Hatchbacks may be the workhorses of Europe, but here in the U.S., they're only now regaining in popularity, after decades dominated by SUVs.

You probably have plenty of questions when considering a new hatchback, especially since today's models aren't just economy cars--not when you include five-door models like the Porsche Panamera and the Audi A7. You may even wonder what divides a hatchback from a wagon or even a crossover; for us, the hatchbacks are closer in roof length to the cars to which they're related, and the angle of the hatch slopes more than the tailgates on utility vehicles.

But you're most likely to have more questions if you're shopping for a used hatchback. Take all those questions above, and add on the multipliers that face every used-car buyer--is it safe? Is it reliable? Am I getting my money's worth?

We're taking some of the mystery out of the process, and helping you find some of the best bets in the hatchback class, whether they're from economy-car roots or luxury origins. We've sifted through a few different kinds of data to come up with a handful of hatchbacks that we think have the most complete, most well-rounded reputation for safety and reliability, as well as driving satisfaction. We've arrived at this Best Used Hatchback 2013 list by looking at three-year-old vehicles that must score:

After studying those sources, the following vehicles qualified for our recommendation. We'll note here that some higher-priced vehicles like the Panamera were lacking in crash-test data, which led us to drop them from the final list. Even with that loss, the field of contenders yielded plenty of great hardware ready for you to shop from our vehicle listings pages:

Audi A3

The 2011 Audi A3 is stylish, refined, and versatile—and nearly as good for the city as for the highway. Read more »

Honda Fit

The 2011 Honda Fit is like a mini-minivan in some respects, with an incredibly space-efficient design; yet it's peppy, frugal, and fun to drive. Read more »

Kia Forte

The 2011 Kia Forte exemplifies the new direction of Kia, with a simple, elegant style, unexpected levels of refinement, and lots of value for the money. Read more »

Kia Soul

The 2011 Kia Soul is fashion-forward and fun-to-drive—and unlike most of its urban-wagon rivals, it's just as practical as it looks. Read more »

Mazda 3

The 2011 Mazda3 provides more driving enjoyment than most other small-car models, along with a stylish, racy look; but with a tight, noisy cabin, it’s not without compromise. Read more »

Subaru WRX

The 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI are fast, fun cars to drive in any situation, and they're comfortable, safe, and practical enough for small-family use; poor fuel economy and a lack of automatic transmissions limit its appeal, though. Read more »


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