Historically, the automobile industry has sustained an economical gap between the most attractive cars and the least attractive cars, the most expensive being cars those which are aesthetically pleasing, luxurious and classy. This, of course, has led to more inexpensive cars being less attractive and underwhelming. However, the automobile industry is changing; more, now than ever, drivers can buy cars for comparatively cheap prices that look amazing, drive great and have many of the same bells and whistles that higher end cars have. This has effectively shrunk the gap between economy grade cars and their high-end counterparts, and because of this, I have gathered some of the car industries newest, most outstanding releases that offer a base model trim for under $25,000. All of these cars are sick, from the way they look, to how they drive and most importantly, how affordable they are. These cars all provide an exceptional driving experience, while keeping your wallet in mind.
Most of the cars on this list are sedans, but I've also tried to include cars from other classes, such as crossovers and a couple pickup trucks. By doing this, I hope I can reach every type of driver, from the outdoors explorer to the street racer. The list is organized from most expensive to least expensive and I encourage you to read all the way to the end.
As a side note, I'd like to say that the price for each car is the lowest current MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price), which can vary based on trim, taxes as well as many other factors.
Without further ado, lets begin.
20 Fiat 124 Spider ($24,995)
The Fiat 124 Spider is one of the few convertible sports cars that you can buy brand new for under 25K, and in my opinion, probably the only one worth buying. The design is incredible, giving a look much like that of the Miata, so much so, that the 124 Spider has earned the nickname “Fiata.” I don’t mean to say this as an attempt to discredit the car, but only to compliment it; the design is elegant, sporty and turns heads, and in some ways, it looks better than a Miata. The front end is phenomenal, the body design is captivating and the interior is reminiscent of luxury sports cars that cost 3 or 4 times as much. All things considered, the Fiat 124 Spider is an excellent ride, especially for the price.
19 Nissan Rogue ($24,800)
The Nissan Rogue is one of my favorite crossovers on currently on the market. Its design is about the same size as the Honda CR-V, but I feel as though the Rouge is a bit sleeker.
One of my favorite aspects of the Rogue is the front end: the headlights are stylish and the front grill looks much like other Nissan vehicles, making the Rogue easily recognizable as a Nissan product.
Furthermore, the roof of the Rogue looks great and flows well into the rear hatch. The Rogue is an awesome car, especially considering it’s price tag, which is even more exceptional given the absurd prices of other crossovers on the market.
18 Honda CR-V ($24,250)
The Honda CR-V is another one of those cars that looks like it's ready to take on the outdoors in some light off-roading. The car looks beefed up, with a huge hatch that provides excellent space for cargo. It’s a car that you can pile the entire family or a group of friends into for a day out in the wild, without sacrificing gas mileage or style.
Additionally, the headlights are an amazing touch to the car, giving a sleek flair to an already beautiful car. Moreover, the car is reliable, great on gas and most importantly, affordable. A wonderful package for under 25K if you ask me.
17 Honda Accord ($23,570)
The newly designed Honda Accord has got to be one of my favorite releases in recent memory. Honda has taken the Accord, which was always less sporty than the Civic, and given it a major aesthetic upgrade, as well as, more power.
The front grille is amazing, especially if given a “blacked out” look in aftermarket modification. The headlights work well to add to the sleek body design that captures eyes as it zooms down the street.
The new Honda Accord (especially the sport version) is a fantastic all around sedan; reliabe because it's a Honda, sporty look thanks to its new design and power enough to leave other cars in the dust.
16 Toyota Camry ($23,495)
The newly redesigned Toyota Camry has been one of my favorite releases in recent years, namely because of its appearance being closer to that of a Lexus. The side skirts look almost identical to the ones on the Lexus IS 300, creating deep pockets next to the rear passenger door that flow well into the back end of the car.
Additionally, the Camry’s grille has the same elongated appearance as the IS 300, giving the front end some serious flare. I gotta admit, this is a trend I like: making economical cars have a similar appearance to more luxurious cars is a big win for consumers who can’t afford higher-end vehicles.
15 Subaru Forester ($22,795)
The Subaru Forester is an absolute beast of a crossover, and the only one on this list that offers AWD as part of the base trim. This is obviously a very important aspect of a car that would potentially be used in harsh terrain, and is a huge addition to the car.
Aside from the mechanics, the Subaru Forester is truly a good looking car, giving an appearance closer to an SUV than a crossover.
The roof rack is an especially attractive part of the car because it really sets the Forester apart from other crossovers: it provides both functionality and a stylish appearance.
14 Kia Optima ($22,600)
In the last year, the car industry has seen a little bit of a “Kia Craze” with the redesign of the Optima in addition to the release of the Stinger GT and Kia’s new branding attempts. This is by no means a bad thing, as the new Kia Optima is a gorgeous work of engineering, with a design that is reminiscent of higher end cars, such as BMW sedans. The front end is magnificent, with the cross-hatched grille, stunning headlights and aggressive look. Kia is really going for a new look, something that screams “stunning” as opposed to “budget car,” especially with the sportier models like the EX and SX, but still has a price tag under 25K.
13 Toyota CH-R ($22,500)
The Toyota CH-R is a newer addition to the Toyota family and offers drivers a futuristic-looking crossover that is excellent for the price. The car has a sort of fastback design, which gives it a sleek appearance, while maintaining all the useful space that a crossover should have.
Although it isn’t the most powerful crossover on the market, the Toyota CH-R is an exceptional choice for car buyers because of what it offers: a sleek, aggressive design, room for the family plus cargo and reliability, all for under 25K. In my opinion, it's a great choice when it comes to crossovers.
12 Mazda 6 ($21,950)
The Mazda 6 is essentially the big brother of the Mazda 3, offering more room, a heavier feel and slightly more horsepower, but of course, with a higher cost. The car looks amazing: the front end is aggressive and the design of the car looks classy. In fact, the grille reminds me of higher end sedans, like something from Buick or Volvo. Much like the Mazda 3, the Mazda 6 is a sedan built for drivers who want all of the aspects of other great sedans but who don't want to empty their wallets. With all things considered, the Mazda 6 is truly a sick car for under 25K.
11 Subaru Crosstrek ($21,795)
The Subaru Crosstrek is a wonderful choice when it comes to outdoorsy focused hatchbacks, giving the driver adequate control in even the toughest of terrains with symmetrical AWD. Moreover, the car looks incredible: a front end similar to the Impreza with a stylish grille and headlights, as well as a body design that gives the car a sort of “rally crossover” look.
As a side note, the color options for the Crosstrek are unique, especially the vibrant orange which I chose to feature in the picture.
The Subaru Crosstrek is an excellent car that offers off-road ability in a crossover package, all for less than 25K.
10 Chevrolet Malibu ($21,680)
The Chevrolet Malibu is one of the very few American made sedans that I actually really like. Not that there aren't good American cars on the market, but sometimes I feel like Chevrolet's designs are...underwhelming to say the least. However the appearance of the Malibu is solid: an aggressive front end, complete with awesome fog lights and headlights that flow well into a sleek body design. Moreover, the car looks luxurious, and I gotta say, Chevy really stepped up their game with this one and I'd guess that this car would cost way more than it actually does. A well-built, good looking and powerful sedan for just around 21K? That sounds too good to be true.
9 Volkswagen Golf ($20,910)
The Volkswagen Golf has always been one of my favorite hatchbacks, but I mean, who can blame me? The design is simple, yet elegant, and the mechanical aspects of the car provide a satisfying, sporty ride that handles much like other cars in its class.
The hatch design adds just a bit of extra cargo space, to make the compact Golf feel all that much larger.
On top of it all, the car comes in optional manual transmission, a must in my opinion. All in all, the Golf is a solid choice, especially considering the price: way under 25K.
8 Chevrolet Colorado ($20,200)
Most pickup trucks are too expensive to be featured on this list, however, there are some that fit below the 25K price tag. One of these is the Chevrolet Colorado, a pickup truck that designed to be a little bit smaller and less powerful than a full-size pickup, but this doesn’t stop it from being an incredible vehicle.
The Colorado still offers an incredible pickup truck experience, including either a rear wheel or 4 wheel drive package.
The Colorado is fully ready for off-roading as well as heavy duty outdoors work, with a bed capable of holding tons of cargo, all for a price under 25K, which is truly a good deal.
7 Honda HR-V ($19,670)
The Honda HR-V is a car that was recently reintroduced by Honda that is similar to the CR-V but is a little bit smaller. In my opinion, the HR-V is much like the Nissan Rogue: not too big, not too small, but incredibly sleek, attractive and equipped for any task you could want a crossover to perform. The hatch provides tons of space and the compact design makes the car easy to maneuver through city streets, giving it the “best of both worlds.”
Moreover, the car looks wonderful; Honda made a great decision by giving the HR-V an entirely black grill, the contrast between it and the car color is fabulous. A truly amazing deal for a car considering the price is well under 25K.
6 Nissan Frontier ($18,990)
The Nissan Frontier, much like the aforementioned Chevy Colorado, is an exceptional mid-size pickup truck that offers much of the same benefits as a full-size pickup, but for much less of the cost.
The Frontier offers a 2WD drivetrain, which is strong enough for light off-roading and the bed is definitely adequate for yard work or a day at the beach.
Aside from the tech specs, the Frontier is a great looking truck, with a rally-esque front end and roof rack. All things considered, the Nissan Frontier is an incredible mid-size pickup, totally worth a price tag under 25K.
5 Honda Civic ($18,940)
The newest reiteration of the Honda Civic has got to be one of the best looking consumer cars that Honda has ever made. It's stylish, small and most importantly, affordable. The Civic is one of the cheaper cars on this list and while the different trims can be more expensive, even the base model is a home run.
The car, simply, is just fantastic all around; great gas mileage, a gorgeous body design that should be appealing to a millennial audience, power that allows for a zippy driving experience and of course, ensured by the reliability of a Honda. The greatest part is, the base model is around $19,000, a price that is unbelievable considering all of the great aspects of this car.
4 Subaru Impreza ($18,405)
Yes, I’ll admit it: I’m sort of a Subaru fanboy: I love the design, tech specs and vibe that Subaru has with all of their cars, and the Impreza is no exception. The Subaru Impreza (not to be confused with the WRX) is an incredible sedan that offers and all wheel drive drive train for the same price as many front wheel drive sedans, an incredible addition to say the least.
The boxer engine allows for solid pick up and the body design leaves bystanders in awe when the Impreza rolls down the road. Everything about the Impreza is incredible, not to mention the safety and strong standing reputation that Subaru has for making quality automobiles, all for under 25K.
3 Mazda 3 ($18,095)
The Mazda 3 is an exceptional sedan, which is both luxurious and affordable. The design is sleek, but yet the car still has plenty of space for everyday errands like groceries.
Even better, the Mazda 3 has enough guts to feel like a sport sedan, offering the driver a comfortable and exciting driving experience.
One of the best things about this car though is the price: the Mazda 3 is one of the least expensive sedans on this list, making it a really viable option for drivers who just need something to get around in and want to save money.
2 Ford Focus ($17,950)
The Ford Focus is one of the few Ford cars I really like. The appearance is very rally-esque, sort of giving a look that Subaru had with the Impreza WRX hatchback in 2013, however, the Focus is unique enough to stand apart. The front end is expertly designed: the angular flare of the headlights, coupled with the sharp corners of the grille gives the car and aggressive stance. I think maybe I’m just a sucker for sleek hatchbacks, but how can you not love the look of this car? All for a price under 25K? Incredible, if you ask me and definitely deserving of being on this list.
1 Hyundai Elantra ($16,950)
The Hyundai Elantra is an amazing sedan, especially with its most recent facelift that gives the car an aggressive appearance much like that of the Ford Focus. The body design flows incredibly well: it’s sleek, compact and even makes the car look lower to the ground than it actually is. This works incredibly well with the thinned, angular headlights and elongated side skirts.
Hyundai is making strides to change the image of their cars, much like Kia, from being "budget" to "luxury", all while keeping the price low. The Elantra is certainly no exception: tons of flash for not a whole lotta cash.
Sources: caranddriver.com, motoringresearch.com, motor1.com