10 Most Popular Small Cars

Christian Wardlaw | May 15, 2019

Wondering which small cars are the most popular*? You’ll find out in this list, and you’ll also learn that none of them are of the subcompact variety. The models are listed in reverse order of sales popularity, from the 10th most popular to the most popular.

*Popularity based on calendar-year sales for 2018

2019 Subaru Impreza Limited Sedan photo

10. Subaru Impreza (76,400)

Sold in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles, every Subaru Impreza comes with a 152-horsepower boxer-style 4-cylinder engine, a manual or continuously variable transmission, and all-wheel drive. That’s right: AWD is standard. You’ll choose between standard, Premium, Sport, and Limited trim, and every Impreza is a crash-test rock star.

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9. Toyota Prius (77,129)

Toyota’s thrifty 5-door hatchback is a gas-electric hybrid capable of getting up to 56 mpg in combined driving. Equipped with a midsize car interior and a small SUV’s cargo space, the Prius is both sizable and sensible. For 2019, Toyota adds an electric motor to the rear axle to create an all-wheel-drive system, updates the styling, and gives the Prius familiar trim level designations.

8. Volkswagen Jetta (90,787)

Redesigned for 2019, the Volkswagen Jetta offers impressive value with its near-midsize interior and trunk, highway fuel economy rating of 40 mpg, good crash-test ratings, and industry-leading warranty. Trims range from Spartan to sporty, and nearly every Jetta gets a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. The exception is the racy GLI, which is like a Volkswagen GTI but with a trunk.

2019 Kia Forte photo

7. Kia Forte (101,890)

Kia redesigned the Forte compact sedan for 2019, adding a sense of style and sophistication to the small car. They all have a 147-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and most include a CVT. Only the base FE trim is available with a manual gearbox. Other trims include LXS, S, and EX, and like every Kia, the Forte includes a generous warranty as well as a lengthy free trial to its connected service offering.

6. Kia Soul (104,709)

In its final year before a complete redesign, the Soul 5-door hatchback continues in base, Plus, and Exclaim trim levels. Each trim has a unique engine, and power output ranges from 130 hp to 201 hp. The Exclaim is the fun one, equipped with a turbocharged engine that turns the Soul into an urban rocket. Highlights include a tall driving position, lots of utility, and impressive levels of quality.

5. Chevrolet Cruze (142,617)

In its final year of production, the Chevy Cruze continues in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles. A victim of the consumer shift to SUVs, the 2019 Cruze nevertheless received a freshening for 2019, with a new infotainment system accompanying revised styling. The optional turbo-diesel engine continued, an alternative to the standard turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder gas engine.

2019 Hyundai Elantra

4. Hyundai Elantra (178,700)

Hyundai freshens the Elantra compact sedan for 2019, and gives the sporty Elantra GT 5-door hatchback a new N-Line treatment claimed to make the car even more fun to drive. Sedans are offered in six different trim levels and with three different engines, while the hatchback offers two distinctly different trims and drivetrains. All benefit from Hyundai’s class leading warranty and generous free connected service trial period.

3. Nissan Sentra (213,046)

The Nissan Sentra is one of the oldest cars in the compact sedan segment, and remains one of the most popular. Roomy inside, and value-priced, the aged Sentra is offered in S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, SL, and NISMO trim levels.

2. Toyota Corolla (280,886)

For 2019, Toyota sells two very different versions of the Corolla. The 4-door sedan has been around for a while, held over a year while Toyota prepared a completely redesigned replacement. The 5-door hatchback is all-new for 2019, introducing dramatic powertrain, ride-and-handling, and technological improvements. Either way, the Corolla remains a popular choice among consumers.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan photo

1. Honda Civic (325,760)

Honda covers all of the bases with the 2019 Civic. The car comes in coupe, hatchback, and sedan body styles. You can get a sporty Sport hatch, a performance-tuned Si coupe or sedan, or the wicked-fast Civic Type R. Touring trim adds a dose of luxury, and the mainstream Civic models offer turbocharged or non-turbocharged power plants. Oh, and here’s something else. The Honda Insight is essentially a Civic Hybrid with different styling.

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