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The 10 Best Cars for City Living

Driving a city requires a special kind of vehicle, and these 10 fit the bill perfectly.

By Matt Keegan on January 18, 2017

city driving
courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisschoenbohm/

City life is exciting, and if you’re moving to one for the first time, there’s a lot to think about, not the least of which is how you’re going to get around when you’re there. While mass transit is commonly used by those in the city, many households still rely on personal transportation at least part of the time. Thus, if you’re considering buying a new car for your upcoming move to the city, here are 10 great options for an urban lifestyle.

Compact Options

Or, car models that are great for squeezing into tight city parking spots.

1. Toyota Prius c — The smallest of all Prius hybrid models is the subcompact Prius c. Its 157-inch length is nearly two feet shorter than the standard Prius, making it ideal for parallel parking. Despite its small size, the Prius c offers room for five and makes an estimated 53 mpg in the city. It is also priced affordably, coming in at just under $20,000.

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 2. Smart ForTwo —The two-seat Smart ForTwo is downright diminutive, measuring just under nine feet long. Slip into the tightest parking spaces, make those 180-degree turns with ease, and never worry about high gas prices again. With a starting price under $15,000 for the coupe and $19,000 for the cabriolet, the Smart ForTwo is right for any budget. 

3. Mazda MX-5 Miata — What’s not to love about the Miata? This tiny roadster is a head-turner on city streets, and with a starting price of about $25,000 it is an affordable ride at that. Singles and couples without children may find this Mazda suits them just fine. The trunk will hold your weekend bags as you make your way on twisty roads to your country destination.

Budget-Friendly Options

Or, car models that are great for those with tight wallets.

4. Kia Soul — Defying easy categorization, the hip Kia Soul is a favorite of first-time car buyers. This cute crossover comes with such amenities as a six-speaker audio system with dash-mounted tweeters, Bluetooth wireless technology, plus in-car connectivity with your smartphone. Fold the rear seat and you’ll have 61.3 cubic feet of storage space, more than what some midsize SUVs offer. Best of all, a fully loaded model can be had for about $22,000.

5. Nissan LEAF — Why pay for gas when electric will do? The Nissan LEAF is the best-selling mass-produced electric vehicle in the world with a driving range of up to 107 miles. Offering room for five, this model comes with federal and available state incentives, which can push your final price below $25,000. As long as you have access to charging ports, an electric vehicle is a sensible car for any urban habitat—its compact and helps cut down on pollution.

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6. Chevy Sonic — City cars such as the four-seat Chevy Spark are just right for some buyers. Yet, offering a little more room is the Chevy Sonic, which comes in both sedan and hatchback configurations. It doesn’t have the budget feel of the Spark, and with the hatchback option, you get nearly 50 cubic feet of cargo space, ideal for your trips to the store. Fully loaded models leave showrooms costing under $20,000. 

7. Mercedes-Benz CLA250 — If you want luxury without breaking the budget, the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is a great option for you. This compact front-wheel drive model comfortably seats five. It also offers bold styling, exceptional quality, choice materials, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Choose available all-wheel drive if you live in the Snowbelt, paying about $35,000 for this luxury cruiser. 

More-Spacious Options

Or, car models that will afford you a little more room, but not feel like a bus.

8. Honda HR-V —Based on the subcompact Honda Fit platform, this five-passenger SUV offers a multi-configurable interior, large enough to hold your bicycle for weekend trips out of the city. It’s also great for those trips to hardware stores and home centers when a little extra room goes a long way. Added bonus: this model’s sub-$20,000 starting price. 

9. Chrysler Pacifica — So-called “minivans” such as the Chrysler Pacifica are as large as the typical three-row midsize SUV. But they’re also handy machines prized by suburban families. Offering room for seven, a powerful V6 engine, and stow ’n go seating, the Pacifica is an ideal vehicle for escaping the city. Well-equipped models cost about $40,000 and come with more cup holders, storage areas, and tech features than most any other vehicle.

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10. Ford Escape — With a roomy cargo area and generous space for five, the compact Ford Escape is anything but small. Yet, when equipped with the available enhanced active park assist, the Escape enters and leaves parallel parking spaces automatically. (So no need to worry about the extra size!) Powered by a family of four cylinder engines, the Escape is efficient and offers advanced technologies such as GPS navigation and adaptive cruise control. Well-equipped models can be had for under $30,000. 

Other City Car Ownership Considerations

Today’s cars typically come with a security system, a must-have feature in some urban neighborhoods. When choosing your car, keep in mind how it will be parked: Off-street parking can lower your insurance costs, but those savings can be erased if you must pay extra to obtain it. Lastly, consider whether to buy or lease — choose the latter if you want a new car every few years, or anticipate your needs will change as your family grows, but keep the mileage limitations in mind.

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