These Are Your Go-To Recommendations For Cheap New Cars

·7 min read
Photo:  Toyota
Photo: Toyota

It’s no secret that small cars bring smaller profits to automakers, which partially explains why the budget — or econobox — segment is not what it once was. New cars are getting so expensive that many turn to the used or preowned market, which is not necessarily a new phenomenon, but even then, used cars now come with hefty price tags, too. We wanted to know what your go-to options were for those considering a cheap new car.

The usual suspects, such as the stalwart Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, are all here. They’re just bigger, heavier and more expensive than ever. It’s not all bad news, because these once “entry-level” cars have literally outgrown that label and become quite comfortable cars that offer high value for the price.

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I’m also stoked to see that at least one EV made it onto the list because that means that there’s hope for cheap EVs yet. We asked our readers what their go-to recommendations for cheap new cars were, and these were their answers:

2023 Honda Civic

Photo:  Honda
Photo: Honda

Civic or Corolla.

Submitted by: finalformminivan

2023 Toyota Corolla

Photo:  Toyota
Photo: Toyota

Civic or Corolla.

Submitted by: finalformminivan


What is you budget and then you apply that to how much ever Corolla you can get.

If not, see bus pass.

Submitted by: FutureDoc


When in doubt, Corolla. Unfortunately, around me used hatchbacks cost as much as you could get them new for in the “pre-” days. A friend has one, and the Rio5 is about as close to the 80s/90's econobox hatchback idea as you’ll be able to get if that’s what you want.

Submitted by: spookiness

2023 Ford Maverick Hybrid

Photo:  Ford
Photo: Ford

I don’t own one but I think the Maverick Hybrid is a very strong value proposition. Lots of capability and efficiency but not a huge price tag, even loaded up with options.

Submitted by: Nick


the maverick hybrid. its not even close. honorable mention to the soul.

Submitted by: Kahlessj

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Photo:  Chevrolet
Photo: Chevrolet

Seems maybe too soon to be asking this again after it was only a week or two since the “What’s the Greatest Cheap Car of All Time” article. My answer is still the same, and the 4th sub-$20k car not mentioned in the list here:

2023 Chevy Bolt EV

When you subtract the IRA 2023 $7,500 tax credit, starting price including destination fee is $19,995 before options.

Get ‘em while you still can folks, because this is the last model year of the Bolt before it’s discontinued. RIP small cars in America.

259 mile EV range, less than half the average price of a new gas vehicle, and about half the price of most EVs too. It’s not a Tesla but you do get more than half a of a Tesla for half the price. Really the cons are that it’s the last model year so they may be hard to find, the DC fast charging is only around 50 kW speed compared to Tesla and Hyundai’s 250+, and that it’s, well, small, which is unfavorable by today’s crossover-hungry market.

Submitted by: StalePhish

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Photo:  Toyota
Photo: Toyota

Corolla Hybrid LE. 53 city/46 hwy/50 combined mpg, starts at $24,145 incl. destination fee.

Submitted by: sectionhiker

2023 Kia Soul

Photo:  Kia
Photo: Kia

essentially another mortgage payment


I, uhh, wut? Someone’s not been keeping up with the price of housing, I think. For that matter, the $10k car was largely a loss leader special you’d be hard pressed to find on dealer lots any time near a decade ago. Using the Versa as an arbitrary benchmark, 10 years ago, the MSRP on one including destination was $12,780. It’s about 2.85% inflation to get to today’s base price of $16,925. But then the Versa launched in 2008 with a base price of $12,550 - against that standard, we’re only at 2% inflation (yes, going forward, all economists should use the Versa line of inflation). Either way, you can get plenty of car for $25k, which is (high level) a $500 payment. Not great, but not anywhere near a mortgage payment for a lot of people. Just, for how much we’ve been mourning the death of cheap cars, how many Jalopnik staff have actually recently bought a new cheap car? If people don’t actually go out and buy cheap cars, what incentive is there to keep making them?Either way, Kia Soul is a perfectly fine, sensible car that’s not particularly expensive.

Submitted by: Maymar

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross

Photo:  Toyota
Photo: Toyota


(I think of “inexpensive” today as “Sub $25k” because that’s like sub $20k 5 years ago.)

Is this a great car? No.

Is it a good enough car for most situations? Yeah

This thing would be highly unlikely to be on the top of a list for a person with a set of defined needs and wants and a $25k budget. But, it would be on the list somewhere, since it is a generic vehicle that is in budget from a company that is well known for having quality products.

Submitted by: hoser68

2023 Subaru Impreza

Photo:  Subaru
Photo: Subaru

Impreza. For a long time, my default answer to “I just need a car” was the Crosstrek, but $5k seems like a lot of money for an extra inch of ride height and some plastic fender flares.

The Crosstrek is still a champ for residual value, though. If you plan to sell it in a few years, the resale should offset a lot of that up-front premium.

Submitted by: smalleyxb122

2023 Mazda Mazda3

Photo:  Mazda
Photo: Mazda

Probably a Mazda3. It drives better than the rest of the class, feels premium and you likely won’t pay ADM’s on it. Also available in 4 or 5 doors.

Submitted by: Ceedge

2023 Hyundai Elantra

Photo:  Hyundai
Photo: Hyundai

I have a 2023 Hyundai Elantra SEL. It’s a solid inexpensive car that sells in a nicely equipped version for under $23k. It’s easy on the eyes, easy on the wallet and gets really great gas mileage. It’s a solid commuting car with lots of tech features. I recommend the SEL because if you’re going to spend the extra money for the extra HP that comes with the N-Line, you might as well get a Civic.

Submitted by: Nitch

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander or Any Modern ’Mitsu

Photo:  Mitsubishi
Photo: Mitsubishi

You really can’t beat Mitsubishi. Their ca-SUVs are decently good looking, the fit and finish is not bad, they handle pretty well, get good gas mileage, and will last well beyond the warrantee...It’s a bit depressing not seeing the lancer or a coupe in that line up though.


Submitted by: darthspartan117

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Photo:  Mazda
Photo: Mazda

What the heck? This thread has been open for almost 2 hours and we haven’t had






We are slipping. We have Corollas, Souls, Civics, and the like. Only the Cheap Jag and Cheap BMW are really Jalop answers.

Submitted by: hoser68

2024 Subaru Crosstrek

Photo:  Subaru
Photo: Subaru

Typically I would encourage to shop slightly used, but there is one brand new car in particular that comes to mind.

The Subaru Crosstrek is one that has been popular with those I recommended it to. It ticked all their boxes... fuel efficient, reasonably priced, AWD, safe, not too small, not too big, excellent ground clearance for those worried about deep snow.

Otherwise, I love recommending the Mazda3 over the Civic/Corolla. Other hot go-to recommendations are the Toyobaru twins, the Ford Maverick, and Mazda CX5/CX50.

Here’s another fun QOTD idea - what cars would I never recommend, or warn against purchasing because their value proposition makes no sense?

Submitted by: shanepj13

...Or Any Preowned “New to Me” Model

Photo:  David Paul Morris (Getty Images)
Photo: David Paul Morris (Getty Images)

My response is “Does it have to be new?”. Because if you buy a pre owned car then you can get a pretty decent one that is five-eight years old these days, and at relatively affordable prices still. Why buy new and get less while paying more?

Submitted by: skeffles

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