It's easy to make fun of the hatchback. In the 70's, America was inundated with unimaginative, dull lift-gate-sporting compacts. The cars were, in a word, awful. Outside of a couple notable exceptions, the hatch earned its stigma. The genre has covered a wide variety of vehicles, from the deplorable AMC Pacer, all the way to the divine Ferrari FF. Times have changed since the dark early days of the US hatchback, and today hatches are some of the most fun, versatile, and best looking cars on the road.
Here's a list of our five favorite used hatchbacks on the market.
The Fit is a model of Japanese efficiency. The clever design of the Fit's layout means the car is surprisingly roomy inside. Gone are the days of the cramped sub compact interior. The first generation Fit came with only 109 horsepower on tap (later model Fits produce 117 horses), which may not sound like a whole lot, but thanks to the car's light weight, there is sufficient pep to zip around town and safely get up to highway speeds. While neither Fit model will win any drag races any time soon, the car sips gas, has an excellent reliability record and, with a low MSRP, might just get you to your destination with a little extra cash in your pocket.
The Toyota Prius set the industry standard for practicality and efficiency; just about everything on this car was expertly designed with fuel efficiency in mind. Its big rear hatch wasn't designed for extra cargo space, but for optimum aerodynamic efficiency (though its storage area is nothing if not spacious). The Prius uses an electric motor in conjunction with a standard gasoline engine to provide some of the best fuel efficiency on the market today. Due to the popularity of the hot selling sedan, Toyota has expanded the Prius into its own line of hybrid vehicles.
The Ford Focus is one of the best selling cars in history. Its European styling, economic engine and low cost have made it a hit the world over. Currently in its third generation of design, the Focus has been on sale in America since 2000. The Focus has been sold either as a two-door, four door, sedan or hatchback model. Throughout its life, the Ford Focus has offered top-notch versatility and style in an affordable package, making it an attractive used hatchback option. In 2011, Ford launched a new Focus Electric model that allows drivers to abandon gasoline power completely.
Fun, lightweight, and aggressive, the RSX was Acura's replacement for the popular Integra sport hatch. The RSX is powered by a high revving 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that combines decent power with optimum fuel efficiency. The RSX may offer one of the smallest hatchback interior spaces around, but that cramped backseat is a trade off for the car's sporty look, sloping roof line and compact body. The RSX's light weight and sport-tuned suspension give it a nimble, live-wire character that is all too rare in the luxury car world today. Drivers interested in a particularly the sporty ride should look into the Type S models that offer more power and other various performance upgrades.
The nimble and fun MINI is a throwback to the pint-sized English hatch that revolutionized the automotive industry in the 60s. The modern Cooper is much bigger than the classic it's based on, but is still one of the smallest cars on the market today. That small size means the Cooper is able to deliver top-notch fuel economy with a surprising amount of performance. The Cooper's go-cart handling is another benefit of the car's minimalist size. Many regard the Mini Cooper as one of the best handling front wheel drive cars around, especially in the Cooper S models or when fitted with the optional sport suspension upgrade.