Small Cars: The Next Big Thing

June 01, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

The number of compact and subcompact, both used and new vehicles purchased throughout America is growing substantially by the minute. Thus, more than several dealerships are finding themselves turning away potential customers because their small car inventory is greatly depleted or even nonexistent. This most obvious reason everyone is clamoring to purchase smaller vehicles is their increased fuel efficiency. Of course, the price of gas is a good reason to go smaller, but there are several other points to consider when purchasing a new or slightly used vehicle.

Pros and Cons of a Smaller Vehicle

Once again, it almost goes without mentioning that the main reason that anyone purchases and drives a smaller subcompact or compact vehicle is the fuel efficiency. Several models are even capable of achieving 30 to 40 mpg on the highway, which is a huge advantage as gasoline prices continue to rise. Of course, there are a few downsides to owning a smaller vehicle, as well, like all things. Here are a few of the many pros and cons to keep in mind while considering purchasing a smaller or larger car:


  • Parking Constraint:  If you live in a metropolitan area, you are aware of the omnipresent headache that is trying to find a parking spot, especially if you’re behind the wheel of a full-sized truck or SUV. Weaving through the traffic and squeezing into a tight space is possible in a smaller vehicle.
  • Eco-Conscious Features:  Many manufacturers are sinking the majority of their research and development budget into upgrading smaller vehicles. This translates into cars that feature more eco-friendly extras, including hybrid and hydrogen technology.
  • Price:  Aside from hybrid vehicles, which feature technology that comes at a premium, the majority of new and used smaller vehicles are generally less expensive to purchase and maintain than their full-sized competition.


  • Room to Breathe:  If you have a large family, several dogs or need room to haul around your golf clubs and the kids’ soccer gear, you can all but eliminate the idea of purchasing a smaller vehicle because of its size and cargo room.
  • Power:  If you’re interested in a car with a little muscle, don’t bother trying to purchase a compact vehicle. The power simply isn’t there, which is a frightening prospect if you’re stuck in the ditch during the winter.
  • Appearance:  The sheer size of a smaller vehicle doesn’t leave much room for car designers to weave their magic, which means your subcompact isn’t going to turn many heads in the neighborhood.

The Safety Issue

If there’s one argument above all else against owning a smaller vehicle, it’s the critical issue of safety. On average, there are more fatal accidents associated with subcompact and compact cars than full-sized sedans, full-sized trucks and SUVS. According to the IIHS, or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the only vehicles that led to more collision fatalities were smaller trucks. This is only because of their high rollover risk.

If you’re still compelled to purchase a small car, pay attention that you pick up a model with as many safety features as possible. Look for vehicles that at least feature side-curtain airbags and stability control. This will drive the price up, sometimes substantially, but it’s worth it to give you a sense of security and peace on the road.

Is it a Good Investment?

In the end, personal preference is the best indicator of whether purchasing a smaller vehicle is right for you. If you plan to keep the car for several years, go ahead and reap the benefits of owning a fuel-efficient model. Another point to keep in mind is the higher premium often attached to the smaller models. As mentioned before, many dealerships are having trouble keeping subcompact and compact cars on the lot, which leads many to hike up the price of these sought after models. If this trend continues your smaller car could retain its value, especially if fuel prices continue to rise as they’ve done over the last several years.

Before buying any vehicle, small, large or enormous, do your homework and look for the best deal. Keep an eye out for the rebates offered by several manufacturers on new models, as they’re always popping up to entice buyers. If purchasing used, get a vehicle history report and don’t hesitate to ask a certified mechanic for used car buying tips to look over the car before signing anything.

This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek.

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