While small cars tend to be economical to operate, they are prone to more rapid depreciation than crossovers. That’s why it’s extra important to make an informed purchase decision. We’ve selected the pick of the pack, backed by research from our peers in the automotive industry. Our list of 10 small cars with the best resale value shows two dominant import brands with Subaru and Honda earning multiple spots. This list focuses on compact and subcompact cars, as well as SUV/crossovers. While there are just two domestic entries, one is America’s most beloved and longest continuously produced vehicles which delivers truly superior resale value.
10 Small Cars with the Best Resale Value
Photo Credit: Subaru
2017 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza delivers the highest resale value in the compact car class enhanced by a complete redesign for 2017 that features a quieter cabin, improved ride quality, and a sleeker exterior. The Impreza continues to be all-wheel-drive (AWD) exclusive in both a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. As the lowest cost AWD vehicle in America, with a starting MSRP of $18,395, it’s popular in cold weather states for all the right reasons. The Impreza has a full complement of advanced safety technology which includes the Subaru EyeSight suite, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and blind spot mirrors. The official EPA fuel economy rating of 28 mpg city/38 mpg highway miles per gallon is impressive for an AWD vehicle.
Photo Credit: Honda
2017 Honda Civic
The Honda Civic was completely redesigned for the 2016 model year and 2017 brings a bevy of additional models sure to hold their value better than the competition. The 2017 Honda Civic lineup includes coupe, four-door sedan, and five-door hatchback body styles, with the performance-oriented Civic Si and road-scorching Civic Type R leading the pack. The base LX sedan is the least expensive Civic, with a starting MSRP of $18,740 and an EPA fuel economy rating of 28 city / 40 highway miles per gallon. While the top-of-the-line Civic Type R hatchback has a reasonable starting MSRP of $33,900, you’ll be hard pressed to find one at that price, due to extreme demand.
Photo Credit: Subaru
2018 Subaru WRX
The all-wheel-drive (AWD) turbocharged Subaru WRX holds legendary appeal in the enthusiast community. While the AWD sport compact niche evolved with the entry of the Ford Focus RS and demise of the Mitsubishi Evolution, Subie love continues to run strong and WRX resale values are splendid. The 2018 Subaru WRX has a starting MSRP of $26,995 and is EPA rated at 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway. The more powerful WRX STI starts at $36,095 and sports a larger engine, along with a track tuned suspension. If you want the best resale value from that new WRX, you’ll want to resist the temptation of extensive modifications. Clean, used WRXs in stock form hold the widest appeal.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2017 Toyota Yaris iA
The subcompact Toyota Yaris IA sedan is based on the Mazda2, which is not offered in America. It was initially offered as the Scion iA, but when the decision was made to shutter the Scion brand, the stylish little four-door was rebadged as the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA. It delivers a low cost of ownership and acceptable resale value, with a remarkably low starting MSRP of $15.950 and an official EPA fuel economy rating of 30 city/39 highway miles per gallon. The interior includes a standard seven-inch infotainment system and is well-trimmed, considering the low cost. It may be inexpensive, but it doesn’t feel cheap and it’s a pleasure to drive with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Photo Credit: Honda
2018 Honda Fit
The Honda Fit is our top pick among subcompacts for best resale value. Honda’s tiny five-door hatchback offers the most versatile interior in its class, along with excellent road manners. The second row Magic Seat folds to accommodate tall items, and the front seat folds flat to handle longer cargo. The 2017 Fit has a starting MSRP of $16,090, with an official EPA fuel economy rating of 29 highway/36 city miles per gallon. The refreshed 2018 Fit will offer a host of new features, including the Honda Sensing safety suite, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Honda Sensing includes technology not common to the class, including adaptive cruise control, active lane keep, and collision mitigation braking.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2017 Toyota Prius C
The subcompact Toyota Prius C is the most affordable entry in Toyota’s extensive hybrid lineup, with a starting MSRP of just $20,150. The tiny five-door hatchback is most efficient in city driving, with an official EPA fuel economy rating of 48 city / 43 highway. Four trim levels are offered for 2017: One ($20,150), Two ($20,950), Three ($22,375), and Four ($24,965). Lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and a pre-collision system are standard equipment in the Toyota Safety Sense C technology suite. A center dash multi-information display and energy monitor make it a snap to get the most miles out of every gallon of gas. The 2017 Toyota Prius c's high level of efficiency, solid resale value, and Toyota's legendary reliability ensure low total cost of ownership.
Photo Credit: Ford
2018 Ford Focus RS
America waited for Ford’s hottest hatchback to jump the pond for ages and the 2018 Ford Focus RS does not disappoint. With 350 horsepower on tap and a high-performance all-wheel-drive system, the Focus RS delivers thrilling acceleration and remarkable grip. The RS goes head-to-head with the renown Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R, at a starting MSRP of $36,120. While resale value is strong on the Focus RS, you’ll want to consider daily operating costs, as premium fuel is required and the official EPA estimates are modest (19 city / 25 highway miles per gallon). Only fast moving drivers need apply: the Focus RS is only available with a 6-speed manual. 2018 marks its final model year. Or so they say …
2017 Volkswagen Golf R
The high-performance 2017 Volkswagen Golf R tops the Golf range and goes toe-to-toe with the Ford Focus RS and Subaru WRX STI. With a starting MSRP of $39,375, the Golf R is roughly double the price of the base front-wheel-drive Golf. It’s money well spent, with the 292 hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four, DCC adaptive suspension system, and 4MOTION all-wheel drive making the Golf R one of hottest hatches on the market. The EPA fuel economy ratings of 22 city/31 highway miles per gallon for the 6-speed manual are respectable, although premium fuel is required. (A quick-shifting six-speed DSG automatic is offered, as well.) The Golf R’s world-class performance and exclusivity ensure strong resale value.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2017 Toyota Corolla iM
The stylish five-door-hatchback Toyota Corolla iM is marketed as the Toyota Auris overseas and was initially offered as the Scion iM here in America. The iM is well-equipped and attractively priced with a starting MSRP of $18,750. There is only one level of trim and no major option packages are offered. The cabin is well appointed with features that include dual zone HVAC and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The standard Toyota Safety Sense C technology suite includes automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and a pre-collision system. The Corolla iM delivers a low total cost of ownership, with an EPA fuel economy rating of 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway, and good resale value.
2018 Toyota Yaris
The sub compact 2018 Toyota Yaris hatchback is the smallest and least expensive vehicle in the Toyota lineup, with a starting MSRP of $15,635. The 2018 refresh includes dramatic tweaks to the exterior and dashboard design. A 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen audio system and hands-free Bluetooth are standard. The Yaris provides peace of mind with a standard backup camera and Toyota Safety Sense C technology included at no extra charge. Five models are offered, with the three-door available in L and LE trim. The five-door is available in L, LE, and SE trim. A remarkably low price point and an EPA fuel economy rating of 30 mpg city/36 mpg highway ensure low operating costs, month-after-month, with solid resale value.