There are some really great, inexpensive cars available on today's market. The time when paying as little as possible for a brand new car meant accepting a host of compromises and sketchy build quality are long behind us, as automakers around the world have realized the value of producing top-notch inexpensive cars. Hatchbacks, sedans, and even a coupe or two are lurking out there at prices almost anyone seeking a reliable ride can afford. These models also typically offer better than average fuel mileage thanks to their light weight and efficiency-oriented drivetrains.
Let's take a quick look at 10 inexpensive cars and what they have to offer.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 01 - 2013 Mazda MAZDA3
The 2013 Mazda Mazda3 starts at an MSRP of $20,000, and it can be had in both sedan and hatchback body styles. A big part of the Mazda MAZDA3's appeal is its handling, which helps to give the car a driving experience that is a cut above many of its compact competitors. A trio of four-cylinder engines are offered with the MAZDA3 for the 2013 model year - a 2.0-liter, a 2.0-liter Skyactiv, and a 2.5-liter - and while the larger motor offers the most power (167 horses) and the entry-level 2.0-liter is the cheapest, it's worth splurging a bit for the Skyactiv unit. The reason? 155 horsepower combined with fuel mileage of 28-mpg in city driving and 40-mpg on the highway (numbers that are backed up by real-world testing).
10 Inexpensive Cars - 02 - 2013 Kia Rio
The 2013 Kia Rio is another model that is offered in the choice of either hatchback or sedan editions. Of the two, the sedan's MSRP is only marginally cheaper ($13,600), which means there's no compelling cost difference to select one version of the Kia Rio over the other - it's just a question of practicality. Both versions of the Rio benefit from the same 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque. When paired with its available Eco package, the Kia Rio returns fuel mileage of 30-mpg in city driving and 36-mpg on the highway, which is competitive for its class.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 03 - 2013 Honda Fit
The 2013 Honda Fit is beloved by those seeking inexpensive cars thanks to its utility-packed design. Despite the fact that the affordable (MSRP $15,425) Honda Fit is a subcompact, its hatchback design has been put together with an eye towards maximizing interior room. This is largely accomplished via the 'Magic Seat' feature that provides for seemingly endless reconfiguration of the car's passenger compartment, giving the Fit 57.3 cubic feet of total cargo space. This figure is large enough to rival some compact SUVs and crossovers, and certainly adds a lot to the Honda's curb appeal. Under the hood, the hatchback comes with a 117 horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that returns fuel mileage of 27-mpg city and 33-mpg highway.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 04 - 2013 Chevrolet Spark
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is in a way the first American 'city car' since the tiny Metropolitan of the 1960s. The Chevrolet Spark offers four-door, subcompact hatchback accommodations with a respectable amount of room for rear-seat passengers. Although the Spark bears an MSRP of just $12,185, the ownership experience is far from 'cheap.' In fact, it's even possible to get the Chevrolet MyLink touchscreen infotainment system inside the Spark if one is willing to spend a bit more money. The Chevrolet's power is as modest as its size - 84 horses from a 1.2-liter, four-cylinder mill - but the upshot is 32-mpg around town and 38-mpg during highway cruising.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 05 - 2014 Ford Fiesta
The 2014 Ford Fiesta injects a little bit of fun into the subcompact segment, with a chassis that has been tweaked for more engaging handling. The Ford Fiesta also debuts a new 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine under the hood that makes use of a turbocharger to produce 123 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for this mill has yet to be rated, but it's expected to top 40-mpg on the highway. The Fiesta's base $14,600 MSRP installs a 1.6-liter, 120 horsepower mill that provides 29-mpg city and 39-mpg highway (although only 112 lb-ft of torque are on tap with this option).
10 Inexpensive Cars - 06 - 2013 Hyundai Accent
The 2013 Hyundai Accent is essentially the mechanical twin of the Kia Rio - but with a different styling treatment both inside and out. The Hyundai Accent, like the Rio, provides a choice between sedan and hatchback editions, and the subcompact also features more equipment than one might expect for its entry-level price of $14,545. A 12.6-liter, four-cylinder engine pulls duty between the Accent's front fenders, and thanks to the inclusion of direct fuel injection the tiny motor produces 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the Hyundai tops out at 28-mpg in stop and go driving and 37-mpg on the highway.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 07 - 2013 Toyota Matrix
The 2013 Toyota Matrix is a bit of a throwback, a bigger-than-normal hatchback that doesn't feature the same level of fuel efficiency as some of its newer rivals but which maintains Toyota's strong reputation for reliability. For $19,275, the Toyota Matrix provides a 132 horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that is good for 26-mpg around town and 32-mpg on the highway. Unusual for its class, however, is the Matrix S trim level, which includes a 158 horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor as well as the option of all-wheel drive. The additional traction that can be had with the Matrix S makes it a popular choice in snowy climates.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 08 - 2013 Honda Civic Coupe
The 2013 Honda Civic Coupe provides inexpensive car shoppers with a break from the sedan / hatchback dichotomy that at times seems to rule the compact market. The entry-level Honda Civic Coupe LX stickers for $17,965, and it benefits from the same 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter motor that is standard across almost the entire Civic line-up. This motor has been tuned for maximum efficiency, which means that as much as 41-mpg is possible when the HF version of the vehicle is ordered (along with 29-mpg city). All this is achieved with a look that is far sportier than the four-door version of the Civic, making it an enticing choice for younger buyers.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 09 - 2013 Nissan Versa
The 2013 Nissan Versa sedan flies under the radar of a lot of families looking for subcompact transportation because most aren't aware of how enormous this vehicle is inside. The Nissan Versa sedan is one of the few subcompacts that delivers true comfort for adult passengers in its second row of seating, a fact that is underscored by the impressive amount of headroom available in the automobile. The Versa's $12,880 MSRP also makes it the most inexpensive car in the United States. A 1.6-liter, 109 horsepower four-cylinder engine is standard with the Nissan, and when matched with its available continuously-variable automatic transmission the car provides fuel economy of 31-mpg in city driving and 40-mpg on the highway.
10 Inexpensive Cars - 10 - 2013 Chevrolet Sonic
The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic is the best subcompact car to have been produced by General Motors in decades. Both the sedan and the hatchback versions of the Chevrolet Sonic are equally stylish, and the vehicle's interior is highlight by a motorcycle-themed gauge display that is unlike anything else in its class. Sticking with the base LS trim and its $14,185 MSRP nets you a 138 horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, but the vehicle's available 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder doesn't just boost torque while matching the entry-level motor's horsepower - it also improves fuel mileage to 29-mpg city and 40-mpg on the highway.