Whether they’re coming from a luxury or an affordable automaker, compact cars’ biggest advantage is their affordability. There’s simply no going around that. Along with their comparably lower price tag, compacts offer a few additional perks. They’re usually more fuel efficient than larger cars, they’re nimble and easy to handle, and finding a parking spot for one shouldn’t pose too much of a problem as well. We’ve already ranked the best compacts for 2018 and you can also take a look into the future at our 2020 Compact Cars. Expect to find both the luxury and economy brands, both the hybrid-electric and conventional models, and both the performance and less powerful cars. Here’s what we deemed the best compact cars 2019 is bringing our way. Note that we’ll also include subcompacts.
The Best Small Cars 2019 Has On Offer!
With close to 380,000 units sold during 2017, the Honda Civic sits on the eighth spot of best-sold vehicles in the U.S. The fabled compact car has always been a sure thing for its buyers. Throughout its life, the Civic has mostly been handsome, efficient, comfortable, and above all, reliable. The current tenth generation models don’t stray too far away from that well trodden path. They too are efficient, handsome, versatile, and reliable. MY 2019 units will only continue to offer this finely balanced amalgam of features and perks.
The 2019 Honda Civic will be available in three body styles: the sedan, hatchback, and coupe. The Honda Civic coupe is actually the last economy coupe offered in the U.S. market. But three different body styles aren’t everything the Civic has to offer. There are two performance grades as well: the Si and the ultimate Type R. The latter has the price tag of $34,000 which clearly puts it out of the economy car range. However, the Honda Civic Type R delivers 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque thanks to a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. While the Type R is definitely a highlight of the 2019 Honda Civic range, the rest of the lineup comes with a few perks of their own, most notable being already mentioned low entry-level price and great fuel economy.
The funky Kia Soul has been one of the most interesting small vehicles on the market for years. The subcompact box that passes for a crossover these days is due to be fully redesigned for MY 2019. The South Korean automaker most likely won’t stray too far away from the winning combination they’ve established with the outgoing Soul, but both exterior and interior are bound to be revised. The most welcome change, however, doesn’t have anything to do with subcompact’s styling. It’s the addition of an all-wheel drive config that catches the eye. Although not yet officially announced, the all-wheel drive should help the crossover become even more practical than it already is.
Apart from the welcome addition of an all-wheel drive system, the 2019 Kia Soul’s powertrain lineup remains largely unchanged. The 1.6L naturally aspirated and turbo four, and a 2.0L naturally aspirated inline-four should remain unchanged as the new Kia Soul prepares to share them with the Hyundai Kona. The EV version of the car will also make it into 2019, while a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid variant could also join. $16,500 for a base model and $34,000 for the EV should remain Soul’s asking prices going forward.
GM’s 5-door subcompact hatchback is only just beginning its journey. As such, the upcoming 2019 Chevrolet Bolt won’t bring any major upgrades. Aside from a new color palette, and possible a software update, the biggest deal with the new Bolt might be a more advanced piece of a semi-autonomous driving technology. Regardless of the GM actually offering the highly advanced tech or not, don’t expect it to be included in the base price once it actually arrives. The Chevy Bolt currently starts $5 shy of the $30,000 mark after the $7,500 federal tax credit. The optional semi-autonomous driving system would certainly play a major role in raising that tag considerably.
As before, the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt will stick with its 60 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack and a 200-horsepower electric motor. Yet again, this setup should provide up to 238 miles of range on a single charge, provided you’re not too heavy-footed. As soon as the GM addresses the issue of its poor supercharger infrastructure, the Chevy Bolt will become a force to be reckoned with in terms of a price/electric range ratio. As things stand at the moment, you shouldn’t even begin planning an interstate trip with it. Not without making a prolonged half-day pause in any case. We think it’s one best subcompact cars of the year.
MY 2018 has been kind towards the Audi A5 as its lineup has been bolstered by the addition of the all-new sportback model. Moreover, it also underwent an early mid-cycle refresh which made it more in-tune with the rest of the Audi lineup and set it for at least couple more years without the need for any major changes. Sporty, luxurious, tech-savvy, and stylish are the Audi A5’s main attributes. Combined together, they make for one well-rounded compact executive car with very few faults, if any. Coupe and convertible models exhibit an apparent lack of boot space, but then again, the Audi A5 is a compact. Other than that, some might find their starting price tags of $43,000 and $49,500 respectively too steep. Especially considering how the 4-door sportback model starts from $42,500.
Of course, starting prices don’t mean anything if you’re optional equipment-minded. The Germans always had a way of making their executive cars rather expensive, and the Audi A5 is no different. All A5 models are powered by the same 2.0L turbo four that yields 252 horsepower. If you want more, you’d have to step up into the S5 domain. The sporty Audi S5 gets a 3.0L turbocharged V6 that’s good enough for 354 horsepower. It also costs exactly $11,800 more than its comparable A5 siblings. With that in mind, the A5 is probably the golden middle ground between the luxury, performance and reliability. The exact reason it stands out as one of the best compact cars 2019 will bring to market.
Fiat 500 Abarth
I’ll confess that the Fiat 500 Abarth isn’t exactly the compact car archetype. It certainly doesn’t conjure up an image of a practical compact car to an average compact car buyer. You get very little practicality by going for it. Even as far as a compact car practicality goes. Then again, the modern performance version of the iconic Fiat 500 is exactly what passes for the cool and desirable right now. Not only that, but it’ll also remain cool for years to come, and you can order it as a convertible as well as a hardtop.
The Abarth version of the Fiat 500 has traditionally been one that’s had the strongest kick and that’s had the most flair. Powered by the in-house 1.4L four banger with a single turbocharger, the 12-footer develops as much as 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. At least with the standard 5-speed manual it does. Opt for a paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic and it should yield 157 hp and 183 lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, all 2019 Fiat 500s will now feature a turbocharged engine as naturally aspirated 101-horsepower version went into retirement for MY 2018. Without the Fiat’s Abarth tuning division doing their magic, however, the conventional Fiat 500s will only make 135 ponies. And by magic, I mean one Italian engineer working his butt off and 10 other sitting idly by loudly arguing among themselves.
BMW 3 Series
The sixth generation of the iconic BMW 3 Series is nearing the end of its voyage. The next-gen G20 models are due for MY 2019, and they’ll bring much-needed changes including the new design and updated engines. The Bavarian compact executive car will initially arrive as a sedan, with Grand Turismo and Sports Wagon body styles joining later during 2019 at the earliest. The performance M3 model, on the other hand, will likely only arrive after skipping the MY 2019 altogether. It’s expected to make around 500 horsepower, so it’ll likely be well-worth the wait.
That leaves the BMW 3 Series enthusiasts with some rather straightforward choices to make. If they decide to go for it as soon as it comes out, the only real choice will be the choice of powertrain. The 2019 BMW 3 Series should initially start out with both the gasoline and diesel 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinders, and one 3.0L inline-six with approximately 30 hp more than what outgoing models generates. The hybrid model and possible additional sets of tunes for mentioned powerplants will also join the lineup later on. The new BMW 3 Series isn’t one of the best compact cars 2019 is bringing our way for its power increase alone. It’s one of the best cars in its class for all that it’s stood for over the years, and that includes top-notch refinement, driving characteristics, and comfort among others.
The Japanese automaker’s current lineup is based on a similar design with a gaping grille and smooth lines all over. Simple yet efficient, but above all else extremely good-looking, would be the fitting description of any Mazda model from MY 2014 onward. The compact Mazda 3 is, of course, no exception. Small car can be had either as a sedan or as a hatchback, and comes with a choice of two different 4-cylinder engines based on Mazda’s SkyActiv technology. A smaller 2.0L unit makes 155 horsepower, while a larger 2.5L engine generates 184 horsepower. The 2019 Mazda 3 should be the last of the BN-generation models since the Japanese have already unveiled the new SkyActive-X engine architecture that’s supposed to debut alongside a completely redesigned car.
Apart from the new look, the next-gen Mazda 3 should throw in more power, and a better fuel economy thanks to the aforementioned SkyActiv-X system which uses extremely lean fuel mixtures. The outgoing SkyActiv-G (gasoline) and SkyActiv-D (diesel) engines received a number of praises from prominent automotive journalists and engineers alike. The next-gen SkyActiv-X engines will surely do the same. The only question is: what will be the exact improvement figures come MY 2019? We’ll have to wait for that answer a little bit more.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
The recent newcomer Alfa Romeo Giulia might be available worldwide, but it also marks the return of the iconic Italian manufacturer to the U.S. market. The Alfa’s strategy for the North American markets positions the brand as an entry-level luxury badge which means it’ll compete with the likes of Lexus, Cadillac, and even the more upscale Germans. Considering the Alfa’s decades-long reputation of dreadful reliability, this might seem like an insurmountable challenge at first glance. However, the Italians are promising the age of their car’s breaking down is long behind them. Whether that’s the case or not, they definitely haven’t lost their touch when it comes to making stylish and handsome cars. The compact executive Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan is simply a sublime-looking car.
The Giulia is also the first Alfa Romeo available with the coveted Quadrifoglio badge. Its 2.9L Ferrari-sourced twin-turbo V6 develops 505 horsepower and clearly states the Italian automaker’s intentions. Most of the Giulia sedans will be powered by the 280-horsepower 2.0L turbo four engine, however. Last but not the least, there’s apparently another powertrain option all-new for MY 2019. The upcoming Giulia Veloce will slot between the aforementioned base and Quadrifoglio models thanks to a 350-horsepower version of the turbo four mill. This should make the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia as versatile as any of its German competitors. At least in terms of available power grades.
The sharp-handling and nimble Honda Fit is actually more spacious than its subcompact demeanor would let know. As expected, it’s also quite a bargain considering the fact that the top tier EX-L models cost only around $20,500. Not only does the Honda Fit offer an affordable package with good fuel economy, but it also offers practicality that goes well beyond its subcompact frame. Thanks to its innovative folding back seat, the Honda Fit allows all kinds of passenger/cargo hauling combinations. Despite remaining basically unchanged since MY 2015, the Japanese subcompact hatchback did receive a few important updates over the years. Latest models sport a softer, more comfortable suspension and much more advanced safety features than before.
One of the precious few Honda Fit’s downsides is its slow-accelerating engine. Although that was to be expected from a small economy car, a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine with 130 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque could have had a bit more bite. This goes especially for the droning CVT transmission which, on the other hand offers a considerably better fuel economy than the manual. A 6-speed manual is rated at 33 mpg combined, while the mentioned CVT unit returns 36 mpg combined. All things considered, the unchanged 2019 Honda Fit will remain one of the best compact cars 2019 will have to offer.
Mercedes-Benz C Class
No list of best compact cars on the market would be complete without the German luxury trio from the BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. So in order to round up the big trio of compact luxury cars, we had to consider the Audi A4/S4 and A5/S5, BMW 3 Series and 4 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C Class. The entry-level luxury Merc hasn’t been updated since MY 2015 when the code-named W205 made its debut. This is about to be addressed for MY 2019 when the current C Class is finally about to receive a mid-cycle facelift. As it’s usually the case with the German luxury brand, changes will be kept to a minimum. New headlights, tail-lights, and bumpers, a revised frontal fascia, and a new steering wheel and touch-pad controller inside are the most notable changes.
The most important change, however, is related to the powertrain department. Base C Class units generate 241 horsepower via a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four mill, while the coveted AMG units make anything between 362 horsepower and 503 horsepower while utilizing the twin-turbo V6 and V8 engines. It looks like the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C Class is about to switch to the inline-six setup for its AMC C 43 model. A power bump across the entire lineup shouldn’t come as a surprise as well. Finally, the all-new C400d EQ Power diesel plug-in hybrid model is bound to appear together with the rest of the revamped C Class. Whether it’ll come to the U.S. market is a different matter entirely. What we do know is that it’ll allow up to 31 all-electric miles and offer the best fuel economy figures in the entire C Class range.