Although I am not presenting an exhaustive list of cars, it is important to keep in mind all of the things I am presenting when you embark on your car buying journey. There is merit in buying a new car. New vehicles tend to require less maintenance and are covered under warranties for a time. New Subcompacts and compacts also are built to with great gas mileage in mind often sporting between 30-40 mpg.
When figuring out the expense of a new vehicle, there are costs that we tend not to think about. The MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) is not the only cost. The annual insurance costs should be factored in. Also, each vehicle type will have a ton of trim levels and options to choose from, giving dealers some upsell space.
There are also many warranties and dealership perks that may or may not really benefit you.
MPG: 31 City/ 39 Highway
Fuel Tank: 10.8 gallons
The Nissan Versa and it’s hatchback cousin the Note are among the most affordable cars in the United States. For the bare bones Nissan Versa Sedan, you are looking at an MSRP of about $12,460 to $13,355, for the added hatchback and CVT Xtronic transmission with the Note you will be paying at least $16,545.
When comparing the Versa and Versa Note, there isn’t much difference in terms of feel. Both handle the same on the road. Functionality is the main thing, The Note is much roomier with its hatchback, allowing you to transport items comfortably. It also has the CVT Xtronic transmission which is a type of automatic transmission that is a step up in fuel efficiency from the baseline Versa manual transmission.
For a compact car the annual insurance cost is less than the national average at $890. This is very uncommon because less expensive cars have less safety features and are smaller in size, making them more of a liability for insurance companies. But both the Nissan Versa and the Note have air-bags (four sets), anti-lock brakes, stability control, and excellent crash test ratings. While these are still fairly simple safety features, they are a cut above many competitors.
Be aware that the Nissan Versa has eight different trim levels and the Note has four trim levels to choose from. On top of this there is an overabundance of interior and exterior options to choose from like spoilers, wheel locks, illuminated kicker panels and even a family clean up kit. Be set on what you’d like in terms of options prior to getting to the dealer.
Nissan has several protection plans available. Before buying, take into account things like air conditioning usage, road wear and tear, and local traffic when thinking about what you need in a protection plan. With Nissan’s track record for faulty parts I would give some thought to an extended warranty also.
MPG: 30 city/ 38 Highway
Fuel Tank: 9 gallons
For a subcompact car, the Chevy Spark has decent user reviews. 4.5 out of 5 from car and driver, 7 out of 10 from Edmunds, and great user reviews all around. The starting price for the Spark starts at $13220. The Spark only comes in a hatchback variant, allowing a nice amount of cargo space in the back for a small car.
Insurance for your Spark will run about $829 per year. This figure is considerably lower than the national average and even lower than the Nissan Versa previously featured. I can only surmise that this is due to its excellent set of safety features. Smart features like, Low speed forward automatic braking. The car will be able to sense a collision between 5 and 37 mph and it will automatically apply the brakes. This is grouped with forward collision alert and a lane departure warning. All three features prevent accidents as opposed to all of the safety focus going to after the crash. Other features include, rear park assist and rear vision camera.
The Spark has four different trim levels to choose from. Within the LS trim (second level) there is the option to drop in your CVT, automatic transmission. So, for those that cannot drive stick, the lowest price for a Spark with an automatic will run a whopping $15,195.
MPG: 27 City/ 37 Highway
Horsepower: 120 to 197
Fuel Tank: 12.4 gallons
Another great subcompact car with a competitive price is the Ford Fiesta. This car’s price starts around $14,260. This makes it the most expensive car on the list but it is for good reason. The Ford Fiesta possesses a more powerful engine than the other two. It also has excellent user and critic reviews that rarely drop below 8 out of 10. This vehicle comes in as a hatchback ($15790) or sedan and is fully customizable from the deck to the interior seats and exterior paint color and wheels. Fold down seats offer an immense amount of space for a subcompact car. In addition, it will cost an extra $1,095 to drop in the automatic transmission.
The Insurance figures for the Ford Fiesta run from about $800 to $2000 a year. This is due to how different the trim levels are and the variability of the vehicle. It is safe to say that the base model has a decent insurance rate, but be prepared to pay much more if you opt for performance packages. Safety features include, a series of seven airbags and high-strength boron steel in critical areas which essentially create a complex roll cage. Not exactly high-tech, but safe nonetheless.
The Fiesta has four trim levels and five configurations. The extra configuration is referring to the larger engine dropped into the fourth (ST) trim level. This is the 197-hp 1.6-Liter 4 cylinder as opposed to the normal 120-hp.
Every one of these cars are a viable, cheap option for those simply looking for transportation. All of them have tons of options to tailor to your needs. Always remember to keep hidden expenses in mind. Things like, gas, maintenance/repairs, taxes/fees, insurance like we stated, and warranties. Happy buying!