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The Changing Landscape of Affordable Cars in 2024


The price of a new car in the 2024 model year has reached a minimum of $16,130, setting a new benchmark for affordability. This sum will grant you access to the 2024 Nissan Versa, a vehicle equipped with advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking (forward and reverse) and lane-departure warning. With 122 horsepower, the Nissan Versa surpasses its competitors in the same price range, such as the Mitsubishi Mirage starting at $16,695, which only offers 76 horsepower.

Despite minimal updates for the new model year, the fact that the Nissan Versa remains in production is something of a miracle. In recent years, automakers have been removing their least expensive models from their lineups due to shifting consumer demands and rising interest rates. For example, in December 2017, automakers produced 36 models priced at $25,000 or less. However, five years later, this number significantly decreased to just 10.

In the realm of affordable cars, only a select few options remain for consumers seeking an economical compact vehicle. Alongside the Versa and Mirage, the Kia Rio and Kia Soul have also been confirmed to maintain their positions under the $20,000 threshold. Keep in mind that mandatory freight charges may push their prices slightly over this limit. Additionally, there is still anticipation surrounding the release and pricing of the 2024 Hyundai Venue, which could potentially fit into this category.

Regrettably, truly inexpensive subcompact cars like the Versa are facing an uncertain future. The Chevrolet Spark, which held the title of America’s least expensive new car for several years, departed from the market in 2022. Reports have also surfaced about Mitsubishi potentially discontinuing the Mirage, although nothing has been officially confirmed yet. Meanwhile, Kia has confirmed that the Rio’s demise is near.

Therefore, it is apparent that the landscape of cheap cars is rapidly changing. Moving forward, consumers may find it increasingly difficult to acquire a brand-new, subcompact vehicle priced under $20,000. The steady transition towards more expensive car models is a clear response to the challenges presented by rising interest rates and economic realities.

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