New cars are more affordable than ever, but there’s also a common misnomer that cheaper cars ultimately mean lower quality. There was once a time when it would be risky to pay less than $15,000 for a new vehicle, but that’s history now. These days, cost-effective cars, such as subcompact vehicles, are well-engineered, stylish and lovable.
Although buying a car that’s under $15,000 does not feel like a painful compromise anymore, there are reasons for the reduced price. In this article we will look at the pros and cons of affordable cars and give you some insights into what you can expect in comparison with more expensive choices.
What You Get
i. Enough Room for Adults
One of the first things car buyers consider when shopping for a cheap vehicle is the size. The common fear is that they’ll be forfeiting comfort for an inexpensive ride, which to some is not a fair trade. Looking at a subcompact car like the Nissan Versa Note (MSRP $14,298), it’s hard to believe that it has ample legroom and headspace, but it does. When a passenger sits at the back of a subcompact vehicle, you’ll often hear their surprised exclamation. Although the middle seat is still best left free for wiggle room, price has little impact on interior space.
What we must remember is that roominess is not really a matter of price but rather design of the car. When compared directly to their more expensive peers, these cost-effective vehicles won’t blow anyone away with comfort, but four adults can ride in them with few grievances.
ii. Cargo Flexibility
One of the major perks of any hatchback is the folding capability of the rear seat. This is a big factor to take in consideration when shopping for a new car. Cargo space is often limited in smaller vehicles, but it can still be accommodating when called upon. If you are not dependent on shuttling a large load and a group of passengers at once, a subcompact car with a hatchback is perfect.
Toyota Yaris (MSRP $14,595) is a fine example of the kind of flexibility we’re talking about here. Camping gear, sporting equipment and bulk groceries can all fit without any concerns. Your friends might need to find another ride if you are hauling cargo at the same time, but in most cases this shouldn’t be a big deal.
iii. Superior Handling
Subcompact cars are designed and engineered for urban drivers who commute through the congested city core. If you are searching for an affordable vehicle with great handling, you are in luck, because the selection is wide in this category. The chassis and the weight of the vehicle play a large role. Less weight on the wheels while turning means less effort needed to manoeuvre. Better wheel control equals better body control. Few vehicles outrank the Ford Fiesta (MSRP $14,999) in this area, even the ones that cost more.
If you live in a place where parallel parking is required, responsive handling is paramount. In many ways having a smaller, nimbler vehicle can save you a lot of headaches, especially when you can sneak into a spot larger vehicles can’t.
What You Don’t Get
i. Impressive Horsepower
Cheaper cars are cheaper because they have less stuff in them. Less weight and a smaller engine result in limited horsepower. A Ford Mustang (MSRP $24,999) can give you a hefty 305 horsepower, while an affordable vehicle like the Hyundai Accent Sedan (MSRP $13,249) trails far behind, packing a modest 138 horsepower. This comparison is quite dramatic, but it emphasizes how price greatly affects the power output of your vehicle. Manufacturers are well aware that power is indeed a premium.
If you want a new car with ample power, you will have to cough up more cash for it. Seldom would you see a vehicle under $15,000 top the 140-horsepower mark. Because of this handicap, drivers should not test the vehicle’s towing capacity since torque is also lacking here – another downside of these affordable choices.
ii. Rugged Reliability
Simply put, there is nothing rugged about a subcompact or a small sedan. Without four-wheel drive, traction control and off-roading or all-weather capability, your vehicle is confined to unobstructed roads only. The same way your cheaper vehicle can’t pass cars effortlessly on the freeway, it also can’t traverse gravel roads or survive harsh weather conditions with ease.
If you live in a rural area with unfinished roads or a region where weather can become callous, selecting a cheap option for a car may not be the best decision since it might end up damaged, stuck or in an accident.
iii. Significant Safety Assurance
The public was up in arms when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) presented the results for small-overlap test in the subcompact and mini cars category. The reason was because only one in 11 cars had an “Acceptable” rating – the Chevrolet Spark (MSRP $11,995).
The test itself is currently under some criticism, but the fact remains: in a real-world situation, drivers in a smaller vehicle will have a higher possibility of serious injuries or fatality than those in a larger vehicle.
While all new cars come equipped with standardized airbags and seatbelts, new technological safety features are still worth extra. Installing them will inevitably raise the price of your vehicle’s cost. But for safety reasons, certain features are worth considering.
A new car for under $15,000 comes with pluses and minuses, and these aspects are worth evaluating before making a purchase. Even low-priced car is a big investment. It may suit your lifestyle or it may not. Either way, it’s wise to know what you are buying before you sign the papers!
To learn more about the various features a low-priced vehicle may have, be sure to configure them with our free dealer cost report. You will also find the dealer cost of each feature and trim level.