These economical cars for grownups cost less than average, perform well in crash tests
by James R. Healey, AARP, July 29, 2019 | Comments: 14
A couple looking to buy a car speaks with a salesman
DON MASON/GETTY IMAGES
En español | Are any new cars affordable nowadays?
Yes, if you define affordable as vehicles priced below the current average selling price of about $37,000.
We searched for new models with above-average safety scores, a nice array of features and solid comfort, all for less-than-average prices.
Our picks get the top five-star crash safety rating on most or all the crash tests from the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the top “good” rating on most or all tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a trade organization. Plus they score well in most categories that the widely read Consumer Reports has tested and typically earn the publication’s “recommended” mark.
What’s more, they’re cheaper than average to insure, according to an analysis for AARP by Penny Gusner, consumer analyst at Insure.com. The U.S. average for our eight picks is $1,479, ranging from $1,306 to $1,685, versus the national average for all vehicles of $1,812.
Gusner cautions that individual policies vary based on the amount of coverage you select and things such as age, gender, driving record and even your credit score.
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Our choices also are based on our own test drives, those of others and interviews with industry experts. We use the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, commonly thought of as the sticker price and include destination charge, as our price guide.
Because discounts are common, you might be able to get a fancier version of a vehicle we recommend and keep it under the industrywide average price.
Sizes range from small to big and types from sports cars to SUVs. Hybrid versions of many models, including some of our picks, score as well as or better than models that come only in gas-electric hybrid.
We’re also happy to toss in some cars you probably would overlook.
These were the newest available models in early July 2019.
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PHOTO BY: KIA MOTORS AMERICA
Kia’s Soul is redesigned and slightly enlarged for the 2020 model year. A mongrel blend of sport utility vehicle without all-wheel drive, hatchback sedan and wagon, it’s an occupant-friendly, city-friendly four door.
It sits high enough that it’s easier to get into and out of than a regular sedan. Its electric version comes in under our price cap.
And the top-priced gasoline Soul, the GT with a turbocharged engine, runs about $28,000, definitely less than the $37,000 new-vehicle average.
Get the turbo, says Mark Takahashi, senior reviews editor at auto researcher Edmunds.
“The base engine is pretty weak sauce, noticeable even to people not that interested in performance,” he says.
“Kia Soul is a good one,” agrees Executive Editor Brian Moody of Autotrader, an industry publication and new- and used-car research site.