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The Most Utilitarian Hatchbacks

The Most Utilitarian HatchbacksThe Most Utilitarian Hatchbacks

Hatchbacks are popular for several reasons. They tend to be affordable, utilitarian vehicles that make carrying people and cargo a breeze. Of course, some hatchbacks are better at transporting people and cargo than others. Here’s what you need know to find a utilitarian hatchback.

Hatchback Passenger Space and Cargo Space

If you need a lot of space for passengers and cargo, there are some hatchbacks you should avoid because their cabins are far too small to be useful. One of these is the four-seat Mini Cooper Hardtop, which has a miniscule 5.7 cubic feet of cargo space when the back seats are in use. Other tiny hatchbacks include the Fiat 500, Scion iQ and Smart Fortwo.

The more cargo space you have with the rear seats up, the more luggage or groceries you can pack in the cargo area without intruding on rear passenger space. The Honda Fit, for example, is the polar opposite of the Mini Cooper because it has great passenger space and plenty of room for cargo whether the rear seats are up or down. The Fit seats five, and has 20.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. The Ford Focus hatchback has even more cargo space behind the second row, at 23.8 cubic feet, but has less overall cargo space compared with the Fit. The Focus has 44.8 cubic feet, while the Fit has 57.3 cubic feet.

The Scion xB has 66.9 cubic feet of cargo space with all the seats folded, which is more than what many hatchbacks offer. Other hatchbacks with large cargo spaces include the Kia Soul, with 53.4 cubic feet, and the Toyota Matrix, with 49.4 cubic feet. That’s enough overall cargo space to compete with small SUVs like the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

Although the Scion xB’s 69.9 cubic feet of overall cargo space far outshines most hatchbacks’ cargo space, the xB is a good example of a hatchback that doesn’t have much room for groceries or luggage with three passengers in the back seat. With that configuration, the xB maxes out at 11.6 cubic feet, which is even less than what some small sedans can hold in their trunks. The xB, however, has a lot of passenger space, which translates to a huge cargo area when those rear seats are flipped down. As you shop, make sure the hatchback you want offers the right balance for your needs. Hatchbacks that have about 20 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in use, and about 40 to 50 cubic feet of cargo space with them folded are considered spacious.

Functional Hatchback Cargo Areas

An abundance of cargo space is important, but seats that are easy to fold are equally important. Look for hatchbacks with seats that fold different ways. The Kia Forte, for example, has a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, which allows you to store long cargo and carry one or two rear passengers. The Honda Fit also has a flexible cargo area that isn’t available on other hatchbacks. The three rear seats and the front passenger seat fold completely flat, allowing you to haul long cargo. The rear seats also flip up, helping you to carry tall items.

Helpful Cabin Features

Also check for hidden storage and other compartments or features when shopping for a new hatchback. With hatchbacks, a glove box and cup holders are generally standard, but other storage compartments, like a center armrest, may not be. For example, an armrest is optional on the Subaru Impreza hatchback. The Chevrolet Sonic hatchback has a hidden area underneath the cargo hold and an optional cargo shelf that’s removable. The Kia Soul has a standard dual-level glove box, which isn’t available on all hatches.

The Volkswagen Beetle doesn’t have as much cargo space as the Fit or Soul, but it has functional storage features that help you hide electronics and valuable items. The Beetle has two glove compartments, as well as a split-folding back seat that can accommodate larger cargo. The Scion xB is another hatchback with helpful cargo features. The xB has a storage tray under the back seat, as well as under-floor storage.

Exterior Hatchback Features

You might think that roof rails, which can be used to transport bikes or cargo on the roof, are limited to SUVs, but hatchbacks can have them too. Roof rails are great for transporting large items and extra cargo, like skis, bikes, cargo boxes and kayaks. Most of the hatchbacks that have roof rails are also classified as small crossovers. The Mini Cooper Countryman has standard roof rails, and they are optional on the Audi A3. Even if rails aren’t available with a hatchback you want, there are aftermarket roof rails you can buy.

Other Utilitarian Hatchbacks

 

MSRP

Cargo capacity in cubic feet (rear seats up/down)

Toyota Prius

$24,200

21.6/NA

Mazda Mazda3 hatchback

$20,000

17/42.8

Volkswagen Golf  four-door

$19,995

15.2/NA

Honda Insight 

$18,600

 

15.9/31.5

Chevrolet Spark

$12,185

11.4/31.2

Kia Rio hatchback

$13,800

15/49.8