8 of the Best Cars under $15,000

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When you're shopping for any car, setting a budget is one of the first steps. But a low budget doesn't have to mean limited options. It doesn't mean settling for something you don't want, either. 

Below is a list of 8 of the best new cars you can buy in 2018 for less than $15,000. While you're committed to the subcompact or compact category unless you buy used, all are great options when you want new and you want it on a budget. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable car insurance policy.

The New Nissan Versa S: Starting at $12,360

The Nissan Versa is perfect as a low-cost, no-frills source of transportation. This car features a spacious interior, particularly for a small car in its class. However, note that for about $12,000, performance lacks in power (1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine) and you'll pay extra for a lot of options.

That being said, even the base model comes standard with:

• Bluetooth connectivity

• Air conditioning

• Front disc brakes

• A trip computer

• 12-volt DC power outlet

• Audio system 

The engine power and features make it a great car to drive around town. The safety ratings on this car, while not poor, are also not the best. The EPA ratings are 31 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. You'll get a good factory warranty with your purchase: 3-year/36,000 miles overall and 5-year/60,000 miles on the powertrain.

The New Chevy Spark: Starting at $13,220

Starting at just $13,220, the Chevrolet Spark is affordable. Better yet, though it doesn't look like it, there's a surprising amount of interior and cargo space. 

The Spark comes standard with:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Air conditioning
  • Front disc brakes
  • A trip computer
  • 12-volt DC power outlet
  • Audio system 

Though it isn't supercharged by any means - it comes standard with a 1.4-liter, 98-hp, 4-cylinder engine - its compactness gives it a sporty feel. It performs well in the city, and is small enough to park with ease. You can upgrade to an automatic transmission for just another $1,100.

Overall, this is a great car for people on a budget and college students. It gets an estimated 31 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

The New Mitsubishi Mirage: Starting at $13,395

This 5-passenger, 4-door car gets an amazing 37 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. The Mirage comes in a wide variety of bright, bold colors. And if you're concerned about the environment, the Mirage is a non-hybrid car recognized for being environmentally friendly.

This car is surprisingly well-equipped with a number of standard features, including seven airbags. And while power is on the low side with a 3-cylinder, 78-hp engine, you're getting a sturdy car at a great price.

Automatic transmission is another $1,200, so you can afford to add that and stay under $15,000, too.

The New Kia Rio Sedan: Starting at $13,900

Built in the United States, this state-of-the-art subcompact car is the recipient of the US EPA Smartway Certification Mark, an honor given only to the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicles. In fact, the Rio gets an estimated 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

Unlike some of the other vehicles on this list, the Rio's 130-hp, 4-cylinder engine gives this car just enough power to make it fun to drive both in the city and on the highway. Adding automatic transmission for $1,050 will put you right at the $15,000 mark. 

Kia has a more generous warranty too: 5-year/60,000-mile basic and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. This means if you're planning on buying the car and keeping it for awhile, maintenance won't be as expensive.


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The New Ford Fiesta Sedan: Starting at $14,260

The Ford Fiesta is a strong contender in the best cars under $15,000 category. This stylish little 5-passenger car is rated Best-in-Class for highway fuel economy with an EPA rating of 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The Fiesta is often noted for feeling more expensive than it is.

Keep in mind that there is a hatchback option available, which comes with 25.4 cubic feet of space behind the front seats. However, this'll put you just above the $15,000 price point at $15,790.

The Fiesta comes standard with: 

  • Electric power-assisted steering
  • AdvanceTrac® with electronic stability control
  • Sync, which provides voice control for phones and support for Bluetooth and apps

The IIHS rates it well in terms of safety, with the exception of small overlap front collisions, where it rated marginal. Built with reliability in mind, this is a car that can last for many years.

The New Toyota Yaris: Starting at $15,635

The Toyota Yaris is just above the $15,000 mark, but it's worth the extra money. Keep in mind that the standard model has a 5-speed manual transmission. If you're looking for the automatic, it'll run you about $750. 

The Yaris lands on this list as a great combination of performance and functionality in a 5-passenger subcompact hatchback. This car features 60/40 rear fold-down seats so that you can increase your cargo space if needed. The Yaris also gets excellent gas mileage with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The car also comes with impressive safety features, including:

  • Automatic braking
  • Lane-departure alert
  • Automatic high beams at night

Most importantly, when you buy a Toyota, you know you are getting a reliable vehicle. In fact, approximately 80%  of all Toyotas sold in the last 20 years are still on the road today.

The New Hyundai Accent: Starting at $14,995

The Hyundai Accent is clearly built to compete in the economy car market and it certainly comes through. Though a bit closer to the $15,000 budget than some options on the list, this 5-passenger car offers:

  • Plenty of cabin space
  • A comfortable interior
  • A powerful 130-hp engine
  • Great fuel economy - up to 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg 

Keep in mind this model comes with manual transmission. For automatic, you'll have to dish out another $1,000. But you get power-driven everything, Bluetooth, and a great warranty: 5-year/60,000 miles bumper to bumper.

The New Honda Fit: Starting at $16,190

While the Honda Fit is, like one or two other cars on this list, just a hair above the $15,000 budget, there's a reason it's still here. That reason? Many features that are either optional or unavailable on a lot of the other models that do come in right at or under $15,000 are standard on the Fit.

Here are just some of the features you'll get standard:

  • Cruise control
  • Automatic headlights
  • Bluetooth connectivity

An automatic transmission will cost you $800, and if you spend another $1,000, you can get emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and other features. But again, the Fit is comfortably equipped at the base price, so that's all optional (or open to negotiation at the dealer).

The Cost of a New Car Is About More Than Price

The price of the car isn't the only cost you need to think about when you're looking for a new ride. Car insurance should come to mind, too.

Car insurance isn't always straightforward to find. It can be tricky to get quotes that give you the coverage you need at a price you want. Independent agents can help. 

They work for you, not an insurance company, so they can get quotes for coverage most major insurance companies can't. Independent agents are ready to help you get coverage for that new ride under $15,000.

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