Edmunds and R.L. Polk released a study on Wednesday that found the percentage of 18-34 year olds purchasing South Korean and U.S. brand cars has gone up since 2008.

According to USA Today, “Detroit automakers have reached out to young buyers as never before with a raft of appealing small cars that they would have rejected as unprofitable in the past. Chrysler Group has the fun Fiat 500, General Motors has models like the small Chevrolet Sonic and smaller Spark and Ford has sponsored TV’s American Idol for its small car lineup, such as the Fiesta and Focus.”

In 2008, European and Japanese car brands attracted younger buyers, but Edmunds.com Sr. Analyst Jessica Caldwell says, “U.S. automakers have burst onto the scene in recent years with small, fuel-efficient and affordable cars that really appeal to a young set of buyers.” She goes on to say, “But while Detroit might be chiseling away at the Japanese grip on Gen X and Gen Y, South Korean brands are taking big hacks.”

Since the affordable small car field has grown so much over the last few years, buyers looking in this segment have more vehicles to choose from. In our rankings, the 2013 Ford Fiesta, 2013 Honda Fit and 2013 Mazda3 are all tied for the top spot. Those whose main focus is buying a car with the lowest starting price should look at the 2013 Nissan Versa and 2013 Chevrolet Spark. Want the safest affordable small car? The 2013 Subaru Impreza currently has the highest safety score for the class. However, there are quite a few others that still get a near-perfect score.

In the market for a small car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.