Best Cargo Space in a Car in a Non-Huge Car
May 8, 2016 6:24 AM   Subscribe

I am curious if anyone knows which car (i.e., non-SUV) has the most interior cabin space, while at the same time not being very large in and of itself. In other words, which car gives you the most storage space bang for your buck (I realize this varies with seats folded down, etc.). Currently own a 2009 Subaru Outback, and favor that brand, but curious to hear of others' experiences.
posted by dearleader to Travel & Transportation (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Europe is full of compact and affordable cargo vans, some of which come in a version with back seats. Since you did not limit your question to a specific continent, I'll give you the Renault Kangoo. Not sure if it's the most cubic centimeters for your buck, but since the amount of bucks is limited, it might well be.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:40 AM on May 8, 2016

The Honda Fit is amazingly large on the inside with the seats folded down. I moved my sorority daughter in and out of dorm rooms for 4.5 years by fitting EVERYTHING in her Fit. As for bang for your buck, it certainly can't be beat.
posted by raisingsand at 6:47 AM on May 8, 2016 [13 favorites]

Honda Fit or Toyota Camry?
posted by lunastellasol at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2016

posted by instamatic at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

PS - I still drive that beat-up old Fit, hauling dogs and garden supplies, and whatever else I need. It's a workhorse.
posted by raisingsand at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2016

I've moved a few times with my Fit. But I don't have that much stuff. I was able to fit a futon though.
posted by lunastellasol at 6:49 AM on May 8, 2016

Response by poster: Oh, yeah, sorry, I meant U.S.!
posted by dearleader at 7:16 AM on May 8, 2016

Before I bought my 3rd Subaru Outback, I compared the cargo space to a Subaru Forester. The Forester is taller, but the cubic footage of the Outback was a bit larger than the Forester. Most auto websites should have the total cubic footage of the cargo areas in their sales literature, if that helps you narrow it down between cars.
posted by sarajane at 8:33 AM on May 8, 2016

Nthing the Honda Fit is amazingly large with the seats folded down, I test drove one just last week. It's a very impressive small car with a lot going for it - a must on your test-drive list.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:45 AM on May 8, 2016

I chose Mazda 3 over fit for the interior and storage space. It is a reaonably small car with plenty of storage. Trunk on Mazda 3 has lots of room when car is full of people, I use it to take five of us to fencing with all the gear bags, and this is easier than in the fit used by a friend. My husband and son are both 6'2"+ and are comfortable.. Subaru may have been better but couldn't find one used; my research suggested it was best for carrying cargo and big people together in one.
posted by chapps at 8:50 AM on May 8, 2016

For 'most bang for the buck', I'd go with the Honda Fit --- small on the outside, but huge on the inside. (I've got a friend who regularly hauls around his sister and her wheelchair, plus assorted gear and groceries, in his Fit.)
posted by easily confused at 9:15 AM on May 8, 2016

My wife drives a Honda Fit and I'm constantly amazed at the black-hole level of being able to swallow anything we want to put in it. It's TARDIS-like.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:17 AM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Came in here to mention the Fit. It really does fit a lot of things; Mr. Nat puts his bike in his no problem. He used to have an Outback too. I forget what year exactly the model changed but he has a slightly older one (2013) and it is an adorable purple Tardis for sure.
posted by nat at 9:31 AM on May 8, 2016

Our Honda fit is known as the Tardis- it's bright blue and seems to be bigger on the inside than the outside. It's ridiculous. I've managed a large desk, while one of the rear seats was folded down, and the other was taken up by a car seat with a toddler in it. I have made many, many trips to Home Depot and been told by disdainful men in the parking lot "You can't fit all that in there!" And then I shove like an entire door and a bunch of lumber into the car, close all the doors, and wave at them and drive away laughing. So I guess I am saying it can fit a door, a dozen eight foot 2x4s, and my enormous schadenfreude. It's wonderful.
posted by Adridne at 9:36 AM on May 8, 2016 [15 favorites]

I have a Mazda3 sedan and I was surprised how much space you had when you folded down the rear seats.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:43 AM on May 8, 2016

I call our Fit the Clown Car, because of the absolutely ridiculous amount of storage in such a tiny car. It's bigger inside than it is outside, and defies the laws of physics.
Seriously though, the best other thing about the Fit is that the seats not only go down , but the back seats fold up, allowing for something pretty tall (like a plant) to fit behind either the driver's or passenger seat.
Add in great gas mileage and good reliability, and you have a great little car.
posted by dbmcd at 9:45 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by Jacqueline at 10:29 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yep - I can't think of a hatch I've had that disappointed.
posted by wotsac at 10:57 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll second Mazda 3 hatchback- we bought one exactly for this reason, wanted a small car, large hauling space. The limitation for us has been the size of the actual hatchback hole- there have been some larger boxes or pieces of furniture that I think would have fit inside, if only I could get them through the hatch. So my advice would be to consider that measurement too when comparing cars.
posted by Secretariat at 11:17 AM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Another happy Mazda 3 hatchback owner here. Also agree that the limit has been the size of the hatch hole, but it is still astonishing what can be fit in there with the back seats folded down and a bit of creative geometry.
posted by monopas at 11:35 AM on May 8, 2016

I have fit a flat-packed queen size bed and a 6-foot bookcase on separate occasions in my Prius. My partner also fits his road bike (sized for a 6'3" guy). Sounds like the Honda Fit may be an even better choice in the small-hatchback category, but as I know multiple people who hated their Fit test drives, I thought I'd throw out another option.
posted by serelliya at 12:01 PM on May 8, 2016

I can fit 8' 2x4"s in my Prius. I can fit two bikes that are fully assembled in the back of the Prius too. It's a great car.
posted by gregr at 12:29 PM on May 8, 2016

A sampling of things I have fit into my 2005 Prius (not all at the same time!): 5 adults + me, hundreds of pounds of books packed into 20+ boxes, enough stuff to spend a month on the road, an assembled dresser and its drawers, and an entire set of disassembled bookcases and a desk. It's a sturdy, roomy, excellent little car. FYI, I recently drove a 2016 Prius, which is supposed to have even more cargo room...and is super fun to drive!
posted by the thought-fox at 1:54 PM on May 8, 2016

I looked at the Honda Fit, since I'm a long time Honda owner (Civic & CRV for 20+ years), but when I compared the cargo space of the Fit to the Subaru Impreza wagon, I found that there was much more room in the cargo area of the Impreza when all seats are up. Otherwise, when the back seats are folded down, the interior space between the two cars is almost identical. I also considered the Prius V which is absolutely huge in comparison to the other two cars, but the price was out of range for me.

So if you like Subaru and want a non-SUV alternative, consider the Impreza hatchback. I love mine!
posted by kbar1 at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2016

The Outback is really in a different league than any compact like the Fit or Mazda3: The Outback has 73 cubic feet of cargo space, the Mazda3 has 47, the Fit has 52 (impressive for such a small car). The Scion xB is also remarkably roomy, with 70 cubic feet.

The Ford Flex (sort of a wagon/crossover deal) has 83 cubic feet, which I think is as big as you'll find in a car. But it is definitely a big car. has the cargo ratings for pretty much every car, so you can check for yourself.
posted by adamrice at 3:05 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

the citroen cactus is a possible alternative to other hatchbacks - looks distinctive and has a decent price (not sure if it's available in the usa though).
posted by andrewcooke at 5:27 PM on May 8, 2016

Like so many people are saying, I have a Fit and it's just amazing how much I can fit in it. Great mileage and so, so easy to park.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:18 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a 2nd gen Scion xB. It's bigger than it looks on the inside, and smaller than it looks on the outside. I can fit my string bass in there, and I've packed it up and taken it to Burning Man 5 times, including large shade structures, tents, all the stuff needed to camp in the desert for 10 days for 2-4 people including food and water and art projects.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:36 PM on May 8, 2016

I have a Hyundai Elantra hatchback and I am continually amazed at how much I can fit in it, especially with the seats down. (Ladders, dressers, patio furniture, bathroom vanities, bikes...) I looked at it next to the Fit when I bought (2011) and preferred the feel and drive of the Elantra.
posted by writermcwriterson at 6:57 AM on May 9, 2016

We have a Mazda3 hatchback, and it has good storage space for it's size, but it's not huge in wagon terms. For one thing the cover is rigid, which makes it durable but you'll need to take it out for maximum room. We had an older Mazda6 "sport wagon" with a huge trunk and far more height than the 3, but they don't make them any more. The overall length was the same as the newer 3s.
posted by wnissen at 9:54 AM on May 9, 2016

The 2016 VW Golf has the same 52.7 cubic feet of storage space as the Honda Fit - but unlike the Fit, the Golf received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating.
posted by fairmettle at 2:11 AM on May 10, 2016

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