The Best Cars Under $15,000

Yes, it is very possible to find a substantive new car at the lowest end of the price range. What's more, the best cars under $15,000 are fun to drive, good-looking, and reasonably well equipped. While in years past, this price range was almost exclusively the province of imports; today’s domestic manufacturers are well represented with some wonderfully desirable cars too. If you’re shopping in this category, you are going to be looking at subcompacts, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up a spacious interior. Some of the best cars under $15,000 also have roomy back seats.

Chevrolet Sonic

With a starting price of $14,345, the Chevrolet Sonic delivers a lot of car for the money. The diminutive Chevy handles nicely, delivers strong fuel economy, and features reasonable power. Sonic’s base engine is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 125 ft-lbs of torque. The upgrade is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four, also with 138 horsepower, but 148 ft-lbs of torque. Both offer remarkable refinement. Offered as a sedan or a hatchback, Sonic is also a top pick when it comes to safety, comfort, and available features.

Chevrolet Spark

Newly refreshed for the 2016 model year, the delightful little Chevrolet Spark comes to market with a base price of $12,660. While Chevy has matured the Spark just a bit in an effort to hone its refinement, the cute little Chevy’s whimsical nature still shines through. It’s also packed with available features, including WiFi and blind spot monitoring. Power comes from an all-new 98-horsepower 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine.

Ford Fiesta

When a car’s name means party, it has to be fun to drive—right? Easily one of the best cars under $15,000, the Ford Fiesta delivers with sporty handling, strong fuel economy, and available features including voice activated secondary controls. Engine choices include a 120-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder, and 123-horsepower turbocharged 1.3-liter. Pricing starts at $14,090.

Hyundai Accent

Good looks, strong performance for the class, comfortable ride quality, and a quiet interior number among the positives landing the Hyundai Accent on this list of the best cars under $15,000. The Accent is also quite roomy, and can be had in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Features like Bluetooth, heated mirrors, and projector beam headlights are offered. The engine is a 1.6-liter four with 137 horsepower. Pricing starts at $14,745.

Kia Rio

The Kia Rio is rolling proof an affordable car can look good, be nicely equipped, and perfectly enjoyable to drive. Rio comes by this quite naturally though, as these attributes apply to pretty much every Kia. Available equipment includes a sunroof, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, and voice controls. The engine is a 1.6-liter four with 138 horsepower. Pricing starts at $14,165.

Mitsubishi Mirage

Holding the distinction of being one of the two most affordable cars on the market today, the Mitsubishi Mirage has been panned by practically every automotive critic with a keyboard. Still, it finds a place on this list of the best cars under $15,000 because it represents a pretty strong value, despite its perceived shortcomings. People who have actually bought the car certainly think so, citing the Mitsubishi’s fuel economy, low price, and available features. Power comes from a 1.2-liter three cylinder with 74 horsepower. Pricing starts at $12,995.

Nissan Versa

Aside from its status as the lowest priced new car on the market, Nissan’s Versa boasts the roomiest back seat in the subcompact class. Bluetooth is standard across the board, plus the Versa offers handsome styling and a refined interior treatment. Power is supplied by a 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission. Easily one of the best cars under $15,000, Nissan Versa pricing starts at $11,990.

Smart ForTwo

After spending time piloting the Smart ForTwo around town, on the highway, and in an almost biblical rainstorm, I can honestly say the tiny two-seater is far more car than its looks would lead you to believe. First of all, until you’ve actually sat inside a Smart ForTwo, you’ll do well to reserve judgment regarding its spaciousness. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised at the feature content of the smallest car currently offered for American roads. Pricing starts at $14,650.

Toyota Yaris

Much like the tortoise who rose to stardom as a result of defeating the hare with a strategy of steady effort, Toyota’s Yaris, while not really excelling in any particular category, is so good in every category it comes up a winner. Attributes include a standard touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, strong fuel economy, and a spacious interior. These traits, along with Toyota’s outstanding reputation for reliability, strong build quality, and good resale value all figure in favor of the Yaris. Pricing starts at $14,845.

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