Urban-Friendly Cars to Excite Your City Drives
Driving in the city limits is a whole different ballgame than a highway commute. It can be made easier by choosing the right vehicle. A preferable city car is generally small, easily maneuverable, and has a balance between peppy performance and good fuel economy.
The best vehicles for city driving are usually small cars, however subcompact SUVs are equally viable, and an argument can be made supporting some compact SUVs as well. More electric cars and plug-in hybrids are starting to show up in the market, and these vehicles are also excellent choices for city driving. This is especially true if your city has access to a decent public charging network.
Click through to check out our list of the best city cars.
2017 Chevrolet Volt
The Volt is now in the second year of its second generation, with 53-miles of all-electric range, and no range anxiety, due to its backup gas engine. It fits the bill as a top-notch city car due to its instant acceleration and impressive fuel economy.
The Volt lacks in rear-seat space, which makes it a better commuter than people mover. For 2017, it sees some additional available driver assistance features, and earns a perfect ten safety score.
2017 Kia Soul
The Soul was the winner of our Best Compact Car for the Money award. It combines the maneuverability of a car, with the passenger and cargo space of a larger vehicle. The base engine should be fine around town, although Kia is now offering an optional turbocharged engine.
The trendy Soul is sure to turn heads as you drive past, and its interior is upscale and high-quality. It boasts impeccable safety and reliability ratings.
2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Any version of Toyota’s Prius surely deserves mention on this list, but the all-new Prius Prime may be the best choice for urban exploits. It is one of the most efficient vehicles on the road, and like the Chevrolet Volt, you get all-electric miles, plus the security of gas engine.
It comes packed with comfort and safety features, and earned a perfect ten safety score. If you drive primarily in the city, its all-electric range of 25 miles may limit your necessity to visit the gas pump.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt
Touted as the first affordable long-range electric-only vehicle, the Bolt offers a complete package for city driving. Its 230 mile range means that you can charge at home and never have to worry about stopping for gas. It has plenty of room for passengers and cargo.
The Bolt is fun to drive, due to its small size, and has noticeable instant acceleration and agile handling. It is stocked with tech features, including a 10.2-inch touch screen and a rearview camera mirror.
2017 Honda Fit
This list wouldn’t be complete without our top-ranked subcompact car and winner of the 2017 Best Subcompact Car for the Money award. It’s a bit underpowered on the highway, but should fare well for city driving, and it’s highly fuel-efficient.
The Fit “fits” five passengers with surprising comfort and provides versatile cargo space. Its tiny footprint makes for easy maneuvering and parking in tight spots. Safety and reliability scores are excellent.
2017 Smart Fortwo (Electric Drive)
Perhaps even more widely-known as a city car than the Honda Fit, the Smart Fortwo was built specifically for urban environments. It only seats two, but will allow you to tool around town like you’re driving a go-kart. Fuel economy is outstanding, and space and comfort is adequate.
While not practical for most purposes, you can get one cheap, and there is even a convertible option. Smart will soon release its updated all-electric version with a 68-mile range. The company intends to sell only the electric version in North America, starting near the end of this year.
2016 BMW i3
The i3 covers the bases when it comes to a confident city car. It has better fuel efficiency than most cars, provides impressive acceleration, and offers nimble handling. Its small size makes it easy to navigate tight spots, and passenger and cargo space are still adequate.
In its all-electric configuration, you can travel 81 miles on a charge (the 2017 model has a range of 114 miles), and BMW offers a REX model, which includes a range-extending gas engine. The futuristic i3 interior is partly comprised of recycled and renewable materials.
2017 Honda Civic
The Civic returns some of the best fuel economy estimates in the class, and provides agile handling and a comfortable ride. If you need extra cargo space, a new hatchback configuration is available for the 2017 model year, however the sedan provides more rear legroom.
The Civic offers loads of standard and available features, and scores a perfect ten for safety. The base engine should be more-than-adequate for most driving, but you can also opt for a peppy turbocharged engine.
2017 Buick Encore
The Encore’s small footprint provides outstanding maneuverability, but you will also benefit from the subcompact SUV’s impressive passenger space and manageable cargo capacity. It provides a classy, upscale interior with intuitive technology and many standard features. Safety and reliability scores are excellent.
The Encore’s base engine is underpowered, but should fare well in the city. If you prefer more power, you can upgrade to a larger four-cylinder engine that generates 153 horsepower.
2017 Honda HR-V
If you prefer the subcompact SUV configuration for your city driving needs, but need even more cargo and passenger space, the HR-V is tough to beat. It was the winner of the U.S. News 2017 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money award.
The HR-V provides a premium cabin that is remarkably quiet and comfortable. It drives like a car, cornering and maneuvering with ease, and you will enjoy a smooth ride which masks road imperfections.
2016 Mazda CX-5
Although the CX-5 is a compact SUV, its car-like performance and portability set it apart from rivals’ models. It also returns good fuel economy. The base engine should suffice for city jaunts, but you can upgrade to a more substantial 184-horsepower four-cylinder engine.
The cabin is constructed with stylish, upscale materials and interior tech is plentiful and user-friendly. Passenger and cargo space are impressive for the class.
2017 BMW X1
If you are seeking a more luxurious urban hauler, the X1 tops our list of luxury subcompact SUVs, and earns a perfect ten safety score. It provides exceptional cargo capacity and plenty of room for passengers in all seats.
As a performer, the X1 is arguably one of the best in the class. You will appreciate its peppy acceleration and agile handling. It has a tight turning radius, making it highly maneuverable to facilitate city driving.
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Did you choose a car that will best suit your city driving needs? If you want to compare these vehicles to other models, visit our new car rankings page. Once you have decided, head over to the U.S. News Best Price Program to assist you in finding a dealer in your local area with the best price.