Best compact reviews

Function and style in a small package.

Best Small And Compact Cars 651x366

A small or compact car offers so much more than tidy dimensions and a petite footprint. These vehicles can be very practical and easy to drive, with comfortable cabins that are great for commuting, carpooling, or nights on the town. Many of today’s models also offer an appealing amount of legroom and cargo space, along with the high-tech features you’re looking for.

To help you on your search, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best small and compact cars for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021.

  1. Subaru Impreza
  2. Ford Fiesta
  3. Nissan Versa
  4. Mazda Mazda3
  5. Ford Focus
  6. Volkswagen Jetta
  7. Chevrolet Cruze
  8. Toyota Corolla
  9. Nissan Sentra
  10. Honda Civic


Subaru Impreza

2021 Subaru Impreza EVOX

If you’re looking for a small sedan or hatchback with standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru Impreza delivers impressive wet-weather traction. In addition to the four-wheel drivetrain, 2017-2019 models feature a 152 hp, 2.0L four-cylinder engine that produces 145 lb-ft of torque and connects to a five-speed manual transmission (2.0i and Sport models). Whether navigating city streets or seeking adventures off the beaten path, you may love how securely the Impreza handles. This model is also designed for quick and responsive steering that feels sporty, especially around turns.

Standard features on the 2017-2019 Subaru Impreza Limited include:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Fog lights
  • Leather upholstery
  • Six-way power driver’s seat
  • Eight-inch display


Ford Fiesta

2018 Ford Fiesta EVOX

Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Ford Fiesta is a small car offering a range of powertrain options. 2017-2019 models start with a 1.6L four-cylinder engine that generates 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque. When equipped with the automatic transmission, the 2017-2019 Fiesta achieves an EPA-estimated 31 mpg combined from its 1.6L engine.1 2017 models also offer an optional turbocharged 1.0L three-cylinder engine that returns even thriftier gas mileage, with an EPA-estimated 35 mpg combined.1 If you’re feeling sporty, consider the 2017-2019 Fiesta ST hatchback, which can deliver invigorating performance from its 197 hp, turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder engine with 202 lb-ft of torque.

The 2017-2019 Ford Fiesta S comes well-equipped with the following standard features:

  • 15-inch steel wheels with covers
  • Power sideview mirrors
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • SYNC® infotainment system


Nissan Versa

09 2017 Nissan Versa Note Evox

If you’re shopping for a fuel-sipping sedan for weekend getaways or carpooling with friends, the Nissan Versa is surprisingly spacious for its small size. Boasting 14.9 cu ft of cargo volume, the Versa offers plenty of room for luggage or sporting equipment. An available 60/40 split fold-down rear seat also provides easy cargo flexibility to carry longer items, like snowboards. Taller passengers may love riding in the rear seat, which offers 37 inches of legroom (2017-2019 models). Under the hood, the 2017-2019 Versa is powered by a 1.6L four-cylinder engine, which returns an EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined.1

Standard features on the 2017-2019 Nissan Versa SV include:

  • 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers
  • Chrome outside door handles
  • Six-way manual driver’s seat
  • 60/40 split fold-down rear seats
  • Two auxiliary 12-volt power outlets


Mazda Mazda3

09 2018 Mazda Mazda3 Touring Evox New

With its lively handling and quick acceleration, the Mazda Mazda3 is a small car with a big presence. Available as a sedan or a hatchback, base 2017-2018 models come standard with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine with 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. Choosing the Touring or Grand Touring trims gets you a 184 hp, 2.5L four-cylinder engine for extra power. Inside the cabin, the 2017-2019 Mazda3 features a classy interior with soft-touch materials and cushioned seats that can be comfortable for longer drives. Redesigned in 2019, the Mazda3 carries over the 2.5L four-cylinder as its only powertrain.

The 2019 Mazda Mazda3 includes these standard features on the Preferred trim:

  • Eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • Two-position driver’s seat memory
  • Heated front seats
  • Bose® 12-speaker audio system
  • Aluminum front door speaker grilles


Ford Focus

05 2018 Ford Focus Se Evox New

Offered in sedan and hatchback body styles, the Ford Focus is a sensible compact car that’s great for commuting or running errands. 2017-2018 models come standard with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission, or an optional turbocharged 1.0L three-cylinder engine that returns an EPA-estimated 40 mpg on the highway.1 Boasting a quiet cabin and balanced handling, the 2017-2018 Focus can be a pleasure to drive, especially when it glides over broken pavement. Whether going to the beach or on a shopping spree, you may enjoy ample room for your belongings with 23.3 cu ft of cargo volume in 2017-2018 hatchback models.

Standard features on the 2017-2018 Ford Focus SEL include:

  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Power moonroof
  • SYNC 3 infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto integration
  • Reverse sensing system

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Volkswagen Jetta

07 2018 Volkswagen Jetta 14t Sevox

If you’re looking for a family-friendly sedan that’s practical and fun to drive, the Volkswagen Jetta may satisfy your wish list. 2017-2019 models start with a base 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an EPA-estimated 40 mpg on the highway to help you go longer between fill-ups.1 If you’re craving sportier performance, the 2017-2018 Jetta also offers two optional powertrains, including a 170 hp, turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder engine, or a 210 hp, turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine in the GLI trim. With generous legroom and headroom for taller passengers, the Jetta can be quite comfortable for longer trips. You’ll also find 15.5 cu ft of cargo volume in 2017-2018 models.

Redesigned in 2019, the Volkswagen Jetta SE includes these standard features:

  • 16-inch black alloy wheels
  • Power tilting/sliding panoramic sunroof
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Heated front seats
  • Forward collision warning


Chevrolet Cruze

06 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited Evoxmarch2020

Available as a compact sedan or hatchback, the Chevrolet Cruze is a stylish daily driver that’s well-suited to a range of lifestyles. Whether carpooling kids or enjoying a night on the town, your passengers can enjoy plenty of personal space with 36.1 inches of rear-seat legroom (2017-2019 models). There’s also no shortage of cargo space for groceries or belongings, including 14.8 cu ft of volume in the sedan or 22.7 cu ft in the hatchback (2017-2019 models). Available in five trims, the 2017-2019 Cruze includes numerous connectivity features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration across all trims.

The 2017-2019 Chevrolet Cruze Premier boasts these standard features:

  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Heated outside mirrors
  • Heated leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Heated front seats
  • Eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat


Toyota Corolla

04 2018 Toyota Corolla Evoxmarch2020

The Toyota Corolla is a small sedan with a spacious cabin that’s designed to handle your day-to-day and special trips. With 41.4 inches of rear-seat legroom in 2017-2019 models, taller passengers shouldn’t feel cramped in this sedan. There’s also 13 cu ft of cargo volume to hold luggage, groceries, or baby gear. Powering the 2017-2019 Corolla is a 132 hp, 1.8L four-cylinder engine that gets an EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined. Or you can opt for the LE Eco, which uses a special valvetrain to achieve an EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined (2017-2019 models).1

Boasting a quiet cabin and a composed ride, the 2017-2019 Toyota Corolla L also includes these standard features:

  • 15-inch styled steel wheels
  • Cloth upholstery
  • 60/40 split fold-down rear seat
  • Rearview camera
  • 6.1-inch touchscreen


Nissan Sentra

02 2018 Nissan Sentra Sv Evox New

Spacious and comfortable and boasting a responsive ride, the Nissan Sentra is a great addition to any driveway. Using a 1.8L four-cylinder engine that produces 124 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, the 2017-2019 Sentra is a fuel-friendly commuter with an EPA-estimated 32 mpg.1 2017-2019 models also offer 37.4 inches of rear-seat legroom and 15.1 cu ft of cargo volume, great for sporting goods or camping gear. By folding the 60/40-split rear seats and reclining the front passenger seat, you can even fit eight-foot-long items into this sedan (2017-2019 models).

Standard features on the 2017-2019 Nissan Sentra SV include:

  • Heated front seats
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Rearview monitor


Honda Civic

01 2017 Honda Civic Touring Evox New

Topping our list is the Honda Civic, which offers a plethora of choices with three body styles, a long list of trims, and two high-performance models: the Civic Si and Type R. 2017-2019 Civics start with a standard 158 hp, 2.0L four-cylinder engine, or you can shop for models with a 174 hp, 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine (EX-T and higher trims on 2017-2018 models; EX and higher trims on 2019 models). On the road, the Civic is designed to ride with confidence and provide excellent handling that feels good around turns or traveling on bumpy roads.

Standard features on the 2017-2019 Honda Civic Touring sedan include:

  • Chrome door handles
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Heated front and rear outboard seats
  • Four-way power-adjustable passenger seat
  • 10-speaker audio system

Easy to drive and fun to get around in, a small and compact car could be just what you’re looking for. Offering a wide range of models with fuel-sipping powertrains, body style choices, and appealing features, there may be a car on this list to suit your lifestyle.

1Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates for when vehicle sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.

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