Affordable cars are becoming a novelty with rising materials costs, inflation, and new technology added to even the cheapest new cars on the market. Many see cheap cars as nothing more than boxes on wheels, but while that has been true in the past, it is becoming increasingly less so. There are even some subcompact SUVs that have worked themselves into the mix.
Still, buyers should not expect the glitz and glamour that often accompanies luxury cars. Some of the cheapest cars on sale are surprisingly well-equipped, but they are still mainly built to meet the most basic transportation needs on the market. Many take that task in stride and do their jobs incredibly well.
With all of that in mind, here are the cheapest new cars you can buy in 2023.
2023 Nissan Versa
Starting MSRP: $16,755
Even with its destination fee included, the Nissan Versa is the cheapest new car on sale. It is even cheaper than many used cars at less than $17,000. It surpasses both the Mitsubishi Mirage and the now-discontinued Chevrolet Spark. The Versa is small, but it does not look outwardly cheap as it mimics its larger Nissan siblings in the styling department.
The base Nissan Versa is one of the few new cars to still offer a five-speed manual transmission as standard, and it is, at least in part, because of this that it is so inexpensive. A-122 horsepower engine will not provide any thrills, but it will help you get 27 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. You have to pay more to get the more fuel-efficient CVT transmission.
Inside, the base model feels a little better than you might expect. You get a 7-inch touchscreen display and not much else, but nothing feels overtly cheap. The Versa provides a comfortable ride, a large trunk for its size, standard automatic emergency braking, standard pedestrian detection, and standard lane departure warning.
2023 Mitsubishi Mirage
Starting MSRP: $17,290
Last year’s Mitsubishi Mirage was a little cheaper than this year’s, mainly because the five-speed manual transmission has been replaced with a now-standard continuously variable automatic transmission. It still has one of the lowest starting prices on the market, and surprisingly, its cheapest body style is a hatchback rather than a sedan.
Despite its position on our list, it feels much more like an econobox than the Nissan Versa. Its tiny 78-horsepower three-cylinder engine is slow, the rear seats are expectedly cramped, and it has a jittery ride. Fortunately, you get 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space thanks to the rear hatch and excellent fuel economy estimates of 36 MPG in the city and 43 MPG on the highway.
You also get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via a 7-inch touchscreen, a benefit over the cheaper Versa. Other standard features like automatic emergency braking and an excellent 10-year/100,000 warranty help its case for consideration, but most buyers will probably pass on the Mirage for better small car options.
2023 Kia Rio
Starting MSRP: $17,875
With the death of the Hyundai Accent at the end of 2022, the Kia Rio continues to carry the Korean torch for the subcompact car segment. The Rio treads a fine middle ground between the Versa and Mirage. It feels nicer and has more power than the Mirage, but it is not quite as nice or fresh as the Versa. Its low starting price still only gets buyers a small handful of features, though.
With no major changes for 2023, the Rio soldiers on with the same 120-horsepower engine and CVT setup as last year. Its powertrain is consistent with competitors and does not inspire confidence, but buyers will see fuel economy numbers soar to 41 MPG on the highway.
It has almost no standard safety features of which to speak, but you do get an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless Android Auto on the tech front. They are surprisingly nice features for a car with such a low starting price point, They pair with 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space, a compliant ride, a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, and an easy-to-use infotainment system.
2023 Hyundai Venue
Starting MSRP: $20,795
The Hyundai Venue remains the cheapest crossover SUV that you can buy in 2023. If you are over cheap cars, you can slide into a subcompact SUV for under $21,000. You will still only get front-wheel drive since all-wheel drive is unavailable on any trim level. Despite its jump in base price from our previous entry, the Venue is better equipped than the cheaper entries on our list.
A 121-horsepower engine just gets the job done on the road, and you will sacrifice the fuel efficiency that other small cars have, but that is the end of the bad news. Standard features include an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, driver attention monitoring, and lane-keep assist.
Drivers will also like its upright driving position compared to other small cars. The interior is indicative of its low base price, but it is not terrible. Likewise, its hatchback design allows for 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space and reasonable headroom in the rear seats. The seats themselves are comfortable, but the small overall size of the Venue can be a hindrance to larger buyers.
2023 Kia Forte
Starting MSRP: $20,815
The Kia Forte is the cheapest compact car on the market, slotting above the smaller Rio. The Forte offers more space than a subcompact car, better fuel efficiency than most subcompact SUVs, and modern styling that mimics that of larger sedans. Its largest downfall is its unrefined powertrain.
Front-wheel drive, a CVT, and a 147-horsepower engine help the Forte achieve EPA fuel economy estimates of 30 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway. Its powertrain does not inspire confidence as it feels sluggish and takes away from the overall ride comfort. Still, its spacious cabin is a nice place to be and helps the Forte feel nicer than its base price suggests.
Standard automatic emergency braking, driver attention monitoring, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams round out the list of safety features. An 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless Android Auto round out the list of standard tech features. You also get 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space, an impressive figure for a small car.
2023 Subaru Impreza
Starting MSRP: $20,815
The 2023 Subaru Impreza is perhaps one of the best cars at its price point. The base model only comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and few standard safety features. On the flip side, its standard Symmetrical AWD system and its sub-$21,000 starting price are more than enough to sway buyers who need a cheap car to commute in bad weather.
Despite its small touchscreen, buyers still get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Not much else comes on the base model. A comfortable ride, comfortable seats, and room for average-sized adults in the rear seats make the Impreza a better-than-average commuter for the compact car class.
Its 152-horsepower boxer engine is adequate to scoot passengers around town, but the fuel-efficiency tradeoff with the manual transmission may cause some buyers to reconsider the benefits of all-wheel drive. Pricier models equipped with the CVT are EPA rated at 31 combined MPG, whereas the base manual model drops to 26 combined MPG.
2023 Nissan Sentra
Starting MSRP: Around $21,000
Unlike most other models on our list, the 2023 Nissan Sentra has not yet hit showrooms. With no major changes expected this year, though, faithful Sentra followers can expect much of the same value-oriented offerings the 2022 model offered. Last year’s starting MSRP was just a hair over $21,000, even after the destination fee was added, and we expect this year’s model to be similar.
The Nissan Sentra follows many of the same patterns as the smaller Versa. It is comfortable to drive and ride, it has “big car” styling, it has pretty good safety technology, its interior is nice for the price, it is one of the most affordable compact sedans, and its performance is nothing special. It does, however, get quite good fuel economy from its 149-horsepower engine: A combined 33 MPG.
With not much being changed, we can expect that the standard 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, lane departure warning, and pedestrian detection will continue being offered as standard features.
2023 Kia Soul
Starting MSRP: $21,215
The Kia Soul is a funky, practical, car-like subcompact crossover SUV that has a low starting price tag and a huge personality. It was originally made to cater to young car buyers, and it still does, even if it has grown up a bit. The base model is cargo and passenger-friendly, safe, value-oriented, and gets good fuel economy for an SUV.
It is front-wheel drive only and comes with a 147-horsepower four-cylinder across the board. Interestingly, you have to skip over the base model to get the best fuel economy in the lineup. Both still get you well over 30 MPG on the highway. Standard tech features include an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a digital gauge cluster, and six speakers.
Standard safety features are equally as impressive and include lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, driver attention monitoring, and a rear-seat alert system. Perhaps its most impressive feature is its 24.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats or its 62.1 cubic feet when the back seats are folded.
2023 Nissan Kicks
Starting MSRP: $21,285
The Nissan Kicks is not quite as cheap as the Kia Soul, nor does it have the stellar warranty offered by Kia, but it is just as funky and has the cargo space to match: 25.3 cubic feet. It too is only offered in front-wheel drive, but it has a less powerful 122-horsepower engine that gets better gas mileage than the Soul by quite a bit. Estimates of 31 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway span all trim levels.
Even though the Kicks has a smaller, less impressive touchscreen than the Soul, it still comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Kicks also has better standard safety features like rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, and both front and rear automatic emergency braking.
The Kicks lacks the driving dynamics of other sharper SUVs like the Mazda CX-30 and Mini Cooper Countryman, but its low MSRP should be more than enough to entice smaller families and young buyers. Beyond its price and safety, it does not do anything spectacular, especially since the subcompact SUV segment is packed with great choices.
2023 Volkswagen Jetta
Starting MSRP: $21,760
The Volkswagen Jetta can easily get lost in the shuffle. The compact car segment is crowded, and the Jetta gets overshadowed by the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Kia Forte. All of those cars are more well-rounded and do just a few things better to make them shine a bit more.
That is not to say the Jetta is bad. Its lackluster interior reflects its low MSRP, but its fuel efficiency outshines many of its competitors, it has a roomy interior for the class, and its ride comfort is excellent. Both front and rear seats are comfortable, even for adults. A standard Wi-Fi hotspot gives it an advantage over its competitors.
Its peppy 158-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is balanced by its comfort-tuned suspension, though the standard six-speed manual transmission adds a little driving joy back into the equation. EPA estimates of 29 MPG in the city and 42 MPG on the highway, coupled with its low price point and good standard safety features should give compact car buyers plenty to consider.
2023 Hyundai Elantra
Starting MSRP: $21,545
The Hyundai Elantra takes the well-roundedness of the Kia Forte and brings it up a notch. It has a few more standard features, a nicer interior, and a more upscale feel than its corporate cousin. Even though the Elantra is a little pricier than the Forte, you get the same 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, and about one cubic foot less storage space than in the Hyundai.
A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine sends power to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. Its powertrain helps buyers achieve 33 MPG in the city and 42 MPG on the highway. Passengers will be shuttled around in comfort while the fuel-efficiency magic is occurring. The rear seats are roomy for a compact car but lack the space of larger vehicles.
Standard safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, driver attention monitoring, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, safe exit alert, automatic high beams, and a rear seat alert system. Its combination of practicality, low price, and safety make the Elantra one of the best cars in the compact segment.
2023 Toyota Corolla
Starting MSRP: $22,645
The Corolla’s reputation is such that even those who have never purchased a Corolla in the past probably know what to expect. It delivers top-notch ride comfort, fuel efficiency, and safety in an affordable package without any surprises to go with it. Naturally, the 2023 Corolla offers the same experience despite receiving a styling refresh and a newly updated infotainment system.
An 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, Toyota’s virtual assistant, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and four USB ports come on each base model. Even more impressive is the standard lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, rear-seat alert system, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking.
A 169-horsepower engine and CVT spur the Corolla on to get 35 combined MPG. Passenger-friendly front and rear seats ensure a comfortable ride. Even though it is not quite as nice as its prime competitor, the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla is thousands of dollars cheaper and continues its reign as one of the best cheap cars to buy.
2023 Hyundai Kona
Starting MSRP: $23,285
Yet another Hyundai makes our list of cheap vehicles. This time, it is another subcompact crossover, the Hyundai Kona. It looks a little weird, rear seat passenger space is tight, and cargo space is limited, but it excels in many other areas. It comes with a ton of standard features, an easy-to-use infotainment system, and good fuel efficiency.
The base model is powered by a 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable transmission, and a front-wheel drive layout. This powertrain helps the Kona achieve 29 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. A good dose of handling capability makes the Kona feel more like a car than an SUV, and it inspires confidence in the curves.
An 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention monitoring, and pedestrian detection round out the extensive standard features list. The added benefits of personality and an excellent warranty make the Kona an affordable winner.
2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer
Starting MSRP: $23,395
The Chevy Trailblazer edges out slightly more expensive vehicles like the Mazda Mazda3 and Ford Maverick for the last spot on our list. With a starting price that is still under $24,000, the Trailblazer should not be confused with the larger Chevy Blazer. With the addition of the upcoming 2024 Chevrolet Trax, the Trailblazer will become the smallest crossover in the Chevy lineup.
It has the same 137-horsepower three-cylinder turbo as the Trax will have. Front-wheel drive is standard, as is a continuously variable transmission. Its powertrain does not provide much in the way of thrills, but it provides adequate get-up-and-go around town. Occupants will have no trouble fitting in either row, and there are 25.3 cubes available for transporting cargo.
An impressive standard features list includes a 7-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Amazon Alexa, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and a rear seat alert system. As an added bonus, the 2023 Trailblazer has earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS.
https://www.autolist.com/guides/cheapest-new-cars These Are the Cheapest New Cars in 2023