Rodrez: "They don't make 'em like they used to" is the sentiment of most car enthusiasts these days as they compare modern day hatchback models to those of the beloved '90s-era. At that time, new hatch options were popping up regularly and most took kindly to modifications from the aftermarket and, for the most part, didn't carry as much weight as their coupe and sedan counterparts. A favorite among the tuning community, some of those now 20-30-year-old chassis remain an absolute staple in the customizing world.
Today, there are plenty to choose from in varying levels of performance and practicality. Don't get these confused with their hot hatch counterparts that include the likes of the Civic Type R and Veloster N models, for example, these are a bit more entry-level. Here's a rundown of the 6 best options to consider, as provided by our friends at MotorTrend.
Alex Nishimoto: SUVs and crossovers might be taking over the new-car market, but for some there's just no substitute for the practicality, fuel economy, and fun a good old-fashioned hatchback can offer. There's a lot to like about modern hatchbacks, but which one is the best, and more importantly, which one is best for you?
6) 2020 Mazda3
Now in its fourth generation, the Mazda3 is Mazda's compact (or C-segment) offering and is available as either a sedan or hatchback. For its last redesign in 2019, the Mazda3 went with a more upscale interior to help it stand out in its class. Step inside a 2020 Mazda3 and you'll likely notice the higher-quality materials and switchgear that makes it feel more premium than you might expect from an economy car. Opt for the hatchback and you get 20.1 cubic feet of cargo room behind the back seats and a sleek, sporty exterior design thanks to a raked roofline and unique C-pillar shape. A naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder is the only engine currently available, though a new turbocharged 2.5-liter is coming in 2021. The Mazda3 can be had with either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. All-wheel drive is also available, though only with the automatic.
2020 Mazda3 Pros, Cons, and Specs
Pros: Sporty looks, upscale interior, usable cargo area
Cons: Not as fun to drive as past models, wide rear pillars create blind spots, cramped seating, no manual + AWD option
Base-Price Range: $24,645-$29,845
Available Engines: 2.5L I-4 (186 hp, 186 lb-ft)
Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined): 24-25/32-35/27-30 mpg
Cargo/Trunk Space (behind 1st/2nd): 47.1/20.1 cu ft
5) 2021 Hyundai Veloster
Quirky, asymmetrical, and fun to drive best describe the Hyundai Veloster. Redesigned for 2019, the Veloster hatchback sports sleek styling while retaining its unorthodox three-door layout. The single rear door is stealthily placed on the passenger side, allowing easy access to the rear seats from the curb. Meanwhile, the hatch provides 19.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row, which can be expanded to 44.5 cubic feet with the standard 60/40 split folding rear seats folded down. Powertrain and trim options range from mild to wild, with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the base car all the way up to a turbocharged 2.0-liter good for up to 275 hp in the Veloster N.
2021 Hyundai Veloster Pros, Cons, and Specs
Pros: Unique styling, solid standard feature content, sportiness of N and R-Spec models
Cons: Single rear door, small hatch opening, only seats four
Base-Price Range: $19,875-$29,395
Available Engines: 2.0L I-4 (147 hp, 132 lb-ft); 1.6L turbo I-4 (201 hp, 195 lb-ft); 2.0L turbo I-4 (250-275 hp, 260 lb-ft)
Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined): 22-28/29-34/25-30 mpg
Cargo/Trunk Space (behind 1st/2nd): 44.5/19.9 cu ft
4) 2020 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza hatchback stands out in the class for its standard all-wheel drive and EyeSight advanced safety suite. All Impreza hatchbacks come with a 2.0-liter inline-four making 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the base model, but all others get a CVT. One of the Impreza's strong points is its interior space, offering more headroom than competitors and a respectable 55.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats down.
2020 Subaru Impreza Pros, Cons, and Specs
Pros: Standard AWD, excellent safety ratings, comfortable ride
Cons: Boring styling, underpowered engine, lackluster driving experience
Base-Price Range: $19,875-$29,395
Available Engines: 2.0L I-4 (152 hp, 145 lb-ft)
Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined): 22-28/30-36/25-31 mpg
Cargo/Trunk Space (behind 1st/2nd): 55.3/20.8 cu ft
3) 2020 Volkswagen Golf
Despite its age, the 2020 Volkswagen Golf remains a top competitor in the C-segment hatchback class. Referred to as the MkVII Golf by enthusiasts, the current Golf comes in a wide range of flavors, from the base TSI to the sporty GTI to the even hotter turbocharged AWD Golf R. Base cars come with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Split folding 60/40 bucket seats come standard and fold down to grant a spacious 52.7 cubic feet of cargo room. A new eighth-generation Golf has been introduced for Europe, and the GTI variant is expected to come stateside in 2021, but it's unclear if the standard Golf will return to the U.S.
2020 Volkswagen Golf Pros, Cons, and Specs
Pros: High-quality interior, roomy cabin, exceptional performance with GTI and Golf R
Cons: Pricier than competitors, dated tech features, looks as old as it is
Base-Price Range: $24,115-$41,290
Available Engines: 1.4L turbo I-4 (147 hp, 184 lb-ft); 2.0L turbo I-4 (228 hp, 258 lb-ft); 2.0L turbo I-4 (288 hp, 280 lb-ft)
Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined): 21-29/29-36/25-32 mpg
Cargo/Trunk Space (behind 1st/2nd): 52.7/22.8 cu ft
2) 2021 Toyota Corolla
After years of running in the middle of the back, the Toyota Corolla is finally a one of the best hatchbacks in its class. We even got our hands on a 2019 model and brought it to SEMA a few years ago. The hatchback variant of the Corolla is practical, stylish, and surprisingly fun to drive. Its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 168 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, and comes mated to either a CVT or six-speed manual transmission. That powertrain gives the compact hatchback just enough grunt to feel sporty. However, despite offering more cargo space than its sedan sibling, the Corolla hatchback's luggage capacity pales in comparison to its competitors.
2021 Toyota Corolla Pros, Cons, and Specs
Pros: Fun to drive, eye-catching design, smooth shifting manual
Cons: Unrefined CVT, cramped rear seat, limited cargo capacity
Base-Price Range: $21,245-$23,245
Available Engines: 2.0L I-4 (168 hp, 151 lb-ft)
Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined): 30-32/40-41/33-35 mpg
Cargo/Trunk Space (behind 1st/2nd): 23.3/17.8 cu ft
1) 2020 Honda Civic
It took Honda three generations to finally revive the Civic hatchback for the U.S., but the wait was worth it. The 10th-generation Honda Civic hatch is the best hatchback option in the C-segment, offering a good balance of utility, fuel economy, and fun. The 2020 Civic hatch comes standard with Honda's 1.5-liter turbo-four engine, which makes up to 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque in Sport trim with the six-speed manual transmission. Despite its relatively low-profile rear end, the Civic hatch can fit a surprising amount of cargo-up to 46.2 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. If you value fun more than fuel economy, there's the 306-hp Honda Civic Type R, a performance bargain and a MotorTrend hot hatch favorite.
2020 Honda Civic Pros, Cons, and Specs
Pros: Excellent fuel economy, generous cargo room, superior driving dynamics
Cons: Laggy infotainment system, 1.5L manual could use refinement
Base-Price Range: $22,705-$37,950
Available Engines: 1.5L turbo I-4 (174-180 hp, 162-177 lb-ft); 2.0L turbo I-4 (306 hp, 295 lb-ft)
Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined): 22-31/28-40/25-34 mpg
Cargo/Trunk Space (behind 1st/2nd): 46.2/22.6 cu ft