There are a lot of considerations that go into choosing a new car—and let’s face it, looking good in your brand-new set of wheels is one of them. Almost anyone is going to look good in a Lamborghini, but what if you don’t have that kind of dough? Don’t worry—there are a lot of cool-looking cars on the market at prices that ordinary people like you and I can afford. Here are 10 cheap new cars that look cool.
10 Cheap New Cars that Look Cool
Photo Credit: Chevrolet
Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback – $15,220
Chevy’s subcompact Sonic is a great-looking little car with aggressive lines, angry-looking round headlights, and a cool interior with a motorcycle-like gauge pod. The hatchback reminds us of a baby Volkswagen GTI—not just for its looks but for the way it drives. Opt for the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, which comes with a 6-speed stick, and you’ll see what we mean: it delivers strong acceleration, responsive steering, and great grip in the corners. (And it’s still affordable: A Sonic hatch with the turbo engine lists for just over $18k.) If you’re concerned about safety in a small car, you’ll like the fact that the Sonic has ten airbags and OnStar, a subscription-based service that can call for help and send the car’s exact location to emergency services. Chevrolet is planning to update the Sonic for 2017; the new version, arriving in dealerships this summer, gets a power-bulge hood and a new interior with a big, crisp color touch screen, which will help it retain its status as a cheap car that looks cool.
Chevrolet Camaro – $26,695
Chevrolet's Camaro is a performance-car icon, and it’s a lot more affordable than you think. Freshly redesigned for 2016, the new Camaro takes the aggressive look of the 2010-2015 version and scales it down to a trimmer platform; at its base price, it easily qualifies as a cool-looking cheap car. The new Camaro’s slightly-smaller size has allowed it to shed hundreds of pounds of weight, which does wonders for acceleration, handling, and fuel economy. Inside, the new Camaro is contemporary and clean, though visibility through the gun-slit windows is a bit limited and the back seat is all but useless. But the Camaro’s cool factor is rivaled only by its fun-to-drive factor: The base model gets a 275-hp turbocharged engine that delivers true muscle car performance. We’ve driven the base model Camaro, and it’s hard to believe Chevrolet can deliver so much styling and performance for less than $27k—but they do.
Photo Credit: Chrysler
Chrysler 200 – $22,990
Chrysler stunned the industry when they introduced the new 200 in 2015. Its predecessor was staid and stodgy, but the new 200 was (and is) sinewy and sexy, and is endowed with one of the best interiors Chrysler has ever produced. We love the eerie blue glow of the 200’s instrument panel, and the clean center stack, with its rotary shifter and dial-operated climate controls, shows that a car’s secondary controls can be both easy to use and attractive. And it’s hard not to love the mat on the center storage bin, which features an imprint of the Detroit skyline. The 200 has had trouble competing in the midsize segment because of its small trunk and back seat, the latter issue being further complicated by low back door openings, a consequence of the 200’s swoopy shape. The 200 may not be best suited for family duty, but if you’re seeking out a beautiful-looking bargain in a cool, cheap new car, it’s a great choice.
Photo Credit: FCA Media
Dodge Charger – $28,990
No other family car has as much presence or attitude as the Dodge Charger. From its crosshair grille to its sculpted sides to its “racetrack” loop taillights, there’s no way the Charger is going to fade into the background in a parking lot full of Camrys and Accords. While the Charger may be pricey compared to some cars on this list, it’s pretty reasonable as far as big sedans go—and make no mistake, this is a big sedan, with plenty of stretch-out room for five passengers and a cavernous trunk. Even the entry-level Charger has the muscle to back up its aggressive looks: Entry-level models get a 292-horsepower V6, 8-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive, and if that’s not enough, the R/T model, which comes with a 370-hp V8, lists for just under $35k. These cars are big, fast and fun, and their cool factor is undeniable.
Photo Credit: FCA Media
FIAT 500 – $17,990
With its cute little round headlights and chrome “moustache” grille, the FIAT 500 is one of the most adorable cars on the market. The 500 is all about style; it offers a huge palette of colors, including mint green, bright yellow, iridescent blue, and, of course, bright red. The look continues inside, with a bright body-color dash and the option to get the steering wheel and gauge cluster in a cool retro-looking white. The FIAT 500 is exceptionally easy to live with: Its 1.4-liter engine offers peppy performance and its small size makes it easy to park. Back seat and trunk space are tight, which is no surprise given the FIAT 500’s tiny size, but what’s most amazing is that it doesn’t feel like a small car to drive—the tall seating position gives it the feel of a larger car, and it feels confident and well-planted on the freeway. If you have a little more money to spend, check out the turbocharged Abarth models, which are huge fun to drive, with a price that still qualifies as a cheap new car that looks cool.
Photo Credit: Ford
Ford Fiesta – $14,965
The Fiesta was originally designed by (and for) Ford’s European division. When it first came to America, the Fiesta differed visually from most of Ford’s lineup, but the look was well-received and since then, many US-designed Fords have adopted several of the Fiesta’s styling cues, so this cool-looking cheap car has had quite an influence. Some might argue that the Fiesta looks best as a hatchback, though we think the sedan is every bit as attractive. Ford offers the Fiesta in bright paint colors like purple, yellow, and candy blue, though you’ll have to step up to the $16,195 SE model to get the brightest shades; the basic Fiesta S model is only offered in black, white and silver. The Fiesta is a bit shy on backseat space, but its European lineage comes through in the way it drives—among subcompact cars, the Fiesta is one of the most enjoyable to fling through a curvy road.
Photo Credit: Ford
Ford Mustang – $25,045
Like the Chevrolet Camaro, the Ford Mustang is an American icon—and like the Camaro, the base model offers good looks (and no shortage of thrills) for a very reasonable price. The Mustang was redesigned in 2015 with a good-looking fastback body; though the classic Mustang cues are evident, this is a thoroughly modern car, and one that, like the original, is going to look good for many decades to come. The cool factor continues inside; the Mustang’s cabin is an attractive mix of modern design and retro cues. And the Mustang offers the performance you’d expect: Base models get a 3.7-liter V6 that puts out 300 horsepower (a number that early V8-powered Mustangs couldn’t quite touch). Even the least-expensive Mustangs get 18” 5-spoke alloy wheels, and with a large selection of bright colors, no one need know that the good-looking Mustang in your driveway cost just 25 grand.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
Hyundai Veloster – $18,835
The Veloster is certainly a matter of taste, but we happen to like it. The Veloster is an attractively styled coupe with one door on the left and two on the right, the idea being to make backseat access easier. In truth, the back door opening is so small that it’s actually easier to get in on the left side rather than squeeze through the tiny opening, but who cares? The Veloster has a different number of doors on each side, and if that doesn’t earn it some automatic cool points, nothing else will. The Veloster looks cool on the inside as well, and the optional panoramic sunroof lets in lots of light. The Veloster’s driving dynamics are more playful than sporty; the base 1.6-liter engine is a bit pokey, though the 201-horsepower version in the $22,435 Veloster Turbo does deliver a bit more kick (and comes with a tighter suspension and a 450-watt speaker, as well). Love it or hate it, the Veloster stands out from the crowd—and that makes it pretty darn cool in addition to being cheap.
Photo Credit: Kia
Kia Soul – $16,750
We love the Kia Soul’s boxy shape, and it’s a telling sign of enduring style that it continues to be a strong seller. The Soul’s upright angles and subtly wedged-shape profile make it stand out from other cars, and they also make it very, very practical: The Soul has a roomy back seat with acres of headroom and it hauls bulky cargo as well as an SUV. Base models are nicely equipped, though color choices are limited (black, white, silver, and, surprisingly, electric green), but the $20,250 cheap, cool Soul+ model opens up more choices for paint color and upholstery patterns, along with options like a contrasting-color roof. If you’re looking to go green—and we mean in terms of energy, not paint color—Kia also makes an electric version of the Soul called the Soul EV, available in an arresting shade of (what else?) electric blue.
Photo Credit: Mazda
Mazda Mazda3 – $17,845
The Mazda Mazda3 is a favorite of ours for a number of reasons, not least of which is the styling. We love the Mazda3’s gentle curves and sharp creases, and this is one of the few cars that looks equally good as a hatchback or a sedan—the former has a cool European “shooting brake” look while the latter is confident and well-proportioned. Mazdas are good looking inside as well; the gauge cluster (with an analog tachometer and a digital speedometer) is easy to read, and while the location of the stereo controls—down near the handbrake—takes some getting used to, it’s a setup that makes perfect sense once you get the hang of it. It's cheap and cool, but chief among the Mazda3’s charm is the fun-to-drive factor: It’s one of the best-driving compact cars on the market, which means it has a high cool factor among car enthusiasts.