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While it may seem that the coolest cars are only available to those with means, the industry continues to compete most heavily in their largest volume segments. The result is that there is a wealth of "cool cars" available for less than $18,000, and Kelly Blue Book has compiled a list of their top ten for 2008.

The list – composed mainly of domestics and Japanese automobiles – includes the Ford Focus, Honda Fit, Jeep Patriot, Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Pontiac Vibe, Scion xB, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki SX4 and Volkswagen Rabbit. Several of the cars stayed on the list from last year, however some are newcomers to the Blue Book ranking. Among the factors KBB included in their decision were safety, fuel economy, interior size, comfort, technology, fun-to-drive and the intangible "cool" factor. KBB also notes that many of the vehicles on the list are packed with features like sat-nav, music drives, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, push-button start and leather seating. While many of those features – like the push-button ignition and iPod connector – cost close to nothing for carmakers to include, many of the features were only available on top-of-the-line luxury automobiles just a few years ago.

Follow the jump for the press release or the link to KBB.com for more information on the top ten coolest cars on a budget.

[Source: Kelly Blue Book]


Kbb.com Names Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000

Versatile, Technology-Filled Vehicles Lead in Growing Entry-Level Segment

IRVINE, Calif., April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The expert editors at Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com (http://www.kbb.com/), the leading provider of new- and used-vehicle information, today announce their picks for the Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000. The vehicles that made Kelley Blue Book's 2008 list of Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 -- typically a gas-sipping bunch -- arguably are cooler than they have ever been. More fun, more practical and more amenity-laden than ever before, today's entry-level vehicles deliver more than simply affordable and efficient transportation.

Versatility and technology are growing trends in the under-$18,000 segment. Eight of the cars on this year's list are flexible five-door hatchbacks, or available as such. The collective options list includes navigation, hard-drive music storage, voice-controlled iPod integration, Bluetooth phone connectivity, push-button start and leather seating -- some of which were introduced on high-end luxury cars just a few years ago.

"The vehicles on our Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 list are very fun to drive and feature-filled; first-time buyers and frugal down-sizers have never had it so good," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "Manufacturers are finding ways to nicely equip their entry-level vehicles while still keeping the price reasonably low, and consumers are reaping the benefits more and more each year."

In choosing the 2008 list of Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000, the kbb.com editors used the same set of criteria that many consumers use in examining this category: safety, fuel economy, interior size, comfort, technology, the vehicle's fun-to-drive-factor, as well as the decidedly subjective "cool" factor. The editors compiled the list of qualifying vehicles using Kelley Blue Book's New Car Blue Book Values, which reflect real-world transaction prices and provide a more useful comparison point than Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). Every vehicle on the list can be purchased for less than $18,000.

Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000

Vehicle MSRP New Car Blue
Book Value
2008 Ford Focus $15,280 $14,942
2008 Honda Fit $14,585 $14,585
2008 Jeep Patriot $16,055 $15,894
2008 Mazda3 $17,230 $16,799
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer $14,615 $14,396
2009 Pontiac Vibe $15,895 $15,895
2008 Scion xB $16,270 $16,351
2008 Subaru Impreza $17,640 $17,375
2008 Suzuki SX4 $15,395 $15,164
2008 Volkswagen Rabbit $16,250 $16,088

Vehicles are listed in alphabetical order. New Car Blue Book Values represent transaction values, or what others are actually paying for this vehicle. The listed New Car Blue Book Values were taken from kbb.com during the week of April 1, 2008. New Car Blue Book Values are updated weekly on kbb.com. Adding optional equipment at the time of purchase will increase the price of the vehicle.

Kbb.com Editorial Comments on the Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000
2008 Ford Focus

"Cool" might not be the first word that pops into your head upon seeing the new Ford Focus, but don't judge this book by its cover. The Focus sedan and coupe are the most affordable cars in which you can get the SYNC music and phone integration system that allows you, for instance, to play any song in your digital library simply by saying its name. That's cool.

MSRP: $15,280 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $14,942

2008 Honda Fit

With gas prices on the rise, small cars like the Honda Fit are gaining in popularity. The Fit sips gasoline and offers the sportiest driving experience available in an econo-car. Plus, the seats can be configured in multiple arrangements, so it can easily hold things like your friends, your gear or a medium-sized alpaca (according to a photo on Honda's Web site, anyway).

MSRP: $14,585 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $14,585

2008 Jeep Patriot

The Jeep Patriot has a classic look reminiscent of the departed Jeep Cherokee plus a functional interior and a sub-$18,000 price tag -- even when equipped with four-wheel drive. Combined with highway fuel economy up to 28 miles per gallon, the Patriot delivers a cool mix of SUV-like versatility and car-like efficiency for buyers on a budget.

MSRP: $16,055 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $15,894

2008 Mazda3

On our list for the fifth year in a row and still in its first generation, the Mazda3 is the current elder statesman of cool compact cars. Available in four- and five-door layouts, the dynamic Mazda3 is responsive, quick and stylish, but also comfortable, efficient and practical.

MSRP: $17,230 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $16,799

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer

The Mitsubishi Lancer's aggressive, rally-inspired looks belie a starting price of less than $15,000. The low cost of entry will leave many buyers with enough extra cash to add cool options like a hard-drive navigation system, an impressive premium audio system or perhaps a stylish spoiler.

MSRP: $14,615 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $14,396

2009 Pontiac Vibe

The hot-looking Pontiac Vibe has always delivered a very cool combination of affordability, versatility and fuel economy. Compared with its predecessor, the new-for-'09, second-generation Vibe boasts a sportier look inside and out, more powerful engines and even a lower starting price.

MSRP: $15,895 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $15,895

2008 Scion xB

The original "box on wheels" grew rounder, larger and more powerful for 2008, but the xB remains a distinctively styled non-conformist. Cool standard features include steering-wheel mounted audio controls, iPod integration and a choice of three wheel designs for instant customization at the dealership.

MSRP: $16,270 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $16,351

2008 Subaru Impreza

With 170 horsepower, all-wheel drive and a double-wishbone rear suspension, the Subaru Impreza sedan adds a sporty and capable touch to our cool car selections. The five-door variant has a similar base price and suits those in need of more cargo room for their active lifestyles.

MSRP: $17,640 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $17,375

2008 Suzuki SX4

This is the second year in a row that Suzuki's small crossover has made our list of cool cars under $18,000. In addition to a sporty exterior and roomy, stylish interior, the SX4 still has the distinction of being the least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in America.

MSRP: $15,395 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $15,164

2008 Volkswagen Rabbit

The versatile and affordable Volkswagen Rabbit hopped its way onto our list with its perky 2.5-liter engine, comfortable ride, sharp handling and a level of interior refinement rivaling that of some much pricier vehicles.

MSRP: $16,250 *NEW CAR BLUE BOOK VALUE: $16,088

New-Vehicle Research Tools Available on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com

-- Full expert reviews of new 2008 (and some 2009) model year vehicles,
including print and video
-- Pricing, specifications and information on optional features
-- Resale value information
-- Safety data
-- Rebates and incentives information
-- Side-by-side comparison tool
-- Consumer reviews and ratings
-- Photos and 360-degree views
-- Dealer price quote

For more information about the Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000, visit http://www.kbb.com/coolcars08.

About Kelley Blue Book (http://www.kbb.com/sitemap)

Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource(R), has provided vehicle buyers and sellers with the new and used vehicle information they need to accomplish their goals with confidence. The company's top-rated Web site, kbb.com, provides the most up-to-date pricing and values, including the New Car Blue Book(R) Value, which reveals what people actually are paying for new cars. The company also reports vehicle pricing and values via products and services, including software products and the famous Blue Book(R) Official Guide. Kbb.com is rated the No. 1 automotive information site by Nielsen//NetRatings and the most visited auto site by J.D. Power and Associates eight years in a row. No other medium reaches more in-market vehicle shoppers than kbb.com; nearly one in every three American car buyers performs their research on kbb.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      i love the mazda3 as a cool cheap car
      its so underated because of its looks and quality
      and what sabout the saturn astra?
      that thing may not be quick but it looks really good in my opinion
        • 7 Years Ago
        Unfortunately, the reviewers at KBB are fat snobs who like to have the largest refill glass of cheap Coke and 7-Up within their reach. I'm sure the Astra would be right there amongst the best had Opel/Saturn though of including a set of cup holders.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Patriot? hmmm i did not think that would make it up there...
        • 7 Years Ago
        I test drove a Patriot last year and the thing's pretty solid as far as FWD suv's go. The interior had the general Chrysler work-over, which was a downside, but rumor is the interior is getting updated midway through this year.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @ Esprit bird

        For that price I think the interior short comings can be forgiven, especially with a refresh coming. I really like the Pat and have been seeing a lot of them around.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I've been in the leather 4x4 and it's a very very nice car. I think it totally deserves a place in the list.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Uhh, unless I'm mistaken, I don't believe any of those cars come with "push-button start" as standard or an option.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Just what I was thinking...
      • 7 Years Ago
      And just where is the Honda Civic? That's a pretty tight ride for the money and cool.
        • 7 Years Ago
        And just where is the Honda Civic? That's a pretty tight ride for the money and cool."

        True...but you can't talk to your radio or change the color of some randomly placed LEDs...there for, the Civic sucks...despite it coming with ABS STANDARD, rear headrests, tilt/telescope steering wheel and a host of other things that actually make the car BETTER than it's counterparts.
        • 7 Years Ago
        too bad zamfir that the Civic will be worth quite a bit more than the VW after a year, let alone five.

        One problem with Honda are the accessory costs... yeouch!
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Matt: did VW can all those features that were standard for the 09 Rabbit? Currently all those civic 'unique' features are and always have been standard on the MKV rabbit well and one touch up and down on all windows, temp display, 8 speakers standard, mp3 cd and aux in standard, power door locks, heated mirrors, blah blah blah... so comparing the two on the cars.com and edmunds.com comparison aps and honda and vw's sites, it would appear the rabbit at least has no problems matching the civics features and exceeding them quite easily. Not sure where you're getting your info.
        • 7 Years Ago

        The Rabbit has one of the ten best projected resale values in the country.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Of course you could instead buy a low mileage 2007 with a full warranty instead of taking several thousand dollar depreciation hit you'd get the instant you drive the 2008 off the lot.

      And if you buy it from an individual, you get the extra bonus of avoiding the nasty dealership haggling experience as well.

      The only justification I can see in buying a brand new car is that you get to choose EXACTLY what options/colors you want, but then it seems that most new car buyers pick one off the lot anyway, making this a mute point.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Good choices overall. The others on the list are cool in some way or the other but since when did the Rabbit & Patriot become "cool"? And why stick to new cars? There's a ton of better cars available for under $18k, albeit slightly used - GTI, MS3, Mazdaspeed Miata, the new (NC) MX5 etc. etc.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ummmm.... no Smart Fortwo?
        • 7 Years Ago
        No Scion Tc? No Saturn Astra?
        This list is incomplete. How can a Jeep Patriot score better than an Astra?
        • 7 Years Ago
        @ Russel, There's nothing wrong with FWD in the right car. These just aren't the right cars. I don't find any of them appealing.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't see any cool cars on this list.
        All I see is GARBAGE FWD.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Say what ya want about it, but there's many cars the Civic could replace on that list. Strange.
      • 7 Years Ago
      When there is a Civic that stickers for $32k with a fancy spoiler, ground effects kit, and better brakes that can knock the car off the list. Toyota actually sells a Corolla for $16k with crank windows. That is laughable today.

      The Astra is pretty expensive. It is a good looking car but pricier than the rest on the list.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No Toyotas?

      The Tacoma ($14,280) should've at least made the list and it's not really fair to include the Vibe without mentioning the Matrix.

      Historically full-size trucks have been the best selling vehicles in America. With gas prices putting a hurt on folks, I wouldn't be surprised to see sales of the Tacoma (one of the best mid-size trucks on the market) increasing as people downsize.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Pontiac Vibe but not the Toyota Matrix? Something fishy here, and it's not just the Focus...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Focus may be a little long in tooth and the latest restyle might be questionable, but it's still a fairly solid little car, gets mileage comparable to the imports and offers SYNC. I think that's why it gets a spot on the list.
        • 7 Years Ago
        This generation Vibe not only looks way better than the Matrix, it is also priced a lot better as well. A loaded Vibe GT will run you only $21,000ish while a Matrix XRS with leather goes over $23,000. The Vibe is the better deal all around. Not to mention you can probably find the Vibe you want on a Pontiac lot, rather than have to settle for the Matrix the Toyota dealership has.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Not sure about the newest generation, because I haven't seen them in person much, but the last generation Vibe was definitely "cooler" looking than the Matrix. The Matrix screamed, "hey, we made a Corolla Hatch!" while the Vibe actually looked good.
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