ARTICLE_DETAIL

2014 Hatchbacks Buyer's Guide

By: Jeff Youngs, 11/2/2013
Hatchbacks typically blend practicality, efficiency, and affordability into a daily-use vehicle that serves most consumers transportation requirements, most of the time. For 2014, there are more than 40 hatchbacks available to consumers, ranging from the inexpensive 2-passenger Smart Fortwo to the speedy and spendy Porsche Panamera.

This buyer's guide, however, names the eight hatchback models that ranked highly in one of J.D. Power's signature vehicle ownership studies--2013 Initial Quality Study, 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study, and 2013 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study. The studies were conducted for the 2013 model year, but none of the hatchbacks listed in alphabetical order below sees significant change for 2014.

When shopping for a new 2014 hatchback model, remember that the models below satisfy the people who already own them in one or more areas--initial quality, vehicle dependability, or vehicle appeal, based on J.D. Power research.


2014 Chevrolet Sonic
Although the Chevy Sonic is offered as a sedan with an enormous trunk, the Sonic 5-door is the body style to get for those who want the racy-looking RS trim level and the added functionality that comes standard with a hatchback. Several trim levels are offered for the Sonic, which can be upgraded with a MyLink infotainment system, useful connectivity features, leather seats, and more.

Key Specs:
  • 138-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine
  • 19 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats
  • 47.7 cu. ft. of cargo space behind front seats
  • EPA-rated 28-33 mpg in combined driving
  • Base price: $15,595


2014 Chevrolet Volt
In addition to offering the green convenience of electric driving for the daily commute, the 4-passenger Chevy Volt delivers the driving range of a conventional car thanks to its unique powertrain, which includes an onboard gasoline-fueled generator that can get the Volt from New York to Los Angeles without visiting a single electrical outlet. Be sure to factor in tax credits before deciding whether or not a Volt might be too expensive for the budget.

Key Specs:
  • 149-horsepower, electric drive system
  • 84-horsepower, 4-cylinder gasoline generator engine
  • 10.6 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats
  • EPA-rated 98 MPGe in combined driving
  • EPA-rated 37 mpg in combined driving (gasoline generator only)
  • Base price: $34,995 before federal, state, and local tax credits


2014 Fiat 500
For those into cars that combine European design flair with a low price tag, the diminutive 4-passenger Fiat 500 proves to be an appealing option among hatchbacks. First, choose between a hardtop and a convertible roof, then determine whether a turbocharged engine, an electric version of the car, or the performance-tuned Abarth variant is preferable. Fiat offers plenty of opportunity for expression with a variety of colors and materials from which to choose.

Key Specs:
  • 500: 101-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine
  • 500 Turbo: 135-horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
  • 500 Abarth: 160-horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
  • 500e: 111-horsepower, electric powertrain
  • 7.0 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats (500e)
  • 9.5 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats (500, 500 Turbo, 500 Abarth)
  • 30.1 cu. ft. of cargo space behind front seats (500, 500 Turbo, 500 Abarth)
  • 500: EPA-rated 30-34 mpg in combined driving
  • 500 Turbo/Abarth: EPA-rated 30 mpg in combined driving
  • 500e: EPA-rated 116 MPGe in combined driving
  • Base price: $16,900


2014 Mazda 2
Simple, affordable, efficient, and infused with Mazda's zoom-zoom brand spirit, the Mazda 2 is a 5-door hatchback that hasn't changed a bit over the years. Owners say this sub-compact car delivers class-leading quality, too. Upgrade to Touring trim for fog lights, aluminum wheels, cruise control, and more.

Key Specs:
  • 100-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine
  • 13.3 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats
  • 27.8 cu. ft. of cargo space behind front seats
  • EPA-rated 30-32 mpg in combined driving
  • Base price: $15,515


2014 Scion xD
Scion doesn't sell many of them, but the dependable xD 5-door hatchback deserves close consideration. Like all Scion models, it is well equipped right out of the box, and dealers offer a number of ways to personalize the car, or to improve handling.

Key Specs:
  • 128-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine
  • 10.5 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats
  • 35.7 cu. ft. of cargo space behind front seats
  • EPA-rated 29 mpg in combined driving
  • Base price: $16,675


2014 Smart Fortwo
The 2-passenger Smart Fortwo is a European city car offered with a hardtop or a convertible top, each equipped with a rear-mounted, 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine. An electric version of the Fortwo is also on sale, and Smart calls it "America's most affordable electric car." Owners say the Smart Fortwo delivers the best quality in its segment.

Key Specs:
  • Fortwo: 70-horsepower, 3-cylinder engine
  • Electric Drive: 74-horsepower, electric drive system
  • 12 cu. ft. of cargo space behind front seats
  • Fortwo: EPA-rated 36 mpg in combined driving
  • Electric Drive: EPA-rated 107 MPGe in combined driving
  • Base price: $13,240


2014 Toyota Prius
Car buyers seeking the added utility of a hatchback design combined with the best possible fuel economy and the seating comfort of a midsize car should carefully consider the iconic Toyota Prius. With its excellent fuel-economy ratings, a high ranking in the 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study, and an affordable price tag, the Prius has plenty to offer in terms of practicality.

Key Specs:
  • 134-horsepower, gas-electric hybrid powertrain
  • 21.6 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats
  • EPA-rated 50 mpg in combined driving
  • Base price: $25,010


2014 Volkswagen GTI
If the Toyota Prius is one of the most practical answers to the question of which hatchback to buy, the 2014 VW GTI is one of the most fun to drive. This is basically a performance-tuned version of the Volkswagen Golf, and during an abbreviated 2014 model year, the GTI is offered only as a 5-door model. A redesigned 2015 Volkswagen GTI is set to arrive next year.

Key Specs:
  • 200-horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
  • 15.2 cu. ft. of cargo space behind rear seats
  • 46 cu. ft. of cargo space behind front seats
  • EPA-rated 25-27 mpg in combined driving
  • Base price: $25,890