These Are the Cheapest Cars You Can Buy in America

Print Email

American vehicle tastes have swung toward hulking SUVs and pickups, along with sleek crossovers. The sedan and coupe markets have been so badly damaged that Ford has abandoned the business altogether, leaving its 50-year-old Mustang as its only placeholder in the market. Other manufacturers have cut back their car model counts as well. Yet, there is still a place for the low-priced, high gas mileage, small engine autos. Some of them have price tags well under $18,000 — in some cases closer to $16,000. And that is before discounts handed out by manufacturers and dealers to get buyers through the door.

At one time, all the major car companies that sold vehicles in the United States had small cars. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 and 1974 forced manufacturers to go to lighter cars with smaller engines. Gasoline prices had become too high, and there was no predicting whether a similar event would cause trouble again. The Japanese had an early lead in the business, but the U.S. companies moved swiftly into the market so as not allow most of the sales to go to importers. However, Honda, Toyota and Nissan had staked claims to the market, and the U.S. companies did not effectively fight back for several years.

Makers of the least expensive cars in America sell few units anymore. Cars from Japanese and South Korean companies dominate the list. One of them, the Yaris, will be discontinued but is still sold as Toyota works its inventory down. Three of the cars have manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) below $17,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. These are the Chevy Spark, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris iA.

A look at the Chevy website shows that the Spark is available with incentives as high as $2,000. Its already low price is deemed insufficient to bring in enough buyers. The cost is usually not the only factor in deciding what’s the right car for someone. So some vehicles end up sitting on dealership lots of months — these are the cars Americans don’t want to buy anymore.

From Kelley Blue Book, these are the least expensive cars in America based on MSRP. The unit sales are from July.

Model MSRP Sales
Chevrolet Spark $16,119 2,394
Nissan Versa $16,471 2,702
Toyota Yaris iA $16,963 1,351
Mitsubishi Mirage $17,374 3,256
Kia Rio $17,251 2,266
Hyundai Accent $17,748 1,830
Ford Fiesta $18,046 5,705
Toyota Yaris $18,537 19
Honda Fit $18,902 3,378
Honda Sentra $20,812 16,365
Chevrolet Sonic $20,709 830
Kia Forte $20,767 9,172

But what about insurance? The amount Americans pay for car insurance depends on many factors, including driver age, driving record, location, and, of course, the kind of vehicle — these are the most expensive cars to insure.