There's some spiffy new vehicles for less than $20,000 out there
The average price paid for a new car or truck in the United States this year is $30,748, according to TrueCar.com.
It is. Especially if your new car budget is smaller — say, $20,000 or less. This doesn't mean that you can't drive a vehicle that meets your needs and makes you smile every time you climb behind the wheel. Consider this sampling of cheap fun.
• Chevrolet Sonic: $14,765. Opt for the five-door over the four-door notchback, and you get more than style; you'll have an extra five cubic feet of cargo space. The Sonic's quick steering, poised suspension and athletic feel are a kick. For a real hot hatch, choose the turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
• Dodge Dart: $15,995. Dodge's first small car in seven years revives a name that many will remember, affixed to a stylish new car that's based on the platform of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The new Dart is roomy enough to be classified as a midsize car, yet returns as much as 41 mpg, depending on engine.
• Fiat 500 Turbo: $19,500. Like the Mini Cooper, the Fiat 500 reinvents an iconic car for the 21st century. This is a little slice of la dolce vita — slathered in style as only Italians could muster.
• Ford Focus: $16,200. No matter which Focus grabs your eye — the four-door or five-door — the Focus has the solid feel one expects of a small European car, and that's because it is one. Its behavior is almost unheard-of in small cars with American nameplates.
• Honda CR-Z hybrid: $19,695. The cheaper Honda Insight has more space, while the Toyota Prius C returns higher mileage. But the CR-Z hybrid looks better than either of them, channeling the classic look of the Honda CRX. No, the CR-Z is not as sporty to drive, but no one will notice.
• Kia Soul: $14,400. The Soul received a new one for 2012: upgraded engines. Base models get a 138-hp four-cylinder, while others got a new 164-hp four-cylinder — up 22 hp from 2011. Both powerplants are now available with a six-speed transmission.
• Mazda3: $15,200. At just over 15 big ones, you'll get the four-door sedan, not the five-door hatch, but the latter costs almost $20K. Regardless, all Mazda3s have quick reflexes and precise steering. They're amazingly fun to drive, even in base form, despite being somewhat noisy and delivering a very firm ride.
• Nissan Frontier: $19,010. Ordering the base model of a compact pickup means a standard cab with little space behind the front seat, aside from the pickup bed. That's where the Frontier stands apart from its competitors: rear jump seats are standard on the base model. And it tows 3,500 pounds. Nice.
• Nissan Juke: $19,990. The Juke, a word that means “to deceptively outmaneuver something or someone,” is aptly named. Once behind the wheel, you'll discover that its perfect size, raised-ground height, practical shape, all-wheel drive and rowdy turbo engine are a riot.
• Volkswagen Beetle: $19,795. It's hard to reinterpret a classic, but VW managed by injecting a dash of Porsche into the Beetle's new design. Now lacking a bud vase on its dashboard, the car is safe for those with y-chromosomes. Base models get the Jetta's five-cylinder engine, but turbo and diesel options are offered.
Larry Printz is automotive editor at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sprint CEO weighs price cuts
- Chevron gains approval for $1B refinery project
- State to seek comments on drilling below Loyalsock State Forest
- Fed offers a dual message on health of economy
- Hyundai recalls 883K Sonatas to fix gear shifters
- Vigorous economy growing roots
- 11,000 Kawasaki vehicles recalled for injury risk
- Investors content with pace on stocks even in face of good news
- Lenders could move against Anchor Hocking as extension expires
- Consol Energy posts $25 million loss despite gas gains
- Tech giants lead rush for profits in foreign countries