Special Report

10 Cheapest Cars in America

Traffic JamU.S. auto sales appear to be having a record year. With auto buyers encouraged by dealer discounts, inexpensive credit, and depressed gas prices, car and light-duty truck sales in September were up by 15.8%, compared to the same month last year.

While cheap fuel has led to a significant rise in SUV sales, many Americans are still looking to buy entry-level vehicles. The average purchase price of a vehicle was $33,730 in September, but there are several vehicles available for sale in the U.S. for less than half this value, including a Nissan Versa, which can be purchased for $11,742. Based on vehicle valuation site Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) estimate of fair purchase price, which determines what buyers should be paying for a car considering actual sales as well as supply and demand, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 cheapest cars available to purchase in the U.S.

The class, or size, of the vehicle, is usually a clear determinant for the purchase price. While there will be variations based on features and brand pedigree, large SUVs, for example, will generally be more expensive than mid-size sedans. For this reason, the cheapest vehicles are all compact or subcompact cars.

These are the 10 cheapest cars in America. 

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., KBB analyst Tim Fleming agreed that “vehicles on this list are on the very, very small end of the spectrum.” He noted that two of these — the smart fortwo and the Scion iQ — “are the smallest models by size on the U.S. market right now.”

Because these vehicles tend to be among the smallest, they are often marketed as entry-level vehicles by manufacturers. “These are the entry-level models for the different manufacturers. They’re small, they don’t have as many features as some of the other models on the market, and they’re marketed mostly for people buying their first car,” Fleming added.

If a particular model is in low demand, dealers are more likely to sell these vehicles for less. As American car buyers have gravitated towards large SUVs, some of these inexpensive smaller cars appear to be suffering from particularly low demand. While U.S. car sales are up by more than 5% so far in 2015 over the same period last year, sales of six of the 10 cheapest models are down over the same period. Three of these are down by more than 30%.

While low demand may be a factor in the low cost of these vehicles, Fleming cautioned that demand is likely not as significant a driver as it would be for other car types: “One thing we tend to see is that even on the smaller, cheaper cars: they’re already priced so low that we don’t really see dealers giving huge discounts on them, because they can’t go much lower.”

To identify the 10 cheapest cars for sale in the U.S., 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Kelley Blue Book’s current fair purchase price, which is the site’s estimate for how much an autobuyer should expect to pay for a vehicle based on existing purchase data. In addition, we considered monthly and year-to-date car sales data through September. Model specifications, including fuel efficiency, were obtained on dealer websites.

These are the 10 cheapest cars in America.

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