Skip to main content

9 Vehicles With Real-World Prices Below $25K In 2024 - Sentra Is Our Favorite

We run down a list of nine vehicles you can buy new for under $25K in 2024. 

According to new data, there are nine vehicles currently selling at an average transaction price of $25K or less in America. This data is recent as of March 1, 2024. Those nine vehicles are:

Nine vehicles under $25K chart

These nine models make up the most affordable vehicles one can purchase new in 2024. Now, to be clear, you may be able to find a few more vehicles with prices that fall under $25K in their base trims. However, the average transaction price represents better what real-world shoppers are actually paying for vehicles. Also, let’s not forget that dealers add Doc fees to many vehicle sales, and almost every brand uses the MSRP flim-flam to hide thousands in Destination and Delivery fees. No data set is perfect in all ways, but ATP is a much truer representation of the consumer cost of a vehicle than is “Starting at” pricing. 

Image of money by John Goreham. From Where Does This Data Originate?
Each month, writers at many publications look forward to a report created by Kelley Blue Book by Cox Automotive, which provides very detailed information about the average transaction prices (ATP) of vehicles sold in the U.S.

ATP is a great metric because it looks at the transaction price, rather than the advertised price of a given vehicle. Reviews and fanboy publications tend to highlight the “Starting MSRP” of vehicles when, in fact, the imaginary starting price is almost never what a consumer pays and is almost never the as-tested price of a manufacturer-supplied media vehicle. 

Affordability Is Headed In the Wrong Direction
Although this story highlights nine choices of vehicles under $25K, please do not interpret the story’s intent. Affordability is declining, and inflation is outpacing worker compensation increases by leaps and bounds. Just three years ago, there were 29 vehicles with transaction prices below $25,000, and there were eight models with ATPs below $20,000. Manufacturers have little choice but to focus more attention on the top end of the marketplace as electrification and safety mandates continue to drive costs higher. It is easy to hide the price of a $10,000 EV battery in a vehicle costing $100K. It is impossible to do so in a vehicle costing $20K. 

There are two vehicles on the list that have ATPs below $20K. These are the Kia Rio and Mitsubishi Mirage. However, we need to point out that both are being sunsetted by their makers. Inventory will exist for a short time, but by year’s end we expect both to have been sold out. Kia delivered just 648 Rios in February, and during its last delivery report Mitsubishi’s Mirage was trending at about 1,200 units per month. Both are small delivery numbers for mainstream vehicles. 

Affordability Still Includes Cars
Among the nine vehicles under $25K, five are outright cars. These include the Nissan Versa and Sentra, Mitsubishi Mirage, Kia Rio, and the Kia Forte. Call the others what you wish, but tagging these front-wheel-drive subcompact hatchbacks “SUVs” does a disservice to the term “sport utility vehicle.” They are neither sporty nor very good at utility functions. They are affordable small vehicles for commuting and daily driving on a budget.

Nissan SentraWhich Are Our Favorites?
One of the nine, in particular, rises above the rest. That is the Nissan Sentra. When we last tested the top-trim Sentra in 2022, it had an as-tested price of $27,270. The price today according to Nissan's build tool is $27,610. Those prices include the Premium Package and Shipping and Handling but do not include dealer Doc fees. We back-to-back tested the Sentra with a European sports sedan, which cost twice as much, and we like the Sentra better. 

Kia Soul 2024

We are also long-time fans of the Kia Soul. The Soul has a unique shape, and after testing the top-trims and EVs, we actually like the mid-trim Souls better. This is a legit $25K car with a great personality. The Soul also comes with a 10-year warranty. 

Honda Fit and kids image by John GorehamA Notable Absence
One vehicle we dearly miss is the affordable Honda Fit. Here in New England, you can’t turn a corner without seeing a fit in the urban areas. My wife (and former Fit owner) and I joke that the Honda Fit is the “official city car of New England.” Seeing it discontinued a few years back broke our hearts. It was hands-down one of our mutual favorite affordable vehicles. 

Prices are all over the map today. EVs went bonkers during the vehicle shortage and have now bounced back hard in the opposite direction with massive drops in pricing as demand cools. What is clear is that the overall industry is trending toward $35K to $50K ATPs, and that affordable models are being left behind. 

Story Credit Note: Shout-out to Sina Hajhassan of Havas Formula, who often helps us with data beyond what is offered in standard KBB reports. 

John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his eleven years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin.

Image notes: Images are for representative purposes only. Soul image courtesy of Kia. Fit and Sentra images by John Goreham. Image of money by John Goreham.