Buyers Guide – Top 10 Used Compact Cars

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Buyers Guide - Top 10 Used Compact CarsRegardless of whether you are looking for a used compact car for the economical sale price or the outstanding fuel efficiency, the time is right to get a great deal. Here are the ten best entry-level small cars currently available.

Take advantage of used car websites like for millions of listings on used compact cars.


  1. Honda Fit

2008 Honda FitThe Honda Fit has legions of fans thanks to its excellent reliability and superior cargo space. You get just over 57-cubic- feet of cargo space made possible by Honda’s ‘Magic Seat’ system. Under the hood, the front-wheel drive Fit offers a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 117hp and 106-lb.-ft. of torque.

  1. Toyota Matrix S

Toyota Matrix SThe Toyota Matrix S is basically a hatchback version of the popular Corolla. The Matrix S deviated from the standard Toyota playbook by offering the option of all-wheel drive – making it a smart choice for cold climates.  Opting for an AWD Matrix S also meant choosing the car’s more powerful 158hp, 2.4-liter engine and a four-speed automatic transmission.

  1. Mazda Mazda2

Mazda Mazda2The Mazda Mazda2 injects above-average handling into a subcompact platform. The Mazda2’s 100hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine isn’t going to win any drag races but the simplicity of the car’s chassis, combined with its 29-mpg city and 35-mpg highway rating provide a balance between economy and fun.

  1. Nissan Cube

Nissan CubeThe Nissan Cube’s unusual appearance has tickled the fancy of wagon fans seeking a compact people and cargo mover.  The Cube provides as much as 58-cubic-feet of total hauling space available with the rear row of accommodations folded forward. It also features 27-mpg in city driving and 31-mpg on the highway from a 122hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor and continuously-variable automatic transmission.

  1. Volkswagen Beetle TDI

Volkswagen Beetle TDIThe Volkswagen Beetle TDI didn’t make our list of small used cars based on looks alone. It features a ton of leg room in the front seat and an exceptional engine.  The Beetle TDI’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder is rated at a class leading 28-mpg in the city and 41-mpg on the highway.  It manages 140hp and 236-lb.-ft. of torque.

  1. BMW 1-Series

BMW 1-SeriesThe BMW 1-Series is the smallest car in production from BMW during its six-year stay on our shores and it’s also the most fun to drive.  It is available as either a coupe or a convertible. The hardtop is more affordable as a small used car. The BMW 1-Series offered a choice between a 230hp, 3.0-liter, naturally-aspirated inline six-cylinder engine (128i) or a turbocharged version that is good for 300hp and 300-lb-ft of torque (135i).

  1. Buick Verano

Buick VeranoThe Buick Verano is a small luxury-oriented sedan.  Much quieter inside than most vehicles of its size, the Verano also offers a pair of four-cylinder engine options.  A 2.4-liter engine is good for 180hp and 171-lb.-ft. of torque and the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit delivers 250hp and 260-lb.-ft. of twist.

  1. Mazda Mazda3

Mazda Mazda3The  Mazda3 provides a budget conscious option for those who demand above average handling from a small car. Guided by the same design philosophy that helped create the Miata, the Mazda Mazda3 is nimble in the corners while still offering a high level of available equipment and good road manners. Late-model used Mazda3s are good for 155hp from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that manages to achieve 28-mpg in city driving and 40-mpg on the highway.

  1. Ford Focus

Ford FocusThe Ford Focus is another small used car that offers interesting driving dynamics.  Available in both sedan and practical hatchback body styles, the Ford Focus is suitable as bare-bones daily transportation but can also be equipped with a high level of technology. The Focus boasts a 2.0-liter, 160hp four-cylinder engine that is also good for 146-lb.-ft. of torque.

  1. Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5 MiataThe Mazda MX-5 Miata is a roadster that delivers fantastic handling courtesy of a 50/50 weight balance. You get a choice between a soft top or a power retractable hardtop (for additional all-weather capability).  The inexpensive Miata comes with a 167 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.