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The Cheapest New Cars of 2021

A great vehicle for less than $20,000? These cheap new cars deliver more than you'd expect.

cheapest new cars of 2020

The Nissan Versa

As technology and engineering advance with each passing year, cars are being sold more as lifestyle choices than as modes of transportation. But all those extras we pack into our car choices can get expensive, and sometimes (most of the time?) we just want to get where we’re going.

Ironically, most of the cheapest new cars still have all the infotainment and safety features we’ve come to expect. Along with top-of-the-line fuel efficiency.

So, when you parse a car down to its most essential function, which automobiles are worth their weight in gold? These are a few of the cheapest new cars of 2021.

cheapest new cars of 2020

Chevrolet Spark

Starting Price: $13,400

Right off the bat, the Spark wins the cost battle among cheapest new cars to buy with a sub-$14,000 base price. The value continues with a 1.4-liter inline-four engine that gets a highway mpg of 38 when combined with the CVT automatic.

The Spark’s tradeoff for cost and efficiency is its size. You won’t have much space to maneuver within the cabin. Still, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality should keep you entertained.

A great commuter or city car, the Spark is one of the cheapest new cars of 2021 that will get you where you need to go.

Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage

Starting Price: $14,295

The Mirage’s engine provides an impressive fuel economy of 36 combined mpg, but don’t expect much power out of it. With just 78 hp, you’ll need to floor it to get anywhere fast.

That doesn’t mean you won’t get anything out of the Mirage. It comes standard with several safety features – forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning and automatic high beam. Like the Spark, it also comes with and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible 7.0-inch display.

The Mitsubishi Mirage may not be the most fun car to drive, but if you’re running errands or commuting around the city, it may be the best cheapest new car of 2021 for you.

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Nissan Versa

Starting Price: $14,930

The Versa was been completely redesigned for 2020. And while that came with a roughly $1,500 higher starting price, it created a much-improved vehicle. (No more manually operated crank windows.)

The car now comes with more legroom than one would expect, plenty of cargo room and a 122-horsepower four-cylinder engine that’s more than adequate.

Safety is addressed with a host of features including automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beams. The entry-level Versa S sedan retains Bluetooth functionality, but lacks the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration you can find in higher trims.

cheapest new cars of 2020

Hyundai Accent

Starting Price: $15,395

Although not the cheapest, the Accent may deliver the best value of any car on the low-end of the price-tag spectrum. Depending on the trim level you’re willing to upgrade to, the car can deliver nearly all the features of a more costly automobile.

The Accent’s stylish – and roomy – interior belies its reasonable price. The 2021 model has added an inline-four engine that raises its combined fuel rating to 36 mpg. The basic trim level comes with cruise control, Bluetooth capability and power windows and locks.

For cost-conscious consumers, a good warranty is essential. Hyundai delivers with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

cheapest new cars of 2020

Kia Rio

Starting Price: $15,850

For 2021, the Kia Rio now comes in both a sedan and hatchback model. For our purposes, we’ll focus on the sedan as it starts about $1,000 cheaper.

The car is still loaded with standard features, including Bluetooth capability and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. The higher trim level  offers SiriusXM satellite radio, keyless entry, LED headlights and automated emergency braking and safety features.

In 2020, the Rio increased its combined mpg from 32 to 36. With standard entertainment options and better fuel economy, the Rio is an even better value than before.

For more car recommendations, check out our test drives

AAA members get great rates and competitive terms when shopping through the AAA Auto Buying program. Learn more about our network of certified dealers and to start comparing vehicles today.

This story was originally published in 2020 and has been updated. 

Comments
      • Andrew S.

        Hi Ben, most of the car models on this list have remained the cheapest options for the past several years so they are likely your best choices. Thanks for reading!

        Reply
  • Purchasing a basic model in any make care usually isn’t the best decision. You are still going to have your car for many years and do a lot of traveling in it. Thus, safety and comfort are essential. We test drove a brand new basic compact model and it was the most uncomfortable drive we ever had. No thank you. We wound up purchasing a fabulous car that came with a lot of bells and whistles from end-of-year surplus and have all the safety and comfort we could want. A cheap car will wind up costing you in many ways, including your health and safety. Not worth it.

    Reply
    • Yeah, it’s not worth risking your life. It’s bad enough they all fold up like cardboard at a 25 mph ! Why compound the problem. And wouldn’t you think the smaller the car the higher the insurance???????

      Reply
  • P.S. to my previous comment: We purchased a new 2018 Hyundai Sonata from end-of-year purchase with lots of bells and whistles and excellent comfort and safety features, for just under $20,000, and we live in an expensive part of the country. It takes research, patience and a firm negotiating stance – but it can be done. And it is so worth it. Don’t settle for less than you can actually get.

    Reply
    • Corinne S.

      Thank you for the added info … I was just about to ask you and I saw that you had added that info!

      Reply
  • DANIEL K.

    My wife and I recently purchased, a brand new 2020 Honda Pilot Elite Black Edition, and have already put over 500 miles on our new car. This car is extremely well equipped, with safety in mind, is very comfortable, has an excellent ride, is relatively fuel efficient, has plenty of power, and has plenty of space, for just about anything. I highly recommend this car for older seniors, like myself, and my wife. Of course, I highly recommend installing running boards, for easier access, which we did.

    Reply
  • redmike301@gmail.com

    There’s an old saying: “You get what you pay for.” You can save a lot of money if you’re willing to drive in a beer can.

    Reply
  • KENNETH M.

    Think about buying a 3 year old vehicle coming off a lease. There are lots of them out there now. Many of these leased vehicles were nicely equipped. With about 30,000 miles on them, you might be able to pick one up with 40% to 50% off the original sticker price. Almost any car produced today can go 150,000 miles with diligent maintenance.

    Reply
    • Margaret

      I absolutely agree! While shopping for a car in 2012, I went to a local dealership. Found a 2010 Nissan Rogue that had one owner, and 17K miles on it. It is now 2021, and I have 48K miles on it. I don’t go far, but this car is a powerhouse in the winter.

      Reply
    • What cars are the most attractive after a 3 yr lease in terms of price and reliability? Also only available thru dealerships?

      Reply
  • Christopher M.

    Thank you for the information on basic cars. It’s so sad that the car makers are targeting Americans all in the same way. Not everyone can afford all the luxury but it is forced on us. We can’t help but have to have every luxury option like it or not and we have to pay for it all on top of it. That’s the reason why they won’t offer manual transmission anymore because it’s too cost effective over time and the dealership does not want that. It cost $500 two years in a row on the very same day in June 2018 and 2019 just have my trunk close on VW. Very disgusted with the over the top useless expensive foolish features that are pushed on the American consumers

    Reply
  • Kevin D.

    I would walk before purchasing any of these tin boxes. Any happiness over money saved over a more premium vehicle or that “new car” feeling will be short lived once the cheapness of materials and engineering set in.

    Reply

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