Buying Guide: Best 2017 Hatchbacks

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - January 4, 2017

Hatchbacks lovers know that you really can stuff a lot into a small package. They also appreciate high efficiency and a low price, two things not usually associated with spaciousness. For them and the rest of us, buying a hatchback might be the only way to handle cargo while staying on budget.

Here are five affordable hatchbacks that let you take it all with you.

Honda Fit
Honda Fit

Believe it or not, the Fit offers more rear legroom than Honda's midsize Accord. That makes it practically the only subcompact on the market capable of family duty. The seat folds down for a class-leading 53 cubic feet of cargo space, and can also flip backward, leaving a deep storage well in its place for things that need to remain upright. The passenger seat also folds down, allowing you to carry long items (up to 8 feet!) that would normally require a roof rack.

Every Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine good for 130 horsepower. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, the Fit achieves 32 mpg in combined driving. Opt for the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and you're looking at an exceptional 35 mpg combined. The Fit was redesigned last year and continues for 2017 with minimal changes.

Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen Golf

The hatchback with German sensibility, the long-running Golf received a full redo for the 2015 model year. The latest model can handle up to 53.3 cubic feet of cargo space thanks to its squared-off roofline. Inside, the Golf has a premium feel that's missing from most competitors. The quality of materials is a cut above what you would expect for the price.

Performance is lively for this class. The turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder produces a hearty 170 horsepower and achieves 29 mpg in combined driving with either the standard manual transmission or optional automatic. VW offers a full range of safety technology for the Golf, including front collision mitigation with automatic braking and rear cross-traffic alert.

Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze

Chevy completely redesigned its compact Cruze sedan last year, and now adds a smart hatchback to the mix. In addition to the sedan's generous passenger room, the new model offers up to 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Under the hood is a 1.4-liter four-cylinder with 153 horsepower, matched to your choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. With the automatic, the Cruze gets up to 38 mpg on the highway.

The Cruze hatchback comes well-equipped from the start with features such a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, satellite radio, a cargo cover, and full smartphone integration. Parents will appreciate the standard Teen Driver technology, which allows them to monitor driving habits and set performance limits. For shoppers looking for more efficiency, GM is expected to release a diesel hatchback for 2018.

Hyundai Elantra GT

The sporty offshoot of Hyundai's popular compact sedan, the Elantra GT provides heightened performance and style along with hatchback utility. We're impressed by the GT's standard features, which include things like heated seats, a cooled glove box, and selectable steering modes.

Every GT gets a 2-liter four-cylinder with 173 horsepower, hooked to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. You can expect 27 mpg in combined driving with either setup. At 51 cubic feet, cargo space is within spitting distance of the leaders in this segment. There's also a storage compartment hidden beneath the load floor

On sale since 2013, the Elantra GT received styling and equipment updates last year. The next full redesign is scheduled for the 2018 model year.

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, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.