Typically, families tend to choose larger sedans, minivans and crossovers, but we picked the five best compact cars for families because we recognize that not every family wants or needs a big vehicle.
We let the Environmental Protection Agency define "compact" for us as any car with 100 to 109 cubic feet of combined passenger and cargo room. We also included the EPA's "small wagons," defined as those having less than 130 cubic feet of passenger and cargo room.
Every car on this list delivers at least an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. All prices include automatic transmissions, whether standard or optional.
As for space, we thought the cargo area needed to hold at least two large suitcases and still have room for a smaller soft bag or two, making 11 cubic feet our minimum standard.
A passenger-suitable backseat for families requires enough legroom for teenagers. We established 34.5 inches as the minimum for rear-seat legroom.
All of our picks earned Consumer Reports' "recommended" rating and achieved the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest score of "good" in three kinds of crash tests.