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Best small cars of 2020

Compare 7 models based on their MSRP, fuel efficiency, spaciousness and more.

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Portrait of a young woman inside her car smiling

With gas prices staying low, now is a good time to invest in a small car and reap the savings. If you’re not sure where to start, these top options — and helpful tips — can help you choose your next ride.

How did we choose these vehicles?

We selected models based on their safety and reliability ratings, spaciousness, technology features, manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) and fuel economy. We only looked at the base models of each vehicle, so keep in mind that selecting a different trim may affect the fuel efficiency and overall price of the car.

7 best small cars of 2020

These small cars rank well for price, fuel efficiency and other standard features.

2021 Toyota Corolla

  • MSRP: $19,150
  • City/highway (L/100 km): 8.0/6.0

The Toyota Corolla is known for its comfort, style and reliability. The Corolla comes equipped with a host of standard safety features and an infotainment system. Although, you’ll have to decide if all these features are worth the relatively high starting price of $19,150.

2020 Honda Fit

  • MSRP: $18,075
  • City/highway (L/100 km): 8.1/6.6

The Honda Fit is one of the highest-ranked cars of 2020 thanks to its excellent fuel economy, flexible cargo room, sleek design and advanced technology available. However, this may not be the best option for the price, especially if you’re not looking for the fancier bells and whistles that come with its infotainment system.

    2020 Hyundai Accent

    • MSRP: $14,949
    • City/highway (L/100 km): 8.2/6.3

    With a competitive price and class-standard fuel efficiency, the Hyundai Accent may be a good choice if you’re looking for good handling and a roomy interior. It can be a bargain, but some reviews state that its slow acceleration and low-power USB ports may not be to everyone’s standard.

    2020 Hyundai Elantra

    • MSRP: $17,149
    • City/highway (L/100 km): 7.8/5.6

    The Hyundai Elantra is one of the pricier small-car options, but it makes up for it in fuel efficiency — earning a 6.8 combined L/100 km. Like many small cars, it has a good reliability rating and offers plenty of tech features. But for the price, it demonstrates a relatively lackluster performance.

    2020 Kia Forte

    • MSRP: $17,695
    • City/highway (L/100 km): 8.6/6.4

    The Kia Forte is best known for its roomy interior and large trunk, but its easy-to-use tech features, good reliability ratings and multiple safety features don’t hurt either. However, some reviews state that the ride quality isn’t the best. If that’s important to you, you may want to consider one of its upgraded trims that come with enhanced performance.

    2020 Honda Civic

    • MSRP: $20,285
    • City/highway (L/100 km): 9.3/6.5

    The Honda Civic’s known for its handling, classy interior and good-quality craftsmanship, making it a practical car for just about anyone. However, compared to other small cars, the Honda Civic’s price point may put it out of reach to some more budget conscious customers.

    2020 Mazda Mazda3

    • MSRP: $18,000
    • City/highway (L/100 km): 8.7/6.4

    As the most expensive car on this list, a Mazda3 is ideal for drivers looking for elegant design, quick acceleration and good handling. While it’s made with premium materials to ensure an upscale look, it isn’t the roomiest car around. However, it scores high safety ratings and crash test scores.

    Why should I invest in a small car?

    Buying a small car comes with several benefits, especially when you take your budget into consideration:

    • Less money spent at the pump. When gas prices are low, it may be tempting to get a gas-guzzling truck or SUV. But you’ll save hundreds of dollars a year by opting for a smaller car, even when gas prices are affordable. And when the price of gas eventually increases, you’ll thank yourself for going small and avoiding that huge bill every time you visit the pump.
    • Easier to get financing. If you don’t have a great credit score, you may only get approved for a small car loan amount. So if you’re relying on financing to purchase a car, your options might be limited to small cars as opposed to more expensive SUVs or trucks.
    • Fewer greenhouse gas emissions. You can check your car’s emissions on Natural Resources Canada search tool, but the concept is simple: The smaller your engine, the less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your car will produce. This makes driving a small car a good choice for your wallet and your environmental conscience.
    • Easier to drive and park. If you live in a crowded city or take frequent road trips, a small car — especially a compact car — makes it that much easier to navigate and park in cramped spaces.

    5 tips for buying a small car

    Once you’ve decided that buying a small car is right for you, use these tips to help you get a good deal:

    1. Consider your needs. When you’re comparing small cars, consider cargo space and safety features alongside any trim details and technology you want.
    2. Get preapproved. Getting preapproved for a car loan from a few banks or third-party lenders can give you more bargaining power when you hit the dealership.
    3. Check manufacturer incentives. If you decided to buy or lease a new car, check the manufacturer’s website to see if it has any special deals or incentives available. This may include 0% APR financing, no money down or cash back to help offset the price of the car.
    4. Schedule multiple test-drives. Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three models, schedule test-drives for each one. This is especially important if you’re buying used, since it gives you a chance to check for any damages or potential issues.
    5. Prepare to negotiate. When you’re ready to buy, remember to negotiate the price of the car — not the monthly payment. If you plan to finance through the dealership, bring along your most competitive preapproval offer to see if the salesperson is willing to offer a lower rate. You can find more tips for negotiating with a car dealer with our guide.

    Compare car loan providers

    Name Product Min. Loan Amount Interest Rate Loan Term Min. Credit Score Requirements
    CarsFast Car Loans
    $500
    4.90% to 29.90%
    12 months - 8 years
    300
    Gross income of $1,800/month, 3+ months employed
    Browse thousands of vehicles from dealers across Canada and get matched with financing that meets your needs. Apply online to purchase a new or used vehicle and get the vehicle delivered to your door.
    Loans Canada Car Loans
    $500
    0% to 29.99%
    3-96 months
    300
    Employed for at least 3 months, min. income of $1,800/month
    Get access to financing from multiple lenders across Canada through a single application with Loans Canada. Bad credit, CERB and EI borrowers are considered.
    Car Loans Canada
    $7,500
    3.99% to 29.95%
    12-84 months
    300
    3+ months employed, min. income of $2,000/month
    Search thousands of vehicles online, including $0 down options, from dealers across the country and get matched with affordable financing options. Auto loans are also available to those with bad credit, consumer proposals and bankruptcies to help rebuild credit.
    Canadian Auto News
    Canadian Auto News
    $7,500
    4.49% to 29.90%
    12-84 months
    300
    3+ months employed, min. income of $2,000/month
    Answer a few simple questions to get matched with affordable financing options. Auto loans are also available to those with bad credit, consumer proposals and bankruptcies to help rebuild credit.
    Canada Auto Finance
    $500
    4.90%-29.95%
    3-96 months
    300
    3+ months employed, min. income of $1,500/month
    Canada Auto Finance is a broker that connects borrowers with partnered local lenders. Financing for a new or used car is available for borrowers with bad credit, no credit, CERB, EI or bankruptcy.
    Carloans411 Car Loans
    $500
    1.90% to 19.99%
    Up to 72 months
    300
    Employed for 3+ months, min. income of $1,600/month
    Get connected with suitable lenders through CarLoans411. Finance your next car, van or truck with loans available in amounts from $500 to $50,000. Check eligibility for this loan through LoanConnect.
    LoanConnect Car Loans
    $500
    10.00% to 46.96%
    6-60 months
    550
    No min. income requirement
    Get access to 25+ lenders through LoanConnect's brokerage. Receive pre-approval in as fast as 60 seconds and get your funds in as little as 24 hours.
    Fairstone Secured Personal Loan
    $5,000
    19.99% to 23.99%
    3-10 years
    560
    Have an established credit history and own your home
    Fairstone offers secured personal loans up to $35,000.
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    Compare up to 4 providers

    Bottom line

    If you’re thinking about buying a small car, you have plenty of options to choose from that come with spacious interiors, good fuel economy and high safety ratings. And when you’re ready to hit the dealership, our guide to car loans can help you find competitive financing that fits your needs.

    Frequently asked questions

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