2021 Compact Cars

If you're looking for a blend of style, fuel economy, and tech with a price tag that won't break the bank, then the compact car segment is where to be. Compacts are no longer the cheap-feeling penalty boxes of yore, and offer a ton of value for buyers. Although the segment is shrinking with the ever-increasing popularity of crossovers, there are still those who value the compact car's charms. Most of the domestic brands have already abandoned the segment, with the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus dropping out most recently. Stalwarts like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla remain however, and they've even expanded to cover multiple body styles. That means there's something for everyone in the compact car class, so you're sure to find something that aligns with your particular tastes.

Pros and Cons of Sports Cars

Pros

  • Reasonable prices
  • Low running costs
  • City-friendly size
  • Still plenty of tech and convenience features
  • Cheaper to insure
  • Better fuel economy
 

Cons

  • All-wheel drive is rare
  • Can feel a little small in a sea of SUVs
  • So-so performance
  • Not as roomy for large families

What’s New in Compact Cars for 2020?

Despite the loses of some models over the last few years, there was a lot of activity in the compact class last year. Mazda introduced a brand new Mazda3, with hatchback and sedan models intact. It got a stylish exterior and interior makeover and optional all-wheel drive. The Kia Forte was also new, getting mini-Stinger looks and a sporty, turbocharged GT model. Honda updated the Civic with a mild facelift, while Toyota complemented the angular Corolla hatch with a sedan counterpart. The bigger news in the class for 2020, however, was the surprising glow-up of another Japanese model.

SEE ALSO: 2019 Mazda3 vs Toyota Corolla Hatchback Comparison

2020 Nissan Sentra

After 37 years and over six million Sentras sold, Nissan fully redid its compact model for 2020. The Sentra has gone from staid to stylish, and as good as that exterior makeover is, it pales in comparison to the interior. An available two-tone, quilted-leather style brings more than a dash of luxury to the segment. Nissan's NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats remain paragons of comfort too.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Nissan Sentra First Drive Review

Underhood, the Sentra makes do with an 149-horsepower 2.0-liter engine. It's down on power versus most of the competition, but it post up to 39 mpg on the highway depending on trim. Prices start under $20,000, and you won't have to go far over that for a well-specced model.
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2020 Kia Soul

If the Sentra is all swoopy lines, the Kia Soul is the boxy alternative. The Korean automaker redid the funky five-door for 2020, keeping its upright looks and adding even more avant-garde flourishes. For this third-generation model the Soul offers up either a nat-asp 2.0-liter engine or a torquey 1.6-liter turbo, complete with shifter paddles for its dual-clutch gearbox.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Kia Soul Review

Since the Soul marches to the beat of its own drum, it should come as little surprise that it also offers an all-electric option. The EV arrived in late 2019 in Canada and later in 2020 for the US. It offers the most power of the Soul lineup—201 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque—and a healthy 243-mile range on a full charge.
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2020 Chevrolet Bolt

We're sticking with the EV side for this one. Now, the Chevy Bolt isn't a new-for-2020 model. The 2017 North American Car of the Year did get a refresh for this year though, with a range increase to a full 259 miles. That puts it right near the top of the class, the long-distance runner of the sub-$40k category.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review

The Bolt still offers all the benefits of a compact car too. Its tidy dimensions make it easy to point through city streets, and the low window line provides a clear view out. Designed from the outset as an EV, it also benefits from a low floor, increasing interior volume and making it a cinch to get in and out of.
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What’s Coming in Compact Cars?

The segment sales king, the Honda Civic, is due for a new generation soon, likely as a 2022 model. Spy photogs have already caught the next car out in camouflaged mode, and we expect the same body styles to continue—including the Type R hot hatch. Don't expect a dramatic re-imagining here: Honda won't want to mess with the successful formula. Think more of a steady evolution, with more standard tech and revised looks. The Civic doesn't dominate in Europe though; that's more the Volkswagen Golf’s territory. Europe already has the latest mk8 model Golf, but it will be a little while longer before we see it on our shores. It comes with a variety of hybrid drivetrains, and majors on tech with an interior full of touch-sensitive controls. There's also the traditional GTI, with an upgraded 2.0-liter turbo engine; so far, that's the only one we know for sure is coming here. A turbo engine will once again be under the hood of the Mazda3 for 2021. A leaked dealer order sheet confirmed Mazda's 2.5-liter turbo was heading into the compact car, which should give us the spiritual successor to the much-loved Mazdaspeed3. Shifting gears to the luxury side of the market, there's the new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and the upcoming Audi A3 sedan. Both models are remarkably similar on paper, with front-biased AWD setups and small, turbocharged engines. BMW will continue to offer a 2 Series coupe, though it will remain rear-drive. The Audi meanwhile will be available in hatchback form in other markets; it's unclear if that, or the convertible, will return to North America.
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18 vehicles found

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Make / Model MSRP Fuel User Rating
2021 Kia Forte
2021 Kia Forte
view 7 trims
$17,890 - $23,290 25/32 mpg
2021 Volkswagen Jetta
2021 Volkswagen Jetta
view 7 trims
$18,995 - $28,045 29/39 mpg
2021 Toyota Corolla
2021 Toyota Corolla
view 11 trims
$19,925 - $28,210 29/36 mpg
2021 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan
2021 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan
view 10 trims
$20,500 - $32,450 25/33 mpg
2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
view 5 trims
$20,565 - $24,615 28/37 mpg
2021 Mazda CX-3
2021 Mazda CX-3
view 2 trims
$20,640 - $22,040 27/32 mpg
2021 Toyota C-HR
2021 Toyota C-HR
view 4 trims
$21,445 - $26,500 27/31 mpg
2021 Volkswagen Golf
2021 Volkswagen Golf
view 2 trims
$23,195 - $23,995 29/36 mpg
2021 Toyota Prius
2021 Toyota Prius
view 7 trims
$24,525 - $32,650 51/47 mpg
2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
view 4 trims
$26,345 - $31,545 24/33 mpg
2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI
view 6 trims
$28,695 - $37,745 23/30 mpg
2021 Cadillac CT4
2021 Cadillac CT4
view 4 trims
$33,395 - $44,895 20/29 mpg
2021 BMW 2 Series
2021 BMW 2 Series
view 10 trims
$35,900 - $52,950 21/30 mpg
2021 Genesis G70
2021 Genesis G70
view 5 trims
$36,000 - $48,200 17/25 mpg
2021 Acura TLX
2021 Acura TLX
view 8 trims
$37,500 - $48,300 21/29 mpg
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18 vehicles found

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