You don’t want to spend a lot, but you do want to get a car that has all of the modern features and comforts that you just can't always seem to find in a used vehicle. The best economy cars are designed to provide as much value as possible in order to satisfy those who would instead look to the secondary market for automobiles that might be cheaper, but which don't come with the kind of warranties or reliability that a brand new model has to offer.
We've put together a quick list of 10 of the best economy cars currently available in order to give you an idea of what you can find sitting on your local dealer's lot.
Best Economy Cars - 01 - 2013 Ford Focus
The 2013 Ford Focus - which is available in both sedan and hatchback editions - provides entry-level buyers with better than average handling, the availability of the MyFord Touch digital vehicle interface, and substantial fuel economy when ordered with the Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package. The Ford Focus features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that is good for 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, sent to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual. Fuel mileage for the Focus SFE checks in at 28-mpg city and 40-mpg highway.
Best Economy Cars - 02 - 2013 Hyundai Elantra
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra sedan is one of the most attractive small cars on the road today, and opening the automobile's door reveals an interior that has seen a similar level of attention paid to style and materials. The Hyundai Elantra is also thrifty at the fuel pump, thanks to its 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that has been rated at 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque. Hyundai makes the Elantra available with the choice of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, and fuel economy for the compact sedan shows as 29-mpg in stop and go driving and 40-mpg on the highway.
Best Economy Cars - 03 - 2013 Chevrolet Sonic
The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic is a subcompact competitor that features 'motorcycle-derived' styling, a conceit that is most evident in its headlight design as well as its gauge pod mounted directly in front of the driver. The Chevrolet Sonic can be found in hatchback and sedan body styles, and the RS version of the car adds a few extra performance goodies to the mix. The Sonic's base 1.8-liter four-cylinder motor is good for 138 horsepower, but upgrading to the available 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mill introduces 148 lb-ft of torque (while maintaining the same number of horses at the crank) along with improved fuel mileage figures of 29-mpg city and 40-mpg highway. A six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic transmission are offered with the Sonic.
Best Economy Cars - 04 - 2013 Honda Civic
The 2013 Honda Civic can be ordered in coupe and sedan models, giving it versatile styling and making it one of the sportier options on this list of the best economy cars. After a disappointing redesign in 2012, the 2013 Honda Civic has been improved in terms of looks, feature availability, and interior quality, helping it to become more competitive with the current crop of compact options. The Honda Civic's 1.8-liter power plant has remained untouched by the sweeping changes made to the automobile, which means that it continues to deliver 140 ponies and 128 lb-ft of torque, along with 29-mpg city and 41-mpg highway when ordered in the efficiency-focused HF model. Five-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions handle the shifting duties for the Civic.
Best Economy Cars - 05 - 2013 Kia Forte
The 2013 Kia Forte (another compact that can be had in two-door and four-door versions) offers more angular styling than many of its rivals, but more notable is its emphasis on value - especially when it comes to packing the vehicle with features and equipment at a very reasonable price. The Kia Forte's SX trim additionally makes available a stiffer suspension system and slicker looks in order to draw in the sport-seeking crowd. The base Forte makes do with a 156 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is also capable of producing 144 lb-ft of torque, while the SX gains a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that generates 173 ponies and 168 lb-ft of twist. The former's fuel economy figures of 27-mpg city and 37-mpg highway (when found in Eco trim) are more impressive than those of the SX's larger mill, but either engine can be had with the choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Best Economy Cars - 06 - 2013 Mazda Mazda2
The 2013 Mazda Mazda2 is a subcompact hatchback that offers a far more engaging driving experience than one would expect in such an affordable package. Best described as 'lively,' the suspension system and chassis of the Mazda Mazda2 are its most appealing feature, with the additional cargo space made available by its hatchback design running a close second. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood of the Mazda2 might only put out 100 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque, but the upshot is 29-mpg city and 35-mpg highway. A five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic represent the transmission choices available with the automobile.
Best Economy Cars - 07 - 2013 Subaru Impreza
The 2013 Subaru Impreza is the only economy car out there that features standard all-wheel drive, regardless of whether it is ordered in four-door sedan or five-door hatchback trim. The Subaru Impreza, which was recently redesigned, gives compact shoppers the ability to secure the additional traction provided by all-wheel drive without having to pay a significant fuel mileage penalty. The 2.0-liter, 148 horsepower engine offered by the Impreza delivers efficiency figures of 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway when paired with its optional continuously-variable transmission. Also capable of generating 145 lb-ft of torque, the Impreza's motor is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox when found in entry-level form.
Best Economy Cars - 08 - 2013 Honda Fit
The 2013 Honda Fit is a subcompact hatchback that makes the most of its tiny footprint by way of Honda's 'magic seat' feature. This unique system for organizing its interior storage makes up to 57.3 cubic feet of total storage space available, which is a figure that rivals the cargo capacity of several larger crossover SUVs. The Honda Fit's 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine has been tuned to provide 117 horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque, and when matched with its standard five-speed manual transmission the tiny hatchback offers up fuel mileage of 28-mpg city and 35-mpg highway. A five-speed automatic can also be ordered with the Honda.
Best Economy Cars - 09 - 2013 Chevrolet Cruze
The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze is a compact sedan that has helped to lift General Motors out of its entry-level doldrums to field a competitive economy car for the first time in decades. The Chevrolet Cruze can be thought of as a larger version of the Sonic, as it shares both the base 1.8-liter and optional 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder drivetrains with its smaller sibling. Despite its increased size, the Cruze's fuel mileage remains as lofty as that of the subcompact that sits beside it in showrooms, providing up to 28-mpg in stop and go driving and 42-mpg highway when ordered with the Eco trim level. An RS edition of the Cruze provides a sporty body kit and a few interior touches that help to elevate the looks of the small four-door.
Best Economy Cars - 10 - 2013 Hyundai Accent
The 2013 Hyundai Accent is the smallest car in the Korean automaker's portfolio, and it is offered in traditional sedan and practical (with up to 47.5 cubic feet of total cargo space) hatchback body styles. In addition to the comprehensive spread of trim and equipment levels that is typical of Hyundai, the Accent features a 138 horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that also generates 123 lb-ft of torque and returns fuel mileage of 28-mpg around town and 37-mpg on the highway. A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic represent the available gearbox options for the Accent.