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 10 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.

 

2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Starting Price: $18,870

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

Cruze models for sale near you

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

Focus models for sale near you

2019 Honda Civic

Starting Price: $20,345

With a wide range of models and features, plus great reliability and resale value, Honda's venerable compact car almost outclasses the class. Read More

Civic models for sale near you

2019 Hyundai Elantra

Starting Price: $17,985

For 2019, the Elantra adds stylish new looks to the familiar value equation. Read More

Elantra models for sale near you

2019 Kia Forte

Starting Price: $18,585

All-new for 2019, the restyled Kia Forte is refined and sporty, with a greatly expanded roster of safety and infotainment technology. Read More

Forte models for sale near you

2018 Mazda Mazda3

Starting Price: $18,970

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

Mazda3 models for sale near you

2019 Nissan Sentra

Starting Price: $18,685

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

Sentra models for sale near you

2019 Subaru Impreza

Starting Price: $19,480

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

Impreza models for sale near you

2019 Toyota Corolla

Starting Price: $19,620

Toyota's famously affordable, reliable compact sedan is spacious inside and boasts an impressive list of standard safety features. Read More

Corolla models for sale near you

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Starting Price: $19,440

All-new for 2019, the segment's only European entry boasts new technology, contemporary design, and lively driving manners. Read More

Jetta models for sale near you

What's New

For the 2019 model year, Volkswagen has introduced the totally redesigned Jetta, Kia revealed the all-new Forte and Toyota debuted its brand-new Corolla Hatchback.

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 is the only car 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.

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