Compact Car vs Economy Car [MPG & Daily Rates]

One of the most common questions that drivers have when choosing a vehicle to purchase or rent is, what is the difference between economy and compact cars? These two options have presented some confusion as to which is the best choice for any given situation.

Unless size is your main concern, the economy car is the best choice for most situations. The economy model cars compensate for their small size with an impressive gas mileage advantage over compact cars, as well as a much more affordable price tag.

On average, an economy car is $8,000 cheaper than a compact car. Economy cars also offer better MPG (average of 35 miles per gallon) as compared to 23 MPG for a compact car. Space-wise, economy cars have more storage capacity and can take up to five passengers, whereas compact cars can fit up to four. Similarly, both types of cars have a safety rating of five.

This guide will focus on the many differences and similarities between these two types of vehicles. Using the information provided for you in this guide, you will be able to make the most informed decision possible when choosing between an economy or compact car.

Economy Vs Compact Car Comparison Table

Car TypeAvg. PriceAvg. Rental PriceAvg. Miles Per GallonAvg. Passenger CapacityAvg. Storage CapacityAverage Safety Rating
Economy$25,000$7535514 cubic ft5
Compact$32,000$952348 cubic ft5

The table above contains a detailed overview of all of the information discussed in this guide. You can use this side-by-side comparison table to review and compare the different pros and cons of both types of vehicles. This can help you make the right choice when deciding whether to purchase an economy or compact vehicle.

Economy Vs Compact Car Price

Make And ModelType Of CarAvg. Purchase CostAvg. Daily Rental Cost
Audi A1Economy$21,600$66
Chrysler 200Economy$23,000$73
Ford FiestaEconomy$15,135$83
Audi A3Compact$34,900$104
Hyundai i30Compact$31,000$98
BMW 1 SeriesCompact$46,990$112

Economy cars have a steep advantage over compact cars when it comes to price. Due to the smaller size of economy vehicles, the price is generally much less expensive than renting a large compact car. You can purchase an economy car for an average price of $25,000. This is much less than the average cost of a compact car, which is $32,000.

If you are renting an economy car, you can expect to pay an average price of $75 a day. For drivers who need more room, a compact car can be rented for an average price of $95 a day. If you are looking for a  budget vehicle to rent or purchase, an economy car is definitely the right choice.

Audi A1 economy car
Audi A1 has the lowest daily rate among economy cars

 Price is possibly the most important deciding aspect for people who are in the market for a new vehicle. If saving money is a priority for you, then your best decision is to choose an economy vehicle to rent or purchase.

The table below contains price information on some of the most popular economy and compact cars. You can use this information to help you make an informed purchase decision when choosing between an economy and compact car.

Economy Vs Compact Car Performance

Compact cars have an advantage over economy cars when it comes to performance. Due to the smaller engines on most economy cars, they are not able to deliver the power that a compact car can. If you are interested in the most powerful vehicle that you can find, then the compact car is what you are looking for.

Economy cars are prone to poor acceleration and low top speeds, which can be frustrating for drivers who are looking for an exciting driving experience. Economy cars are designed this way to help save drivers money and also cut down on fuel emissions.

Economy Vs Compact Car Fuel Economy

Economy cars are the best option when it comes to fuel economy. Economy cars are designed with fuel optimization in mind and do well on gas mileage both in the city and on the highway. Due to the size and power of the engines in most compact cars, they will often not get very good gas mileage.

You can expect to get an average of 35 miles per gallon out of an economy car. Compact cars typically get 23 miles per gallon in comparison. If you are planning on doing a lot of city driving or going for a long crossroads trip, then the economy is definitely the right choice to save money on gas.

That being said, your ultimate gas mileage will depend on the traffic conditions and driving behaviors that you exhibit while on the road.

The table below contains information on some of the most popular economy and compact cars and their average fuel economies. You can use this information to help you decide which type of vehicle is best for your fuel economy needs.

Make And ModelType Of CarAvg. Miles Per Gallon
Audi A1Economy36
Chrysler 200Economy32
Ford FiestaEconomy28
Audi A3Compact23
Hyundai i30Compact25
BMW 1 SeriesCompact29

Economy Vs Compact Car Size

Compact cars have much more passenger and storage space than economy cars. This makes them the better choice for drivers who are expecting many passengers or have a lot of luggage that they need to store.

Compact cars can typically comfortably seat up to 5 adults and have 14 cubic feet of storage room for luggage. Economy cars can only comfortably seat up to four people and have a storage capacity of around 8 cubic feet.

If you need the extra space, you should consider paying the extra money to rent or purchase a compact car. This will ensure that you have all of the storage and passenger space available to you that you need in the future.

Economy Vs Compact Car Safety

Compact cars have the edge over economy cars when it comes to safety. Due to the increased size and durability of compact cars, they will likely fare much better in a crash than smaller economy vehicles. A 2003 study has determined that drivers are much more likely to incur serious injuries when involved in a crash in a small economy car compared to a midsized or larger compact vehicle.

If safety is your main concern, you would likely be better off with a compact car. This can give you peace of mind on the road that you and your passengers are well protected. All of the vehicles mentioned in this guide have a five-star safety rating.

A five-star safety rating indicates that the vehicle has passed all crash tests and is as safe as possible for drivers.

Economy Vs Compact Car Handling And Comfort

Compact cars handle better than economy vehicles, due to their larger size and weight. The additional weight contributes to better handling and suspension controls which lead to a more comfortable trip.

Economy cars often feel more finicky to drive and are prone to expose the driver to more frequent bumps in the road. If you are planning a long trip where you will be driving for many hours, you should consider a compact vehicle to ensure that your travels are comfortable and smooth.

Economy vehicles are more suited for short, inner-city trips, while compact vehicles do better for longer driving distances.

Should I Choose An Economy Or Compact Car?

You should choose a compact car if you need the space, or an economy car if you are looking for a budget-friendly car option. It will ultimately be up to the individual to decide which of the car styles is best for their unique situation.

As previously mentioned, how many people you are planning on traveling with and how much luggage is involved will play a key role in deciding which car is best for you. If you know that you will be traveling with at least five passengers, then a compact car is your best option.

various types of cars

Even if your passenger count could fit comfortably into an economy vehicle, you should consider any luggage that they might be bringing along. If you need more than the average 8 cubic feet of storage that economy cars have available, then a compact car is again the better option.

That being said, if you are budget centric in your decision, then the economy is the best option. You can generally purchase an economy car for several thousand dollars less than a compact car. You can also find them cheaper to rent than compact vehicles.

Economy cars will also save you money on gas, as they generally have much better fuel economies than compact vehicles. If saving money is your main goal, then an economy car is the wisest choice.

You should consider all of the points made in this guide to help you better make an informed purchase decision. This can help ensure that you wind up with the vehicle that is right for you.

Final Thoughts

This guide has provided you with all of the information that you need to make an informed purchase decision when deciding between an economy or compact car. There are several key differences that you should consider before making a decision.

These differences include the size, fuel economy, and price of the two different styles of vehicles. In summary, if you are looking for an affordable, budget option, an economy car is the right choice for you. An economy car can be purchased for several thousand dollars less than most standard compact cars, which is a significant price difference.

If size, comfort, and safety while driving are what is most important to you in a vehicle, then you should consider purchasing or renting a compact vehicle. The increased size will allow drivers to fit more passengers comfortably, as well as any additional luggage that they might have with them.

Compact cars are also generally smoother to drive and will fare better during an accident due to the extra size over economy vehicles. No matter which car style you choose, this guide can help you make the right decision.

It is important to choose the car that is right for you so that you do not regret your decision in the future. Consider all of the information provided for you here before you make a decision. You can also use the side-by-side comparison chart in this guide to have a visual overview of the main differences between economy and compact cars.

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