KBB Picks the Coolest Cars Under $18,000

It’s getting harder and harder to find a new vehicle priced at less than $20k that is truly desirable, or “cool.” Fortunately, we have the experts at vehicle valuation site KBB.com to make the task easier.

KBB has just released its list of the 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000. $18k is a good price-point, since it allows the buyer to add in taxes and registration fees – plus an accessory or two – and still get out the door for $20k or less.

So, what makes a car “cool”? The editors at KBB admit that this is a purely subjective thing – but that it’s an essential component cars must have to make the list. Cool is something that’s just there, or it isn’t.

The editors also evaluated the contenders based on more tangible things like being fun-to-drive and fun-to-own. So here, without further delay, are their picks:

1 Mazda3

The Mazda3 has become a perennial favorite on various “Best” lists for its outstanding fun-to-drive factor. If you value driving excitement at an affordable price, you really can’t do any better than this ride.


Volkswagen Golf

While the Golf name has been around for decades, this year’s model features a freshened up design. It still offers one of the industry’s best mix of great handling, quality interior appointments, economy and versatility.


Kia Soul

The Soul blends distinctive looks with true practicality. KBB commends its, “…general likability and up-for-anything versatility.” We couldn’t agree more.


Jeep Renegade

This all-new Jeep is Italian under the skin, yet still offers a decent measure Jeep-like off-road capabilities. It’s quirky, stylish look sets it apart – and it has already attracted its share of admirers. The Renegade’s panoramic roof and 4-wheel drive options will kick it over the $18k mark pretty fast, though.


Honda Civic Coupe

Honda buyers who want something a little bigger and swoopier-looking than the Fit can still get a Civic for less than $20k out the door.


Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta has been around for a few years, but has lost none of its charm. Ford hit a home run with the Fiesta’s mix of great handling and respectable economy.


Honda Fit

This car was redesigned for 2015, and offers class-leading passenger and cargo space, as well as what KBB calls, “a likeable personality.”


Chevrolet Sonic

Chevy’s subcompact Sonic has truly distinctive front end styling, and has the lowest sticker price on this KBB list. It offers great fuel economy and comfort as well.


Subaru Impreza

The Impreza stands out as the only car on the with standard all-wheel drive. Plus, it’s a Subaru, adding “legendary reliability” to “fun to drive” and “great in snow” as apt descriptors.


Fiat 500

This is one of those retro-styled cars that – like the first Mini’s –just seems to work aesthetically. It is cute without being overbearing, yet it retains a fair measure of practicality.

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