When it comes to buying a new vehicle, many shoppers specifically look for the best value for their money, rather than just which car is the fastest, the most luxurious, or has the longest list of features. That’s not to say that these qualities aren’t important, but fuel economy, warranty coverage, safety, and overall cost of ownership are definitely worth considering. So, if you’re looking for a cheap car that will still tick as many of the boxes mentioned as possible, here are just a few to keep in mind.
When it comes to saving money, there are two main routes to take; you can either buy cheap right off the bat or spend a little extra now to save in the long run on cars with great mileage.
Easily one of the cheapest cars in the USA, not counting used models the Nissan Versa is a no-frills, no-fuss option. It’s practical, with a decent level of cargo capacity for a compact sedan, but the back seat doesn’t offer a lot of legroom. Most of the value can be found in the safety suite, as comforts and conveniences are sparse. Unlike many other cars, the Versa doesn’t really improve no matter how much money you throw at it, so sticking with the base model is best.
When it comes to eco-friendly and highly fuel-efficient cars, the Prius is basically a household name. The poster-child for hybrids, it still presents some of the best mpg numbers on the market. There is even a PHEV variant, the Prius Prime, for shoppers who don’t mind spending a little extra. Both models are extremely safe and provide one of the most comfortable rides for their segments. However, the driving experience is nothing to write home about and the overall aesthetic, inside and out, is not going to appeal to everyone. If the asking price is a bit too high for you, you could always consider a pre-owned 3rd-generation Prius.
While we generally expect high-performance sports cars to cost an arm and a leg, there is actually a fair degree of fun to be found in the budget segment.
An American classic, the Chevy Camaro is available as a coupe or a convertible, though the latter may not fit into the affordable category. It’s a powerful vehicle, with even stronger engines on offer on the upper trims, maxing out at 335 horsepower. A manual transmission is available for those that enjoy the feeling of a stick in their hand. But while the MSRP may not be that high, you do pay a price when it comes to passenger and cargo space, as well as overall interior quality.
When it comes to cheap fun, the Honda Civic is a hard car to beat. It’s not overly impressive to look at, but it handles extremely well and has the option of a 180-hp powertrain. Perhaps the biggest letdown is the automatic CVT, which can’t be swapped out for a manual. Aside from this, it’s a well-rounded car that makes for a great daily driver thanks to reasonable passenger space and a practical trunk. It’s also extremely reliable, which explains why there are still many 9th-gen Honda Civic models for sale on the used market, despite two newer iterations being available.
For the family
Raising a family can be expensive, which is why you will want a practical car that will stand the test of time while also enduring the wear and tear of housing children on a daily basis. Luckily, you can get all this without needing to break the bank.
The Kona is a funky-looking crossover that combines its unique styling with loads of standard features and the choice of a spunky turbocharged engine. While more capacious than a sedan or coupe, it is a little lacking for the segment. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of space for the kids’ bags and the weekly groceries. The infotainment suite is great, too, and it’s one of the safest crossovers in the states, evidenced by its Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. It’s also pretty fun to drive, which is rare in a respectable family car.
One of the names to beat when it comes to practical and affordable family haulers, the Honda HR-V ticks all the right boxes. It’s safe, comfortable, well-built, and boasts some amazing miles per gallon figures. However, as accomplished as it is, the crossover isn’t perfect. The infotainment system is a bit clunky and the engine can get noise when pushed, especially since the gearbox doesn’t shift as smartly as it could. One area where the HR-V doesn’t disappoint is it’s class-leading trunk space and ride quality.