The Top 21 Cheapest Cars to Drive

Last Updated on March 5, 2024

Some cars are cheaper to drive than others. Some cars have lower maintenance costs, for example, while others are surprisingly cheap to insure.

When you buy a car, you need to consider more than just the MSRP. You need to consider the total cost of ownership.

You might save money on a cheap car today, only to spend more on maintenance over the lifespan of a vehicle. Or, you might find a good deal on a sportscar, only to be shocked when your insurance premiums triple.

Today, we’re highlighting the cheapest cars to drive in the United States, including vehicles with consistently cheap maintenance, repair costs, fuel, insurance, and retail costs.

1. Kia Rio

Available at an MSRP of $17,645 for the LX trim, the 2023 Kia Rio offers a combined fuel economy of 36mpg along with a 120-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, and standard CVT. Other perks of the Kia Rio include the 8-inch touchscreen, rear camera, and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, all of which come standard across all Kia Rios. Advanced features like emergency braking, however, are not available on the LX version of the Kia Rio. Nevertheless, the Kia Rio is one of the most affordable cars you can drive today overall.

2. Nissan Versa

The Nissan Versa has a combined fuel economy of 35mpg along with an MSRP of $18,425 on the S trim, making it one of the cheapest cars to drive today. The Versa is popular among those who want a budget car without compromising on certain features. High-end features on the Nissan Versa you may not see on other cheap cars include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, reverse automatic braking, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam assist and headlights, cruise control, and more.

3. Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry frequently ranks among the cheapest cars in the United States for maintenance, insurance, MSRP, mileage, and overall costs. If you want to buy a car today and continue using that car for years without spending a fortune, then the Toyota Camry may be one of your best options.

4. Kia Sedona

Minivans have some of the cheapest insurance costs on the market. Statically, minivans are the cheapest vehicles to insure because they tend to have strong crash performance, safe drivers, and good safety ratings overall. The Kia Sedona is no exception. It combines cheap insurance premiums with a competitive MSRP, reliable design, and low expected maintenance costs, making it ideal for drivers who want a cheap and reliable vehicle for the whole family.

5. Honda Fit

The Honda Fit continues to be one of the cheapest cars to buy in the United States. The Honda Fit has cheap maintenance costs, low insurance premiums, great gas mileage, and a competitive MSRP. It’s also a four-door vehicle with a surprisingly powerful engine, making it ideal for those who want an economical car that gets the job done at a reasonable price.

6. Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is one of the bestselling vehicles in the United States and continues to be one of the most affordable cars to drive year after year. The 2023 Honda Civic has an MSRP starting at $25,745 and scores at the top of its class among small sedans for reliability and overall quality. With better-than-average fuel economy, low insurance costs, and extensive cargo space, the Honda Civic is everything a cheap car should be, with no major compromises.

7. Mazda 3

Starting at $23,615, the Mazda 3 is an affordable vehicle available as a sedan or hatchback. Whichever option you pick, the Mazda 3 is a compact vehicle with a sharp, modern look and agile handling. Like the Civic, the Mazda 3 consistently scores top marks for fuel economy and estimated repair and maintenance costs. And, because it’s such a popular car, it’s also cheap to insure and repair. For all of these reasons and more, both new and used versions of the Mazda 3 are some of the cheapest cars to drive.

8. Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra is larger than other cheap cars on this list despite offering a similar fuel economy and MSRP. With a combined fuel economy of 37mpg and an MSRP of $21,545, the Hyundai Elantra SE is one of the cheapest cars you can buy in 2023. The Hyundai Elantra has one of the best gas mileage on our list along with affordable maintenance costs and competitive insurance prices. Overall, it’s one of the cheapest cars to drive today.

9. Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla frequently appears on lists of the cheapest cars to drive. Like earlier models, the 2023 version of the Toyota Corolla continues to offer a competitive MSRP, surprisingly high-end features, strong safety ratings, competitive insurance premiums, and low anticipated maintenance costs, among other perks. You can buy the Toyota Corolla with three trim types, including the Corolla L ($21,020), Corolla LE ($21,470), and Corolla XLE ($25,420).

10. Chevrolet Spark

The Chevrolet Spark regularly appears on the list of cheapest cars to drive because of its lightweight frame, high fuel efficiency, and uncomplicated design. Although it has fewer high-end features than other cars on this list, that’s also an advantage, as the Chevrolet Spark has lower expected maintenance costs and repair costs. With low car insurance premiums, great gas mileage, and a cheap MSRP, the Chevrolet Spark continues to be one of the best cheap cars to drive.

11. Volkswagen Jetta

With a starting MSRP of $20,655 on the 2023 model, the Volkswagen Jetta continues to be one of the cheapest cars to buy in America. The Jetta also has low expected maintenance and repair costs, cheap insurance premiums, and great gas mileage, among other perks. Like other modern Volkswagens, the latest Jetta models include Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit and Digital Cockpit Pro, along with advanced features like wireless charging, remote start, VW Car-Net Safe & Secure, and VW Car-Net Hotspot.

12. Kia Soul

The Kia Soul has an MSRP of $21,085 and a combined fuel economy of 30mpg. It’s a unique-looking hatchback ideal that, like many vehicles on our list, is ideal for driving in cities. Key features on the Kia Soul include safety and driver-assist features, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a CVT, and an 8-inch touchscreen display (some models even have a 10.25-inch touchscreen). You also get perks like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

13. Kia Forte

Available at an MSRP of $20,585 for the base LX model (formerly known as the FE model), the 2023 Kia Forte is one of the cheapest new cars you can drive. You get a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, CVT, and a combined gas mileage of 34mpg, making it ideal for commuters. Other perks include an 8-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency barking, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also has something we don’t see on many other cheap cars on our list: a decently-sized trunk.

14. Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the most affordable cars on the market today. The 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage has an MSRP of $17,600 with a combined fuel economy of 39mpg. With seating for five, the Mirage is a subcompact hatchback featuring a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine. It’s small, economical, and ideal for driving in cities. The Mirage also has higher-end perks like a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and more. For drivers who want extra room, the Mirage G4 comes with a sedan variant featuring a trunk.

15. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is similar to the Kia Sportage in terms of the best value in its class. However, the vehicle nonetheless offers strong value, low rates of expected repairs, and good gas mileage, among other perks. Although repairs may be more expensive when needed, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross remains one of the cheapest cars in its class.

16. Chevrolet Impala

The Chevrolet Impala is a cheap and relatively large vehicle known for durability, low maintenance costs, and competitive MSRPs. With a starting price of around $30,000, the Impala is one of the most affordable full-sized vehicles on our list. When you buy an Impala, you can expect to pay competitive insurance premiums along with cheap gas and maintenance costs, making it ideal for drivers who want a good, full-sized vehicle without spending a fortune.

17. Buick Verano

The Buick Verano is Buick’s entry-level luxury car. You get a small, luxury sedan with premium features – all without breaking the bank on expected maintenance or insurance. Popular features in the Verano include a leather interior, remote climate controller, thick glass windows, and hands-free calling, among other perks. It also has a 180hp, 2.4-liter engine with surprisingly good fuel economy. With a starting price of around $32,000, the Buick Verano is one of the cheapest cars to drive overall – and one of the best overall in its class.

18. Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang has one of the highest MSRPs on this list. However, it’s one of the cheapest mainstream cars to drive – especially in its class. The Ford Mustang has lower-than-average expected maintenance costs, for example, and decent gas mileage. And, because it’s such a common vehicle, it has cheap repair costs, which keeps insurance low. If you can find a good deal on a used, reliable Ford Mustang, then it may be one of the cheapest vehicles to insure.

19. Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has won numerous awards over the years. Although it was initially more expensive than competing cars in its class, the Prius is one of the most economical vehicles you can buy today. You get Toyota’s famous reliability combined with great mileage. With combined gas mileage of around 55mpg, depending on your year, the Toyota Prius saves you money on insurance, at the dealership, and the pump. If you want a cheap car to insure, the Toyota Prius is one of the best available options.

20. Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata is a tech-savvy sedan ideal for drivers who want an affordable vehicle with high-end features. With an MSRP of around $28,000, the Hyundai Sonata offers great value whether bought new or used. The Sonata also comes with lower-than-average expected maintenance costs, a range of standard safety features, and strong safety ratings. You can expect to pay cheap insurance premiums while enjoying great gas mileage.

21. Subaru Impreza

With an MSRP of $22,115 and a combined fuel economy of 32mpg, the 2023 Subaru Impreza is a cheap car to buy, insure, and maintain. Available in a sedan or five-door hatchback, the car features a 152-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a 6.5-inch center touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Subaru EyeSight, and other perks.

Final Word

Many factors impact the true cost of a car – from the MSRP to the mileage to the expected maintenance.

It’s important to consider all of these factors when buying a car – especially if you’re looking for a cheap car to drive.

Review our list above to find the cheapest vehicle for your unique needs and budget.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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