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Best bass systems for a small car or hatchback in 2024

Get perfect bass with a small footprint to fit any budget

In this article: We present six highly recommended subwoofer systems for small vehicles, arranged according to loudness and price:

  1. Loud bass for under $250 – MTX Magnum bass package
  2. Loud bass for around $700 – Rockford Fosgate amp and sub
  3. Loud bass for a high budget – Kicker sub and Rockford Fosgate amp
  4. Bass fill for under $200 – Sound Ordnance powered subwoofer
  5. Bass fill for around $500 – JL Audio powered subwoofer
  6. Bass fill for a high budget – Focal subwoofer and Morel amp


e field lots of calls from customers who want to improve the bass in their small car audio systems. Crutchfield Advisors, many of whom have ears-on experience with the products, always recommend subwoofer systems that fit customers' desires for loud or soft bass at prices they can afford.

"What subwoofer will work best in my hatchback?"

Having a small car doesn't mean that you can't have solid bass in your music. When customers come to us looking for a new subwoofer or bass system, our advisors often start the the conversation with questions like this:

What type of bass are you looking for — accurate kick drums or just obnoxiously loud bass that shakes four cars ahead of you?

We have solutions for either answer.

Below are our recommendations for putting a subwoofer in a small car or hatchback-style vehicle, for different tastes and budgets. First we'll list our suggestions for people who want loud, car-shaking bass.

Then we'll share our favorite products for people who just want to fill in that missing low-frequency sound. The goal is to complete the musical experience without rattling the windows.

Loud bass for under $250

Want big bass but you're a little short on cash? This subwoofer package offers a great way to add bottom-end punch to your vehicle without putting a strain on your wallet. It includes two 10-inch subs in a ported enclosure along with a matching power amplifier.

image of MTX Magnum

This MTX bass package includes a perfectly matched subwoofer box and amplifier. Here are the details.

Magna Bass MB212P mono amplifier specs:

  • mono amplifier: 250 watts x 1 at 4 ohms
  • 1,000 watts peak
  • variable high- and low-pass filters (50-250 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
  • variable bass boost (0-18 dB boost at 40 Hz)

Magnum ported dual 10" subwoofer enclosure specs:

  • two Magnum 10" 8-ohm subwoofers wired for 4-ohm impedance
  • poly cone with large-roll foam surround
  • power range (each): 50-200 watts RMS

Get more details: MTX Magnum Audio 250-watt bass package

Loud bass for around $700

If you have a little money and want the biggest bang for your bucks, this sub-amp combo will probably fit the bill. The 12" sub, ported enclosure, and 500-watt amplifier have been matched together for maximum performance.

Rockford Fosgate P3-1X12 ported box and 12" sub and Rockford Fosgate Prime R2-500X1 amplifier

Rockford Fosgate Prime amplifier specs:

  • mono subwoofer amplifier
    • 300 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms
    • 500 watts RMS x 1 at 2 ohms
  • Class-D amplifier design
  • variable low-pass filter (50-250 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
  • variable bass boost (0-18 dB at 45 Hz)
  • variable subsonic filter (15-40 Hz, 12 dB/octave)

Get more details: Rockford Fosgate Prime R2-500X1 amplifier

Rockford Fosgate Punch P3 12" subwoofer and ported box specs:

  • ported hatchback-style enclosure with one 12" Punch P3 subwoofer
  • 1-ohm total impedance
  • power handling: 300-600 watts RMS (1200 watts peak power)
  • sensitivity: 85 dB

Get more details: Rockford Fosgate P3-1X12 ported box and 12" subwoofer

Loud bass for a high budget

When money's no object and you crave loud bass, go with the best. And what's better than pairing a popular subwoofer — cited for power-handling and sound quality — with 1,000 watts of crystal-clear amplification? The amp also features onboard distortion detection, which alerts you when the volume's gotten out of hand.

Kicker L7 sub and Rockford Fosgate Punch amp

Kicker Solo-Baric 15" subwoofer specs:

  • 15" subwoofer with dual 2-ohm voice coils
  • power handling: 575-1000 watts RMS
  • peak power: 2000 watts
  • sensitivity: 88.56 dB

Get more details: Kicker Solo-Baric L7S 15" subwoofer

Rockford Fosgate Punch amplifier specs:

  • 2-channel car amplifier
  • 300 watts RMS x 2 at 4 ohms (500 watts RMS x 2 at 2 ohms)
  • 1000 watts RMS x 1 bridged at 4 ohms (4-ohm stable in bridged mode)
  • variable high- and low-pass filter filter (50-250 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
  • variable PEQ2 bass/treble boost (0-18 dB at 45 Hz and 0-14 dB at 12.5K Hz)
  • C.L.E.A.N. gain setup system includes clip lights and link to Rockford Fosgate's setup tones
  • Class-AB amplifier design

Get more details: Rockford Fosgate Punch P1000X2 amplifier

Adding bass to make your music sound better

Some people don't want shake their car apart and impress (annoy) other drivers. Some people just want to turn their car into a great place for listening to music. Here are our top picks for filling your vehicle with good-sounding bass.

Bass fill for under $200

The simplest way to add bass fill to your system is with a compact powered subwoofer. Whether mounted under a car seat or in an out-of-the-way location in the cab of your truck, this little workhorse will surprise you with its impressive bass and its ability to mesh perfectly with the rest of your system.

Sound Ordinance sub

Sound Ordnance compact powered subwoofer:

  • 8" woofer with aluminum cone
  • built-in Class D amplifier (125 watts RMS/250 watts peak)
  • variable low-pass crossover (80-200 Hz)
  • variable phase control (0-180 degrees)
  • bass boost control (0dB to +10dB)
  • preamp- and speaker-level inputs

Get more details: Sound Ordnance B-8PTD powered subwoofer

Bass fill for around $500

You don't need to rattle windows and set off car alarms, but you do want a subwoofer large enough to fill your truck, sedan, or SUV with bass you can feel. Here's a modestly priced powered sub that'll fit in a lot of different places in almost any kind of vehicle.

JL Audio powerd subwoofer

JL Audio MicroSub+™ powered subwoofer:

  • 8" W3v3 subwoofer in ported enclosure
  • woofer impedance: 0.4 ohms
  • built-in Class D amp delivers 250 watts RMS
  • variable low-pass crossover (50-200 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
  • switchable phase control (0 or 180 degrees)

Get more details: JL Audio MicroSub+

Bass fill for a high budget

You want the bass in your car to sound like it does in your home theater, with lots of low-frequency impact that blends in well with your high-fidelity music. This package puts together top-of-the-line components that'll produce some of the cleanest and most accurate bass tones you'll ever hear.

Focal K2 Power E sub and Morel MPS amp

Focal K2 Power 10" subwoofer:

  • 10" dual 4-ohm voice coil subwoofer
  • aramid fiber/foam/glass composite sandwich cone with butyl rubber surround
  • zamak zinc alloy basket
  • power handling: 100-600 watts RMS
  • peak power handling: 1200 watts
  • sensitivity: 84.5 dB

Get more details: Focal K2 Power E 25 KX 10" subwoofer

Morel MPS 1.550 subwoofer amplifier:

  • mono subwoofer amplifier
  • 350 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms (550 watts RMS x 1 at 2 ohms)
  • Class D amp technology – 100 dB signal-to-noise ratio, 0.15% distortion
  • variable low-pass filter (40-220 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
  • variable bass boost (0-12 dB at 45 Hz)
  • switchable subsonic filter (off, 25, 35 Hz)

Get more details: Morel MPS 1.550 subwoofer amplifier

Sub under a seat

Wiring and some boxes not included

Don't forget that you'll always need to add a wiring kit and speaker wire for the amplifier, and often a subwoofer box to house the sub. This will add to the cost of the gear listed above, so plan accordingly. You can find appropriate recommendations listed in each subwoofer's and amplifier's accessories, or just talk to our advisors and they'll fix you up.

Get yours bass system today

If adding a subwoofer to your system sounds like something you want to do, check out our Subwoofer Buying Guide. Next, head on over to Car Subwoofers and then Subwoofer Amplifiers to shop for your new gear.

Or better yet, call us, so a knowledgeable Advisor will make sure you get the right bass for your music and vehicle.

Popular questions customers ask

If you have limited space, consider a compact powered sub, otherwise go with the biggest subwoofer that'll fit. A 12" subwoofer will usually play louder and deeper than a 10" sub. A single sub might be all it takes to reinforce your music, but if you're looking for volume, then two subs are louder than one.

The amount of power you'll want for your bass system will depend on how loud you want your bass to sound when blended in with the rest of your music. The systems we recommend for small cars come in three basic output power ranges:

  • 100-250 watts RMS for bass fill with a factory or aftermarket stereo
  • 500-750 watts RMS for powerful bass to go along with an amplified system
  • 1,000 watts RMS or more for dedicated bass-lovers

Even little speaker cones can produce large bass sound waves, which are generally between 12 and 30 feet long. Such large sound waves will be unaffected by something as small as a car seat. They won't get reflected or absorbed and will be heard everywhere in your vehicle. The large size of bass waves also makes it almost impossible for our ears to locate their source precisely, so mounting positions for your compact powered subwoofer can vary with minimal adverse effects.

A ported (or vented) enclosure makes the bass sound louder, with more thump and boom, but with a slight loss of accuracy. A sealed enclosure will sound less reverberant (less boomy) but more accurate. A bandpass box is a combination of those two designs, producing a narrower range of powerful bass-frequency sound.

If you're handy with tools, you shouldn't have any problems. You'll need to run a power wire from your vehicle's battery to your powered sub's location, and then a ground wire from there to the chassis. You'll also need RCA cables to carry signal from your aftermarket stereo, or factory stereo interface device, to your new powered subwoofer. Don't worry — when you buy your gear from Crutchfield, our Tech Support people can help you if any issues come up.

  • Larry Clemons from Denver

    Posted on 10/7/2023

    Id buy the rockford p500.12 over that powered sub. It doesn't play that low, like I have 6.5s that can go to 50 hz. Don't waste money on that, when you could buy the best.

  • Pete from Seattle

    Posted on 4/29/2022

    Hatchbacks are by far the best vehicles for adding subwoofers, because the big back windows that are angled perfectly from the trunk height up to the roofline, and when subwoofers are installed in the back, the shape of the back half of the car acts as a big horn amplifying the bass as it reflects off the angled back window, typically causing even small entry level priced and powered subwoofer setups to sound much louder and more impressive than they would if they were installed in most any other type of vehicle. In high school back in the early 90's I had a hatchback 85 Mustang GT that I installed 2 kicker 15's in, and it was crazy how much louder it was in my car than the same box and amp was in 2 other vehicles I used it in.

  • Kishori dunn from oak park heights

    Posted on 12/15/2021

    Love the website. Very informative. Thanks

  • Veronika Salas from San Antonio

    Posted on 10/1/2021

    Hi Buck My friends has this set up Focal ES165KX2 6+1 component Focal PC165 coax I went on website and this set will not work with my 2012 JK Wrangler with sub (Infinity) Can you help? Want as close to this system as possible. Will be upgrade HU with a Boss, Kenwood, JVC...looking for a unit with CD , preamp, sub I ride without shell 7 months out of the year.keep Jeep covered at night Thanks

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/2/2021

    Veronika, With questions like these it's best to talk with someone to help sort out your options. Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick out the perfect gear for your system.
  • Jared Palen from Missoula MT

    Posted on 8/15/2019

    First off, thanks for all the great tools you offer to help. My any of the low profile powered subs have RCA OUTPUTS? Have a friend that wants to add 2 in an F350. Thanks in advance.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/16/2019

    Jared, I don't think any of the compact powered subwoofers Crutchfield offers feature RCA outputs. Your friend will have to use Y-cord connectors to get two inputs for two subs.
  • MrAli

    Posted on 7/31/2018

    I always crutchfeld articles. please make available RSS feed feature for this section for more reader convenience and quick awareness of new articles. thank you.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/31/2018

    MrAli, Crutchfield doesn't have an RSS feed, but you can receive newsletters and notifications about new articles after creating an account with us. Start by clicking the "Your Account" icon at the top of the web page.

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