by Sean Tucker
$200 a month: It's less than $7 a day. Sacrifice your daily latte habit, and voila! You have the budget for a new car.
In today's market, you have options. There are a number of appealing cars you'd genuinely enjoy owning available for less than $200 a month.
They're lease deals, which have drawbacks. You'll need good credit to qualify, you'll have to dip into savings for a downpayment, and at the end of the lease you'll have...well, nothing but another lease payment to look forward to.
Here are five cars you can find for less than $200 a month (please keep in mind that prices and offers might vary by region and/or dealership):
2011 Hyundai Sonata -- $199 per month for 36 months, $2,399 down
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata has been around for a few months now, but our colleagues in the automotive press are still shaking their heads in disbelief. Eye-catching good looks in a family sedan? Six-cylinder acceleration from a four-cylinder car? An upscale interior even in the base model? And at that price? It's sometimes hard to imagine that anyone would comparison shop and still buy something else. Especially now, with the Sonata offered for a monthly fee you could save by brown bagging lunch to work.
2010 Honda Civic Hybrid
2010 Honda Civic Sedan -- $159 per month for 36 months, $1,399 down
The Honda Civic is a consistent favorite in the small car class. There's very little it doesn't do well. It gets enough thrust to make it trustworthy on the highway from its excellent four-cylinder engine. It out-handles many other compacts. And let's face it, there is a reason you see so many ten-year old Civics on the road looking good -- these things have bulletproof reliability. Yet, strangely, the Civic is the cheapest car on our list, available for just $159 a month, with just $1,399 down.
2010 Nissan Rogue
2010 Nissan Rogue -- $199 per month for 39 months, $2,449 down
Nissan's compact SUV offers curvaceous good looks, tight handling and a comfortable interior with a convenient cargo area organizer. It has a lot to offer at a low price. Recent data from TrueCar.com shows that the Rogue is one of just a handful of cars bought more often by women than by men -- and research shows that women are practical car shoppers. This month, the Rogue can be had for just $199 a month.
2010 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Edition
2010 Mini Cooper -- $199 per month for 39 months, $2,202 down
The Mini Cooper is just more fun than most cars. Taut handling and quirky British looks (don't be fooled -- it's a BMW under the skin, and there are factories in Munich and Austria churning out Minis) give it personality you just won't find in anything else. They're also quite comfortable, and at the moment, cheap. It's possible to get into a Mini Cooper for under $200 a month.
2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Edition
2010 Volkswagen Jetta -- $199 per month for 36 months, $1,999 down
The Volkswagen Jetta has one of the most appealing interiors in the small-car class. Thoughtfully-designed and constructed of high-quality materials, it outclasses what almost every competitor offers at this price. It's also spacious enough to sub in for a midsized car for some families, and out-handles many domestic compacts. But the current design is on its last legs, with a redesigned 2011 Jetta on its way to dealerships soon, so VW is discounting these.