It’s that time of the year when sweet little treats come in affordable little packages. No, not candy, but the latest affordable cars for the new season. From sexy compact to muscular pony, these wheels are more affordable than you imagine:
This one’s all about the slick new wrapper that flashes LED headlamps and has an athletic stance, sculpted hood, racy fastback roofline, and C-shaped LED taillamps. Roomier interiors impress with a soft-touch instrument panel, premium seat fabrics and piano finish in a midsized passenger space. Heated front and rear seats are standard menu—as is safety equipment like Collision Mitigation Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and Road Departure Mitigation. It also has Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto to connect to smartphones. Choose between a 158 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and 174 horsepower 1.5-liter delivering up to 31/42 mpg city/highway. Get it as a sedan, coupe, 5-door hatchback, or sporty Type R.
Base price: $18,640
Hyundai bills the Tucson as the perfect crossover for young singles and empty nesters, but it’s also a stylish choice for debonair gay couples and families of all varieties. A bold grille, LED running lamps, and BMW-inspired body sculpting lend it an upscale look. Base models sport lots of hard plastic inside, but premium trims come with heated/ventilated leather seats, a proximity-prompted rear hatch, an app for Android watches, and crash avoidance tech. Forget the base engine and choose the available1.6-liter turbo-four that serves 175 horsepower and 26/33 mpg—enough to stomp through mountains or onto freeways. It’s a tony, tomb-quiet refuge from city life—and a pretty handsome one at that.
Base price: $22,700
Imagine a Miata expanded to compact crossover proportions, sporting Mazda’s flowing KODO design cues. That’s the CX-3. Driver-friendly interiors can be equipped with navigation, Bluetooth audio/calling, internet radio apps, and heated seats. Safety is enhanced with a heads-up display and all the latest crash avoidance warning systems. One look and you’ll want to throttle the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 146 horsepower and an economical 29/35 mpg city/highway. All-wheel drive is optional. The CX-3 delights with sexy style, driving dynamics, and an affordable window sticker. Go drive one!
Base price: $19,960
Ford Shelby GT350
You can buy a hot rod Mustang that drives like an Audi for just $23,895, and you’d love it, but that’s not the sexy temptress in the blue oval brothel. Ford is re-introducing the Shelby GT350 that debuted in 1965, but its 526 horsepower 5.2-liter V8 makes the old one seem quaint, while an adjustable MagneRide suspension, 5 driving modes, and aerodynamically active hood heat extractor would boggle 1960s minds. If you really want a fly ride, check the GT350R that’s stripped and ripped with a minimal interior and carbon fiber wheels. If that doesn’t get your motor racing, you’re probably dead. “Affordable” is relative, but good luck finding more for less.
Base price: $47,795
Like the Target of sedans, Optima symbolizes precision style at bargain prices. Peter Schreyer’s flowing body with hunkered shoulders looks strong and elegant. Interiors convey luxury through available Nappa leather, soft-touch materials, and rich colors. Turn up Harman/Kardon audio to rock out—or employ the standard rearview camera and tech like adaptive cruise, front collision warning, lane departure warning, and autonomous emergency braking systems to enhance safety. Engines include a 185 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 245 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four, or the new 178 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo-four connected to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Expect to see over 35 mpg highway. You won’t have to drive far to see an Optima get built, as it’s assembled in West Point, Georgia.
Base price: $21,840