The Best Compact Cars To Buy This Year

2023 Mini Cooper

Mini USA

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2023 Mini Cooper
Mini USA

Compact Case

Compact cars have been increasingly squeezed out of the market in favor of larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks — yet the unpopular compact-car segment offers some of the most reliable vehicles you can buy. In addition to being affordable, they are known for their efficient gas mileage, reasonably sized cargo holds, and well-trimmed cabins, and they’re what you'll wish you had when trying to wiggle into tight parking spaces. Here are some of the highest-rated compact cars to look out for.

Note: Prices may vary by location and are subject to change.

Related: Here Are the Best Cheap Sports Cars Under $30k

Compact city car four angle set. Car side, back and front view. Vector flat illustration.

What Is a Compact Car?

We’re looking at hatchbacks and sedans that fall between the subcompact and midsize classes in proportions and price. Government regulators define small or compact cars as having between 100 and 109 cubic feet of combined passenger and cargo space and measuring between 161 and 187 inches long. It can get confusing — Motor Trend wrote not long ago about “Why the EPA’s Vehicle-Size Classes Make No Sense” — and some of our selections might appear listed as subcompacts.

Related: Reliable Cars You Can Drive Into the Ground

2023 Honda Civic Si

2023 Honda Civic

Starting MSRP: $24,650 to $30,050 

Gas Mileage: 22-33 City / 28-42 Highway

Horsepower: 158 to 315

Loaded with safety features, the 2023 Honda Civic is a front-runner in the class. Available in sedan and hatchback models, the Civic features a sporty and spacious cabin with comfortable seats and ample cargo space. The Honda is easy to operate, nimble, and fuel efficient.

2023 Mazda Mazda3

2023 Mazda Mazda3

Starting MSRP: $22,550 to $35,300

Gas Mileage: 23-28 City / 31-37 Hwy

Horsepower: 191 to 227 

The 2023 Mazda3 boasts an impressive engine with hefty horsepower — if speed is what you're after, this could be a solid option. The Mazda is also fun to drive thanks to its fast acceleration, responsive handling, and sleek interior. Its cons are rear seats that are too small and a below-average cargo space.  

2023 Kia Forte

2023 Kia Forte

Starting MSRP: $19,490 to $24,890 

Gas Mileage: 22-28 City / 31-39 Hwy

Horsepower: 147 to 201 

Featuring a spacious and high-quality interior, the 2023 Kia Forte is a solid choice if you're looking for good fuel return and ample cargo space. It also boasts good tech features that come standard, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and driver-assistance features. It falls short in a base four-cylinder engine that provides a "mixed ride and handling quality," according to USNews. 

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

2023 Toyota Corolla

Starting MSRP: $21,550 to $26,700 

Gas Mileage: 30-32 City / 38-41 Hwy

Horsepower: 169

Available in sedan and hatchback styles, the 2023 Corolla is a sporty-looking vehicle featuring a well-built interior, safety features, plush front seats, and an easy-to-navigate infotainment system. Toyotas are known for fuel efficiency, but the Corolla's four-cylinder engine also takes longer to accelerate, which you’ll feel on the highway.  

2022 Nissan Versa

2022 Nissan Versa

Starting MSRP: $15,180 to $18,590 

Gas Mileage: 27-32 City / 35-40 Hwy

Horsepower: 122

If a lower price is what you're after, the Nissan Versa is a solid choice with a ride that's a bit "uninspiring" due to its weaker horsepower, USNews says. It’s a smooth drive, though, and offers good fuel return with “competent handling,” intuitive tech features, comfortable seats, and a spacious trunk. 

2023 Mini Cooper
Mini USA

2023 Mini Cooper

Starting MSRP: $23,400 to $40,650 

Gas Mileage: 22-29 City / 31-38 Hwy

Horsepower: 134 - 228

Though pricier, the Mini Cooper is praised for a powerful four-cylinder engine that provides fast acceleration and smooth handling. It features a variety of safety features and a sleek interior with comfortable seats and an intuitive touch screen. If you're willing to cough up more for your next car, the Mini Cooper has an elite level of style and status attached to it.

2023 Kia Rio

2023 Kia Rio

Starting MSRP: $16,550 to 17,490

Gas Mileage: 32 City / 41 Hwy

Horsepower: 120

Featuring an attractive price point, great fuel economy, a lengthy warranty and user-friendly features, the 2023 Kia Rio is an all-around solid vehicle. Flaws include a noisy engine, smaller cabin space, and a lack of driver-assist features.