The Most Utilitarian Hatchbacks

US News

Hatchbacks are popular for a good reason: they’re practical, affordable, utility-based vehicles that make toting people and cargo a breeze. Of course, some hatchbacks are better at the job than others. We’ve provided you with a few guidelines that will help you find the perfect hatchback for your lifestyle.

Is there enough space for people and my stuff?


Hatchbacks seat five, but not all of them do so comfortably. If you have a small family, take the kids with you when you go for a test drive to see if they like the back seats. Ask your children if they’re comfortable and have enough cubbies for books and snacks. If you’re shopping alone, hop in the back to judge if the rear row is suited for adults. Most hatchbacks will be tight, but the Honda Fit is one hatch with spacious seating all around.

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) connectors are required by law, but when you check out hatches, make sure the model you’re after can fit the right number of car seats. Take car seats along to the dealership and install them.

Rear Cargo

Depending on what you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to choose the hatchback that has the most cargo space with the rear seats up. That way you can store more luggage or groceries without intruding on rear passenger space. The Kia Soul and Honda Fit have 19.3 cubic feet and 20.6 cubic feet, respectively, with rear seats in use.

You should also see how easily the seats fold – if they fold at all. The Honda Fit is a great example of a hatch with easy-fold seats that aid rear storage. Its “Magic Seat” can be folded four ways, depending on what you need to carry with you. When configured properly, you can even carry a bike or surf board. If you struggle to lower the rear row, try other models until you’re satisfied.

Then check hidden storage. The Honda Fit has a secret box underneath the cargo area, and the Kia Forte has a hidden area underneath the cargo hold that’s great for storing small things like flashlights, tools or a first aid kit. Most hatches have helpful storage accessories like cargo mats and nets. Not everyone will find these useful, but if you store a lot of outdoor gear, something like a cargo mat will prove useful because it keeps the floor dry and dirt-free.

It’s also important to check for a cargo cover, which shields the things in your trunk from prying eyes. Covers are standard on the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3, but if it doesn’t come with the model you want, consider adding one because it’s easy to see what’s inside hatches.

Interior Cargo

Most hatches come with these basic cubbies: a glove box, cup holders, 12-volt power outlets, side-door pockets and rear-seat pockets. Other features like a center arm rest aren’t standard. The Kia Soul is a good example. It has an upper instrumental panel storage bin, but the lid -- which is a nice touch if you’re storing electronics -- doesn’t come standard. The Soul does, however, have a dual-level glove box that keeps you more organized.

Also check out the interior pockets and side door cubbies. Is there enough space for your kids to store books, snacks and drinks? The Honda Fit, for example, has 10 cup holders, and the Mazda3 has a ton of interior pockets throughout the cabin.

Utilitarian Hatchbacks



Cargo Capacity in cubic feet


Center console armrest

Additional Standard Features

Optional Features

Kia Soul



One 12-volt; USB and auxiliary jacks


Upper instrument panel storage bin; dual-level glove box 

Lid for upper instrumental panel storage bin; cargo tray; second 12-volt outlet with Soul+

Honda Fit



One 12-volt; USB Audio Interface; auxiliary input jack


“Magic Seat” with four configurations; 10 cup holders; under-seat tray

Cargo net; cargo organizer; cargo tray

Ford Fiesta Hatchback



Auxiliary input jack; one 12-volt


6 cup holders

Rear 12-volt outlet; USB input; Reversible cargo mat; cargo area protector; cargo organizers; cargo management package

Volkswagen Golf




Two 12-volt power outlets: one for front and rear; auxiliary input jack


Plastic load edge protection; interior front center dome light with time delay and two reading lights, front open storage compartment in center console; lockable glove box; cargo light


Mazda3 Five-door



Two 12-volt power outlets; auxiliary input jack

Standard (sliding)

Front door pockets with bottle holders, rear door bottle holders; cargo area light

Cargo net

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