For most people, a new car is a major investment with life-long implications. A car’s expense determines the length of which it can be paid off, along with other factors like maintenance, gas mileage, and resale value when the time comes for it to be replaced. Many of these considerations vary depending on the make, model and, in this list’s case, the price. For many, the price of a car is the most important factor. Not everyone can afford something in the neighborhood of $20 to $30 thousand dollar range, where most new cars usually reside.
Thankfully, for those on a budget, there are quite a few options from which to choose. Granted, the least expensive cars on the road today are either subcompact or super-mini models. This isn’t too surprising, considering that small cars are less expensive than large ones. That said, those who want something a little bigger should probably just opt to buy pre-owned, to get exactly what they want, at a price-tag to fit their budget.
For those who want a brand-new that won’t break the bank, here are 10 of the most affordable cars money can buy.
10 Mitsubishi Mirage
With a price that starts at around $13k, the Mirage is tempting for those looking for a small and cheap car with good gas mileage. However, most reviewers would agree that the Mirage is the definition of the term ‘you get what you pay for.’
Critics hate the Mirage’s flimsy and hard-plastic interior, with seats so hard it’s like the Flintstones made them. It’s also not very reliable, which for a Japanese make is completely unacceptable. There are so many better cars for budget buyers out there that it’s difficult to justify buying a Mirage, especially when there are even cheaper options out there that are of better quality.
9 Fiat 500
Sure, it may look a little goofy, but that hasn’t stopped the many buyers who’ve fallen for the 500’s quirky charm. Still, while fans of little Italian coupes may disagree, the 500 isn’t a very good choice for people on a budget.
While it is cheap, the 500 is notoriously unreliable and will end up costing its owners more in repairs over its (short) lifetime. It’s also cramped, with no back seat and barely any cargo space. At this rate, a shoebox would be a better value.
8 Chevy Spark
The Spark is Chevy’s cheapest car, and while it has its defenders, it has also become a subject of ire among critics. Much like first-generation Chevy Aveo, the Spark is criticized for cutting corners left and right.
Crummy interior, lousy cargo space, and a cramped cabin make for a car that struggles to justify its own existence. Chevy already has a decent compact car called the Sonic, which is considerably better than this offering. That, and the Spark’s rear passenger doors are some of the weirdest in the industry, and not in a good way.
7 Ford Fiesta
While it may be loved by Europeans and fans of hot hatchbacks, the Fiesta is held back by its poor reliability and cramped interior. Still, the Fiesta has quite the following, most of whom just adore the quirky little car that was, for the longest time, one of Ford’s best selling models.
The ST model, while no longer offered, was a fun performance car that didn’t break the bank. Ford plans on discontinuing the Fiesta in North America by the end of the year, but they’ll still make it in Europe, where it is more appreciated.
6 Nissan Versa
This is the cheapest car in North America, with a starting price of $12k. While that does mean the car is missing some features that have now become standard on most consumer-grade cars, it is actually a cut above some of its more expensive rivals.
It’s reliable, nimble, and it’s got nice legroom. While there are much better cars out there for people on a budget, the Versa is a good place to start.
5 Chevy Sonic
Emerging from the ashes of the Aveo, the Sonic is one of the best cheap cars made by an American company. While it is more expensive than the Spark, the Sonic is a much better investment, thanks to its larger cabin, improved storage, and standard tech features that other small cars lack.
Sadly, Chevy plans to kill the Sonic soon, so prospective buyers should get one while they still have a chance.
4 Honda Fit
While it’s not available as a sedan, this small hatchback has been a constant presence within the small car market since it was introduced. While the Fit initially had issues with its safety, Honda has taken great strides to improve such shortfalls.
US News & World Report even gave the 2019 model a near-perfect 9.7 out of 10 for safety, a far cry from just a few years ago. And it gets better! The Fit packs a whole lot of value for the dollar. Its cargo hold is greater than most in its class, but it is still small enough to zip around traffic and tight corners with ease.
3 Toyota Yaris
Cheap, reliable, and endlessly fun, the Yaris was aimed directly at the young demographic since day one. A great little car with everything one could want out of such a humble package, the Yaris is regularly placed in the top tiers of the best cheap cars.
While it’s sometimes overlooked in favor of its more popular cousin, the Corolla, the Yaris should not be ignored. Roomy, with a hatchback and a sedan to choose from, and with awesome MPG, the Yaris should be on the shortlist for anyone in the market for a new car under $20k.
2 Kia Rio
Kia’s entry-level sedan/hatchback is renowned for its low price range and excellent mileage. While small, the Rio is surprisingly roomy, with a spacious cabin, ample cargo, and good rear-seat legroom. With a wealth of standard features for the newer models, the Rio really does pack more bang for the buck, and those who want to add a little more can opt for Kia’s UVO smart entertainment system.
Plus, the addition of Kia’s eco boost feature, which is now standard on most of their models, helps propel the car’s gas mileage past its standard range.
1 Hyundai Accent
A constant presence in the subcompact world since the start of the millennium, the Accent is a safe bet for any buyers on a budget who want to have their cake and eat it too. Originally associated with cheapness and poor reliability, the Accent has come quite a long way since its first introduction.
Today, the Accent is one of the most reliable cars in its class, and current models come with plenty of new features that help it to stand head and shoulders above its competition. It’s roomy, comfortable, has great gas mileage, and doesn’t skim on technology either. It’s easily one of the best cars you can buy for such a low price.