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10 Cheap Cars Recommended by Consumer Reports

Ten solid, safe, and reliable new models recommended by CR analysts who state that these models have the lowest transaction prices today, which includes one surprising traditional American car maker.

According to a recent Consumer Reports newsletter update on the lowest price you can expect to pay on a new car, lower-priced models are not untouched by the current market and giving new car shoppers sticker shock when they discover that they will have to pay premium prices that reach $1,000 or more to the MSRP of the least expensive new models available today. Which is why it helps to find out what car buyers are actually paying right now with this recent update from CR analysts.

What Cars Are the Cheapest to Buy Right Now?

Fortunately, CR analysts are watching the market closely and trying to find the makes and models that will provide new car shoppers with good, solid, and reliable cars without having to go into serious car debt.

To help members find the best car at the lowest cost, we have analyzed the average transaction price for new cars using national data from TrueCar, a CR partner, and sorted all models based on their selling price. We then selected 10 models to highlight that are recommended by CR, meeting our stringent standards for road-test performance, owner satisfaction, reliability, and safety,” stated CR automotive experts.

All ten of featured models are from makers Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Buick, Subaru, and Toyota.

Despite the lower transaction prices, all models listed, “…meet CR’s stringent standards for road-test performance, owner satisfaction, reliability, and safety from the list.”

Which is the Cheapest and Most Reliable Model?

From CR’s list you will find amongst the recommended models, “…those models ranked based on transaction price—not MSRP—starting with the cheapest model, at $21,135. Because we’re citing actual figures, we list the specific configuration. Other versions of the featured models often carry relatively similar pricing, with the same percentage above or below MSRP,” states the recent newsletter update.

However, when it comes to the most reliable of the pack, both Toyota models (Corolla and Corolla Hatchback) rate significantly higher in reliability than the rest making the extra $1,000 above MSRP a better buy considering the cost of repairs today.

10 Cheap Cars That CR Recommends

1. Kia Forte 2024

Price Range:  $19,990 - $25,390

CR MPG:  Overall 34 / City 22 / Hwy 49 mpg

#14 of 18 Compact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Kia Forte LXS IVT
Average transaction price: $21,135
Average spent over MSRP: $645
MSRP: $20,490

2. Nissan Sentra 2024

Price Range:  $21,180 - $24,270

CR MPG:  Overall 32 / City 22 / Hwy 44 mpg

#15 of 18 Compact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Nissan Sentra SV CVT
Average transaction price: $21,960
Average spent over MSRP: $150
MSRP: $22,110

3. Hyundai Venue 2024

Price Range:  $19,900 - $23,150

CR MPG:  Overall 32 / City 23 / Hwy 41 mpg

#2 of 5 Subcompact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Hyundai Venue SEL IVT
Average transaction price: $22,184
Average spent over MSRP: $284
MSRP: $21,900

4. Toyota Corolla 2024

Price Range:  $22,050 - $28,340

CR MPG:  Overall 36 / City 24 / Hwy 51 mpg

#8 of 18 Compact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Toyota Corolla LE
Average transaction price: $22,983
Average spent over MSRP: $933
MSRP: $22,050

5. Buick Envista 2024

Price Range:  $22,400 - $28,600

CR MPG:  Overall 29 / City 21 / Hwy 39 mpg

#5 of 7 Luxury entry-level cars

Recommended model: 2024 Buick Envista Preferred
Average transaction price: $23,438
Average spent over MSRP: $1,038
MSRP: $22,400

6. Toyota Corolla Hatchback 2024

Price Range:  $23,505 - $26,805

CR MPG:  Overall 36 / City 24 / Hwy 51 mpg

#12 of 18 Compact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE CVT
Average transaction price: $23,942
Average spent over MSRP: $437
MSRP: $23,505

7. Nissan Kicks 2024

Price Range:  $21,340 - $23,900

CR MPG:  Overall 32 / City 24 / Hwy 40 mpg

#1 of 5 Subcompact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Nissan Kicks SV FWD
Average transaction price: $23,985
Average spent over MSRP: $785
MSRP: $23,200

8. Hyundai Elantra 2024

Price Range:  $21,625 - $35,200

CR MPG:  Overall 33 / City 21 / Hwy 49 mpg

#9 of 18 Compact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Hyundai Elantra SEL IVT
Average transaction price: $24,044
Average spent over MSRP: $469
MSRP: $23,575

9. Mazda 3 2024

Price Range:  $24,170 - $36,650

CR MPG:  Overall 30 / City 20 / Hwy 44 mpg

#4 of 18 Compact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Mazda3 2.5 S Select Sport FWD
Average transaction price: $24,185
Average spent over MSRP: $505
MSRP: $24,690

10. Subaru Impreza 2024

Price Range:  $22,995 - $27,885

CR MPG:  Overall 29 / City 19 / Hwy 42 mpg

#6 of 18 Compact cars

Recommended model: 2024 Subaru Impreza Sport AWD
Average transaction price: $24,561
Average spent under MSRP: $434
MSRP: $24,995

For a more detailed breakdown of the data, please visit the CR website. Note that while access to some information requires a CR membership, the potential savings make it negligible in comparison when looking for the latest information to aid your car buying research.

Avoid Getting Ripped Off at the Dealership

Even though the prices of the models are based on the analyzed average transaction price for new cars, your actual price can vary significantly from what was posted by CR analysts; There’s more to buying a car than going to a dealership with the numbers listed. Dealers will resort to any number of rip-offs that can add thousands to your final buying price.

To help you navigate your way through the treacherous waters of a car dealership lot, here is some useful advice from the Car Help Corner YouTube channel that points out the 5 biggest rip-off tactics/Red Flags you need to be aware of that car dealers use to inflate their sales, such as:

  • Tied Selling: Using add-ons to make you believe you have to pay more for the car.
  • Forced Financing: Either refusing cash or increasing the price for cash deals.
  • Bait and Switch: False advertising of a vehicle that is not actually available or available for the advertised price.
  • Hiding Incentives: Cash rebates held back by the dealer to pocket for themselves.
  • Misvaluing Your Used Car: Low balling you on your Trade-In.

5 Biggest Car Dealer Rip Offs That Cost You Thousands

For more CR-related car shopping help, here are three useful ones with car shopping advice for consumers:

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on  “Zen and the Art of DIY Car Repair” website, the Zen Mechanic blog and on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

COMING UP NEXT: Best New-Car Deals for July 4th Recommended by Consumer Reports

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