This bargain new-car shopping list might not be exciting, but it’ll save you a lot of money. We get the question almost nonstop: What are the cheapest cars on sale right now?
Automakers don’t like to offer subcompacts this cheap because there is no virtually no profit margin on them, but there are still dirt-cheap wheels to be had. This list of the cheapest cars on sale includes just the cheapest version of the lowest-priced models by manufacturer’s list price. If a particular model is offered as, say, both a sedan and a hatchback, only the lower-priced body style is listed. Expect a sticker price roughly $1,500-$2,000 higher for the next trim level up, which you are more likely to find at your local dealership. Remember, though: If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your local dealers’ lots, an internet search might locate one in a neighboring state.
đNote: Automakers typically do not issue photos of their base trim levels; the photos shown depict cars that have bigger wheels and more brightwork than the base models described.
1. 2020 Chevrolet Spark LS, $14,395
The North American version of the Daewoo Matiz, sold around the globe under myriad brand and model names, is one of the most fun-to-drive mini cars on the market.
As an aside, though it’s not one of the cheapest cars, Chevrolet also offered the Spark electric vehicle from 2013-16 as a stop-gap car before launching the Bolt EV, but more recently and in deference to U.S. market reality, it added the ACTIV faux-crossover after launching the latest Spark for the 2016 model year. The Chevy Spark ACTIV’s “rugged look” consists of a raised suspension, black trim and cladding, front foglamps, and a roof rack, for a more expensive base price of $18,495. Seriously, it’s not as bad as it sounds, and it’s still $2,745 cheaper than the similarly unconvincing (though taller) Ford EcoSport. With the price $14,395, 2020 Chevrolet Spark LS is now one of the cheapest car on sale in US.
2. 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage ES ($14,990)
This is the cheapest cars poster child for the old shibboleth, “You get what you pay for,” though you also get the most fuel-efficient non-electrified gasoline-powered car sold in the U.S.
A few years ago, I rented one for a short weekend in Milwaukee, and can report the EPA fuel mileage estimates are solid. In fact, I exceeded the highway number by an mpg or two after driving about 80 miles around town. Being a rental, it was a CVT-equipped Mitsubishi Mirage, rated 36/43 mpg to the five-speed manual’s 33/41, and that option piles another $1,300 onto the sticker. If you prefer the Mirage G4 sedan, it will cost you another 1 mpg city and highway while adding $1,000 to the sticker. Mitsubishi made automatic climate control standard across all trim levels for the 2020 model year.
3. 2020 Nissan Versa S ($15,655)
This affordable subcompact entered the U.S. market as one of the cheapest cars available—and as a gawky, underachieving hatchback for 2006. But with last year’s all-new 2019 model, it has some decent attributes, including a more finished design that looks like it’s from the same family as the Nissan Sentra and Altima.
Now only a sedan for the U.S. market, the Nissan Versa S comes with such standard features as automatic climate control, remote start, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert, and Apple Car Play/Android for Auto—but that’s only if you drop $19,215 on the top-trim Versa SR with CVT transmission. The base manual Versa S does come with lane-departure warning, rear auto braking, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. It’s a good commuter car for people who just want to get to and from work, though it’s not one of those slow cars that’s more fun to drive fast than a fast car is to drive slow.
4. 2020 Hyundai Accent SE ($16,270)
Hyundai is known for loading up its could-be cheapest cars and SUVs with standard features and interior appointments that would do a semi-premium brand proud. Such is the case with the subcompact 2020 Hyundai Accent-if you want to spend $20,375 on the Limited model. Still, that’s rather affordable for a lot of shoppers.
Still, the Hyundai Accent SE is nicely equipped for its price, and as the lowest of three trim levels in the Accent line, it is only available with a manual transmission.
An update for the 2020 model year is the Accent’s new multi-port fuel-injected 1.6-liter four, replacing the old gasoline direct-injection 1.6-liter four. Fuel mileage for six-speed manual equipped cars has increased 1 mpg city and 2 mpg highway, to 29 and 39, respectively.
Standard features include a 5-inch audio touchscreen display, rear-view monitor, six-way manual driver’s seat adjustment, and keyless entry. In terms of value, reliability, and quality, the fourth-cheapest car on sale in the U.S. stands as a top choice.
5. 2020 Toyota Yaris L Sedan ($16,605)
Miss the old 2011 Mazda2? We do, too, though it lives on as one of U.S. market’s cheapest cars in the form of the Toyota Yaris. First, Toyota imported it here from Mazda’s Mexican factory as a sedan only. But last year, the Mazda2 was badge-engineered into a Yaris hatchback design as well, which is why we are not counting each on our list of cheapest cars.
The hatchback wouldn’t have made it, anyway; it starts at $18,705, which is $250 more than the No. 10 cheapster, the Kia Soul. The Yaris hatch inexplicably comes only with an automatic transmission, while the sedan is available with a manual.
6. 2020 Kia Rio LX ($16,815)
Like the Hyundai Accent, the updated 2020 Kia Rio replaces the old “Gamma” gasoline direct-injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a new multi-port direct-injection 1.6. But this car comes with an “iVT,” or intelligent-continuously variable transmission instead of its corporate relative’s standard six-speed manual. With the iVT, the Rio LX’s fuel mileage increases by 5-mpg city and 4-mpg highway—33 and 41, respectively—compared to last year’s model, which came with a conventional six-speed automatic transmission. There’s also a new 7-inch touchscreen supporting Apple Car Play and Android Auto standard on the 2020 Kia Rio.
7. 2020 Honda Fit LX ($17,120)
For cheapest cars, forget BMW’s Mini line since 2001; Honda’s Fit is the true successor to Alec Issigonis’ original small-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside hatchback. Throw in a decent fun-to-drive factor—especially with Honda’s fun-to-use six-speed manual transmission, and its high-revving (6,800 rpm redline!) naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine—and you have one of the cheapest cars actually worthy of ownership aspirations.
8. 2019 Fiat 500 Pop ($17,990)
Yes, the Fiat 500 has been discontinued in the U.S. and Canada, meaning there are no 2020 models. No, this isn’t really cheating. Because the point of this list is to point you to the cheapest cars available now in the U.S. If you’ve read this far, you’re looking for lowest price, not latest design.
Fiat stopped building the 500 in North America because the cute little thing wasn’t selling, which means it might be worth considering if you’re trying to avoid the bus or the subway. True, non-Abarth versions of the Fiat 500 have never been compelling cars to drive, and as the only two-door on this list, its rear-seat utility is limited. Additionally, as the only turbocharged car on this list, it takes premium gasoline. So, note that the five-speed manual transmission betters the six-speed automatic on the EPA mileage cycle, by 4-mpg city (28 mpg) and 1-mpg highway (33 mpg).
9. 2020 Hyundai Venue SE, $18,490
The all-new Hyundai Venue is a tallish, front-wheel-drive-only “SUV,” or at least that’s what Hyundai calls it. More like tall hatchback, and that’s something Hyundai should embrace. The Venue is also Hyundai’s answer to the upward-creeping price of so many cars and SUVs—and because it’s just about the latest entry-level sub-$20,000 model on the market, it comes standard with an Apple CarPlay/Android Auto 8.0-inch touchscreen and SmartSense with forward-collision warning. That’s all on the SE model, which is the only trim level available with a six-speed manual.
After our first Venue test drive in Miami last January, we called it “a boxful of modern minimalism.” Add a “my other car is an e-bike” license plate frame, and take along look at this entry on the list of cheapest cars for sale in the U.S.
10. 2020 Kia Soul LX, $18,610
Thanks to a cheeky marketing campaign and its funky styling. The Kia Soul has been a rare example of a cheap, easily affordable econobox that has sold very well over the years, often one of the brand’s bestsellers.
The Kia Soul rides on a new platform for 2020, and higher-trim models offer such luxuries as a 10.25-inch touchscreen, and a head-up display. There’s a Soul GT Line and a Soul X-Line, but you want the Soul LX if you want to save money.