Tue | Apr 16, 2024

5 reasonably priced cars to keep in mind

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2024 | 12:05 AM
2024 Civic.
2024 Civic.
2023 Sonata.
2023 Sonata.
2023 Bolt EV.
2023 Bolt EV.
Kia shows the 2024 K5.
Kia shows the 2024 K5.
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Pricing for the average new car continues to rise, with the latest reports pegging the average new-vehicle transaction price around US$48,000. High interest rates are a further impediment for shoppers on a tight budget. While buying used is always an option, there are some great new cars out there that are still affordably priced. The automotive experts at Edmunds have selected five standout vehicles with starting prices less than US$30,000.

While there are other less expensive vehicles on the market, often, spending a little more will get you a much more desirable vehicle over the long term. This list took into account qualities such as comfort, fuel economy, driver-assist features, and practicality. All of the manufacturer-suggested retail prices below include destination charges.

SMALL CAR: HONDA CIVIC

Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Honda Civic boasts roomy seating, high fuel economy, and a pleasing number of standard features even on the base LX trim level. The Civic EX sedan and Civic EX-L hatchback, both of which still fit under our price cap, have a turbocharged engine that provides smooth power for city driving.

Of the two versions, the Civic hatchback is the better buy for practicality. It offers 25 cubic feet of space behind its rear seats, which is about 10 more cubes than the sedan’s trunk. Downsides to the Civic are few but include a somewhat noisy cabin at highway speeds and some driver-assistance features that could operate a little more smoothly.

Starting price: US$25,045

MIDSIZE SEDAN: KIA K5

The Kia K5 is a relatively new model that competes with a number of more well-known rivals, including the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. But this sedan stands out with its distinctive styling and affordable price. It is also quiet and comfortable on the highway and has easy-to-use controls and technology features.

Starting with the base LXS trim still gets you an appealing number of convenience features, plus a 180-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides reasonable pep and good fuel economy. Upgrading to the GT-Line trim allows you to add all-wheel drive and still stay very close to our US$30,000 limit. One drawback to the K5’s sporty styling is that its sloped roofline can make it a bit difficult to get in and out of the back.

Starting price: US$26,515

SMALL COUPE: SUBARU BRZ

The Subaru BRZ is a textbook example of a fun-to-drive sports coupe. Unlike most other new vehicles on sale today, it is lightweight and lively and provides a great handling feel of the road. The BRZ’s 228-horsepower four-cylinder engine is powerful enough to make you smile but not so much that you will constantly be at risk for speeding tickets like you can with more powerful cars.

As you might expect from a diminutive sports coupe, the BRZ’s rear seats are very small, and its ride quality can get a little uncomfortable over bumps and ruts. But these will be minor drawbacks for the right buyer. Also note that Toyota’s GR86 is essentiall the same car but with subtle differences. Of the two, Edmunds prefers the BRZ.

Starting MSRP: US$29,615

ELECTRIC CAR: CHEVROLET BOLT EV

The Chevrolet Bolt EV isn’t necessarily an electric vehicle you will get excited about. Other models are more stylish and powerful. But for all-around value, the Bolt is tough to beat. This small hatchback offers a respectable EPA-estimated range of 259 miles on a full charge, and Edmunds found from its own testing that the Bolt can go farther than in real-world driving.

Other advantages to the Bolt include roomy seating considering its small overall size, an easy-to-park nature, and a decent collection of standard features. The base 1LT trim equipped with some optional features such as heated seats will still be less than US$30,000. However, the Bolt isn’t the best for long road trips because of its relatively slow DC charging capability.

Starting MSRP: US$27,495

HYBRID CAR: HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID

There is a lot to like about this stylish hybrid. To start off, it can get up to an EPA-estimated 52 mpg, which isn’t too far off from the Toyota Prius’ mpg estimate. On top of that, the Sonata Hybrid delivers a lot of value for your money. Even the base blue trim comes with many helpful driver-assist features such as traffic-adaptive cruise control, a lane-keeping system, and a blind-spot warning system with automatic intervention.

As with the regular Sonata, the hybrid has roomy front and rear seating and a no-fuss control layout. There is little compromise in acceleration and trunk space as well. Lacklustre comfort on long drives is the biggest drawback to this otherwise well-rounded hybrid.

Starting MSRP: US$29,565