2024 Cars.com Affordability Report: Best Value New Cars

202403 best value editorial lead 2 scaled jpg Best value new cars for 2024 | Manufacturer image

There’s a lot to be uncertain about as 2024 goes on, from high interest rates to world events, but there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel for shoppers looking for a new ride. New-car inventory is rebounding in a big way, with the fastest growing segment so far this year being cars listed for under $30,000. According to Cars.com data, the average new-car list price is the lowest it’s been in over a year, and listings are now live for an average of 65 days — over twice as long as they sat amid the worst of pandemic-era shortages. While the general stats and trends are promising, we’d like to go further and tell you which models are the best bangs for your buck right now.

Related: 2023 Cars.com Affordability Report: Best Value New Cars

For the 2024 list of best value new cars, we’ve expanded the categories to more closely align with those used in Cars.com’s research tools. We’re getting a little more granular with sizing, separating out compact cars, subcompact SUVs and compact SUVs, as well as expanding our pickup truck coverage to include compact, mid-size and full-size pickups and have added the requirement of a backseat. We also dropped the requirement that our SUV picks had to offer all-wheel drive, as it’s really more of a concern if you frequently drive in inclement weather. We’re continuing to include electric vehicles, too, for those of you looking for the lowest possible fuel costs out there.

The Criteria

The goal of our list of best value new cars is to recommend vehicles worth living with for a while, not bare-bones penalty boxes you’ll want to ditch at the earliest possible opportunity. With that in mind, we looked for non-luxury, mass-market cars that come equipped with or offer the following features: an automatic transmission, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, brake assist and lane departure warning.

If a vehicle needs an additional package or option to have all of our required features, we note those as add-ons below and factor their cost into our starting prices. Median and starting prices (both of which include destination fees), as well as fuel-economy ratings and fuel-cost estimates from the EPA, are current as of March 2024. We’ve also noted several factors that may affect the cost of ownership, such as manufacturer warranty coverage, but these ultimately did not factor into our rankings. For more details, refer to the notes on our methodology following the list.

Compact Cars | Subcompact SUVs | Compact SUVs | Compact Pickups | Mid-Size Pickups | Full-Size Pickups | Electric Vehicles

Compact Cars

202403 best value kia forte compact car 1 scaled jpg 2024 Kia Forte | Manufacturer image

You simply can’t beat a small car for affordability. The median price for the compact-car category is just $26,363, a full $3,107 below the next least expensive class: subcompact SUVs. While the engine development that is now going into popular SUVs has made the difference in average fuel economy negligible between small cars and small SUVs, it’s hard to beat the extra fun factor of a lower center of gravity on twisty back roads.

1. 2024 Kia Forte LXS

  • Add-ons: LXS Technology Package
  • Median trim price: $21,710
  • Starting price: $22,145
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 28/39/32
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,550
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles drivetrain

2. 2024 Kia Soul LX

  • Add-ons: LX Technology Package
  • Median trim price: $21,890
  • Starting price: $22,065
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 27/33/30
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,650
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles drivetrain

3. 2024 Nissan Sentra S

  • Median trim price: $22,315
  • Starting price: $22,030
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 30/40/34
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,450
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

Subcompact SUVs

202403 best value nissan kicks sub compact suv 2 scaled jpg 2024 Nissan Kicks | Manufacturer image

Subcompact SUVs offer the smaller footprint and lower operating costs of a compact car, but in a taller package. Hot competition in this thriving class means that Cars.com staff favorites are also atop the affordability rankings. The median price among all subcompact SUVs this year is $29,470.

1. 2024 Nissan Kicks S

  • Median trim price: $22,597
  • Starting price: $22,440
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 31/36/33
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,500
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

2. 2024 Chevrolet Trax LS

  • Add-ons: Driver Confidence Package
  • Median trim price: $22,490
  • Starting price: $21,890
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 28/32/30
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,650
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

3. 2024 Hyundai Venue SEL

  • Median trim price: $23,685
  • Starting price: $23,275
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 29/33/31
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,600
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles drivetrain

Compact SUVs

202403 best value chevy equinox compact suv 3 1 scaled jpg 2024 Chevrolet Equinox | Manufacturer image

For many buyers, compact SUVs hit the happy median between decent interior space, a maneuverable size and an economical price point. The segment median price is a big jump over subcompact SUVs accordingly at $35,995, but it’s also a segment that ranges from budget-friendly models under $30,000 to pricier electrified models.

1. 2024 Chevrolet Equinox LS

  • Add-ons: Driver Confidence II Package
  • Median trim price: $27,995
  • Starting price: $27,995
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 26/31/28
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,750
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

2. 2024 Hyundai Tucson SE

  • Median trim price: $29,255
  • Starting price: $28,875
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 25/32/28
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,750
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles drivetrain

3. 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander ES

  • Add-ons: Welcome Package (which isn’t needed to meet all of our requirements, but is a mandatory $175 addition)
  • Median trim price: $30,610
  • Starting price: $30,015
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 24/31/27
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,800
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles drivetrain

Compact Pickups

202403 best value ford maverick compact pickup truck 4 1 scaled jpg 2024 Ford Maverick | Manufacturer image

Perfect for people who want exterior bed storage but don’t have larger towing or hauling needs, compact pickups offer a lot of versatility at an attractive price point. With a median segment price of $35,530, there are just two compact pickup truck models on sale today, and both have the right options in affordable trims to qualify for this list.

1. 2024 Ford Maverick XL

  • Add-ons: Ford Co-Pilot360 Package
  • Median trim price: $27,380
  • Starting price: $26,060
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 23/30/26
  • Annual fuel costs: $1,900
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

2. 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz SE FWD

  • Median trim price: $29,549
  • Starting price: $28,275
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 22/26/23
  • Annual fuel costs: $2,150
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles drivetrain

Mid-Size Pickups

202403 best value nissan frontier midsize pickup 1 scaled jpg 2024 Nissan Frontier | Manufacturer image

Mid-size pickups offer that just-right mix of capabilities without the extra size, expense and fuel costs of a full-size pickup, so they’re already one of the best value categories around. These models can tow, haul and get you around a city without worrying if you can fit in that one parking spot. The median price for mid-size pickups comes in at $43,412 — not too bad, but a reflection of the fact that you can option up mid-size (and full-size) pickups to the nines.

1. 2024 Nissan Frontier King Cab S 4×2

  • Add-ons: Technology Package
  • Median trim price: $35,005
  • Starting price: $32,530
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 18/24/21
  • Annual fuel costs: $2,350
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

2. 2024 Toyota Tacoma XtraCab SR 4×2

  • Add-ons: SR Upgrade Package
  • Median trim price: $38,116
  • Starting price: $34,495
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 20/26/23
  • Annual fuel costs: $2,150
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

3. 2024 Chevrolet Colorado LT 4×2

  • Add-ons: Safety and LT Convenience packages
  • Median trim price: $39,393
  • Starting price: $35,270
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 20/24/22
  • Annual fuel costs: $2,250
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

Full-Size Pickups

202403 best value ford f150 full size pickup truck 2 2 scaled jpg 2024 Ford F-150 | Manufacturer image

While many buyers looking at this list may want to look at smaller trucks to get more features at a lower price point, we can’t deny that full-size pickup trucks are extremely popular. In fact, full-size pickups are some of our most searched models on Cars.com, and the single most registered new vehicle in 2023 in the U.S. was the Ford F-Series, according to S&P Global Mobility stats cited by Automotive News. Some of us really do need the extra towing capacity, and others may appreciate the extra room in a full-size pickup’s interior. Even though base-trim full-size pickups come with a pretty comfortable set of options, they can, of course, be optioned up into full-luxury territory, and the segment median list price reflects that: $58,015.

1. 2024 Ford F-150 XL SuperCab 4×2

  • Median trim price: $46,293
  • Starting price: $41,940
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 19/25/21
  • Annual fuel costs: $2,350
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

2. 2024 Ram 1500 Big Horn Quad Cab 4×2

  • Add-ons: Level 1 Safety Group, Big Horn Level 2 Equipment Group, Blind Spot Detection
  • Median trim price: $52,112
  • Starting price: $51,815
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 20/25/22
  • Annual fuel costs: $2,250
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

3. 2024 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 DoubleCab LT

  • Add-ons: Safety Package, Convenience Package II
  • Median trim price: $52,569
  • Starting price: $51,950
  • Fuel economy (city/highway/combined mpg): 18/22/20
  • Annual fuel costs: $2,450
  • Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; five years/60,000 miles drivetrain

Electric Vehicles

202403 best value hyundai ioniq6 ev 2 scaled jpg 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 | Manufacturer image

If you want to pay the absolute least in fueling costs, skip the pump and go electric. The average range among non-luxury EVs we looked at for this year jumped to 264 miles, and the median list price on Cars.com dropped to just $49,304, which goes to show you just how far we’re coming in terms of EV tech.

We kept above-average range as a requirement for EVs because access to chargers was the number one reason given as to why shoppers are apprehensive about buying an EV, according to a Cars.com survey. In fact, first-time EV buyers also worry about it the most, per research done by Recurrent.

Additionally, EV listings were live for an average of 93 days on Cars.com in February 2024 — far longer than their internal combustion counterparts — which gives shoppers plenty of room to haggle for a good deal. And some dealerships and manufacturers are responding to a slump in demand and changing rules around tax credits with added incentives and deals. We didn’t factor in the federal EV tax credit into our affordability rankings; some manufacturers have been shifting around supply chains to try and requalify, and others have models where some production dates qualify, but others don’t.

1. 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 SE RWD

  • Median trim price: $40,160
  • Starting price: $43,600
  • Range (miles): 361
  • Annual fuel costs: $550
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain and battery

2. 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 SE RWD

  • Median trim price: $46,332
  • Starting price: $47,225
  • Range (miles): 303
  • Annual fuel costs: $650
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain and battery

3. 2024 Kia EV6 Light Long Range RWD

  • Median trim price: $46,945
  • Starting price: $47,325
  • Range (miles): 310
  • Annual fuel costs: $650
  • Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper; 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain

What Makes a Best Value Finalist?

nissan sentra 2024 exterior oem 14 jpg 2024 Nissan Sentra | Manufacturer image

We didn’t want to just identify the cheapest new cars out there — we wanted to identify ones with features that most people actually shop for in a car. While the must-have item list varies from person to person, we referred back to consumer surveys to determine what the most common wish-list items are.

We excluded luxury brands as well as any specific luxury models that fit within our categories. On the flip side, Tesla was previously treated as a luxury brand for these rankings, but its recent positioning of its Model 3 and Model Y made those two models eligible for inclusion this year. Models also had to be on sale as a 2024 model at the time of this writing and have an automatic transmission available. For gas-powered vehicles, we required the use of regular unleaded fuel; for EVs, we looked for those that exceeded our range requirement. And because most pickup truck buyers want a backseat, two rows of seating was an added requirement for those categories, as well.

Median Price by Segment

From these lists, we determined segment median prices as well as median prices by trim, recorded as of January 2024:

  • Subcompact Car: $20,950
  • Compact Car: $26,363
  • Subcompact SUV: $29,470
  • Compact SUV: $35,995
  • Compact Pickup: $35,530
  • Mid-Size Pickup: $43,412
  • Full-Size Pickup: $58,015
  • Electric Vehicle: $49,304

Where is the subcompact car category on this year’s list, you ask? That’s a good question. Subcompact cars are going the way of the dodo, and there were only four to even consider for this ranking: the Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa, Mini Hardtop and Fiat 500e. Of those four, the Nissan Versa SV was the least expensive trim with all of the wish-list items we wanted, and with a median list price of $21,305, it unfortunately still came in over the $20,950 segment median price.

Must-Have Features

We whittled down the list of models in each segment to the ones that met our specific requirements — specifically, our wish-list items, which focused on connectivity and safety features.

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto: Many consumers prefer using these familiar phone-mirroring interfaces over the default user interfaces on their car — or they simply don’t want to spend extra on an in-car navigation unit or the connectivity features required to keep everything updated. For many shoppers, this is both a time saver as well as a money saver.
  • Blind spot monitor: This feature goes by various names — such as “blind spot information system” or “side blind spot alert” — and many manufacturers bundle this with rear cross-traffic alerts that detect approaching cars and pedestrians behind your car. Blind spot monitors scan the area to the side and slightly behind your vehicle, where other traffic can be hard to see. If there’s a car lurking in that blind spot, the system gives an audible or visual warning to the driver to not change lanes.
  • Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection: These systems use sensors and cameras to identify possible frontal collisions with vehicles and pedestrians and warn the driver; automatic emergency braking then applies the brakes to prevent the crashes.
  • Lane departure warning: This system alerts the driver using lights, sounds or vibrations when the car veers out of its lane. This feature frequently comes alongside lane departure steering assist, which will actively steer the car back into its lane.
  • Brake assist: This system detects when a driver slams on the brakes, such as in a panic stop, and applies maximum pressure to help stop the car in the shortest possible distance. It also works alongside a car’s antilock braking system to help make panic stops more manageable.

The safety features we chose weren’t just picked for their popularity, either — they’re also really effective at preventing crashes. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studies show that blind spot monitors and lane departure warnings both lower collision rates by double-digit percentage rates, and automatic braking systems reduce rear-end crashes and the resulting injuries by roughly 40%.

Safety features were the most important features for shoppers, according to a Cars.com survey. Of the features that defined our best-value package, blind spot monitoring had the most demand, with 56% of shoppers we surveyed saying it was an important feature to have. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking was next at 45%; 37% of shoppers wanted Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and 33% wanted lane departure warning.

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Costs of Ownership

Our affordability rankings also factored in each model’s annual fuel costs as estimated by the EPA, but it’s worth noting that fuel and the car’s purchase price aren’t the only costs buyers face over a car’s lifetime. Warranty coverage and costs related to maintenance, insurance and financing are all other factors to consider when purchasing a new vehicle. In fact, over 60% of shoppers surveyed by Cars.com cited regular maintenance costs as a consideration when buying a vehicle, which is why we stuck to non-luxury brands; they tend to have lower parts and service costs, for this list.

Electric cars and hybrids may be more expensive to purchase upfront, but they offer lower fuel costs over time. Federal tax credits for EVs and plug-in hybrids may help offset some of those expenses, but as noted above, with some manufacturers continuing to adjust their supply chains so their cars can qualify, we did not factor these into our affordability analysis.

Financing Concerns Continue

High interest rates continue to thwart consumer demand. Fifty-five percent of shoppers surveyed by Cars.com said they were rethinking their new-car purchase because of high interest rates.

One way to offset the ownership costs over time — and to soften the blow of today’s high interest rates — is by making a bigger down payment. According to Cars.com surveys, consumers are now saving up longer to buy a new vehicle, and 53% of shoppers plan on financing their next vehicle. Should you finance your car, choosing a more affordable car can help you get a better rate on an auto loan, too.

Take Advantage of Trade-In Demand

Forty-four percent of shoppers surveyed by Cars.com plan to trade in their vehicle, with over half saying they’ll trade it in to the dealership where they will buy their next car. Fortunately, we have some good news for those shoppers: There’s a shortage of late-model used inventory, as used cars this year are older and have higher mileage on average than those last year. As such, trade-in vehicles — particularly newer, in-demand models with lower mileage — are fetching a premium right now.

However, trade-in values for older used cars are dropping. Between February 2023 and February 2024, the average trade-in values for model-year 2014-19 vehicles dropped 20%, according to Cars.com data. For model-year 2014 vehicles, the average value was down 24%, at $11,913, while the trade-in value for model-year 2019 cars was also down approximately 24%, at $24,334.

For those who are considering trading in their current vehicle for the newest version, it can be helpful to compare their car’s trade-in value with the new model’s price. Among this year’s best value finalists, we found that some vehicles hold their values better than others after looking at Cars.com data and comparing the trade-in values for 5-year-old vehicles (model-year 2019) with their median new-car prices. The Ram 1500 (27%), Mitsubishi Outlander (34%) and Ford F-150 (38%) had the lowest trade-in values as a percent of their new-car prices. On the other hand, the Chevrolet Colorado (46%), Kia Forte (46%) and Toyota Tacoma (45%) had the highest trade-in values compared to their new-car prices.

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Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Stef Schrader
News Editor Stef Schrader joined Cars.com in 2024 but began her career in automotive journalism in 2013. She currently has a Porsche 944 and Volkswagen 411 that are racecars and a Mitsubishi Lancer GTS that isn’t a racecar (but sometimes goes on track anyway). Ask her about Fisher-Price Puffalumps. Email Stef Schrader

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