Do You Know the Difference Between Compact vs. Subcompact Cars?

Jane Lu
· 4 min read
Compact and subcompact cars are known for good fuel economy and reasonable starting prices. However, each vehicle style has its own advantages in terms of space and pricing. 
Here’s a quick comparison of compact vs. subcompact cars to help you decide between the two.
The Toyota Corolla is a popular compact car.

Compact vs. subcompact: size and seating

Buerkle Honda
notes, compact cars are commonly called small cars. They come as sports coupes or hatchbacks with two- and four-door options and are ideal for people who do not need much space. On average, the car is between 161 and 187 inches long and has cabin space ranging from 100 to 109 cubic feet.
Many compact cars can fit four to five people comfortably. They are ideal for commuting to work or driving around with small families. Popular models include the Hyundai Elantra,
Mazda 3
, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Kia Forte.
On the other hand, subcompact cars are ultra-small vehicles. They are made for people who just need to move around with a few friends. On average, subcompacts have between 85 and 89 cubic feet of cabin space and an overall length of between 157 and 169 inches.
Most subcompacts can sit up to four people and have a small cargo space that can take in a few suitcases. Popular models include the Mini Cooper, Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, and Chevrolet Spark.
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Compact vs. subcompact: fuel economy

MORE: This Car Is the Most Affordable Compact SUV of 2021
Despite being the smallest, subcompact vehicles do not have the highest gas mileage. As noted by
Car and Driver
, some of the popular compacts have equal or better gas mileage than their subcompact counterparts. For example, a Mazda 3 gives you 30/40 mpg city/highway compared to a subcompact 2022 Mini Cooper that gives you 29/38 mpg city/highway.
If you’re looking for good gas mileage, be sure to check the estimates, since a compact car could potentially be a better option⁠. You should also check the transmission when making a purchase.
Cars with more gears tend to have better fuel efficiency due to fewer revolutions in higher gears. Many compact cars have more gears and use variable transmissions that enhance their fuel economy.

How do compacts and subcompacts compare in price?

Subcompacts are a decent amount cheaper than compact cars.
estimates that the price difference between the two is typically around $2,000 to $3,000 for the base models. This can be significant if you’re operating on a tight budget.
The 2022 Hyundai Elantra starts at $19,850, and the 2022 Nissan Sentra is in the same range at $19,510. The 2022 Kia Rio goes for $16,150, and a 2021 Nissan Versa sells at $14,980. There are even cheaper subcompact cars in the market for people who want to spend as little as possible.
If you’re strictly looking at the price, subcompact models would be a great choice, but compacts are better for space. The best car for you depends on your needs.

Get the best deal on coverage to go with your new small car

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