Cheapest New Cars

As gas prices rise and the economy remains challenging, an increasing number of people are looking to save money on their new car purchases. The cheapest car types are normally subcompact and compact models. When you combine their starting prices with their increasingly more fuel efficient-engines and improved quality, their sales have been increasing. For example, the new Ford Fiesta set a monthly sales record in March 2011.

Subcompacts are the cheapest 2011 cars. Some models come in both sedan and hatchback forms while others are hatchback only. 2011 subcompact models include the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Ascent, Mazda Mazda2, Kia Rio5, Scion xD, and Chevrolet Aveo. South Korean manufacturer Daewoo makes the Aveo for Chevy. The Fiesta and Mazda2 are new models for 2012.

The majority of subcompact cars have a hatchback body style although sedans remain popular. Hatchbacks provide more cargo room than a sedan, while delivering comparable fuel economy. Expect this trend of more hatchbacks to continue if gas prices rise above $4 per gallon. In Europe, hatchbacks are much more common than sedans, as gas is expensive and space is at a premium.

Most subcompact models are geared towards fuel economy and affordability. However, there is now a greater variety in the subcompact class, appealing to different types of buyers. For example, the 2011 CR-Z is a subcompact coupe. The Suzuki SX4 Crossover is a hatchback that has all-wheel drive, currently a unique feature among subcompacts. The all-wheel drive costs about $1,000 more than the front-wheel drive model.

There are also more stylish, more refined, and more expensive European designed subcompacts such as the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, which is also new to the U.S. as a 2012 model. There are also tiny subcompacts such as the Smart Fortwo, which only seats two.

There are small, boxy models such as the Nissan Cube, which follows on the success of the Scion xB. These models have been called mini multi-purpose vehicles and are already popular in Japan. More are coming to the U.S. market. Because the subcompact class continues to expand in different forms, some in the automotive industry consider B-segment cars to be subcompacts, reserving the A-segment for smaller mini cars.

Several compact car models are close in price to subcompact models and should also be considered. For example, the excellent 2011 Hyundai Elantra starts at below $15,000, making it an affordable new car purchase. Other models such as the Kia Soul blur the line between subcompact and compact, offering different engine sizes. The base Soul starts at $13,300.