They miss the Yugo, godblessum. Those wacky guys at Slate long for the days when a new car could be had for less than the price of a modern television set. Surveying the bargain basement offerings of the automotive world, they found that only the Chevy Aveo can be had for under 10 grand, let alone the four thousand bucks a Yugo stickered for 20 years ago. Even at an adjusted-for-inflation price of $7500, the Yugo GV earns its initials and indeed represents a Great Value. Well, you get what you pay for. Anyway, Slate rounded up a field of econoboxes for a brief comparison test to see what you can realistically expect at the bottom end of the scale.
Slate's Seth Stevenson, an admitted cheapskate who drives a '96 Saturn with 103,000 miles on it, laments the fact that the lowest rung of the car market actually spans $12,000 to $17,000 nowadays. But what exactly do you get for that much cash? More than some might guess in a few cases. Mainly in response to escalating gas prices, several automakers have brought thrifty new models out to make the bargain hunters happy. Slate tried out the Saturn Ion, the Kia Rio, the Nissan Versa, the Scion xA, the Toyota Yaris, and the Honda Fit. When he went in to rent a Chevy Aveo, the counter agent told him, "You do not want to drive that car." So he skipped it. We don't want to spoil the rankings, but after trying cars that were too boring, too jerky, and even too flashy, he finally found one that was a perfect fit. Click through for the car-by-car reviews.
Thanks for helping us fill our slate, smj!