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Best Car Deals Under $18,000

Thanks to traditionally budget-friendly brands like Kia upping their quality and style game over the past half-decade, it has never been easier to find a new car deal that works for your bottom line, meets your safety demands, fulfills all your high-tech needs, and is capable of serving as a 4-wheeled extension of your unique personality.

2019-Kia-Soul.jpgCourtesy Kia

2019 Kia Soul

 

Starting at $16,490: Available in a striking “Alien Green” exterior paint color, the distinctive 2019 Kia Soul is the best car deal for budget car shoppers looking not only to make a statement on the road but also to join an unofficial club of idiosyncratic Soul owners from Coast to Coast. Even in the base model Soul, a rear-camera dash display and Bluetooth Wireless technology are standard. Bonus: Opting for the Kia Soul’s automatic transmission package will only tick the total slightly north of 18K. Double bonus: The 2020 redesigned Soul is now rolling out to dealers, making the 2019 model even more of a deal at the dealership!

2019-Chevy-Spark-Raspberry.jpgCourtesy Chevrolet

2019 Chevy Spark

Starting at $15,195: The Spark is the sales leader in the mini-car segment thanks to standard rear park assist, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, plus a free month of the incomparable OnStar Safety & Security coverage which includes automatic crash response. Even at the base level, the 2019 Chevy Spark is Bluetooth ready and features a seven-inch color touchscreen. We love that the 2019 Spark comes in a Raspberry exterior paint job (pictured) that’s almost too precious for words but doesn’t cost a penny extra.
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2019-Toyota-Yaris.jpgCourtesy Toyota

2019 Toyota Yaris

Starting at $15,450: The most eye-catching thing about the 2019 Toyota Yaris isn’t its attractive body shape, but rather, the Active Safety System and Pre-Collision System that are included as standard equipment across the entire Yaris lineup. Starting at less than $16,000 (and still under $17K for an automatic transmission upgrade), this is an unprecedented level of safety equipment for a car at this price. It makes the 2019 Yaris a great car deal for everyone wanting a safe, stylish car at an affordable price. These are red flags to look for in a used car.

Kia-Rio-5-door.jpgPhilip Van der Vossen/via gunaxin.com

2018 Kia Rio 5-Door Hatchback

Starting at $16,490: A favorite of popular automotive site Gunaxin because the 5-door Kia Rio has “a definite European design influence,” and because “the entire vehicle is both lower and wider for a more balanced and athletic stance.” Finally, the Rio 5-door defies the expectation of a small car by feeling much spacious once inside the handsome cabin. The five-door version of the 2018 Kia Rio comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a seven-inch touchscreen, back-up camera, and power windows with that sweet one-touch driver’s side auto-down that you don’t notice until you don’t have it!

2019-Nissan-Versa-SV-Special-Edition.pngCourtesy Nissan

2019 Nissan Versa SV Special Edition Xtronic CVT

Starting at $16,790: This special, premium trim of the Versa has Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) and comes standard with a Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, NissanConnect seven-inch touchscreen display, a luxurious leather-wrapped steering wheel, 15″ spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, and fog lights. Rarely can you opt for the top of the line and still leave a dealership with a bill less than 18K and monthly payment you can afford, so this special edition Nissan Versa ranks as a favorite best car deal under $18,000! These are the 20 car accessories that will change the way you drive.

2017_Mazda3.jpgCourtesy Mazda

2017 Mazda 3 Sport

Starting at $17,845: Sadly, the 2018 version of the sporty Mazda 3 inched up a hair over 18K but you should be able to still find a 2017 model on a local dealer’s lot. Not only will you be able to get a generous deal ahead of the 2019 model arriving, in the Mazda 3 from ’17 you will get 37 mpg highway on a powerful 155 horsepower, 2.0L SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine, daytime running lights, cruise control, seven-inch, full-color touchscreen, plenty of airbags to keep you safe in an accident, and Mazda’s reliable Dynamic Stability Control5 and Traction Control System.

2019-Hyundai-Veloster.jpgCourtesy Hyundai

2019 Hyundai Veloster 2.0

Starting at $16,750: The base model of this wavy, 147-horsepower, 4-cylinder 2-door roadster from Hyundai comes standard with a bevy of safety features including Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Forward Collision-avoidance Assist. There’s also rear view camera with dynamic guidelines, a cool roof-mounted shark fin antenna, and a handsome 7-inch touch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We love that the base Veloster comes in dashing Sunset Orange with no upcharge, helping to make this unique ride one of the best car deals under $18,000.

2019-Kia-Rio-S.jpgCourtesy Kia

2019 Kia Rio S with Technology Package

Starting at $17,915: The sleek Rio sedan can be had for as low as $15,390 but we have our eye on the S trim plus the tech package which nets you UVO eServices (Kia’s voice-activated infotainment system) on a bright seven-inch touch-screen in-dash color display and three months of free SiriusXM® Satellite Radio. The Rio S also put safety up front with the Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system. This front-mounted radar can detect a potential collision, vaulting the 2019 Kia Rio S to the top pedestal for a safe first car for teens—and their concerned parents. Don’t miss the 34 secret car-buying tips your dealer won’t tell you!

2019-Honda-FIt.pngCourtesy Honda

2019 Honda Fit Sport CVT

Starting at $17,500: Stop and take a look at the eye-popping Helios Yellow iteration of the ’19 Fit (pictured), with that evocative red trim beneath the grill, and try not to rush out to your local Honda dealer to snag this best car deal of 2019! Now know that the Fit Sport has available dual-mode paddle shifters, front, side and rear underbody spoilers, 16″ black alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen, fog lights, a cool chrome exhaust finisher, and a versatile “magic seat” that folds down perfectly flat. According to automotive journalist, Jerry Perez of Life is Poppin’, this touch of magic allows you to stash “a ton of stuff in there—basically as much as [you can fit in] a crossover. Plus it’s rated at 36 mpg highway and 29 mpg city.” At less than 18K, this Honda Fit is an everyday hatchback sports car you can actually afford to drive.

2018-Fiat-500-POP-exterior.pngCourtesy Fiat

2018 Fiat 500 POP

Starting at $16,495: The VW Beetle sadly has been retired but the Fiat 500 POP is here to carry the torch in the adorable little bug-shaped car market. Naturally, such a pretty ride comes in pretty color choices too, including Olive Green Pearl, Luminosa Orange, Laser Blue Metallic, and a Tri-Coat of Perla White (+$500), that looks like a flute of bubbly champagne inside and out. With such a low starting price, you can upgrade to Beats Premium Audio System (+$695) so that your Fiat sounds as good as it looks as you flaunt your style down every street in town. Make sure you know the ways you’re completely wasting money on your car.

2019-Ford-Fiesta-SE.pngCourtesy Ford

2019 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan

Starting at $15,490: Ambient interior lighting, cruise control, and 15″ sparkle silver-painted aluminum wheels compliment a Fiesta color palette that includes the aptly named Outrageous Green and the delicate Bahai Bay Mint. The 2019 Fiesta is so budget-friendly that opting for automatic transmission still puts you nearly $2,000 beneath our 18K best car deal bar. This affordable Fiesta SE sedan is the perfect car for young drivers thanks to Ford’s clever, safety-centric MyKey feature which promotes good driving habits by allowing limits to be placed capping maximum speed and audio volume levels. That’s a good car deal and a best bet to keep kids safer on the road.

2019-Chevy-Sonic.pngCourtesy Chevrolet

2019 Chevy Sonic

Starting at $15,420: With an automatic version complete with all-weather or carpeted floor mats that still comes in under 18K, the 2019 Chevy Sonic is a dreamy first car deal for a teen or budget car deal for anyone! Standard features of note include ten airbags to keep everyone safe in the case of an accident, a 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi plus a hotspot for up to seven devices (and there’s a data trial for one month or three gigabytes), StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control System with Traction Control and Panic Brake Assist, and a sturdy 1.4L turbo engine that gives this Sonic an unexpected burst of energy at such a low price point. Here are some things your car mechanic won’t ever tell you.

2019-Kia-Forte.jpgCourtesy Kia

2019 Kia Forte FE

Starting at $17,790: The new Kia Forte borrows heavily from the sleek, Euro-centric design of Kia’s eye-popping Stinger and that’s a very good thing. This budget-friendly 147-horsepower sports sedan is capable of turning heads on the road without the price tag usually needed to do so. The base FE trim has a big 8″ rear-camera display as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard, which when combined with Kia’s famous 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, easily makes the cosmopolitan 2019 Kia Forte FE a best new car deal under 18K.

2019-Chevrolet-Cruze.jpgCourtesy Chevrolet

2019 Chevy Cruze

Staring at $17,995: Just about sneaking under our 18K best car deal bar, the Chevy Cruze base L model makes the grade thanks to a standard infotainment system with 7″ color touchscreen and 1.4L Turbo engine that will take you from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds. Safety-conscious car consumers will sit up straighter in the Cruze’s comfortable bucket seats because of the StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control, rollover mitigation, and anti-lock brakes that come standard in every model of the 2019 Chevy Cruze.

2019-Hyundai-Elantra.jpgCourtesy Hyundai

2019 Hyundai Elantra SEL

Starting at $17,400 after retail bonus cash: The SEL version of the 2019 Elantra scores big in our list of 2019 car deals because of value-added safety features like Blind-Spot Collision Warning with Rear Cross-Traffic Warning, and Forward Collision Avoidance Assist. On the tech side of things, there’s a seven-inch display with hands-free Bluetooth system, Sirius XM radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay, plus a rearview camera featuring dynamic parking guidelines in the handsomely designed dash of this new Hyundai Elantra. Here are the 15 strangest things mechanics have found in cars.

2019-Mistubishi-Mirage-ES.pngVia Mistubishi

2019 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

Starting at $13,795: We love a car that has radical color options even at the lowest trim level. The 2019 Mirage base model is under $14K for manual and still under $15,000 for auto transmission, and can be had in seductive Wine Red (pictured) or outlandish Sunrise Orange. Those metallic paint jobs will immediately set you apart from 95 percent of all other cars on the road, and all for a fraction of the cost of other cars even in the budget segment of the market. In addition to cool colors, the 2019 Mirage ES comes with a seven-inch touch display, remote keyless entry, rear view camera, cruise control, and a rear spoiler; it has five seats and gets a whopping 43 mpg highway, making it quite possibly the best car deal of them all in 2019! Next, extend the life of your car with these 74 maintenance tips.

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment, and more for Reader's Digest. Jeff has also written for Parents Magazine, Esquire, PBS, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. He is the proud dad of teen daughters. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and Twitter @OWTK.