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2022 grey VW Jetta sedan on the side of the road

The 10 Best Small Cars for 2022

When you live in the city, it’s inevitable to consider a small car as a daily driver. These vehicles have an excellent versatility that makes them fit pretty much anywhere, be they in a garage, in a parking lot, or on the side of a sidewalk. Likewise, their size makes them easy to maintain and repair and less gas-guzzling than SUVs or pickup trucks. Overall, they’re a convenient option to commute individually or with the whole family.

And as much as SUVs are taking over the car scene, especially in North America, sedans and even some hatchbacks are still the bread and butter in many countries.

It’s true that a few years ago, there were dozens of small car models and that today there are fewer left. Still, these models have become better in every way: more sophisticated mechanics, revolutionary technology, and better equipment.

For 2022, we still find interesting proposals from the leading brands. Some of them are not new to the market but are still getting new updates every year, so if you are looking for small or compact cars, this is the list for you.

Small Car #1: 2022 Honda Civic

2022 red Honda Civic sedan with a night sky background
Via: Xataka.

Important Info

  • Base price: $23,000
  • Updates: Major
  • 0-60 mph: 7.3 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 28 mpg / 37 Hwy
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.6 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The redesigned Civic offers better aesthetics with a cleaner, more refined styling and improved efficiency, maintaining its characteristic practicality and agile handling

Pros: Sharp handling, above-average fuel efficiency, upscale interior

Cons: Feels less potent than the previous gen, not the quietest ride quality, lacks lumbar support in the front seats

For the 11th generation Civic coming in 2022, Honda ditched that extravagant front and rear styling, giving us something much more understated. The dimensions of this new Civic are the largest in its history. The top-of-the-range (Touring) comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that pumps out 176 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque paired with a CVT transmission.

The upholstery is made of leather of excellent quality and touch and includes a mesh with a honeycomb design that serves as camouflage for the air conditioning system vents. The instrument cluster is virtual with a 10.2-inch screen and a central 9-inch touch screen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2022 Civic comes with a “Honda Sensing” safety suite that includes lane departure alert, predictive braking, eight airbags, and stability and traction controls, and more.

The new Civic comes with driving modes: Normal, Sport, and ECO, the latter is aimed at fuel efficiency, the Sport for a more forceful acceleration, and finally, the Normal mode is for daily driving.

Small Car #2: 2022 Mazda 3

2022 gray Mazda 3 hatchback on industrial setting
Via: Noticias Coches.

Important Info

  • Base price: $21,800
  • Updates: Moderate
  • 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 23 mpg / 32 Hwy
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.6 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The Mazda 3 is a good looking and well-equipped car with upscale finishes, offering more bang for your buck than most rivals

Pros: Interior quality in premium car territory, top-notch infotainment system, great package of standard tech and safety features

Cons: Some rivals offer better comfort, key infotainment features are missing on the base trim, the hatchback version has several blind spots

The Mazda 3 range is renewed for 2022 with aesthetic enhancements and more equipment options. But the most important thing is the beautiful new Homura sports finish.

Externally, this model receives a color called Platinum Quartz and some indicators under the Kodo style language.

The Mazda 3 Homura includes seven airbags, ESP, 360º camera, dual-zone climate control, intelligent AR SCBS reverse braking and parking sensors with a rearview camera.

To reinforce the sporty character of the Homura trim, it also gets tinted windows, mirrors, and alloy wheels in gloss black (18-inch) and the door pillars in “Piano Black.” In the passenger compartment, we find heated seats and an exclusive black upholstery with red stitching.

Thanks to the MyMazda application, it allows remote locking of the doors, sending directions to the vehicle, location, and monitoring its status.

Lastly, the e-SKYACTIV X gasoline engine will continue as one of the main power plants in the Mazda 3 2022 lineup. Without forgetting fuel efficiency, this engine gets a power increase to deliver 186 horses and maximum torque of 177 lb-ft.

Small Car #3: 2022 MINI Cooper

2022 silver Mini Cooper hatchback on media photoshoot
Via: Gossip Vehiculos.

Important Info

  • Base price: $20,600
  • Updates: Moderate
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 23 mpg /  Hwy 33
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.4 /10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The Mini Cooper is not the most practical car, but it makes up with sportiness and driving joy

Pros: Fun to drive, iconic design, nimble handling

Cons: Cramped interior space, pricey options, stiffer ride than some competitors

The 2022 MINI Cooper receives its most significant update since the premiere of its third generation. This facelift encompasses design, engine, and equipment innovations for the MINI Convertible and three- and five-door hatchbacks.

The redesign includes a more prominent grille in the same body color, framed by a new high-gloss black trim. In addition, the fascia takes on cleaner features by replacing the fog lamps with vertical air intakes to optimize aerodynamics. The rear only receives a touch-up in the sporty bumper decoration at the back.

From now on, the three- and five-door MINI Cooper and the convertible come standard with LED headlights and skulls, infotainment with an 8.8 “display—with renewed graphics—and an instrument cluster with a 5” display.

Optional equipment includes the electric parking brake, adaptive cruise control with stop & go function, lane-keeping assist, and an adaptive suspension.

Except for the Cooper S, the engine is still 1.5-liter with outputs of 75, 102, and 136 hp, and the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with 178 to 231 hp. Then, of course, there’s also the 184-hp electric Cooper SE.

Small Car #4: 2022 Toyota Prius

2022 red Toyota Prius hybrid sedan on city setting
Via: Autotrader.

Important Info

  • Base price: $26,500
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 10 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 52 mpg / 48 Hwy
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating:  8.3 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The Prius remains an iconic electrified and fuel-efficient car, but it’s starting to fall behind cheaper and more efficient alternatives

Pros: Available all-wheel-drive, long list of standard features, its fuel economy remains competitive

Cons: Unattractive styling, disappointing performance, dull interior

Although the new Prius doesn’t have substantial changes for 2022, it follows the Corolla SE‘s footsteps with a two-tone alternative in its Premium version. This includes a gloss black roof that matches the accents on the grille highlighting its design.

The new Prius has a seven-inch touch screen in all versions with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard.

The mechanical combination is the effective Hybrid Synergy Drive. It couples a 1.8-liter engine with an electric motor with permanent magnets that draws energy from a self-recharging battery regenerative braking system. The set delivers 121 horsepower to the front axle via a planetary gear automatic transmission.

It retains all four driving modes with a Sport to combine both motors and deliver maximum power when needed. The EV mode runs on electricity alone and has no carbon emissions.

The safety equipment is also the most complete that can be found in a car for this price, as it has 10 airbags and stability and traction control.

Small Car #5: 2022 Nissan Leaf

2022 white Nissan Leaf EV hatchback with mountain background
Via: Autofacil.

Important Info

  • Base price: $25,000
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: 215 mile EV range
  • Basic Warranty: 5 years / 60,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.2 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The Leaf is an affordable and convenient EV if you’re ok with avoiding long distance-trips

Pros: Good package of driver assistance features, quiet ride, reasonably priced

Cons: Small cargo and storage space, its charging port isn’t as standard as some rivals, other EVs are more exciting to drive

The new Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular electric cars due to its good balance between price, habitability, and range.

It has an exciting front, where its opaque grill stands out, with a 3D-looking panel. The headlights, as well as having a sharp design, have fantastic illumination.

The seats are made with high-quality materials. In this aspect, the batteries’ location under the passenger compartment’s floor is noticeable since the driving position is somewhat high for a compact.

Its level of equipment is basic, with the intention of not overloading the vehicle’s weight. It includes heated seats, electric handbrake, electric windows, multifunction steering wheel, and various driving aids, to name a few key features.

The ride is tranquil and comfortable, especially on the highway. Its electric motor has plenty of power to make any trip efficient. Doing everyday driving, it’s easy to register consumptions of 18 kWh, and the range is close to 237 miles.

Its 217 horsepower and instantaneous torque give it an exciting acceleration and fun to drive. But unfortunately, it’s not a light car, so despite having a low center of gravity, its reactions are somewhat lazy.

Small Car #6: 2022 Toyota Corolla

2022 gray Toyota Corolla sedan on marina setting
Via: Autotrader.

Important Info

  • Base price: $22,200
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 7.3
  • Fuel Economy: City 36 mpg /  Hwy 52  mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.2 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The Corolla is an attractive, well equipped, and reliable, compact car

Pros: Comfortable driving experience, roomy back seat, lots of standard features

Cons: Engine is a bit noisy, not as engaging to drive as some rivals, the hatchback lacks practicality

Toyota introduced a new version of the Corolla for 2022. The new XLE variant offers equipment attributes that stand out, such as DLR lights in headlights, side mirrors with directional and defroster, automatic air conditioning, and a sunroof.

In the engine, there are no changes, and XLE falls into the group of versions that feature the 1.8-liter engine with 139 hp, 126 pound-feet of torque, and a CVT transmission.

We already find the 2.0-liter engine with 169 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque in the same way with a CVT transmission for the more equipped variants. The only version that adds simulated paddle shifters to the steering wheel is the SE.

The level of equipment varies on each version, with screens of seven or eight inches, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth in all versions, in addition to a six-speaker audio system and ambient light only for the Corolla hybrid.

Safety features include traction control, ABS brakes, electronic distribution of braking force, brake assist in emergency situations, and stability control.

Small Car #7: 2022 KIA Forte

2022 gray KIA Forte sedan with sunset background
Via: KIA.

Important Info

  • Base price: $20,000
  • Updates: Moderate
  • 0-60 mph: 8 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 30 mpg / 40 Hwy
  • Basic Warranty: 5 years / 60,000 miles
  • Our Rating:  8.1  / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: Although it looks more attractive than ever and continues to offer good equipment, its performance leaves much to be desired, especially compared to its rivals

Pros: Striking looks, the base trim comes well-equipped, offers good value for money

Cons: The standard powertrain feels timid, the chassis could use some improvement, rivals offer better handling

The 2022 Kia Forte is now available in many markets and has a new, more modern look in line with the brand’s design philosophy.

The mid-life update includes a new appearance in the front, side, rear, and interior, with new fascias and newly designed headlights and integrating more modern lighting technology, different 16 or 17-inch wheels depending on the version and the logo most modern of the firm.

The 4.2-inch color cluster in the instrument cluster is available from the EX version, with the same 10.25-inch color screen also from the EX grade with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The new Kia Forte 2022 integrates Drive Wise assists for the GT Line and GT versions. In addition, it incorporates lane-keeping assist, forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection and dynamic high beams, among other features.

The engine lineup remains, with a 2-liter that pumps out 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque or a turbocharged 1.6-liter with 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options are the CVT or a six-speed manual.

Small Car #8: 2022 Hyundai Accent

2022 burgundy Hyundai Accent sedan on a city street
Via: Edmunds.

Important Info

  • Base price: $17,500
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 28 mpg /  Hwy 37  mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 5 years / 60,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.1 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The Accent strikes a nice balance between efficiency, attractive styling, and a good pack of features

Pros: Handsome looks, agile handling, good build quality

Cons: Noisy engine, cramped rear seat, dull performance

The 2022 Hyundai Accent Sedan is an excellent alternative within the small car segment thanks to an attractive design and equipment adequate with its price.

Features include halogen headlights with a daytime running system and automatic control.  Inside, the only success on the dash is the layout of the infotainment console, making the cabin stand out.

In terms of equipment, the Accent offers automatic air conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, a rear-view camera, a 3.5 LCD monitor cluster of instruments, and an infotainment console with a compatible 7-inch color LCD touch screen. It’s also compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

In terms of safety, it offers two front airbags, two more on the sides, and two curtain-type. In addition, it has electronic stability control, slope assistance control, electro-assisted steering, and more.

The heart of the Accent is a 1.6-liter engine that generates 121 horsepower and 111 lb-ft of torque, which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission in the city. These benefits translate into relaxed and efficient driving in terms of fuel consumption.

Small Car #9: 2022 VW Jetta

2022 grey VW Jetta sedan on the side of the road
Via: CNET.

Important Info

  • Base price: $21,200
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 7.6 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 30 mpg / 40 Hwy mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 4 years / 50,000 miles
  • Our Rating:  7.9 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The Jetta is an economical and efficient small sedan but falls short in features and styling compared to some rivals

Pros: Excellent fuel efficiency, compelling driveability, plenty of cargo space

Cons: Could use more power, rivals offer more features and better styling, no available hybrid powertrain

The Volkswagen Jetta gets a subtle facelift for 2022 with only slight tweaks to the grille and bumpers and the wheel design.

Inside, what stands out the most is the brand’s new steering wheel, the same from Taos and from various models available in Europe. From there on, everything maintains its original design, with a driver-oriented dashboard and 10 “displays for the infotainment system, wirelessly compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 10.25” digital instrument cluster.

The main novelty is in the engine, at least for the United States. The current model’s 1.4 TSI makes way for the new 1.5-liter turbo engine that generates 158 hp and 184 lb.-ft., with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.

The Jetta receives the complete suite of driving aids in all versions, including an autonomous emergency brake, adaptive cruise control, and a blind-spot monitor.

At the equipment level, there are also essential changes. For example, from now on, the VW Play infotainment system with a 10 “screen will be included as standard in all versions, along with a fully digital instrument panel.

Small Car #10: 2022 KIA Rio

2022 white KIA Rio hatchback on media photoshoot
Via: Diariomotor.

Important Info

  • Base price: $17,000
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 8.2 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: City 33 mpg / Hwy 41 mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 5 years / 60,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 7.8 / 10

OUR THOUGHTS: PROS & CONS

Summary: The KIA Rio is a good product with adequate equipment, quality workmanship, and with agile and stable handling

Pros: Decent standard features, more than acceptable driving demeanor, offers good value for money

Cons: Unimpressive fuel economy, the cabin is noisier than expected, tight back seat and cargo space

The updates to the KIA Rio that it received in 2021 were very subtle but translated into an overall enhanced driving experience.

The KIA Rio 2022 offers a much safer and more comfortable driving experience with a refined and elegant touch in all vehicle materials. In addition, it provides a comfortable space on the second bench and ergonomic chairs, making every moment of travel more pleasant.

The Kia Rio Hatchback is sporty and innovative; the aerodynamic lines and robust contour give onlookers a good idea of its performance. In addition, features like the updated front bumper add eye-catching details.

Using the hot stamping method, its body is made of ultra-high-strength steel, making the car lighter and increasing its stiffness. The result: better fuel efficiency and crash safety.

It’s also compatible with Bluetooth connectivity and an intuitive multimedia system that allows a distraction-free connection.

Kia Rio has a 1.4L gasoline engine that produces 121 horsepower and 111 lb-ft of torque. The car offers optimal performance in fuel consumption with 6-speed Manual and Automatic Transmission, depending on the version.