Big City Driving: The Best Compact Cars for the Big City

Finding the right car to fit your budget and lifestyle can be daunting if you need to know what you’re looking for. The last thing you want to do is go to the dealership unprepared and get talked into buying a car you don’t really want. 

Luckily, there are experts available to inform you of your options. Car experts have rated the following 15 vehicles on a scale of 1-10.

These compact cars came out in 2024 and ranked the highest. 

1. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
Image Credit: Hyundai Motor America.

How do you outdo the excellence of the 2024 Elantra? You make a hybrid option, of course. The 2024 Elantra Hybrid comes with the same standard features as its counterpart but with a hybrid engine, bringing the miles per gallon up to almost 60 per gallon. 

You won’t spend too much more on that excess fuel economy either. The hybrid model starts at $26,000, while the no hybrid is $22,000. At the end of the day, both cars are winners, but the hybrid ranked slightly higher with an 8.3.  

2. Mazda Mazda3

Mazda Mazda3
Image Credit: Mazda North American Operations.

The 2024 Mazda3 has been upgraded with advanced safety features and an optional 10-inch infotainment display. Besides the new features, the new model is still a great, well-rounded sedan with a luxurious interior. 

On the road, the Mazda3 delivers. The 200-plus horsepower engine provides quick acceleration and excellent handling. Add the 30 miles per gallon you’ll get on the highway, and you have a next-level car with an 8.5 rating. 

3. Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra 2024
Image Credit: Nissan USA.

Nissan made some positive additions to the SR trim and premium packages in the new Sentra. Standard heating seats, a 360-degree camera, and 8-speaker Bose entertainment systems add to the appeal of this compact classic. 

While the new interior additions are applauded, car experts agree that the Sentra has a boring feel behind the wheel and minimal cargo space. Still, there are worse options than the Sentra. With an affordable price tag of around $20,000 and a history of reliability, it carries a score of 7.6.

4. MINI Cooper

MINI Cooper
Image Credit: Mini.

When you think of compact cars, you might immediately think of the MINI Cooper. Despite its small stature, the Cooper can hold its own with the bigger boys on the road. 

The Cooper will always get some points docked for its small size, but for drivers who don’t expect excess cargo space, it is a perfect car for big-city driving. With over 30 miles per gallon and a classy interior this year, Cooper earned a respectable score of 7.6. 

5. Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius
Image Credit: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The new 2024 Prius is everything you would expect for the popular hybrid. The car has a gentle ride, sleek design, excellent standard features, and a fuel economy of over 50 miles per gallon.

Unfortunately, the Prius suffers from a cramped cabin and basic interior. Still, it earns a healthy rating of 7.7, making it a superb option for a new compact car. 

6. Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla
Image Credit: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The Corolla has always been reliable and designed to get you to and from work with minimal gas. While it was never made to turn heads on the road, the 2024 model is both functional and easy on the eyes.

This four-door model features a half-back style body big enough for 5 people, comes equipped with many standard features, 31 miles to the gallon, and 169 horsepower. With an overall score of 7.7, the Corolla continues to show why it is a fan favorite.

7. Kia Forte

Kia Forte
Image Credit: Kia America, Inc.

The new Forte is the perfect car for a person looking for excellent fuel economy, a spacious cabin, and an affordable base price. Stock models cost under $20,000 and have standard options like a backup camera and Bluetooth entertainment system. 

While this car is small, it feels much bigger once inside. The vehicle can easily fit 5 adults with ample head and leg room. Combining all these features with 30-40 miles per gallon on the highway, the 2024 Forte earned a rating of 7.7

8. Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R
Image Credit: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

One thing you can say about this new Volkswagen Golf is that it is fun to drive. Its compact hatchback body and 300 horsepower all-wheel drive engine hug tight turns and tear up the straightaways like a breeze. 

Some reviews have said the interior looks cheap, but I disagree. The black seats with the different-colored trim add to the golf’s sporty exterior. Experts agree and have rewarded the 2024 Golf with an overall score of 8.0. 

9. Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza
Image Credit: Subaru of America, Inc.

The Subaru Impreza has been satisfying its drivers for years, and the 2024 model looks to follow in their footsteps. Although the 2024 model might look different. Subaru scrapped the sedan body, opting for a hatchback with more cargo space.

Still, customers will get the standard all-wheel drive, balanced handling, and easy-to-use entertainment features they have come to expect from a Subaru. With an affordable price tag starting in the low $20,000s and a score of 8.0, it looks like the Impreza will continue to impress this year. 

10. Hyundai Elantra

Image Credit: Hyundai.

Hyundai continues to thrive in 2024, offering one of the best compact cars in the market. The new Elantra has a roomy cabin, a comfortable ride, balanced driving dynamics, and a long list of standard features.

The Elantra’s highway fuel efficiency of almost 40 miles to the gallon and overall rating of 8.1 makes it an ideal daily driver. 

11. Nissan Versa

Image Credit: Nissan USA.

The 2024 Nissan Versa is one of the cheapest cars you can purchase. That being said, it is an excellent option for a customer looking for a reliable car with a cheap price tag.

Versa drivers will save a lot of money on gas. The compact car gets up to 40 miles per gallon. If you aren’t looking for power or a large cabin, the Versa is perfect for big-city living. The experts agreed and rewarded the vehicle with a score of 7.5.

12. Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen Jetta
Image Credit: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The new 2024 Jetta has everything you need in a reliable, compact budget car. While it may not initially wow you, you will love the large cargo space, above-average fuel economy, and safety standards Volkswagen is known for. 

The Jetta continues to stay relevant in 2024. With a price tag in the mid $20,000s and a score of 7.6, it is a decent car that checks all the boxes a customer could want. 

13. Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen GTI
Image Credit: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 2024 GTI is the perfect combination of style, performance, power, and sensibility. Driving this vibrant hatchback will make running your daily errands feel like a day on the racetrack. 

The powerful 241 horsepower engine delivers practical fuel economy as well. Drivers can enjoy as much as 34 miles per gallon on the highway. Add in the high rating of 8.6, and you have yourself one sweet ride. 

14. BMW M2

Image Credit: BMW of North America, LLC.

BMW nailed it once again with their 2024 M2 model. The 2 door coupe is not only easy on the eyes, it hides a fierce 453 horsepower V6 engine under its hood. If you are looking for a compact car with speed, and an upscale interior, this might be your next vehicle. 

BMW’s dynamics, styling, and performance come with a price tag far above that of its opponents, but it is worth every penny. At $63,000, this roadster has a rating of 8.6, making it a desirable option in 2024.

15. Honda Civic

Image Credit: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The Civic has been setting the standards for affordable and reliable compact cars for decades. That trend looks to continue in 2024, with the new Civic improving on its award-winning standards.

Available in sedan and hatchback, the Civic offers lively handling, a stylish interior, extensive standard features, and a highway fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon. It appears Honda hit another homerun this year. The Civic earned a rating of 8.7, making it the highest-rated compact car in 2024.

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