3 Picks for Best Small Cars Under $40k

The small car segment has long been one of the most competitive auto segments.

Here are the Wide Open Roads official picks for three of the best small cars under $40k, based on a combination of performance, value, and 'it' factor.

3. 2017 Chevrolet Bolt

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The Chevrolet Bolt blasts range anxiety out with a 238-mile range per charge or 90-miles on a 30-minute charge using a DC station. It's nestled between the laughable Nissan Leaf with its 107-mile range ($30k) and the upscale Tesla ($60,000+). Its calling card is its range and tech features, with a 10.2-inch touchscreen and a safety suite that includes parking sensors and blind spot alerts. One major drawback is its pedestrian cabin full of cheap plastics lacking in design, which should improve over time.

2. 2017 Honda Fit

The 2017 Honda Fit is one of the best small cars in the world. Purely a utilitarian vehicle with a "starter family" vibe, highlights include excellent fuel numbers (33 mpg city/40 mpg highway), a responsive ride, and cavernous cargo space at 52.7 cubic feet of space including folded front and back seats. Plus, it holds a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in all areas minus four stars in rollover tests.

Lastly, it starts at $16,000 and goes up to $21,000 for the highest trim levels. That translates to sub-$250 monthly lease payments on $1000 to $1500 down with a decent credit score, although offers vary wildly depending on dealership mandates, seasonality, etc.

As of 9/15/17, the Fit is offering a lease deal of $139 per month for 36 months with $2,399 down. Note, offers vary by region.

1. 2017 Honda Civic

The Civic is arguably the most well-rounded car on this list. Superb fuel economy (32 city/42 highway), responsible handling, and distinction as a 2017 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety make up its accomplishments, along with a low $18,760 base price.

Another plus is the Civic's favorable lease deals. As of 9/15/17, the Civic is promoting a $149 a month for 36 months and $2699 down and 0.90% financing for 24-60 months on its sedan with comparable numbers for other styles such as the coupe and hatchback. Note, offers vary by region.

Lastly, its safety features are top notch. Its "Honda Sensing" suite takes charge, with former higher trim features now standard such as lane keep assist, lane departure alert, and automatic emergency braking.