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Top 10 Cheapest New Cars of 2018 – What Gets the Best Gas Mileage?

Deciding which cheap new car to purchase can be a daunting task. It’s crucial to take your time, do your research, and look at the big picture. While we are largely focused on fuel economy here at MPGomatic, your purchase decision will include a range of considerations. The process can be highly emotional. The car you like best, might not make the most financial sense, for any number of reasons. If the car you fall in love with turns into a money pit, the honeymoon won’t last long.

Kelly Blue Book (KBB) crunched the numbers to determine 2018’s least expensive new cars “based on a full buy-drive-sell ownership cycle” (not just the purchased price). While some folks are most concerned with the monthly payment, the most important factors in KBB’s calculations include initial cost, finance rates, and five-year depreciation, as well as fuel costs. These are KBB’s picks’ not our favorites.

All of the vehicles on the list use conventional gasoline engines. Some worthy compacts and subcompacts oddly didn’t land on the list (including the Corolla, Yaris, Civic, Mazda3, Focus, and Fiesta) and there are no hybrid or diesel models due to the higher sticker prices. It comes as no surprise that all of the vehicles are front-wheel-drive. We’ll run through the list by order of fuel economy and include KBB’s listing order at the end of the article.

2018 Mitsubishi Mirage

1.2-liter three-cylinder, CVT
37 city / 43 highway / 39 combined MPG
9.2 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $13,395 (Hatch), $14,395 (G4 Sedan)

2018 Mitsubishi Mirage

The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage is available as a five-door hatchback or G4 four-door sedan. The tiny 1.2-liter naturally aspirated three-cylinder engine produces a scant 78 horsepower and can be paired with either a CVT automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The Mirage is admittedly underpowered, but that comes with the low entry price and a ten-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty provides peace of mind. The five-door hatch allows for 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seats and 47.0 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

2018 Honda Fit

1.5-liter four-cylinder, CVT
33 city / 40 highway / 36 combined MPG
10.6 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $16,190

2018 Honda Fit

The five-door hatchback 2018 Honda Fit is equipped with a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine mated to a CVT automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The engine is rated at 130 horsepower with the manual and 128 HP with the CVT. The Fit’s interior is cavernous and versatile, with 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seats and a generous 52.7 cubic feet with the “Magic” seats folded down.

2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco

1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, seven-speed automatic
32 city / 40 highway / 35 combined MPG
14.0 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $20,550

2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco

The four-door Elantra starts at $16,950, but you may want to opt for the Eco sedan ($20,550), as it’s the most fuel-efficient conventionally-powered vehicle in the 2018 Hyundai lineup. The Elantra Eco’s turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 128 horsepower and is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 14-gallon fuel tank provides a generous amount of driving range, and the trunk allows 14.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Video: Elantra Eco 0-60 MPH Review / Highway MPG Road Test

2018 Toyota Yaris iA

1.5-liter four-cylinder, six-speed automatic
32 city / 40 highway / 35 combined MPG
11.6 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $15,950

2018 Toyota Yaris iA

The four-door 2018 Toyota Yaris iA sedan is based on the Mazda2 and is one of the sportiest inexpensive cars available in the USA. It’s fun to drive and a lot of car for the money, with a host of safety technology included as standard equipment. The 106 horsepower 1.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine can be paired with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The trunk provides 13.49 cubic feet of cargo space.

2018 Nissan Versa

1.6-liter four-cylinder, CVT
31 city / 39 highway / 34 combined MPG
10.8 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $12,110

2018 Nissan Versa Sedan

The 2018 Nissan Versa sedan is the least expensive new four-door sedan in America. The 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 109 horsepower. It’s available with a CVT automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The trunk provides 14.8 cubic feet of cargo space.

2018 Nissan Versa Note

1.6-liter four-cylinder, CVT
31 city / 39 highway / 34 combined MPG
10.8 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $15,600

2018 Nissan Versa Note

The five-door 2018 Nissan Versa Note hatchback competes most closely with the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris hatchback. It uses the same 109 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine as the Note Sedan, but unlike the sedan, a manual transmission is not available. There’s 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and 38.3 cubic feet with the seat folded down.

2018 Chevrolet Spark

1.4-liter four-cylinder, CVT
37 city / 43 highway / 39 combined MPG
9 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $13,050

2018 Chevrolet SparkACTIV

The 2018 Chevrolet Spark is one of the least expensive five-door hatchbacks. The Spark’s naturally-aspirated 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces a scant 98 horsepower. While it might sound like the Spark is underpowered, it’s fun to drive in town. It’s available with a five-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. Hauling capacity is limited. There’s 11.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and 27.2 cubic feet with the seat folded down. The new SparkACTIV model (shown above) sports a crossover-like persona. Chevrolet also offers the slightly larger Sonic subcompact as a five-door hatchback and four-door sedan, starting at $15,295.

2018 Kia Rio

2.0-liter four-cylinder, six-speed automatic
29 city / 37 highway / 32 combined MPG
11.9 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $13,900

2018 Kia Rio Hatchback

The Kia Rio was redesigned for 2018 and has enjoyed a warm reception in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback form. The Rio’s 130 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is offered with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The range-topping Rio EX ($18,400) includes a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. The trunk provides 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space.

2018 Hyundai Accent

1.6-liter three-cylinder, CVT
37 city / 43 highway / 39 combined MPG
11.9 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $14,995

2018 Hyundai Accent

The redesigned 2018 Hyundai Accent sedan is a significant step up over its predecessor and delivers plenty of bang for the buck. The 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 130 horsepower and can be mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The trunk provides 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space.

2018 Toyota Corolla iM

1.8-liter four-cylinder, CVT
31 city / 36 highway / 28 combined MPG
14 gallon fuel tank
Starting Price: $18,850

2018 Toyota Corolla iM

While the five-door hatchback 2018 Toyota Corolla iM is the most expensive hatch on KBB’s list of cheapest 2018 cars, it includes advanced safety technology as standard equipment. It’s equipped with a 137 horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which is the largest and most powerful engine on the list and is available with either a CVT automatic or six-speed manual transmission. You’ll find 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. The iM is due to be replaced by the 2019 Corolla Hatchback.

KBB Order:

  • 2018 Chevrolet Spark
  • 2018 Hyundai Accent
  • 2018 Kia Rio
  • 2018 Honda Fit
  • 2018 Nissan Versa
  • 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage
  • 2018 Toyota Corolla iM
  • 2018 Nissan Versa Note
  • 2018 Hyundai Elantra
  • 2018 Toyota Yaris iA

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4 comments ↓

#1 litesong on 05.14.18 at 10:28 am

With auto manufacturers advertising expensive hybrid, diesel, turbo & supercharger cars giving the best MPG, its great to know that cheap cars can still get excellent MPG, also. Again, auto transmissions are advertised to get the same MPG as manual transmissions on the 70mph freeway. In the case of OUR TWO Hyundai Elantras, the manual is geared lower than the automatic. Given lower speed roads (country or mountain), the manual Elantra gives better MPG, accelerates better than the auto(that’s fun some times), but the easy shifting 6speed manual is most fun to drive economically, passing up gas stations. Plus, I turn the manual into a semi-automatic by skipping gears, which leads directly to longevity.

#2 Mark on 05.26.18 at 9:29 am

Great article, I love the new Elantra sedan. Another tip for getting a good deal on a car is to have a look around on government auction sites.

#3 Pedant on 06.07.18 at 3:36 pm

EPA fuel economy numbers for the 2018 Corolla iM with CVT are 28 city, 36 highway and 31 combined. (The manual version’s EPA numbers are 27/35/30.)

#4 mpg-o-editor on 07.13.18 at 5:58 am

Fixed! Thanks for the catch!

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