• Image Credit: Ford
Call it the democratization of cars: You can spend less than $20,000 or even $15,000 on a car these days and still get some of the best technology, features and fuel economy available.

The AOL Autos editors have test driven nearly every new car on the market, and although $15,000 might not net you leather seats or a fancy infotainment system, we think that you can still get a comfortable and stylish ride for that price.

We gathered a list of the cars you can get for under $15,000 right now. Although adding options and choosing higher trim levels will increase the cost a bit, these all still have remarkably low starting sticker prices. If you're on a budget, but need a new car, this list is a great place to start.
  • Image Credit: GM

Chevrolet Spark

Sticker Price: $12,170 - $16,385
Invoice Price: $11,805 - $15,730
Fuel Economy: 31 mpg City, 39 mpg Highway

Introduced as a completely new vehicle for Chevrolet last year, the Spark is a solid little hatchback that is especially adept at tackling urban environments, as its sharp turning radius and diminutive stature make it great for weaving in and out of traffic and finding parking on busy side streets. The interior is comfortable and quiet for what you're paying, and you can even get a touchscreen that comes with Chevy MyLink infotainment software.

Powered by an 84-hp 1.2L I-4 engine, the Spark isn't fast, and merging onto freeways can get a bit dicey. It is, however, quite fuel efficient, achieving 39 mpg on the highway.

A big selling point for many people is the Spark's individuality. It's been designed to stand out as a cute, unique car that comes in a wide variety of bright colors, including lime green and candy apple red.

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  • Image Credit: GM

Chevrolet Sonic

Sticker Price: $14,185 - $21,470
Invoice Price: $13,830 - $20,396
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

The Chevrolet Sonic is one of our favorite cars on this list. Although it can be had for under $15,000, it feels like a much more premium car, due to its whisper quiet interior and smooth driving dynamics.

The Sonic is available with either a 1.8L I4 or 1.4L turbocharged I4 engine, both of which make 138 hp. Transmissions include a five-speed manual and six-speed automatic. The ride is both smooth and sporty, with responsive steering and a comfortable suspension.

The lower trim levels are bare, but paying a little more will get you features like USB ports, a touchscreen infotainment system and heated front seats.

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  • Image Credit: Ford

Ford Fiesta

Sticker Price: $14,000 - $21,400
Invoice Price: $13,475 - $20,598
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

The Ford Fiesta was completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, and was transformed into one of the most handsome small cars on the market. Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Fiesta is one of our top choices on this list.

Its 1.6L I4 engine produces 120 hp and can achieve an EPA-estimated 38 mpg on the highway. The interior is well-appointed and quiet, complete with some available features such as a rearview camera, parking sensors and Ford SYNC.

We're especially big fans of the Fiesta ST hatchback, which employs a tremendously sporty 197-hp 1.6L turbocharged engine. It costs a little more, but the ST offers some serious bang for the buck.

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  • Image Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai Accent

Sticker Price: $14,545 - $16,095
Invoice Price: $14,154 - $15,635
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway

Though the more plainly-designed Accent doesn't offer the striking good looks employed by the rest of Hyundai's line, it's still an excellent choice for an economy car, mainly because of the high level of standard and available equipment you get for a very low price.

The Accent is powered by a 1.6L I4 engine, which makes 138 hp. It's not going to give you a white-knuckle ride, but the Accent is more than adequate for the daily grind. You won't be subject to much pain at the pump, given its impressive fuel economy of 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway.

We recommend getting the Accent in hatchback form, as it greatly improves cargo capacity, giving the car a surprising amount of versatility.

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  • Image Credit: Kia

Kia Rio

Sticker Price: $13,600 - $17,900
Invoice Price: $13,340 - $17,070
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway

The Kia Rio is the sharper-looking and slightly cheaper cousin of the Hyundai Accent. Available as a sedan or a hatchback, we recommend you opt for the latter, as doing so will give you a lot more space to haul your cargo.

The Rio is powered by a 1.6L I4 engine, which makes 138 hp and is good for 29 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. Transmissions include a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic. Some of the Rio's better available features include a heated steering wheel, UVO infotainment system and rear backup camera.

Though the Rio and Hyundai Accent are very similar in price and drivetrain, we tend to prefer the Rio. It's sportier both in look and feel and is a little more refined throughout.

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  • Image Credit: Kia

Kia Soul

Sticker Price: $14,700 - $20,300
Invoice Price: $14,385 - $19,295
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway

Kia has addressed issues with the fit and finish of the Soul's interior head-on with a redesign for 2014, and has come up with a much better car. As a package, this box is now one of the best hatchbacks on the market for the money. It comes with a great, quiet interior and much better ride, alongside its unique design and presence on the road.

The Soul is powered by either a 1.6L or 2.0L I4 engine. Neither of them are particularly powerful, but they do have enough low end torque to provide some noticeable pep off of the line.

The best thing about the Soul, though, is its roominess. Both up front and in the back, the driver and passengers are treated to a very comfortable amount of space, making this a verifiably good road trip car.

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  • Image Credit: Mazda


Sticker Price: $14,720 - $16,210
Invoice Price: $14,525 - $15,995
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

A car with only 100 hp has no business being this fun to drive. We don't know how Mazda did it, but the Mazda2 offers great, engaging driving dynamics with very, very little power. This is undoubtedly one of the best cars to drive on this list

Unfortunately, the interior leaves a little to be desired. We wouldn't call it uncomfortable, but it's certainly bare and doesn't offer many options. Passenger space is better than you'd expect. I wouldn't want to be an adult seated in the back for a long road trip, but shorter trips should be plenty comfortable.

The little Mazda2 hatchback stands out on the road, too, coming in a wide variety of eye-catching colors.

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  • Image Credit: Nissan

Nissan Versa

Sticker Price: $11,990 - $16,890
Invoice Price: $11,577 - $16,288
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg City, 36 mpg Highway

The Nissan Versa sedan and Nissan Versa Note hatchback combine to form a duo aimed squarely at the economy-minded car shopper. With low starting prices and solid fuel economy, opting for one of the Versas is one of the cheapest ways to get into a new car.

You're going to get what you pay for, for the most part, which is a bare interior with lots of hard plastics, though the Versa comes with options like a touchscreen and rear backup camera if you're okay with raising the sticker price. Driving dynamics are unremarkable. However, the 1.6L I4 engine and CVT combine to achieve excellent gas mileage.

Passenger room is surprisingly good in this car. It's certainly no long-wheelbase Lexus, but full-grown adults will find the ride to be more comfortable than they might expect.

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  • Image Credit: smart

smart fortwo

Sticker Price: $12,490 - $17,890
Invoice Price: $11,616 - $16,638
Fuel Economy: 34 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

Looking more like a golf cart than anything else, the smart fortwo is unfortunately one of the least sexy cars on the road right now. Sure, it's good to drive in the city, able to weave in and out of traffic and find parking pretty much anywhere. But, at the end of the day, it's overpriced, unrefined and not as fuel efficient as a car this small should be.

We wish there was more to say about the fortwo, but we can't really recommend this vehicle, especially when you can get a lot more car for the same price.

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  • Image Credit: Toyota

Toyota Yaris

Sticker Price: $14,430 - $16,540
Invoice Price: $13,853 - $15,877
Fuel Economy: 30 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway

The Toyota Yaris is a nice little hatchback, but we wouldn't recommend it over some of the other cars on this list, like the Ford Fiesta or Chevrolet Sonic. It's fuel efficient, roomy and handsome, but it lacks some of the refinement found on other small cars, in part because the Yaris doesn't have nearly as quiet of a cabin.

The Yaris is powered by a 1.5L I4 engine that makes 106 hp. It's not fast or even sporty, but it does get 30 mpg City and 37 mpg Highway.

Where the Yaris does stand out is in reliability. Toyota is legendary for making long-lasting cars, and Yaris buyers should expect to hang onto their cars for a good long time.

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