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 11 of your options right here, listed in alphabetical order, and keep reading below to see what's new, what's next, and to find out who's winning all the awards.

Most Recent Redesigns

2018 Hyundai Elantra

Completely redesigned last year, Hyundai's compact car now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus safety tech like blind-spot monitoring and automatic braking. Read More

2018 Subaru Impreza

All-new in 2017, the thoroughly enhanced Impreza has more high-tech and safety features than ever, and is now built in America. Read More


All Compact Cars

2018 Chevrolet Cruze

Starting Price: $17,850

The recently redesigned Cruze is one of the quietest and most comfortable compact cars you can buy. Read More

2018 Ford Focus

Starting Price: $18,825

There are roomier and more affordable compact cars, but few are as sporty or as stylish as the European-rooted Focus. Read More

2018 Honda Civic

Starting Price: $19,835

Thanks to a recent redesign, Honda's venerable compact car almost outclasses the class. Read More

2018 Hyundai Elantra

Starting Price: $17,835

The new-for-2017 Elantra adds elegant style to the familiar value equation. Read More

2018 Kia Forte

Starting Price: $17,695

It looks sportier than it drives, but the updated Forte boasts European-like interior styling and offers loads of cool tech. Read More

2018 Mazda Mazda3

Starting Price: $18,970

The fun and stylish Mazda3, which has earned a spot on our list of 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 for 12 years in a row, benefits from a recent update. Read More

2018 Nissan Sentra

Starting Price: $17,875

The Sentra's roomy, refined interior and smooth styling qualify it as one of the segment's grown-ups. New sportier models only add to the appeal. Read More

2018 Subaru Impreza

Starting Price: $19,355

The Subaru Impreza is more fun to drive and more refined than ever. And it's still the only car in its segment that comes standard with all-wheel drive. Read More

2018 Toyota Corolla

Starting Price: $19,495

Toyota's famously affordable, reliable compact sedan now has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Read More

2018 Volkswagen Jetta

Starting Price: $19,495

The segment's only European entry manages to be both more fun and more refined than most other compact cars. Read More

What's New

The Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza were totally redesigned last year, and we met hatchback versions of the Honda Civic and Chevy Cruze. A new Elantra GT hatchback joins Hyundai's compact car lineup for 2018, and you can expect an all-new Volkswagen Jetta for 2019.

10 Best 

The compact car segment is well represented on our most recent lists of 10 Coolest Cars Under $20,000 and 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000.

Compact Comparison

For our most recent compact car comparison test we gathered the freshly redesigned Subaru Impreza hatchback, the new Chevy Cruze and Honda Civic hatchbacks, and the always enjoyable Mazda3 hatchback. 

The Specialists

The Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer are the only cars in this group to offer all-wheel drive, while the Focus is offered as a (much pricier) all-electric car.

Actual Price

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 comparison, is closer to $25,000.

This Year's Winners

The Honda Civic is a four-time winner of our Small Car Best Buy Award, and a two-time recipient of Overall Best Buy honors. 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.

New Car Spotlight