These Are The Coolest New Cars You'll Find For Under $18,000

Photo: Flickr via msvg

It doesn’t take an expert to whittle down a list of the cheapest new cars on the market right now––but would they be considered “cool”?The brains behind automotive pricing guide Kelly Blue Book decided to find out. In order to pass their editors’ “cool” test, the cars had to not only be fun to ride and own, but also priced at $18,000** or less. 

Just wait till you feast your eyes on No. 1.

**Prices are based on Kelley Blue Book’s Fair Purchase Price. The figure is for a base model with standard options, obtained from on June 18, 2012. 

2012 Volkswagen Jetta: $15,490

Consumer rating: 8.9 out of 10

Fun to drive: 'For those hoping to combine the engagement of a manual with the convenience of an automatic, stop worrying; VW has done it for you.

The DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) employs two clutches and steering-wheel-mounted shifters to provide the perfect blend of git-up-and-go, whether it's on the open road or stop-and-go.' ----KBB

-34 miles per gallon
-115 horsepower

2012 Scion iQ: $15,579

Consumer rating: 9.8 out of 10

Fun to drive: This might look like the typical two-door hatchback, but the Scion iQ is designed with enough room for a third passenger in the back. It's also equipped with a pretty cool accessory:

'You wouldn't think you'd get excited about a steering wheel, but the standard Scion iQ wheel has a fat, leather-wrapped rim, and angular contours that make it look like it came from a Ferrari. Nice.' ----KBB

-37 miles per gallon
-94 horsepower

2012 Kia Soul: $14,067 (Varies)

Consumer rating: 8.4 out of 10.

Fun to drive: With a 350-watt music system and a six-speed auto-transmission, the Kia Soul is a ride that's 'both versatile and affordable,' KBB says.

'Not only does it feature radical themes, such as an available hounds-tooth fabric interior and multi-coloured backlit speaker grilles that pulsate to the music's beat (this feature can be turned on and off), it also is highly functional and just plain fun.'

-164 horsepower
-Not listed on KBB but AutoGuide estimates the Soul gets 27 to 34 mpg

2012 Honda Fit: $15,580

Consumer rating: 8.8 out of 10

Fun to drive: This car is as low maintenance as it gets.

'If getting 35 miles per gallon (mpg) in a car that can fit four full-sized adults sounds like a dream come true, imagine it in a car that costs less than $16,000 and holds its value better than anything in its class.

The 2012 Honda Fit 5-door subcompact can do all these things, plus is fun to drive and inexpensive to maintain.' ----KBB

-35 miles per gallon
-117 horsepower

2012 Ford Fiesta: $13,382

Consumer rating: 8.4 out of 10.

Fun to drive: It's what's on the inside that counts.

'If you're looking for a reason to purchase the 2012 Ford Fiesta over its Japanese and Korean competitors, it can be found in the car's interior.

Ford has done a masterful job with both the Fiesta's interior styling and execution, offering a number of interior packages, including white/black leather seating, black leather with contrasting piping, and plum leather seating surfaces.' ----KBB

-38 miles per gallon
-120 horsepower

2012 Chevrolet Sonic: $14,129

Consumer rating: 8.9 out of 10.

Fun to drive: Break out the iPod: This five-door sedan comes equipped with a snazzy digital speedometer and is bluetooth-enabled, meaning 'you'll appreciate the ability to play your music without having to constantly plug and unplug your phone.' ----KBB

-35 miles per gallon
-138 horsepower

2012 Mazda MAZDA3: $14,786

Consumer rating: 9 out of 10

Fun to drive: This little car packs a big punch.

'Great gas mileage and an enthusiast-oriented chassis are fused with a premium interior and dynamite styling to form the 2012 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback. If you thought you couldn't have all this in a small affordable car, Mazda just proved you wrong.' ----KBB

-33 miles per gallon
-148 horsepower

2012 FIAT 500: $15,306

Consumer rating: 8.5 out of 10

Fun to drive: Get real-time guidance on how to drive more efficiently with the Fiat's eco:Drive system.

'Plug a USB memory stick into the Fiat 500's glovebox-mounted USB port and the car will upload onto it a variety of trip details including carbon dioxide emissions information. Plug the memory stick into your computer and you'll get personalised tips on how to improve your driving efficiency.' ----KBB

-38 miles per gallon
-101 horsepower

2012 Hyundai Veloster: $17,432

Consumer rating: 7.1 out of 10

Fun to drive: Gamers will love this one.

'Hyundai smartly decided to include the nav system's high-res 7-inch touch-screen as standard equipment. Paired with Pandora Internet radio integration, Gracenote music organisation, and a port that allows the connection of a video game console the 2012 Hyundai Veloster coupe/hatchback's standard touch screen forms the core of a very solid information and entertainment system.' ----KBB

- 40 miles per gallon
- 138 horsepower

2013 Dodge Dart: $16,790

Consumer rating: Not yet listed.

Fun to drive: It's all about the looks.

'The 2013 Dodge Dart's sleek and sexy exterior previews a number of cues that will also appear in subsequent Dodge models. With its long (106.4-inch) wheelbase, short overhangs and relatively wide stance, the Dart has a well-planted look even when it's standing still.' ----KBB

-36 miles per gallon
-160 horsepower

Now that you've seen the best wheels for a budget...

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