Compact Car Buyer's Guide
Today's compact cars might not be quite as roomy, quiet or comfortable as their midsize counterparts, but the fit, finish and features are increasingly comparable. And even if they'll always be smaller by definition, compact cars continue to get roomier, quieter and more comfortable, making them increasingly intriguing alternatives to many larger and pricier options. It's hard to make a smarter car purchase than to go with an efficient, affordable small car.
Explore all 12 of your options right here -- listed in order of popularity according to full-year sales -- and keep reading below to see what's new, what's next, and to find out who's winning all the awards.
The 2016 model year brings us a totally new version of the Chevy Cruze, plus a new Honda Civic that already claimed our biggest award of the year, the Kelley Blue Book Overall Best Buy Award of 2016. The Nissan Sentra isn't all-new for 2016, but receives a number of enhancements. The Hyundai Elantra is all-new for 2017.
For our most recent compact car comparison test we put 400 miles on each of seven small cars to confirm past conclusions and solidify some new ones.
The Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer are the only cars in this group to offer all-wheel drive, the Jetta is the only one offered with a hybrid powertrain, and only the Focus is offered as a (much pricier) all-electric car. Several now offer highway fuel economy of 40+ mpg.
Most compact cars start under $18,000, but most buyers upgrade to an automatic transmission and other popular equipment, making the average price paid for a compact car right about $20,000. The average price paid for a midsize sedan, for reference, is closer to $25,000.
This Year's Winners
The redesigned 2016 Honda Civic isn't just our Small Car Best Buy of 2016, its impressive redesign earned it this year's Overall Best Buy Award. The Toyota Corolla is the category's most recent 5-Year Cost to Own Award winner, and the Subaru Impreza took home our most recent Best Resale Value Award in the compact car category.
First Pics: Check out the first-ever Chevy Cruze hatchback coming for 2017