'You can get a lot for a little' is the mantra of the subcompact car segment. However, if you are trying to save as much money as possible when shopping for a small vehicle, there are still a number of stripped-down, entry-level models that qualify as the lowest priced new cars on the market. These low price cars might not dazzle with their limited list of equipment and modest power, but they certainly do fill an importance niche for drivers seeking the most basic form of transportation.
Let's take a look at 10 of the lowest priced new cars currently available and see exactly what you get for your money with each.
The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan is the latest edition of a vehicle that has long lead the price wars with its extremely frugal MSRP. The lowest priced new car money can buy is actually fairly roomy for a subcompact, and standard equipment includes air conditioning, a CD player, and a trip computer. Under the hood, the Nissan Versa delivers 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque, output that is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. Fuel mileage for the value-leading Versa when paired with the manual transmission shows as 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway.
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is an all-new subcompact hatchback that represents the most affordable model in GM's entire lineup. The Chevrolet Spark may be tiny, and it might be cheap to buy, but it does manage to provide power windows, air conditioning, tilt steering, a stereo system, and 15-inch alloy wheels with every model. Horsepower is rated at 84, and the vehicle's 1.2-liter, four-cylinder engine is also capable of generating 83 lb-ft of torque. The lightweight Spark makes the most of its limited motivation by turning in a fuel mileage rating of 32-mpg in stop and go driving and 38-mpg on the highway when found in base five-speed manual trim.
The 2013 Smart fortwo Pure Coupe is a highly specialized low price car in the sense that the ultra-subcompact seats only two passengers and offers a stubby wheelbase that is designed for urban motoring. The Smart Fortwo Pure Coupe leaves the factory wearing 15-inch steel wheels, offers no sound system, and requires buyers to roll up their windows themselves, but it does feature a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The Smart also comes with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine (the lowest cylinder count in the United States) that provides 70 horsepower and 68 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automated manual transmission is the only gearbox available with the Fortwo Pure Coupe, and fuel efficiency is listed at 34-mpg around town and 38-mpg during highway cruising.
The 2013 Ford Fiesta attempts to inject a little bit of fun into the affordable subcompact hatchback market by offering a well-tuned chassis and engaging styling right out of the box. The price of admission for the Ford Fiesta gives buyers a radio with an auxiliary input, tilt steering, power windows and door locks, and air conditioning. It also brings with it a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that churns out a healthy 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission comes free of charge with the base model Fiesta, and fuel mileage shows as 29-mpg in city driving and 39-mpg on the highway.
The 2013 Kia Rio sedan is the price leader for the Korean car company, and providing value is the most important mission of this subcompact automobile. The Kia Rio is fairly well equipped given its status as a low price car, as it features a CD player, satellite radio, a trip computer, tilt steering, air conditioning, and heated mirrors with power adjustments - all without asking potential buyers to pony up any extra cash over its base MSRP. The Kia Rio is also thrifty at the fuel pump, posting up efficiency numbers of 30-mpg city and 40-mpg highway thanks to a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 138 horses and 123 lb-ft of twist. A six-speed manual transmission is standard.
The 2013 Suzuki SX4 sedan is a compact sedan which might not be as familiar as some of the other names on this list, but which is worth a look if price is a major factor when purchasing a new car. The entry-level Suzuki SX4 comes with power windows and door locks, tilt steering, a trip computer, 15-inch steel wheels - but no sound system. A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine rests between the front fenders of the SX4, and it can be counted on to provide 150 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission handles the gear shifting duties for the compact Suzuki, and fuel economy is rated at 23-mpg city and 33-mpg highway.
Chevrolet's second entry on this list - the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic - is actually quite a bit different than its first. The Chevrolet Sonic's least expensive model is a sedan, and it offers more aggressive styling than the Spark. It's also somewhat larger and comes with features such as a radio (with aux input), tilt and telescoping steering, air conditioning, a trip computer, and a folding rear seat. The Sonic features 138 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque from its standard 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine, and when this unit is yoked to the entry-level five-speed manual transmission it delivers 26-mpg in city driving and 35-mpg on the highway.
Another repeat brand on this roundup of the lowest priced new cars is Kia, and the 2013 Kia Soul stands out from most of the other entries due to the fact that is a compact crossover, and not a traditional small car. This gives the Kia Soul substantial practicality for its price, and it also features a folding rear seat, a CD player, satellite radio, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel as standard gear. Base Kia Soul models are outfitted with a six-speed manual transmission that works together with a 138 horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine to provide fuel mileage of 26-mpg city and 34-mpg highway. The engine is also capable of producing 123 lb-ft of torque.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris has been recently redesigned, but it doesn't stray too far from its welcome three-door subcompact hatchback formula. Larger than before, but still quite friendly when searching for narrow city parking spots, the Toyota Yaris offers power door locks, air conditioning, a CD player, a trip computer, tilt steering, and intermittent windshield wipers right out of the box. A 1.5-liter, four-cylinder that produces 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque pulls duty in the Toyota's engine bay, and a five-speed manual transmission helps the car eke out a fuel mileage rating of 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway.
There was once a time when this subcompact sedan would have headlined any list of lowest price new cars, but the 2013 Hyundai Accent has moved upscale not just in terms of MRSP, but also with regard to what buyers expect from the vehicle. The Hyundai Accent offers air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a CD player, satellite radio, tilt steering, and a folding rear seat. It also comes with a 138 horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes use of direct-injection technology to put down 123 lb-ft of torque while delivering fuel economy of 30-mpg city and 40-mpg highway. A six-speed manual transmission is included with the base Accent.