Compact cars are a very popular choice for those who are looking to purchase a new vehicle, and why wouldn’t they be? They get great gas mileage, are easy to maneuver, and often times are very affordable whilst having an attractive, sporty look. Not to mention, when it’s time to resell, your small car will likely hold its value more so than its full or mid-sized relative of the same make. However, sorting through the abundance of small cars available on the market today can be a daunting task. Here is a list of the top 5 best affordable compact cars for 2011 that are worth checking out.

The Honda Civic is an obvious contender in the small car market for many reasons. It is widely popular for its reputation of having incredible gas mileage, which ranges from 21-40 miles per gallon in the city and 29-43 miles per gallon on the highway depending on which engine you choose. It’s also an inexpensive choice, with the base model coupe and sedan starting at a bit over $15,000. The low price doesn’t mean Honda has skimped on style. Design enthusiasts rejoice, because this body style is the sleekest yet. From its space-age interior, to its more aggressive-looking front end and muscular shape, this Civic is beyond easy on the eyes. Honda’s lineup of Civics also accommodates for many different kinds of drivers. If for some reason the regular gas-powered Civics don’t suit your fancy, there’s always the fuel-saving Civic Hybrid and the innovative Civic Natural Gas Vehicle. For the more spirited driver, the Civic Si would be a perfect choice with its amped-up 197 horsepower 2.0 liter engine and sporty appeal. To top it all off, it has the Honda badge, which means a more reliable ride with a higher resale value than the majority of its competitors.

Another great option in the affordable small car sector is the Mazda3. Built around the philosophy that driving should be fun, this compact is perfect for those who want to put a little “zoom-zoom” into their commutes. The Mazda3 was completely redesigned in 2010, and now sports a more modern look with sharper, more athletic body lines, winged-out lights, a more upscale interior, and a wide grin-shaped grille that has now become somewhat of a signature for this car. Though some find the Mazda3’s devious grin a bit off-putting, the price and options should make up for it. This car comes in both hatchback and sedan body styles, which harbor two totally different personalities that should cater to many different kinds of people. The sedan starts at $15,800 while the hatchback base model begins at a pricier $20,045. If you’re willing to spend the money, this car can be packed with options that are sure to please the technologically savvy. The gas mileage is hardly a deal breaker either, with the 2.0 liter engine racking up 25 in the city and 33 on the highway, or the quicker 2.5 liter engine that gets a respectable 20/28 rating.

The completely made-over 2011 Hyundai Elantra is sheer evidence of the company’s extreme improvements as of recently. Practically unrecognizable in comparison to its predecessors, the Elantra is now a real head-turner of a compact car, and a very economical one at that. Starting at $14,830 and packed with standard features, this car is one of the most truly affordable compacts available. Combine that with its 29 miles per gallon in the city and an impressive 40 miles per gallon on the highway fuel efficiency and one of the best warranties on the market, and you’ve got yourself a vehicle with a very respectable value to cost ratio. Though the car’s somewhat extreme styling may not appeal to everyone, it is clear that Hyundai is earning a lot of footing in the automotive industry with their new fleet.

Chevy’s new 2011 Cruze compact is yet another great option for car buyers. In the past, Chevy was never particularly well-known for its compact cars. However, the new Cruze may be changing things for the company. Starting at $16,275, the Cruze is a bit pricier than its competitors. However, it has quite a bit going for it to make up for the cost. Compared to its competitors, this car has a more reserved, yet attractive look that will appeal to a larger audience. Though a bit on the safe side, the Cruze is still definitely a sleek ride inside and out. The Cruze saves its best-selling points for its interior, which boasts a very spacious cabin for its class, as well as features and aesthetics you’d usually expect to see in a higher-end vehicle. Its fuel economy is great as well. With the Cruze, you should expect to achieve a 26/36 MPG rating. If those numbers don’t quite do it for you, you may want to give the Cruze ECO hybrid a look, which will get you 28 MPG in the city and 42 MPG on the highway.

If you’re looking for a bit more European style in your small car, look no further than the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta. The Jetta has been given a facelift for 2011, and now takes on a bit more aggressive styling than its more friendly-looking predecessor. Some say it now has a harder time standing out in traffic than the old body style with its more ordinary-looking design. However, it is refreshingly simplistic and streamlined. Starting at $15,995, this little euro-machine is just as affordable as most of the cars in its segment. This compact has no struggles trying to compare to its competitors when it comes to features as well. With a fuel consumption rating of 23/34 MPG, the Jetta doesn’t fail to impress. In true VW fashion, this car is also available with a diesel engine which gets an even better 30/42 MPG rating.

Whether your decision to buy a compact car is based on fuel economy, affordability, easy maneuverability, or due to aesthetic value, it can be a wise choice to make. With all of the options available to buyers on the market today, you are sure to find a car that will meet all of your needs and hold its value come time to sell.