Economy vs Compact Car – This is the Difference!

You are planning to book a spacious car to fit your luggage and travel comfortably. But you end up at the crossroads and have to choose between the economy car and the compact car. Which one would be a perfect choice?

Economy cars are the best fit for driving around in busy traffic and crowded areas. On the other hand, compact cars have more space for people and luggage and are similar to regular-sized cars. Though both belong to the small-sized automobile segments, they have lots of differences between them. 

Turns out, that by figuring out the unique characteristics and differences between both car types, you will get a clear idea of which vehicle suits you and your family best. Keep reading as we get into what makes an economy car different from a compact car. 

Economy Car: An Overview 

Economical cars are small-sized automobiles best suited for small nuclear families and couples. Due to the incredible seating capacity, the economy segment has ample space to accommodate four passengers.

When it comes to looks, you may doubt it for a smaller version of a sedan or a hatchback. For instance, it looks similar to a Toyota Yaris, which is a small hatchback model. 

Though the actual specifications may vary from model to model, it is one of the cheapest and smallest options selected by most renters for driving through heavy traffic and congested areas.

Based on availability, the price may vary for each dealer and depends on the rental location. Due to high demand, economy cars are more expensive to rent out in cities though they are usually the cheapest option in the market. 

Unique characteristics of an economy segment: 

  • Light in weight. 
  • Compact design model with maximum interior space. 
  • Excellent ride quality. 
  • Incredible fuel economy. 
  • The small-displacement engine is equipped with just four cylinders. 
  • Inexpensive car components. 
  • Affordable maintenance and repair charges. 
  • Acceptable safety rating. 

Most people are attracted to this category due to the compact size, seating, and luggage capacity the economy class vehicles offer.

It also serves as a great option for city driving due to the high fuel economy, and its small size makes it easier to maneuver through congested and crowded city lanes. 

Compact Car: What You Need To Know?

Economy cars were similar to compact cars till a few decades ago. But as the automobile industry advanced, the compact segment underwent a huge change, with subcompact and mini-compact cars taking over the market these days.

Compared with economy vehicles, compact-sized cars are much bigger, with five and above seating capacity. This makes it possible to enjoy the ride with your whole family.

These cars look similar to a large sedan, making them the perfect choice for a whole family of 4 to 5 people. Vehicles with an interior space of 100 – 109 cubic feet are considered the ideal compact car. 

If you’re planning to go on a road trip with lots of luggage, renting a compact car like Toyota Corolla would be the best choice as it offers sufficient luggage space.

Based on the rental location and the company you choose, the price range for this category may vary for each dealer.

Though most compact cars are expensive and look similar to regular-sized cars, you will still find affordable options in the market these days.

Economy Cars Vs. Compact Cars: Comparative Study

Unlike other car models, economy and compact car segments are cost-effective and smaller in size. Due to the high fuel economy they offer, they are the most preferred option among daily commuters. 

1. Door Variants

While most economy cars are small and equipped with only two doors, you will also come across certain models with four doors. On the other hand, compact cars look similar to smaller hatchbacks or sedans with four-door and two-door options.

2. Luggage capacity

When it comes to luggage space, economy cars can hold only less luggage than compact ones. The trunk space cannot hold more than one big suitcase and a small bag. You can also try fitting in a medium suitcase and smaller carry-on or hand luggage. Those who are not using the back seat can place extra luggage of up to 2 to 3 bags there.

The compact option has 12 – 13 cubic ft. luggage space that can hold several small bags, a medium suitcase, and one large suitcase. If you opt for a hatchback compact model, you can use backseats to carry more luggage. 

The trunk door allows you to merge the passenger seats with the cargo compartment in most compact cars. Only very few compact models have separate trunk space. This allows you to carry all the luggage you need while going on a short holiday trip with your family.  

3. Seating capacity

Though economy vehicle segments have a limited seating capacity, they can comfortably hold 2 to 4 people. As the backseats are quite small, adults may find it difficult to sit comfortably at the back, but it serves as a great option for the little ones. 

Compared to economy vehicles, compact options have a seating capacity that can hold up to five individuals.

You will come across certain spacious compact models where three adults can comfortably sit in the back row. The interior space for compact segments is reasonably much larger than the economy cars. 

4. Fuel usage requirements

Fuel mileage depends on the type of engine and car model you use. Economic class cars offer better mileage than compact segments.

The economy type models offer around 30 mpg to 35 mpg or better fuel mileage, while the compact vehicle segment has a fuel economy that varies between 25 mpg to 30 mpg and above. 

For those planning to rent a fuel-efficient vehicle to tour the city, it’s advisable to focus on the economy vehicle segments as they are cost-effective and give more miles per gallon. 

Final Thoughts

While economy cars are affordable and the best choice for daily commuters, compact cars are versatile. On comparing an economy vehicle with a compact car, you will notice the main difference lies in the size, seating, and luggage capacity.

Leaving that aside, these vehicles belong to the economic vehicle segment and work great for most purposes.  

Liam Dare

As CEO of, my passion for the automotive world motivates me to build online businesses that provide information and entertainment to users. I am proud to contribute in a positive way to the automotive community.