2013 Kia RioEnlarge Photo
Just a few years ago Kia was an also-ran import brand, with a lineup of bland economy cars. But look at the perky details and classic hot-hatch proportions of the 2013 Rio hatchback, and you'll understand what kind of transformation Kia has pulled off brand-wide. The base Rio hatchback costs a few hundred dollars more, but it includes a few more features like steering-wheel audio controls and split-folding rear seatbacks, and it's the better deal in the long run because of its lower depreciation.
2013 Toyota YarisEnlarge Photo
The Yaris, just like the long line of Echo and Tercel models before it, isn't just one of the most affordable subcompact hatchbacks, but one of the most affordable cars to own for years. Although the Yaris lacks the hybrid powertrain of the the current Yaris, it has a low sticker price and low average insurance premiums; the Toyota Prius C hybrid gets much better gas mileage, but it also costs almost $5k more.