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If you know where to look, you can find the best car for the money with all the features you need pretty easily. We did some digging and put together a complete list of cars from top brands so you can get the most out of your investment. Our list has something for everyone, from entry-level sedans to SUVs and electric vehicles (which will save you money on gas). The best part is that you don’t have to worry about sacrificing power, or even style, for the sake of saving a few bucks.
For context, an early fall 2022 automotive report stated that the average price paid for a new car in the United States was around $48,000. However, that factors in the price of more expensive luxury cars. For this list, we made sure to focus on more affordable options that fall under that budget. We also paid the most attention to value and features.
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The Best Cars for the Money in 2023
1. 2023 Nissan Versa
The 2023 Nissan Versa (MSRP $15,730, Nissan) has features like a well-designed dashboard and intuitive controls. It’s equipped with a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine that can get up to 39 miles per gallon so you don’t have to spend on gas. It has all the standard specs that come with a car at this price point. This includes a Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system, remote keyless entry, and adaptive cruise control. It also has a number of safety features, like lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.
We like that it comes with some premium extras like heated seats and automatic air temperature control systems. The latter just means that they adjust the temperature based on outside weather conditions.
2. 2023 Kia Rio
Because of its cheap price, the Kia Rio (MSRP $16,550 and $17,190, Kia) is a midsize sedan that’s a great option for first-time car buyers. We like that it offers a variety of features, such as power steering and cruise control. It also boasts keyless entry if you opt for the upgraded S version.
The Rio has a 1.6L, 120-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that is not fast by a long shot but will run smoothly on the road. And you can either choose to get the basic 4-door LX and S sedan model or the 5-door hatchback S model. The interior is what you’d normally expect from sedans, but it’s spacious and roomy.
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3. 2022 Hyundai Accent
When you’re looking for a small sedan that can save gas and comes with the standard features you need, check out the Hyundai Accent (MSRP $16,645, Hyundai). At a starting price of around $16,645, it’s one of the cheapest cars on the market. Powered by a 118-horsepower engine, you’re going to get a smooth ride. Just don’t expect it to be the fastest vehicle on the road.
The interior is pretty standard and can comfortably fit five passengers. Note that the rear seats don’t give a whole lot of legroom, though. Nonetheless, you still get extras like a moonroof and an infotainment system. It also comes with all the usual safety features, like automatic emergency braking and cruise control.
4. 2023 Subaru Impreza
Subaru has always been known for their durable cars. The 2023 Subaru Impreza (MSRP $19,795, Subaru) car is reliable and robust, with a sleek design and great fuel efficiency. At the same time, it has a spacious interior with plenty of room for friends and family. The Subaru Impreza comes with safety features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring. It’s also packed with the latest entertainment technology, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Impreza comes with an all-wheel drive. It can handle wet or snowy weather conditions on the road and off-road driving — just like an SUV or truck. Critics point out that out of all the compact cars on the market, this Subaru may be among the slowest. But unless you plan to use this car for drag races, it should be no biggie.
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5. 2023 Kia Soul
Square and boxy immediately spring to mind when you see the 2023 Kia Soul (MSRP $19,790, Kia) for the first time. This Korean-manufactured SUV looks almost exactly like the previous 2020 Kia Soul. However, it comes with a few updates like a sunroof and blind spot assist feature for drivers.
Of course, this Kia Soul brings value, especially for a vehicle in its price category. But what makes this a standout option is its interesting style. For example, instead of putting tail lights at the rear bottom, they are actually wrapped around the rearview mirrors. And while all Kia Soul SUVs come with standard safety features, only its higher priced models like the Soul Turbo have advanced features such as cruise control.
6. 2022 Nissan Sentra
When you want a lot of features, the 2022 Nissan Sentra (MSRP $19,950, Nissan) is the complete package. This model was redesigned from the previous year’s models and looks extremely angular and sleek. The two-tone roof also adds a nice touch. Besides it being a stylish drive, it’s spacious and features roomy front and rear seats with lots of legroom. It also has 14 cubic feet of trunk space, which is big for a small car.
Being a fuel-efficient option, it has an estimated 39 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 miles per gallon in the city; that’s really good for a small car.
Just keep in mind that the Sentra doesn’t feature wireless charging, so you have to bring your own cable to charge your phone. And although it has a 360-degree camera, the quality isn’t outstanding.
7. 2022 Toyota Corolla
The 2022 Toyota Corolla (MSRP $20,425, Toyota) has long been a popular option for those seeking a reliable and affordable vehicle. Its low price makes it a great choice for first-time buyers, while its durability ensures that it will last for years. It is also one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, which helps you save money on fuel costs. Plus, you don’t have to worry about spending a lot on maintenance because of how easy it is to find parts for it and make repairs.
What we especially like is that you’re able to get more miles on a tank of gas. It gets up to 33 miles per gallon which isn’t bad, especially if you drive every day. Overall, this Corolla is a perfect choice for those who want an affordable car and want trade-offs like a sunroof or heated steering wheels.
8. 2022 Volkswagen Jetta
Although Volkswagen is more popular for their SUVs than their sedans, the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta (MSRP $20,655, Volkswagen) is worth considering. This compact sedan can seat up to five passengers comfortably and is designed for everyday drives and long-distance road trips. It features a 4-cylinder engine and a 14.1-cubic foot trunk so you have lots of storage space for your belongings.
It’s also known to offer a smooth ride because of a suspension system that helps to keep the car stable even on rough roads. And according to the manufacturer, the Jetta beats many other car models in terms of miles per gallon.
9. 2022 Hyundai Elantra
If you’re on a tight budget but need a reliable car to get around town, then the 2022 Hyundai Elantra (MSRP $21,450, Hyundai) is an excellent choice. Its features include a comfy interior, cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. If you like to rock out to your favorite tunes while you’re on the highway, its tricked-out infotainment system has an intuitive 8-inch touchscreen.
We also like that it’s designed to save fuel and features a special Eco mode that optimizes the engine. This way, you can save some money when you’re at the pump. The Elantra’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine has the power for practically every type of trip. However, note that its horsepower range is still below competitors like the Honda Civic or the Nissan Altima.
10. 2022 Mazda 3
The 2022 Mazda 3 (MSRP $22,550, Mazda) is a compact car that comes with added features like a turbocharged diesel engine giving it extra power and manual transmission. It also features advanced safety systems that include front, side, and overhead airbags to keep you protected. Plus, it has a 360-degree camera if you need extra vision while parking in small spaces.
The Mazda 3 has adaptive LED headlights that automatically switch between high and low beams if you’re driving at night. However, you should bear in mind that the front has more space than the rear, so you might have to think about whether the lack of legroom is a deal breaker.
11. 2023 Honda Civic Sedan
The 2023 Honda Civic Sedan (MSRP $24,650, Honda) is designed to be sporty and fun to drive. It comes with a luxurious interior and plenty of legroom for up to five passengers. Plus, it offers customized options that let you swap wheel sizes and trims or add heated seats or a sunroof.
The Civic is pretty powerful in terms of acceleration. It comes with all the standard safety features like airbags, cruise control, and lane-keeping assistance. You should note that even though it is considered to be fuel-efficient, there are other cars on the market where you can get more miles to the gallon.
12. 2022 Toyota Camry
Given the Toyota Camry’s popularity, you can probably think of at least one person that drives this car. The 2022 Toyota Camry (MSRP $25,845, Toyota) is no exception. Like previous Camrys, it is a favorite among drivers looking for reliability and fuel efficiency. It’s also extremely stylish, featuring a sleek exterior and metallic grille.
Known for its comfortability, it has ample cabin space, including 42 inches of front legroom — perfect for tall drivers. The rear passenger seats are also roomy, and everyone can ride easy whenever you’re on the road. Furthermore, it has features like heated seats, a steering wheel, and heated side-view mirrors which are perfect for cold winter days. The only drawback is that trunk size is smaller compared to its competitors in its price range.
13. 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
For eco-friendly drivers, the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV (MSRP $31,500, Chevrolet) offers lots of features like great gas mileage, a comfy interior, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s also one of the most affordable electric cars on the market.
Electric cars will always run you more money than your regular car. But because it doesn’t rely on gas, the Bolt EV will cost you less to keep it on the road in the long run. You’ll get around 259 miles for one charge, which is ideal for long distances. It has other cool features, too, like one-pedal driving that lets you slow down or stop just by using the accelerator pedal. Plus, you get free access to Chevrolet Connected Services, which uses an app to track your driving habits and run vehicle diagnostics on your car to alert you if something is wrong.
14. 2023 Mini Cooper Electric Car
The 2023 Mini Cooper Electric (MSRP $34,225, MINI USA) features a 110-mile range. Although there are other EVs with bigger batteries that have more range, this car is perfect for commuting or running daily errands.
Another great pro of this car is its price. It’s slightly under $30,000, making it one of the more affordably priced electric cars to buy. Plus, you’re eligible for a federal tax credit of $7,500, which drives the price down even further. This car is pretty powerful and has automatic emergency braking and rear parking sensors to help you navigate the parking lots or tight spaces. However, if you have a large family or a lot of cargo, this might not be the best choice.
15. 2022 Kia Carnival
One of the coolest and cheapest minivans you can buy is the 2022 Kia Carnival (MSRP $43,430, KIA). This low-cost minivan has several features that set it apart from other vehicles in the same price range, including an extremely roomy interior that’s ideal if you have kids or pets. It also comes with two screens at the back of the front seats, which helps keep kids busy and entertained on long rides.
The car has VIP Lounge Seats with manual controls that make it easy for passengers to come in and out. Unfortunately, not every Kia Carnival comes with this feature, and you can only get it with the higher-end Kia SX Prestige model.