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 GolfGet FREE Price Quote||2012 Ford FocusGet FREE Price Quote||2012 Kia SoulGet FREE Price Quote||2012 Kia ForteGet FREE Price Quote||2012 Mazda MAZDA3Get FREE Price Quote||2012 Subaru ImprezaGet FREE Price Quote|
|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|
|2dr HB Man||4dr Sedan S||5dr Wagon Man Base||4dr Sedan Man LX||4dr Sedan Man i SV||4dr Man 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|