The rate of advancement within the automotive world is tremendous. Convenience and safety technologies that were only available on elite luxury vehicles just three years ago are now standard equipment or available for a small premium on entry-level models. Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, lane-keeping assist – the list of cool tech is long.
While some of these technologies make life in a car easier or better-connected with the outside world, some new models shun gadgetry in an effort to restore the bond between man and machine. Fortunately, consumers have a broad spectrum of new, affordable vehicles to choose from for the 2017 model year. There are also some emerging trends in the marketplace. For example, hatchbacks are returning full-force to the U.S. market, and body-clad wagons are becoming popular.
We’ve assembled a list of 10 affordable new cars for 2017 that’s sure to include something for everyone.
2017 Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai has made a habit of returning each new model year with advanced convenience features and more refined exterior styling. While this is great news for shoppers in the higher price tiers, it’s even better news for buyers looking at the budget segments. The Elantra compact sedan is completely redesigned for the 2017 model year, and boasts handsome looks, incredible value, and impressive safety features.
Prices for the 2017 Elantra start at $17,895 for manual-equipped models, and include air conditioning, cloth seats, front seat height adjusters, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, satellite radio, a USB port. While that isn’t a generous list of equipment, just $800 extra brings with it aluminum wheels, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, cruise control, and a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, a reversing camera, and smartphone projection technology in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
Chevrolet’s second generation Cruze touts class-leading connectivity and upscale styling to fit the young professional lifestyle. This coming year, Chevy adds an attractive hatchback design to the Cruze roster, making it a line item on our list of 10 affordable new cars for 2017. Standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, several in-car apps, and available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the new Cruze is made for tech-savvy buyers that must adhere to a budget.
In addition to its long list of convenience features, the 2016 Cruze has lost 250 lbs in its transition from the first generation while borrowing design traits from the new Chevy Malibu. The automaker’s new 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec 4-cylinder is also standard on every trim, delivering 155 horsepower and returning 40 MPG on the highway.
2017 Honda Civic Hatchback
Not to be left behind, Honda’s addition to our list of 10 affordable new cars for 2017 is its own hatchback, Civic style. Massaged into the handsome 10th generation Civic design language is the most practical version of Honda’s compact. To further distinguish the Civic Hatchback from its coupe and sedan siblings, Honda has equipped the model exclusively with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder motor (the more potent of two engine choices in the Civic range).
Developing 174 hosepower, the turbo motor routes power to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual or CVT transmission. The Civic hatch can be optioned with the latest in safety and infotainment features to turn a compact commuter into a veritable entry-level luxury car. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automatic braking assist are among the Civic’s best safety and convenience features.
2017 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan
A passing glance may not suggest Mazda has done much to its 2017 model year Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, but buyers will appreciate a new set of standard and optional equipment. New for 2017 are mild redesigns to the front and rear fascia, updated steering wheel, electronic parking brake, higher end trim and dashboard designs, G-Vectoring adaptive power delivery, and new i-Activesense safety technologies.
Fantastic handling dynamics can be attributed to Mazda’s SkyActiv design philosophy, which does away with unnecessary weight in the name of performance. The standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder produces 155 horsepower, but a 2.5-liter unit with an improved 184 horsepower is also available for an extra sum. Mazda’s best 4-door compact yet starts at $18,345 for 6-speed manual-equipped models.
2017 Toyota 86
Scion is officially gone for the 2017 model year, but that doesn’t mean Scion vehicles are exiting stage left. The FR-S has been re-badged the Toyota 86, and the name change comes with some styling and performance tweaks. The 86 receives restyled headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, a redesigned front bumper with a wider air dam, refreshed LED tail lamps, and a reshaped bumper. Inside, there are new Alcantara-style inserts on the dashboard and seat bolsters, plus silver contrast stitching on the seats.
Under the hood, the same 2.0-liter flat-4 engine carries over from the FR-S, but Toyota has tuned manual-equipped models to produce an additional 5 horsepower and 5 lb-ft of torque for a total of 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque. The 86 will still struggle to win most drag races, but it proves itself quite well in the corners.
2017 Fiat 124 Spider
One of the Toyota 86’s closest rivals is another member of our 10 affordable new cars for 2017 list. The Fiat 124 Spider takes the Mazda MX-5 Miata’s platform and adds Italian flair. To distinguish the Spider from its Japanese donor, Fiat has lengthened the roadster by five inches and replaced the MX-5’s 2.0-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder with a turbocharged motor mounted farther from the nose. Also, trunk space has increased, the final-drive ratio has been tweaked, and the redesigned cockpit has been made quieter. Though a cursory glance could miss the stylistic differences between the two cars, Fiat’s roadster draws design elements from its 124 Sport Spider ancestor, most notably in the front and rear fascia.
160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque power the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Acceleration, handling, and braking closely rival the MX-5 Miata as the power to weight ratios overlap. Prices for the 2017 Fiat 124 start at a very reasonable $24,995.
2017 Infiniti QX30
Adding a touch of premium to our roundup of 10 affordable new cars for 2017, Infiniti’s QX30 compact crossover is a huge step in the right direction for Nissan’s luxury nameplate. The QX30 steps opposite some tough competition, including BMW’s X1, Audi’s Q3, and Mercedes-Benz’s GLA (upon which platform the QX30 is based).
To counter these established luxury rivals, the QX30 employs a curvaceous design, supple ride, and attractive price point ($29,950). Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder making 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, sending power to the front wheels or available AWD via a 7-speed automatic transmission. Inside is a blend of leather, real wood trim, and technology to affirm the luxury proposition.
2017 VW Golf Alltrack
With a stylish exterior and adventure-ready hardware, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack shifts the conversation from VW’s diesel emissions scandal toward design and portfolio expansion. VW says dealers are practically begging for this car—not because U.S. consumers traditionally swoon for wagons, but because it’s just plain fun.
The Alltrack is distinguished from the exterior by an increased ride height, redesigned front and rear fascia, silver accents, and wheel arch cladding. Powering the Alltrack is a 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder delivering 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque via a 6-speed manual or dual-clutch transmission. Every Alltrack is equipped with all-wheel drive and a hill descent function. Despite the less aerodynamic ride height, the Alltrack returns 30 MPG on the highway and 22 MPG in the city. Prices start at $27,770.
2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Hate going to the gas station, but not ready to take the full EV plunge? Toyota’s Prius Prime plug-in hybrid (PHEV) makes our list of 10 affordable new cars for 2017 with an EPA-confirmed 133 MPGe and an incredible value proposition. While the automotive world is fascinated by all-electric cars, Toyota continues to refine the hybrid powertrain to deliver maximum efficiency without requiring a lifestyle change.
The Prius Prime can travel 25 miles on electricity alone (up 14 miles from the 2012 PHEV), and toned town the 2016 Prius liftback’s wild styling. Best of all: with maximum federal and state tax credits, buyers can pickup a new Prius Prime for as little as $21K.
2017 Ford Fusion
The Ford Fusion has been on a mission to edit the midsize sedan rulebook since it first went on sale. Its beautiful exterior and inviting cabin make the Fusion a fashion statement for those who require the practicality of a traditional 4-door. The formula is working, too, considering the Fusion is one of the 10 best selling cars in America.
For 2017, Ford has refined the Fusion’s styling a bit, with a narrower front grille, slimmer taillights, new chrome accents, and available 19-inch wheels. Inside, Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The entry-level Fusion uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, but your choice of turbocharged EcoBoost engines or a hybrid system is on offer. Prices start at $22,610.