Used-car prices are going up, and gas prices remain high.
That makes new small cars with good mileage even more attractive to car shoppers. However, low starting prices under $15,000 don’t really translate to the transaction price most buyers face when you include equipment that’s almost a prerequisite today, such as an automatic transmission and power windows.
Over the 2011 and 2012 model years, more than a dozen new small cars will, or have been, released. They range from the traditional — like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent — to the quirky Fiat 500.
We decided to add another factor into this comparison that we haven’t included in the others: the cost of gas. For each model, we also included a year’s worth of gas to the total cost of the car — 15,000 miles’ worth of traveling in a mix of city and highway at $3.96 per gallon.
Each model must come equipped with power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; an automatic transmission; and electronic stability control. The lack of electronic stability control on the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo and Kia Rio disqualified each model from the comparison.
Adding the cost of gas causes an interesting twist for some models, as cheaper but less fuel-efficient cars get beaten by traditionally more expensive and fuel-efficient ones. Ultimately, the most affordable budget car will be fuel efficient and will offer an array of features for a good price.
For this comparison, we looked at the 2012 Hyundai Accent, 2011 Mazda2, 2011 Ford Fiesta and 2011 Honda Fit while including a cost comparison on the rest of the field.
2011 Honda Fit