If you're looking for an affordable small car that gets great gas mileage, a hatchback may be the perfect choice. However, with all the compact cars on the market, choosing the right vehicle can seem overwhelming. When you compare hatchback models side-by-side, it will help you pick the one that's right for you.
Most people define a hatchback as a compact that has a rear hatch to open the back of the car. In many ways, hatchbacks are similar to station wagons, but station wagons are typically larger and feature a steeper back window.
Hatchbacks became popular in the 1970s, and the design has endured for more than four decades. Hatchbacks maximize cargo space in a small vehicle. Although they are usually on the small side, these cars can carry large pieces of furniture or luggage. They also tend to be affordable for car consumers on a budget.
How to Compare Hatchback Models
If you're considering a hatchback for your next new or used vehicle, it's a good idea to compare car features to help you choose the right model for you.
The first step in comparing vehicles is to figure out which features are important to you. Answering the following questions can help you establish your priorities:
- How many passengers will you be carrying on a regular basis? If it's just you and one other person, a two-door model may suffice. Otherwise, you may need a four-door hatchback to make everyone comfortable.
- What is your budget? Knowing how much you can afford to spend will help you decide between a new car and a used car.
- How important is performance? If you'll be doing a lot of merging onto the freeway or frequently need to pass other vehicles, look for a hatchback with a more powerful engine.
- What is your budget for fuel? If you're hoping to keep gas costs to a minimum, look for a hatchback that is a hybrid or has great fuel economy ratings.
Examine Popular Hatchback Models
Now that you know what you're looking for in your hatchback, you can check out the popular models to see which ones meet your needs. These vehicles are especially popular with consumers:
- Ford Fiesta - This four-door hatchback gets over 35 miles per gallon on the highway and features a zippy engine. You can find new models around $15,000, and used models are extremely affordable.
- Honda Fit - At between $15,000 and $20,000, you'll pay more for a new Fit than for some other hatchbacks on the market. Although these reliable cars hold their value, used models may be more budget-friendly. The Fit has four doors and most model years get about 33 miles per gallon on the highway.
- Hyundai Accent - Still one of the most affordable cars on the road, a new Hyundai Accent runs as little as $10,000. These cars don't hold their value as well as other models, so you can find a great deal on a used Accent. The Accent is available with two or four doors, and the gas mileage is similar to other hatchbacks.
- Mazda 2 - Priced at under $16,000 new and considerably less used, the four-door Mazda 2 is a good choice if you're on a budget. The engine may not be as zippy as some other models, but it gets about 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
- Mini Cooper - If you're looking for a hatchback with style and impressive performance but aren't too worried about budget, consider the Mini Cooper. This two-door car gets great fuel economy, but you'll want to look for a used model if you're worried about price.
- Nissan Leaf - This all-electric hatchback hit the car market in 2011, retailing for around $33,000 new. If you're considering a new or used Leaf, you may be eligible for government tax credits to defray the cost of this four-door, alternative-fuel vehicle.
- Toyota Yaris - Toyota is well-known for producing quality compact vehicles, and the Yaris is popular with consumers who want reliable, affordable transportation. The four-door hatchback retails for under $15,000 new, and you can find a used model for less. New and used models of this car get over 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
- Volkswagen Golf - At between $18,000 and $25,000, the Golf is an expensive choice when purchased new. However, used models are much more affordable. Available with two or four doors, some model years of this car can get around 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
Choose the Right Car
In order to find the hatchback that is the best choice for you and your family, you should be sure to test drive the cars that meet your needs. Some hatchbacks can feel cramped inside, especially for taller drivers. Test driving your hatchback lets you make sure you'll be comfortable in the driver's seat for years to come.