14 Types of Compact Cars You Can Buy

types of compact cars

Compact car is a term used to refer to an economy class car that has a smaller size than mid-size and full-size vehicles. In the United States, it is a general term used by consumers to refer to any car with a smaller size than cars of mid-size and full-size segments. 

In this article we are going to look at some of the best compact cars in the world and how they became famous.

What is a Compact Car?

As we have already mentioned, compact cars are of a smaller size than mid-size and full-size vehicles. They may use the same engines with bigger sedans, hatchbacks or station wagons to achieve higher fuel economy.

For each of the three terms, we may see some vehicles that have a similar size as subcompact cars. This is because of consumer’s habits to call any car with four seats as compact car even though it has in fact a smaller size than other small cars on the market.

The term compact car is widely used to refer any vehicle that has a smaller size than mid-size and full-size vehicles, although these are usually the same size as hatchbacks or station wagons. In Europe, this type of vehicle is known as compact MPV (multi purpose vehicle) which include hatchbacks with five seats and a larger trunk.

Since compact cars are smaller than the other vehicles in its class, some drivers claim that they are difficult to park and maneuver at tight turns especially when there is no visibility due to heavy traffic. Another typical issue with this kind of car is poor acceleration compare to full-size vehicles.

In spite of having the same basic design of internal combustion engines, vehicles from compact class have more advantages than full-size cars because they are efficient and are cheaper when it comes to maintenance. Compact cars come in a variety of body types which include hatchbacks with two or more doors, station wagons which usually have three or five doors, coupes and sedans with four doors.

Types of Compact Cars

Toyota Pirus

Toyota Pirus

Toyota Pious is a subcompact car . The first generation of this vehicle was introduced in Japan back in 1989 and it continued production until 1997. The second generation was built from 1999 to 2006, while the third generation of this car started its production in 2012.

An interesting fact about this automobile brand is that all types of Toyota Pious have the same powertrain throughout the production and that is a 2.0 liter with four cylinders engine which produces 127 horsepower. Throughout its three generations, this vehicle has been used in different racing games but it never won any championship.

Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra is a subcompact car that has been offered in two generations. The first generation of this vehicle was released back in 1982 and it lasted until 1988. In 1989, the second generation was introduced but the production continued until 2001 when it received some changes to its body style for the period between 1999 and 2002 and the following year became known as the third generation.

Although this vehicle has undergone changes throughout its production, it still comes with the same engines which are a 2.0 liter with four cylinders and a 1.8 liter with three cylinders engine that produces 140 hp and 130 hp respectively. This car is equipped with different transmissions including five-speed manual transmission, four-speed automatic transmission, and Xtronic CVT.

Kia Forte

Kia Forte

Kia Forte is a subcompact car that was introduced to the market in 2010. This vehicle comes with three different body styles including a four-door sedan, five door station wagon and a two-door coupe which has been designed for teenagers who are looking for speed and style. The engine of this car produces 164 horsepower from 1.6 liter engine with four cylinders which is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission that can reach up to 6.5 seconds for 0-60 mph time.

The quality of the infotainment system of this car has received much praise from its customers because it comes with touchscreen interface and USB port, which has not been common in other vehicles of its class at that time.

Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq

This vehicle comes with three different body styles including five-door hatchback, four-door sedan and two door coupe. This car comes with an engine that produces 104 horsepower from 1.56 liter four cylinders which is capable of reaching 7 seconds for 0-60 mph time when paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The infotainment system of this car has been praised because of its ability to connect using Bluetooth, and the fact that there is a 7-inch touchscreen display which can be used as the primary infotainment screen or as a secondary touchscreen display.

Despite having small size, this vehicle has been built to carry five passengers thanks to comfortable interior which comes with spacious leg room for rear seats. In addition, this car also has been equipped by several standard features such as blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist which are included in the base trim.

In addition to these body types, the Hyundai Ioniq has hybrid , plug-in hybrid and electric models that are becoming increasingly popular today because of their efficiency.

Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla

The first generation of this vehicle came with several different body types including two door coupe, four door sedan, five-door station wagon and a two-door convertible. This vehicle was equipped by 1.6 liter four cylinders engine which produces 105 horsepower and this car can reach 0-60 mph time in 10.3 seconds when coupled with a four-speed manual transmission.

This compact car comes with different engine choices including 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine which produces 89 horsepower, one 1.8 liter four cylinders engine which produces 140 horsepower, two 2.0 liter four cylinder engines which produce around 150 and 160 horsepower and a 1.6 liter four cylinders engine that produces 158 hp.

The infotainment system is made by Entune which features a 7-inch touch screen display with AM/FM radio, CD player, USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. Despite having touchscreen display, this infotainment system can also operate using the central multifunction or steering wheel controls.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo is a compact car that comes with three generations and the latest one was released in 2007. In fact, this vehicle has been considered as one of the most important cars to be produced by Mitsubishi Motors because it has played an important role on their expansion during 1970s up until 1990s.

The engine choices used on Lancer Evo models are also considered as their most notable feature because they were designed specifically for this vehicle and no other vehicles can use them. The most popular engine is a 2.0 liter four cylinders engine which produces 276 horsepower and it was first introduced when the third generation of this vehicle was released. 

Some other notable engine choices are 1.5 liter four cylinders engine which produces 227 horsepower, 1.3 liter three-cylinder engine that produces around 228 horsepower and 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinders that can produce 280 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque in its most powerful spec.

This compact car comes with different transmission choices including 6-speed manual gearbox and 6-speed twin clutch gearbox which is optional on some of its engine choices.

Honda Insight

Honda Insight

Honda Insight comes with an average exterior design but features comfortable and spacious interior.

The Honda Insight is equipped by 1.3 liter four cylinders engine that produces 98 horsepower and this engine can be mated only to either CVT or 6-speed manual transmission. This engine can accelerate this vehicle from 0-60 mph in about 10.5 seconds which is considered pretty decent for a car of its size and several different body types are available on it including two door coupe, five-door hatchback, four door sedan and a two-door convertible.

The safety features of this compact car include side curtain shield head protection airbags, front and rear side torso side impact airbags, anti-lock braking system and traction control.

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf GTi

The Volkswagen Golf versions are becoming increasingly popular today because of their low cost and efficient design. The first generation model was produced in the 1970s which means that it has received several updates since then and each updated version is better than previous one.

The reason why this compact car became so popular is because it was designed specifically for several different markets thus it comes in different body types, engine choices, transmission options and so on.

The most popular version of this compact car is the five-door hatchback that comes with 1.4 liter four cylinders engine turbocharged which can produce around 170 horsepower and it can be mated only to 6-speed manual transmission or 7-speed DSG dual clutch transmission.

Mazda 3

Mazda 3

Mazda 3 comes with a stylish body design and it is equipped by 1.5 liter four cylinders engine that produces 155 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque which can be mated to 5-speed manual transmission, 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic transmission. This compact car weighs around 2,450 pounds which means that it is pretty light for a car of its size and features sporty exterior design.

The safety features on this vehicle include 16-inch ventilated disc brakes, electronic brake assist system, stability control, front side airbags and so on.

Mazda offers three different trims on Mazda 3 including Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Winner of the 2009 Car of the Year award from “Edmunds” and lower price than most other compact cars are some reasons why this vehicle is very popular today.

Nissan Versa

Nissan Versa

The Nissan Versa may have a pretty good interior but it comes with average exterior design. This compact car features 1.8 liter four cylinders engine which produces 108 horsepower and there are two transmission choices available on it including 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

This vehicle has served as the basis for more luxurious vehicles thus it is not surprising that the Versa sedan version outperforms its more luxurious versions in several regards.

Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage

Equipped by 1.8 liter four cylinders engine which produces 100 horsepower and it can be mated only to either 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic.

When we talk about the Mitsubishi Mirage, its stylish body design comes as no surprise because since 2000 when this compact car was first produced until today, exterior features have been pretty much the same on almost all of its incarnations which is not very good.

The safety features on this vehicle include anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution, traction control and so on. When it comes to the engine power output we can say that it is pretty good when compared to other compact cars from its class because 1.5 liter four cylinders engine produces 110 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic

The fourth generation model of the Honda Civic that comes with 1.8 liter four cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque which can be mated to 5-speed manual transmission, 5-speed automatic transmission or CVT continuously variable transmission. This vehicle is equipped with side curtain airbags for both rows and if we look at the safety features on it we can say that they are pretty standard for its class.

The main reason why this vehicle is so popular is because of its good looking design and high quality materials used for its interior. The good thing about this compact car is that it comes in several different trims including LX, EX, EX-L, Si and Hybrid.

Suzuki SX4 Sedan

Suzuki SX4 Sedan

The engines that are offered on this compact car include 2.0 liter four cylinder engine which produces 141 horsepower and around a 1-liter 3-cylinder engine turbocharged which can produce around 140 horsepower depending on the transmission choice. However, if we talk about the safety features offered by this vehicle, we can say that it is definitely not the safest vehicle in its class because it does not include things like a stability control system.

This compact car comes only in one trim level which means that there is no way for a customer to choose from several engine power outputs, transmission options, and exterior design.

Dodge Caliber

Dodge Caliber

When we talk about the Dodge Caliber we can say that it comes with pretty interesting engine design. This compact car is equipped with either a 2-liter or 1.8 liter four cylinders engine and the transmissions choices available are 5-speed manual ones or 4-speed automatic ones.

The main reason why this vehicle looks good is because of its two tone exterior design. In addition to this, the Caliber’s safety features may vary depending on the year of production and some of them include stability control system, traction control system, anti-lock braking system. 

Even though this vehicle is a pretty good option in comparison with many other compact cars out there because it comes with pretty interesting engine design and pretty good fuel consumption, it is somewhat of an underpowered vehicle so if you like powerful vehicles this option may not be for you.

This compact car comes in several trims levels including SXT, Rallye Edition and SE.


1) Are compact cars difficult to park?

Almost all the people who live in big cities and those who travel a lot for their jobs have problems when it comes down to parking their vehicles. It doesn’t matter if we talk about mid-size, full size or compact cars because parking them is probably one of the most difficult things for every driver. However, if we look at the cars with compact dimensions more precisely, they are probably the most difficult ones to park because of their small size and incredibly tight turning radius.

The thing is that these small parking spots have a limited space so it can be really tricky to manoeuvre your car into one of them. However, if you have some experience driving a compact car and are very used to parking in tight spaces, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do this. It all comes down to the fact that it takes some time before you can park your car without thinking too much about where you are going with it.

2) What is the difference between a compact car and midsize one?

If we talk about the exterior dimensions then there actually isn’t any major difference. The main differences are usually aspects such as whether a vehicle is front or rear wheel drive, how powerful its engines are, etc. However, if we look at the price, fuel consumption and other features of mid-size car models, they are a bit better than the compact ones.

3) Are certain compact car models fuel efficient?

Most of the vehicles that are designed to be fuel-efficient usually have smaller engines than other vehicle models made by the same manufacturer. Some of them also feature other things such as aerodynamic design and lightweight materials that lower their overall weight so they consume less fuel. In addition to this, some of these vehicles also come with a different transmission which makes them way more fuel efficient.

If you want your vehicle to be as fuel efficient as possible then you should definitely find out if it comes with the above mentioned features. If not, then there is no need for you to buy this model of car because chances are that its fuel consumption may actually be pretty high.


In this article, we have studied the various types of compact cars. We must also understand that these are not rigid categories but rather distinctions based on the size and style of a vehicle. Vehicles may cross boundaries between segments as many models are made in different sizes or styles to suit different needs, budgets or preferences. We hope that this article has given you a basic understanding of the various types of compact cars.

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