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November 03, 2016

The Best 2016 Cars Under $15,000

Car_keys_money-iStock_98602973-PaulBiryukovAs dealers gear up the 2017 model year, now is the perfect time to find great buys on 2016 models. Here we take a look at high-quality cars priced under $15,000. And, happily, it is very possible to find an enjoyable new car at this low end of the automotive price range.

The best cars with base prices under $15,000 are fun to drive, good looking, and reasonably well equipped, considering the price point. While in years past, this price range was almost exclusively the province of imports; today's domestic manufacturers are well represented in this price range too, with some wonderfully desirable cars. If you're shopping in this price range, you're looking at subcompacts, but that doesn't mean you'll have to give up a roomy interior. Some of the best cars under $15,000 also have roomy back seats.


2014_Chevrolet_Sonic_hatchback-Truecar_pricing-300x150Chevrolet Sonic

With a starting price of $14,345, the Chevrolet Sonic delivers a lot of car for the money. The diminutive Chevy handles nicely, delivers strong fuel economy, and features a reasonably powerful engine. Sonic's base engine is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft. of torque. The upgrade is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four, also with 138 horsepower, but 148 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines offer remarkable refinement. Offered as both a sedan and a hatchback, Sonic is also a top pick when it comes to safety, comfort, and available features.


Chevrolet_SparkChevrolet Spark

Newly refreshed for 2016, the delightful little Chevrolet Spark comes to market with a base price of $12,660. While Chevy has matured the Spark just a bit in an effort to hone its refinement, the Spark's whimsical nature still shines through. It's also quite competent and packed with available features including WiFi and blind spot monitoring. Power comes from an all-new 98-horsepower 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine.


3__dtr__2016_ford_fiestaFord Fiesta

When a car's name means party, you know it has to be fun to drive, right? Easily one of the best cars under $15,000, the 2016 Ford Fiesta delivers sporty handling, strong fuel economy, and available features including voice-activated secondary controls. Engine choices include a 120-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder, and 123-horsepower turbocharged 1.3-liter. Pricing starts at $14,090.


2016_Hyundai_accentHyundai Accent

Good looks, strong performance for the class, comfortable ride quality, and a quiet interior are number among the positives landing the Hyundai Accent on this list of the best cars under $15,000. The Accent is also quite roomy and can be had in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Features like Bluetooth, heated mirrors, and projector beam headlights are offered. Power comes from a 1.6-liter four with 137 horsepower. Pricing starts at $14,745.


2017__Kia_RioKia Rio

The Kia Rio is rolling proof an affordable car can look good, be nicely equipped and perfectly enjoyable to drive. Of course, those attributes apply to pretty much every Kia. Available equipment includes a sunroof, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, and voice controls. The engine is a 1.6-liter four with 138 horsepower. Pricing starts at $14,165.


2015_Mitsubishi_MirageMitsubishi Mirage

Holding the distinction of being one of the two most affordable cars on the market today, the Mitsubishi Mirage has been panned by practically every automotive critic with a keyboard. Still, it finds a place on this list of the best cars under $15,000 because it represents a pretty strong value, despite its perceived shortcomings. People who have actually bought the car certainly think so, citing the Mitsubishi's fuel economy, low price, and available features. Power comes from a 1.2-liter three cylinder with 74 horsepower. Pricing starts at $12,995.


2__2016_dtr__nissan_versaNissan Versa

Aside from its status as the lowest-priced new car on the market, Nissan's Versa boasts the roomiest back seat in the subcompact class. Bluetooth is standard across the board, plus the Versa offers handsome styling and a refined interior treatment. Power is supplied by a 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission. Easily one of the best cars under $15,000, Nissan Versa pricing starts at $11,990.


1__dtr__2016_smart_fortwoSmart ForTwo

After spending time piloting the Smart ForTwo around town, on the highway, and in a deluge of rainfall, I can honestly say the two-seater is far more car than its looks would lead you to believe. First of all, until you've actually sat inside one, you'll do well to reserve judgment regarding its spaciousness. You'll also be pleasantly surprised at the feature content of the smallest car currently offered for American roads. Bluetooth and Crosswind assist are numbered among the ForTwo's standard features. Pricing starts at $14,650.


2015_Toyota_Yaris_SEToyota Yaris

Much like the tortoise who rose to stardom as a result of beating the hare by pursuing a strategy of continuous effort, Toyota's Yaris, while not really excelling in any particular category, is so good in every category it comes up a winner. Attributes include a standard touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, strong fuel economy, and a spacious interior. These traits, along with Toyota's outstanding reputation for reliability, strong build quality, and good resale value all figure in favor of the Yaris. Pricing starts at $14,845.


Are you in the market for one of these great affordable cars?

Check out the AskPatty Auto Buying Service, where you can research specs and pricing on these cars and many other vehicles. Once you’ve determined the model you want to buy, visit the AskPatty Car Buying Service to experience the simplest and most convenient way to buy a new car.


Lyndon_conrad_bell-headshotby Lyndon Conrad Bell for Motor Matters
When it comes to automobiles, LYNDON CONRAD BELL finds beauty in functionality, performance, and utility. Since 1998, his byline has appeared on,,,, and For print publications, Bell has written for Essence magazine, On Wheels magazine, LX magazine, Upscale magazine, the Canadian Auto Press, and Auto World Weekly. A California State University graduate with a degree in Media Studies, Bell resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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