Savvy shoppers understand that a big part of choosing a high value-for-money car is looking at the total cost of ownership. This includes things like fuel economy, but also upkeep and possible repairs in the event of an accident. Thanks to their small size, subcompact vehicles shine in each of these areas, which is why the best subcompact car rankings share many names with the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the USA.
There are plenty of models with exceptional mileage figures, but when looking at the best of the best, they need to tick a few more boxes, like reliability, practicality, and safety. These are some great all-rounders that will more than earn their keep over the years.
Premium vehicle often feature near the top of car ranking lists, and Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to this trend. However, it’s smaller models may not be as well know to the general public as its flagship nameplates like the large landcruiser that is the S-Class. Nevertheless, the GLA-Class SUV is still a highly competent offering.
It’s easily one of the best-looking cars in this classification, which it combines with a well-appointed and luxurious cabin and a very smooth-riding suspension. And while it may not be the focus are athleticism, the GLA is actually quite quick and fun to drive. It does fall prey to one of the common weaknesses of luxury cars, which is a subpar total cargo capacity.
In terms of fuel economy, it can’t compare to budget-brand rivals, but it’s still one of the most efficient luxury cars you can buy. Across the city/highway/combined cycles, it manages a respectable 24/34/28 miles per gallon.
One of the most iconic sedans, the Civic is also available as a coupe or a sportier Si model. Regardless of configuration, it’s one of the most affordable cars and it also brings excellent levels of drivability and practicality to the table. However, it does lack some visual appeal, and the interior is somewhat on the plain side. This is no surprise, considering it’s close to $20k MSRP.
It saves a lot of money with its 31/40/35 mpg, though this drops to 30/37/33 mpg if you opt for the Sport trim. This value is compounded with a high reliability rating and easy access to spare parts, lowering the cost of maintenance considerably.
It’s definitely worth noting that the Civic has impressive trunk space for a sedan, and overall passenger space in the cabin is good, too. Lastly, despite its low asking price, the Honda Civic actually makes use of some high-grade materials.
The Kona is available as a regular gasoline crossover or the sportier Kona N if you want all the benefits, as well as a splash of fun. However, it’s also one of the top small electric vehicles, if you opt for the Kona EV. In this setup, it boasts an excellent 132/108/120 MPGe and can travel for up to 258 miles on a single charge. Meanwhile, recharging to full on a household outlet takes close to 10 hours.
These EV downsides feel like a small price to pay for a car that is actually quite fun to drive and which is covered by one of the best warranties in the industry. To top it all off, the Konda also boasts a top-notch safety rating and includes more standard driver-assistance tech than you’d expect at this price point.
Unfortunately, the lack of all-wheel drive and the tendency for cold weather to negatively affect EV batteries means that it’s not the best choice if you live too far north, and the rear seats are a little cramped if your kids are coming out of their teen years.