The 12 Cheapest New Cars You Can Buy Right Now (April 2023)

The last few years have been rough for car manufacturers. Pandemic restrictions, geopolitical tensions, and a global shortage of semiconductors have meant that buying a new car often meant waiting weeks or months for delivery or paying above sticker price to secure any remaining inventory left on forecourts. Thankfully, it looks like the shortages should start to ease over the coming months, making now a good time to start looking for a new car if you've been holding off until this point.

The combination of supply shortages and inflation has driven the price of new cars to record highs in recent months, with December 2022 seeing an average new price of nearly $50,000. Luckily, there are still plenty of cars available for less than half of that figure, with a few even still retailing for under $20,000. Keep in mind that these prices don't include things like destination fees, taxes, or dealer charges, which can vary by location. If you're on a tight budget, or you simply want to spend as little as possible on your new car, then these twelve are currently the cheapest options on the market.

Hyundai Elantra - $20,950

While a car this cheap is never going to be a thrill to drive, the 2023 Hyundai Elantra is a surprisingly competent all-rounder given the price. It's comfortable inside, even if it's a bit spartan in places, and there are decent amounts of safety tech as standard. The 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque on offer are more than enough for everyday highway and urban driving, and the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is fairly smooth.

Styling is another of the Elantra's strong points: Hyundai has gone to great lengths in recent years to make even its most affordable models look sharp, and the Elantra is a long way from the bland, nondescript look that budget sedans have historically been associated with. Whether you actually like the car's styling is a different matter, especially since SlashGear found its sculpted sides became a magnet for road grime during a road test. Still, for budget transport that's well-equipped and distinctively styled, it's hard to knock the 2023 Elantra.

VW Jetta - $20,665

The vast majority of the cheapest cars in America come from Japanese or South Korean brands, with the 2023 VW Jetta being the only European car to make it onto the list. At a starting price of just over $20,000 (plus fees), the Jetta is by far the cheapest car in the Volkswagen stable, but it was also the best-selling VW car model by far in 2022. Part of its appeal is that even base-spec models come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the more powerful cars in its price bracket.

It's also attractively styled, and there's plenty of space in the cabin. Both the inside and outside of the car feel a little more blandly designed than the Jetta's South Korean rivals, but everything feels solid and well-built. A Jetta is also one of the cheapest ways to get your hands on a manual transmission, if that's your thing — an eight-speed auto 'box is an $800 optional extra on base-spec trims.

Nissan Kicks - $20,440

Buyer appetite for crossovers continues to grow every year, and one of the cheapest crossovers on the market is the Nissan Kicks. Every trim comes with a 122 horsepower 1.6L four-cylinder engine, with impressive fuel ratings of 31 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. That's not quite on par with the most fuel-sipping sedans and hatchbacks, but it's about as good as you'll get for a crossover.

Even the cheapest models are available with connectivity options including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and there's a suite of standard safety features on offer including Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, and High Beam Assist. Pricier trims add niceties like a Bose sound system and intelligent cruise control, but ticking every option can add up to $3,000 to your total. At that price, there's plenty of competition, with similarly-priced rivals offering better driving dynamics and less spartan interiors. To get the best value, then, it's best to stick with the cheapest Kicks trim.

Chevrolet Trax - $20,400

The Chevy Trax crossover was killed off after the 2022 model year, but recently re-emerged as a 2024 model year car, after skipping 2023 entirely. The car is manufactured in GM's South Korean facility, with the first shipment leaving the country for the U.S. at the end of February 2023. Every Trax is powered by a 1.2L turbocharged three-cylinder engine making 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The 2024 Trax brings the car's design more in line with the rest of Chevy's range, with styling clearly inspired by the Blazer. Although the car officially starts at $20,400, a compulsory fixed destination fee brings its effective MSRP up to $21,495. That's still a very competitive price, especially for a crossover that looks considerably sharper than its main rival, the Nissan Kicks. With its relatively modest power output, it's safe to say that it will be best suited to city and suburban driving rather than long road trips. Still, it's a welcome return for what looks to be a well-equipped resurrection of Chevy's entry-level car.

Nissan Sentra - $20,050

Nissan hasn't changed much on the Sentra for the 2023 model year, but that's no bad thing. Much like the Kicks, it comes with Nissan's Safety Shield 360 package which includes features like Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Pedestrian Detection. A 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, while the car's EPA ratings of 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway are reasonable for the segment.

The exterior styling of the Sentra is starting to look a little tired in comparison to some of its more recently-refreshed rivals, and the 149 horsepower 2.0L four-cylinder engine paired with the standard CVT makes for a rather uninspiring driving experience. It's not really a standout model in any way, but then again, it's a generally competent all-rounder if you're not bothered about styling or driving dynamics. Plus, with 14.3 cubic feet of trunk space on offer, it's one of the roomiest cars at its price point.

Kia Soul - $19,890

The 2023 Kia Soul keeps the unique boxy shape that makes it stand out from the crowd but does sport a few key changes from the previous model year. The biggest of those is that the top-spec Soul Turbo is no longer, which won't matter much to buyers looking to take advantage of the Soul's sub-$20,000 base spec starting price. In fact, the base spec model is arguably better than ever, with more tech now included as standard, including Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, and a Driver Attention Warning.

Two-tone paint options are now available, with the roof able to be painted in either white or black while the body gets a range of more vibrant color options including "Surf Blue." All variants of the Soul come with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine making 147 horsepower, with a standard CVT meaning you don't have to shift your own gears. The car's unusual look and compact size won't be for everyone, but there's plenty to like about this cheap, charming car, not least its attractive MSRP.

Subaru Impreza - $19,795

It's a tried-and-tested formula by now, but the 2023 Subaru Impreza still offers an impressive suite of features for the money. For a fraction over $20,000 when fees are taken into account, you get all-wheel drive and a trusty 2.0L Boxer four-cylinder engine making 152 horsepower. Subaru also notes in its press release that the Impreza is one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive vehicles on the market, regardless of price. Expect up to 36 mpg on the highway and up to 450 miles out of a full tank.

A CVT is equipped as standard and every automatic model comes with Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance package, which includes things like Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, and Rear Seat Reminder. While the 2023 model offers solid value for money, Subaru recently announced the 2024 model, which at the time of writing has yet to go on sale. The 2024 car boasts a few nice-to-have improvements, like Active Torque Vectoring as standard and a redesigned cabin. Pricing for the 2024 model hasn't been announced yet, but it might be worth waiting a few months for its release if you're keen on getting the latest and greatest that Subaru has to offer.

Kia Forte - $19,690

The 2022 Kia Forte saw a major overhaul from its predecessor, and as a result, Kia offered no major changes for 2023. The 2.0L four-cylinder engine remains unchanged with 147 horsepower, and a CVT is the only transmission option. The Forte's fuel economy figures are impressive, with a claimed 41 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg in the city. Kia's suite of safety features is not the most comprehensive in its price bracket but still includes Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, and Pedestrian Forward Collision Avoidance. For other safety features, you'll have to pay for an additional package or upgrade to a higher trim.

The Forte's styling is in line with the rest of Kia's lineup, with an angular face and more sculpted lines that prove "cheap" doesn't always have to equal "bland." It's worth noting that the Forte is among the Hyundai and Kia models that have been affected by the notorious "Kia Boys" trend, which involves teenagers taking advantage of a flaw in the car's security system to steal it and post the resulting joyride on TikTok. While Hyundai has issued updates to fix the flaw on older models and 2023 models are not affected at all, the fallout from the scandal has caused insurance premiums for certain Kia and Hyundai models to increase. As such, it's worth checking how much your insurer will charge to cover a new Forte, as a hefty premium could detract from the car's overall value for money.

Hyundai Venue - $19,650

If you're looking for the cheapest crossover on the market, then this is it. The Hyundai Venue is small even by crossover standards, and with 121 horsepower available from its four-cylinder engine, you won't be getting anywhere too fast, either. There are very few changes for the 2023 model, with the only real differences being that the center console armrest is now standard instead of optional, and the instrument cluster display expands to a 4.2-inch color unit rather than the previous year's 3.5-inch monochrome unit.

The Rear Occupant Alert feature is now also standard, to remind you if you've left anything in the back seats. Despite its modest power and diminutive interior, the Venue remains a solid choice for buyers who want a cheap, cheerful city commuter. It's not great for regular, prolonged highway use, but it's more than perky enough to get you into town, and it won't sip much fuel while it's doing so.

Kia Rio - $16,750

Kia's cheapest car is the Rio, which like much of the rest of Kia's range, doesn't see many changes for the 2023 model year. The only addition is an oil sensor that alerts the driver if levels get too low. The Rio is one of a handful of cars that remain truly under the $20,000 mark once destination fees and taxes have been taken into account, but it's not as drab as you might expect for that price. The sole engine option is a 1.6L four-cylinder making 120 horsepower, which is far from fast but very efficient, with up to 41 mpg achievable on the highway according to the EPA.

Most safety features like Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Avoidance are only available with the optional "S Tech" package, and only a few basics like Hill-Start Assist and Electronic Stability Control come as standard. The infotainment features are more impressive, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration even on base models.

Mitsubishi Mirage - $16,245

While many of the cars on this list do a good job of pretending to be more upmarket than their prices suggest, the Mitsubishi Mirage is not one of those cars. It looks cheap, and it feels cheap, so it's a good job that it is in fact one of the cheapest vehicles you can buy new today. Not a lot has changed for 2023, apart from the fact that the manual transmission is no longer available, with the CVT now the only option.

The Mirage comes with a 1.2L three-cylinder engine making just 78 horsepower, which is acceptable for low-speed city driving but won't cut it on the highway. The EPA rates the car as achieving up to 36 mpg city and 43 mpg highway though, so at least running costs should be cheap. Perhaps the biggest selling point of the Mirage is its 10-year warranty, which is among the best on the market, regardless of price point. It might not be very powerful, refined, or particularly enjoyable to drive, but if you're simply looking for the cheapest possible way to buy and run a new car, the Mirage has you covered.

Nissan Versa - $15,830

The Mirage might work out cheaper to run over several years, but for an upfront purchase price, nothing beats the Nissan Versa. The entry-level compact sedan gained an exterior refresh for 2023, with a bigger grille and more angular styling to replace the rather tired appearance of the 2022 model. The cheapest base-spec Versa gets a five-speed manual transmission, with a CVT available as an optional extra.

In terms of safety features, not much is standard on the cheapest variants of the Versa. Automatic Emergency Braking is included, but that's about it. Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard on higher-spec SV and SVR trims. In manual form, the car only manages 27 mpg in the city, and 35 mpg on the highway, so expect to fill up more frequently than some of the other cars on this list. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also not included as standard on the base-spec trim, but are available as part of the "S Plus" package.