In the current economic conditions, some consumers have to worry about how to make their next mortgage payment or stay afloat with their credit cards instead of making large purchases like a new car. Research has shown that consumers are hanging on to their vehicles much longer compared to recent years, but eventually the market for new vehicles will always be there. For those looking to buy a new vehicle without breaking the bank, almost every automaker now is offering new vehicles priced at under $16,000. From small microcars and economy hatchbacks up to crossovers and pickup trucks, there are a total of 20 new vehicles currently available with low MSRPs starting at just $9,970. If safety is just as much of a buying decision as price, four of the following vehicles were chosen by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as a 2009 Top Safety Pick.
20 Affordable Used Cars Starting Under $16,000
Although the Ford Focus is marching on with only minor changes over the last decade, it still stands as a popular fuel-efficient vehicle available as either a sedan or coupe. While the coupe breaks the $16,000 mark, the 2009 Ford Focus sedan starts $15,520. Helping to make the Focus even more popular, it is available with popular options such as Microsoft SYNCÂ® as a $395 option. The 2009 Ford Focus sedan is rated at 33-35 highway mpg.
Before the likes of the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube came around, the Scion xD was the resident funky-looking hatchback. The 2009 Scion xD is Scion's least expensive model with pricing starting at $15,320. Like the rest of Scion's lineup, the xD is available with a high level of customizable options available for owners. The 2009 Scion xD is rated at 32-33 highway mpg.
Honda has a long history of building small, fuel-efficient cars and the Civic is the fruits of its labor. Available in two body styles, pricing for the 2009 Honda Civic starts at $15,305 for the coupe and $15,505 for the sedan. The 2009 Honda Civic is rated at 29-36 highway mpg.
As the only pickup truck on this list, the 2009 Toyota Tacoma starts at $15,170. In addition to having the best price in its class, the Tacoma was the only small pickup truck to be named an IIHS Top Safety Pick in 2009. The 2009 Toyota Tacoma is rated at 19-26 highway mpg.
Mitsubishi's entry into the compact car segment is the 2009 Lancer with pricing starting at $14,540. Not only does the Lancer sedan offer one of the most aggressive designs for this segment, but it's also the most inexpensive vehicle to be named an IIHS Top Safety Pick in 2009. Naturally aspirated versions of the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer is rated at 27-30 highway mpg.
The Kia Spectra may be available as a sedan and hatchback, but only the sedan comes in under $16,000 with a base price of $14,200. The 2009 Kia Spectra sedan is a competent car with a conservative design, but it is set to be replaced later this year by the 2010 Kia Forte which should offer pricing fairly close to the current Spectra. The 2009 Kia Spectra is rated at 30-32 highway mpg.
As one of Toyota's best-selling models, the Corolla was redesigned for 2009 to look like its bigger sibling, the Camry. Starting at $15,350, the 2010 Toyota Corolla* should continue to be a popular choice among compact sedans. As far as safety goes, the Toyota Corolla was chosen by the IIHS as a Top Safety Pick for 2009. The 2010 Toyota Corolla is rated at 30-35 highway mpg.
The 2009 Pontiac G3 is a prime example of badge engineering gone wrong. With a base price of $15,055, the G3 seems like a good deal until compared to its Chevrolet twin. The G3 does have the lowest price of any vehicle sold in Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealerships, and it offers conveniences like OnStar and satellite radio as standard equipment. The 2009 Pontiac G3 is rated at 34 highway mpg.
A relative newcomer to the North American market for Honda, the Fit has gained notoriety for offering impressive fuel economy and safety. Completely redesigned for the 2009 model year, the Honda Fit has a starting price of $14,750 and was named as a Top Safety Pick in 2009 by the IIHS. The 2009 Honda Fit is rated at xx highway mpg.
Photo Credit: Nissan
For a couple weeks there, the 2009 Nissan Versa was the cheapest car available in the U.S. with the sedan starting at $9,990. For those looking for a little more space, the Versa five-door hatchback starts at $13,110. The 2009 Nissan Versa is rated at 31-34 highway mpg.
New for 2010, Mazda has redesigned its MAZDA3 sedan and hatchback. Priced at $15,715, the new 2010 Mazda Mazda3* should continue to be one of the most dominant cars in its class. The new styling gives the new 3 more attitude, but it sticks to the same basic recipe for success that made its predecessor popular: an affordable, fun-to-drive sedan offering impressive performance and handling. The 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 sedan is rated at 29-33 highway mpg.
Besides the Sonata, the Elantra is the oldest nameplate in Hyundai's lineup. For 2009, the Hyundai Elantra continues to be one of the least expensive compact sedans in its segment with a starting price of $14,120. Compared to smaller sedans, the Elantra offers more interior space without sacrificing fuel economy. The 2009 Hyundai Elantra is rated at 33 highway mpg.
Proving that small hatchbacks don't have to look boring, the all-new Soul adds a stylish, yet polarizing model to Kia's lineup. With pricing starting at $13,995, the 2010 Kia Soul offers a highly customizable interior to accent its unique look and stance. The 2010 Kia Soul is rated at 30-31 highway mpg.
Chevrolet Aveo and Aveo5
Even though Chevrolet's smallest car is available in two body styles, the pricing for both the sedan and hatchback are the same. For 2009, the Chevrolet Aveo sedan and Chevrolet Aveo5 hatchback both have starting prices of $12,685. The 2009 Chevrolet Aveo and Chevrolet Aveo5 are rated at 34 highway mpg.
The smallest of small cars in the U.S., the smart fortwo has a starting price of $11,990. But just out of the $16,000 range, pricing for the smart fortwo cabriolet starts at just $16,990 making it the most inexpensive convertible in the U.S. The 2009 smart fortwo is rated at 41 highway mpg.
Nissan's newest addition to the North American lineup, the Nissan Cube barely undercuts its main rival, the Kia Soul, with a starting price of $13,990. Like the Soul and the Scion models, the 2010 Nissan Cube offers the practicality of a hatchback with the styling and unique interior to stand out from the rest of the pack. The 2010 Nissan Cube is rated at 29-30 highway mpg.
For 2009, the Suzuki SX4 is available in two body styles: sedan and hatchback. Although the 2009 Suzuki SX4 Crossover offers all-wheel drive and plenty of cargo space for $15,939, the SX4 sedan starts at just $13,299. As a bonus, all front-wheel drive Sport and Crossover models come standard with the SuzukiTRIPâ„¢ navigation system. The 2009 Suzuki SX4 sedan is rated at 29-31 highway mpg.
Kia Rio and Rio5
Kia's compact car, the Rio, is available as either a sedan or a five-door hatchback. The 2009 Kia Rio sedan has a starting price of $12,145, while the more spacious and versatile 2009 Kia Rio5 comes in at $13,975. The 2009 Kia Rio and Kia Rio5 are rated at 32-35 highway mpg.
Toyota's Yaris is probably one of the most versatile vehicles in its segment. Available as a three-door hatchback, four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, the 2009 Toyota Yaris can meet the needs of just about anyone looking for a compact car. Pricing for the 2009 Toyota Yaris starts at $12,205 for the 3-door liftback, $12,965 for the sedan and $13,305 for the 5-door liftback. The 2009 Toyota Yaris is rated at 35-36 highway mpg.
Undercutting the price of the Versa sedan by just $20, the 2009 Hyundai Accent starts at just $9,970 making it the most inexpensive new car in the U.S. With the three-door hatchback starting under $10,000, the Hyundai Accent sedan has a starting price of $12,920. The 2009 Hyundai Accent is rated at 35 highway mpg.