It wasn’t that long ago that most mainstream auto manufacturers kept at least one model in their lineup for under $15,000. Back in 1991, we had the low-cost Hyundai Excel with a starting price of under $7,000. Even cars like the Toyota Tercel and Honda Civic hatchback only cost around $7,000 back in the day. Then, inflation happened and car prices rose. While there are number of great used cars under 10,000, It’s now been several years since we’ve seen new cars under 15,000.
New Cars Under 15,000 – You Can Get Close
The good news is that you can get close to your magic number when car shopping. Sure, it will take a little extra effort, but if you need to save money, it’s the way to go. Here are a few tips to help you get as close as possible to finding new cars under 15,000.
- Pay with cash. If you can’t, get pre-approved before heading to the dealer. Then, you’ll be able to compare rates.
- Make sure you do your homework and know what you can get.
- Remain flexible. If you aren’t picky, you’ll have more options.
- Shop End of the Year Sales. This is the best time to find new cars under 15,000. The dealers want to unload the older models before the new ones arrive.
- Look through old inventory. Dealers want to move cars fast and these are a thorn in their side. Look for odd colors or look for some dust under the spoiler.
- Shop through your membership warehouse. Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s all negotiate rates with car dealers on behalf of their members.
- Skip the options. Unless you find something sitting on their lot that they need to move, avoid getting any extra options.
- Opt for a manual transmission. While they aren’t as available as they once were, there are still some new cars with a stick.
- Buy below invoice price. While the dealer will tell you that the invoice price is their cost, they aren’t always There are incentives and rebates on many cars that will lower their price even further.
- Talk through e-mail. Often, the internet department of a dealership can offer lower prices.
- Consider selling your vehicle yourself. You’ll get more money for it.
- Make sure you read all the paperwork carefully. This ensures you get the car for the price agreed.
2019 Nissan Versa S Sedan: MSRP $12,360
It is possible to purchase a new car for under $13,000. If you use our tips, you might even make this one of the new cars under 15,000. The Nissan Versa proves it’s possible. It might not have all the bells and whistles you’ve hoped for, but it’s cheap and ideal for any budget-conscious consumer. You can send your kid off to college in this sedan and not worry over the expense.
The Nissan Versa is a capable car and will get you where you need to go. There’s a 1.6-liter engine on board that produces 109 horsepower, so you won’t be getting anywhere too fast. In fact, it’s 0 to 60 mph time is 9.2 seconds, so you’ll have plenty of time to admire the scenery around you.
Some of the most appealing attributes of this ride include the decent fuel economy and roomy back seat. If you opt for a model with the continuously variable automatic transmission, you’re looking at 39 mpg during highway travel. If you want to have a little more fun on the road, then we recommend trying out the five-speed manual instead.
It also features a spacious trunk and seems to ride comfortably, even over bumps. With that said, it accelerates with a lot of noise and the driving experience is quite bland.
2019 Chevrolet Spark LS: MSRP $13,320
The smallest Chevy on the market might be tinier than the Sonic, but some big things are happening inside, especially considering the price. It might not be one of the new cars under 15,000, but there’s plenty happening with this budget-friendly ride. In fact, a seven-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay all come standard.
If safety is a concern, you’ll be happy to know that Chevrolet was able to cram ten airbags into this tiny car. That’s almost like being wrapped in bubble wrap! Furthermore, the 1.4-liter inline-four engine with 98 horsepower, is more powerful than the more expensive Mirage with its 1.2-liter three-cylinder motor.
This car is ideal for urban situations since it’s so easy to park. The downside to that is there isn’t much leg room in the rear seat or cargo space either. If you have a little extra to spend, you might be interested in the Activ trim which gives it an SUV feel. That’s due to the roof rack and body cladding.
2019 Mitsubishi Mirage ES Hatchback: MSRP $13,795
With some of the best fuel economy on the list, this Mirage ES Hatchback is a more practical design than the sedan and looks better too. It’s not one of the new cars under 15,000 but you can save an extra $1,000 over the sedan version, which isn’t too shabby.
It does have a weak three-cylinder engine and 78 horsepower. That makes acceleration quite slow and surprisingly, this car also comes with a noisy engine that might bother some people. It does, however, get 43 mpg highway, so you’ll be saving plenty of fuel with the CVT, although the five-speed manual is a little more fun.
Because it’s lightweight, it’s also highly maneuverable, easy to control, and simple to park. They also offer a superior warranty, so you’re well-protected. While the interior seems a little cheap, they do offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as options.
2019 Kia Rio LX Sedan: MSRP $15,390
The hatchback design does have more functionality and better looks, but the sedan cost less and has enough to offer. It’s one of the more comfortable options on the list with a smooth ride and decently-powered engine. The 1.6-liter inline-four engine with 130 horsepower is matched with either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission.
While the standard equipment is bare bones, there is better equipment in the top-of-the-line EX-trim like automated emergency braking, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, cruise control, and Bluetooth. You’ll also have to make do without any power windows on the base LX.
With your purchase comes an exceptionally long warranty which offers some extra peace of mind; especially if you’re sending off your college student. The sedan has a small cargo space, which is a bummer. If that’s important, it might be worth upgrading to the hatchback model which provides class-leading cargo room instead. Of course, then you are getting further away from finding new cars under 15,000.
2019 Ford Fiesta S Sedan: MSRP $14,300
The base-level Ford Fiesta S might not be the turbocharged ST, but it’s still an enjoyable drive. With its sporty handling, especially around turns, you might even forget that you’re driving a slow car. You could also upgrade to the hatchback for just a little extra money, if the budget allows.
Don’t let its small size scare you away; the sedan still has what you need. With the five-speed manual transmission, the performance offers a little bit of zest to it. There’s also an optional six-speed automatic transmission that pairs with the 1.6-liter inline-four engine and 120 horsepower.
There is limited rear seat and cargo space, so you won’t be able to jam-pack the sedan full of gear or people. With that said, some advanced technology options might make up for that, if you can tack them on to the bill.
2019 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 ES Sedan: MSRP $15,740
If you thought we were only listing the hatchback, think again! The sedan also offers decent fuel economy and a good warranty, making it a great option when you can’t find new cars under 15,000. The 78 horsepower 1.2-liter inline-three motor won’t take you to 60 mph faster than 12.8 seconds with the CVT, so don’t expect to go anywhere soon.
What it does have is a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, 7-year/100,000-mile corrosion warranty, and 5-year/unlimited mile roadside assistance. That’s better than some expensive brands on the market!
The interior is low quality, even for a budget-friendly option, so that’s something to keep in mind. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are optional features with the ES or you can upgrade to the SE to receive them as standard equipment.
2019 Hyundai Accent SE Sedan: MSRP $14,995
The Hyundai Accent only comes as a four-door sedan, unlike the Kia Rio. It’s styled like an Elantra and the interior comes with a quiet, upscale cabin. The 130-hp 1.6-liter inline-four is available with the decent six-speed manual transmission or a slower, six-speed automatic. With the automatic, you’re looking at 38 mpg and 37 mpg with the manual. Considering this car clocks a 0 to 60 mph speed of 7.5 seconds, it’s one of the faster options on our list but does start around $16,000.
This is a fabulous choice for a budget-friendly vehicle especially since it provides a comfortable ride with a spacious interior. The finish is superb and made from high-quality materials. There isn’t an in-dash navigation system, but they do offer connection to your smartphone apps, which is important in today’s world, especially for the younger generation of drivers. Unfortunately, only the top trim level has access to the enhanced safety aids.
With that said, they do provide the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty so you’re always protected from defects.
2019 Chevrolet Sonic LS Sedan: MSRP $15,420
The Chevrolet Sonic comes packed with a 1.8-liter inline-four to offer 138 horsepower. That’s more than any other on our list, but the fuel economy suffers slightly as a result. You can pair that with a five or six-speed manual transmission, or six-speed automatic. There’s also a 1.4-liter turbo four if you have some extra money to spend.
The attractive, aggressive front-end stands out in a crowd among competitors. In addition, they make a seven-inch infotainment system available that has full smartphone integration. You’ll also feel good when you see the exceptional crash test ratings and spacious cabin space.
2019 Nissan Versa Note S: MSRP $15,650
Here’s the first cheaper subcompact that doesn’t offer a manual transmission. Instead, you have the 1.6-liter inline-four engine that produces 109 horsepower and pairs with a CVT. This combination provides high fuel economy, but lots of noise and slow acceleration.
For the money, it’s slightly disappointing to see numerous reviews that discuss poor braking and handling as well. The bland appeal comes partly from the grip-challenged tires and soft suspension.
What it does have going for it is a well-designed interior with an adult-friendly back seat. It also makes clever use of its cargo space.
2019 Toyota Yaris L Hatchback: MSRP $15,450
If you’ve been looking for new cars under 15,000, we have one more option to consider. While it is one of the more expensive on our list, some perks make the Yaris worthwhile. It’s one of the only two-door hatchbacks on the market right now, which helps this design to stand out.
Your best bet is to opt for the five-speed manual transmission; otherwise, you’re stuck with a dull four-speed transmission. You’ll get decent fuel mileage at 36 mpg highway and the brakes are strong plus the ride is comfortable. In addition, this car boasts of great visibility, a nice selection of available convenience and safety features, plus a generous amount of rear legroom.
Despite being a class-leading vehicle for refinement and personality, there are a couple of downsides. First, you can’t adjust the steering other than to tilt it. This makes it difficult to get into a comfortable driving position. In addition, there’s less cargo room when compared to most of the other options.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get behind the wheel of some new cars under 15,000, but you aren’t going to find any. With the tips we provided earlier and the ten vehicles we offered, you might be able to come close to your target number. Whether you’re on a strict budget, or you want to send off your college student, it’s possible to get a decent vehicle without breaking the bank.
Remember, you also have the option to purchase a used car under $15,000 as well. You might be able to find something with a more powerful engine, additional features, and more room for the same amount of cash. While it wouldn’t be a new car under $15,000, you may feel better about that purchase in the long run.