Frugal Shopper: Five Most Miserly Models

March 19, 2010
2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

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Run all the numbers for overall ownership costs—including depreciation, insurance, repairs, maintenance, and the like—and you'll almost always find that holding on to that used car, or getting a 'new' used one, is going to be cheaper.

But sometimes even cheapskates want a new car.

If you simply want the most affordable new car possible, and to assure relatively low running costs as well, getting one of the lowest-priced cars on the market is a decent option. Though the list of offerings (and features) gets a lot more exciting if you're willing to spend more than $14,000, there are still a few models that ring in under the $13,000 mark.

With these lowest-priced new models—many of them pitched to those who are penny-pinching to the max—you're likely to find that they're strictly no-frills. Air conditioning is unlikely, power steering isn't common, and performance might be slightly worse due to taller gear ratios. And sound systems? You'll probably be packing a boom box or making a stop at Pep Boys. The plus side, of course, is that there's less to break. But you shouldn't expect much out of the interior appointments either as they're likely to have drab, basic trim and upholstery and a number of caps and plugs for the instrument panel, constantly reminding you of controls and features that your base model doesn't have.

Another one of the caveats with these bargain-basement models is that availability is limited, and since profit margins are so low it's unlikely that dealerships will be as willing to whittle the price down as much as with more expensive models.

However, if a quick survey of TrueCar market pricing—featured here at alongside our reviews, pictures, and detailed model information—is any indication, in today's car-shopping environment, you're still likely to strike a deal on some of these models, thanks in part to various incentives. And it's still possible to get a new car for less than $10,000. For instance, TrueCar says that a 2010 Hyundai Accent Blue, which stickers at $10,690, has been selling for a national-average $9,738.

Whether you call it an econobox, a stripper, or el cheapo, a no-nonsense, no-frills miser of a vehicle is worth considering sometimes as a second or third vehicle.

Click through to see our frugal five—models that currently sticker at less than $13,000.

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