Money’s tight and times are tough – but there are still best new cars under $10,000 available. Granted you’ll have to think small, since the only two cars that fit this criterion are compact cars.

But do you have to resign yourself to a stripped-down version just to get affordable wheels? The good news is that even the least expensive small cars have their strong points. Let’s take a look at the two best new cars under $10,000 that are currently available:

  • 2010 Hyundai AccentIt’s one of the least expensive cars in the small car segment, and only the Nissan Versa competes head-to-head in price. What do you get for the $9,970 manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP)? Simply put, you get a good, inexpensive new car, specifically the Accent Blue coupe with its 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine and manual transmission. But don’t expect the snazziest interior or all the bells and whistles. Accent does offer a nicely appointed interior, given its low price point. Cargo space is also fairly decent. Where Accent really shines is in its fuel economy numbers – an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway). And the Hyundai powertrain warranty is one of the best available: 10 year/100,000 miles. Edmunds comments: “In reviews, we’ve found the Accent to be a good choice for those seeking basic, fuel-efficient transportation. Driving the Accent offers no revelations in performance, but the brakes are strong, and ride quality and handling are fully acceptable for an economy car. The four-cylinder engine provides ample power for driving around town…We recommend getting the manual gearbox if you can.”
  • 2010 Nissan VersaWith a starting MSRP of $9,990 for the sedan model, the 2010 Nissan Versa vies with Hyundai Accent as the least expensive small car on the market today. Nissan Versa is a Consumer Guide Best Bet – meaning consumers can feel confident with Versa as a small car vehicle choice. According to Consumer Guide: “Versa is priced like a subcompact, but its blend of room, comfort, and refinement are an easy match for any number of more expensive compact cars. Acceleration is modest, but that’s balanced by good road manners. All in all, Versa is a Best Buy.” As with all things, however, you get what you pay for. For that base MSRP, you get a 4-door, 5-passenger sedan powered by a 107-hp 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine and manual transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway. Front and rear seats are especially roomy, with headroom in both sufficient to accommodate 6-foot tall passengers. Trunk size in the sedan is 13.8 cubic feet – pretty substantial for the class. Six airbags are standard, and other safety features are available.

If you still want more choices for new cars under $10,000, you might prefer to wait until the 2011 models come out. Then, new 2010 cars will be more likely to be available for less than $10,000 at dealer lots. Clearing out the old model year inventory will be a first priority, and dealers may be willing to heavily discount the car you want. In that case, consider looking at these 2010 small cars: Chevrolet Cobalt, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Rio, Suzuki SX4, and Toyota Yaris.

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