Compact cars are becoming more popular with fuel prices once again on the rise. These economical vehicles have come a long way in the past few decades with improved fuel efficiency, optimal use of interior space and improved drive trains for better performance and handling. If you’re in the market for a new compact car, we’ve put together a listing of the top 20 for 2018. Find out which models are the most highly ranked and why.
20. 2018 Nissan Sentra – $16,990
The 2018 Nissan Sentra has a budget friendly starting price and the cabin is comfortable with a solid build, yet it lacks the luxury features that some of its competitors offer. The trunk room provides 15.1 cubic feet of space and when more space is needed, the seats fold down to provide an extension of the available space. The infotainment system features a 5 inch intuitive touchscreen with upgrades available including a larger screen size, navigation and NissanConnect. The system is basic but user friendly. The new Sentra is powered by a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine with a sluggish acceleration, but a turbocharged 1.6 4 cylinder is available in the SR Turbo and Nismo that offers a slight bump in power. This is paired with a manual transmission which is standard, but an automatic is available.
19. 2018 Nissan Leaf – $29,990
The new Leaf seats four comfortably with room for a fifth but the last passenger will need to straddle a bump on the floor. The interior is basic with less than remarkable materials and styling. The features of the interior are of a lower grade with hard plastics and just one USB port. The space is excellent wit 23.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and up to 30 when the seats are folded down. Standard fare for thee Leaf is Bluetooth, a 5 inch color display and satellite radio. You can upgrade to include a larger screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. ProPilot Assist is another option, which is a semi-autonomous system that manages throttle, brakes and stop and go traffic. The upgraded system also includes battery charging, charging status and remote climate control. The Leaf is powered with an electric motor and lithium ion battery pack that offers 147 horsepower with decent acceleration but a faster drain on the battery with frequent fast accelerations.
18. 2019 Hyundai Veloster – $18,500
The new Veloster seats four with plenty of space and comfort in the front and smaller rear seats more suitable for children and smaller adults. The interior is a more basic layout with hard plastics and a lack of luxury features. Thee Cargo space is 20 cubic feet behind the rear seats when upright and if you fold them down, that space increases from 20 to 44 cubic feet. The Veloster comes standard with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 2 USB ports, a 7 inch touch screen, a six speaker audio system and easy controls and intuitive menus. Upgrades to a larger screen, sunroof wireless phone charging, navigation, satellite radio and an 8 speaker Infinity sound system are available. The Veloster is powered by ya 147 horsepower 4 cylinder engine with a turbo four available currently and a new Veloster N coming down the line soon featuring a 275 hp turbo four.
17. 2018 Chevrolet Cruze – $16,975
The Cruze comfortably seats five with good leg and shoulder room and excellent cushioning in the seats. The standard upholstery material is cloth but an upgrade to leather is available. The interior is very nice with tons of premium materials. The cargo space is 22.7 cubic feet, expandable to 47.2 cubic feet with the seats folded down. The infotainment system features Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system with a responsive touch screen and user friendly menus, Apple CarPlay and Android Audio, a rear view camera, Bluetooth and a WiFi hot spot. The Cruze is powered with a turbocharged gas engine, with a turbodiesel engine also available. These are paired with your choice of a manual or automatic transmission.
16. 2018 Chevrolet Volt – $33,220
The Volt comes with five seats, but only four can be comfortably used. It has a few drawbacks including thick roof pillars which limit driver visibility. The interior is attractive and modern in styling with a quiet ride, thanks to the electric power. It offers 10.6 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats. Standard features in the Volt are Android Apple CarPlay, 2 USB ports, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a WiFi hot spot, MyLink infotainment system, an 8 inch touch screen and a six speaker audio system. You have the option of upgrading to an 8 speaker Bose audio system upon request. The Volt is powered with a 1.5 liter four cylinder engine paired with an electric motor, generating 149 horse power.
15. Toyota Corolla iM – $18,850-$19,590
The iM version of the Corolla seats five and offers almost 21 cubic feet of cargo space, extendable by laying the rear seats flat. It also comes with an easy to use system for entertainment including a 7 inch touch screen audio display, Bluetooth, one USB port, a 6 speaker Pioneer stereo, dual zone climate control and an available installed navigation system. The interior features a mixture of high and low end materials. The iM is powered with a 137 horsepower 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine with sluggish acceleration and a standard 6 speed manual transmission with automatic available.
14. 2018 Subaru Impreza – $18,495
The Impreza is a five seat car that offers good leg and head room in both rows with excellent driver visibility. The available cargo space with the seats up is 12 cubic space, but this can be extended to 55 cubic feet when the seats are folded down. The Impreza comes standard with the StarLink infotainment system offering a 6.5 inch touch screen, Adroid Auto, Apple CarPlay Bluetooth audio streaming and available upgrades for a moon roof, an 8 speaker Harman Kardon audio system an 8 inch touch screen, and navigation. The engine is a flat four generating 152 horse power with slow acceleration, but it’s fine for driving around town.
13. 2018 Volkswagen Jetta – $18,545
The interior of the Jetta is nice, but not luxury. It offers a quiet ride at highway speeds and there is a combination of soft and hard materials in the cabin. The available cargo space is a little over 14 cubic feet and it can be extended in length by folding down the rear seats. It comes standard with thee MIB II infotainment system featuring a 6.5 inch touch screen, a USB port, Bluetooth, four speakers and VW Car Net App Connect. You can upgrade the infotainment system to add navigation an extra USB port an 8 inch touchscreen and a few other extras. The engine is a 147 hp turbocharged 4 cylinder with adequate speed and acceleration, but it’s not fast or zippy.
12. 2018 Toyota Prius Prime – $27,100
The new Prius Prime offers a clean cabin layout, soft cloth upholstery and a wide range of tech features that come standard. The front seats are heated, and it offers 19.8 cubic feet of cargo space. It also comes with a 7 inch touch screen, HD radio, hands free capability, navigation, and the Entune app suite. The system is user friendly and intuitive with an upgrade available to a large 11.6 inch touch screen. This hybrid is powered with a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine, combined with 2 electric motors for a total of 121 horse power, paired with an automatic transmission for amazing fuel efficiency.
11. 2018 Toyota Corolla – $18,550
The base Corolla for 2018 offers 13 cubic feet of trunk space. The split folding rear seats offer a boost of cargo space when needed. The standard tech features in the Corolla are Bluetooth, a six speaker audio system, USB port, a 6.1 inch touch screen for the Entune infotainment system, Siri Eyes free, Satellite radio and voice recognition. You can upgrade to navigation, a moon roof andd a 7 inchc Entune touch screen.
The Corolla’s 13-cubic-foot trunk is typical for the class. It has enough room for about 10 shopping bags or three sets of golf clubs. The wide trunk opening facilitates cargo loading, and split-folding rear seats give you room for some larger items.
Corolla Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
Standard tech features include Bluetooth, a USB port, a six-speaker audio system, a 6.1-inch touch screen for the Entune infotainment system, voice recognition, and Siri Eyes Free. Available features include automatic climate control, a moon roof, a 7-inch Entune touch screen, satellite radio, and navigation. The power is acceptable with the four cylinder 132 horse power paired with a variable automatic transmission, with a six speed manual available.
10. 2018 Hyundai Elantra – $16,950
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra has a nice enough cabin with plenty of space, high end materials and quietness even when traveling at highway speeds.. The hatchback model offers almost 25 cubic feet of space that can be extended to 55 feet with the seats folded down. It comes with a USB port, Bluetooth and a 6 speaker Infinity audio system. You can upgrade to an 8 speaker system, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple car play and your choice of a 7 or 8 inch touch screen with navigation. You have your choice of 4 engines with a 147 hp 4 cylinder, a turbo four in the Eco models generating 128 hp and the sporty models with the turbo four engines that crank 201 horsepower.
9. 2018 Hyundai Ioniq – $29,500
The 2018 Ioniq features a cabin with a clean layout, comfortable seats and high grade materials for a luxury feeling and riding comfort. The cargo space is 26.5 cubic feet. The infotainment system is made to be highly user friendly complete with buttons and knobs if the touch screen option isn’t your thing. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The engine options are a hybrid, a plug n hybrid or an all electric. They offer plenty of power and outstanding fuel economy.
8. 2018 Subaru WRX – $27,000
The Subaru WRX seats five people and comes with a highly functional cabin that is well designed and features quality materials. It lacks the upscale feeling of many of its rivals, but it functions at a high performance level for driver convenience. It offers 12 cubic feet of cargo area and comes with a sic speaker audio system, HD radio, satellite radio, a USB port, Bluetooth, a 6.2 inch touch screen and a starLink infotainment system. The engine is a 268 horsepower turbo four that provides fast acceleration and a feeling of sportiness when you’re behind the wheel. This helps to make up for the blandness of the cabin.
7. 2018 Toyota Prius – $23,475
The 2018 Prius is the seventh best compact car on the market for 2018. The four door hatchback comfortably seats five adults and features cloth upholstery as a standard feature, which can be upgraded to Toyota’s leatherette upholstery. The seating is comfortable for driver and passengers in the front, but the rear seating may feel a little cramped for larger passengers. The cabin materials are quality but it does have a different aesthetic with a layout that has a futuristic feeling and appearance. The cargo space is 24.6 cubic feet. The infotainment is high tech and you’ll see a lot of gadgets onboard. It comes with automatic climate control and your choice of 3 infotainment options, keyless entry and push button start. Bluetooth is a standard feature in all infotainment options. The engine is a 121 horse power 4 cylinder but it tends to have a sluggish acceleration.
6. 2018 Mazda3 – $18,000
The Mazda3 offers a cabin that is attractive and stylish and features high quality materials throughout for a comfortable and luxurious feeling ride. You get more than 20 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats which can be expanded to 47 when the seats are folded down. The infotainment system features Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD radio, a six speaker audio system, and a 7 inch touch screen with upgrades available. The Mazda3 base model comes with a 155 horse power four cylinder engine and it’s also available with a 184 horse power 4 cylinder if you prefer faster acceleration.
5. 2018 Kia Forte – $17,000
The Kia Forte is the fifth best compact car for 2018 because of its budget price and the attractive cabin that features high quality materials and a quiet and smooth ride. The cargo space is around 23 cubic feet and it’s large enough for the average family to carry a decent amount of shopping items. It comes with Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB port and a four speaker stereo. The Forte is powered with a choice of 3 engine options in 4 cylinder which include a 147 horsepower, a 164 horsepower and a 201 hp available in the Forte5 edition.
4. 2018 Ford Focus – $17,860
The Focus seats five and it features an easy access layout, although the materials are a lower grade, there are a few upscale offerings. The cargo space depends on the style. The Hatchbacks offer 23.3 cubic feet in the rear with 14.2 feet in the electric version. Thee infotainment system is user friendly and includes Bluetooth, 2 USB ports with voice recognition. The engine options are a 2.0 cylinder 4 cylinder, a battery powered electric model or an EcoBoost turbocharged 2.0 liter. The Focus RS edition offers a 350 horsepower turbocharged 2.3 liter for fast acceleration.
3. 2018 Honda Civic – $18,940
The 2018 Honda Civic seats 5 comfortably and offers a well built interior featuring high quality materials that can be upgraded to a higher trim upon request. With the seats up, there is 25 cubic feet of cargo space and folded down seats afford up to 46.2. Other features include Bluetooth, a USB port and a 5 inch display screen. You can upgrade to a premium package and add HD radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and more. The Civic is powered by a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine or you can opt for the 205 horsepower.
2. 2018 Volkswagen GTI – $26,415
The Volkswagen GTI has the look and feel of a luxury car on the interior. It has a modern aesthetic with premium materials throughout the cabin. The cargo space behind the seats is 22.8 cubic feet with the seats up and it expands to 52.7 when they’re folded down. The base model features a 6.5 touch screen with three smartphone integration systems including Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink and Android Auto. It’s a high tech setup with access to maps and media via your phone. Each GIT for 2018 is equipped with a 220 horsepower turbocharged 4 cylinder engine and a six speed dual clutch automatic or your choice of a standard six speed manual. It handles like a dream with power to spare.
1. 2018 Kia Soul – $16,200
The Kia Soul is the top rated compact car for 2018. It’s one of the least expensive but you wouldn’t know it by experiencing the comfort that’s inside the cabin. The interior features high grade materials throughout with over 24 cubic feet of cargo space in the back with thee seats up, and 61.3 when you fold them down.The base model comes with Bluetooth, a USB port and a basic sound system that can be upgraded to include a Harman Kardon premium audio system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and navigation. You have your chcoce of a 2.0 liter four cylinder engine, a 201 horse power turbocharged 4 or a battery powered electric in the Soul EV version.