For some, the most inexpensive ride possible is of the essence. And cheap used cars, while offering a good value because depreciation has already taken affect, are just not an option to those who want that all-important new car feeling of ownership, style and reliability.

Today's most affordable cheap new cars continue to provide good value, high-tech design, fuel savings and a zippy drive. Though all the cars in this affordable group offer great value and practicality for different drivers, we think the Mazda3 really stands out as a top pick.

See the Gallery of 17 Most Affordable Cars

The silver 2008 Mazda3 i Sport 4-door we had in our hands, which starts at almost $14,000, doesn't look like a cheap new car. Madza is cranking out some of the most stylish cars on the road today. This Mazda3 i Sport has just the right amount of straight lines and curves to make it stand out among all the Honda Civic's and Toyota Corolla's.

On the road, the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder Mazda3 i Sport received above average marks for acceleration, speed, handling, braking and suspension. And perhaps even better, the gas mileage on the automatic version hits an impressive 26 mpg city and 34 mpg hwy.

Safety is always an important concern for car buyers, no matter what the price range. You won't be disappointed with the Mazda3 i Sport 4-door which comes standard with dual-front airbags featuring passenger weight/position sensors, side-impact door beams and anti-lock braking. You can also equip the car with optional dual side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for added safety.

The interior of the Mazda3 is another big selling point. Far from looking cheap, the all-black interior on the 2008 Mazda3 i Sport 4-door reminded us of more expensive Audi interiors with three-dimensional gauges, nice quality plastics and soft touch materials and red backlit controls and buttons. Burnished chrome accents also gave the interior an upscale classy, sporty feel. The seats seemed to be made of high quality materials and they were quite comfortable, especially in the back where we found large headrests and a pull-out armrest with cup holders. A nice surprise was the addition of audio and cruise control buttons built into the steering wheel which is something usually found on more expensive vehicles.

The Mazda3 isn't the only great choice for a cheap new car though. So to help you in your quest for the best value vehicles available, we compiled a list of cheap new cars on AOL Autos. Check them out in the gallery.

See the Gallery of 17 Most Affordable Cars

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