We here at Car and Driver are huge fans of hatchbacks. Why? When you compare a hatchback versus a sedan, you’ll often find that you get a more useful interior layout and almost always more room for cargo. And when you compare a crossover versus a hatchback, hatchbacks can provide much of the utility of crossovers while often offering better fuel economy and zippier handling to boot. Hatchbacks run the spectrum, from small to fun and funky and everything in between. Here's our list of the best hatchbacks you can buy for 2019-2020.
The VW Golf is a well-executed hatchback that delivers an upscale experience at an affordable price. Its uncanny ability to be both immensely practical and fun to drive are traits that have earned it recurring spots on our annual 10Best Cars list. The Golf's small turbocharged engine provides respectable acceleration; its precise steering and predictable handling reward enthusiastic drivers. The Golf was exceedingly fuel efficient during our real-world testing. While some call its restrained exterior and uncomplicated interior uninspired, we'd argue that they're sophisticated and timeless. A sleek infotainment system and driver-assistance technology are also available. In our opinion, the Golf is one of the best hatchbacks you can buy.
Few cars manage to satisfy everyone, but the beloved Honda Civic proves that one car can be affordable and functional and entertaining. It comes in three body styles—coupe, sedan, and hatchback—plus offers potent engines and engaging driving responses, making it one of the best compact cars on the market. The main drawback is its divisive exterior styling. Those who can appreciate or look past that aspect will enjoy its excellent fuel economy, copious interior cubby space, and numerous standard driver assists. While fancier models are loaded with desirable features, others have enhanced performance, such as the 10Best–winning Civic Sport; we think the Civic Sport is one of the best hatchbacks for people who like to have fun behind the wheel.
The Golf GTI is the sportier version of Volkswagen's incredibly versatile hatchback, with increased power and upgraded performance pieces. While the regular Golf emphasizes value over performance, the GTI holds a special place in the hearts of driving enthusiasts. Credit its relative affordability and inherent practicality and—most of all—how it handles as well as pricier sports cars. Paired with an engaging manual transmission or a hasty automatic, its turbocharged four-cylinder sends 228 horsepower to the front wheels via a limited-slip differential. Both responsive and resolute, the GTI shines brightest when dissecting corners with an enthusiasm we find irresistible. If you're looking for a sporty ride, the GTI is at the top of our list for the best hatchback on the market.
With incredible performance and a polarizing appearance, Civic Type R shocks everyone who drives it and everyone who beholds it. Honda revised the front-drive rulebook by virtually eliminating torque steer and limiting understeer. This helps the raucous turbocharged engine and satisfying manual transmission accelerate the Type R just as well as its all-wheel-drive rivals. Likewise, its otherworldly driving responses are highlighted by telepathic steering, tremendous cornering grip, and a surprisingly smooth ride. While ordinary folks could not care less about these performance metrics, this extraordinary hatchback wasn't built for the faint of heart. Its fun-to-drive nature and 306-hp turbo engine makes it one of the best hatchbacks on the market for the driving enthusiast.
For those of us who are in a hurry but don't want to look like it, the VW Golf R provides brisk acceleration and heroic handling in an understated wrapper. Under the hood is a 288-hp turbocharged four-cylinder that can be had with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic; all-wheel drive is standard. Interior fit and finish is top-notch; an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a reconfigurable digital gauge display are standard. Driver-assistance features such as automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assist are included, too. Looking for the best hatchback for all-weather capability? The Golf R's all-wheel drive and powerful engine make it a great choice.
When is a car more than the sum of its parts? When it's Mazda 3. The zoom-zoom brand's compact car is offered as both a sedan and a handy hatchback and is powered by an efficient four-cylinder engine. It's not the quickest compact, based on our testing, but exploiting the Mazda 3's performance is easy, thanks to its nimble handling. The interior is nice enough to be mistaken for a luxury car and is also impressive in terms of features and build quality. You can't go wrong with any version of the Mazda 3; in hatchback form, we think it's one of the best hatchbacks around.
Despite its unusual three-door body, Veloster N offers agile handling, sharp steering, and immense cornering grip. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumps out 250 horsepower, but opt for the Performance package and it turns up the heat to 275—good for a 5.2-second rip from zero to 60 mph on our test track. The cabin styling is less distinct than its extroverted exterior, but it still has flair in the form of sport seats, light-blue seatbelts, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are standard, but if you're looking for driver-assistance features, you'll be forced to look elsewhere.
The Chevy Spark is extremely affordable, but thankfully its cost-cutting measures are well disguised. Its comfortable cabin feels larger than its subcompact classification suggests. While the many hard plastics are par for the course, its interior quality and available features are a cut above. Every model features an intuitive touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Fancier versions receive desirable amenities, such as heated front seats and optional driver-assistance technology. The Activ model adds rugged-looking exterior bits with distinct lower cladding, but every Spark is front-drive only. They're all powered by a dutiful four-cylinder engine and provide lively driving responses. We think the Spark is one of the best little hatchbacks around, which is why we named it to our Editors' Choice list.
We think the Kia Rio is one of the best hatchbacks you can buy, with a well-rounded and refined demeanor that should put it at the top of any savvy shopper's list. In around-town driving it's quiet and peppy, but the engine strains when accelerating up to highway speed. While the base LX model lacks even power windows or cruise control, you can get features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability and automated emergency braking on the more expensive S version.
While luxurious electric vehicles from Tesla and others cater to wealthy consumers, the Chevy Bolt makes pure-electric driving affordable. With an impressive 238 miles of estimated range and a cost of less than $40,000, the Bolt is one of the most accessible EVs on the market. It has optional fast charging that adds about 90 miles of range every 30 minutes. Its electrified powertrain also provides peppy acceleration, and its engaging driving responses are highlighted by adjustable regenerative-braking settings. The cabin uses economical, not premium, materials, but that's offset by an excellent infotainment system and considerable passenger space.
The diminutive Honda Fit can shoulder more cargo than its tiny exterior suggests. That's what makes it one of the best hatchbacks in the subcompact segment. Its so-called rear Magic Seat folds flat, or its thin-bottom cushions can be flipped up to create space for bulky or upright cargo. Unfortunately, that's its only party trick. The four-cylinder engine is buzzy at highway speed, the handling is unexceptional, and the cabin, while roomy and well-built, isn't particularly well-equipped. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is optional and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
The Corolla nameplate is synonymous with affordable and trustworthy transportation. The accessible compact comes as a hatchback or sedan and boasts noteworthy standard driver-assistance technology, such as adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking. Likewise, the entire lineup provides desirable infotainment features, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Only the sedan version offers a fuel-saving hybrid powertrain and two small gasoline engines while every hatchback uses a dutiful 168-hp four-cylinder. Both body styles offer a manual transmission and distinct sport-tuned models. While the sedan has a bigger back seat than the hatchback, both have well-executed interiors and quiet rides.
We think the Chevy Volt is one of the best hatchbacks available, but this plug-in hybrid is being discontinued after the 2019 model year. Why do we like it so much? Well, for one, it doesn't announce its greenness with wacky styling as does the Toyota Prius Prime. The Volt also offers a longer electric-only driving range; in our testing, it went 37 miles on the highway before the gasoline engine fired up. Its back seat is cramped, and the Volt's interior styling is vanilla, but it's well-equipped. A touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard, as is an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot.
This Leaf is making it easier to be green, combining a roomy interior with a sufficient all-electric driving range at a reasonable price. The base Leaf has an EPA-estimated range of 150 miles, while a larger battery pack gives the Leaf Plus a range of 226 miles. Both models have a nicely appointed interior, with room in the back for two adults. The Leaf offers a comfortable ride and a cabin that is quiet at speed. Available tech includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, adaptive cruise control, and Nissan's ProPilot Assist suite of driver-assistance features.
Chevrolet's snazzy Sonic offers fuel efficiency, agility, and practicality in a compact package. Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower; a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic are your transmission choices. With the manual, the Chevy Sonic gets 38 mpg on the highway. Its tidy dimensions and nimble handling make the Sonic a perfect urban transporter. The infotainment system has a 7.0-inch touchscreen with 4G LTE internet connectivity and onboard Wi-Fi as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The Sonic has useful cargo room, too, with 48 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded.
Since its introduction here in the States back in 2000, the Toyota Prius has become synonymous with the word "hybrid." In its most fuel-efficient version, the Prius is rated by the EPA at 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway. There's also an all-wheel-drive version for those who prefer the all-weather traction such a setup offers. The interior is dominated by a center-mounted set of gauges, which requires the driver's eyes to dart from them back to the road ahead—a setup we find annoyingly distracting. There's room for four six-foot-tall occupants; with the rear seats folded, the Prius has up to 27 cubic feet of cargo room.
Despite a name that sounds like something out of Transformers, the Toyota Prius Prime is actually the plug-in version of the Prius hybrid powertrain. That means in addition to running on the gas-powered engine it shares with the Toyota Prius, you can plug in the Prius Prime to recharge its battery; on a standard 120-volt household outlet, it takes about 5.5 hours, or about two hours on a 240-volt outlet. What's more, the Prius Prime can travel up to 25 miles on battery power alone. While the Prime has an EPA highway rating of 55 mpg and 133 MPGe, in our real-world testing, we saw up to 49 mpg and 118 MPGe.