Guide to Budget Rides
You’ve probably heard this before: Since a new vehicle loses so much value the moment it’s driven off a dealer’s lot, you’d be foolish not to buy a used model. Admittedly, that fact can be a strong, practical influence on your auto purchase decision. But if you slide behind the wheel of a fresh vehicle, the desire to possess a pristine car with its new-car warranty can be a big draw. What to do? Even if you’re on a tight budget, check it: Here are 15 new vehicles with starting manufacturer’s suggested retail prices at or below the $15,000 mark.
2015 Nissan Versa Sedan
Starting MSRP: $11,990
EPA fuel economy mpg: 26-31 city/35-40 hwy
As the lowest-priced new car for the 2015 model year, the Versa delivers on its intentions: great gas mileage, a comfortable ride, decent cargo space and rear-seat legroom at a bargain-basement price. It has some ground to make up in the handling department compared to rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, but it’s still a great value.
2015 Chevrolet Spark
Starting MSRP: $12,270
EPA fuel economy mpg: 31 city/39 hwy
As Chevrolet’s most inexpensive vehicle, the diminutive Spark slots below the Sonic. It has a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine that puts out 84 horsepower. A highlight for the 2015 model year: standard OnStar with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot capability for up to seven mobile devices.
2015 Mitsubishi Mirage
Starting MSRP: $12,995
EPA fuel economy mpg: 34-37 city/42-44 hwy
The Mirage offers a lot of standard features for its price point, including keyless entry, automatic climate control and a USB port. However, its minimalist cabin and sluglike acceleration make it a tough sell in the competitive subcompact segment.
2015 smart fortwo
Starting MSRP: $13,270
EPA fuel economy mpg: 34 city/38 hwy
What more can be said about this tiny 2-seat city car? It’s maneuverability in urban environs may be unsurpassed, but its performance is lackluster at 70 ponies, and gas mileage remains unimpressive for a vehicle this size. That said, the model gets an overhaul for 2016.
2015 Kia Rio
Starting MSRP: $13,990
EPA fuel economy mpg: 27-28 city/37 hwy
Besides its stellar starting price, the Rio dazzles with some attractive styling and excellent 10 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The upper trim levels are downright sporty, with better interior finishes and a host of options including push-button start and a rearview camera. That said, if budget is a concern go with the LX trim.
2015 Kia Rio 5-Door
Starting MSRP: $13,990
EPA fuel economy mpg: 27-28 city/37 hwy
For a slight bump in base price over the standard Rio, the 5-door hatchback provides better utility and a downright sporty-looking package. Available with a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Rios are among the most economical yet powerful vehicles of this Spartan segment.
2015 Nissan Versa Note
Starting MSRP: $14,180
EPA fuel economy mpg: 31 city/41 hwy
The 2015 Note is one of the roomiest small cars on this list. The hatchback has surprising rear-seat room, and the storage is decent as well. Performance of the 1.6-liter, 109-horsepower 4-cylinder engine is a bit mediocre compared to others in the segment. Bluetooth connectivity is standard on all trims for 2015, and heated seats are now an option.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic
Starting MSRP: $14,245
EPA fuel economy mpg: 25-29 city/33-40 hwy
An agile player in the subcompact class, the Sonic has an attractive cabin layout and a comfortable driving position. The base 138-horsepower 4-cylinder engine provides decent acceleration, but the turbo has better pep and fuel economy. Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi capability. A 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a rearview camera and lane departure warning are among available features.
2015 Ford Fiesta
Starting MSRP: $14,455
EPA fuel economy mpg: 27-31 city/37-43 hwy
From its sharp looks to sharp handling, Fiesta offers one of the most competitive packages of the segment. The 120-horse 4-cylinder engine provides adequate power, but the new optional turbo 3-cylinder EcoBoost unit in the ST is the one to spring for. Fiesta wins praise for an interior replete with soft-touch materials, but gets demerits for inadequate rear-seat legroom.
2015 Hyundai Accent
Starting MSRP: $14,745
EPA fuel economy mpg: 26-27 city/37-38 hwy
As Hyundai’s least expensive car, the fourth-gen Accent excels in occupant and cargo space, but suffers in the handling department. The 137-horsepower 4-cylinder engine earns decent EPA fuel economy numbers. Standard features on this solid performer include satellite radio, a USB port, keyless entry, a tilt steering wheel and power windows.
2015 Toyota Yaris
Starting MSRP: $14,845
EPA fuel economy mpg: 30 city/36-37 hwy
A solid performer in the subcompact class, the Yaris received a mid-cycle refresh for 2015. Fuel economy is decent for the class, storage is about average, and handling is about mid-pack as well. Standard features make it shine, including cruise control, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth, a USB port and Toyota’s Entune audio system with a touchscreen display.
2015 Kia Soul
Starting MSRP: $15,100
EPA fuel economy mpg: 23 city/30 hwy
The funky Kia Soul is an all-around great performer in its segment. The 1.6-liter engine does not give it much in the power department; an optional 2.0 is available but of course you’ll have to pony up the bucks. Flush with value via standard features, Soul includes satellite radio, Bluetooth and a USB port, body-color mirrors and privacy glass.
2015 Honda Fit
Starting MSRP: $15,650
EPA fuel economy mpg: 29-33 city/37-41 hwy
A leader of the subcompact class, the 2015 Fit ticks most of the boxes for desirable traits in an affordable car: good fuel economy, a comfortable ride, decent standard equipment, and adequate cargo space, which is where the Fit shows its true colors. Honda’s Magic Seat allows for myriad cargo configurations.
2015 Scion iQ
Starting MSRP: $15,665
EPA fuel economy mpg: 36 city/37 hwy
The diminutive iQ gets stellar gas mileage and is a breeze to park. If those are your major requirements in an affordable car, then the iQ is for you. That said, the interior is a bit plasticky and the rear seat is children-only. If kids are onboard the iQ has practically zero cargo space. Standard features include Bluetooth, keyless entry, a 6-speaker Pioneer audio system, HD radio and a touchscreen infotainment system.
2015 Kia Forte
Starting MSRP: $15,890
EPA fuel economy mpg: 25-26 city/36-39 hwy
Bumping the top of our price point, the Forte offers a lot of car for the money. The standard 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine gets good gas mileage, and the cabin is a comfortable environment avoiding the low-end vibe of many in the segment. Standard features include Bluetooth, satellite radio, USB and auxiliary inputs and projector beam headlights.