The 9 Cheapest Cars to Buy in 2021

The 9 Cheapest Cars to Buy in 2021
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If it weren't for the fact that it has five letters, the term “cheap” is essentially, hands down, a four-letter word.

But in the world of car buying, cheap needn't necessarily denote poor quality or – worse yet – an outright lemon. That's anything but the case. Especially if you're buying used.

That's because , contrary to popular belief, used cars are often just as good as new ones, save for the fact that they've had a previous owner. But they come at a fraction of the cost, with an average savings of 40 percent or more, simply by buying used instead of new. Shift offers fair, no-haggle prices driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data, so you can rest assured knowing the price you're getting is the best across the board.

From sedans to hatchbacks and surprisingly sporty variants of autos that bear reliable household names, options for cheap cars these days abound.

Here are nine different makes and models of the best cheapest options of cars to buy in 2021.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

The ideal vehicle when it comes to combining fuel economy with European style, the modern-day Fiat 500 is actually a tribute to the 1957 edition produced by the Italian carmaker until 1975. After a hiatus that lasted more than three decades, the 500 – as well as the whole Fiat family name – made their return to the US market in 2007 and with much praise, too. Americans bought approximately 2 million 500s in the first decade alone. New Fiat 500s start at $26,500, while used 500s can be found for as little as $7,000. Now that's amore.

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Fiat 500

The ideal vehicle when it comes to combining fuel economy with European style, the modern-day Fiat 500 is actually a tribute to the 1957 edition produced by the Italian carmaker until 1975. After a hiatus that lasted more than three decades, the 500 – as well as the whole Fiat family name – made their return to the US market in 2007 and with much praise, too. Americans bought approximately 2 million 500s in the first decade alone. New Fiat 500s start at $26,500, while used 500s can be found for as little as $7,000. Now that's amore.

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Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

Since its release in 1976, the Ford Fiesta, with its petite size and frugal fuel economy, has been a popular subcompact classic first and foremost in Europe followed by the United States. Actually, the last new models of the small Ford with the festive name came stateside in 2019 when the company decided to shift its focus to building trucks, crossovers and full-size SUVs for the U.S. market. But that's not to say there aren't plenty of used Ford Fiestas out there in need of a good home. Truth be told, they're now officially considered collector's items, with many selling for $8,000-$10,000.

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Ford Fiesta

Since its release in 1976, the Ford Fiesta, with its petite size and frugal fuel economy, has been a popular subcompact classic first and foremost in Europe followed by the United States. Actually, the last new models of the small Ford with the festive name came stateside in 2019 when the company decided to shift its focus to building trucks, crossovers and full-size SUVs for the U.S. market. But that's not to say there aren't plenty of used Ford Fiestas out there in need of a good home. Truth be told, they're now officially considered collector's items, with many selling for $8,000-$10,000.

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Honda Fit

Honda Fit

The Honda Fit hatchback reigns as a forerunner in its class of subcompact cars, with its sizable and well-tailored cabin, a foldable rear seat that makes transporting cargo a breeze and a slew of advanced driver assistance features. Easygoing when it comes to gas money, with a fuel economy of 29-33 mpg in the city and 36-40 on the freeway, the easy-driving Fit also has plenty of safety features that come standard on its mid and upper trims, including blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist. All of this makes the Honda Fit the perfect first car for teen drivers or anyone who's looking for a safe, reliable and cost-conscious ride. Used Fits hover around the $10,000 mark, which is about $6,000-$10,000 less than their new counterparts.

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Honda Fit

The Honda Fit hatchback reigns as a forerunner in its class of subcompact cars, with its sizable and well-tailored cabin, a foldable rear seat that makes transporting cargo a breeze and a slew of advanced driver assistance features. Easygoing when it comes to gas money, with a fuel economy of 29-33 mpg in the city and 36-40 on the freeway, the easy-driving Fit also has plenty of safety features that come standard on its mid and upper trims, including blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist. All of this makes the Honda Fit the perfect first car for teen drivers or anyone who's looking for a safe, reliable and cost-conscious ride. Used Fits hover around the $10,000 mark, which is about $6,000-$10,000 less than their new counterparts.

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Hyundai Accent

Hyundai Accent

In the realm of subcompact cars, the Hyundai Accent offers big value for relatively little money. New models start at just over $15,000, but used models go for as low as $9,000. The Accent's appealing interior and standard tech make its low price tag all the more attractive, too. While it lags in the pickup department, with a four-cylinder 120-horsepower engine, it touts stellar gas mileage estimates of 29-33 mpg in the city and 39-41 mpg on the freeway. Accents also feature roomy rear seats that adequately accommodate full-size adults, and they're also known for their reliability, too.

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Hyundai Accent

In the realm of subcompact cars, the Hyundai Accent offers big value for relatively little money. New models start at just over $15,000, but used models go for as low as $9,000. The Accent's appealing interior and standard tech make its low price tag all the more attractive, too. While it lags in the pickup department, with a four-cylinder 120-horsepower engine, it touts stellar gas mileage estimates of 29-33 mpg in the city and 39-41 mpg on the freeway. Accents also feature roomy rear seats that adequately accommodate full-size adults, and they're also known for their reliability, too.

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Kia Optima

Kia Optima

As far as midsize budget sedans go, the Kia Optima is an excellent contender. That's because it offers a roomy and well-assembled cabin with cushy seats, tech features that are easy to navigate, a smooth and quiet ride and plenty of standard safety features, too. In all honesty, finding flaws on the Optima isn't really that easy, given that Kia has achieved a solid balance of overall quality, reputable safety ratings and anti-collision features. Standard on the Optima is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission that makes for 185 horsepower. Upper trims deliver more spunk, with options that include a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that musters an impressive 245 horsepower altogether. Yes, they're a bit pricier than other models on this list when purchased new – anywhere from $24,000 to $32,000 – but that makes used Optimas all the bigger of a bang for your buck. While the majority hover in the $15,000 range, used Optimas can be found for as little as $9,000.

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Kia Optima

As far as midsize budget sedans go, the Kia Optima is an excellent contender. That's because it offers a roomy and well-assembled cabin with cushy seats, tech features that are easy to navigate, a smooth and quiet ride and plenty of standard safety features, too. In all honesty, finding flaws on the Optima isn't really that easy, given that Kia has achieved a solid balance of overall quality, reputable safety ratings and anti-collision features. Standard on the Optima is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission that makes for 185 horsepower. Upper trims deliver more spunk, with options that include a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that musters an impressive 245 horsepower altogether. Yes, they're a bit pricier than other models on this list when purchased new – anywhere from $24,000 to $32,000 – but that makes used Optimas all the bigger of a bang for your buck. While the majority hover in the $15,000 range, used Optimas can be found for as little as $9,000.

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Mazda Mazda3

Mazda Mazda3

The Mazda3 first appeared in 2003 as both a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. It is now in its fourth generation and Mazda has sold over 6 million units globally, making it one of the brand's best-selling vehicles to date. A compact car it may be, but even so it packs a horsepower of 250 and comes with an all-wheel-drive option, too. Also, the car radiates an attractive amount of design and attention to detail all around despite its surprisingly low sticker price. While new Mazda3 base models begin at $20,650, used Mazda3s range from $8,500 to $10,000.

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Mazda Mazda3

The Mazda3 first appeared in 2003 as both a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. It is now in its fourth generation and Mazda has sold over 6 million units globally, making it one of the brand's best-selling vehicles to date. A compact car it may be, but even so it packs a horsepower of 250 and comes with an all-wheel-drive option, too. Also, the car radiates an attractive amount of design and attention to detail all around despite its surprisingly low sticker price. While new Mazda3 base models begin at $20,650, used Mazda3s range from $8,500 to $10,000.

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Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage

As far as bargains go, the Mitsubishi Mirage is hard to beat. It's easily one of the smallest cars for sale in the United States these days, but it also has one of the smallest engines, too. Those two components together make the Mirage the most fuel-efficient gas-powered car on the market. The Mirage's teeny 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine is capable of a measly 78 horsepower, so it's not exactly what you'd call speedy. However, it achieves a combined fuel efficiency of 39 mpg in the five-door hatchback version and 37 mpg in the four-door sedan version, making it one of the most gas-friendly rides out there today. The Mirage starts at around $14,000 new, but used models can go for less than $8,000.

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Mitsubishi Mirage

As far as bargains go, the Mitsubishi Mirage is hard to beat. It's easily one of the smallest cars for sale in the United States these days, but it also has one of the smallest engines, too. Those two components together make the Mirage the most fuel-efficient gas-powered car on the market. The Mirage's teeny 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine is capable of a measly 78 horsepower, so it's not exactly what you'd call speedy. However, it achieves a combined fuel efficiency of 39 mpg in the five-door hatchback version and 37 mpg in the four-door sedan version, making it one of the most gas-friendly rides out there today. The Mirage starts at around $14,000 new, but used models can go for less than $8,000.

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Nissan Versa

Nissan Versa

With a pleasant cabin design that comfortably fits five, ample space in the trunk and an overall polished performance on the road, the Nissan Versa is one of the best options among subcompact cars today. With a four-cylinder engine that makes for only 122 horsepower, the Versa may seem to take its sweet time getting up to freeway speeds. But it makes up for this by way of its impressive fuel economy: 27-32 mpg in the city and 35-40 mpg on the freeway. Priced at $15,000-$18,000, new Versas are considered an attractive package in terms of its price and offerings. So just imagine the upped value that used Versas, which cost as little as $9,000, have to offer.

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Nissan Versa

With a pleasant cabin design that comfortably fits five, ample space in the trunk and an overall polished performance on the road, the Nissan Versa is one of the best options among subcompact cars today. With a four-cylinder engine that makes for only 122 horsepower, the Versa may seem to take its sweet time getting up to freeway speeds. But it makes up for this by way of its impressive fuel economy: 27-32 mpg in the city and 35-40 mpg on the freeway. Priced at $15,000-$18,000, new Versas are considered an attractive package in terms of its price and offerings. So just imagine the upped value that used Versas, which cost as little as $9,000, have to offer.

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Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris

Despite the fact that it won't be the first to cross the finish line, with its easy-going four-cylinder 106-horsepower engine, the Toyota Yaris is actually a lot of fun to drive, thanks to its sharp handling and tight suspension. And with an amazing fuel economy of 30-39 mpg in the city and 39-40 mpg on the freeway, who cares about excessive speed? Available in either a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback body styles, the interior comes off as stylish and well-equipped. And as always, the Yaris exudes the reliability for which Toyota cars are known and loved. It has a tasteful interior, adequate legroom both in the front and rear and a lengthy list of standard tech and safety features such as a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and a forward-collision warning system. Used Yarises go for as little as $9,000-$13,000, making them a smart option if you're shopping around for a trustworthy bargain.

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Toyota Yaris

Despite the fact that it won't be the first to cross the finish line, with its easy-going four-cylinder 106-horsepower engine, the Toyota Yaris is actually a lot of fun to drive, thanks to its sharp handling and tight suspension. And with an amazing fuel economy of 30-39 mpg in the city and 39-40 mpg on the freeway, who cares about excessive speed? Available in either a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback body styles, the interior comes off as stylish and well-equipped. And as always, the Yaris exudes the reliability for which Toyota cars are known and loved. It has a tasteful interior, adequate legroom both in the front and rear and a lengthy list of standard tech and safety features such as a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and a forward-collision warning system. Used Yarises go for as little as $9,000-$13,000, making them a smart option if you're shopping around for a trustworthy bargain.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team