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There are no cheap cars anymore. Since 2019, used car prices have risen by almost 50%. And mileage on those cars is also up by nearly 50% over the same period. All of this means that prices have risen from an average of $23,351 to almost $35,000 since 2019. And popular vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 price went up 140%. Plus, drivers are tacking on more miles, which means more repairs. We need cheap city cars.

The consumer site iSeeCars put these numbers together. It is a sad sign that lower-income car buyers have few alternatives to cheaper transportation—Au contraire. Though not happening anytime soon, there is an alternative to most vehicles available today.

Those would be city cars, those small cars popular in Europe and Asia, especially in crowded city centers. They’re cheap, cheap to power, and do what most vehicles can do. But they’re not sold in the U.S. That should change.

Here are some examples that would make great commuters for those who don’t want to pay the prices cars and trucks are selling for today.

India: MG Comet EV

Green and black MG Comet EV from India
MG Comet EV from India | MG

This is India’s cheapest EV. It sells for under $8,500. It’s a four-seater and has “extra legroom,” according to MG. With a 143-mile range and 80% charge in five hours, it fulfills many U.S. car buyers’ needs.

Japan: Suzuki Alto

Blue Suzuki Alto hybrid sedan
Suzuki Alto hybrid sedan | Suzuki

The Alto is one of Japan’s Kei cars that the government places limits on size and power. This boxy little sedan boasts a hybrid system starting with a 660cc three-cylinder gas engine. At 65 mph, it has size, speeds adequate for most driving, and many options.

India: Jeeto Plus

Jeeto Plus trucks from India
Jeeto Plus trucks from India | Mahindra

Mahindra makes these neat utility trucks in India. It can handle a payload of 1,500 lbs and comes with a gang of options. Do you really need a Ford F-150?

Japan: Daihatsu Copen

Green Daihatsu Copen roadster on open highway
Daihatsu Copen roadster | Daihatsu

The Copen has been around for a while, mainly because it is popular and a fun two-seater. So, not everything small is an econobox. Daihatsu packs the 133-inch long Copen with a 658cc turbo three-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. Affordable fun could be yours, along with great gas mileage.

India: Maruti S-Presso

Red Maruti S-Presso
Maruti S-Presso sedan | Maruti

If you’re looking for a compact sedan but aren’t ready to jump to EVs, the CNG-powered Maruti S-Presso might be what you need. Its 1.0-liter DualJet handles CNG, so gasoline is not necessary. Either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission is available. And maybe the best part is the price, at $5,350.

France: Citroen Ami

Citroen Ami city car parked in city
Citroen Ami city car | Citroen

The Citroen Ami was coming to the U.S. for a ride-sharing program in Washington D.C. We don’t think that ever happened. But that shows the merit of these washing machine-like two-seaters. Its top speed is 27.9 mph, with a range of around 40-plus miles. It’s another take on a small commuter car that would work perfectly for many U.S. commuters. Batteries included. They sell for around $7,500, which is another advantage. 

Italy: Fiat Panda

Fiat Panda hybrid front 3/4 view
Fiat Panda hybrid | Fiat

For those seeking an Italian flair, the Fiat Panda would be a perfect fit. Hybrid powered by a 1.1-liter FireFly engine, it features 70 hp. The Panda is made at the same factory in southern Italy as the Alfa Romeo Tonale. Base prices run around $13,000, so the Italian flair you’re seeking increases the price relative to our other picks above.


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