Car Reviews

What are the Best Cars for Under $30K?

By TheCarzingTeam September 30, 2022 | Car Reviews

Car Reviews

Car prices are rising, and now the average price of a new car is more than $40K. For some buyers, paying this amount of money for a new vehicle just isn’t feasible. Jerry explains that even with a great interest rate (2 percent), the monthly payment for a $40K vehicle financed over 36 months can be more than $1,100; at 5 percent for 72 months, the payment would still be more than $720.

Interest rates are higher, though, and that bumps the payments. For buyers who aren’t willing or able to afford the financing for a $40K vehicle, there are many lower-priced vehicles on the market. What are the best cars for under $30K?

Here are the options from the five most affordable vehicles on the market to several budget-friendly SUVs and even electric models, too. Even with a more limited budget, there’s a great car for every buyer!

Best Cars for Under $30K

The Five Most Affordable Vehicles

Some buyers don’t simply want to keep their budget below $30K, they want the most affordable model possible. The good news for these buyers is that while there are a number of models available for less than $30K, many manufacturers offer models priced less than $20K.

For those who want the lowest-priced vehicle, here are the most affordable models available now:

1.   Chevrolet Spark

Not only is the Spark incredibly affordable at $13,600, but it’s also one of the most fuel efficient models on the market. The Spark gets 30 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway.

2.   Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mirage is priced at $14,645, but it’s the most fuel efficient vehicle on the market. It can get 36 MPG in the city and 43 MPG on the highway. However, it does only offer a three-cylinder 78-horsepower engine. While it’s inexpensive to purchase and to drive, its acceleration might be lacking.  

3.   Nissan Versa

The Versa hits the $15K range and starts at $15,380. It’s also quite fuel efficient; the Versa gets 32 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway.

4.   Kia Rio

The Kia Rio starts at $16,450 and offers slightly better fuel efficiency than the Versa—33 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway.

5.   Hyundai Accent

The Hyundai Accent is the fifth most affordable model available, coming in at a starting MSRP of $16,645.It offers the same fuel efficiency specs as the Rio—33 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway.

While these vehicles are the most affordable new models available, there are still many other options that fall below the $20K mark and even more that are less than the $30K threshold. However, the most affordable vehicles also offer a double whammy of savings—not only do they have a low base price, but they also provide some of the best fuel efficiency specs, too.

Best Cars for Under $30K

SUVs that are Less than $30K

SUVs have become a popular vehicle; in fact, in the list of best-selling vehicles released by Car and Driver (for 2021), pickup trucks and SUV models comprised the majority of the list. SUVS tend to be a more expensive vehicle; not only are they heavier and roomier, but many models also provide decent towing power, too.

Families might look for three-row SUVs as they offer the most passenger and cargo space. Are there any three-row SUVs less than $30K? There is one model recommended by KBB that offers space for six to seven passengers and three-rows of seats. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) rounded up the best SUVs that are less than $30K; the site’s top five choices included:

1.   Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 also is one of the most popular cars in the country; it was the fourth best-selling vehicle of 2021. The 2022 RAV4 starts at $26,975, has space for five and can get up to 27 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. In addition, the RAV4 earned a Top Safety Pick (with specific headlights) rating/award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

2.   Kia Seltos

The 2022 Seltos is priced in the low $20K range—it starts at $22,840. It has room for five and can get 29 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. The Seltos also received a Top Safety Pick award/rating (with specific headlights) from the IIHS.

3.   Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe is priced just under $30K, with a starting MSRP of $27,700. It has space for five and can get up to 28 MPG on the highway. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe received a Top Safety Pick+ rating/award from the IIHS.

4.   Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V was the fifth best-selling vehicle of 2021. The 2022 CR-V starts at $26,800 and can get up to 28 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway.  The 2022 CR-V received a Top Safety Pick rating/award (with specific headlights) from the IIHS.

5.   Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento was KBB’s fifth pick among the best SUVs priced less than $30K. The Sorento starts at $29,590—just below the $30K mark. The Sorento can get up to 24 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. The Kia Sorento is the one SUV on the list that offers three rows of seating and has space for six to seven. In addition, the 2022 Sorento received a Top Safety Pick award/rating from the IIHS.

These Midsize Sedans are Less than $30K

Some buyers don’t want a compact car, but they also don’t want an SUV. Sedans offer more space than the small or compact vehicle, although they are priced higher. Still, many sedans start less than $30K, and some are even slightly less than $20K. Here are five affordable midsize sedans:

1.   Toyota Camry

The Camry was the most popular sedan (by sales volume) of 2021. The 2022 Camry is budget-friendly and offers decent fuel efficiency, too. The Camry starts at $25,845 and can get up to 28 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. In addition, the 2022 Camry received a Top Safety Pick+ rating/award from the IIHS.

2.   Nissan Altima

The 2022 Nissan Altima is a midsize sedan and is priced at $24,900 and can get up to 28 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway.  It received a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS.

3.   Hyundai Sonata

The 2022 Hyundai Sonata has a starting MSRP of $24,500 and can get up to 38 MPG on the highway. The 2022 Sonata received a Top Safety Pick (with specific headlights) from the IIHS.

4.   Kia K5

The 2022 Kia K5 starts at $25,090. It offers comparable fuel efficiency as the competition–29 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. In addition, the 2022 K5 also received a Top Safety Pick+ rating/award from IIHS.

5.   Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu is Chevrolet’s midsize sedan; it starts at $23,400 and is one of the most affordable midsize sedans. It can get up to 29 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway.

Best Cars for Under $30K

Are There Any Electric Models Available for Less than $30K?

Buyers who are interested in swapping out their standard gas tank for a rechargeable battery might wonder if there are any budget-friendly electric cars that are priced less than $30K. While the affordable choices for electric vehicles are a bit more limited, there is one electric car that is less than $30K:

Nissan Leaf

The Leaf is actually the most affordable electric model available. It starts at $27,800 and has an estimated range of 212 miles.

While the Leaf is the only model that could be affordable for those with less than $30K to spend, buyers also could choose to lease an electric model (if applicable) or look for pre-owned or used models. Depending on the popularity of electric vehicles in the area, though, the available models could be limited.

Affordable Hybrid Models that are Less than $30K

While there is only one electric model that falls below the $30K price range, there are several affordable hybrids for buyers with less than $30K in their budget. Motor Trend included a list of the most affordable hybrids that were less than $30K, and the five least expensive models included:

1.   Ford Maverick

While this hybrid truck is affordable and starts at less than $20K, it’s also unavailable. Ford has stopped accepting orders for its Maverick because the model was so popular.

2.   Hyundai Ioniq Blue

The 2022 Ioniq Blue starts at around $23,600. It’s an incredibly fuel efficient option, offering up to 58 MPG in the city and 60 MPG on the highway.

3.   Toyota Corolla Hybrid

The 2022 Corolla Hybrid starts at $24,050 and can get up to 53 MPG in the city and 52 MPG on the highway.

4.   Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue

The 2022 Elantra Hybrid Blue starts at $24,100 and can get up to 53 MPG in the city and 56 MPG on the highway. The 2022 Elantra Hybrid earned a Top Safety Pick (with specific headlights) from the IIHS.

5.   Toyota Prius L Eco

The Toyota Prius L Eco starts at $25,075 and is incredibly fuel efficient; it can get up to 58 MPG in the city and 53 MPG on the highway.

While the average price of a new car might be more than $40K, buyers who are limited to a budget of less than $30K still have plenty of options. From compact cars to hybrid models or even an electric Nissan Leaf, manufacturers offer many affordable and fuel-efficient models.

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