Best City Cars
The best city cars aren’t cars for the city – or rather, they’re not just for the city. A competent, modern city car will be designed first and foremost for the urban environment, but even dyed-in-the-wool townies leave their metropolitan nests from time to time. It’s on motorways and open roads that city cars’ true colours are shown: it’s relatively easy to build a cheap, nimble and economical car that’s only going to be driven at 40mph, but at higher speeds, any shortcomings become all too apparent. Why are we talking so much about extra-urban roads if city cars are intended for town use? Well, taking them beyond their ostensible limits is a great test of robustness, comfort and overall build quality. The city cars we recommend here are all excellent in town, but they’re also decent to drive when you need to venture out beyond the ring road. Furthermore, while nipping through narrow city streets tends to be satisfyingly easy in a city car, on winding A and B-roads, the models we feature all impress, with accurate steering, well-engineered suspension and a certain sense of fun that’s hard to quantify, but easy to notice – particularly if it’s lacking. Another vital aspect of city cars is cost of ownership. If, for example, you live reasonably near the centre of a big town or city, many of your journeys are likely to be made on foot or via public transport, with the car reserved for the supermarket shop, special trips out and jaunts into the countryside. It simply doesn’t make financial sense to have a car that’s expensive to service, insure and run if it’s not used that often – multiple taxi rides may work out cheaper than a car that’s heavy on fuel and maintenance. So read on to find out our top picks and, if you think you need something a little larger, head over to our top 10 run-downs of the best superminis and best family hatchbacks.
Best City Cars
Navigating the congestion of city streets requires a car that’s nimble enough to dart into openings in snarled traffic and able to show a pothole who’s boss. Urban driving also requires a car with good outward visibility (to easily spot pedestrians) and an origami-like ability to fit into petite parking spots. For city dwellers, small cars can be a smart way to make urban driving easier. And small doesn’t have to mean flimsy. Our tests have shown that small cars don’t have to feel like they were built with materials from a 2-year-old’s pedal car. The mini-utility segment has grown from just one model in 2011 (the frog-eyed Nissan Juke) to more than a dozen—with the addition of snappy so-called cute-utes that prove it’s cool to be minuscule. Most of the vehicles are targeted toward people in the early stages of their careers, doing double-duty as weekday commuter vehicles and weekend escape pods. The vehicles on our city cars list (in alphabetical order in the gallery below) are about 10 inches shorter in wheelbase and overall length than vehicles in the next-larger class. But their often ingenious design and efficient use of space means you don’t have to endure cramped, spartan interior quarters. The Honda Fit and Kia Soul feel more airy and spacious than you’d think, and the well-crafted interior of the Audi A3 doesn’t make you feel like you settled for a bare-bones car. But that improved packaging of interior space mostly results in more room for stuff than people. Most city cars won’t hold more than four occupants, and those in back often will be cramped. Every car here is recommended by Consumer Reports. That means they did well in our road tests, with sprightly acceleration and crisp handling that’s rare to find in smaller cars. These mini-mighties have average or better predicted reliability and praiseworthy fuel economy, and they did well in federal or insurance-industry crash-safety tests. Our great eight city cars prove you can go small yet still drive a car that doesn’t make you feel as if you should have spent more money. After all, in the city, size matters.
Best City Cars
Photo: Mercedes-Benz USA › 1 of 14 › Urban-Friendly Cars to Excite Your City Drives Driving in the city limits is a whole different ballgame than a highway commute. It can be made easier by choosing the right vehicle. A preferable city car is generally small, easily maneuverable, and has a balance between peppy performance and good fuel economy. The best vehicles for city driving are usually small cars, however subcompact SUVs are equally viable, and an argument can be made supporting some compact SUVs as well. More electric cars and plug-in hybrids are starting to show up in the market, and these vehicles are also excellent choices for city driving. This is especially true if your city has access to a decent public charging network. Click through to check out our list of the best city cars. Read the 2017 Smart Fortwo Full Review See 2017 Smart Fortwo Photos See Subcompact Cars Rankings
Urban-Friendly Cars to Excite Your City Drives Driving in the city limits is a whole different ballgame than a highway commute. It can be made easier by choosing the right vehicle. A preferable city car is generally small, easily maneuverable, and has a balance between peppy performance and good fuel economy. The best vehicles for city driving are usually small cars, however subcompact SUVs are equally viable, and an argument can be made supporting some compact SUVs as well. More electric cars and plug-in hybrids are starting to show up in the market, and these vehicles are also excellent choices for city driving. This is especially true if your city has access to a decent public charging network. Click through to check out our list of the best city cars. Read the 2017 Smart Fortwo Full Review See 2017 Smart Fortwo Photos See Subcompact Cars Rankings
10 Best City Cars 2015: Scion iQ The next of the 10 Best City Cars 2015—the Scion iQ—is sort of like a Smart ForTwo writ large(r). It offers the same kind of over-tall proportions as the latter, but leverages an extra 14 inches in length to make room for two more passengers. Like all Scions, the iQ delivers a notable emphasis on style, complemented by a standard six-speaker display audio system from Pioneer and 11 standard airbags. Also, like most of the 10 Best City Cars of 2015, the Scion can turn up some very strong fuel-economy numbers, especially in city and combined driving. In fact, the EPA grades for the Scion are even better than for the current Smart car, with a standard line of 36 mpg city/37 mpg highway/37 mpg combined. The 2014 Scion iQ currently is at dealerships priced from $16,420.
10 Best City Cars 2015: MINI Hardtop True, the brand-new, next-gen MINI Hardtop is a bit bigger than the previous version, but it still fits into our 10 Best City Cars 2015 list with a length of about 150 inches. Even better, it also welcomes a new four-door model that will enable seating for five and a nice boost in versatility, yet while remaining one of the most fun-to-drive of the 10 Best City Cars 2015. Certainly helping matters is an all-turbo powertrain lineup that features a three-cylinder entry engine that complements 134 hp with an EPA line of up to 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway/34 mpg combined (in the Hardtop’s two-door body style). For more pop beneath the hood, the available four-cylinder turbo ups the ante to 189 hp, yet still turns up EPA marks of 25 mpg city/38 mpg highway/29 mpg combined.
10 Best City Cars 2015: Fiat 500 Uncoincidentally, Fiat also is testing an all-electric powertrain in its entry among the 10 Best City Cars 2015, in the form of the FIAT 500 EV. But more drivers will be attracted by the 500’s Italian flair, and particularly its combination of stylish design and peppy performance. As a reminder, not only does the 500 come in both convertible and coupe configurations, it also serves up a choice of two turbocharged engines. The power leader is found in the 500 Abarth, home to a 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo with MultiAir technology and outputs of 160 hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque. On the other hand, even the standard FIAT 500 makes an excellent option as one of the 10 Best City Cars 2015, thanks to fuel-economy grades of up to 31mpg city/40 mpg highway/34 mpg combined, an entry cost of $16,445 and an available BeatsAudio sound system.
10 Best City Cars 2015: Mitsubishi Mirage Already a modest hit in its first year on the U.S. market, the Mitsubishi Mirage is the most fuel-efficient, gas-powered, non-hybrid car in the country and has achieved EPA ratings of up to 37 mpg city/44 mpg highway/40 mpg combined. Yet even with that sharp focus on efficiency, and an MSRP that starts at $12,995, the Mirage brings an eminently livable package to our roster of 10 Best City Cars 2015. Standard features include automatic, filtered climate control with rear-seat heat ducts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth for hands-free calling, a multi-function steering wheel, seven airbags and a 140-watt sound system with four speakers and USB port. Mitsubishi continues to fine-tune the Mirage, too, and deploys new interior chrome trim and a short-pole antenna for the new model year, making it an even better choice as one of the 10 Best City Cars 2015.