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Click above for more high-res shots of the 2007 Chevrolet Aveo

Every year, cars get just a bit more expensive. There was a time, which doesn't seem too long ago, that ten grand and a signature was all you needed to walk out of a dealership as the owner of a brand new car. Today, not so much. In fact, according to J.D. Power and Associates, $15,000 gets you just two-thirds of the choices you had just two years ago. Holding up the bottom of the list is the Chevrolet Aveo, which, along with the base-model Cobalt, makes GM the only American player in the cheap-car sweepstakes. The 2009 Aveo, however, has a higher base price than before thanks to the elimination of the lowest price value model. The Koreans in the form of Hyundai and Kia offer three choices, and the remaining five slots are ably filled by Japanese manufacturers.

While there may be a few more vehicles that have base prices below the $15,000 mark, J.D. Power's numbers actually reflect transaction prices rather than MSRPs. Some vehicles, like the Honda Fit, are able to maintain some driving enjoyment to go along with their low prices, and these cars often command higher prices because of the demand for them.


[Source: JD Power via Winding Road]


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  • 30 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't understand how these bottom feeding cars sell outside of the rental fleets.

      If you only have 12K to spend, you can buy an absolute bottom of the line crap box like an Accent that will remind you it was made to be the cheapest car in the US every time you drive it... or you can buy a two or three year old car with an extended warranty.

      Or if you don't care about amenities, buy the two or three year old version of the crap box you're looking at and save 4 grand.

      Paying 12 grand for a lame car just doesn't make sense.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Dan, not everyone operates on the same business model that you do. YOU don't believe in paying $12k for a new car, but doing so might suit others just fine.
      • 6 Years Ago
      With rebates, you can get a Chevy Cobalt XFE for around $11k. That's probably one of the best compact cars one the market for vehicles under $15k. That even includes a 5yr/100,000 warrant. And as we all know, it will get 25/36 mpg. For a base vehicle, it has everything that you would want in such a vehicle. These are all standard features.

      * Head curtain side-impact air bags
      * Air conditioning
      * XM Satellite Radio
      * AM/FM radio with CD and MP3 playback
      * Rear defogger
      * Center console with two power outlets and AUX output

      When you look at the import models, look at the standard features. I want to say all the ones I looked at, A/C is an option. I live in Texas, so A/C is a necessity. So add around $1500 to the base price, and your already over $17,000. I was shocked that most decently equipped Honda Civics are between $18-$20k. That's just too much for a compact.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Chuck, its logic like yours that's why I don't understand the constant panning of the Chevy Cobalt & Pontiac G5. If you were paying a premium for whatever vices either car brings, I'd understand it. But, with rebates and good old-fashioned sticker dickering, nobody's paying a pretty penny for them.

        The convenient capitalists who post here are quick to forget that to get better, you've got to usually pay more. And a lot of people have decided the Cobalt/G5 is worth it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i was still under the impression cars were cheap in the usa, $15,000 should be plenty of money. its all to do with car sizes though.

      in a straight exchange, $15,000 is about £7,500 so with euro rip off tax i'd say that'd be like spending £10,000 here, for that money there is a multitude of cars from manufacturers that do sell in america: nissan micra, ford fiesta, ford ka, vauhall corsa(gm), toyota yaris, suzuki splash, suzuki swift, mazda 2, vw fox, vw polo to name but a few

      i dont understand why they arent really playing up the fuel price angle, scare people a bit and sell their euro cars in america, it's all extra sales
        • 6 Years Ago
        The problem is the value of the dollar. All the cars you mention would be significantly higher if they were imported. What needs to happen is these smaller cars have to built in VERY low cost countries. Mexico, India, China etc. then they could be imported. The other issue is our crash standards, which are different from those in Europe. At least that is what the manufacturers tell us.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They'll come back sooner or later.
        • 6 Years Ago
        How? With everyone demanding sat nav, stability controll, airbags beneath every interior surface, heated and cooled everything, a truckload of sound deadening and superb gas mileage, the prices can go nowhere but up. Cars have gained roughly 500# across the board in the past 20 years due to our demand for more and more unnessacary features in every car, and that extra stuff costs money. Not that long ago there were several competitors in the sub $10K class, but unless the American consumer dramatically changes their purchase decisions, $20K is rapidly becoming the new starting point for new car prices.
        • 6 Years Ago
        As it should be. The $10,000 car is complete garbage. Have you ever driven a Kia Rio or an Aveo? They'll give you a newfound appreciation for walking.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The smart Fortwo comes in under $15K for the entry model. We won't see another Geo Metro anytime soon, but inexpensive cars that can get decent MPG are what's selling best right now. I would expect them to keep going up so the car companies can make some type of profit there, with their big margin SUVs and trucks not leaving the lot.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why not a $15K car? There's a whole middle class segment that simply wants a cheap, reliable commuter car with good gas mileage. Throw in a worsening economy and increasing energy prices, and the above statement takes on a broader audience.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I figured it out. BlazerUnit is one of the 17 Hyundai/Kia enthusiasts in the world. He should be protected like a Panda in the middle of a meat factory.

      Shouldn't you be on, like, autobloggreen?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I know my FIL's 2008 Ranger came in well under $15k after it was all said and done... of course, it's a bare bones, 4-banger, regular cab, 2wd though, haha. It might have also been purchased through fleet sales though...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hyundai Accent in Canada is $9995 and in USA $10775. I driven one before too and it's way way way way waaaaayyyy better than the poor excuse on wheels called the Aveo.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's funny because if you buy the Accent 3-door cash here it costs 9995.
        • 6 Years Ago
        LOL, i know that! Its friggen awesome. Actually, im debating picking one up!
      • 6 Years Ago
      There was also a time you could buy Coca-Cola for 5 cents. It's called inflation.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Uhm, has JD Powers heard of the Dodge Caliber? $14,900, unless they're factoring in the huge dealer markups on that hot, in-demand car... So how about the Nissan Versa, $12,880? There are WAY more than 3 cars out there that are available and selling under 15k...
        • 6 Years Ago
        I believe the article said that J.D. Power gauges cars based on their average transaction price and not simply MSRP or base price--an average (based on surveys, likely) of what people have actually agreed to pay for the cars.
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