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What to Know About Compact Cars

What to Know About Compact Cars

April 30, 2022

A compact car is a small car – they are considered to be the size in between super-compacts and mid-sized cars – but we need something more precise than that, so let’s borrow the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) definition.

According to the EPA, a compact car must have a combined passenger and cargo volume of 100-109.9 cubic feet.

It must measure between 161” and 187” in length and have a wheelbase of 100-105”. The engine size must also be between 1.2l and 1.4l.

According to this definition, a wide range of cars can be described as compacts, including many sedans, station wagons, hatchbacks, coupés and convertibles. Two-door and four-door models can all qualify.

As automakers continue scurrying to meet consumers’ apparently insatiable demand for SUVs by cramming more and more of them into their lineups, sedans and hatchbacks are falling out of favor. Despite their uncool status, however, compact cars remain among the most affordable types of vehicle you can buy. But what exactly is a compact car?

The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations and It Still Runs define compact cars as a North American vehicle class that lands between mid-size and subcompact vehicles. What is a compact car? This class is the equivalent of the British small family car or a European C-Segment car.

Small, or compact, cars have between 100-109 cubic feet of combined passenger and cargo volume, and are between 161 and 187 inches long.

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