Compact cars offer some of the most value-oriented pricing on the market. Despite their inexpensive MSRPs, compact cars provide significantly higher quality in 2011 than the equivalent affordable models of just five years ago, thanks to technological advances and improved production techniques. Combined with the frugal fuel economy inherent in these lightweight compact car designs, the savings associated with purchasing an entry-level small car make them a popular choice across a wide range of demographics, including both first-time drivers and more experienced new car shoppers. Let's take a look at five of the cheapest compact cars of 2011. Photos courtesy of respective manufacturers
The 2011 Hyundai Accent 3-Door is the least expensive of the compact cars on our list. The Hyundai Accent 3-Door is a small hatchback that provides 92 cubic feet of passenger volume that tops competitors such as the Toyota Yaris and the Honda Fit. As expected, the sub-$10k base edition of the Accent comes with relatively few creature comforts, although a rear window defroster and four speakers that are wired and ready to accept the installation of an aftermarket radio are included as standard equipment - along with a rear spoiler and intermittent windshield wipers. The 2011 Hyundai Accent matches most of the other vehicles on our list of cheap compact cars when it comes to fuel economy, providing 28-mpg in city driving and 34-mpg on the highway from its 110 horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Also capable of producing 106 lb-ft of torque, this motor drives the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.
The 2011 Chevrolet Aveo Sedan is the only one of the compact cars featured here that is in its last year of production before a major redesign - set to take place in 2012. This cheap small car comes with seating for up to five passengers as well as items such as an AM/FM stereo system with four speakers, tilt steering and a six-month subscription to the OnStar vehicle telematics and safety service. Forward and seat-mounted front airbags are also included on the base LS model. Like most compact cars, the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo Sedan is motivated by a small four-cylinder engine, in this case displacing 1.6-liters. Matched with a five-speed manual transmission, the Aveo Sedan's power plant generates 108 horsepower and 104 lb-ft of torque while returning fuel economy numbers of 27-mpg around town and 35-mpg on the highway.
The 2011 Kia Rio is another sedan entry on our list of cheap compact cars, and despite its modest price it comes fairly well equipped for an entry-level automobile. Notable items found within the base Kia Rio include a four-speaker stereo system that offers AM/FM radio, SIRIUS satellite radio, an MP3-capable CD player and a USB / auxiliary input. Also present and accounted for are tinted windows, a rear window defroster, intermittent wipers and an airbag package that includes front, seat-mounted and side curtain airbags, with the latter stretching the entire length of the vehicle's passenger compartment. Powering the 2011 Kia Rio is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 110 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the Rio offers fuel economy rated at 28-mpg in stop and go driving and 34-mpg on the highway.
The 2011 Toyota Yaris is the least expensive model in the extensive Toyota lineup, and this three-door hatchback provides a feature not often see in cheap compact cars: standard air conditioning. A stereo system is absent from the list of provided gear, but the base Yaris does offer a folding rear seat that helps to increase the available cargo space inside the vehicle to 26 cubic feet. The 2011 Toyota Yaris features the smallest engine on our list of compact cars, coming in at only 1.5-liters of four-cylinder power, but it manages to match its competitors in terms of output (106 horses, 103 lb-ft of torque). It also bests most of the other vehicles in this article when it comes to fuel economy thanks to solid numbers of 29-mpg in city driving and 36-mpg on the highway. The base Toyota Yaris comes exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission.
The 2011 Ford Fiesta is the newest of the cheap compact cars, and it is also simultaneously the most powerful and the least thirsty at the fuel pump. The Fiesta's 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine is capable of producing 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque, and yet it still offers a fuel economy rating of 29-mpg around town and 38-mpg highway when found in base five-speed manual trim. The extra dollars that distance the Fiesta sedan from the cheapest of the compact cars on our list also purchase an AM/FM stereo system with both an auxiliary jack and a USB port, intermittent windshield wipers and four-inch LCD screen that displays information related to the automobile's audio, phone and other settings. No other vehicle in its class provides this type of feature.