10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 (2016)

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Overview

10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 (2016)

This year's list of affordable cool cars includes a two-door, a three-door, an SUV and a repeat winner (again). All of them are fun, stylish and versatile to varying degrees, and each is available for less than $18,000 according to Kelley Blue Book Fair Market Range and our new-car classified listings.

Surprisingly comfortable on the highway and equally fun on appropriate asphalt, Chevy’s subcompact entry has always impressed us with its well-rounded driving manners. Opt for the affordable, capable, easy-to-use Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system and you’ve got all the basic ingredients for a good time.

All cars on this list qualified as attainable in our local LA Metro region for less than $18,000 as of April 22, 2016, according to Kelley Blue Book Fair Market Range and our new-car classified listings.

Thanks in large part to its Ford of Europe upbringing, Ford’s subcompact car is as fun to drive as it looks. Its driving dynamics are so good, in fact, that the overachieving, high-performance Fiesta ST model even landed a spot on our list of 10 Coolest Cars Under $25,000.

A class leader in practicality, reliability and resale value, the Honda Fit is arguably the smartest choice you can make in the subcompact car category. But it’s also loaded with personality, making it a dual threat to the competition.

Almost a foot shorter than a Mini Cooper, the Fiat 500 is just as big on personality but with an even smaller starting sticker price. More of a city cruiser than a canyon carver, part of the little Fiat’s charm is that beneath the surface it’s simply a pleasant little two-door subcompact car. 

WIth one door on the driver’s side and two doors on the other side, the Veloster is among the most uniquely configured cars on the road. But what makes the Veloster so compelling is that it mixes that standout style with surprising practicality and affordability.

The Soul’s future-industrial design still turns heads, but that’s only part of its cool quotient. A low starting price, impressive standard equipment and yes-I-can cargo versatility make it as smart as it is stylish.

The quiet-cool Golf doesn’t scream for attention, instead earning respect with a mix of elegantly refined but understated exterior styling, a rich interior and impeccably European driving dynamics. Excellent fuel efficiency and hatchback practicality are icing on the German chocolate cake.

For buyers who believe the grass is always greener way over there, beyond the reaches of the road, the Jeep Renegade’s ability and the attitude qualify it as the coolest way to get there for less than $18,000.

Our favorite new car of the year and our Overall Best Buy for 2016, the new Civic essentially reinvented the compact car category overnight. It’s among the roomiest, most comfortable, most fun to drive, most efficient, most feature-packed cars in the class, and it’s still the only one with a Honda badge and all the refinement, reliability and reputation that come with it.

The Mazda3 has been named one of our 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 every year of its existence, a streak now extended to 13 years. Gorgeous and sporty outside as well as inside, the Mazda3 backs it all up with fun-focused driving dynamics. And now that it’s also fuel-efficient and tech-savvy, we wouldn’t bet on this streak coming to an end anytime soon.

 

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