The recent economic downturn and financial struggles of millions across the country have led to many people giving up one of the quintessential things about being an American: car ownership. When you think about it, vehicles can cost up to an entire year’s worth of wages, and can be very expensive when you add in needed service, accessories, and depreciation. The fact is, with stagnate wages and skyrocketing cost-of-living figures, including gasoline, there are a lot of people who are foregoing vehicle ownership and opting for public transportation or car-sharing services.
How have auto manufacturers responded to recent market trends? By marketing some great models at price levels that make them more accessible to many American consumers. There are a ton of options out there with reasonable sticker prices, and many aren’t your standard budget car. Several iconic models are within affordability for a good percentage of the population.
The Kelley Blue Book compiled a list of the ten coolest cars available for under $25,000, and it’s surprising to see some of the recognizable names on the list. From classics to newcomers, there’s something on the list for everyone.
1. Mazda MX-5 Miata
Now having been around for a quarter-century, the Mazda (MAZDY.PK) Miata is still doing exactly what is was developed to do: deliver a fun, sport driving experience at a reasonable price. The latest evolution comes in the form of the MX-5 Miata, which nails the concept of the small, lightweight sports car equipped for two. Critics praise its incredible handling and engine performance, with the only downsize being that the car itself can be too small for many drivers. When it comes down to it, the affordability and performance you get with the MX-5 Miata simply can’t be matched by any other car on the road.
2. Fiat 500 Abarth
After storming on the scene in the past several years, Fiat (FIATY:PK) has become a favorite for many car aficionados. While most of their lineup consists of affordable models, the ultimate bang for your buck comes with the Fiat 500 Abarth. It’s sleek, small profile make it perfect for city driving, and will gather drivers plenty of attention. Though similar to the Mini (BAMXY.PK) Cooper, the 500 Abarth has been praised for its incredible efficiency and value. With many variations to choose from, including an all-electric model, the Fiat 500 Abarth is definitely a model to check out when car shopping on a budget.
3. Honda Civic Si
Honda has long been a favorite for shoppers looking for an affordable, reliable brand. With the new Civic Si, Honda lovers may have found the best value available. The Honda Civic Si comes highly recommended by the experts, ranking high in fuel economy, horsepower, and praised for its unexpected performance capabilities. A reputation follows the Civic for safety and resale value, making it a great choice for drivers looking to get the most for their money. Add in a newly redesigned front-end, and the sporty Civic Si might just be the perfect bargain purchase.
4. Ford Mustang
Aging never looked so good! Just look to the iconic Ford Mustang for an example. The Mustang has a special place in the hearts of car enthusiasts across the world, and Ford has made it available to the masses with a generous price tag. With a strong nostalgic vibe and unrivaled power and performance, the Mustang is the perfect match for shoppers looking for a strong sports car at a value. The Mustang comes in a variety of available model options, all of them sporting enough horsepower to turn heads no matter where you go. For shoppers looking for an American icon at a great price, the Ford Mustang makes a strong case.
5. Mini Cooper S Hardtop
Car enthusiasts love the Mini Cooper S Hardtop. European styling and a small, sporty exterior lead to a thoroughly driving experience, whether you’re hitting the highways or headed down the city streets. The Mini Cooper S Hardtop’s real strength is it’s fuel economy, delivering up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway. Customers also love the myriad of customization options available from Mini, which gives drivers the option of personalizing their ride to their own specifications. Throw on a turbocharged engine and improved safety features, and the Mini Cooper S Hardtop becomes a serious candidate for the coolest car available under $25,000.
6. Chevrolet Camaro
Another iconic entry on our list is the Chevrolet Camaro. Boasting a 323 horsepower engine, 6-speed transmission and a host of other features, the Camaro is a dream come true for muscle car lovers. Helping spark the revival of the American muscle car, the Chevrolet Camaro delivers the performance you’d expect from a classic sports car with the technology trimmings of a luxury sedan. If you’re looking for an aggressive ride with lots of power, the Camaro might be your best bet. With a reasonable price under $25,000, you’re hard-pressed to find a cooler car to take for a test drive.
7. Volkswagen GTI
Known for delivering great performance and efficiency, Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) is grabbing attention with their new GTI model. Featuring a 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder turbocharged engine, and fantastic fuel economy, the Volkswagen GTI is a great choice for even the most perceptible driver. Praised for its driving dynamics and nimble performance, the GTI is a great choice for commuters. For shoppers on the lookout for a hatchback, this car is most likely the best available under $25,000. While on the car hunt, make sure the Volkswagen GTI is on your list for a test drive.
8. Jeep Wrangler
Few things are cooler than Jeep Wrangler, and with a price tag under $25,000, this vehicle easily makes our list. For the outdoor enthusiast, the Jeep Wrangler is a vehicle you have to check out. Going places that other cars simply can’t, the Wrangler is an ideal choice for those living in harsh climates that need to deal with heavy rain or snow. Having built a reputation for being the standard for off-road vehicles, the Wrangler comes standard with a powerful engine and a tough exterior. Of course, it lacks in comforts what it makes up for in capability, but if you’re looking at buying a Jeep, that should come as no surprise.
9. Ford Fiesta ST
For an affordable adrenaline rush, the Ford Fiesta ST is a sure bet. Delivering 197 horsepower from its 1.6 liter, 4 cylinder engine, the Fiesta ST is a solid performer on the city streets. Ford also built the engine as an EcoBoost model, making it one of the most fuel-efficient on the road. What gives this model a leg up on others in its class are the cool color combinations on the interior and exterior, the dual-clutch automatic transmission, and European styling. Be sure to give the Fiesta ST a look when you’re out on the lot, as Ford is taking a worthy shot at redefining “cool.”
10. Scion FR-S
Scion finishes off our list with their FR-S, a true expression of roadway finesse. The true selling point of the Scion FR-S is the insanely cool exterior styling, a sleek chassis that will catch eyes no matter where you’re headed. Throw in an engine that achieves 200 horsepower while maintaining a high miles per gallon average, and the FR-S becomes a a hard model to overlook when shopping for your next car. This is a vehicle that will put your driving skills to the test, and deliver a fun experience every time you hit the road.