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8 Best Compact Cars Under $25,000 for 2019

If you’re looking for an efficient, value-packed new car, it’s worth centering your search around the compact segment. As SUVs have become more and more popular recently, it’s easy to find an exceptional deal on a new compact car, and you’ll probably be surprised by just how many of the latest features you can afford for not a lot of money. Here we’ll outline eight of the best compact cars under $25,000 that you can buy new today.

2020 Toyota Corolla

2020 Toyota Corolla and Toyota Corolla Hybrid

The Toyota Corolla is all-new for the 2020 model year, and for the first time ever, a hybrid model has been added to the mix. Powering the normal 2019 Corolla is either a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder making 139 horsepower or a 2.0-liter four making 169 hp. A variety of active safety features come standard, including radar cruise control, pedestrian detection with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams. For a sportier aesthetic, consider the new Corolla Hatchback, which can be had with a 6-speed manual transmission with a unique rev-matching feature that makes driving a manual easy for even a novice. If fuel efficiency is your number-one priority, consider the new Corolla Hybrid, which serves as a more subdued alternative to the Prius. The Corolla Hybrid uses a version of that same 1.8-liter 4-cylinder paired with a hybrid component. Fuel economy comes in at an impressive 53 miles per gallon in the city and 52 mpg on the highway. The new Corolla starts at around $20,000 and stops shy of $27,000 when fully-loaded. Look to either an XLE sedan, XSE hatchback or LE Hybrid for $25,000. Find a Toyota Corolla for sale or Find a Toyota Corolla Hybrid for sale

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta is all-new for 2019. Critics panned the outgoing model for straying too far from Volkswagen’s roots in favor of affordability, and the new model attempts to rectify some of those shortcomings, with a renewed focus on style, quality and driving dynamics. The new Jetta runs from about $20,000 to $28,000. Under the hood is a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder putting out 147 hp and a healthy 184 lb-ft of torque, allowing for fuel economy figures of 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy. The new Jetta is offered with either an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. We like the SE or R-Line trims at the sub-$25,000 mark. The SE comes with blind spot monitoring, passive keyless entry with push-button start, and a sunroof, while the R-Line trim adds styling elements like a black grille, black mirror caps, black wheels, fog lights, a dual rear exhaust and 2-tone seating surfaces. Find a Volkswagen Jetta for sale

2019 Hyundai Elantra

2019 Hyundai Elantra

The current Hyundai Elantra bowed for the 2017 model year and receives a face-lift for 2019. As far as compact cars under $25,000 go, the Elantra is an excellent value, as buyers can get an almost-loaded top-of-the-line Limited model for under $25k. The Elantra Limited comes with heated leather seats, wireless charging, an Infinity audio system, a 7-in infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 17-in alloy wheels, and all the safety features you could want for just $23,720 when factoring in shipping and destination fees. Like Kia, Hyundai also offers an excellent warranty, with 5 years/60,000 miles of basic coverage and 10 years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. Find a Hyundai Elantra for sale

2019 Kia Forte

2019 Kia Forte

The Forte was fully redesigned for the 2019 model year. Like most Kia products, the Forte offers great value in the form of active safety features, infotainment tech and other items like available heated and ventilated front seats. Under the hood of every new Forte is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque and paired with a continuously variable transmission. In addition to its offering good value, we like the Forte for its quick steering and its great warranty, which comes in at 5 years/60,000 miles of basic coverage and 10 years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. The Forte starts at around $19,000, while a fully-loaded launch edition includes a sunroof, Harmon Kardon audio system, and all of the safety features you could want for around $26,000. A little negotiating should get you closer to the $25,000 range. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the board, which is a major plus in our eyes. While a hatchback version has been announced for other markets, it is unknown whether it will be sold in America. Find a Kia Forte for sale

2019 Honda Civic

2019 Honda Civic

Honda’s compact car, the Civic, has been on sale here in the U.S. for decades and, in that time, has become one of the best-selling cars in America. Offered in three different body styles — sedan, coupe and hatchback — it’s hard to go wrong with a Civic. Additionally, Civic hallmarks also include good reliability and smart interior design.

Under the hood is either a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 158 hp or a 1.5-liter turbocharged four putting out 174 hp, although higher-output performance-oriented powertrains are offered in the sporty Si and Type R models. Transmission options are either a 6-speed manual or CVT. Standard active safety features include an automatic emergency braking system, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality for use in traffic. Pricing for the Civic starts at about $20,000 and reaches around $30,000 for fully-loaded examples. At the $25,000 mark, look to an EX model, which will get you features like a power sunroof and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, plus the aforementioned safety features. Find a Honda Civic for sale

2019 Honda Insight

If you want efficiency without the hybrid car image, consider the Honda Insight. Based heavily on the Civic, the Insight replaces the Civics more conventional powertrain with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder mated to electric motors, allowing for a total system output of 151 hp and returning an impressive 55 mpg city/49 mpg hwy/42 mpg combined. Beyond that, the Insight is very similar to the Civic with regard to exterior styling and dimensions, although Honda has made little changes that differentiate the two inside and out. Pricing starts at about $24,000 and reaches just over $29,000. For $25k, we recommend a middle-of-the-pack EX model, which gets you an 8-in infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, plus a good array of additional features. Find a Honda Insight for sale

2019 Mazda3

The Mazda3 is fully-redesigned for the 2019 model year and serves to help push the Mazda brand further upmarket. Wearing dramatic, attractive styling inside and out, the Mazda3 feels like a luxury vehicle in a lot of ways, which is remarkable considering its mainstream price tag. Sedan and hatchback versions are offered, as is an available all-wheel-drive system, a feature that has been offered on Mazda’s compact before. Like previous generations, the new Mazda3 is offered in both sedan and hatchback body styles, both of which come in at around $25,000 when you opt for an automatic transmission and AWD. Alternatively, a front-wheel-drive sedan in the "Preferred" trim offers a power driver’s seat, Bose Audio, automatic high beams, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and more for just over $25k. Only the hatchback is available with a manual. Under the hood of every 2019 Mazda3 is a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine making 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. This engine is carried over from the previous-generation Mazda3. Expect to see a more fuel efficient option added down the line. Find a Mazda3 for sale


2019 Subaru Impreza

Subaru has carved out a niche for itself by offering its vehicles with standard AWD. While you’ll still need beefier tires and higher ground clearance for real off-road performance, Subaru buyers can rest assured knowing that their vehicles offer better capability when it comes to snowy on-road conditions and can also handle light off-roading in a pinch. The current-generation Impreza has been on sale since the 2017 model year and is offered in both sedan and hatchback body styles. In addition to AWD, safety and fuel economy are the Impreza’s strong suits. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine putting out 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, enabling it to return up to 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. Additionally, every 2019 Impreza can be optioned with a package of active safety features consisting of adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, and lane-keeping assist. Pricing for the Impreza runs from about $20,000 to $30,000. At around the $25,000 mark, we like a Sport or a Limited model in the hatchback body style. Find a Subrau Impreza for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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