Even though the average cost of a new 2017 vehicle is nearly $35,000, there are plenty of great choices for starting prices of $18,00 or less. Optional features, such as keyless entry, add to the cost, but you can still own one of these models for $20,000 with a bunch of additional features.
Here are the ten coolest, most affordable cars for yourself or anybody in your family on a budget, such as the new college student heading off for the freshman year. Besides being affordable to purchase, these winners also are affordable to operate, with excellent fuel economy.
The 2017 Mazda3, (above) tops the list for the fourth consecutive year in this annual ranking by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), rated as the best-looking and most fun-to-drive vehicle in the under-$18,000 segment, one of the coolest cars of all time. Especially in red.
Roomy, comfortable, fun to drive, efficient, feature-packed and boldly styled, the impossibly well-rounded Civic also delivers all the refinement, reliability and reputation that typically accompany the Honda badge.
Not only is it the outdoorsman of this group, Jeep’s subcompact SUV also makes for a practical, parkable little city car.
These models round out the top-ten list:
A standard fixture on this long-running list, the Kia Soul offers an unmatched mix of bold style, versatile practicality and surprising affordability. Baby, you’ve got soul!
While the Veloster is defined by its third door and utterly unique styling, the long warranty and low pricing complete the package. And ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter loves the paddle shifters, rare to find on a vehicle in this price range!
The most affordable European sedan on the market, with satisfying driving manners and rich interior sensibilities that help define and distinguish its pricier, luxury-badged models. The Jetta is built at VW’s factory in Chattanooga, the world’s first LEED certified eco-friendly car factory.
Sculpted styling and a versatile hatchback design deliver youthful appeal, while an impressive suite of standard safety equipment provides relaxing peace of mind.
Its standard all-wheel drive always has been appealing, but Subaru’s compact car returns to this list on the strength of a total redesign for 2017, including a new look and more refined driving manners.
In addition to curiously cavernous rear-seat and cargo room, the Fit adds a uniquely flexible rear seat that folds down – or up – to accommodate a wide range of passenger/cargo configurations.
Freshly updated for 2017 with new front and rear styling and a variety of feature upgrades, Chevrolet’s subcompact car – the most affordable on this list – delivers a compelling combination of fun, comfort and tech.
The real winner is the color red. That may not be the color you want, but it is the color that manufacturers think their vehicles look best in, which is why are so many professional photos of cars from the manufacturers are in red, like the ones here.
About the awards
Two longstanding criteria – that the vehicle is both fun to drive and fun to own – are critical among the deciding factors of what Kelley Blue Book editors freely admit is a very subjective “cool factor.” Each vehicle is available for purchase starting at $18,000 or less, using KBB’s exclusive Fair Purchase Price as the yardstick, which shows what buyers can reasonably expect to pay in a given week in their area for a new vehicle when purchasing from a dealer. Factors such as current market conditions, vehicle availability, local demand, and seasonal buying trends all help determine a vehicle’s Fair Market Range and Fair Purchase Price.
About Kelley Blue Book
Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. Each week the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website KBB.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In Values and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new and used cars this week. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies, and governmental agencies.
photos from the respective manufacturers and from KBB.