Ah, the joys of city life: Almost everything you could ever want is a quick drive away, and there isn’t ever anyplace nearby to park. Traffic and parking are the harsh realities of owning a car in a city, and we know as well as anyone that having a large car in the city is just asking for problems. The size of your car is directly proportional to the size of the headache you get from driving around the city. If you’re going to do a lot of city driving, you may want to consider investing in a smaller car.
After years of commuting in Boston, we understand just what kind of struggle finding a parking space can be. We know the laps around the block, the inching into a spot you have no business of fitting into, and the “That’s far enough from the fire hydrant, right?” all too well. So let us give you some suggestions to alleviate your parking woes.
8. The Kia Rio strikes the perfect balance between price, features, power, fuel economy and size. Since its inception in 2000, the Rio and Rio5 (formerly known as the Rio Cinco) have been immensely popular subcompacts, and for good reasons. With the typical Rio being less than 160 inches in length, it is small and agile enough to meander through traffic with ease. The Rio5 hatchback also has the addition of some much needed cargo space. This combination of agility and versatility make the Rio fantastic for city driving.
7. Among the smallest cars on the market now, the smart fortwo was, quite literally, made for the city. With its tiny size, the fortwo can fit into the smallest of spaces. That tight body also gives it great maneuverability and control. The fortwo’s fuel economy is probably the biggest draw to this small car, with a 35-mpg city rating that will do wonders for your bank account. Between its fuel economy and its ability to fit into tight places, you’ll truly get an appreciation for your fortwo when driving in under-30-mph traffic or looking for parking. We’ve seen fortwos make some imaginative parking spots. We should warn that the fortwo may not be the safest car to drive, so, needless to say, drivers should try to avoid getting into accidents.
6. The MINI Cooper is the quintessential small car. Having been fashioned after the British Motor Corporation’s classic Mini, the newer MINI Coopers continue the adventurous and sporty attitude of their predecessors. Its size is legendary, and along with its tiny frame, the MINI Cooper brings with it a smooth ride and great handling. If you’re willing to pay the extra cash, the MINI Cooper S and John Cooper Works trims bring a lot of extra power to the small car.
5. Who needs a large car to haul cargo? The Honda Fit is surprisingly roomy for its small frame. There’s no question why the Fit is so popular in the subcompact market space. The Fit brings tight handling, fuel economy and a tremendous safety rating (IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2012) with its small and attractive frame. It’s the “Mary Poppins carpet bag” of cars: You can fit just about anything in this small space. The Fit is a perfect car for curbside parking, which you will inevitably do a lot of in the city.
4. After a short hiatus, the Audi A3 is back—and in a big way. Audi launched the car on April 3rd of this year, celebrating the new model with lavish parties aimed at young, hip, urbanites—the type of people Audi hopes will buy the A3. The car has earned critical acclaim and has also been named a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway safety. What really sets the A3 apart, however, is its price. Starting at $29,900, the A3 comes with leather seats and a sunroof standard, not bad for a German luxury car. Add to that the optional rear-view camera and parking sensors, and this small luxury machine should glide comfortably into whatever space you need it to.
3. Is it a compact? Is it a crossover? It’s the Nissan Juke, and it’s both. One of the smallest crossovers on the market today, the Nissan Juke is one of the most intriguing cars to hit the market in recent years. It’s not quite big enough to compete with other crossovers and SUVs, yet its too tall to really be considered with other compact cars. At a length of just 13.5 feet, the Juke can easily fit into almost any parallel-parking spot, while its available all-wheel drive can get you out of many slippery situations.
2. The FIAT 500 has long been a symbol of Italian style. It’s cute, small and oh-so-European. It’s hard to believe that the 500 has only been in the U.S. for just over 3 years now. In that time, FIAT has become a major player in the States, taking full control of Chrysler and planning to bring even more of its Italian sculpture (think Alfa Romeo 4C) across the Pond. None of this might have happened without the success of the ever-popular cinquecento (as the 500 is known in Italian), which won over many urban buyers in the United States due to its good looks and length of just under 12 feet, making it extremely easy to park in the city. With a rich, Italian pedigree, seating for 4 and an Abarth version capable of hitting 60 mph in about 7 seconds, we’re excited to hear the Italians are coming.
1. It may not be the flashiest car on the block, but darn it, the Chevrolet Spark is a cute, fun, classy car perfect for fighting the battle that is urban parking. Launched in its current form in 2013, the Spark comes in at just over 12 feet, meaning it will have plenty of room to slide into that spot the guy in the family sedan just gave up on. With the Spark, the good just keeps on coming. Not only is it one of the most inexpensive new cars available today (it starts at $12,170), it’s also the only subcompact to be named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Not only that, the Spark also comes with a lot of cool tech options normally not found in minicars, such as a 7-inch touchscreen display and Pandora compatibility. Chevy was really looking for a winner with the new Spark and nailed it.
What’s your ride of choice when parking is tight?
-jharrington and zwaller
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