We know the problem all too well. You want to get a new car, and you want it to be cool, but you’re on a budget. So what to do?
The editors at Kelley Blue Book have some suggestions. Not jut a couple, either: KBB has put out a list of the 10 coolest cars for 2017 that cost less than $18,000.
That’s a mighty low threshold, especially considering that the average price of a new car these days is nearly double that amount at $35,000.
Suffice it to say, then, that you won’t be getting a lot of muscle for that amount, and you won’t be shaming others on the road with badge prestige. But there are more important things when looking for a new car, and these ten fit the criteria without costing you an arm and a proverbial leg – at least not relatively speaking, anyway.
1 – Mazda3
Cost no object, we think the Mazda3 is one of the best-looking cars out there. It’s fun to drive, too, which makes it a winner in our book. Plus you can get it as a sedan or hatchback, and even with a manual if you’re inclined to row your own gears.
2 – Honda Civic
The Civic is a perennial hot seller and a top choice. To its established position, Honda has added greatly improved styling on the latest model, making it a solid option for those in the market – whether you want two doors, four doors, or five.
3 – Jeep Renegade
Less into cars and more into SUVs? Check out the Jeep Renegade, which offers all the ruggedness of larger and more expensive machinery but in a smaller, more cost-effective package. And if you’re into a more rounded, the Fiat 500X is essentially its twin (albeit priced closer to the $20k mark).
4 – Kia Soul
The Renegade isn’t the only SUV on the list. The Kia Soul is (sort of) a sport-ute, too, but with a more urban vibe. The last surviving member of a generation of unusual boxes on wheels, the Soul keeps popping up on these fun-on-a-budget lists, and for good reason.
5 – Hyundai Veloster
Want something sportier, and maybe a little more unusual? The Koreans have you covered again with the Hyundai Veloster – a sport hatch with unusual styling and an even more unusual layout. It may or may not be your thing, but it sure is a refreshing alternative to the Accent or Elantra.
6 – Volkswagen Jetta
A German car for $18k? That could only be the VW Jetta. Not even the Golf starts that low, never mind anything from Mercedes, BMW, Audi, or Porsche. Yet it doesn’t feel low-rent, and for those with European tastes but a small budget, it could be the only choice worth considering.
7 – Toyota Corolla iM
Formerly sold as a Scion and as the Auris overseas, the Corolla iM is an entirely different model to the Corolla sedan that’s so ubiquitous on American roads. It replaces the old Matrix (originally developed together with the Pontiac Vibe) with more dynamic styling, bulletproof reliability, and hatchback versatility.
8 – Subaru Impreza
Want all-wheel traction and stability without the bulk of an SUV? That’s hard to come by at this price point, but it’s where the Impreza sets itself apart from the competition. A recent comprehensive redesign makes it that much more compelling to newcomers and diehard Subie fans alike.
9 – Honda Fit
Despite its small size, the Honda Fit can accommodate a surprising amount of stuff. (Maybe that’s why it’s called the Fit.) The flexible rear seats make it that much more versatile, while the small footprint makes it easy to maneuver, and the Japanese build quality shines through.
10 – Chevrolet Sonic
The cheapest car on this list, the Chevy Sonic is a solid choice for a first-time new-car owner. It’s roughly comparable to the Honda Fit, but can also be had as a sedan as well as a hatch. Either way, the styling is decidedly sporty, the equipment top-notch, and the value hard to match in any segment or at any price point.