2021 Sub-Compact Cars

Budget-conscious transportation has never been better. No longer do consumers have to settle for a sub-compact car — they're no longer being punished for having a budget. These tiny vehicles now offer features and amenities that used to be reserved for much larger cars. There are plenty of choices in the sub-compact car segment, though many automakers are stepping away from these small cars to focus on more profitable and more popular crossovers.

Pros and Cons of Sub-Compact Cars

Pros: Affordability is the driving force behind sub-compact cars. With tiny turning circles and small footprints, these little cars are perfect for city living. Easy to park and maneuver around, cheap to buy, fuel-efficient, affordable to run and maintain, and cheap to insure, these cars are great for people on a budget. Because they’re typically not as mechanically complicated as larger or more expensive cars, they also tend to be more reliable and easier to maintain.

2018 Fiat 500

Cons: Because keeping costs low is a big priority, sub-compact cars often won’t have as many features or tech. Some sub-compact car drivers also don’t love being overshadowed or intimidated on the roads by larger cars. Sub-compact cars aren’t known for being speed demons and can be quite slow.

What's New in Sub-Compact Cars for 2019?

The Kia Rio was recently overhauled and has much better driving dynamics than ever before. The Kio Rio remains a great pick for a sub-compact, with a more mature style and more refinement throughout. It’s also bigger than it used to be, so it has more room for cargo and passengers. Some big news is that it is the first car in its class to offer automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

2018 kia rio

The Rio competes with cars like the Toyota Yaris (available as a sedan and a hatchback), and Honda Fit, which got a small refresh. I’ve always liked the Fit for its excellent visibility, smart cargo solution like its Magic Seats and decent driving dynamics.

The Kia Rio shares a platform with the Hyundai Accent, which was also overhauled recently. For this model year, only the sedan model will be sold in the U.S., while Canadian shoppers are still able to buy the hatchback version. With more power than is normal in its segment, the Accent remains a great pick.

The cute Fiat 500 for an important update for 2019: it gained a standard 1.4L turbocharged engine with 135 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque.

Other subcompact models available to consider induce the Chevrolet Spark and Smart (which is only available as an EV).

What’s Coming in Sub-Compact Cars?

With more automakers focusing on higher margin and more popular crossovers, expect the number of sub-compact car offerings to drop. The Chevrolet Sonic will probably be discontinued, just as the Ford Fiesta was.

For the sub-compact cars that are left, expect more EV offerings to appear. An electric Honda Fit is rumored. Toyota is said to be coming out with a hot hatch version of the Yaris.

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