The Cheapest New Cars of 2018




Each year, I enjoy researching and publishing a ranking of the cheapest new cars sold in the US market. This post ranks the top 10 cheapest new cars of 2018.

If you’re in the market to buy, I’d also recommend pricing out the same models for the prior model year for a comparison. With dealers wanting to get rid of last year’s inventory and shift focus to the 2018 models, there is the potential to find a great deal on previous model years (and in most cases, they are the exact same car).

I have made efforts to limit my vehicle use, but am still somewhat dependent on a vehicle and I know many others here are too. As a vehicle consumer, I think it is interesting to see what’s trending in the automotive market and what cost and fuel-efficiencies have been gained. There is value in knowing what to look for now (in limited circumstances) or down the road.

That said, it’s worth noting that this list of the cheapest new cars is not an endorsement for everyone to go out and buy a new car. When it comes to optimizing your finances, vehicle ownership has a few rules that should be applied:

  1. Try your best to live without a car. If you can, opt for public transportation, biking, walking, and carpooling.
  2. If you have a 2-car household, try to downsize from 2 cars to 1. I shifted from 2 cars to 1 eight years ago and it has saved a ton of money.
  3. Drive your car into the ground by properly maintaining it, until the cost of maintenance absolutely outweighs the benefit of holding on to it. New cars these days should easily be able to go 15+ years.
  4. If you do need a car, research and negotiate to get a great deal. I don’t believe in the “always buy used” motto. With proper incentives, new cars may actually be a cheaper option, particularly with the used car market being over-priced. Do your homework to find the most economical option for you.

Cheapest New Cars 2018When looking for the cheapest new cars, there is a whole lot more to finding the the most affordable car than just looking at sticker price. For your convenience, I’ve included:

  • the base auto transmission model. Some of these vehicles don’t have a manual transmission option. And if they do, they can be hard to find and sell. If you can find and drive a manual, it could save you roughly $800 – $1,200.
  • MSRP (you should not pay this much if you use an effective new car negotiation strategy)
  • factory invoice price

Also, price out vehicles at TrueCar.com and KBB.com to see not only what the MSRP and factory invoices are, but what actual buyers are paying in your market.

I’ve also included other variables that impact total cost:

  • city and highway MPG fuel efficiency
  • average annual fuel cost (from the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov at $2.45 per gallon of regular unleaded, 15,000 miles driven (45% city, 55% highway)
  • length of basic and powertrain warranties

Finally, I highly recommend pricing out insurance premiums at a number of automotive insurers prior to choosing which car to purchase.




The Cheapest New Cars of 2018

We’re entering a period of disappointing new market entrants in the economical compact and subcompact segments, with gas prices are as low as they are.

Zero new subcompact or compact cars hit the market, out of 39 new 2018 model vehicles. The upside is that 3 redesigns in the compact/subcompact segment did make this list – the Kia Rio, Honda Fit, and the Hyundai Accent.

Unfortunately, I think what you’re seeing is a movement away from small, compact vehicles with gasoline prices having been in the $2 – $2.50 per gallon range for quite a while now, with no sustained increase in price in sight. Manufacturers are moving away from adding small, fuel-efficient vehicles to their lineups because of their low profit margins and consumer purchasing behavior. Fuel efficiency is gravitating more and more to electric-drive vehicles, and not smaller cars. I’ll be exploring this further in my upcoming ranking of the most fuel-efficient cars of 2018.

One big revision from 2017 to 2018 the removal of the Smart Fortwo Coupe, as Smart will no longer sell the gasoline powered versions of its cars in the U.S. (it will continue selling electric, however). The Honda Fit rejoins the top 10 list as a result. Additionally, last year’s Fiat 500 POP, listed below, will continue selling into 2018 until the newer model is released.

The Nissan Versa, Chevy Spark, and Mitsubishi Mirage (#1 – #3 on this list) are all winners at their price points. They offer the most value with their sizes, top in class fuel efficiency, and lowest prices.

Here are the top 10 cheapest new cars of 2018, in order. Which would you pick, if you were in the market for a new car?

10. Honda Fit

  • 2018 Honda FitBase Automatic Transmission model: Honda Fit LX, 4-Door Hatchback
  • MSRP: $17,880
  • Factory Invoice Price: $17,429
  • Engine Specs: 1.5L, Continuously Variable Auto Transmission (CVT), 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 130 HP
  • City MPG: 33
  • Highway MPG: 40
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,000
  • Powertrain Warranty: 5 years, 60,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 3 years, 36,000 miles
  • Overview: The redesigned 2018 Fit rejoins the top 10 list, with extended cargo space and new trim work. The combo of style, fuel-efficiency, utility, and resale value makes the Fit one of the better values on this list.

9. Chevy Sonic

  • 2018 Chevy SonicBase Automatic Transmission model: Chevy Sonic LS, 4-Door Sedan
  • MSRP: $17,370
  • Factory Invoice Price: $16,942
  • Engine Specs: 1.8L, 6-speed Auto, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 138 HP
  • City MPG: 25
  • Highway MPG: 34
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,300
  • Powertrain Warranty: 5 years, 60,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 3 years, 36,000 miles
  • Overview: There is a 1.4L turbo Sonic also available, but still in limited production and it is more expensive. The base 1.8L is inefficient (least efficient car on this list) and is even less efficient than the much larger Malibu. This is, however, one of the top selling compact cars on the market.

8. Toyota Yaris

  • 2018 Toyota YarisBase Automatic Transmission model: Toyota Yaris L, 3-Door Hatchback
  • MSRP: $17,280
  • Factory Invoice Price: $17,135
  • Engine Specs: 1.5L, 4-Speed Auto Transmission, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 106 HP
  • City MPG: 30
  • Highway MPG: 35
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,150
  • Powertrain Warranty: 5 years, 60,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 3 years, 36,000 miles
  • Overview: The Yaris is drastically in need of an update. Still running on a 4-speed, while many other subcompacts have moved over to 6-speed or CVT’s for improved fuel efficiency.

7. Hyundai Accent

  • 2018 Hyundai AccentBase Automatic Transmission model: Hyundai Accent SE, 4-Door Sedan
  • MSRP: $16,630
  • Factory Invoice Price: $16,183
  • Engine Specs: 1.6L, 6-speed Auto Transmission, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 130 HP
  • City MPG: 26
  • Highway MPG: 36
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,150
  • Powertrain Warranty: 10 years, 100,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 5 years, 60,000 miles
  • Overview: New redesign this year with 2 mpg of increased city and highway fuel efficiency.

6. Fiat 500

  • 2018 Fiat 500 POPBase Automatic Transmission model: Fiat 500 Pop, 2-door hatchback
  • MSRP: $15,990
  • Factory Invoice Price: $15,940
  • Engine Specs: 1.4L, 6-speed Auto Transmission, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 101 HP
  • City MPG: 27
  • Highway MPG: 33
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,400
  • Powertrain Warranty: 4 years, 50,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 4 years, 50,000 miles
  • Overview: New entrant to the list last year and now the smallest car on the list with the Smart ForTwo ending production. Still waiting for release notes on the 2018 Fiat 500.

5. Ford Fiesta

  • 2018 Ford FiestaBase Automatic Transmission model: Ford Fiesta S Sedan, 4-Door
  • MSRP: $16,085
  • Factory Invoice Price: $15,818
  • Engine Specs: 1.6L, 6-speed Auto Transmission, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 120 HP
  • City MPG: 27
  • Highway MPG: 37
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,200
  • Powertrain Warranty: 5 years, 60,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 3 years, 36,000 miles
  • Overview: The Fiesta is still hanging around in the top 5 and is one of the best selling compact cars in the U.S. A new 3 cylinder turbo joins its lineup in 2018 as well.

4. Kia Rio

  • 2018 Kia RioBase Automatic Transmission model: Kia Rio LX, 4-Door Sedan
  • MSRP: $15,885
  • Factory Invoice Price: $15,573
  • Engine Specs: 1.6L, 6-speed Auto Transmission, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 130 HP
  • City MPG: 28
  • Highway MPG: 37
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,150
  • Powertrain Warranty: 10 years, 100,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 5 years, 60,000 miles
  • Overview: Redesigned model year with more head and legroom, and a cheaper price. Engine is the same size, but more efficient (and less horsepower). Great value at this price, especially when you factor in the industry-leading warranty.

3. Mitsubishi Mirage

  • 2018 Mitsubishi MirageBase Automatic Transmission model: Mitsubishi Mirage ES, 4-Door Hatchback
  • MSRP: $15,585
  • Factory Invoice Price: $15,141
  • Engine Specs: 1.2L, Continuously Variable Auto Transmission (CVT), 12 valve, 3 cylinder, 78 HP
  • City MPG: 37
  • Highway MPG: 43
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $950
  • Powertrain Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles for original owners, 5 years/60,000 for subsequent owners
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Overview: Newly redesigned last year with outstanding fuel economy (it’s the only 3 cylinder on this list) and a really strong warranty. Great value.

2. Nissan Versa

  • 2018 Nissan VersaBase Automatic Transmission model: Nissan Versa Sedan S+, 4 Door
  • MSRP: $15,135
  • Factory Invoice Price: $15,167
  • Engine Specs: 1.6L, CVT Transmission, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, 109 HP
  • City MPG: 31
  • Highway MPG: 39
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,100
  • Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Overview: The Nissan Versa drops from the #1 spot as the cheapest new car of 2018, mostly due to a price increase of $590 over last year. That could be due to the switch from a 4-speed to CVT transmission in the base model that improves the fuel efficiency by 5 MPG city and 4 MPG highway.

1. Chevy Spark

  • 2018 Chevy SparkBase Automatic Transmission model: Chevy Spark LS, 4-Door Hatchback
  • MSRP: $15,025
  • Factory Invoice Price: $14,813
  • Engine Specs: 1.4L, Continuously Variable Auto Transmission (CVT), 98 Horsepower
  • City MPG: 30
  • Highway MPG: 38
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1,100
  • Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Limited Basic Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Overview: The Chevy Spark takes the #1 spot as the cheapest new car of 2018 due to a price increase of only $50 over last year. Great fuel economy, and an all around strong value. Side note: the EV version of the Spark will be replaced by the Chevy Bolt in 2018.

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  1. FRANCIS MCMASTER
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