What Are Midsize Hatchbacks?
A midsize hatchback is a compact vehicle with a rear door that opens upwards, providing access to a cargo area. They are larger than subcompact hatchbacks but smaller than full-size family hatchbacks (Wikipedia).
The key difference between hatchbacks and sedans is that sedans have a trunk for cargo, while hatchbacks have an upward-lifting rear door and cargo area. Hatchbacks tend to offer more cargo space and versatility than comparably-sized sedans.
Midsize hatchbacks are typically between 160-185 inches long. For comparison, midsize sedans range from 185-200 inches while subcompact hatchbacks are under 165 inches. So midsize hatchbacks strike a balance of having a smaller footprint than sedans while offering more interior room than subcompacts.
History of Midsize Hatchbacks
Midsize hatchbacks first became popular in the 1970s and 1980s as automakers began producing more affordable and fuel-efficient cars. Some of the earliest and most notable midsize hatchback models included the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Escort. These models offered increased cargo space and accessibility compared to sedans, while remaining more compact and maneuverable than station wagons.
The Volkswagen Golf, launched in 1974, is considered one of the first mass-market midsize hatchbacks. Its front-wheel-drive layout and boxy, practical design made it an instant hit as gas prices rose in the 1970s. The Honda Civic, launched in 1972, was one of the first Japanese midsize hatchbacks to find success in America. Its high fuel efficiency, low cost, and reliable engineering quickly earned it a reputation as an economical, entry-level car. The Toyota Corolla and Ford Escort, both launched in the late 1970s, offered affordable four- or five-door hatchback models that appealed to families and younger buyers.
By the 1980s, midsize hatchbacks accounted for a significant share of the new car market as consumers sought out their versatility and fuel efficiency. Hatchback models like the Volkswagen Rabbit, Mazda 626, and Dodge Omni were among the top-selling cars of the decade. Their continued popularity demonstrated that hatchbacks could combine utility and practicality in a compact, fuel-sipping package.
Popular Midsize Hatchback Models
Some of the most popular midsize hatchback models on the market today include:
- Honda Civic Hatchback – The Civic hatchback starts around $22,000 and gets excellent fuel economy. It provides a roomy interior and sporty handling. Source
- Volkswagen Golf – A classic hatchback, the Golf provides refined driving dynamics and quality interior materials. Prices start around $24,000. Source
- Mazda 3 – Fun to drive with premium interior appointments, the Mazda 3 hatchback starts around $21,500. It gets high marks for handling and fuel efficiency. Source
- Toyota Corolla Hatchback – Reliable and affordable, the Corolla hatchback offers a basic transportation starting around $21,000. It gets excellent gas mileage. Source
Other popular midsize hatchbacks include the Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte5, and Ford Focus. Key manufacturers of midsize hatchbacks include Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Mazda, Hyundai, and Kia.
Advantages of Midsize Hatchbacks
Midsize hatchbacks offer several key advantages that make them a popular choice for many drivers:
Cargo Space Versatility
One of the biggest advantages of a midsize hatchback is the versatile cargo space. The hatchback design provides easy access to the rear cargo area and allows you to fold down the rear seats to carry larger items when needed (https://automart.ph/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-driving-a-hatchback). This makes hatchbacks ideal for active lifestyles like camping or cycling.
Due to their smaller size and lighter weight compared to larger vehicles, midsize hatchbacks are generally more fuel efficient. This makes them a smart choice for drivers looking to save money on gas (https://myautoshop.co.nz/info/why-should-you-buy-a-hatchback-pros-and-cons/). Many midsize hatchbacks offer fuel-sipping 4-cylinder engines and even hybrid powertrains.
Fun to Drive
With their nimble handling and zippy acceleration, midsize hatchbacks are often more fun to drive than comparably priced sedans. Their sportier driving dynamics make them popular with enthusiasts. Brands like Volkswagen and Mazda are known for making hatchbacks that provide an engaging driving experience.
Disadvantages of Midsize Hatchbacks
While midsize hatchbacks offer many benefits, they also come with some downsides compared to sedans. One key disadvantage is that hatchbacks tend to have less rear seat and legroom than comparably sized sedans. The sloped roofline and compact dimensions of a hatchback cabin can make the backseat feel cramped, especially for taller passengers. This is an important consideration for families or drivers who frequently have rear passengers.
Another potential drawback is that there are fewer top-end luxury models available as hatchbacks. Most premium brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi focus their hatchback offerings on smaller, more economy-oriented cars. As a result, there is a lack of upscale, feature-packed hatchback options at the midsize level. For buyers wanting a more luxurious ride, sedans offer more choices like the BMW 5 Series or Audi A6.
Overall, the compromised rear seat space and limited high-end models are two areas where sedans currently have an edge over comparably sized hatchbacks. However, hatchbacks can still make excellent family vehicles with their abundant cargo room, fuel efficiency, and nimble driving dynamics.
Midsize hatchbacks offer a range of standard and advanced safety technologies to help protect passengers and reduce the risks of accidents. All hatchbacks come equipped with basic safety features like airbags, seatbelts, and anti-lock brakes. Most now also include advanced driver assistance systems as standard or available options.
These include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking to detect potential crashes and apply the brakes automatically. Lane keeping assist helps keep the vehicle centered in its lane. Blind spot monitoring alerts drivers to vehicles in adjacent lanes. Rear cross traffic alert detects oncoming traffic when backing up (IIHS).
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many midsize hatchbacks achieve high ratings that designate them as Top Safety Picks or top scorers overall. The Toyota Prius, for example, earned top “Good” scores across the board for crashworthiness (U.S. News).
Larger hatchback models tend to perform better than their smaller counterparts in frontal, side and rollover crash tests. However, improvements in safety technology are helping even subcompact models achieve high ratings (IIHS).
Midsize hatchbacks span a wide range of prices to meet different budgets. Entry-level models typically start around $20,000, while luxury models can cost over $40,000. According to iSeeCars, the average price for a new midsize hatchback is around $25,000.
In terms of depreciation, midsize hatchbacks tend to hold their value reasonably well compared to other vehicle types. According to iSeeCars, popular models like the Honda Civic retain around 70% of their value after 5 years, while the Toyota Camry retains around 60%. This puts them ahead of most SUVs and many sedans in terms of resale value. CareEdge ranks midsize hatchbacks like the Civic and Mazda3 among the vehicles with the best resale values overall.
Opting for a midsize hatchback with strong projected resale values can save thousands over the long run. However, there are affordable options as well for buyers focused purely on upfront pricing.
Midsize hatchbacks have made great strides when it comes to fuel efficiency and emissions. Many models now achieve over 30 mpg combined. For example, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback gets an EPA-estimated 32 mpg city/42 mpg highway/36 mpg combined according to Toyota.
There are also several hybrid and electric options that achieve even better efficiency. The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid has an EPA rating of 133 MPGe and can drive up to 25 miles on electricity alone according to iSeeCars. The Hyundai IONIQ Electric is rated at 133 MPGe combined and can travel over 200 miles on a charge.
Electrification will continue to expand in this segment, providing more emissions-free transportation options for consumers looking for practical hatchback models. While midsize hatchbacks are already quite efficient, increased availability of hybrid and electric powertrains will further reduce their environmental impact.
The Future of Midsize Hatchbacks
The midsize hatchback market is expected to grow in the coming years as consumer preferences continue to shift towards more practical and versatile vehicles. Several key trends will shape the future of midsize hatchbacks:
Electrification – Midsize hatchbacks are likely to follow the industry-wide trend towards electrification. We’ll see more hybrid, plug-in hybrid and even fully electric options enter the market. For example, Honda plans to launch a hybrid version of the Civic in 2024.
Autonomous technology – Midsize hatchbacks will incorporate more advanced driver assistance systems and eventually autonomous driving capabilities. This includes features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and more. Brands like Toyota and Nissan are leading the way in offering this tech in affordable models.
Connectivity and infotainment – With consumers demanding always-connected lifestyles, midsize hatchbacks will offer the latest in-car entertainment, navigation and connectivity features. Touchscreens, built-in apps and over-the-air software updates will become standard.
Style and design – While practicality is key, style and design continues to influence purchase decisions. Expect bolder styling cues and customization options in materials and colors to give midsize hatchbacks more curb appeal.
The midsize hatchback market looks bright as brands find ways to blend utility, efficiency, technology and style at reasonable price points. Exciting innovations on the horizon will ensure continued popularity.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about midsize hatchbacks:
What’s the difference between a midsize hatchback and a compact hatchback?
Midsize hatchbacks are slightly larger than compact hatchbacks. They typically have more interior room and cargo capacity. Some examples of midsize hatchbacks are the Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf.
Are midsize hatchbacks more fuel efficient than SUVs?
In most cases, yes. Midsize hatchbacks are lighter weight and more aerodynamic than comparably sized SUVs. This generally results in better fuel economy. However, there are some fuel efficient compact SUV models that can achieve close to 30 mpg highway.
Do midsize hatchbacks have all-wheel drive options?
Some do. For example, the Subaru Impreza hatchback offers standard AWD. The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is available with 4motion all-wheel drive. However, front-wheel drive is more common in this class.
Are midsize hatchbacks practical for families?
While they may not be quite as spacious as compact SUVs, many midsize hatchbacks work very well for small families. Models like the Kia Forte5 offer ample rear seat room and cargo space for everyday needs.
How much does a typical midsize hatchback cost?
New midsize hatchbacks typically range from around $18,000 on the low end up to the low $30,000s for higher performance versions. There are also many affordable, used options available under $15,000.