Nov
19

Nissan Versa

For those who crave a new car but are on a tight budget—and who isn’t, these days?—we present the 10 most affordable cars for 2013. Of course, it’s not always smart to bite at the lowest price. Some of these low MSRPs are teaser rates. For example, the base Ford Fiesta doesn’t even include a radio, and the base Smart ForTwo lacks several utterly basic features—a backseat, for instance. For more on these 10 bargain-basement specials, click the name of each vehicle, which will take you to the car’s review page on Consumer Guide Automotive’s website.

1) Nissan Versa
Base MSRP:
$11,990
With Automatic:
$12,990
Class:
Compact Car
The 2011 Versa sedan started $9,990, and the ’12 models began at $10,990. Now the price is up to $11,990, but it’s still the lowest-priced car you can buy—at least for the sedan; the hatchback starts at $14,380. Unlike the 2012 model, the base 2013 Versa sedan actually comes with a radio. However, you can’t get power door locks or power windows unless you move up to the SV trim, which starts at $14,990. Except for its low-budget interior (lots of hard plastic), Versa earns solid scores across the board.

2) Chevrolet Spark
Base MSRP:
$12,245
With Automatic:
$13,170
Class:
Subcompact Car
If you thought the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic was small, get a load of the all-new Spark, which is a mere 144.7 inches long. Unlike rival mini cars—namely, the Smart ForTwo and Scion iQ—Spark feels more like a real car. A/C and power windows are standard on Spark; power locks are not.

3) Smart ForTwo
Base MSRP:
$12,490
Class:
Subcompact Car
About the best thing we can say about the ForTwo is that the starting price includes an automated manual transmission (which behaves like an automatic). This pint-sized two-seater is molasses slow with jerky gear changes, and the ride can be noisy and rocky. Air conditioning is a $740 option, and Smart even charges extra for power steering ($550).

4) Ford Fiesta
Base MSRP:
$13,200
With Automatic:
$14,295
Class:
Subcompact Car
The $13,200 starting price on this cramped-but-sporty subcompact is for the bare-bones S model. If you want a radio and power door locks, you need to purchase the $495 Convenience Package (although we think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that a radio is a “convenience”). For power windows, you need to move up to the SE, which is $15,200. Oh, and the $13,200/$15,200 prices are for the sedan. The hatchback is an extra $1,000.

5) Kia Rio
Base MSRP:
$13,600
With Automatic:
$14,700
Class:
Subcompact Car
Rio is a solid contender in the subcompact class, with good power, a comfortable ride, fine practicality, and handsome looks inside and out. While the Fiesta hatchback is $1,000 more than the sedan, the Rio hatch is only a $200 pricier than the sedan. A/C and a radio come standard on the base LX, but power windows and power locks cannot be had under $15,900.

6) Chevrolet Sonic
Base MSRP:
$14,200
With Automatic:
$15,295
Class:
Subcompact Car
We hail Sonic as one of the stars of the subcompact class. Its transmissions (manual and automatic), handling, and ride quality are all outstanding for that segment. The only “basics” not available on the base LS are power windows and an MP3 player. But moving up to the still-reasonable LT (which starts at $15,635) gets you those items as well as such goodies as an upgraded sound system, satellite radio, and remote engine start.

7) Toyota Yaris
Base MSRP:
$14,370
With Automatic:
$15,095
Class:
Subcompact Car
Yaris is one of our lowest-rated subcompacts. Rivals best it in a variety of areas, from passenger and cargo flexibility to noise suppression and overall refinement. The base L does not include power windows. That feature requires a jump to the LE trim, which starts at $15,955.

8) Kia Soul
Base MSRP:
$14,400
With Automatic:
$16,200
Class:
Subcompact Car
This funky urban box combines hip styling with practical passenger and cargo space. For a subcompact, however, its fuel economy is a disappointment; we averaged just 26.4 mpg in mostly highway driving. The base model comes well-equipped, but you cannot get automatic transmission for under $16,200.

9) Hyundai Accent
Base MSRP:
$14,545
With Automatic:
$15,545
Class:
Subcompact Car
We love our long-term Accent, mostly for its fun-to-drive character and a cabin that’s more refined and comfortable than those of its class rivals. The only letdown is fuel economy—just 29 mpg combined, based on our testing. The base GLS includes all basic features, including power windows and power locks. Note that we are driving the top-line Accent SE, which includes larger tires and sport suspension.

10) Mazda 2
Base MSRP:
$14,720
With Automatic:
$15,560
Class:
Subcompact Car
Spritely with “go-kart” handling, the Mazda 2 is fun to drive on city streets—though not so much on the highway. The base model includes all the basic features, and the cabin ambience belies its price. Mazda 2 is one of our favorite cars in the subcompact class.

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