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Best Hatchbacks [Ranked for 2021]

Best Hatchbacks

Best Hatchbacks

In today’s market, hatchbacks are usually found only in the compact category. Where once the hatch ruled the automotive roost as the most versatile of wagon-style options, they’ve largely been supplanted by crossovers and sport utilities.

Today’s hatchback, though, is still as useful and versatile as ever, even if it’s only found in the compact segments.

Here, we’ve picked the best hatchbacks available this year. We’ve rated them on versatility, fuel economy, drive quality, and price. So if you’re looking for a compact hatch, we’ve got you covered.

Read about how we rank our vehicles >>

Best Hatchbacks Comparison

Best Hatchback# DoorsBase PriceCity / Highway MPGMax Cargo Volume
Honda Civic
5
$22,200
31 / 40
25.7 cu. ft.
Mazda Mazda3
5
$22,650
26 / 34
20.1 cu. ft.
Chevrolet Bolt
5
$36,500
127 / 108 MPGe*
56.6 cu. ft.
Kia Rio
5
$16,990
33 / 41
32.8 cu. ft.
Hyundai Veloster
3
$18,900
28 / 34
44.5 cu. ft.

*MPGe = Miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (Measures fuel efficiency of hybrid and electric models)

What Is a Hatchback?

The term “hatchback” gets confused with crossover-SUV and station wagons. While wagons can, and often are, hatchback cars, they are usually found only in the luxury and larger vehicle segments. For crossovers and sport utilities, which also have rear hatches, the difference is in ride height and bulk.

Today, a hatchback is defined as a small, versatile, three- or five-door car (two or four traditional doors plus a hatch). None of the hatchbacks on our list will be mistaken for a crossover utility, and one contender, the Kia Soul, was disqualified from our list because its manufacturer calls it a crossover.

In short, to make our list, the hatchback must be called a hatchback by its maker, and it must be a car, not a crossover, in design.

1. Honda Civic Hatchback

Honda Civic Best HatchbackThe Honda Civic is a long-time favorite in the compact car segment. In its hatchback format, it adds more cargo space and a bit more sport to its feel, thanks to the change in weight distribution. The Civic is athletic, has roomy passenger space, and gets great fuel economy.

In all of its formats, the Civic Hatchback offers fun driving dynamics around town, good ride comfort for drivers and passengers, and a surprisingly good base price. The base model comes fairly well-heeled as well, including a host of advanced safety equipment.

With seating for five, the Honda Civic Hatchback’s balance of cargo area and roomy passenger seating helped it win out in our rankings. Excellent daily fuel economy pushed it over the top.

Current Honda Civic Hatchback Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Honda deals here.

2. Mazda3 Hatchback

Mazda3 Best HatchbackA very close second to the Civic above, the Mazda3 Hatchback offers many of the same high points. It’s a wonderful car to drive, has a turbocharged engine option for those looking for more oomph, and has one of the best interiors in the segment.

Rear seating is a bit cramped compared to some others, and its cargo area is a little smaller than most. Those downsides pushed the Mazda3 to second on our list. Upsides are that safety ratings and a slightly smaller footprint than rivals in this segment.

The Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback seats five (four comfortably), and the sport seating used in the front are a nice touch that upgrades the 3’s appeal. For parents, using the LATCH system for child safety seat installation in the Mazda3 is among the easiest to use on our list.

Current Mazda3 Hatchback Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021MazdaMazda3 Hatchback0.90%$233/month for 36 months, $2,499 due at signing10/31/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Mazda deals here.

3. Chevrolet Bolt

Chevy Bolt Best HatchbackThe Bolt is the only electric vehicle on our list. The Bolt offers wonderful drive dynamics, excellent amounts of cargo space, and the highest fuel economy rating of our lineup. However, the Bolt is more expensive to purchase upfront, and many buyers are not yet ready for a battery-electric vehicle.

For those who are ready for an EV, though, the Bolt is a best-of-bunch choice. It’s right-sized for most hatchback buyers, offers a lot of range between charges, and has the quickest acceleration and most powerful feel of any of the cars on our list. Safety is good and long-term costs and reliability are among the payoffs most can expect during ownership.

There are some caveats to the Bolt, however, including a less than upscale interior experience. Yet the Bolt offers a unique set of efficiency and fun driving metrics to the compact segment that cannot be overlooked.

Current Chevrolet Bolt Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021ChevroletBolt EV

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Chevy deals here.

4. Kia Rio Hatchback

Kia Rio Best HatchbackAs one of the cheapest entry-level hatchbacks in the segment, the Rio makes our list based largely on its excellent value proposition. It sports good fuel economy, a low price tag, and a nimble drive dynamic that makes the lower-end horsepower output of its engine feel like more than it is.

Despite its price tag, the Kia Rio has a surprisingly upscale interior feel. Most items are basic, but the materials choices are very good, and the seating is comfortable. There is seating for five, but the small back seat makes fitting three across difficult. Cargo space is accessible and good sized.

The Kia Rio offers a lot for not very much money, but is among the slowest on our list. Engine noise gets loud at highway speeds and the Rio seems to struggle to maintain high speeds at long distances. Still, the Rio Hatchback is one of the most affordable hatchbacks available and isn’t “cheap” as a result.

Current Kia Rio Hatchback Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021KiaRio$5000.90%11/1/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Kia deals here.

5. Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai Veloster Best HatchbackOn our list, the Veloster ranks as the only 3-door choice. It has seating for four and an extremely generous cargo capacity. For those looking for a basic, but fun hatchback, the Veloster’s basic trims are a great option at a fair price. Those wanting more sport can upgrade to a more powerful engine.

The Veloster does suffer from a few downers, however. Fuel economy is not as good as a car this size should achieve and interior materials quality is often below par. Especially considering the others on our list who are priced similarly, sporting better interiors.

Given all of that, though, the Hyundai Veloster is a fun little car to drive, is a true hatchback by design, and can be one of the “hot hatch” fun machines that buyers are looking for.

Current Hyundai Veloster Deals & Incentives

You may qualify for deals and incentives, check out this month's Hyundai deals here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aren’t compact crossovers and SUVs also hatchbacks?

In technical terms, they could be, but they are more specifically “crossover-SUVs.” This means they are car-based but are not actually cars. In today’s market, that can be a middling, even a semantic difference, given how closely related some of these vehicles can truly be. But for our purposes, it was enough to disqualify them from our rankings here.

What is a hatchback?

A hatchback is defined as a small, versatile, three- or five-door car (two or four traditional doors plus a hatch).

What is the best hatchback to buy right now?

With seating for five, the Honda Civic Hatchback’s balance of cargo area and roomy passenger seating helped it win out in our rankings. Excellent daily fuel economy pushed it over the top.

What is the best EV hatchback to buy right now?

For those who are ready for an EV, though, the Bolt is a best-of-bunch choice. It’s right-sized for most hatchback buyers, offers a lot of range between charges, and has the quickest acceleration and most powerful feel of any of the cars on our list. Safety is good and long-term costs and reliability are among the payoffs most can expect during ownership.

What is the cheapest hatchback?

As one of the cheapest entry-level hatchbacks in the segment, the Rio makes our list based largely on its excellent value proposition. It sports good fuel economy, a low price tag, and a nimble drive dynamic that makes the lower-end horsepower output of its engine feel like more than it is.