With so many great small cars on the market in 2019, it was tough to whittle down our list of the best compacts to just 10 entries. While these are the best of times for some in the compact car market, they're also the worst of times for others.
For fans of cars from domestic manufacturers, the options have evaporated. With the end of line looming for the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze, if you want the best compact car for the money going forward, you’ll need to buy a vehicle from an import brand. While both the Focus and Cruze are well-sorted vehicles (and will stay in production abroad), slow sales in America and production costs weighed heavily on domestic factories. Snap them up now, while you still can. Click on to see the 10 Best Compact Cars for the Money.
2019 Honda Civic
The 2019 Honda Civic lineup includes a two-door coupe, four-door sedan, and five-door hatchback body styles offered in a dizzying range of variants. Starting MSRPs run from $19,450 for the Civic LX sedan up to $35,700 for the pavement-scorching Civic Type R hatchback.
The Honda Sensing advanced safety technology suite is standard on all models, with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, and a collision mitigation braking system. Value-focused buyers will opt for the LX and Sport models’ traditional 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. More performance-oriented drivers will go for the responsive 1.5-liter turbo in the upper trim levels, opt for the Si, or drool over the Type R (our pick as the best hot compact hatch for the money).
2019 Hyundai Elantra
The 2019 Hyundai Elantra sedan checks all the boxes, with affordable pricing, high quality, and an extensive warranty. The base Elantra SE is priced at $18,120, while the top-of-the-line Elantra Limited goes for $22,700. There are six trim levels in all, with the Eco ($21,050) delivering 40 mpg highway, courtesy of an efficient and perky 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trim levels, except for the Value Edition and SE.
The 2019 Elantra earns the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+ award when equipped with “optional front crash prevention and specific headlights.” With a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the 2019 Elantra is one of the best compact sedans for the money.
2019 Nissan Leaf
The 2019 Nissan LEAF is one of our favorite compact electric cars for the money. It continues to hold the crown as the best-selling compact electric vehicle (EV) of all time, with more than 400,000 sold since first hitting the streets in 2010.
The second generation Leaf brings a host of improvements. Pricing starts at $29,990 for the base 2019 Leaf S, equipped with the 40 kWh battery, which provides 150 miles of driving range. Stepping up to the S Plus adds a 62 kWh battery that raises driving range to 226 miles. The SV trim level ($32,490) adds a navigation system, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. A federal tax credit of $7,500 makes the Leaf a compelling choice.
2019 Honda Insight
If you love compact Hondas but aren’t keen on the Civic’s styling, you need to test drive the 2019 Honda Insight. With more conservative styling than the Civic, the Insight delivers an upmarket feel, excellent fuel economy, and a full suite of advanced safety technology.
The 2019 Insight is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s coveted Top Safety Pick+, with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, collision mitigation braking system, and road departure mitigation provided as standard equipment. An EPA rating of 55 mpg city/49 mpg highway makes the Insight an excellent and efficient choice for day-to-day commuting. Pricing starts at $22,930 for the base LX model. Stepping up to the EX ($24,160) gains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, an 8-inch touchscreen, and an 8-speaker audio system.
2019 Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla has a well-earned reputation for reliability and value, with five decades of history behind it. It gets even better in 2019, with a slick new five-door hatchback. The Corolla hatch might be a boy or girl racer’s dream, but it’s also one of the best compact hatchbacks for the money, with the base SE model starting at $19,990.
The 2019 Corolla hatchback is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick, with Toyota’s TSS-P advanced safety technology suite standard on every trim level. Safety features include lane keep departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control. A revised four-door Corolla sedan arrives for the 2020 model year.
2019 Subaru Impreza
The 2019 Subaru Impreza stands out from the competition, with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive included on every trim level. No doubt about it, the Impreza is the best compact car for the money if you live in an area with severe winter weather or drive on roads with loose surface conditions. A Subaru Starlink multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard issue, as well.
The 2019 Impreza starts at an affordable $18,595 for the base 2.0i sedan and $19,095 for the 2.0i 5-door wagon. Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology is standard on the top-of-the-line Limite,d and optional on all other trim levels. The 2019 Impreza sedan and wagon both earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ award.
2019 Toyota Prius
Now in its fourth generation, the 2019 Toyota Prius continues to set the standard for hybrid fuel-efficiency. If you roll up hundreds of miles commuting every week and fuel economy is your No. 1 priority, the Prius is the best compact hybrid for the money.
The Prius Eco ($23,770) is the most efficient of the range, with an EPA rating of 58 mpg city/53 mpg highway. All-wheel drive is available for the first time in 2019, with the LE AWD-e priced at $26,380. The Prius Prime ($27,350) is a plug-in variant, featuring a 25-mile pure electric range before switching to conventional hybrid mode. The 2019 Prius and Prius Prime are Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks.
2019 Kia Forte
The 2019 Kia Forte Sedan is the most affordable entry on our list of the best compact cars for the money, with a starting price of just $17,790 for the base FE model. The Forte is a compelling buy with an extensive warranty, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all trim levels.
Standard advanced safety features include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and driver attention warning. To gain the full suite of advanced safety technology, you’ll need to opt for the EX ($21,990) and choose the Launch Edition option package. The 2019 Forte is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+.
2019 Mazda Mazda3
The Mazda3 Sedan and five-door hatchback benefit from a thorough redesign for the 2019 model year, with crisp new exterior and interior styling that draws a clear line between it and every other affordable compact car on the market today. Pricing starts at $21,000 for the sedan and $23,600 for the hatchback.
Stepping up to the Select trim level adds Apple CarPlay support and a limited set of advanced safety technology. All models feature a 186-hp 2.5-liter Skyactive inline four-cylinder engine. With world-class handling, the 2019 Mazda3 remains one of the best compact cars for the money.
2019 Chevrolet Bolt
The Chevrolet Bolt was the first affordable electric car to break the 200-mile range barrier when it launched in the 2017 model year. While the federal tax credits are winding down, the 2019 Bolt continues to be one of the best compact electric cars for the money, with a starting MSRP of $37,495 for the base LT trim level.
The Bolt is equally at home as a daily commuter (with 238 miles of range) and as a city car, where its excellent visibility and small proportions make it a pleasure to zip around town and park in the tightest spaces. While it’s significantly more expensive than the Nissan LEAF, the Bolt is one of the best compact electric cars for the money.