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!