What’s the best car you can buy?
Christopher McGraw, a senior producer at Autoblog, said it’s an impossible question to answer because it’s too open-ended. The best way to figure it out is think about what’s the best car for you and focus on how much you can afford.
Using Autoblog’s car buying tool and looking at cars for sale at actual dealerships, Autoblog created this list of the five best cars around $15,000.
First up is the Hyundai Elantra. The 2018 model starts at $16,950, but you can find models on sale for less than that.
“We were surprised to find how many 2018 Elantras are on sale at dealers with advertised prices below $15,000 – lower than even the smaller Accent,” said McGraw. “They’re not even base models either, with plenty of mid-grade SEL and Value Edition trim levels available.”
The Elantra was recently redesigned and comes well equipped. It offers an industry-leading 5-year/60,000 mile basic, 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. On top of that, the Elantra is pretty good to drive, Autoblog reports.
What are you willing to sacrifice for a cheap car? That’s the question Autoblog’s website starts off with when introducing the Nissan Versa.
“There’s a reason [the Nissan Versa] is so popular with Uber and Lyft drivers,” said McGraw.
The 2018 Nissan Versa starts at $13,900 and offers a big back seat and great fuel economy. Autoblog acknowledges there isn’t much to say for its style or driving ability, but it can fit five people and costs less than 15 grand.
“It’s definitely hard to argue with,” McGraw said.
As far as subcompact cars go, the 2018 Kia Rio is more desirable than the Nissan Versa, and — like the Hyundai Elantra — the Rio offers a 5-year basic, 10-year powertrain warranty. The price starts at $12,110, and the Rio offers style, ample feature content and a choice of body styles. The subcompact car market isn’t exactly booming in the U.S., but Autoblog says that “it still accounts for about 500,000 cars a year.”
“[The Rio] may not provide the space of the Versa, but it’s ultimately a more desirable compact car,” said McGraw.
The Chevy Trax is the only SUV on this list, and it officially starts at $21,000. You may be wondering why we have it on our $15,000 list, and it’s because the Trax is the cheapest SUV available and Chevrolet often offers incentives that can bring the price down to the $15,000 range. Edmunds shows several incentives and rebates (at the time of publication) that can bring the price down by more than $4,500.
“The Trax certainly isn’t the most overtly appealing vehicle out there,” McGraw said. “It’ll let you sit up higher than in a car, delivers a decent amount of equipment and it’s thrifty with a combined fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon.”
To keep it closer to $15,000, you can also look for a previous model year Trax as well.
Toyota Yaris iA
Built by Mazda, the 2018 Toyota Yaris iA comes fully loaded without having to use any options: alloy wheels, keyless push-button start, rearview camera and forward collision warning all come as standard. Prices start at $15,635, and because it’s built by Mazda, Autoblog says, you can expect superior driving dynamics and a classy interior.