Thursday, June 11, 2009

Best Frugal Cars: Hatchbacks

I'm continuing my best frugal cars blog series with a list of my favorite frugal hatchbacks. Hatchbacks are a great choice for frugal car buyers. They are practical, good for occasionally transporting stuff, get good gas mileage, and many are priced around $20K or under.

However, the more powerful hatchbacks get comparable gas mileage to compact SUV's like the Toyota Rav4 or Honda CRV both of which have much more room, additional safety features, and comfort. My 2 cents...a compact SUV may be the best choice if you have a family or need the room while a hatchback may be the best choice for city dwellers and single folks.

Here's a list of my favorite frugal hatchbacks:

Mazda 3: My Favorite "Performance" Frugal Hatchback

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! You will understand Mazda's jingle when you get behind the wheel of this beauty. It's a blast to drive with lots got it...zoom. No other frugal hatchback turns heads like the Mazda3 with its great styling and gorgeous interior. It has excellent reviews from pros and my hubby and I absolutely fell in love with it. The cons? It has "zoom" due to it's larger 2.5L 167hp engine which gets 22/29 mpg...about the same as smaller SUVs. It starts around $21K but we found Mazda dealerships often had 0% financing and were eager to give deep discounts (ie. one offered us the top-of-the-line '09 Touring with leather and all options for ~$19K!)

Runner Ups:
  • Toyota Matrix - This is a good car and comes in several options starting at $16-21K. It's 132hp engine is ok but doesn't have the power and performance of the Mazda3. I also don't like its interior dash and small backwindows.
  • Honda Fit - This is a great car for people who don't need a lot of power. Its 117hp engine was fine for normal driving but lags going up hills and merging on the freeway. With less power, however, comes excellent gas mileage of 28/35 mpg! All in all, I think it handles nicely, is very spacious with large windows, comfy seats, and has some neat interior features. Starting at ~$16K is an excellent frugal hatchback.
  • Nissan Versa - This, like the Honda, doesn't have a very powerful engine but also gets good gas mileage of 24/32 mpg. This is the least expensive of the bunch starting at ~$14K but, as the price suggests, is more of an economy car.
Photo Credits: Mazda website


  1. frugal car is Scion xD. I own it...hatchback 37 highway and 28 in town...cannot beat it and it is cute! Fully loaded and there is no haggling...straight pricing...a bit over 16,000.00

  2. Thanks for your frugal car tip Yin&Yang! I agree the Scion xD is also a great frugal hatchback. It wasn't really my style & I never test drove it so it didn't make my list. I've seen it in the dealership though and the interior was really nice and spacious. Awesome gas mileage too!

  3. i need more cheaper car than what u suggest!!!