A Buying Guide for Subcompact Cars

January 27, 2012

When it comes to subcompact cars, there are some key things to know about them before buying. First, you should know the definition of a subcompact car, as well as some of the characteristics that qualify them as such. You also will want to know the benefits, as well as the downfalls to owning one. Lastly, you will want to pick one that is best for your own specific needs. Some examples of the best subcompact cars on the market today are the Kia Soul, and the Hyundai Accent.


A subcompact car is simply a car that is in a class between the compact car and the microcar. This means that size wise, the car is in the middle of those two classes. Subcompact cars have been around for about 40 years now in the United States. The EPA defines a subcompact car as one that is no bigger than 85x99 cubic feet. Another characteristic of subcompact cars are usually a very low price. They have almost become the new name for an entry level vehicle, however, it cannot be used 100% because there are entry level vehicles such as SUVs and trucks. These cars are obviously not that big, so they are not usually good for the family. Typically, a buyer will be cost-conscious and looking for a reliable car they can get around in. 

Pros & Cons

The biggest advantage of owning one of these cars is the price. Most of these cars are in the $10,000 range. The Hyundai Accent for example, starts at $9,900 and is quite the car for such a low price. A lot of used cars from five years ago cost more than $9,900. Subcompact cars usually have very small engines, but this leads to increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Many of these cars are classified as low or even zero emissions vehicles. On the downside, these cars do not offer that much space for you to sit, as well as to store items such as groceries or sports equipment. They also don't have strong engines, so you won't be feeling the need for speed, with low acceleration times and not a lot of horsepower. You may have to put your pedal to the medal just to get it up to highway speed. They also tend to make bumps feel very large, which can make rides unpleasant. 


The hardest part is pulling the trigger on one of these cute little cars. You need to determine if they are right for you. These cars will not be good if you are a larger person, or plan on having multiple people in the car. Some of them don't even come as sedans, so getting passengers in the back could be a pain. If you are on a budget, these types of cars are great because of their affordability. It would be a perfect car for someone in or coming out of college where the revenue stream may not be flowing at its maximum yet. However, for the small price and great fuel economy, these cars can provide a great bargain.