-like accents and red contrast stitching—a set of analog gauges and a thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel. Furthermore, the top-tier GT trim offers a heavily bolstered Recaro front seat.
Best Compact cars – Hatchbacks
If sedans are not your preference, you can check out compact hatchbacks. These vehicles bring a different feel to driving but boast better storage than the sedans.
Let’s check out the best compact hatchbacks you will find today.
2022 Mazda 3
- Mileage City (MPG): 23 – 38
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 31 – 36
The Mazda 3 is one of the best hatchbacks on the market, and it offers incredible value that has placed it toe-to-toe with the best compact cars. So, what else does this car offer?
If you’re a buyer with champagne taste on a budget, this vehicle is for you. The 2022 Mazda 3 packs a premium taste at a normal compact vehicle price, and it has a sedan variant and has all-wheel drive as an option.
You will be amazed at the class of features in this vehicle and may even place it on par with others like Audi, BMW, and Benz. The model may not look posh, but it delivers a playful personality that will win car enthusiasts.
The 2022 Mazda 3 reveals a sophisticated car well ahead of competition from the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and the Volkswagen Jetta. The base model features a 155-horsepower engine with front-wheel drive, but you can get up to a 250-hp turbocharged engine.
In-between is the 186-hp 2.5-liter variant that pairs with an optional all-wheel-drive system. In addition, the high-end model has an option for a six-speed manual transmission.
You will have to pick between a front-wheel-drive with manual or an all-wheel drive with a six-speed automatic transmission. The interior of this car features premium materials that scream luxury, and it gets better as you climb the trim levels.
As a result, you can enjoy a head-up display, heated front seats, and leather upholstery in the topmost trim. The Mazda 3 does not compromise passenger comfort and supportive seats.
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
- Mileage City (MPG): 28 – 29
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 35 – 36
You can calm your nerves because Volkswagen has not annihilated the entire Golf lineup. The 2022 Golf GTI begins an all-new generation of the sporty hatchback. Nevertheless, does it have what it takes to keep the fun going?
You have a more powerful Golf with even more appealing features and characteristics that attract people to the outgoing version. It comes with a modern styling but retains the familiar fantastic-to-drive personality.
The Golf GTI is undoubtedly one of the best compact cars as it continues to retain its faithful drivers. It comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that reels out 241 horsepower.
However, it uses a front-wheel-drive system with a standard six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The new GTI has 13 horsepower than its predecessor and boasts a more modern design. You will find two large displaces on the dashboard of this car.
One of the displays is a 10.3-in screen that serves as the gauge cluster, while the other 10.0-inch screen carries the infotainment system.
The steering wheel is a heavily contoured rim with touch-sensitive controls. Furthermore, the bolstered front seats come with red accents.
The new interior may look modern, but Golf made some poor finishes that tip it below the previous generation in terms of quality.
2022 Subaru Impreza
- Mileage City (MPG): 22 – 28
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 30 – 36
The 2022 Subaru may not impress many buyers, but it comes standard with all-wheel drive. It is the smallest car Subaru offers with either a manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission.
If you love quick accelerations and precise steering response, you will have to look elsewhere. The Impreza failed to impress me in the engine and power dept, but it maintains a playful driving character. However, this one of the best compact cars is its value offering.
The paltry 152 horsepower engine lags the competition, placing this car at the bottom of the list. Notwithstanding, you will enjoy the all-wheel-drive system across its models.
This vehicle’s design and user experience are top-notch, giving you easy-to-read gauges and an intuitive climate-control system. Additionally, you will enjoy the soft-touch plastics, cushy armrests, and impressive finishes in the cabin.
Passengers will have little to complain about here as the car offers competitive legroom and headroom though the cargo area is on the smaller side. With this car, you will have to travel light, but you can fold the rear seats down in a 60/40 split.
2022 Hyundai Veloster N
- Mileage City (MPG): 20 – 22
- Mileage-highway (MPG): 27 – 28
Scream through the traffic with that 275-hp turbo-four in your 2022 Hyundai Veloster N. This car shows no signs of slowing down despite being three years old. It is funky and fun to drive.
The car comes with a satisfying manual transmission, unlike the most competition. Where it matches them, it outclasses others with its cargo and back-seat space. Nevertheless, the interior needs more touches to bring in the modern flare.
The Veloster N does not lack the popular standard features but gives a thrilling ride that makes it one of the best compact cars. Also, you can opt for the six-speed manual or pick the optional eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Every Veloster N comes with different drive modes, including, Normal, Eco, Sport, and N. The N mode allows you to customize the settings such as the engine’s throttle response, the adaptive dampers, the stability control, the steering weight, etc.
This car’s interior is quite on par with some rivals but lacks premium soft touches. The cabin is dark and full of plastics but has all the comfort you need to take a ride across the city. Also, it keeps the leather application to a minimum, giving it to a few components.
The sports seats are lightweight and offer heating functions and a lighted logo on the backrest. You will find enough cargo space to fit your needs though it could have offered more.