The pinnacle of affordability and practicality, a good used hatchback is the ultimate Swiss Army knife of autos. Here’s our list for the best out there.
First off, I think it needs to be said, hatches don’t have to be hot to be great. Of course, I love the STIs and Type Rs, the N Lines and GTIs as much as anyone, but for those seeking low-cost utility, a used hatchback can tick a lot of boxes. From cargo room and fuel efficiency to modern tech and chic cabins, the best used hatchbacks have a lot going for them. That, and their small stature also translates to greater affordability compared to the average used crossover. And even with out all the performance upgrades of a genuine hot hatch, a number of the cars on this list are still a joy to toss into corners along your daily commute. For the perfect blend of fun and practicality, here are the best used hatchbacks.
The Kia Soul holds a special place in our hearts and not just because we love anthropomorphic breakdancing hamsters. That’s because all that unique marketing is reflective of a singular vehicle. The Soul’s boxy looks aren’t just good for standing out on the road, they also provide this hatch with gobs of interior space for passengers and cargo alike. Stellar safety scores and high reliability make the Soul a prime choice for a commuter car. The Soul has standard features like a five-inch touchscreen and rearview camera and options that include a Harmon Kardon stereo, remote start, and a panoramic sunroof. The Kia Soul isn’t just striking visually, it’s also astonishingly practical. You can find 2017 Kia Souls for around $15,000 or less.
Sadly, Honda discontinued the excellent hatchback Fit in 2020. That’s too bad because, while it isn’t fastest or flashiest hatch on the road, the Fit provides just about everything else you would want in a small car. Handling is crisp with options for either an engaging six-speed or an efficiency-maximizing CVT. Despite the Fit’s diminutive dimensions, the interior is surprisingly spacious with very generous amounts of cargo capacity at 16.6 cu. ft. behind the rear seats and 52.7 cu. ft. with them folded down. The Fit comes standard with a CD player, Bluetooth, and options like a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and cruise control. The top EX-L trim offers items like heated front seats and navigation.
For a hotter hatch, there’s the Mazda3 which features a spirited powertrain and engaging handling that make it a joy to zip around town on your morning commute. The Mazda3 also distinguishes itself with its stunning good looks inside and out. The interior, for as stylish and comfortable as it is, is also a bit on the tight side compared to other cars in the segment. But then again, you’re considering the Mazda3 because it’s more of a driver’s car than a grocery-getter. Even with the larger 2.5L engine you get 184 horsepower while maintaining stellar fuel economy at 28 city and 38 highway mpg.
The Volkswagen GTI offers a lot of the same strengths as the Mazda3, an exhilarating drive and high-quality interior. The GTI, however, comes with its own distinct character. The 2.0L turbocharged engine is especially punchy among these hatches. That power is complimented by athletic handling that makes the GTI a uniquely engaging everyday driver. The high-quality interior of the GTI can be options with most of the modern amenities like heated seats and a high-end Fender stereo. The cabin is also room both in the front and the rear which can actually accommodate full size adults. The GTI also has one of the larger cargo areas in the segment with 22.8 cu. ft. behind the rear seats and 52.7 with them folded down.
Another spritely hatch, the Ford Fiesta, was discontinued after its 2019 model year. Despite that, this characterful hatch still has great appeal on the used market. The Fiesta features lithe handling that’s made it a rally car champion. The base engine is a 120 horsepower 1.6L four-cylinder, which provided adequate power. An upgraded turbocharger version of the same engine is available in the ST trim and adds significant pop, maxing out 197 horsepower and 202 lb.-ft. of torque, and comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission. For channeling your inner rally car driver, the Ford Fiesta is a feisty pick.
No list of affordable hatches would be complete without that perennial champion of efficiency, the Toyota Prius. The Prius takes practicality and turns it up to eleven. Spacious, quiet, and comfortable, the Prius’s cabin is perfectly suited for both cross-country road trips and daily commuting alike. The ride too is tuned for comfort as the suspension easily soaks up potholes and bumps. And of course, the Prius get stellar gas mileage at 54 city and 58 highway mpg. To top it all off, the Prius offers a decent array of safety tech features like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors. All of this makes the utilitarian Prius one the best used hatchbacks out there.
For some additional refinement in your hatchback there’s the Lexus CT 200h. This smallest of Lexus offerings comes equipped with a four-cylinder gas engine paired with an electric motor together mustering 134 horsepower and netting impressive fuel economy numbers of 43 city and 40 highway mpg. Though earlier version of the CT 200h will be easier on the pocketbook, the refreshed version that debuted in 2014 both looks and proves to be more refined. Both inside and out, the CT 200h impresses with its level of sophistication and quality. Killer good looks, stellar safety scores, and that vaunted Toyota reliability help make the Lexus CT 200h a distinctive choice and one of the best used hatchbacks you can find.