Best New Cars for City Driving

    Our top picks are easy to park, and they prioritize safety and fuel economy

    Cars driving on the Brooklyn Bridge, NYC Photo: iStock

    So you’ve decided to add a car to your city lifestyle. But which one should you pick? City dwellers need to take some special considerations into account when they choose a vehicle, whether it’s for escaping to the country on weekends, shopping in the suburbs, or making a reverse commute.

    If you’re buying a car to drive and park in the city, you’ll want:

    A tight turning radius. If you’re squeezing into tight parking lots or trying to snag that space across the street, you’ll want a car that doesn’t require much space to maneuver. The lower the number, the better.

    The right size. Too big, and it will feel ungainly around town. Too small, and you might not be able to carry what you need.

    More on Buying a Car

    Good city gas mileage. You don’t want to be shocked when that awesome highway mileage drops off noticeably in stop-and-go traffic. Hybrids tend to excel in cities because they typically rely only on their electric motors at urban speeds below 20 mph. And unlike fully electric cars, hybrids don’t need to be plugged in.

    A decent ride. It’s not just about potholed city streets, either. Chances are you’ll use your car to take weekend trips or grocery store runs, so you’ll want a vehicle that doesn’t jostle you or transmit hard bumps to the cabin. That way, you can be comfy downtown and on smooth highways.

    Standard automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection. Having a virtual set of eyes on the road just might save a life.

    City-specific features. If you’re looking at options to add, consider where the car will be parked. Will auto-folding mirrors come in handy, and will surround-view cameras help you park better? Read our full road tests to find out if these features are available.

    But how do you know which cars and compact SUVs have all those qualifications? CR is here to help. We can’t find you a parking spot, but we can give you a list of the best cars for city dwellers, ranging from affordable hatchbacks to more capacious models, from Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and more.

    In addition to our exclusive reliability and owner satisfaction data, we’ve done our own tests and pored over relevant statistics to help you find out which cars will meet your specific needs. We’ve picked cars that can make a U-turn in no more than 39 feet, get city gas mileage above 30 mpg, score average or better in our ride tests, and have AEB with pedestrian detection standard. Then we ranked them based on those specific qualities.

    If you’re a Consumer Reports member, the list below is available to you. CR members also have full access to the results of our Annual Auto Surveys; first-drive reviews of the newest cars, SUVs, and trucks; and our full road tests and exclusive ratings for each vehicle we buy.

    If you’re not a CR member, click below to join and see the full list of the best cars for city driving. As a CR member, you also get access to our exclusive ratings and reviews for every product that we buy and test, including cars, grills, mobile phones, and flat-screen TVs.

    Become a member to read the full article and get access to digital ratings.

    We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.