With the median new car transaction price at just under $34,000, it’s an interesting exercise to see just how much car you can get for less than half the amount. As you might imagine, when you’re considering the top ten cheap new cars for 2016, the list is populated with compacts and subcompacts. And yes, this is absolutely the case. However, within the compact set, one model has as much rear seat legroom as an intermediate. Additionally, a number of these models are quite fun to drive, and strong fuel economy is a given in the segment. Long story short, while yes, this post absolutely covers the 10 cheapest new cars for 2016, there are some very strong value stories to be told here too.
The lowest priced new car in the United States for 2016, Nissan’s Versa delivers far more content for the cash than you might expect. Further, in addition to being economical, it’s comfortable and spacious. Even taller adults will find the Nissan’s back seat both roomy and comfortable. Features like Bluetooth and air conditioning are standard equipment. Power comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 109 horsepower and 107 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, along with front-wheel drive. A continuously variable transmission is optional. Yes, as you might imagine, these meager numbers lead to some rather leisurely performance, but they also contribute to strong fuel economy numbers. Further, the Versa delivers a smooth and comfortable ride—even while being one of the top ten cheap new cars for 2016. Pricing starts at $11,090.
For years, Chevrolet struggled to offer a credible subcompact model. In the Spark, the brand finally has a true world-class contender. An ideal first car, or basic transportation for people who reside in busy urban areas, the Chevrolet Spark, one of the top 10 cheap new cars for 2016, delivers an abundance of amenities. The Spark also offers a strong array of safety features, and remarkably high build quality. Featuring standard OnStar and 4G LTE WiFi hotspot capabilities, the 2016 Chevrolet Spark’s standard equipment also includes power windows, alloy wheels, and air conditioning. Thanks to the Spark’s smart layout passenger space is strong, although though ultimate cargo capacity is sacrificed to achieve it. Power comes from a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine producing 84 horsepower and 83 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, along with front-wheel drive. A continuously variable transmission is optional. Pricing starts at $12,270.
Photo by Chevrolet Media
If you ever want to ignite a fierce argument among a group of automotive critics, bring up the Mitsubishi Mirage. Some of them will herald the diminutive Mitsubishi as a wonderfully affordable and fuel efficient subcompact, while others will decry it as harsh, uncoordinated, sluggish, and noisy. We’re somewhere in between. If all you’re looking for is basic transportation at a very good price, the Mitsubishi Mirage definitely deserves a look. However, if you’re aiming for the absolutely highest level of refinement you can find for the price among the top 10 cheap new cars for 2016, the Mitsubishi might find itself in trouble. Standard features include keyless entry, full power accessories, automatic climate control, and split folding rear seat backs. A 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine with 74 horsepower and 74 ft-lbs of torque supplies power. A five-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, while a continuously variable transmission is offered as an option. Pricing starts at $12,995.
In addition to being one of the top 10 cheap new cars for 2016, the Smart ForTwo is the smallest. Clocking just less than nine feet in overall length, the Smart ForTwo also offers one of the most spacious interior compartments of all of the cars on this list—for two people. A miracle of packaging efficiency, once you’re seated inside the Smart ForTwo and driving along, you tend to forget just how small it is. An all-new version is bowing for the 2016 model year with a turbocharged three-cylinder rear mounted engine capable of generating 89 horsepower and 100 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is offered as standard equipment, along with rear-wheel drive. A six-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission is optional. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, Crosswind Assist to help the tiny city car maintain its stability in strong winds, and smartphone integration. Pricing has yet to be announced, though it should start close to the 2015 model’s $13,270.
Photo by Daimler Media
There was a time in the rather recent past when a subcompact this good with a Ford logo could only be found in Europe. Happily, this changed in 2011, when Ford’s management team realized models like the Fiesta could bolster the company’s fortunes here in the United States. Good thing too, because Ford’s Fiesta offers a truly impressive list of attributes. Sporty handling, capable engines, strong build quality, and even a modicum of luxurious features make Fiesta one of the most desirable of the top 10 cheap new cars for 2016. Standard features include voice activation, Bluetooth, remote keyless entry, air-conditioning, power locks, and power adjustable mirrors. Propulsion comes from a 120-horsepower 1.6-liter four good for 112 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission and front-drive are standard. A six-speed automated manual transmission is optional. Pricing starts at $13,965.
If you’re observant, by now you’ve noticed a pattern among the top ten cheap new cars for 2016. Yes, they’re all small, however they also offer a pretty decent array of features. When you start talking about the models hailing from Korea, the feature set gets even stronger. Consider the Kia Rio—seriously, you really should. OK, all kidding aside, the Rio hatchback shows up with handsome Euro-inspired styling, heated power adjustable mirrors, air conditioning, a CD player, satellite radio, and auxiliary audio inputs. Power comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 123 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive come standard with the base trim package. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional. Pricing starts at $14,165.
The spunky little Chevrolet Sonic further bolsters Chevrolet’s cred in the front-drive compact sedan category. Competent handling, good fuel economy, and a remarkably refined driving experience all bode well for the little Chevy. The Sonic’s 4G LTE capability makes WiFi a standard feature, along with automatic headlights, remote keyless entry, a trip computer, and Bluetooth. On the safety front, NHTSA awarded the little Chevy five stars overall, while the IIHS said the Sonic scored “Good” in all but its frontal offset small overlap testing, in which it scored “Marginal.” The base powerplant is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 125 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual is standard; a six speed automatic is optional. Pricing starts at $14,245.
Photo by Chevrolet
The fluidly curvaceous Hyundai Accent is reliable, well constructed, and offers a whole lot of value for the dollar. A mild update for the 2015 model year brought the Accent a redesigned grille, new headlights, and a new taillight treatment. Standard features for the 2016 Hyundai Accent include keyless entry, air conditioning, and full power accessories. Power comes from a 1.6-liter direct fuel injected four-cylinder engine with 137 horsepower and 123 ft-lbs of torque. The front drive powertrain is offered with either a six-speed manual, or a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $14,745.
Toyota’s Yaris is a perfect example of how being good overall can create a win, which renders the need to absolutely excel in any particular area rather moot. Truth be told, this really is the core strength of all of Toyota’s models. Okay, well, it also helps that they have a strong reputation for reliability, comfort, safety, and competence. Other points in Yaris’ favor include a standard touchscreen interface, reasonable agility, Bluetooth, good fuel economy, and a comfortably spacious interior. What’s more, fit, finish, and overall build quality are beyond reproach. Power for the Toyota front driver comes from a 106-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 103 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, while a four-speed automatic is optional. Pricing starts at $14,485.
The debate about what the sporty little Kia Soul really is rages more vigorously than the one about the curly haired blue-eyed woman from Spokane. Is it a hatchback? Yes, as a matter of fact it is. Is it a station wagon? Well, sort of. Is it a compact crossover SUV? Well, kinda. All we know for sure is the funky little Kia Soul is one of the top ten cheap new cars for 2016, and delivers huge for the money asked for the car. For the record, the Kia Website lists the Soul under Crossovers and Minivans—so go figure. The stylish model's standard powertrain uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 130 horsepower and 118 ft-lbs of torque. The front-wheel drive Kia uses a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment with this engine. A six-speed automatic is optional. Pricing starts at $15,190.