Compact cars are, obviously, compact in size. But that said, folks looking to stretch their legs will find noticeable differences inside the mainstream entries, especially when it comes to rear-seat accommodations.
Somewhat surprisingly, the leading mainstream compacts have more front and rear legroom than popular premium choices like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. We’ll use the C-Class to help provide a little context: It has 41.7 inches of legroom for the front row and 35.2 inches for the back one. Many of the mainstream models on our list offer more spacious legroom in both rows.
Below are five small cars that deliver big rewards when it comes to front and rear legroom.
2018 Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla sedan is the compact car to get if you’re looking for outstanding legroom in both rows. The 2018 Corolla offers 42.3 inches of legroom for the driver and front passenger, along with 41.4 inches for back-seat passengers.
Another key advantage provided by the 2018 Toyota Corolla is its outstanding list of standard safety features. Base models come with a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane keeping assistance, automatic high beams and a collision mitigation system with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection.
2018 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza offers sedan and hatchback body styles that share the same cabin dimensions. As a result, both furnish 43.1 inches of legroom up front and 36.5 inches in the back.
The Impreza comes standard with all-wheel drive for travels in rain and snow, and all models are equipped with a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Available amenities include adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, lane keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking.
2017 Ford Focus
The 2017 Ford Focus provides the same 43.1 inches of front legroom as the Subaru Impreza. However, the Focus is significantly more cramped for passengers riding in the back. Only 33.2 inches of legroom is available there, and those cabin dimensions are the same in both sedan and hatchback body styles.
Ford’s Focus is nearing the end of its model cycle, and an all-new version is just around the corner. Still, the current Focus offers a fair number of modern technologies to help keep it competitive. All models come with a rearview camera, the list of available features includes Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration and driver-assistance measures like a blind spot monitor and a self parking system.
2017 Nissan Sentra
Keeping the Ford’s rear-seat legroom in mind, the 2017 Nissan Sentra may be a better option if extra space for the back seat is important. The Sentra, which is available only as a sedan, comes with 42.5 and 37.4 inches of front- and rear-seat legroom, respectively. Compared with the Focus, that means half an inch less legroom for those up front and 4.2 inches more for passengers in the back.
Like the Focus, the Sentra is an older entry that still manages to deliver quite nicely on the technology front. It’s available with satellite radio, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and an eight-speaker Bose sound system.
2017 Honda Civic
The 2017 Honda Civic is the rare compact with a three-car lineup, with the sedan being a close match to the Nissan Sentra for legroom. The Civic hatchback and coupe, though, end up sacrificing some second-row legroom. All three body styles supply 42.3 inches of leg space in the front row, while the sedan delivers 37.4 inches of rear-seat legroom. The hatchback and coupe furnish 36 and 35.9 inches of space for your legs in the second row, respectively.
As is the case with the compacts mentioned above, the Civic sedan does a good job of providing a satisfying array of feature content. Standard features include automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera and LED daytime running lights. You can upgrade your Civic with keyless entry and ignition, a blind spot camera, satellite radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.
The Civic is also available with a generous assortment of driver-assistance features, and the list includes lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure intervention and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking.