The Right Hatchback for Your Budget

Rachel Smith
February 23, 2012
The Right Hatchback for Your Budget

With more than 30 hatchbacks on the market, choosing the perfect model while sticking to your budget can be tough. But with so many options, you’ll have no trouble finding the right hatchback for your budget. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to get when you shop hatchbacks in various price ranges.

What You Get for the Money: Hatchbacks Less Than $15,000

The hatchbacks in this price segment tend to be small, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get a lot for your money. Several hatchbacks in this price range come with a standard USB port, Bluetooth and satellite radio. The Kia Soul has these features and costs about $14,000. Other comparable hatchbacks include the Kia Rio 5-Door, Hyundai Accent hatchback, Nissan Versa Hatchback and Ford Fiesta hatchback.  

The Accent hatchback, Rio 5-Door, Versa Hatchback and Fiesta hatchback are some of the smaller hatchbacks in the class, but they have good fuel economy. All but the Versa Hatchback can average up to 40 mpg on the highway, meaning they’re budget-friendly in the long run because you’ll pay less at the gas station. The Accent and Rio are standouts in the class for their long warranties. The powertrain warranty on the Rio and Accent, for example, lasts for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

The Versa Hatchback comes standard with six airbags, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system. Hatchback shoppers who prefer a manual transmission should also check out the Versa Hatchback, because it has one standard.  

What You Get for the Money: Hatchbacks from $15,000 to $25,000

If you get a hatchback in this price range, performance and interior quality will improve considerably, though in some cases, you’ll have to sacrifice fuel economy and interior space. The Volkswagen Beetle Turbo and the Mini Cooper are some of the most fun-to-drive hatchbacks, but the Cooper is one of few that averages more than 35 mpg on the highway.

Hybrid hatchbacks, like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, can’t match the performance of hatchbacks like the Volkswagen GTI, but both of these hybrids achieve at least 40 mpg on the highway. The Toyota Prius costs about $23,500, but you’re paying for its fuel-efficient powertrain, not a high-quality interior, which is comparable with hatchbacks that cost less than $15,000.

If the ability to handle winter weather is important, the Subaru Impreza hatchback comes standard with all-wheel drive and costs less than $20,000. It is the only hatchback with standard all-wheel drive in this range, though it is optional on the Nissan Juke, Mini Cooper Countryman and Toyota Matrix. Adding all-wheel drive to these models, however, increases their price to about $22,000 or more. The Subaru Impreza and Toyota Matrix are also some of the larger hatchbacks in the class, and have at about 50 cubic feet of cargo space overall.

What You Get for the Money: Hatchbacks $25,000 and More

Hatchbacks that cost more than $25,000 are a diverse group. The upscale Audi A3 has standard leather seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, though Bluetooth and power front seats are optional. The Audi A3 has an optional turbocharged direct injection clean diesel engine that offers both great performance and good fuel economy. The only other model with a diesel engine is the Volkswagen Golf, which costs slightly less than $25,000.

While many hybrid, electric and diesel hatchbacks save you money at the pump, the cars themselves can be very expensive. The Lexus CT200h, a luxury hybrid, costs about $30,000, though with a standard power driver’s seat, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and optional infotainment system, it is one of the most well-equipped hybrid hatchbacks available. The least expensive all-electric hatchback is the Mitsubishi i, which starts at about $30,000, but it lacks the fancy technology features found in the Nissan Leaf. The Nissan Leaf costs about $6,000 more than the Mitsubishi i, but it also has a longer driving range and more standard features, like navigation. While all-electric hatchbacks are certainly more environmentally-friendly, keep in mind that their batteries reduce their passenger and cargo space. Plus, with their all-electric powertrains, you’re dependant on battery power, which means they have a limited driving range before you need to stop to plug it in and recharge the battery.