Buying a Subcompact Car
The rise in popularity of small cars—both subcompact and mini-compact—has given consumers a much larger choice when considering what kind of car to buy. But with choice comes questions about how to pick the car that best meets your needs. Let's take a look at some of the important details to keep in mind when buying a subcompact car.
What Is a Subcompact Car?
“Subcompact" refers to a class size of cars, usually considered to be between a compact and a mini-compact (sometimes called micro-car).
Some examples of subcompact cars are:
- Chevrolet Spark
- Ford Fiesta
- Honda Fit
- Mini Cooper
- Nissan Versa
- Toyota Yaris
Why Buy Subcompact Cars
There are two main reasons people choose subcompact cars:
Subcompact cars tend to be a good option for the money-conscious as their price point is very affordable compared to larger cars.
Their other big selling point is the convenience of its size. When it comes to city living where street parking can be extremely challenging, being able to fit into a small spot is a key asset. There's also the pleasure of zipping around tight streets and squeezing through traffic that makes buying a subcompact car very appealing.
Some subcompacts are also very stylish and make a statement. Subcompacts are no longer seen as the ugly duckling of the auto industry.
Drawbacks of Subcompact Cars
Sometimes a car's best quality can also be its worst. This is the case with the size of subcompact cars. If you are planning on frequently driving friends around, or you need a car that fits lots of bags or boxes, a subcompact is not going to be a great choice for you. Even with a hatchback model, the space in subcompacts fills up quickly.
Driving on the highway is also less than perfect. Subcompacts, especially low-cost ones, don't generally have very powerful engines. They can also be noisy: you'll likely hear as much as feel your engine revving or a 16-wheeler passing you.
Perhaps the most important consideration is safety. Driving a subcompact at low speeds in a congested city doesn't lend itself to very extreme accidents. Highway driving is another story. Be sure to check the safety rating of the cars you are considering before making a decision. There is variance between makes and models that significantly impact your safety.
You'd think that because subcompact cars are so small that they would get great gas mileage. That is not necessarily the case. For someone trying to maximize their gas mileage, a subcompact car is not automatically the right choice. Be sure to compare gas mileage between subcompacts and even with compact cars if this is an important question for you.