If you're looking for a compact car, chances are you've considered the usual suspects, such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. We think those are good vehicles -- but we've made a list of some commonly overlooked compact cars for shoppers who are interested in adding a few more choices to their shopping lists.
Unlike the rest of the cars on this list, the Buick Verano is a luxury model -- and compared to some cars its size, it carries a premium price tag. But as luxury cars go, it's a stellar deal. Exterior and interior styling are clear high points: The Verano is an elegant car, especially for its $24,000 base manufacturer's suggested retail price. We also appreciate its two engine choices. One is for shoppers who want to conserve fuel (a 180-horsepower 4-cylinder that returns up to 32 miles per gallon on the highway), while the other (a 250-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder) gives sport-minded drivers a home in the Buick family. Most importantly, the Verano boasts a long list of standard equipment such as Bluetooth, a remote engine starter, Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system and a rearview camera.
Chevrolet's recent history in the compact-car segment hasn't been highly exceptional. But the brand's latest subcompact, the Sonic, helps to change all that. Offered as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Sonic boasts impressive levels of fit and finish, along with reasonable pricing and handsome styling. We're also impressed with the Sonic's gas mileage, which reaches as high as the all-important 40-mpg figure. And we love the long list of available features, which includes luxury-car options like MyLink infotainment, a power sunroof, leather seats and a remote starter. The Sonic starts around $15,000 for a sedan, or $15,600 for a hatchback.
The Dodge Dart isn't a perfect car -- but it's a great effort that boasts many standout points. Among them is one of the best infotainment systems in the business, which is optional on most Dart models. And while some shoppers complain about the Dart's lackluster performance, the latest Dart GT -- which adds 24 hp to the fray -- is sure to change that gripe. We're also impressed with the many available choices, from a bare-bones, base-level SE model ($17,000) to the sporty GT ($22,000) and the fuel-efficient Dart Aero ($17,000).
Most shoppers know of the compact Ford Focus. But not enough drivers are yet aware of the subcompact Fiesta, which made its debut for the 2011 model year. Available as a sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Fiesta combines driving excitement with handsome styling and reasonable pricing. We also like its interior, which boasts a unique design and more style than you might expect from a small car. If you're interested, the Fiesta starts around $14,000 for a sedan or just under $15,000 for a hatchback.
Many shoppers think of the Kia Rio as a bargain-basement subcompact. That's because the small Kia was sold for years as America's cheapest new car. But these days, things have changed -- and while the Rio is still reasonably priced, it's also a well-built, handsome new vehicle with a long list of features. We especially like the sporty Rio SX, which includes a rearview camera, Bluetooth, remote keyless entry and available navigation for around $19,500. But even a base-level Rio LX offers a long list of standard equipment -- including air conditioning and a USB port for music -- for less than $14,500. Best of all, the Rio can reach an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 30 mpg city/36 mpg highway, which are exceptional figures that will surely save you money at the pump.
The compact Subaru Impreza is surprisingly unknown considering its many positive attributes. One is obviously its all-weather capability: The Impreza is the only compact car that comes standard with all-wheel drive. But the Impreza also offers sturdy construction, a highly straightforward interior and available luxury-car gadgets such as a rearview camera and a navigation system. You may not be interested if you don't need all-wheel drive. But if you do, the Impreza is worth a look -- especially at its base price of around $18,500.
What it means to you: Our list of overlooked compact cars should point you in the right direction if you want to avoid what everyone else is driving.