NEW CARS AND SUVS UNDER $30,000 & WHAT YOU GET FOR YOUR MONEY

With the price of goods going up nowadays, minding your dollars and cents is a good idea. The average purchase price of a new vehicle in the U.S. is around $45,000, which translates into high monthly payments stretched out over several years if you don't pay the full amount outright at the dealership.

But there are still some good deals in the new car market, particularly cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) costing less than $30,000, making monthly payments easier to handle. The following is a list of cars and vehicles below that price.

Related: The best used cars & SUVs under $20k according to Consumer Reports

Why pick a new car or SUV under $30,000?

Because of inflation and the high cost of living in the post-pandemic era, you’ll find just a few cars fetching less than $20,000, so the new benchmark of affordability for budget-conscious consumers is to look at vehicles costing less than $30,000. Carmakers from Japan tend to top the list of affordable — and reliable — vehicles, and South Korean and American automakers aren’t far behind.

The prices listed below were compiled from major automakers’ websites. These are the manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) for their base models. Base models typically feature two-wheel drive (2WD) and horsepower (HP) under 200. 

The majority of cars and SUVs on this list operate on gasoline, but a handful of hybrids and one electric vehicle (EV) also made the cut. Fuel economy, in miles per gallon (mpg), and HP were added to the list to show fuel efficiency and the power of the engine. 

As a general rule, the higher the HP, the more costly the vehicle is. The list is also broken down by carmaker, model, year, type of vehicle, and fuel use.

Below is a table of the 10 cheapest of the 60 cars under $30,000 we surveyed, followed by a link to a spreadsheet that includes the entire list. 

AutomakerModelYearTypeFuelBase Price (MSRP)Fuel Economy (miles per gallon)Horsepower

Nissan

Versa

2024

Sedan

Gas

$16,680

27 City / 35 Hwy / 30 Combined

122

Mitsubishi

Mirage

2024

Sedan

Gas

$16,695

36 City / 43 Hwy / 39 Combined

78

Mitsubishi

Mirage G4

2024

Sedan

Gas

$17,795

35 City / 41 Hwy / 37 Combined

78

Hyundai

Venue

2024

SUV

Gas

$19,900

29 City / 33 Hwy / 31 Combined

121

Kia

Forte

2024

Sedan

Gas

$19,990

30 City / 41 Hwy /34 Combined

147

Kia

Soul

2024

SUV

Gas

$20,190

27 City / 33 Hwy / 30 Combined

147

Chevrolet

Trax

2024

SUV

Gas

$20,400

28 City / 32 Hwy / 30 Combined

137

Nissan

Sentra

2024

Sedan

Gas

$21,180

30 City / 40 Hwy / 34 Combined

149

Nissan

Kicks

2024

SUV

Gas

$21,340

31 City / 36 Hwy / 33 Combined

122

Volkswagen

Jetta

2024

Sedan

Gas

$21,345

29 City / 42 Hwy

158

A list of new cars and SUVs under $30,000 can be found in this Google Sheet, based on information for 2024 and 2025 models compiled from carmakers’ websites as of early June 2024.

What to look for in a new car or SUV under $30,000

Most likely, at this price, you will be looking at reliability and fuel economy. A vehicle that’s likely to have the fewest mechanical or maintenance problems years from now will save you time and money down the road, figuratively speaking. 

Gasoline prices fluctuate but generally tend to go up over time, so a hybrid vehicle that runs on a combination of gas and electrical power might offer the best value in the long term.

What are the best new cars and SUVs under $30,000?

Consumer Reports and Car and Driver — publications that offer data, insights, and recommendations to consumers — have made their picks on the latest cars and SUVs under $30,000. 

Consumer Reports named the Mazda 3 as the best small car, the Honda Accord as the best midsize car, and the Subaru Crosstrek as the best small SUV — all based on their road performance. 

Those three vehicles also made the Top 10 lists at Car and Driver, which based its picks on fuel economy, value, acceleration, and handling, among other criteria.

Are there electric vehicles under $30,000?

Battery-powered vehicles aren’t cheap, and there is only one EV that made the list. The Nissan Leaf had the highest fuel economy based on mpg-equivalent, or mpge.

More automotive:

What types of new cars don’t cost less than $30,000?

Electric vehicles, for the most part, remain pricey — even with the federal government’s tax credit. There are also only a few hybrids, which run on a combination of gas and electrical power, that go for less than $30,000.

Also, scratch out cars with high horsepower — most of the vehicles that made our list have a modest horsepower of 150 to 200. Some base models that made this list can be upgraded to hybrid (such as Honda’s Accord Hybrid), but these upgraded models fetch well above $30,000 and consequently don’t appear on this list.

TheStreet’s list cuts off cars and SUVs at $30,000 or more, so this list narrows the field for those who want a cheaper new vehicle. While fuel economy is just one factor to consider further in purchasing a new car or SUV, a test drive could go a long way to help in your decision-making. 

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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