2016 Honda Civic Coupe front profile ・ Photo by Honda
Affordable coupes are a dying breed— in fact, there are only eight two-door new coupes priced under $30,000 (technically just seven, but we cut one of them a little break,) and next year that number will shrink even further. The good news is that all of the affordable coupes remaining in the marketplace are good choices that we can wholeheartedly recommend. Let’s take a look at the best coupes priced under $30,000. Here they are, ranked by price from highest to lowest.
Whether the 2018 Nissan 370Z hits our $30k barrier is a matter of interpretation (its retail price is $29,990, but the mandatory destination charge, which we include in all of our prices, brings it up to $30,875.) No question, the Z is worth the extra grand. This is the latest in a long line of Z cars, and it delivers the experience we’ve come to savor: big power, big fun, and a reasonable dose of luxury and comfort. There was a time when there were lots of big Japanese sports cars like the Z, but now the 370Z all but stands alone in its class, and that means it delivers a driving experience unlike any other car on this list. If you can stretch your $30,000 budget a bit, you’ll want to take the Z for a spin.
Photo by Nissan
We love the Dodge Challenger for its bright colors and uncanny resemblance to the original Challenger of the early 1970s. Like its competitors, the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang (which are also available for less than $30,000,) the 2017 Dodge Challenger is offered in a sub-$30,000 model. Priced at $28,090 it may look a bit dull compared to some of the more muscle-bound version, but it packs a 305 horsepower engine that makes it plenty quick in a straight line. (All that's missing is the V8 soundtrack, but the sub-$30k Mustang and Camaro have the same issue.) Incidentally, of the trio of pony cars, the Challenger is the only one to come with an automatic transmission as standard equipment, so if you can't drive a stick, this is the best bargain for a sub-$30k muscle coupe.
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
The 2017 Toyota 86 is a sports coupe for the purist. Known up until last year as the Scion FR-S (before Toyota shuttered the Scion brand but wisely kept the car), the 86 isn’t particularly fast. It isn’t slow, either, but it’s designed more for excellent handling, offering the sort of tail-happy antics at which rear-drive sports coupes excel. It’s worth noting that the Subaru BRZ (which we will talk about a few slides from now) is the same car - the two were designed and engineered together, with Subaru doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. The main differences are in suspension tuning and equipment, with the Toyota 86 carrying a bit more standard equipment than the Subaru and hence a higher base price of $27,150.
Photo by Toyota
The latest iteration of the Camaro is arguably the best one we've seen since the 1960s. The Camaro is best known for its eye-catching styling, but it rides on a lightweight structure and an agile chassis that makes it just as much fun in the curves as it is in a straight line. And make no mistake, even the entry-level 2018 Chevrolet Camaro performs best in a straight line. The 275 horsepower turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission make it plenty quick, even if it lacks the rumble of the pricier Camaro's V8. The basic Camaro is way more fun than any base-model car ought to be and is solidly under $30,000 at $26,900.
Photo by Chevrolet
When the Ford Mustang debuted in 1964, a variety of models were offered, from low-cost six-cylinder coupes to fire-breathing, muscle-bound convertibles. Fifty-plus years later, that ethos still applies, and there's still an affordable Mustang in the 2018 version with a price of $26,485. It's hardly as stripped-down as those first 1964 cars, and the Mustang’s new entry-level engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 310 horsepower, a heck of a lot more power than the optional V8 of the original Mustang. It also comes with a full complement of power accessories and all of the attitude that makes the modern-day Mustang such a winner.
Photo by Ford
The 2017 Subaru BRZ is the near-twin to the Toyota 86. The two cars were engineered together, and the differences are primarily in body trim, suspension tuning, and equipment levels. (Subaru sells the BRZ in two trim levels, while Toyota only gets one, the slightly-more-sparse BRZ is less expensive.) Though there’s little daylight between the two cars, we tend to favor the Subaru for its suspension, which allows a bit more oversteer (letting the rear end of the car slide.) And if you’re on a tight budget, the BRZ’s lower price tag of $26,315 makes it more appealing.
Photo by Subaru
There was a time when most of the mid-size sedans on the market had a two-door counterpart, but today only Honda offers a coupe version of their venerable Accord (but not for long.) The surprise here is that it’s such a good value, with a starting price of $25,000, it’s the second-least-expensive vehicle on this list. While it does come with a manual transmission, that only helps to bring out the 2017 Honda Accord Coupe’s sporty demeanor. Don’t let the price fool you. The Accord Coupe is an incredibly useful car, one that provides the slick styling of a two-door but has a decent-sized back seat large enough that it can do double duty as a family car. Now for the bad news: Honda is introducing an all-new Accord for the 2018 model year, and the coupe is being dropped. The new four-door does have a pleasing coupe-like profile, but if you’re a two-door purist, now is the time to pick up your Honda Accord Coupe.
Photo by Honda
With prices starting at just over twenty grand, the Honda Civic is the least expensive coupe on this list. In fact, with a $30,000 budget, you can buy a top-of-the-line 2017 Honda Civic Coupe Touring model and still get nearly three grand back in change. Of course, if you’re shopping for a sporty Civic coupe, the one we recommend is the Si model for $20,025. It features a 205 horsepower version of the Civic’s 1.5-liter turbo engine, a six-speed stick, and a limited slip differential, which helps give it better grip when firing out of the corners. No matter which Civic Coupe you choose, you’ll wind up with a car that is good looking, efficient, and enjoyable to drive—and one that will have you smiling all the way to the bank.
Photo by Honda