Whether you’re based in the big city or in the rural outskirts of the USA, large, burly vehicles are a more than common sight for the average American. There are many of us that do, however, appreciate the vigor and frugality of more compact cars and it’s fortunate that many automakers do still produce them despite the popularity for larger models. Agile handling and favorable fuel economy returns are just the obvious advantages to driving urban-centric cars, they are also relatively affordable compared to larger cars and also really value-packed. The Acura RDX, for example, a compact to midsize crossover SUV from the semi-premium classification, offers classy design, first-rate build quality, and plenty of contemporary features at a price most could be content with paying.
Small Car Advantages
- Drivability – The compact size and lightweight nature of small cars make them very easy to drive in urban settings, particularly so around tight streets and scanty parking lots. It may be a little intimidating having to drive in between all the many full-size vehicles on the road, but getting a small car out of a tight spot, or into one for that matter, is a whole lot easier in a Fiat 500 than in a Chevrolet Suburban. Compact cars are often quite peppy in the lower rev ranges, but it’s still clear that they prioritize efficiency over all else. There are phenomenal performance cars in the compact segment, too, notably in the hot-hatch division. Bijou off-roaders are revered as well, as their taut wheelbases accord them with some truly impressive capability.
- Fuel Economy – By virtue of their small-capacity engines and lightweight construction, little runabouts prove to be significantly more economical in comparison to larger vehicles. In many new cars, those diminutive engines are even turbocharged for extra peppines and efficiency. So on top of small cars being generally more affordable than larger ones, they also save you money over time by achieving more miles per gallon than any larger gasoline-run vehicle would. The Toyota RAV4 Prime, for example, is one of the most fuel-efficient compact SUVs available on the market returning incredible mileage figures of 40/36/38 mpg on the city/highway/combined driving cycles.
- Value – Even at their relatively low MSRP’s, compact cars do still offer plenty in the way of modern technology, creature comforts, and conveniences. The automotive industry is an extremely competitive space, and automakers have had to make their offerings as appealing as possible in every classification. It’s therefore pretty easy to find a relatively affordable car with a comprehensively operative infotainment system, plenty of new-age tech, and advanced driver-assist and active safety specifications.
Shiver Me Timbers
There are, of course, some drawbacks to tiny cars, too, but none that should really steer anyone away:
- Performance – Small-capacity engines, even if turbocharged, can often feel somewhat underpowered at higher speeds such as when on the highway. This can make overtaking other cars a little difficult and frustrating with the lack of power when you need it. If you’re not an impatient driver then this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but having the power at hand when you need it is always a satisfying feeling.
- Comfort – Compact cars can get rather uncomfortable especially on extended drives. The cabin of a small car can start to feel really confined during a long road trip and the seats can start to feel real stiff and cramped. Larger cars usually have bigger and better padded seats that also come with many more functionalities and adjustments such as heating and cooling.
- Intimidating – America is crawling with large vehicles and driving between them in a small runabout can be quite scary. Those cars are also usually equipped with larger more powerful engines that make them faster at higher speeds, making them difficult to overtake or merge with.
With today’s advanced driver-assist technologies, active safety features, and crash-avoidance systems, the latter drawback shouldn’t be too much of an issue for most. The benefits definitely outway the drawbacks when it comes to compacts cars, and whether you’re a student just starting out or a driving fanatic with a passion for fun-to-drive cars, the compact segment is a great place to find the ideal car for you.