The best cheap new cars in 2021 - SheriyarTech

Buying a cheap new car doesn't mean it's a bad car. As new cars become more expensive than ever, plenty of buyers are keen to exercise a more affordable option in whatever segment they're shopping. Don't fret because we chose our top picks for the best cheap car in a number of categories. We'd recommend them to our families, friends and yes, even you.

For this list, you'll find our favorite cars on sale today that sit below the average new car price. We think you'll like them because we certainly do.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Sometimes, aggressive styling can help cover an otherwise mediocre car, but that's not the case with the 2021 Hyundai Elantra. Style and substance play together here to create an affordable compact sedan that's one of the best you can currently buy.

Funky styling inside and out helps you stand out from the traditionally conservative econobox crowd, but that's just the start. Even the base Elantra SE comes with furnishings like an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a vast array of active and passive safety systems and a 147-horsepower I4 gas engine that promises up to 43 mpg highway. It's a little ho-hum to drive, but there's a turbocharged N-Line model to scratch that itch, need be. Have your cake and eat it, too, folks.

 

Read our 2021 Hyundai Elantra review.

 

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

You can't have a list of great affordable cars without mentioning the Toyota Camry, bastion of the midsize sedan segment. Sure, most people talk about the Toyota Camry like they talk about a package of envelopes they bought at Staples, but that's for good reason: For decades, the Camry has stood as good, reliable, affordable transportation for families of all shapes and sizes.

Unsurprisingly, the Camry is showing no signs of slowing down. The non-hybrid Camry is supremely affordable, yet it's still loaded with tons of tech and safety systems as standard equipment, even on the base LE model. It's quite the smooth operator, too, returning a well-cushioned ride that makes long trips feel much shorter.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Full-size sedans are slowly going the way of the dodo, but there are still a few kicking around. Of that group, the Dodge Charger might be a little long in the tooth, but there's a surprising amount of value kicking around.

The 2021 Dodge Charger, like the half-decade's worth of Chargers before it, is a large and comfortable sedan with a post-destination manufacturer suggested retail price that just crosses the $30,000 mark, rising a little higher if you prefer four driven wheels to two. In base guise, its V6 engine is efficient enough, but it doesn't make the car feel pokey. Drop a little more coin and you can replace it with a V8 but still sit under the average new-car transaction price. The Charger isn't the most tech-forward vehicle on the planet, but it does come with Stellantis' Uconnect infotainment system, which has been one of our favorites for years, and it just keeps getting better.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

"The Honda Accord is like a blue-chip stock: always a smart buy," writes our own Craig Cole in his review of the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid. And it's true -- the Accord remains one of our perennial favorite vehicles, blending comfort, efficiency and driving dynamics in equal doses. You might think that adding a hybrid-electric powertrain would involve a compromise somewhere along the line, but nope, it's still really darn good.

With 212 net hp and 232 net lb-ft on offer, the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid is plenty peppy in real-world use, but stay light on the accelerator and you'll reach the EPA-estimated fuel economy of 44 miles per gallon city, 41 mpg highway and 43 mpg combined. The battery hangs out behind the rear seats, so it doesn't mess with interior volume, nor does it impugn on trunk space, which bests both the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard across the range, too, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the former of which is available wirelessly on EX trims and above.

 

Read our 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid review.

 

The best affordable electric car

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet

The first-gen Chevrolet Bolt EV was a lovely if imperfect electric hatchback. Now, for the 2022 model year, the Bolt EV is back with a host of upgrades -- and a second variant we'll get to later -- that make this five-door properly compelling and even more worth your attention (and money).

Outside, the Bolt EV has much sharper looks while retaining its hatchback shape. Inside, dramatic improvements abound, from general design to the actual materials in play. A 10.2-inch infotainment screen dominates the dashboard, while standard safety tech includes lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and automatic high beams, with adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system available as options. Oh yeah, it has 259 miles of range, too, which for most commuters is nothing to shake a stick at.

Daniel Golson/Roadshow

The Honda Civic Type R is good, but boy howdy, it's expensive. If you want a similar but slightly less potent experience, while saving handfuls of cash and rocking an aesthetic that's just a smidge more adult, say hello to the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N.

The Veloster N gets its motive force from a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 producing 250 hp (270 hp with the optional Performance Package) and 260 lb-ft. A six-speed manual is standard, but new for 2021 is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic that can provide the same hilariously fun backroad experience for folks who don't want to row their own. It is so much fun to drive, and like every other new Hyundai, the Veloster N is packed with all manner of safety and creature-comfort tech. Load the thing up to the gills and you still won't hit the $40,000 mark, which gives it some powerful value among similarly powered performance cars.

 

Read our 2021 Hyundai Veloster N review.

 

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Another day, another paragraph extolling the virtues of Ford's "Baby Bronco," which eventually came to be known as the Bronco Sport. This compact SUV won our hearts with a potent blend of capability and quality, with a little dash of nostalgia for good measure.

Coming in below the $30,000 mark for its base model, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is an impressive small crossover. Its tall body means there's plenty of space and visibility, the latter of which pairs well with the vehicle's off-road capabilities that put nearly every other tiny SUV to shame. It might not win every fight on paper when it comes to cargo space or towing capability, but there's so much moxie in the Bronco Sport that you can't help but adore it.

 

Read our 2021 Ford Bronco Sport review.

 

Subaru

The 2021 Subaru Outback might be little more than a tall wagon, but it doesn't take much to qualify as a crossover these days, so a crossover it is, for the purpose of this list. No matter how it's categorized, though, the Outback is a lovely vehicle that's worth your time.

2021 models pick up one new piece of safety tech -- LED headlights that sweep left or right as the steering wheel turns -- complementing the standard EyeSight tech found on every Outback. An available turbocharged flat-four engine makes trips to the grocery store a little more exciting, while the optional 11.6-inch portrait infotainment screen makes quite the dashboard statement. We had a 2020 model for an entire year, and we found it to be a supremely competent highway cruiser that delivered solid efficiency in the process.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Consider the Kia Telluride the Choose Your Own Adventure book of three-row SUVs. With a starting price around $32,000, you can keep it Ace of Base and walk out of the dealership with a wholly righteous three-row SUV that oozes family values and won't break the bank. Or, you can throw money at your local salesperson and drive off with a Telluride loaded with wood trim, Nappa leather and power-folding rear rows. And you can have it just about anywhere in-between, too.

The 2021 Kia Telluride rocks, full stop. It's capable, its three rows offer enough space for big families to stay comfy on long road trips and it's loaded with all the same great tech that we praise in everything else Hyundai and Kia make. Its 291-hp V6 is a little thirsty, sure, but you can keep gas stations at bay by sticking with the standard front-wheel-drive getup. No matter how you spec it, though, the result is a seriously impressive SUV.

 

Read our 2021 Kia Telluride review.

 

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

If you've driven one of Honda's newer hybrids, or if you've driven a gas-powered CR-V from this current generation, you'd be right in assuming that pairing those two things would result in a vehicle of equally high quality.

The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid is like a nice night out at a sensible restaurant. Good times abound, but not in a way that will make your wallet cry in agony. The CR-V Hybrid's powertrain is capable of producing 40 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway, which is solid for an all-wheel-drive vehicle, and the ride quality errs on the comfortable side. Throw in a sub-$30,000 base trim and a range-topper that caps out at about $37,000, and you have a wide variety of affordable trims on offer.

The best affordable electric SUV

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The Bolt EV is no longer the only affordable electric car in Chevrolet's portfolio. Now, there's a higher-riding crossover version, the Bolt EUV, which looks mostly the same but actually shares no common sheet metal with its sibling. All the same great things from the Bolt EV are here, including a nicely styled interior with better materials and some solid standard tech. It may not look this way in pictures, but the EUV is actually half a foot longer than the EV, with the increased interior space to match.

One very important thing sets the Bolt EUV apart from any potential competitor, though: Super Cruise. Formerly limited to expensive Cadillac vehicles, GM's advanced driver aid is now available on the Bolt EUV, too. Hit the button on any of more than 200,000 miles of mapped highway and the vehicle will take control of the steering, brakes and accelerator to cruise handsfree. 

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Is the 2021 Mazda CX-5 Turbo technically a performance SUV? Well, no, but until the Hyundai Kona N arrives, the CX-5 with its turbocharged I4 engine delivers an experience that is as close to a performance-oriented vehicle as you can get in this price range.

Available on higher trims, the CX-5's optional 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 produces a solid 250 hp and 320 lb-ft, the latter of which makes for some very exciting starts and on-ramp antics. A solid body and properly damped suspension allow you to have a surprising amount of fun in corners, and in the right spec, its interior trimmings put some actual luxury cars to shame in terms of both materials and styling. 

COMPARISONOF THE BEST AFFORDABLE CARS FOR 2021

CategoryNameBase EngineOutputFuel Economy (mpg, city/hwy/combined)Base Price
Best affordable small car2021 Hyundai Elantra2.0-liter I4147 hp / 132 lb-ft33 / 43 / 37$20,655
Best affordable midsize car2021 Toyota Camry2.5-liter I4203 hp / 184 lb-ft28 / 39 / 32$25,965
Best affordable full-size car2021 Dodge Charger3.6-liter V6292 hp / 260 lb-ft19 / 30 / 23$31,490
Best affordable hybrid car2021 Honda Accord Hybrid2.0-liter I4 hybrid212 hp net48 / 48 / 48$27,565
Best affordable electric car2022 Chevrolet Bolt EVSingle electric motor200 hp / 266 lb-ftTBA (259 mi. est. range)$31,995
Best affordable performance car2021 Hyundai Veloster N2.0-liter I4275 hp / 260 lb-ft22 / 28 / 25$33,245
Best affordable small SUV2021 Ford Bronco Sport1.5-liter I3181 hp / 190 lb-ft25 / 28 / 26$29,650
Best affordable midsize SUV2021 Subaru Outback2.5-liter H4182 hp / 176 lb-ft26 / 33 / 29$27,845
Best affordable three-row SUV2021 Kia Telluride3.8-liter V6291 hp / 262 lb-ft20 / 26 / 23$33,415
Best affordable hybrid SUV2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid2.0-liter I4 hybrid212 hp net40 / 35 / 38$31,710
Best affordable electric SUV2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUVSingle electric motor200 hp / 266 lb-ftTBA (250 mi. est. range)$33,395
Best affordable performance SUV2021 Mazda CX-5 Turbo2.5-liter I4250 hp / 320 lb-ft23 / 28 / 25$31,760

How we made our list

Believe it or not, we drove them! Everyone at Roadshow is constantly evaluating new vehicles in all types of situations, whether it's hauling mulch or just getting the family from Point A to Point B. Our vast library of published reviews allows us to look at every car in context and determine what makes a properly good vehicle. The names you see on this list represent some of our favorite affordable cars from all corners of the auto industry -- except the super expensive ones, naturally.

Don't forget, though: Your mileage may vary, and not just literally. Everybody's needs are different, and what's good for one goose may not be for the gander. We're flattered if you want to take this list as canon, but we implore you to get out there and actually take a spin in these cars, and others, to get a feel for what you, dear reader, truly want in a vehicle.

Read more: Best convertibles for 2021

We round up all the new car...00:0007:44
Roadshow editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Here are the best electric cars for 2021

The number of electric cars for sale continues to grow, but these are the best, according to our editors.

LISTEN
- 03:57

Shopping for a new car can be tough. If you're looking at buying an electric car, it can be even more difficult. While EV ownership is a smooth process, there's more to consider to ensure these cars are a good fit for your lifestyle. Thankfully, we have a group of expert editors here to help.

Do you want something cheaper and with a more limited range, or do you want to pony up some cash for luxury features and enough range for charge-free road trips? How are you supposed to choose the best EV?

We can't tell you exactly which EV is right for your life, but we can narrow your choices down. See, we've driven just about every permutation of every current-production electric vehicle on sale in the US today, so we here at Roadshow have a better-than-average view of what's good and what's not in EVs right now.

After taking a look at our recommendations, don't forget to check out our tips afterwards for buying your first EV.

Read more: Here's every electric vehicle on sale in the US for 2020 and its range

Mini

Mini might be new to the EV game, but the brand's first effort is a great one. What it lacks in overall range, it makes up for in being fun to drive and great to be in, all at a surprisingly reasonable price. We're also a total sucker for those electrical outlet-style wheels.

The Mini SE may only do 110 miles to the charge, but with 181 horsepower and a boatload of torque in a small package, they'll likely be 110 very fun miles. The good news is that on a 50-kilowatt fast charger, you'll be able to get an 80% charge in around half an hour.

Chevrolet

The 2021 Chevy Bolt is our runner-up thanks to its less-than-exciting driving dynamics and interior quality, but it offers phenomenal range for something in both its size and price classes. The Bolt benefits from a refresh for the 2022 model year, so if you have your heart set on an American EV, maybe wait a few months.

The Bolt is still one of the best bargains on the market when it comes to range versus cost. With a range of 259 miles in a cute-ish hatchback body style, there's plenty of reason to recommend it. It's also decent to drive thanks to its 200 horsepower. If you can spare the extra cash and need the range, the Bolt is a good way to go.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Ford is also new to the dedicated EV platform game with the Mustang Mach-E, but it's a stellar effort. Despite its controversial name, the Mach-E offers good range, a great interior and excellent driving dynamics in an uber practical package that also boasts 29 cubic feet of cargo space with all the seats up.

The Mach-E is currently available in several flavors, with hotter (and more expensive) GT versions on the horizon, but even the base model is pretty fun to drive and deserving of its Mustang badge. With 290 horsepower on tap in RWD form, or 346 hp in all-wheel drive trim, the Mach-E easily gets out of its own way. The chassis is great and the cabin is a pleasant place to be. The Mach-E is one of the best all-rounder EVs on sale now.

 

Read our 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E preview.

 

Tesla

Tesla's Model 3 is a super popular choice among electric car shoppers, and for good reason. It's great to drive, cool to look at and offers both a killer range and a very, ahem, active community of owners. But because of its higher price tag (when you include the FSD bundle), build quality issues and lack of service centers in some areas, it had to be our runner-up.

While it's far from perfect, the Model 3 is still a perfectly lovely car to drive. It offers tons of electric power to make passing or merging a breeze and its chassis is way more competent and sporty than it has any right to be. The interior is basic, sure, but it offers plenty of storage space thanks to its two trunks. Being a Tesla, the Model 3 also offers awesome, best-in-class range. The cheapest version will still let you travel 263 miles between charges, but if you move up to the Long Range version, that goes to 353 miles. You'll be able to skip a few charging stations.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

On paper, the Porsche Taycan is kind of a tough sell. It's expensive (it's a Porsche, after all) and its range estimate looks straight-up bad. Driving a Taycan tells a completely different story and we're confident that this is the best EV you can buy right now. Its real-world range is totally adequate for all but long road trips and its build quality and driving dynamics are basically unassailable.

Presently, the best you're going to be able to do officially with a Taycan is 227 miles and that's in the 4S trim with the performance battery option. Even if that were totally accurate in the real world, that's still plenty for most people on most days. Even the base Taycan offers a driving experience that's leaps and bounds beyond any other EV on sale right now and does so with just 400 horsepower. Once Porsche figures out the range thing, the rest of the industry better look out.

 

Read our 2020 Porsche Taycan preview.

 

Tesla

There's no arguing that right now Tesla's Model S is the king of the jungle when it comes to range. It's also an aging platform with well-known and oft-criticized quality control issues. It's a great car to drive -- in previous forms, since nobody has driven the refreshed version -- but it still falls behind the brilliant Taycan in this regard.

While Tesla can't quite keep up with Porsche when it comes to driving dynamics or build quality, the Model S has the kind of name recognition that it does for a reason. It's still a comfortable, ludicrously powerful luxury EV and if you're only interested in doing insanely long drives without too many charging breaks, then it's the way to go for sure. 

The new Plaid Plus version takes the whole fast EV thing to another level entirely, too. Tesla claims that it will do better than 520 miles on a charge while delivering over 1,100 horsepower and sub-2-second launches to 60 mph. Will this actually play out as Elon Musk says? We don't know, but it'd be cool if it did.

Hyundai

Many people shopping for their first electric vehicle are going to be looking for something affordable. While EVs still haven't reached price parity with internal combustion vehicles, there are tons of great examples under $50,000. Our favorite among these is the Hyundai Kona Electric. We picked the Kona because it offers great range, a practical small-SUV-style body and a stellar warranty.  

The Kona Electric offers a super respectable range of 258 miles and a drivetrain that produces 201 horsepower, all in a package that will work for most families. It has a decent amount of cargo space -- 19.2 cubic feet with all the seats up, to be specific -- and because it's a Hyundai, it also has tons of creature comforts as standard equipment. Don't even get us started on the warranty. If you can live with the styling (we like it) and you can stretch your buck far enough, the Kona is an almost perfect first EV.

Tesla

We've talked about our issues with Model 3's build quality, but what really kills it in this instance is price. The cheapest Model 3 you can buy comes in at $37,990, though it doesn't include paint that isn't white or any of the driver aids that are bundled with the now-$10,000 Full Self-Driving package. The range is good though, even in basic form at 263 miles, and so is the driving experience, hence our second place.

The Model 3 offers a lot of practicality despite its sleek shape. Its two trunks mean there's plenty of room for all your stuff, though some may prefer the big hatch of an SUV or a hatchback. The Model Y could serve this need, but we haven't driven it, so we can't recommend it. We also worry about how well the Model 3 will hold up to a family with kids, even with its basic interior.

Porsche

So maybe you're shopping for your first EV and you have a little more money to spend. In that case we can find no better EV to recommend than the Porsche Taycan. It's comfortable, fast, practical and highly configurable. The real-world range is much better than the EPA estimate, too, so it's going to work for most people. This one was a unanimous choice by Roadshow editors. The Taycan is tough to beat.

If you want to live large, the Taycan Turbo S is basically unimpeachable when it comes to its power, chassis and interior quality. With 750 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 2.6 seconds, you'll rarely find yourself bored behind the wheel. Even if you do get bored, Porsche's excellent PCCM infotainment system is easy to live with and a delight to look at.

 

Read our 2020 Porsche Taycan preview.

 

Ford

Maybe you're specifically shopping for an electric SUV. There just aren't that many to choose from yet and many of those that are currently available are kind of small. That's why we're once again recommending Ford's Mustang Mach-E. It offers plenty of cargo space, lots of room for passengers, a good range, great driving dynamics and good infotainment. It's also priced very competitively.

Nothing is selling like SUVs these days, so Ford's plan to make its first dedicated EV an SUV was a good one. It works out even better for the Blue Oval that the Mach-E is so damned nice to drive and easy to live with. Despite its rakish shape and sporty badge, the Mach-E should be a super practical midsize EV that almost any family would have no trouble living with. If you need something sporty, Ford even has you covered with a GT model that's coming soon.

 

Read our 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E preview.

 

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Audi's E-Tron is one of those EVs, like the Taycan, that doesn't seem as impressive on paper but once you drive it for a bit, its price seems much more justified. It features great build quality, as befits a German luxury SUV, and a lovely interior. It's a well-considered first effort from Audi and even though it lacks huge range capability, it's a compelling car with all the practicality of an SUV. It's even got 28.5 cubic feet of cargo space with all the seats up. Its cost kept it out of the first place spot.

We also really enjoyed Audi's E-Tron Sportback, but had to go with the more traditional SUV for practicality's sake, and practical it is. It's the right size to fit a family and their stuff while also being easy to get around in a busy city. It looks and feels like an Audi and aside from the amazing Jetsons low-speed noise, you could mistake it for a Q5. For some folks, going under the radar is preferable to shouting things out. It's also fun to drive thanks to its 355 horsepower and all-wheel drive. If you can afford one, you'll be happy with it.

COMPARISONOF THE BEST ELECTRIC CARS FOR 2021


MakeModelRangeCost
Best electric small carMiniCooper SE110$29,900
Best electric small car runner-upChevyBolt259$36,500
Best electric midsize carFordMustang Mach-E211$42,895
Best electric midsize car runner-upTeslaModel 3263$37,990
Best electric large carPorscheTaycan192$79,900
Best electric large car runner-upTeslaModel S412$79,990
Best affordable electric carHyundaiKona Electric258$39,390
Best affordable electric car runner-upTeslaModel 3263$37,990
Best luxury electric carPorscheTaycan192$79,900
Best electric SUV or crossoverFordMustang Mach-E211$42,895
Best electric SUV or crossover runner-upAudiE-Tron222$69,500

Consider this before buying an EV

Picking a car isn't the only consideration when making the jump to an electric vehicle. Not being able to just zip over to the gas station around the corner does complicate things a bit, but we can help you with this too.

The first thing you should consider when shopping for an electric vehicle -- hell, even before you start shopping -- is figuring out how you're going to charge it. The fact is that while every EV comes with an adapter that will let you plug into any old 110-volt outlet (in the US, anyway), the size of modern EV batteries means that you could spend days waiting for a decent charge.

If you own your own home, you'll need to look into getting a Level 2 charger installed. Luckily, these aren't that expensive on their own. While getting one put in does require a contractor's services (these are dangerous voltages and currents we're working with here), there can be tax breaks for doing so -- especially if you decide to make the jump to solar at the same time.

If you don't own your own home, you'll be using a charging network. You should look into which ones are the most well-established where you live and drive most often. If you have a Tesla, this is pretty easy. If you have other EVs, you'll have to do a little research, but the most common nonproprietary networks are Electrify AmericaChargepoint and EVGo. They all have different apps and pricing, but they all work more or less the same. These charging networks will offer Level 2 charging or DC fast-charging. The latter is considerably more expensive, but it's much faster.

The next thing to think about is maintenance and service. EVs, in general, require a lot less service than an internal-combustion-powered car. Still, if you have your heart set on a Tesla and you don't live anywhere near a Tesla service center, you might end up in an inconvenient position should something break. In this case, maybe an EV from a more traditional brand would be better for you.

Tax incentives are an important part of many people's decisions to switch to an EV, and that's totally valid. It's important, though, to understand that not all manufacturers qualify for all of the incentives (Tesla, notably), and not all buyers will be able to take advantage of the full federal incentive, even if it's offered. It's worth talking to a tax professional before factoring a $7,500 tax credit into your purchase -- even if a manufacturer tries to include that in its advertised prices. Also, be sure to look into whether you might qualify for state and local tax incentives -- don't leave money on the table.

Finally, be prepared to talk about your electric car. People will ask you about it -- friends, family and strangers -- especially if you live somewhere EVs aren't super common yet. Some of those questions might seem silly or even dumb, but you're going to hear them, and depending on how you answer, you might just help convince those people that an EV could work for them too.

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