Best cars for city driving

City life is tough for cars as well as their drivers. Cars have to deal with potholes, traffic jams and crazy cab drivers. Drivers have to deal with confusing signs, parking tickets and -hah- crazy cab drivers. That’s why many people choose to live where they can get by without a car altogether. And that’s why many people are looking forward to the day when you will be able to buy a driverless car.
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Nonetheless, having a car in the city makes getting around town easier and allows you to escape the concrete jungle on the weekends. The ideal urban vehicle is easy to park, durable and still has room for trips to Ikea. Whether you’re zipping around The Mission of San Francisco or braving the streets of Brooklyn, these cars will make city life a little bit easier.

Kia Soul 2010-2013

Kia Soul

Turning Radius 34.4ft
Length 13ft  5.6in
Cargo Room 53.4cu ft
MPG 24/30

The Kia Soul’s boxy shape makes it well-suited for transporting people and packages about town. The large cargo room comes from the Soul’s height, not length (like a station wagon) so it still fits in smallish parking spots. The vertical windows give the Kia Soul excellent visibility. The Soul doesn’t break the bank either, so you won’t be too bothered by the occasional ding and dents that come with city life.

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 Smart ForTwo 2008-2013

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Turning Radius 28.7ft
Length 8ft 10in
Cargo Room 7.8cu ft
MPG 34/38

The Smart ForTwo was designed with urban driving in mind, so it’s no wonder that it makes this list. At just under 9ft, the Smart ForTwo is half the size of an average car and can fit in tiny parking spots. It’s nimble on the road so any decent driver can easily avoid potholes. The only downfall is the lack of cargo room which makes even small trips to the store tough.
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Jeep Cherokee 1997-2001


Turning Radius 35.1ft
Length 13ft 11.5in
Cargo Room 69cu ft
MPG 18/23

It’s not the best on gas or the easiest to park, but the Jeep Cherokee sure is tough. With its big tires, you won’t sweat when going over pot holes or running over curbs every now and then. The Cherokee also offers more cargo space than some Manhattan studios.

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Toyota Prius 2003-2013


Turning Radius 34.2ft
Length 14ft 7.6in
Cargo Room 39.6cu ft
MPG 51/48

The old adage “the proof is in the pudding” comes to mind when it comes to the Toyota Prius. It’s a popular choice among New York City cab drivers so it has proven it can handle abuse. We’ve seen Prius taxis go all the way up to 300,000 miles. It’s also the only car that gets better gas mileage in the city than on the highway. That’s because when the Prius is sitting in traffic it hardly uses fuel.

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Subaru Forester 2003-2008


Turning Radius 34.8ft
Length 14ft 7.2in
Cargo Room 64.1cu ft
MPG 19/25

The Subaru Forester walks a fine line between crossover and station wagon. Its got all-wheel drive standard which comes in handy when you get snowed into a parking spot. It also has big windows which gives the driver excellent visibility.  But altogether, it’s not an exceptionally large vehicle (i.e. easy to park) and the 4 cylinder engine delivers reasonable fuel economy.

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Volkswagen Golf 1999-2004


Turning Radius 35.8ft
Length 13ft 8.9in
Cargo Room 41.8cu ft
MPG 21/28

The Volkswagen Golf is an all-around good city car, which is why it’s hugely popular in Europe where roads are smaller and cities are congested. The Golf blends perfectly into an urban setting so you don’t have to worry too much about attracting thieves. These days a 4th generation Golf can be had for around $3,000 which makes parking it on the street a little less stressful.

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Toyota Rav4 2005-2012


Turning Radius 34.8ft
Length 15ft 1.1in
Cargo Room 73cu ft
MPG 21/27

If you live in a city but need the utility of an SUV, check out the Toyota Rav4. It’s agile on the road but can handle running over potholes when they’re unavoidable. With 73 cubic feet of cargo room, it’s the most spacious vehicle on our list, yet it still delivers good gas mileage and the benefits of all wheel drive.

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Mini Cooper 2001-2013

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Turning Radius 35ft
Length 11ft 11.9in
Cargo Room 23.7cu ft
MPG 23/31

If you want a car with the benefits of a Smart ForTwo, but also want something that’s stylish, the Mini Cooper may be your answer. At just under 12 feet long, The Mini is effortless to parallel park and can easily squeeze down narrow streets. If you’re willing to spend a little more, the Mini Cooper S comes with a supercharger that provides extra power if you ever need to drive on a highway. Just beware of the convertible, as soft-tops are targets for theft in cities.

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Nissan Versa 2007-2013


Turning Radius 34.8ft
Length 14ft 7.4 in
Cargo Room 14.9cu ft
MPG 31/40

As the least expensive model on Nissan’s lineup, the Versa offers great value for money. Models that are only a few years old can be had for around $10,000 on MojoMotors. The Nissan Versa gets great gas mileage and offers something none of the other cars on this list have: a trunk, which is nice for keeping valuables out of sight.

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Audi A3 2006-2013

Audi A3 Sportback S line/Standaufnahme

Turning Radius 35.1ft
Length 14ft .7in
Cargo Room 55.6cu ft
MPG 22/29

Maybe you’ve got a fancy job in the city and you’re looking for something a little more luxurious than the other cars on this list. Well, Audi’s A3 provides the nearly as much space as a station wagon but is a lot easier to park on the street. It’s stylish, but not flashy enough to draw the wrong kind of attention. It’s practical, yet luxurious. You could say it is the “Mama Bear” of luxury hatchbacks. The A3 has been around in North America since 2006, and since Audi is one of the fastest-depreciating car brands, there are plenty of deals to be had.

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Any Jalopy, Hooptie, or Beater

It’s a fact that eventually something is going to happen to your car if it’s parked on the street. It will hurt a little less if the car isn’t worth that much to begin with. With that in mind, any inexpensive vehicle that can sit and traffic without overheating makes a decent city car.

Other articles you might enjoy:
Best and worst times to buy a car
Most reliable car brands

Written by Tristan Cathers

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