Most Affordable New Rides
The average purchase price of a new car in America is now more than $33,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. For many shoppers, prices in this range are simply too high, so often they’re forced to look for a used vehicle and take on the risk of purchasing someone else’s headaches. Granted, certified pre-owned vehicles are also an option, but what if you really want that new-car smell? There are advantages to buying new: a new-car warranty, the latest safety features, new convenience features and — in many cases — better performance and fuel economy. Luckily a number of quality new vehicles have MSRPs that start at about half the average new-car transaction. What follows are the 25 least expensive new cars on the market, listed by Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for the entry-level trim.
2016 Nissan Versa
The Nissan Versa retains the trophy as the least expensive new car available in America. For that low price you get much more than a bare-bones econobox. Versa comes standard with air-conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, an AM/FM/CD audio system and a trip computer. Also standard are traction and stability control as well as anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution. The 109-horsepower engine is teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission — although the Versa won’t win any races, it is rated at 36 mpg on the highway. And you can smile all the way to the bank.
2016 Chevrolet Spark
The least-expensive new domestic car available in America, the Spark has been completely redesigned for the 2016 model year. Stylish and fun to drive, Spark can be had in a number of bright colors with fun names such as Splash, Salsa and Lime (sounds tasty). Standard safety features include a rearview camera, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes and 10 airbags. Spark also comes equipped with a built in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and access to GM’s OnStar communication service. Power comes from a 1.4-liter engine producing just under 100 horsepower with fuel economy ratings of 30 mpg city / 41 mpg highway.
2017 Mitsubishi Mirage
Mitsubishi’s entry subcompact Mirage is redesigned for the 2017 model year with fresh styling inside and out. Mirage’s efficiency and performance improve over the previous generation with a more aerodynamic exterior as well as a power increase to 78 horses from its 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine. Mirage is the lowest-powered car in America; however, it does deliver great fuel savings, with an EPA-rated 37 mpg city / 43 mpg hwy.
2016 Ford Fiesta
Fiesta continues the trend of small, economical cars that are actually fun to drive. Available as a sedan or hatchback ($300 more), the Fiesta comes with a 120-horsepower 1.6-liter engine rated at 37 mpg on the highway. The updated Sync 3 communication and entertainment system is new for 2016 and features enhanced voice recognition, a 6.5-inch display screen with pinch-to-zoom capabilities and smartphone integration.
2016 Kia Rio
This Korean automaker has made huge strides since first exporting cars to the U.S. Initially they were just inexpensive — now they’re inexpensive and good. Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Rio is a fine example of a great entry small car with a stylish design and impressive list of standard features, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, a trip computer, air-conditioning, multiple airbags and traction/stability control. “The Rio signifies everything the Kia brand has evolved into since coming to the U.S. market more than 20 years ago,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of Kia product planning. The Rio’s 1.6-liter engine puts out 138 horsepower, which is strong for this class of car but still impresses with fuel economy ratings of 27 mpg city / 38 mpg highway.
2016 Nissan Versa Note
Nissan recently added the Note to the popular Versa lineup, providing an economical 5-door hatchback for customers who need a bit more space. With more rear-seat legroom and cargo space than many of its compact competitors, the Versa Note offers an adjustable floor in the cargo area, providing a space below the floor to hide valuables. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat adds to the cargo-carrying versatility. With the same 109-horse powerplant as the standard Versa, the Note is also rated at 36 mpg on the highway. Opt for the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission and fuel economy bumps up to 40 mpg on the highway.
2016 Chevrolet Sonic
It’s nice to see American brands delivering high-quality, economical small cars — the Sonic is an excellent example. Available as a sedan or 5-door hatchback, with the Sonic 5-door runs an additional $600. The sporty little sedan offers good performance with a fuel-efficient 1.8-liter engine putting out 138 horsepower and delivering up to 35 mpg on the highway. Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and six months free of OnStar Guidance Plan, which gets you Automatic Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, Roadside Assistance and Turn-by-Turn Navigation.
2016 smart fortwo
Not only is the smart car inexpensive, it is also the smallest production car in America. Redesigned for the 2016 model year, the tiny fortwo is just 8.8 feet long — about four feet shorter than the MINI Cooper. The fortwo has limited use given that it only seats two and doesn’t offer much cargo space, but for city dwellers the smart could be a perfect fit. The tiny car is easy to park given its impressive maneuverability — the turning circle is a mere 22.8 feet. As expected, fuel economy is good with EPA ratings of 34 mpg city / 39 mpg highway / 36 mpg combined when equipped with the twinamic transmission.
2016 Hyundai Accent
Hyundai vehicles are typically good values and the Accent is no exception. The base-level SE sedan has an attractive interior that doesn’t feel cheap. Features include a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, a split-folding rear seat, air-conditioning, power windows and locks and an AM/FM/MP3/CD audio system with six speakers. The Accent’s 1.6-liter engine puts out 137 horsepower, and when teamed with the standard 6-speed manual transmission it’s rated at 38 mpg on the highway. All this plus Accent’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty makes this entry-level Hyundai a great value.
2016 Toyota Yaris
Yaris is the least-expensive Toyota on the U.S. market and comes as either a 3-door or 5-door hatchback. The 3-door Yaris L is the entry-level version, powered by a 1.5-liter engine producing just 106 horsepower and 37 mpg on the highway when matched with a 5-speed manual transmission. Standard on all Yaris variants is the Entune audio system that includes a 6.1-in. touch-screen, an AM/FM CD player with MP3, six speakers, HD Radio, a USB port with iPod connectivity and control, hands-free phone capability, voice recognition, and Bluetooth music streaming.
2016 Scion iA
The iA is an all-new model and the first sedan offered by the Scion brand. Power comes from a 1.5-liter engine producing 106 horsepower teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission. While there may not be a lot of power, fuel economy is impressive — expect 42 mpg on the highway, 33 mpg in the city (slightly higher with the optional automatic transmission). The iA is also one of the least expensive vehicles to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating, coming standard with a Low-Speed Pre-Collision System that uses an infrared laser sensor in the windshield to determine if a frontal collision is imminent, and then automatically applies the brakes in certain low-speed situations. In the IIHS Low-speed Autobrake test, the iA was able to avoid the collision entirely from 12 mph.
2016 Honda Fit
The Honda Fit excels at space management — the perfect example of a car that’s small on the outside but large on the inside. The rear seats are unique, able to be configured in a number of ways to allow for cargo storage of all shapes and sizes. Power comes from a 1.5-liter engine producing 130 horsepower and achieving up to 37 mpg with the standard 5-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes air-conditioning with air filtration, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity with audio streaming and a number of active safety features.
2016 Kia Soul
The Soul is not your typical compact car — and that’s a good thing. The cute, boxy hatchback makes great use of space; it has a small footprint but a surprisingly roomy interior for passengers and cargo. The 1.6-liter engine puts out 130 horsepower and delivers up to 30 mpg on the highway. Soul comes standard with a number of high-value features, including an AM/FM/MP3 player, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning and a trip computer. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control and a Brake Assist system are also standard.
2016 Kia Forte
One of three Kia models on this list of inexpensive new cars, the Forte offers attractive styling as well as an impressive list of standard features. The equipment list includes an AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM audio system, USB input jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Forte’s 1.8-liter engine puts out 145 horsepower and is rated as high as 37 mph on the highway when equipped with the standard 6-speed manual transmission.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze
Cruze is one of the most successful small cars the Detroit-based automaker has ever delivered, and is currently one of the best-selling cars in America. The Cruze has been updated for the 2016 model year — now larger and lighter than the outgoing model. In addition to the fresh styling, Cruze gets all the latest safety technology as well as a new 1.4-liter turbocharged 153-horsepower engine that’s rated at 30 mpg in the city, 42 on the highway.
2016 Nissan Sentra
Nissan’s popular compact sedan gets a refresh for the 2016 model year with updated styling and a number of new safety and convenience technologies. Standard features include an AM/FM/CD audio system, remote keyless entry, multiple airbags, a split-folding rear seat and 16-inch steel wheels. Safety features such as vehicle dynamics control, traction control and anti-lock brakes are also standard. Power comes from 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower. Fuel-economy numbers are quite good — Sentra is rated at 27 city / 36 hwy when equipped with the manual transmission. Upgrading to the Xtronic CVT jumps the mpg numbers to 29 and 38 respectively.
2016 Dodge Dart
Chrysler hasn’t had much in the way of success in the small car arena, but the 4-door Dart seems to have bucked that trend. The Dart offers more power than most competitors in its class, courtesy of its 2.0-liter Tigershark engine that produces 160 horsepower while still delivering an impressive 36 mpg on the highway. Standard features on the stylish Dart include 10 airbags, electronic brake assist, stability control, traction control, 6-way manually adjustable driver and front passenger seats, Uconnect AM/FM/CD, four speakers, a remote USB port and 16-inch steel wheels.
2016 Fiat 500
At just over 11 feet long, the Fiat 500 is one of the smallest cars on the road today. The little Italian model features an equally tiny 1.4-liter MultiAir 4-cylinder engine producing just 101 horsepower. Despite the meager power, fuel economy is very good, rated at 31 mpg city / 40 mpg highway with the 5-speed manual transmission. The 500 Pop is the entry-level version and comes equipped with air-conditioning, a trip computer, remote-keyless entry, and Uconnect AM/FM stereo with 6-speakers and Bluetooth streaming.
2017 Hyundai Elantra
Completely new for the 2017 model year, the new Elantra is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor yet considerably more aerodynamic. Elantra comes well equipped with air-conditioning, premium cloth trim, an AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 6-speaker sound system with USB input, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes and multiple airbags. Powering the Elantra is a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque rated at 26 mpg in the city, 36 on the highway.
2016 Ford Focus
One of the best-selling cars in America, the Focus is available as a sedan or hatchback; however, the entry-level S trim is only available as a sedan. The standard powerplant for the Focus S is a 2.0-liter 160-horsepower engine; fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg city / 36 mpg highway with the 5-speed manual transmission. Focus also comes standard with a rearview camera, an air-filtration system, multiple safety features and the SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system with hands-free calling.
2016 Toyota Corolla
According to Toyota, more than 40 million Corollas have been sold since its introduction, and it is the currently the best-selling compact car in America. Corolla gets power from an efficient 1.8-liter engine that achieves 132 horsepower while delivering 37 mpg on the highway when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission. For 2016 Corolla features the Entune Audio system which includes a 6.1 in. touch-screen display, AM/FM CD player, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, a USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, music streaming via Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free.
2016 Mitsubishi Lancer
Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Lancer is Mitsubishi’s stylish compact sedan. Not as well-known as its more powerful sibling the Lancer Evo, the Lancer sedan offers up an impressive list of standard features including automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, fog lights and a high-end audio system. Lancer is also safely equipped, featuring Mitsubishi’s patented Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution safety cell body construction. The Lancer ES is powered by a 2.0-liter engine putting out 148 horsepower.
2016 Volkswagen Jetta
One of the best-selling passenger cars in America, the Jetta offers great value in a fun-to-drive 4-door sedan. The base-level Jetta S gets a new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that produces 150 horsepower while delivering up to 40 mpg on the highway, 28 in the city. Features such as Bluetooth with audio streaming, a USB port, a multi-function trip computer, a color touchscreen display and cruise control are standard.
2016 Jeep Patriot
The lowest-priced crossover in America, the Patriot is available with front-wheel drive or multiple levels of 4WD capability. The Patriot Sport is the least expensive version in the lineup — adding 4WD bumps the price by about $2,000. A 2.0-liter 158-horsepower 4-cylinder engine is standard on all Patriots, teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission on 2WD versions. Standard features include fog lamps, stability control, electronic roll mitigation, traction control, multiple airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and an AM/FM/CD audio system.
2016 Mazda Mazda3
Mazda’s long-lasting advertising slogan is “Zoom-Zoom,” and if you’ve ever driven a Mazda you know why that slogan persists. Available as either a 4-door sedan or hatchback, the Mazda3 offers a versatile interior in a stylish design that fits nicely within the Mazda lineup. The best part is the driving experience — the Mazda3 makes every drive feel sporting, even the daily commute. The base Mazda3 sports a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 155 horsepower while delivering 29 mpg city / 41 mpg highway.