2014 Subcompact Car Buying Guide

The 2014 Subcompact Car Buying Guide from CarPreview.com contains the newest and best in economical transportation. These are the smallest and generally least expensive rides on the road. Fuel economy is a virtue: most have EPA ratings over 30 miles per gallon city/highway combined. Affordable insurance and easy-to-park, simple-to-maneuver dimensions are others. And while their modest engines and conservative suspensions don’t spell driving excitement, a select few furnish surprisingly entertaining performance.

Most of the 18 entries in our 2014 Subcompact Car Buying Guide offer a choice of four-door-sedan and four-door-hatchback body styles. Sedans snare the lion’s share of sales based on styling tastes, the security of a locking trunk, and slightly lower prices than hatchbacks. Hatchbacks counter with more cargo versatility and more rakish looks. Both are available with a wide array of convenience and connectivity features – such as blind-spot monitors and Bluetooth linking – but neither has a surplus of cabin space. If your passenger list regularly includes more than one teenager or one grownup, the CarPreview.com 2014 Compact Car Buying Guide is your channel to roomier but still economical cars.

Every subcompact comes with front- and side airbags, antilock brakes, and other safety features. And all cars sold in the U.S. must meet minimum federal crash-safety standards for occupant protection. Check out the government 5-Star Safety Ratings for the latest crash-test results; as of this report, the only model-year 2014 subcompact to merit a five-star overall rating was the Chevrolet Sonic. Most other subcompacts earn three or four stars overall. But the key takeaway is that federal safety ratings compare only vehicles of like size and weight. Not only do larger, heavier cars tend to earn more frequent five-star ratings, engineering advantages and the laws of physics give their occupants an edge over those of smaller cars in real-world collisions.

Here is our 2014 Subcompact Car Buying Guide:

 

2014 Chevrolet Sonic

2014 Chevrolet Sonic RS (hatchback)

These four-door sedans and hatchbacks are terrific choices, with a solid feel, satisfying road manners, and above-average rear-seat and cargo room. Newly available are lane-departure and forward-collision-alert systems. Downsides are above-average prices and an oddly configured main instrument cluster. Fuel-economy ratings span 28-33 mpg city/highway combined. Base-price range is $14,495-$22,435. (Base prices in the 2014 Subcompact Car Buying Guide do not include optional equipment but do include manufacturer destination fees, which average around $800.)

 

2014 Chevrolet Spark

2014 Chevrolet Spark

Think of this as a baby Sonics and among the subcompacts with mini-car dimensions. Spark comes only as a four-passenger four-door hatchback, but with some of the same satisfying ride and handling that distinguishes the Sonic. A continuously variable transmission replaces a four-speed automatic for 2014. Fuel economy is rated 34 mpg combined for all configurations. Base-price range is $12,995-$17,210. See the CarPreview.com 2014 Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Buying Guide for a review of the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV pure-electric model.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]