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US Automakers Offer Few ‘Cool’ Cheap Cars — for Now

24/7 Wall St. logo 24/7 Wall St. 5/23/2018 Trey Thoelcke
$20,000 Range: Mazda forged a solid reputation in the U.S. creating fun-to-drive cars, and the Mazda3 certainly delivers on that promise. But with its latest iteration, the compact sedan moves upscale in both features and design.© Mazda North American Operations Mazda forged a solid reputation in the U.S. creating fun-to-drive cars, and the Mazda3 certainly delivers on that promise. But with its latest iteration, the compact sedan moves upscale in both features and design.

Given the popularity of pickups and sport utility vehicles in the United States since the price of gasoline dropped sharply, along with the price of oil, a few years ago, it is little wonder that U.S. automakers are not well represented on Kelley Blue Book’s latest list of the 10 coolest cars under $20,000 for 2018.

Those that made the list are the cars that the firm considers the most fun to drive and fun to own among the most affordable options, and again the Mazda 3 takes the top spot. The only ones on this year’s list from U.S. automakers are the Jeep Renegade from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) and the Chevrolet Sonic from General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM).

Click through the slides to see the latest Kelley Blue Book picks for the 10 coolest new cars under $20,000, along with what the firm had to say about each one.

1. Mazda 3

© Mazda

Mazda 3: "Available in both sedan and hatchback form, the Mazda3 offers practicality that appeals to compact car buyers, with sportiness that makes even daily chores more fun."

Research the Mazda 3 on MSN Autos | Find a Mazda 3 near you

2. Honda Civic 

© Honda

Honda Civic: "Kelley Blue Book's Small Car Best Buy of 2018, the Civic is a well-rounded car offered as a sedan or coupe that's comfortable, roomy, practical, efficient, packed with cool tech, and a blast to drive."

Research the Honda Civic on MSN Autos | Find a Honda Civic near you

3. Hyundai Kona

© Hyundai

Hyundai Kona: "The Kona was given a healthy dose of modern style, and the clean, crisp cabin is filled with a bevy of connectivity and advanced safety features."

Research the Hyundai Kona on MSN Autos | Find a Hyundai Kona near you

4. Volkswagen Golf

© 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Volkswagen Golf: "Euro-tuned handling and a sporty attitude are only part of what makes the Golf such an appealing car."

Research the Volkswagen Golf on MSN Autos | Find a Volkswagen Golf near you

5. Kia Soul

© Kia

Kia Soul: "Few vehicles match the Kia Soul's alluring combination of bold style, SUV-like versatility, and practicality, with a roster of standard and available features that add to the Soul's value."

Research the Kia Soul on MSN Autos | Find a Kia Soul near you

6. Jeep Renegade

© Jeep

"Of all the vehicles on this list, the Renegade is the one that can get you the furthest beyond where the pavement ends."

Research the Jeep Renegade on MSN Autos | Find a Jeep Renegade near you

7. Subaru Impreza

© Subaru

Subaru Impreza: "Already earning extra credit for its standard all-wheel drive, a recent redesign gives the Impreza sedan and hatchback sharper looks, more refinement and a larger palette of tech and convenience features, all while retaining the strong value proposition and reliability for which Subaru is known."

Research the Subaru Impreza on MSN Autos | Find a Subaru Impreza near you

8. Honda Fit

© Honda

Honda Fit: "This diminutive hatchback has a feature called the Magic Seat that gives the interior space and versatility that rivals that of a small SUV. The combination of practicality and pep at an affordable price makes the Fit a hard car to resist."

Research the Honda Fit on MSN Autos | Find a Honda Fit near you

9. Hyundai Elantra

© Hyundai

Hyundai Elantra: "The all-new Elantra GT hatchback expands the Elantra lineup, adding a dose of likable style and five-door versatility to the mix."

Research the Hyundai Elantra on MSN Autos | Find a Hyundai Elantra near you

10. Chevrolet Sonic

© Chevrolet

Chevrolet Sonic: "The Sonic's starting price of $16,170 makes it the most affordable car on this list. But what keeps Chevrolet's subcompact sedan and hatch on our list of coolest cars is its compelling combination of tech, comfort and a fun attitude, all wrapped in redesigned sheet metal."

Research the Chevrolet Sonic on MSN Autos | Find a Chevrolet Sonic near you

Final Thoughts
For quite a while, the best-selling vehicle sold in the United States has been the Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) F-150 pickup, with its 2018 base price of well over $27,000. Fully loaded, they can top out at more than $70,000.

Pickups and SUVs are so popular in America that Ford recently decided to stop production of its Taurus, Fusion, C-Max and Fiesta sedans. But as oil prices creep up, taking gasoline prices with them, will American consumer tastes shift again, forcing U.S. carmakers to come up with more of their own “cool” but affordable cars?

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