The Most Affordable Cars And Crossovers For 2017 – Forbes

Posted: Monday, January 23, 2017
Starting at $11,990, the Nissan Versa is the most-affordable new car in the U.S. for 2017, but at that price you get manual locks and roll-up windows.

Starting at $11,990, the Nissan Versa is the most-affordable new car in the U.S. for 2017, but at that price you get manual locks and roll-up windows. (Photo credit: Nissan)

While we recently examined the costliest automobiles on the road with sticker prices handily crossing the $1 million mark, we realize that those of us among the bottom 99.99% of all wage earners require something considerably more affordable to drive.

To that end, this time around we’re considering what’s available at the other end of the vehicular spectrum and are highlighting the most affordable choices among new cars and crossovers for the 2017 model year. Frugal and fuel efficient, they’re ideal for first-time buyers and empty nesters on limited incomes, families picking out a cheap-but-reliable ride for a kid away at college, and for those stalwart individuals in all income brackets who’d rather spend their money on vacations, homes, college tuition, or other indulgences besides cars.

The winner in this regard for 2017 is the base S version of the Nissan Versa with a manual transmission, which features a sticker price of just $11,990. (All prices quoted in this post are for specified trim levels and do not include options, destination charges, licensing, or fees.) We’re featuring the 20 least costly cars and crossovers for 2017 in the accompanying slideshow and video.

But what does one get for around $12K these days? The Versa S sedan packs a 1.6-liter 109-hp four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission,  and while it comes with air conditioning and a CD stereo, the car’s windows and locks are manually operated, which is the equivalent of having a rotary-dial telephone these days. No factory options are available except for a CVT automatic transmission, which adds $1,690 to the cost. Items that come standard on many, if not most models these days – including split-fold rear seats, satellite radio, and power locks/windows – are limited to only the top two trim levels in the line.

Okay, so cheapskates get what they pay for. On the other hand, those with deeper pockets who might want to downsize their rides but not their expectations can equip some of the models on our most-affordable list with top-shelf amenities that were until recently relegated to luxury cars. For example, the compact Ford Focus can be fitted with a touchscreen infotainment system with full smartphone connectivity, navigation, both blind-spot and lane-departure warning systems, a heated steering wheel, and a self-parking system. Of course, you do get what you pay for – a fully loaded top-of-the-line Focus Titanium hatchback stickers at $24,075, which is $7,300 over the $16,775 base model – that’s about a 43% boost in price.

Therein lies the proverbial rub when it comes to shopping among the least-expensive vehicles sold in the U.S. Depending on the model, that attractive low cost of entry may limit a shopper to only the bare necessities. You may have to trade up to a costlier trim level to obtain even the most elemental upgrades like an automatic transmission. More fanciful amenities, like heated seats and a navigation system, might be restricted to the costliest versions if they’re offered at all.

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