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The Best Cars For Under $30,000

Car prices have gotten wild, but there are still plenty of awesome deals to be had. We highlight some of the best cars you can buy for under $30,000.

Real, Good Deals

2022 Ford Mustang - ford.com
2022 Ford Mustang - ford.com

In case you haven’t heard because you’ve been on a years-long meditation retreat, but car prices have been crazy for a while now. Thanks to the persistent chip shortage and attendant supply chain issues, the balance of supply and demand has been thrown off, leading to a significant uptick in new and used car pricing. The average new car sale price rose to a record high of $48,301 in August.

But all is not lost. There are, in fact, plenty of great (not even good but actually great) cars out there that start at or under $30,000. That’s a reasonable number, especially considering the average used car sale price topped recently $28,000. And there’s plenty of choice too, whether you’re in the market for a sedan, SUV, sports car, or even a pickup. Below we highlight some of the best deals around for under $30,000.

Sports Cars

2023 Subaru BRZ - subaru.com
2023 Subaru BRZ - subaru.com
  • Toyota GR86 / Subaru BRZ – $27,900 / $28,595
  • Ford Mustang EcoBoost – $27,470
  • Mazda Miata – $27,650

Think driving excitement is for the Corvette set? For the folks who wear argyle socks and drive Porsches? Think again. You too can carve corners and enjoy a rollicking track day in a new sports car, all for less than $30,000. The new 2023 Toyobaru twins, the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ start at $27,900 and $28,595, respectively. For that you get a delicately balanced drivers’ car, with an optional manual, and now with 228 horsepower. And the other option is Ford’s EcoBoost Mustang. While it may feel like sacrilege to get a Mustang without a V8, the 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder makes 310 horses and is complimented by superb handling. Of course, there’s also the Mazda Miata, long the go-to for cheap top-down thrills. This nimble two-seater is everything you need in a sports car and nothing you don’t. Few cars can match the Miata for smiles per mile.

Sedans

2022 Honda Civic Si - hondanews.com
2022 Honda Civic Si - hondanews.com
  • Honda Civic – $22,550
  • Toyota Camry – $25,945
  • Kia K5 – $23,790

In this age of the SUV, it’s shocking how good sedans still are today. The list of impressive options is long, but here are a few of our favorites. The Honda Civic has long been a go-to for reliability and practicality. Today, it’s not just those things, it’s also great looking and great to drive. You can find either the hatchback or performance-adjacent Si versions for under $30,000. The Toyota Camry is another great option with aggressive styling and a voluminous list of standard safety features. The Kia K5 offers a smooth and quiet ride complimented by a generously appointed interior and the best-looking headlights of any vehicle on this list.

SUVs & Crossovers

2023 Mazda CX-5 - mazdausa.com
2023 Mazda CX-5 - mazdausa.com
  • Subaru Forester – $25,395
  • Hyundai Tucson – $25,350
  • Mazda CX-5 – $25,900

Keeping things under $30,000 for SUVs will mean limiting yourself to two-rows. Even so, the hyper-competitive crossover segment has a lot to offer. On one end of the use case spectrum, we have the Subaru Forester (and by extension the more car-like Outback as well). The Forester offers great visibility and a roomy interior, but its biggest attraction is its standard all-wheel drive, a key feature that costs thousands extra from most competitors. The Hyundai Tucson earns praise for its refined and comfortable interior, impressive handling, and loads of standard safety features. As for the Mazda CX-5, it doesn’t offer the same amount of cargo capacity as rivals but it’s the best looking and best driving crossover you can buy for less than $30,000.

Hybrids & EVs

2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid - hyundaiusa.com
2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid - hyundaiusa.com
  • Hyundai Elantra Hybrid – $24,400
  • Toyota Prius – $25,075
  • Chevrolet Bolt & Bolt EUV – $25,600/$27,200

Want to save on gas money while saving on the sticker price of your new car? Good news, some of the best hybrids out there also start under $30,000. The Hyundai Elantra hybrid offers the segment’s best fuel economy at 56 mpg highway! This compact has a surprisingly spacious interior and an eye-catching exterior. As the OG of hybrids, the Toyota Prius offers exceptional mpg (58/53 city/highway) and tons of hatchback cargo space at 50.7 cu ft. for loads of practicality. If you want to go full electric, Chevy offers your choice of the Bolt or Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle), both starting under $30,000 and getting up to 259 miles of range on a single charge.

Trucks

2022 Ford Maverick - ford.com
2022 Ford Maverick - ford.com
  • Ford Maverick – $20,995
  • Chevrolet Colorado – $25,200

So, what if you have some timber to haul but also a strict budget of $30,000? There are indeed options for you. The Ford Maverick, Ford’s new light truck, is a genius of economy by deftly mixing affordability and practicality. The smartly designed interior makes the truck look more expensive than it is. The Maverick’s base powertrain is a 2.5L four-cylinder paired with an electric motor. This efficient hybrid system offers 42 city / 33 highway mpg. The kicker? The Maverick starts under not just $30,000 but close to $20,000.

For a more substantial truck, there’s the mid-sized Chevrolet Colorado. This truck provides one of the better rides in the segment and notably comfortable seats. An optional V6 grants the Colorado over 300 horsepower and up to 7,000-lbs in towing capacity. Extended cab version come with a 6’2” bed while the Crew cab offers options for the longer bed or a shorter 5’2” bed.

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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