Buying a new car is expensive, but the real cost comes after the initial purchase. When buying a car, you need to think about both the sticker price and the cost to maintain it. Even a car with an affordable purchase price can be expensive to own.
We have ten cars that are not only affordable to buy, but also affordable to own. Before you decide on a car, think about what you can afford now and in the future.
What Are the Costs of Owning a Car?
When considering whether or not a car is affordable to own, you need to think about maintenance requirements, repair costs, fuel efficiency, and insurance rates. These are the ownership costs that you’ll need to pay throughout the life of the car.
1. Toyota Yaris Hatchback
The Toyota Yaris is a standout in the subcompact car market for its ability to mimic the look and feel of a larger vehicle. It has more cargo space than other models in its class. It can also fit multiple passengers more comfortably than the competition.
You’ll need to get accustomed to the center-mounted instrument panel. This takes your eyes off the road longer than most of us are comfortable with. When your eyes are on the road, you’ll enjoy nimble handling and great fuel economy.
Its four-cylinder engine could have more acceleration, but you sacrifice this for the impressive miles per gallon (mpg). So relax into the supportive seats and enjoy the 360-degree visibility as you cruise in your Yaris.
2. Honda Accord
Something you won’t often hear on this list: The Accord has an interior that is spacious and upscale. This is paired with a drivetrain that delivers dynamic performance. This midsize car is larger and more expensive than the subcompact cars on this list, but it’s listed because of its long-term reliability.
The interior is highlighted by leather trim. You also have the option of leather seating with both heat and ventilation. Both the front and rear seats have plenty of legroom and headroom. The generous space continues with the trunk, where you have 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space.
For technology, there’s a 7-inch infotainment display and an available upgraded 8-inch display. Your base system will include a USB port and Bluetooth. If you want anything more than that, you’ll need to upgrade.
3. Hyundai Elantra
If you’re looking for affordability, a manual transmission can be your best friend. Not only are they up to $1,000 cheaper when purchasing, but they also tend to require less maintenance and repair over their lifetime. They also tend to be more fuel-efficient, excluding the alternative energy vehicles, of course.
Hyundai pairs the manual transmission with an efficient alternator, electric power steering, and low resistance tires. All of these features further improve Elantra’s fuel economy.
4. Ford Fiesta
This cute little car has a lively performance and is nimble in its handling. It ranks at the top of the subcompact list thanks to its impressive performance. Unlike its competitors, the Fiesta comes with a solid engine.
The interior has a decent amount of space. It isn’t the most spacious, and the seats lack motorized features. You won’t find luxury features like leather seats. However, the materials are durable and feel nice.
When it comes to performance, the Fiesta gets a middle of the road fuel economy. Don’t mistake this for not good, though. You can expect to get 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.
5. Chevrolet Spark
The Spark is a great car to drive with excellent maneuverability. It’s a standout on this list because Chevy packed an impressive amount of technology into this little car. It has Chevy’s easy-to-navigate infotainment system. You’ll have a 7-inch touchscreen that enables you to sync your phone through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Other features include two USB ports, Wi-Fi hotspot, voice command, and Bluetooth.
You can seat four people in the Spark, but the front seats have noticeably more room than the back seat. Cloth upholstery is standard, but you can upgrade to leather. You may find the road noise to be a bit louder than you’d want.
Let’s not forget about the whimsical color options. Choose from colors with names like Red Hot, Passion Fruit, Orange Burst, Toasted Marshmallow, and Raspberry.
6. Kia Rio
The Kia Rio is a cute and fun-to-drive car. While it won’t be beating any sports cars any time soon, it does perform better than many other models in its class. It also has impressive mpg ratings.
This little car seats five and has a decent amount of space for everyone in the cabin. Despite the extensive use of plastic on the interior, many owners think the Rio’s interior mirrors that of upscale or luxury cars.
If technology is important, skip the used Rio models and buy a new 2020 model. This is the first year that an infotainment system became standard. This allows you to connect your smartphone through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
7. Toyota Corolla
If long-term dependability is your priority, then the Corolla is the ideal car for you. Toyota is considered one of the most reliable car manufacturers in the world. Their cars are known for running smoothly well past 100,000 miles.
The Corolla has earned a place on several lists for the best cars for the money. You won’t be winning street races, but the two engine models will give you steady and predictable performance. Both of them get impressive fuel economy. For the 2020 model, Toyota improved upon the suspension. This gives you an improved ride with better low-speed handling and a sportier feel.
You also get several modern safety features in the Corolla that either aren’t available or are an upgrade with other cars on this list. Standard on Corolla is Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 that includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.
8. Honda Fit
The Fit ranks at the top of the subcompact class. It has a beautiful interior cabin that’s comfortably spacious. Plus, you can reconfigure the seats to create tons of cargo space in a few seconds.
The Fit has plenty of head and legroom, which is unusual for a hatchback. While it seats five people, four adults will be comfortable. In the dash, there’s a 5-inch infotainment screen. You could upgrade it for a 7-inch screen that comes with a full suite of infotainment features. Be warned: It’s not the easiest system to learn.
When it comes to performance, the Fit gets insanely good fuel economy. This is thanks to the four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission. You’ll enjoy driving the Fit with its responsive steering and brake control. You may experience a noticeable body lean in the sharper turns.
Testing has shown the Fit to be a very safe car to drive. Although, the only modern safety feature included standard on the car is a rearview camera.
9. Nissan Versa
The Nissan Versa is a bare-bones four-door car. This makes it one of the cheapest new cars on this list, and has the fewest components to go wrong. If you want to save the most, find a used car that’s been well-taken care of.
The Versa has one of the highest reliability ratings in its class. This gives it some of the lowest long-term costs. This is the ideal base model affordable car.
However, there are a few upgrades that you can opt for if you’re looking for something with a bit more class. Upgrade to add a driver’s seat armrest, a rear-seat armrest, faux suede seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
It does come with a 7-inch touchscreen as a standard feature. You’ll need to upgrade if you want remote keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, satellite radio, and smartphone connectivity.
10. Kia Soul
You can’t look at a Kia Soul these days and not think about the Hamster marketing campaign that took over our TVs. This strange, box-shaped vehicle is compact, cute, and small like a hamster, but it’s also fun to drive and affordable.
What really makes the Soul stand out is its customization options. We tend to expect affordably priced cars to have fewer options and features, but that isn’t the case here. You can choose your wheels, body add-ons, stripe packages, and so much more. Then there is the endless stream of special edition packages that offer exclusive features, styling, and trim packages.
Enjoy the Affordability of These Cars
Check the MSRP for new vehicles and the Kelley Blue Book value for used cars. For the most affordable car, choose manual or automatic transmissions. Balance the number of features and luxuries you want with your budget. Remember, the more features and components your car has, the more chances there are for things to break and go wrong.
If you’re buying a car on a tight budget, consider one of these ten cars for affordability both during the purchase and the ownership.