Memorial Day kickstarts the summer travel season, and despite record-high gas prices, drivers aren’t willing to sacrifice their annual road trips. According to a Cars.com survey, 82% of Americans traveling over the holiday are planning to drive. But rising fuel prices aren’t the only hurdle for shoppers in the market for a vehicle to accommodate their summer travel plans — higher average prices at the dealership can be just as problematic.
The median price of a new vehicle among Cars.com dealers was $39,083 in April, up from $36,370 one year prior. At the same time, the typical manufacturer incentives offered over Memorial Day weekend are significantly scaled back due to inventory constraints. According to a J.D. Power sales report, incentives on new cars shrunk to $1,034 in April — down 66% from April 2021.
Despite these challenges, shoppers looking for an affordable road-trip vehicle that minimizes sticker shock at the pump still have options. We compiled the most affordable and fuel-efficient or fuel-free model-year 2022 cars, SUVs, trucks and electric vehicles for summer adventures (and beyond). To make our list, each vehicle’s starting price is in the top 10 most affordable category for its class. Also, gas-powered options get an EPA-rated combined rating of 30 mpg or more and EVs must get at least 200 miles of EPA-estimated range.
Sedans and hatchbacks make excellent road-trip vehicles for small families and light packers. They are also among the most affordable options on the market and offer generous efficiency even without a hybrid or electric powertrain.