Want to spend no more than $30,000 on a new car? We’ve got a lot of new car for under $30,000. Eleven of them, in fact, each a standout value. Hatchbacks, sedans, a coupe, a plug-in hybrid, even one that uses no gas at all, they’re funky and fast, classy and comfortable. Presented from least- to most-expensive, we specify the exact 2017 model and stipulate the choicest features that’ll wring the most from your sub-$30K budget. (Note that base prices here include the manufacturer’s destination fee, typically about $900.)
For an even wider range of great choices across the automotive spectrum, check out our Best 20 Cars of 2017 article. If you’re focused on an SUV or crossover, we’ve selected the best of those, too. For a stimulating selection of new-car reviews and videos, plus “Best of” and “Buying Guide” articles, go to CarPreview.com.
11. 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim
Market segment: Subcompact car
Body style: Four-door hatchback
Base price: $23,695
Price as tested: $27,695
Key options: Panoramic sunroof, $1,000; Tech Package, $3,000
For: Oddball good looks, lively performance, roomy interior, value
Against: No all-wheel drive
Next big change: Full redesign for model year 2019 or 2020
With its quirky, boxy design, the wagon-like Kia Soul packs maximum utility into an affordable, practical, and fun-to-drive package. Overall, the Soul delivers entertaining ride and handling qualities while maintaining an acceptably smooth ride. The car comes standard with selectable steering modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) though there’s not a significant enough difference between the three settings to warrant any adjustment. Soul looks much like a small crossover SUV, but it does not offer all-wheel-drive, doing instead with front-wheel drive. The wagonlike body features a generous 24.2 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seats and 61.3 with them folded. There’s room to accommodate four adults in comfort and the cabin is finished in higher quality materials than one might expect at this price.
All three Soul models are powered by four-cylinder engines. The Base trim level has a just-sufficient 130 horsepower, the midlevel Plus model – Kia uses the “+” sign — a more appealing 161, and the top-line Exclaim (“!”) a relatively lively 201. That’s courtesy of a new-for-2017 turbocharged 1.6-liter with 195 pound-feet of torque at just 1500 rpm. It links exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Soul comes well equipped even in its Base version, with heated outside mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker audio array with a Bluetooth interface and satellite radio.
Kia’s aggressive pricing allows us to target the Exclaim, which starts at $23,695, to jam-pack it with every available factory option, and still enjoy a cushion of around $2,300 before we hit our $30K limit. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, automatic headlamps, Kia’s easy-to-use UVO infotainment connectivity, keyless entry with pushbutton start, and combination leather and cloth upholstery. We’ll add a panoramic sunroof at $1,000, and tack on the Tech Package, at another $3,000. The Tech Package includes a navigation system with a generous 8-inch screen, heated power front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a Harmon Kardon premium audio system with light-accented speakers and myriad connectivity features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone interfaces. The package enhances safety, too, with blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert, xenon headlamps, and LED running lights.