Getting a bargain on a car is good at any time, but in economic times like these, when the economy is teetering, home prices continue to fall and fuel prices have risen to record levels, for most of us getting a bargain on your car is more important than ever.
Despite the butt-kicking impact of inflation, there are still plenty of new cars available for less than $18,000. But not all of them are cool and not all of them are fun, as any young driver will tell you. However, there are some that not only have features and performance, but also appeal to drivers. Two top line criteria — fun-to-drive and fun-to-own — are critical to what is the “cool factor,” just as important as performance. Check out this list and see what you would like to drive and not pay an arm and a leg for the privilege.
10. 2011 Hyundai Elantra
Who knew good value could be so cool? The all-new 2011 Hyundai Elantra is an all-around package of slick design, convenient features and fuel-efficiency of 40 miles per gallon on the highway. And like every other Hyundai, the Elantra offers a 10-year/100,000-mile power train warranty.
9. 2011 Nissan Cube
It is hip to be square, at least when it comes to a car like the Nissan Cube. The square-meets-circle design theme gets a lot of attention, but the Cubeís attractiveness is more than skin deep, with features like a sliding and reclining second-row seat, big head room and a design that mimics the concentric circles created by a pebble dropped into a pond. The Nissan Cube is a practical and modestly priced car, and while this design is not for everyone, hey – the key to being cool is not caring what everyone thinks.
8. 2011 Kia Forte Koup
Having an attractive car that others havenít seen Ė thatís cool. The 2011 Kia Forte Koup standard equipment list includes a satellite-ready audio system, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and USB/iPod integration. For buyers who think cool and obvious are mutually exclusive concepts, the uncommon Forte Koup is about as cool as it gets for less than $18,000.
7. 2011 Honda Fit
Fun, flexible and funky, the Honda Fit remains an instantly unanimous choice for a cool car list, especially when it comes in with a price tag under $18,000 new. Every Fit has a cool back seat that flips and folds for max cargo versatility, plus the backing of Honda’s reputation for reliability.
6. 2012 Honda Civic
Cool doesnít always have to be in your face. Take the 2012 Honda Civic, for example. Its attributes read like a thought-out online dating profile: Good looking but not flashy, low maintenance and easygoing, but happy to be your partner in crime for any adventure. And like any good relationship, admiration for the Civic grows the more time you spend with it. Cool, indeed.
5. 2011 Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta is a perennial favorite. Its European looks and well-crafted interior outclass everything else in the category, and its sharp driving dynamics and nimble handling still impress us every time we get behind the wheel. Available SYNC infotainment and highway fuel economy of 38 miles per gallon (40 mpg for the SFE version) seal the deal.
4. 2011 Mazda 3
The Mazda3 earns a spot on the list for its standout sheet metal, excellent interior and exceptional driving dynamics. Itís still cool after all these years.
3. 2012 Ford Focus
European automakers have long subscribed to the idea that a well-packaged car doesnít need to be large in size. Ripping a page out of that playbook, Ford has brought the compact, Euro-sweetened 2012 Focus to America, offering head-turning looks, sporty handling and a healthy standard equipment list in an efficient and affordable package. Willing to spend a little extra? Add more cool to your Focus with leather seats, a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission and the MyFord Touch infotainment system.
2. 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
German engineering supplies the performance, while VW design brings on the cool. The latest rendition of VWís Jetta captures much of Germanyís quirky-cool spirit while being expressly engineered for an American appetite. The Jetta continues to deliver superior ride and handling, but itís now roomier and priced more competitively with class leaders like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. A fine-handling German sedan available at a price most car buyers can afford? Thatís cooler than wearing Adidas while eating schnitzel with Michael Schumacher.
1. 2012 Fiat 500
European design comes to America – first there was the Smart Car (NOT cheap!) and now the Fiat. Regardless of what the Hello Kitty mafia would like to believe, cute isnít cool. Not usually, anyway. But thatís because cute is rarely backed up by substance, as it is in the 2012 Fiat 500. Itís seven inches shorter than a Mini Cooper and positively adorable, but spend a day driving Fiatís first U.S. offering in 28 years and youíll discover a comfortable, livable, well-built sub-compact car that just happens to have 10 times the personality of some of its cookie-cutter competitors.Source: Kelley Blue Book