Ranked: Compact cars with the best interiors for 2023

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

Many people look at specifications and prices on new car purchases, but some overlook one of the most important parts of the vehicle: The interior. Where dependability and fuel economy are vital to get you where you need to go efficiently, the car’s interior is the only part that people see and touch when it’s moving, and it can make the difference between a comfortable road trip and one fraught with stress. The cars with the best interiors for 2023 offer great space, the best tech, and nice materials that make passengers want to spend time inside. They have been thoughtfully designed to offer an ergonomic and intuitive experience, which make them ideal family haulers and everyday commuters.

We’ve gathered a list of compact cars with the best interiors for 2023. The cars on this list offer better cargo space, more upscale materials, and more accommodating seating than others in their class. While we covered most configurations, be aware that automakers may offer limited editions or other variants that impact the available equipment.

Cars with the best interiors for 2023


2023 Honda Civic

The Honda Civic has long been a winner with its high-quality interior, spacious accommodations, and comfortable seats. It also offers plenty of cargo space and usable small-item storage. Both the sedan and hatchback offer seating for five, but the Civic Type R’s back seat can only carry two. Cloth upholstery comes standard, and Honda offers leather in higher trims. The car offers two LATCH car seat anchor points and earned high marks for easy installation.

Standard tech includes a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, automatic climate controls, and eight speakers. Higher trim levels come with a 9-inch touchscreen and a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster. The upgraded system brings wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, HD radio, more USB ports, and 12 speakers.


2023 Mazda3

The Mazda3 isn’t the most spacious car in its class, but its interior is one of the best. It’s beautifully designed and brings high-end materials that surprise at its price point. There’s seating for five, though the back seats are limited on head- and legroom. That said, both rows of seats offer good support and nice padding, and even the base cloth upholstery feels upscale. Higher trim levels get synthetic or genuine leather and heated front seats.

Mazda equips an 8.8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, eight speakers, HD radio, SiriusXM radio, voice controls, and more. Buyers can upgrade with a 12-speaker Bose stereo, a moonroof, and navigation. The non-touchscreen infotainment system can be confusing at first, but over time, the rotary controller becomes second nature. At the same time, scrolling through an endless list of songs or radio stations using a dial is tiring. 

Cars with the best interiors 2023

2023 Volkswagen GTI

The Volkswagen GTI is one of the most fun cars to drive in its price range, and it brings one of the nicer interiors around. Base GTIs come with cloth upholstery and VW’s signature plaid patterns. Heated front seats a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel come standard, which are both huge bonuses at this price point. The top Autobahn trim comes with leather and VW offers a leather package for the mid-range SE trim, which brings heating and cooling for the front seats. Rear legroom is somewhat tight, but the space is comfortable and cargo space is nearly as generous as some small SUVs.

A 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard, and some versions offer VW’s excellent digital cockpit, which brings maps, music, and other displays to the gauge cluster. An 8.25-inch touchscreen runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 10-inch touchscreen is available. Volkswagen moved to an all-touch interface for most vehicle controls and systems with the new GTI, which irks some people. Like most things, it becomes easier and even intuitive over time.

Cars with the best interiors 2023

2023 Toyota Corolla

Toyota has sold tens of millions of Corollas over the years, and it’s one of the most well-rounded cars on the market. What it lacks in driving excitement, the Corolla makes up with easy-to-use technology and a load of great standard features. Five seats and cloth upholstery come standard, while higher trim levels add synthetic leather, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel. The seats are supportive and well padded, and they offer good comfort over long drives. The back seats can hold two adults, but the Corolla Hatchback isn’t as accommodating.

Tech features include an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusSM radio, HD radio, and six speakers. Toyota improved the Corolla’s infotainment system for 2023 with a new interface and far easier operation. The new voice controls offer easy control over the system, and higher trim levels add a larger 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.

Cars with the best interiors 2023

2023 Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra offers fantastic value and surprisingly nice accommodations. The five-seat cabin offers spacious and comfortable accommodations, and the back seat is actually usable for adults. Nice cloth upholstery comes standard, and some trims get synthetic or genuine leather with heated front seats. The sporty Elantra N and N-Line get body-hugging sport seats, and the N brings grippy synthetic suede upholstery.

The Elantra comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and four speakers. Hyundai offers a 10.2-inch touchscreen and a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster, ambient interior lighting, and SiriusXM radio. 

Cars with the best interiors 2023

2023 Kia Forte

The Kia Forte is insanely affordable, but it brings an astonishing level of interior quality and space. Lower trims come with cloth upholstery, but it’s high-quality material that remains comfortable over time. Synthetic leather is available, along with heated and ventilated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and folding rear seats.

Kia equips an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone connectivity, USB, and Bluetooth. A larger 10.25-inch screen is available but requires wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Higher trims add wireless phone charging, HD radio, and either six or eight speakers. 

Cars with the best interiors 2023

2023 Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta has been a part of VW’s North American lineup for decades, and it’s got one of the nicest interiors of any car in its class. The basic cloth upholstery is premium and soft, and VW offers several upgrades, including synthetic or genuine leather, heated and ventilated front seats, and more. Both rows of seats offer good space and comfort, and top trims get heated rear seats. 

A smallish 6.5-inch touchscreen comes standard, but it offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and USB inputs. Higher trims come with an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone connectivity, automatic climate controls, and a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster with VW Digital Cockpit.

Cars with the best interiors 2023

2023 Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza is the only car on this list with standard all-wheel drive, making it a compelling choice for people in colder climates. It’s also got a great interior, with standard cloth upholstery and available leather upholstery. The seats offer good comfort, though they are firmer than many on this list. Taller adults may feel the pinch in the back, but most people have enough space in either row. 

A 6.5-inch touchscreen comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth, one USB port, and four speakers also come by default. Subaru offers an 8-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM radio, navigation, and a Harman Kardon Stereo system. 

Frequently asked questions

How can I make my car interior look more luxurious?

There are a number of aftermarket accessories that can seriously improve your car’s cabin quality. Leather seat covers and steering wheel covers make a big impact, and you can add LED ambient lighting for a luxurious and cheap upgrade.

What color interior is best?

Automakers default to black because it’s cheap and easy to clean, but many prefer lighter colors, especially if there’s leather upholstery. If you have kids or regularly carry pets, lighter interior colors can stain and may be harder to clean.

Can I replace my upholstery?

Absolutely, but be prepared to pay for the privilege. Any experienced upholstery shop can turn your car’s interior into a rolling work of art, but high-class materials and high-end work don’t come cheap. Consider seat covers if your interior has rips or stains that you can’t repair.

Can I upgrade my car stereo?

Older car models made it easy to replace the stereo, but new vehicles sometimes incorporate several vehicle controls and systems into the stereo head unit, making it much more difficult or even impossible to replace them.

Can I add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if my car doesn’t have it?

There are solutions that use your vehicle’s Bluetooth connection, but they aren’t as seamless as factory systems. That said, a less-than-perfect solution may be better than a nonexistent solution for many drivers.

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