Honda, Toyota, Mazda. Hyundai is probably a distant 4th but possibly a good bit cheaper. Most subcompacts are crap so its good to avoid them. (The Honda Fit being the best exception and Yaris is decent. Accent is probably the cheapest decent subcompact)
Similarly, Hyundai compacts are probably going to be significantly cheaper than Honda & Toyota counterparts. I bought a Mazda3 because they are a little less popular than Honda & Toyota which can make them a better value and I got a good deal from a govdeals auction. Risk was, I did not get a test drive, I got a 4 minute test "ride". But, It had a few months left on the power train warranty as I called before going to see it. Without that, I probably would not have bid enough to buy it. It was a lot to pay for a car sold AS IS with no test drive. But, I got it for around the midpoint of trade in value and private party value which means it was $3000-4000 less than similar cars at retail at the time. The other bidders may or may not have known about the power train warranty. It barely had a few months left as it was sold late in the year just a month or two before the 2013s came out. And the actual sale date is when the warranty started. My car had a 5 year 60k miles and mine had low miles otherwise there would not have been any warranty left. Did not need the warranty but it sure made spending that much money without a test drive easier.
Before I bought mine, I was open to Honda, Toyota or even Hyundai and Mazda. I found out later than Corolla had very poor "performance" reviews for 2012. And Mazda compared very favorable to Honda on everything and even better for performance. Now, I don't need a lot of performance in a compact car but a lot of people complained that the Toyota had pitiful pickup. Since I did not get a test drive, I am VERY glad I did not end up wit a Corolla even though I would have thought it was better than Mazda.
And the interesting thing is the Toyota has retained its value the best of the 3 brands. Which to me suggests the other 2 are better buys used. And I could only compare 3 at a time at US News so I did not add in a Hyundai. I bet its even cheaper because they sold more I think.
I compared the MSRP of the 2 other closest comparable models. The Mazda was $19,550 while both others were $18,800. Current single price values for the 3 cars are Toyota $9308, Honda $8369 and Mazda $7728.
So, partly by luck, I got a better rated car for less money. Overall my Mazda was 8.8 versus 8.5 and 7.9 for the others. (I had to guess at the most comparable comparison models as they did not have anything exactly comparable)
Critics rated the Mazda 9.2 versus 8.7 and 6.6 for the corolla. And before I started looking, I would have bet Toyota would be higher than Mazda. The higher price for the least performance suggest that a used 2012 Corolla is a poor value. (Despite good reliability)
Edit, I just went back & compared a Hyundai Elantra 4 door limited, their best model and while it cost more then the others new, it compares very favorably to the others except on reliability. Its 3 stars versus 4 for the Mazda & Toyota and 5 for the Honda.
I guess the link below will not work. I tried. My Mazda was the best of the 4 I could have chosen but I did not have the data at the time so it was not skill, just luck. Although I have long considered Mazda to be undervalued to the others and better values because of it. But I did not know the performance would be best. The Hyundai is really not bad except lower reliability but sometimes that is the price when choosing a cheaper car. And I think you could get a better deal on a Hyundai. (Just guessing based on the fact that I think there are lots more on the street compared to Mazda)