Fuel economy and VW's reputation for driving feel keep bringing buyers back to the Golf, but the latest crop of compact cars could give those shoppers pause.
The Mazda3 now gets 40-mpg highway gas mileage ratings, and it's kept its pert, friendly handling even through its weight-cutting crash diet.
The Kia Forte and Soul share underpinnings, and whether it's the five-door hatchback or tall wagon, either have as much interior space as the Golf, with marked improvement in quality from last-gen Kias.
The Ford Focus is TCC's Best Car To Buy for 2012; its crisp handling treads on VW territory, and its MyFord Touch controls set the pace for the class, though they're complex to use.
Last up, the Subaru Impreza gets good gas mileage even though all-wheel drive is standard equipment.
|2012 Volkswagen GolfBrowse Used Listings||2012 Ford FocusBrowse Used Listings||2012 Kia SoulBrowse Used Listings||2012 Kia ForteBrowse Used Listings||2012 Mazda MAZDA3Browse Used Listings||2012 Subaru ImprezaBrowse Used Listings|
|23 MPG City / 42 MPG Hwy||26 MPG City / 38 MPG Hwy||23 MPG City / 30 MPG Hwy||22 MPG City / 36 MPG Hwy||18 MPG City / 40 MPG Hwy||25 MPG City / 36 MPG Hwy|
|Gas I5||Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas Flat 4|
|Compact||Compact||Small Station Wagon||Compact Cars||Compact||Compact Cars|
|2-Door HB Manual||4-Door Sedan S||5-Door Wagon Manual Base||4-Door Sedan Manual LX||4-Door Sedan Manual i SV||4-Door Manual 2.0i|
|Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||All Wheel Drive|
|2 Door HB||4 Door Sedan||5 Door Wagon||4 Door Sedan||4 Door Sedan||Sedan|