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2018 hyundai accent - new cars under $15,000

Save Money with These 10 New Cars under $15,000

Get more bang for your buck with these new cars under $15,000

Published April 5, 2018

Some of us just can’t afford to drive the expensive new cars coming out this year, even though we desperately want to. Thankfully, there is a whole bunch of new cars under $15,000 that offer their own unique perks. Cheap cars can still come with the features you want, just as this list will show you.

Not only are these compact and subcompact cars easy on the pocketbook, but they are also reliable little vehicles designed to give you years of usage. Save money with one of these choices this year.

In no particular order, here is our list of 10 new cars under $15,000.

2018 Hyundai Accent

Coming in just under the $15,000 mark is the Hyundai Accent, which is available as either a sedan or a hatchback. Surprisingly, the hatchback does offer a good amount of cargo space. The only engine is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produces 137 horsepower. This makes it a nice option for day to day drives, but accelerating on the highway isn’t much of a joy.

This fourth-generation front-wheel-drive car is paired with either the six-speed manual or automatic transmission. In 2015, the Accent had a face-lift where it received a new grille as well as updated headlights and taillights. It also received the exterior temperature display and new interior fabrics as standard equipment.

What We Like:

The affordable price is the number one asset of the Accent, but it also offers a solid drive.

What We Don’t Like:

The Accent is a basic car when you don’t have the money to spend on options. You won’t receive many tech features. The ride can also be quite noisy.

2018 Nissan Versa

The Nissan Versa is the entry-level model directly below the Sentra, which is below the Altima which, in turn, is below the Maxima. Being one of the cheapest new cars on the market, the Versa’s ride clearly reflects in the price tag. It does, however, have a spacious interior and impressive cargo space. Plus it is available as either a sedan or hatchback.

With a starting price of $11,900, it is amazing that the Versa comes with any features at all. This low price allows you to add some additional features or even opt for a higher trim and you could still call it one of the best new cars under $15,000.

The Versa is listed as a five-seater vehicle, but we’d say four is more realistic. The standard Versa S features a tilt steering wheel, a four-speaker sound system, and Bluetooth. The Versa S Plus jumps up in price to $13,900 but adds a CVT and cruise control. If you go with the Versa SV, you will end up over budget at $15,580 but you get power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, a USB port, and 60/40 split rear seats. You can also opt for Nissan Vehicle Tracking and Recovery plus the NissanConnect infotainment system which features a 5.8-inch touchscreen.

What We Like:

The sedan has roomy interior and starts at a rock-bottom price.

What We Don’t Like:

The handling of the Versa makes it very clear that this car is your least expensive option.

2018 Mitsubishi Mirage

This subcompact Mirage is a four-door hatchback and has long been known as one of the cheapest cars on the market. The Mirage now comes as a sedan variant, too, known as the G4.

With prices starting just over $13,000, the sixth-generation Mirage is powered by a 1.2-liter I-3 engine and 78 horsepower. This can be paired with a CVT or five-speed manual transmission. With the automatic transmission, you can expect an astounding 37/43 mpg city/highway and 33/41 with the manual option.

Despite the low price, there is a nice list of available features. These include a push start button, keyless entry, and automatic climate control. The fuel efficiency means you can also save money at the gas pumps which is always a plus.

The Mirage has been a long competitor with the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit and they released some new updates in 2017 that make them more competitive. In 2017, the Mirage had some upgrades like a sleeker front fascia, LED taillights, a chrome grille plus HID fog lights and automatic headlights. Inside, the vehicle received a new steering wheel, instrument cluster, shift panel, and an optional 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.

What We Like:

Obviously, the biggest reason is the price, but it also comes with superior fuel economy which helps you keep more money in your pocket.

What We Don’t Like:

The car doesn’t handle well and occupants will experience a lot of vibration. It’s also quite slow in acceleration which is to be expected considering the engine size.

2018 Chevrolet Spark

Considering the long list of tech features that are standard with the Chevrolet Spark, this is one of our favorite new cars under $15,000. The Spark is the smallest in Chevy’s lineup and can fit into any parking space with ease, making it a nice choice for urban areas.

The Spark only has an average fuel economy rating for its class with 29 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway. Since 2016, the Spark was created to be slightly larger and a little more powerful, which brought these numbers down. It is now powered by a 1.4-liter I-4 engine and 98 horsepower, so you can definitely expect that this car does not offer heart-pounding acceleration. This engine pairs with either the CVT or five-speed manual transmission.

Standard features include a seven-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth capability, a USB port, a rearview camera, a four-speaker sound system and the OnStar 4G LTE system with a built-in hot spot. Most other cars in this class don’t have these features as standard, so this is a big perk.

The Spark has been shown to have more stable handling when compared to the Mirage, but if you drive on rough roads, you might notice the ride get a little unsettling. In addition, if you fill the car with passengers, you will surely experience a lack of acceleration.

What We Like:

For the price, it’s great to get so much equipment and decent fuel economy.

What We Don’t Like:

With 98 horsepower, this car isn’t going to get you anywhere fast.

2018 FIAT 500

With its distinct European design, the Fiat makes driving on small urban roads more enjoyable. One of the differences with the Fiat 500 compared to some other cheap cars is the extensive selection of exterior colors you can choose from. Unfortunately, the Fiat is only part of this list thanks to very specific technicalities, since the car starts just $5 under the $15k budget.

This subcompact four-seater has a four-cylinder engine and 101 horsepower which is sufficient for your daily driving. They also come with either the six-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual. There are three trims available for the Fiat 500: Pop, Lounge or Abarth. The Abarth adds a turbocharged engine that produces 160 horsepower.

You can upgrade to a convertible model for an extra $1,495, and in some California and Oregon areas, there is an all-electric Fiat 500e available, but that version starts at $32,995.

What We Like:

The retro-inspired design makes it look modern. The turbocharged Abarth offers a little extra pep while handling the tight roads of a city well.

What We Don’t Like:

The rear seats in the Fiat 500 are quite small and there is minimal cargo space. If you choose the convertible option, it tends to give off an oversized sunroof appearance because the pillars aren’t part of the soft-top. Also, anything other than an absolute base model breaks the $15k budget wide open.

2018 Ford Fiesta

Forget the days of the Escort, the Ford small-car industry has mainly died in the U.S., but there is one small Ford that has continued to remain available for budget-conscious car shoppers: the Ford Fiesta. This shows that Ford is still capable of creating an inexpensive and fun way to get around.

The compact Fiesta is awfully small inside, and the 1.6-liter engine with 120 horsepower is quite unimpressive, but it does offer decent fuel economy. Since 2014, Ford has been producing the Fiesta ST which is essentially a completely different car. The turbocharged 197 horsepower ST is like a mini rocket. They also offer a three-cylinder EcoBoost Fiesta that features more power and torque than your typical four-cylinder engine.

Along with the low price, this small car has more features than many of its rivals. It comes with a six-speaker sound system, four-inch LCD and the SYNC system complete with SYNC AppLink. Despite the lack of room, the front height-adjustable seats are comfortable. It also can boast of crisp steering, a composed suspension, and agile handling.

What We Like:

The Fiesta feels like a European subcompact, especially if you choose the turbocharged ST or the three-cylinder EcoBoost.

What We Don’t Like:

The Fiesta is exceptionally small inside, making it difficult for any tall person to feel comfortable. In addition, the 1.6-liter model is nothing to write home about.

2018 Kia Rio

The Kia Rio isn’t just the company’s least expensive model, but it is one of the cheapest of all the new cars. With prices starting at just $13,900, it’s easy to see why the Rio made our list of new cars under $15,000. Yes, this price does put it slightly higher than the Mirage or Spark, but this car is better suited to go up against the Note, Fiesta, or Yaris.

The fourth-generation Rio makes for a nice cheap set of wheels with both the sedan or hatchback body style. It has a four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. It’s also backed by a superior five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The upscale interior of the Rio might make you do a double take at the price. There are several trims available to choose from. With the sedan, you can opt for the LX or EX trim while the hatchback is available with three trims. The LX has a USB port, four-speaker sound system, satellite radio, and wheel-mounted controls. If you upgrade to the EX, you are looking at a price above $17,000, but you’ll get remote keyless entry, power door locks and windows, a six-speed automatic transmission, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker stereo system.

What We Like:

The Rio has superb styling, a spacious interior and is equipped with some of the latest technologies. It also has some advanced safety measures that aren’t always included in budget cars.

What We Don’t Like:

The performance of the Rio isn’t going to be anything worth writing home about. The suspension also lacks slightly in comfort.

2018 Smart Fortwo

Cars don’t come much more compact than the Smart Fortwo. At just nine-feet long, the Fortwo could be considered a glorified scooter if it didn’t have four wheels and doors attached. It does work, though, for people that need to commute in the city and don’t want to ride a motorcycle. The car (or half-car) is available as a coupe or convertible. Because of its size, it does have decent fuel economy with 33 mpg in the city and 39 on the highway.

The Fortwo comes with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine and 89 horsepower, which is paired with a five-speed manual or twin-clutch auto-manual transmission. Standard features include automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, and the ability to fold the passenger seat flat for cargo space. On a brighter note, the 2017 Fortwo was tested by the IIHS and it received top ratings. Advanced safety features include Crosswind Assist so you have extra stabilization when a powerful gust of wind comes along. If you drive a small car already, you probably know how valuable a feature this can be.

What We Like:

This car is a great option if you work in the city and need to fit in small spaces. With its small size, it’s a joy to drive around crowded streets.

What We Don’t Like:

The thought that it’s only 9 feet long can be a little terrifying. In addition, if you load the Fortwo with all the options, you find yourself around the price of a more desirable base model Mazda 3 or Honda Civic.

2018 Chevrolet Sonic (starts at $15,295)

If you can go a couple hundred over budget, you might be interested in the Chevrolet Sonic. This is a top-rated vehicle in the subcompact category and represents a good value considering all the features. The IIHS safety ratings are impeccable, making this car well worth the extra dough.

It’s easy to fit five people in the Sonic and the back seat accommodates someone that is six-foot tall. It is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine which is enough to get around for your daily running. There is also a turbocharged engine if you desire some additional power on the highway.

What We Like:

The turbocharged engine is nice and the car still retains good fuel economy. The cabin is also more spacious than the rest, plus it has great safety ratings.

What We Don’t Like:

We aren’t thrilled that the price takes this out of the list of best cars under $15,000, but not by much. In addition, it’s disappointing that the interior materials appear to be so cheap, but this is a theme we’ve seen with GM vehicles for decades, so really, who is surprised?

2018 Toyota Yaris (starts at $15,635)

If you have a good amount of wiggle room in your budget, the Yaris is worth a test drive. This subcompact offers some nice tech features considering the base price, so it is considered a better value than some of the others. The IIHS safety ratings weren’t quite as good as the Sonic, so that was disappointing.

This five-door hatchback has impressive cargo space at 15.6 cubic feet while the three-door hatchback only has 15.3 cubic feet. The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 106 horsepower which is comparable to many of the lower priced options on our list.

Toyota does have the Safety Sense-C, which is a suite full of driver assistance perks that include automatic high beams, pre-collision braking, and lane departure alert. Standard features include a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, and voice recognition.

What We Like:

There are lots of included features from the safety suite to convenience benefits.

What We Don’t Like:

The Yaris has a four-speed automatic transmission which is outdated and does come with the highest price tag on our list.

New Cars Under $15,000: The Final Say

Even if you are operating on a budget, it’s easy to find something that works for you in our list of new cars under $15,000. You don’t have to sacrifice quality or features just because you need a cheap car.

And never forget, with proper care and maintenance you’ll be able to keep your car running well for many years to come, whether you paid $12,000 or $50k.

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Brian Jones
About Brian Jones

I am an ASE Certified Master Tech, but spend more time with my awesome family now than I do on cars. In my spare time, you'll still find me playing with tools, cars and many other "manly" gadgets.

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