Best Compact Cars for 2024 and 2025

By: James Diaz | April 9, 2024

In 2024 and 2025, the compact car market offers an impressive blend of affordability, cutting-edge technology, and fuel efficiency. This segment covers sedans and hatchbacks, ensuring quality driving experiences without sacrificing value. The 2024 Honda Civic shines due to its comprehensive attributes that deliver versatile performance, highlighted by its robust engine and comfortable interior. For those prioritizing cost, models like the 2024 Kia Forte stand out as the most economical, balancing space efficiency with driving enjoyment.

Best Compact Cars for 2024 and 2025

The 2024 Honda Civic Type R and Toyota GR Corolla are exemplary choices for enthusiasts craving a sportier drive. These models boast specialized suspensions and turbocharged engines, elevating the average driving experience by combining the agility and power of sports cars with the practicality of compact sizes. This focus on enhanced performance features makes them ideal for drivers seeking exhilaration without the bulk or expense of traditional sports cars.

2024 Honda Civic

The 2024 Honda Civic sets a high standard for compact sedans, starting at $23,950. It offers smooth gear transitions through steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, dynamic handling via three drive modes, and a wide array of standard features to cater to diverse lifestyles, like offline navigation capability and wireless phone charging. Available as a sedan or hatchback, it provides flexibility to suit personal preferences. Its interior is spacious and of high quality with 99 cu. ft. of passenger room, delivering a luxury experience at an affordable price while accommodating five passengers easily.

2024 Honda Civic

Fuel efficiency is a hallmark of the Civic, with models achieving 26-33 MPG in the city and 36-42 MPG on the highway, making it a leader in its class for fuel economy. Its engines range from 158 to 180 horsepower, emphasizing reliability over acceleration. The ride is smooth, with precise handling courtesy of its CVT or available 6-speed manual transmission. Additionally, it comes equipped with a suite of active safety features, including Lane Departure Warning, to ensure security on the road.

2024 Toyota Prius

The 2024 Toyota Prius, priced between $27,950 and $36,365, redefines the hybrid segment by offering an unbeatable mix of affordability, fuel efficiency, and performance. With fuel economy ratings of 49-57 MPG in the city and 50-56 MPG on the highway, it excels as an option for eco-conscious drivers. The ride is dynamic, with agile handling and stability optimizing acceleration and braking. Its powertrain, producing 194-196 horsepower, ensures the Prius does not sacrifice performance for efficiency.

2024 Toyota Prius

The Prius is laden with standard features, including digital key capability technology and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. For those requiring better grip, an all-wheel drive (AWD) option provides more adaptability within varied terrains. Despite a snug rear seat and modest cargo area of 23.8 cu. ft. — the Prius continues to be a practical, reliable choice for everyday commutes or extended trips, affirming its position as a leader in the hybrid vehicle market.

2024 Toyota Prius Prime

The 2024 Toyota Prius Prime, starting at $32,975, revolutionizes the compact hybrid sector with its plug-in system, blending zippy responsiveness with the stellar efficiency of an eco-friendly ride. Achieving up to 127 MPGe, it sets a high bar for fuel economy amid escalating fuel costs. Integrating a gasoline engine with electric motors, this compact car’s drivetrain delivers a vigorous 220 horsepower, ensuring swift acceleration and a lively driving experience.

2024 Toyota Prius Prime

Despite its robust performance, the Prius Prime maintains a smooth ride with its three drive modes: Electric Vehicle (EV) Mode, EV Auto Mode, and HV (Hybrid Vehicle) Mode. It comes loaded with a comprehensive array of standard features like a top-mount multi-information display, enhancing its appeal. However, its compact design slightly restricts rear-seat space, potentially limiting headroom for taller passengers. With a top price of $39,670, the Prius Prime is a compelling choice for those valuing hybrid technology and fuel efficiency, provided the compact rear space is not a deterrent.

2024 Mazda 3

Starting at $25,690 and reaching up to $36,650 for the higher trims, the 2024 Mazda 3 stands out with its vibrant acceleration, precise handling, and an interior that showcases luxury and cutting-edge technology. Its engines, offering between 191 and 227 horsepower, promise energetic and agile performance, enlivening daily drives.

2024 Mazda 3

The Mazda 3’s cabin impresses with its quality materials available in warm Greige tones or Red leather, as well as advanced features like Remote Vehicle Start, which aims to enhance your comfort and connectivity. It comes with an 8.8” or available 10.25” display, alongside safety technologies like Parking Sensors for added peace of mind. Fuel efficiency ranges from 23-27 MPG in the city to 31-37 MPG on the highway, with FWD and AWD options. However, the rear seats are best for shorter journeys, and the sedan’s 20.1” cargo space might be limiting for some.

2024 Volkswagen Jetta

The 2024 Volkswagen Jetta, priced between $21,345 and $28,825, strikes an ideal balance between cost-effectiveness and practical utility. It offers a spacious cabin and decent 14.1 cu. ft. of cargo space for a compact sedan, making it an ideal choice for everyday practicality. Its engine lineup includes a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, producing between 158 and 228 horsepower, known for its brisk low-end power and efficient  ride. Fuel economy estimates range from 29 MPG in the city and 42 MPG on the highway.

2024 Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen has packed the 2024 Jetta with a comprehensive array of driver-assistance technologies, like six stability-enhancing systems and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. The introduction of the limited-edition GLI 40th Anniversary Edition adds a unique flair. Despite focusing on functionality over style, resulting in a clean, distraction-free design, some critics call for more interior panache and a larger infotainment screen. In its GLI variant, the Jetta offers more spirited driving dynamics with 228 horsepower, echoing the exhilaration of the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Opting for the 2024 Jetta provides comfort, space, and Volkswagen’s reliable engineering for daily driving needs.

2024 Hyundai Elantra

Starting at $21,625, the 2024 Hyundai Elantra emerges as an attractive option in the compact car segment. It blends a host of features that stand out in the market, like a streamlined front fascia design and Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It delivers balanced driving dynamics suitable for city and highway travel, powered by a modest 147 horsepower engine. Its fuel economy encapsulates this efficiency, offering 31-32 MPG in the city and 40-41 MPG on the highway.

2024 Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra’s interior welcomes passengers with ample space for five and a solid cargo capacity of 14.2 cu ft. Its standard 8” infotainment system contains a user-friendly design, enhancing safety by reducing distractions. With a top price of $28,465 for the highest N Line trim, the Elantra includes various standard features like a larger 10.25” infotainment display, adding value without the premium cost. 2024 brings notable exterior updates like sharp lines and bold contours, refreshing its look while maintaining practicality.

2024 Subaru Impreza

The 2024 Subaru Impreza’s hatchback style introduces noticeable enhancements, including standard AWD — a rare find in its class. Impreza’s updated RS trim enhances its lineup’s performance with 182 horsepower instead of the standard 152 horsepower configuration. Priced from $22,995, the new Impreza also features a user-friendly 7” or available 11.6” infotainment system and a spacious interior, ensuring passenger comfort and impressive cargo capacity at 20.4 cu. ft.

2024 Subaru Impreza

This Subaru model achieves an estimated 26-27 MPG in the city and 33-34 MPG on the highway. However, the 2024 model discontinues the sedan body style and manual transmissions, moving towards more streamlined offerings. While its acceleration may not excite all, particularly with the 152 horsepower base engine, the Impreza remains dedicated to reliable performance and all-weather capabilities, distinguishing itself from competitors focused on higher power outputs.

2024 Nissan Sentra

The 2024 Nissan Sentra, with a starting price of $20,890 and up to $23,980 for the highest trim, offers an economical and comfortable option for those searching for a compact sedan. It features cozy Zero Gravity front and rear seating alongside a wide range of standard assistance features like Intelligent Engine Brake, enhancing its appeal without significantly raising costs. The cabin’s dimensions stand out, comfortably accommodating up to five passengers with 43.8” of front leg room and 34.9” in the rear.

2024 Nissan Sentra

Performance-wise, the Sentra leans towards efficiency, sporting a modest 149 horsepower engine that prioritizes fuel economy with up to 30 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. Although it provides adequate power for everyday use, it might not satisfy those seeking a more exhilarating drive. The Sentra’s handling is steady and composed, offering a stable and predictable driving experience on its FWD platform. While it may lack in cargo space compared to some competitors with 14.3 cu. ft. — it remains a practical choice for daily commuting, offering a reliable and cost-effective means of transportation.

2024 Toyota Corolla

Starting at $22,050 and capped at $27,250 for the highest trim, the 2024 Toyota Corolla offers affordability without compromising essential features. Its pricing strategy emphasizes value, making it an appealing choice within the compact car segment. The Corolla promises a smooth ride and exceptional fuel efficiency, boasting 30-53 MPG in the city and 28-46 MPG on the highway. Its comfortable interior and effective shock absorption create a tranquil driving atmosphere.

2024 Toyota Corolla

The Corolla features modern conveniences, including an intuitive 8” infotainment display. However, its base engine, producing 169 horsepower, might not excite performance enthusiasts. Space is adequate for five, but rear-seat and cargo space at 34.8” and 13.1 cu. ft. slightly lag behind class leaders. The 2024 model reintroduces the Nightshade Edition, enhancing its visual appeal with black-painted sport side rocker panels and a rear spoiler. The Toyota Corolla stands out as a practical option for those prioritizing a blend of affordability, utility, and a comprehensive feature set over high horsepower.

2024 Kia Forte

Starting at $19,990 and going up to $25,390 for the highest trims, the 2024 Kia Forte presents itself as a cost-effective option in the compact car market that’s simultaneously rich in features. It offers a comfortable and high-quality cabin with 35.7” of rear legroom alongside an easy-to-use 8” infotainment system, ensuring both driver and passengers enjoy significant interior space, one of the largest in its segment.

2024 Kia Forte

Fuel efficiency is a crucial advantage of the Forte, boasting estimates of 22-30 MPG in the city and 31-41 MPG on the highway, underscoring its appeal to those looking to save on fuel. Engine choices span from a satisfactory 147 horsepower to 201 horsepower, providing a good balance between fuel economy and performance, with all variants supporting FWD for consistent handling. The GT-Line trim enhances its value with standard driver-assistance features like Blind Spot Detection, reinforcing safety and technology leadership in its class. Although it might offer a less dynamic driving experience, the Forte’s focus on safety, efficiency, and overall value makes it a commendable selection for everyday use.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find insights into the best compact cars for 2024 and 2025, focusing on top rankings, sports performance, value, reliability, economy, and long-distance capabilities.

Which compact cars are expected to top the rankings in 2024?

Many expect the 2024 Honda Civic to dominate compact car rankings with its stellar overall score of 8.7 out of 10 from US News & World Report, thanks to its harmonious blend of comfort, performance, and cutting-edge safety technologies.

Which compact cars are expected to top the rankings in 2024

Its acclaim stems from effectively marrying driving enjoyment with passenger security, setting a benchmark for its segment.

What are the leading contenders for best compact sports car of the year?

The 2024 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is a top contender in the compact sports car category, delivering an engaging driving experience and unique exterior trim accents.

What are the leading contenders for best compact sports car of the year

It stands out for its 228 horsepower, which is respectable for its class. This performance may appeal to enthusiasts desiring snappy acceleration and fuel savings.

Are there any upcoming very small cars in the USA that offer exceptional value?

The 2024 Nissan Sentra is a compact sedan, delivering straightforward utility and value.

Are there any upcoming very small cars in the USA that offer exceptional value

It distinguishes itself from the competition with a suite of updates, like improved fuel economy and a refreshed exterior.

What are the most reliable subcompact cars announced for 2024?

Reliability ratings indicate that Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda will remain highly dependable subcompact car manufacturers in 2024.

What are the most reliable subcompact cars announced for 2024

Their consistent performance in reliability assessments underscores their enduring appeal in the subcompact segment, especially with models like the Civic and Corolla.

For those seeking economy, which small car provides the best value for money?

The Hyundai Elantra stands out as a strong contender for economic value. It is recognized for its exceptional EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of 31-32 MPG in the city and 40-41 MPG on the highway.

For those seeking economy, which small car provides the best value for money

It also offers a comprehensive list of standard features like Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay at an attractive price point, enhancing its appeal.

Which compact car models are best suited for long-distance driving?

The 2024 Mazda 3 is ideal for long-distance travel, offering comfort with its spacious front row and smooth handling.

Which compact car models are best suited for long-distance driving

The model additionally boasts advanced cruise control systems, ensuring a relaxing journey.