5 Best Small Car Options for Under $15,000 in 2023, Says Consumer Reports

Picking a reliable and efficient used car within your budget doesn’t have to be a headache. Instead, you could consider one of these picks for the best used small cars for between $10,000 and $15,000 in 2023. Consumer Reports chose several efficient and economical vehicles that refuse to break the bank, including the 2016 Honda Fit and 2014 Mazda3.

The 2016 Ford C-Max and Honda Fit are among the best small car options under $15,000, per Consumer Reports

These five makes and models top the list, with a few offering different model years to consider while staying under the $15,000 mark.  

  • 2014-2016 Ford C-Max
  • 2013-2015 Toyota Prius c
  • 2013, 2016 Honda Fit
  • 2014-2016 Mazda3
  • 2016 Nissan LEAF
A red 2014 Mazda3 blasts around corners on a coastal road with small car agility.
2014 Mazda3 | Mazda

The 2016 Nissan LEAF is the only fully-electric vehicle on the list, but the Ford C-Max and Toyota Prius c are hybrid applications with commendable fuel economy. In addition to the LEAF and hybrids, the Honda Fit from 2013 and 2016 snagged the third spot. The small Honda hatchback model isn’t the only conventional car on the list; the 2014-2016 Mazda3 also earned a place in the rankings. 

Is a Ford C-Max bigger than a Focus?

The 2016 Ford C-Max has a similar length and width to a comparable Focus. However, the C-Max has a taller roofline and a roomier hatchback construction. Specifically, the 2016 Ford C-Max is about 6.0 inches taller than the Focus. 

However, the C-Max is still a small car compared to larger midsize platforms. Better yet, the C-Max Hybrid SE and SEL get as much as 42 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. However, fans who want a dedicated plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant can opt for the Energi SEL with as much as 88 MPGe combined. Also, with a KBB fair value of $11,541, a used 2016 C-Max with average mileage is a solid bargain. 

Is the 2013 Toyota Prius c one of the best used small cars under $15,000?

The 2013 Toyota Prius c has a fair value of around $11,461 for an example with average mileage. Also, with a subcompact platform, the Prius model is easy to park and maneuver in tight urban spaces. Moreover, the Prius c’s 50 combined mpg make it an efficient option by today’s standards.   

Is Honda Fit a small car?

The now-discontinued Honda Fit is a small, subcompact hatchback with up to 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Moreover, while the Fit isn’t a hybrid, its 36 mpg combined makes it an efficient small car option. 

A 2016 Honda Fit shows off its profile against a graffiti wall.
Honda Fit | Honda

Better yet, the 2016 Honda Fit is a later-model hatchback option that still comes in below the $15,000 mark. 

Is a Mazda3 a small or medium car?

The Mazda3 is a small car with a compact platform and an optional hatchback that bumps the cargo capacity up to 20.1 cubic feet. Moreover, despite its small car classification, the Mazda3 has seating for up to five passengers, albeit with tight rear seats. 


3 Best Used Cars Under $10,000 Will Save You Money, Says Consumer Reports

For used car shoppers, the 2014 Mazda3 offers as much as 34 mpg combined and sporty handling. As a result, the Mazda3 earns a spot on Consumer Reports’ list of the best small cars.    

How long will a 2016 Nissan LEAF last?

A 2016 Nissan LEAF is more than just a used EV bargain; the LEAF has modest staying power. According to iSeeCars’ lifespan study, a used Nissan LEAF has a potential lifespan of around 98,081 miles. 

However, a LEAF could last well over 100,000 miles with proper care and maintenance. Which of these affordable would you choose? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!