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What Are The Least Expensive Cars Over The Past 2 Years?

There is a major difference between an inexpensive car and a “cheap” car? Cheap cars may give the thought of manual windows that only open partway, or no air conditioning. Even a radio with clunky old knobs that tune into a couple of stations may come to mind.

But it could be time to rethink your idea of a car that’s not a luxury model. Although there is a competitive market for cars in recent months, there still may be choices that can work for your budget. While today’s affordable vehicles may not have all of the options you’re looking for, they often come with equipment and features once reserved for only the most expensive cars on the market.

These five new cars all start at under $19,000, and offer a level of quality that just might surprise you. And that means you can experience that new car smell without paying through the nose.

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Mitsubishi Mirage | Starting price: $13,995

The Mirage last underwent a major update nine years ago, so it’s safe to say it’s lacking in some of the latest options. But it’s still better than a used car, and comes with a new-car warranty, which makes it more appealing than a used vehicle. In addition to a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, the base ES trim level offers a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth wireless technology, automatic remote keyless entry, cruise control, and climate control. The most expensive GT trim level, which includes heated seats, HID headlamps, 15-inch alloy wheels, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay, is priced at a reasonable $17,000.

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Hyundai Accent | Starting price: $15,395

The cars this manufacturer produced in the ’80s certainly weren’t always considered top of the line. But that was then, this is now, and Hyundai has earned a reputation for building quality products with well-thought-out features. With a 120-horsepower four-cylinder engine, the Accent bests many competitors at the low end of the price spectrum. In the base SE trim, you’ll find a number of attractive features but limited availability of advanced safety technology. To enjoy the full suite of safety tech, including forward-collision avoidance assist, you’d need to step up to the Limited, which sells for about $20,000.

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Kia Rio | Starting price: $15,850

Forget the days when the Rio was a forgettable hatchback; this smartly styled, well-equipped version has a lot going for it. You’ll enjoy a 7-inch touchscreen, power windows, an overhead storage console, power heated mirrors, and automatic climate control. The Rio’s infotainment systems are some of the best in the business, including  intuitive menus, an easy-to-read screen, and major controls that don’t require you to read a manual before you can get them working. Unfortunately, the Rio is lacking in many of today’s advanced safety features such as lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking.

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Honda Fit | Starting price: $16,190

Despite being considered a “small car,” the Honda Fit has some big advantages, including a 112 cubic-foot interior that provides more cargo space than you would imagine (some people use it as a camper even). The LX offers a six-speed manual transmission along with the optional CVT. The slightly more expensive Sport includes 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps,  Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, but doesn’t offer the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety features found in the EX and LX trims, both of which sell for around $20,000.

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Chevrolet Sonic | Starting price: $17,595

You’ll like the sound of today’s Sonic. Available in both a sedan and hatchback, this car is powered by a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The LS sedan costs less than $18K, but lacks a lot of key features you may have come to expect, like cruise control and advanced safety tech.