The 10 Cheapest New Cars Sold in America for 2014
April 8, 2014 at 7:42 pm by Kirk Seaman | Photography by Patrick M. Hoey and the Manufacturer
In general, cars today are so competent that even some of the most basic rides are better than some much pricier vehicles from 20 years ago. Of course, there’s still unpleasantness residing on dealer lots—but we’re here to help. We’ve compiled the 10 cheapest cars for sale in America today, along with our unvarnished assessment of each to help you know which ones to avoid and which ones are absolute steals.
Oh, and a note: In the cases where more than one body style of a given model would make our list, we’ve included only the least expensive among them in the interest of diversity. Away we go!
2014 Mazda 2 Touring model shown
Why is this car smiling? Because the compact Mazda 2 knows it’s an entertaining daily driver while also being economical at the pump and easy on the wallet. Its low curb weight and excellent chassis combine to deliver tossability and driving enjoyment despite its meager 100 hp. Be sure to spec the five-speed manual for maximum involvement; the four-speed automatic is antiquated and saps fun. The 2’s short wheelbase can yield a bouncy ride over rough roads, but a small overall footprint makes it perfect for zipping in and out of city traffic and squeezing into the smallest of parking spots. With a well-designed, roomy interior, the Mazda 2 is the poster car for small, affordable, and fun-to-drive transportation. A new 2 is on the way shortly, based on the super-hot Hazumi concept .
9. Hyundai Accent GLS sedan: $15,455
2014 Hyundai Accent SE model shown
Although this is the cheapest Hyundai on the market, the Accent GLS isn’t a stripped-out penalty box: Standard features include air conditioning, power windows and doors, remote keyless entry, and a power-operated driver’s seat. Its 138-hp 1.6-liter engine comes paired with a six-speed manual; the optional six-speed automatic adds cost ($1000) while subtracting performance. Other bummers: The suspension is too soft to be entertaining and the interior lacks refinement, with plenty of hard plastics where we’d prefer something softer. Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, however, adds peace of mind to the new-car purchase process.
2014 Toyota Yaris LE model shown
We don’t know what the definition of the word “Yaris” is, but it definitely doesn’t mean “pocket rocket.” While this tiny Toyota offers a tidy, practical hatchback body, its 106-hp 1.5-liter engine offers little in the way of performance. Low weight, however, does enable surprisingly good handling, and the Yaris is one of the few cars in this list that actually enjoys tucking into a corner rather than tucking in its tail and heading for home. We’re hopeful the next Yaris will be even better, since it will share key components (and be built alongside) with the next-generation Mazda 2.
7. Chevrolet Sonic LS sedan: $14,995
2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT model shown
While the sleekly sculpted Sonic can’t hit the 768 mph that its name implies, its 138-hp four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission will scoot it along just fine under normal driving conditions. The real appeal of the Sonic lies in its lengthy and comprehensive list of standard features, 10 airbags, remote keyless entry, and air conditioning among them. While the sedan is fine, the more versatile and attractive five-door hatchback can be had for $600 more, and would be our pick.
6. Ford Fiesta S sedan: $14,925
The frisky Fiesta is indeed a party on wheels, or as close as one can get in this company. Stick with the S and its 120-hp 1.6-liter engine; it provides sufficient pep when paired with the five-speed manual, and we’d advise against the somewhat uncouth PowerShift dual-clutch automatic. And while the Fiesta in any form largely lives up to its name, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the real rager here: the 197-hp Fiesta ST hatch, which we named to our 10Best Cars list for 2014. Sure, at $22,225, the ST costs almost 50 percent more than the base S four-door, but no one has ever accused us of having our priorities—or finances—straight. Why start now?
2013 Kia Rio5 SX model shown
The Kia Rio swoops in to pull this list out of its apparent downward spiral. We are pleased to report that the Rio ticks all the boxes: distinctive looks, a relatively powerful 138-hp engine, and an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Standard equipment includes a six-speed stick, USB and auxiliary inputs, satellite radio, air conditioning, and four-wheel disc brakes. And if you prefer the style of the hatch—we do—that model starts just $100 more.
2014 Smart Fortwo Passion coupe model shown
The Fortwo might be the least value-laden proposition here, even as there are three cheaper cars on our list. If we were plotting data points on a chart, the Fortwo would come in below the Mitsubishi at 70 hp and with a mere 1.0 liter of displacement; those two cars might, however, be tied were we to graph the “disappointment” factor. The Fortwo is built by Smart, but, well, you know how that joke ends.
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES model shown
What we have here is a case of getting less for more: The Mirage hatchback offers one fewer cylinder (three versus four) and less horsepower (74 versus 84) than the Chevrolet Spark, while costing $795 more. The only way the Mirage comes off as a deal compared with any of these other cars is, well, it doesn’t. It reaches 60 mph in no quicker than 10 seconds, which makes the old Transformer Mirage, whose car mode was a Ligier Formula 1 racer. very sad indeed.
2013 Chevrolet Spark LT model shown
With a meager 84 hp on tap from its 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, the sprite-sized Spark won’t be winning any drag races, and might even lose to foot traffic. A five-speed manual is standard; avoid the continuously variable transmission if at all possible. Fuel economy was just so-so in our testing, and the pricing seems awfully close to Sonic-ville to seem like a deal. Still, there are some good things here, including an attractive and well-assembled interior that can be had with an excellent infotainment system if you step up a trim level.