People who own and drive cars in cities are often criticized for the congested roads and surrounding highways. But if you’ve ever tried to cram a drum set and his 10 bags of groceries into a bus, subway, or cab, or rent a car and head out of town on a busy summer weekend, the set is sturdy. The wheels – for you, not everyone – are your friends. Also, how many of us travel a lot and the Uber guy shows up, finds out you’re going to the airport, takes your bag and turns you down on the spot? Ownership is power.
Here’s a list of new wheels that I personally beat and punished and thought were the “best” for city dwellers.
2023 kia soul
It’s small, cute, and totally non-aggressive looking, easy to spot in a parking lot, and able to squeeze through and squeeze around a lot of traffic. Minimal in design, grille and reshaped headlamps. You can also choose 17″ or 18″ wheels. The engine is his 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 147 hp like a lawnmower, as you’d expect from such a little guy. Prices start at a modest $22,550.
2023 Mazda3 Hatchback
The Mazda3 hatchback’s oval shape, mini size and reliability make it a solid choice for city dwellers. In our recent tests, we had no problem with a portable PA system, two guitars, an amp, and two adults. The third row of seats can actually fit a creature larger than a ventriloquist’s dummy. It also has quick acceleration and (relatively) sporty driving dynamics, as well as the option of a powerful turbocharged engine. The base price of $23,550 won’t break the bank either.
2023 Jeep Wrangler
Its controls are as numbing as the Novocain, its boxy shape impedes all sorts of real highway speeds, and its mileage is a meager city/highway at 15/19 MPG, but the Wrangler is the other Express your urban cowboy like a vehicle. Take this out of town for true off-road fun, or head to the beach to experience the best cowabanga this side of Malibu. . The noisy interior prevents useless conversations, making it perfect for strong-willed and taciturn types. Finally, it fits easily in an urban parking space and the people you share the road with will look up to you, but having visible tats and a shaved head helps. (Quite!) Rise.
2023 Mazda MX-5
While the previous nickname of “Miata” was a much more creative and fun name than the bland “MX-5” as tofu, this peanut-sized vehicle flew around traffic jams like a butterfly. It floats, and its power and torque through its optional six-speed shifter stings like a bee. It also squeezes into tight parking lots and small spaces near fire hydrants that are too fat to be considered in an Escalade or Yukon.
One caveat with the MX-5 is its lack of storage, but this doesn’t mean you can’t ask a friend to help you move, or be automatically elected gang driver after a night out. That diminutive engine actually feels very powerful when you downshift and step on, and if you choose the best-equipped Grand Touring model, Its taste is really attractive. The number one tip, though, is to leave it at home during a blizzard. Prices are from under his 30K.
2023 mini cooper
When it comes to maneuverability, parking ease and driving fun, the Mini Cooper is hard to beat. Measuring 152.2 inches long, 68 inches wide and 55.7 inches high, it can actually be folded up and brought inside an apartment. It can also take off quickly with the base turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, and whether on the road or in town, its handling, braking and high-end suspension are just like his BMW. Sharp. (BMW is Mini’s parent company.) What’s the downside? It’s small – like ‘not for big tall people’. Also, by all accounts, repairs cost money. If it still works, you’ll probably fall in love with your little guy more than this hatchback or crossover, with prices starting below his $30,000 (barely) and going up (a lot!) from there. Also comes electric.