Well, if you think shopping for a cheap car means having to compromise on the quality and features, you probably cannot be more mistaken. There have been some recent, massive changes in the subcompact automobiles segment and as a result, the market has been flooded with tens of great cheap cars that are nowhere near to being cheap when it comes to the features, style or quality, but only the price.
Still don’t believe us? Well, you probably will after going through our list of 10 best new cars under $15,000 being discussed below.
1. Hyundai Accent
This one barely makes it to our list based on the price. However, it’s one of the top picks on this list without a doubt, and for more than one reason.
First, the standard equipment it comes with is going to leave you overwhelmed, and perhaps make you want to double-check the price tag. Secondly, it’s available both as a sedan and a hatchback, which is always a very convenient choice based on your preferences.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly for many, it boasts a reasonably good fuel economy of 27 mpg and 38 mpg in city driving and highway, respectively. On top of all these things, it’s powered by a 1.6-liter engine that produces a fairly impressive 137 horsepower.
2. Nissan Versa Note
The Nissan Versa Note is a better (and more expensive) version of the Versa sedan (discussed later down the list). It’s still priced at around $14,000, though, so it’s more than affordable, especially for the features it brings to the table.
The 109-horsepower 1.6-liter engine is reasonably good in this price range, and you’re also offered an option to choose between a five-speed manual or variable transmission.
When it comes to overall space, there are hardly many better subcompacts out there in the price range. Now, throw in the fact that it also comes with some impressive features such as remote keyless entry, all-round monitoring system and Bluetooth, and you definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see it at the topmost part of this list.
3. Chevrolet Spark
This is an even cheaper option available in the ultra-subcompact segment. While not everyone will be pleased with the space offered, it may work out very well for many in the urban cities who simply need a cheap but practical vehicle to add some convenience to their lives.
While the 1.2-liter engine with 98 horsepower may not sound very spectacular, the fuel mileage of 41 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg for constantly-start-and-stop driving wouldn’t fail to impress you. However, do note that you would only get these numbers if you’re also getting the five-speed automatic transmission.
4. Mitsubishi Mirage
This is another ultra-subcompact on the list, albeit very different from the one mentioned above. While it’s pretty much in the same price range as the Chevrolet Spark, it comes with a surprisingly high level of versatility.
However, it’s probably its amazing fuel economy that you would be more interested in, which is 37 mpg overall. It’s pretty much the best you can find for the price in this segment.
Not all is perfect with the Mirage, though. Perhaps the biggest letdown is the inferior 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, which is only capable of producing 74 horsepower. Similarly, don’t expect it to be as quick and fun as most others on this list.
5. Toyota Yaris
First things first, the Yaris is pretty similar to its last-year version, though it did come up with a few design changes in the last year over its 2015 version.
It costs just around the $15,000 mark, and hence though there are many additional options you can go for, it would push the price well over that mark.
Apart from the additional options, though, you can choose between a four-speed automatic transmission and a five-speed manual. The 1.5-liter 106-horsepower engine offers a fairly good mileage of 30 mpg and 37 mpg for city and highway respectively.
6. Chevrolet Sonic
The Chevrolet Sonic seems to be a very good all-round option, very easily being one of the best new cars under $15,000 on the market. When it comes to cheap subcompact cars, the overall comfort is typically something you have to compromise on.
However, the Sonic is a clear exception, as it’s very comfortable and can even accommodate as many as five adults. It’s also offered both as a sedan and hatchback, though you may not be able to keep the costs under your budget if you go for even slightly advanced configurations with any of these two versions.
The Sonic is also a power-heavy automobile in this price range, with its 1.8-liter engine that the base version comes with producing 138 horsepower. Being able to choose between a six-speed automatic and six-speed manual is another plus.
Finally, even the Sonic’s most basic version comes with a fairly long list of features, including Bluetooth, keyless entry and alloy wheels.
7. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta is yet another all-round subcompact that seems to be coming with pretty much everything you can ask for in a budget car. It’s stylish, it’s unique, and it’s practical as well.
Talking about specific features, the ride quality definitely makes it comparable to some of the significantly more expensive vehicles out there. The handling, too, is comfortable and secure, something that tends to be a bit of an issue in this price range.
The Fiesta, just like many of the better option in this price range, is available both as a sedan and a hatchback. You also have the option to equip your vehicle with some cool features that the new version offers, such as the Ford SYNC vehicle interface.
The 1.6-liter engine makes sure that this perfectly all-round subcompact leaves nothing to be desired, putting out 120 horsepower. The same goes for the fuel mileage, which is a reasonably good 26 mpg for city driving and 38 mpg on the highway.
Finally, it comes with the typical five-speed manual, but also offers a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is a first in the industry in this category.
8. Kia Rio
Perhaps the very first thing that helps the Kia Rio stand out from its competitors is its highly premium, sporty and clean design. Even more pleasing, however, is the fact that it isn’t all about the style, despite the modest price tag.
Its premium body is also actually packed with many impressive features. What more, the Rio still makes sure that it remains in the value-oriented category, which is very clear given its 138-horsepower 1.6-liter engine, returning a fairly good 27 mpg in city driving and 38 mpg on the highway.
Finally, all the latest Rios are equipped with a six-speed automatic suspension, while the versions coming with the typical manual suspension were taken off from the market by Kia this year.
9. Smart Fortwo
While the Smart Fortwo may not fit the bill for everyone, it’s definitely one of the better options for most people in urban cities with the typical hectic schedules. Also, the new version of the Fortwo comes with some relieving improvements, which makes it a good option for a wider range of customers.
With that being said, the Fortwo’s compact, unique and highly innovative design is hard to overlook. However, it’s 1.0-liter is pretty modest, if not disappointing, as it manages to produce just 89 horses, though it’s still better than its previous versions.
Like most subcompacts on this list, the Fortwo, too, allows you to go for a manual or an automatic transmission, with the former being five-speed and the latter being six-speed.
Finally, while there are certain tempting upgrades you can order with your vehicle, it would result in the price instantly shooting well above that $15,000 mark.
10. Nissan Versa
The last doesn’t always mean the least, and certainly not in this case. While the Nissan Versa is the last vehicle on this list, it surely gives many others on here a run to for their money.
The first highlighting point of the Versa is that it’s the cheapest vehicle on this list, priced at a surprisingly low $12,000 mark. In fact, the Versa sedan has been the cheapest car on the market in the US for quite a few years now.
But you may not want to mistake the low price for a poor vehicle or subpar performance. In fact, it has a very roomy interior, and doesn’t leave much to be desired on the comfort front as well.
While it doesn’t offer a whole lot of standard features, you can expect some basic ones such as the CD player and air conditioning.
The relatively powerful 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is another surprising feature, boasting 109 horsepower. The fuel mileage, too, ends up being at the top of the range of what most subcompacts on this list offer, with the city driving and highway averages being 31 mpg and 40 mpg, respectively. However, you need to opt for the continuously variable automatic and skip the five-speed manual to achieve these figures.
A Final Word
Needless to mention, this list has some very capable options that you just can’t go wrong with. However, if you still didn’t find one that meets all your requirements, and still want to stick to your budget, you may want to take a look at our list of best used cars under $15,000.