What makes a car compact has no clear definition. It depends on who you ask and what country the car is in. While Europeans, on average, drive smaller cars than Americans, their compact cars are larger than U.S. standards. In compiling this list of the top 10 compact cars, we were surprised by what made the top of the list—but pleasantly so. Let’s take a look at the results.
The Honda Civic Coupe is at the top of the list for its versatility, sportiness, and comfortable interior. The base model uses a 1.8L inline 4-cylinder engine that delivers 140 horsepower with fuel economy ratings of 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway. The Civic rates high on safety and has a base price of $17,255.
The Smart Fortwo has taken the world by storm. It looks like a toy but it is as serious as a car can be. The Passion is the second trim up from base with a selling price of $13,590. The 1.0L 3-cylinder engine with 70 horsepower is enough for speeds up to 90 mph with fuel economy ratings of 33 mpg city/41 mpg highway. Safety is rated higher than many larger vehicles.
The Kia Soul rates number 3 for its playful style and long list of options. The base model sells for only $13,995. The Soul can handle 5 passengers and zips right along with a 2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine putting out 142 horsepower. Suspension is top of the line and it has safety features many other compacts are lacking.
The Rabbit sports a bigger engine than most compacts with a 2.5L 5-cylinder engine but it still gets 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. One of the safest cars in our list, the Rabbit is comfortable, stylish, and won’t break the bank with its base price of $16,300.
An American car makes its first appearance at number 5 with the Ford Focus. While the Focus is largely unchanged since 2008, its reliability is proven. It features a 2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine that rates at 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Safety features include dual-stage front airbags and the base price is a modest $16,915.
Following close behind Ford is the Chevy Cobalt. The Cobalt provides a lot of power for a small vehicle with a 2.2L 4-cylinder engine but still rates at 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. This car is safe and affordable at $14,990.
Toyota usually ranks higher but has dropped somewhat in the compact car rankings. Of course, the Yaris is still a great ride and one of the more affordable cars on the list with a base price of $13,305. Under the hood is a 1.5L 4-cylinder DOHC engine that gets 29 mpg city/35 highway. It’s not fancy but the Yaris is safe and reliable for those on a budget.
The Scion is a newcomer to the top 10 compacts list but it deserves a place for its original style and handling. The 1.8L 4-cylinder engine only pushes out 128 horsepower but it gets 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg highway. The base price is $14,800.
The Mini Cooper has a base of loyal fans and for good reason—it’s a great little car. It’s a little more expensive than most with a price tag at $18,550 but the 1.6L engine gets 28 mpg city/37 highway. And the low center of gravity helps keep it safe.
Subaru is another newcomer to the list this year but even though the Impreza is priced at $18,190 it makes the list for its roomy interior and impressive engine. The 2.5L 140 horsepower SOHC engine gets 20 city mpg and 27 mpg highway. It’s a sturdy and safe choice to round out the top ten.
As you can see, the list of the top 10 compact cars offers some surprises with the Kia Soul and Smart Fortwo in the top 3. Also on the list are old favorites like the number-one-ranked Honda Civic. All-in-all, any choice from this list is tops.
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