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Historically, compact cars have been a popular option, especially in big cities. As gas prices have soared, even SUV-and-truck-loving Americans are looking to downsize to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars to save money at the pump. Are you considering a new compact car? If so, here are J.D. Power’s five best compact and small cars of 2022 to help you narrow your search.

1. Nissan Sentra

best compact cars, best small cars
2022 Nissan Sentra | Mike Ditz Photo for Nissan Motor Corporation

The Nissan Sentra takes J.D. Power’s top spot among small cars of 2022. This compact sedan strikes a perfect balance between economy-car efficiency and luxury-car amenities, setting it apart from rivals in its class. 

The 2022 Sentra makes adequate power, with a 149-hp four-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable transmission. It’s also perfect for commuters, offering an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

Additionally, the 2022 Sentra provides plentiful advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. 

Other perks include hands-free audio, Apple CarPlay integration, Android Auto connectivity, and comfortable, supportive seats.

Thanks to all of the above, the 2022 Nissan Sentra takes the top spot on J.D. Power’s list.

2. Honda Civic

Coming in second place in J.D. Power’s top five is the Honda Civic. A staple of the compact car market for decades, the Civic saw a fairly drastic redesign for the 2022 model year, bringing this small car more in line with the design language found throughout the rest of Honda’s lineup. 

The 2022 Civic offers an impressive 33 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, making this one of the most fuel-efficient internal combustion engine (ICE) cars on the market.

It offers two engine options, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 158 hp and an upgraded 1.5-liter turbo-four producing 180 hp. 

Every 2022 Honda Civic also comes equipped with plenty of ADAS features. They include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. 

The Civic’s fresh redesign keeps it at the top of its class.

3. Kia Forte

The 2022 Kia Forte enters this list as the most fuel-efficient option. Starting at just $19,090, this compact car brings quality and efficiency at a sub-$20,000 price. 

The Forte offers a quality ride, solid visual appeal, and good fuel efficiency of up to 31 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. 

In addition, the Kia Forte comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the upper GT trim adds a 10.3-inch display. 

As for safety features, the 2022 model comes standard with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. 

Kia has improved the Forte with every model year, and this small car is better than ever for 2022.

4. Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla has been a formidable contender among small cars since its inception. And for the 2022 model year, this compact sedan again ranks near the top of its class. 

When it comes to efficiency, the Corolla squeezes every bit of fuel economy out of its gas and hybrid powertrain options. The ICE version gets an estimated 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway, and the hybrid gets 53 mpg city/52 mpg highway.

The Corolla boasts a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA and includes a long list of standard ADAS features through Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. The suite provides a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beams that dim when the system detects other vehicles, lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist, and lane-tracing assist. 

Thanks to all those features and an available hybrid powertrain, the Corolla retains its position near the top of its class.

5. Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra brings a unique experience to the compact car class, thanks to dynamic styling cues typically seen on performance-based models. 

This compact car gets an impressive 33 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway from its 147-hp four-cylinder engine. A 201-hp turbocharged four-cylinder is also available. But the Hyundai Elantra hybrid boasts the best fuel economy: 53 mpg city/56 mpg highway.

Drivers rave about the 2022 Hyundai Elantra’s interior. Customers report a satisfying engine growl and an A/C system that keeps the cabin comfortable throughout the day. 

Overall, any of these five cars will provide a fuel-efficient ride. Whether you want a sporty sedan or a comfortable cruiser, the best compact cars offer a little something for everyone.


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