CONTEST: Which Vehicle Would You Choose For $28,000 Or Less?

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The average price for a new car has gone beyond the $32,000 mark. What if you’re not a Rockefeller but still need a new car? BestRide is giving away a two-year lease on any vehicle worth $28k or less.

We’ve broken down every single car, truck, van, SUV, CUV and minivan available for less than $28,000 MSRP, which is conveniently the prize we’re awarding in our car giveaway: A two-year lease for any car, truck, van, SUV or CUV with an MSRP of $28,000 or less.

You’ll want to register for our contest here, and start researching this exhaustive list of vehicles to find the one that most interests you, should you be our lucky winner.

This is a long list of cars, and we’ve called out all the trim levels in each model that fall under the $28,000 price cap. In order to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, we’ve provided links below that will fast-forward you to each brand.

Each car model name links to its search page on BestRide.com, where you can search by feature through one of the internet’s largest auto inventory databases. Give it a spin and see why BestRide.com offers more than the typical car search.

Good luck in the contest, and have fun building a wishlist.

Brands

Buick
Chrysler
Chevrolet
Dodge
Ford
Fiat
GMC
Honda
Hyundai
Kia
Mazda
Mitsubishi
Nissan
RAM
Subaru
Smart
Toyota
Volkswagen

BUICK

See Buick Encores Here

buick_encore_fwd_convenience_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Encore Group FWD – $24,990
  • Convenience Group FWD – $27,280
  • Encore Group AWD – $26,490

Destination charge: $925

The Encore is the single best-selling Buick right now, a South Korean-built vehicle sold as the Opel Mokka in Europe.

It’s fuel-sipping, small crossover, and if you can get away with selecting front-wheel drive, you can get into the mid-level Convenience Group if you stay away from the option list. Even in lower trims, though, the Encore is a comfortable, capable little ride for singles or a small family.

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See Buick Veranos Here

buick_verano_sport_touring_sedan_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Verano 1SV Group – $21,990
  • Verano Group – $24,405
  • Sport Touring Group – $24,990
  • Leather Group – $27,430

Destination charge: $925

The Verano is Buick’s entry-luxury car, competing against cars like the Acura ILX and the Lexus IS 250. It’s based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Cruze, which isn’t a bad thing, since that’s a nice car in its own right. For $28k, you can get a pretty well-equipped Verano with a leather interior, machined alloy wheels, a Bose audio system and heated seats and steering wheel.

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CHEVROLET

See Chevrolet City Express Vans Here

chevrolet_city_express_lt_fwd_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • LS – $22,950
  • LT – $24,510

Destination charge: $995

If you’ve got utilitarian tasks and runs to Home Depot to accomplish, the Chevrolet City Express may be the vehicle for you. It launched in 2014 and it’s the doppelganger to the Nissan NV200, sharing everything but its chrome badges. You could load up a City Express at the highest trim and check off every one of the handful of options and still be two grand under the $28k cap.

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See Chevrolet Equinox SUVs Here

chevrolet_equinox_ls_fwd_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • L FWD – $23,495
  • LS FWD – $26,305
  • LT FWD – $27,545

Destination charge: $995

The Equinox is a wildly popular midsize crossover SUV, and the third best-selling car in Chevrolet’s lineup behind the Silverado and the Cruze. You’ll have to live without all-wheel drive, but with a set of good winter tires, you could choose three of the four Equinox trims and still come in under $28k.

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See Chevrolet Malibu Limited Here

chevrolet_malibu_limited_lt_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • LS – $23,440
  • LT – $24,710

Destination charge: $875

Chevrolet updated the Malibu for the 2016 model year, but if you can survive with the last generation car, Chevrolet still offers it as the Malibu Limited. Despite all the updates for the new car, the Malibu Limited is a terrific machine and provides a tremendous bang for the buck.

Either the LS or the LT trims get you in under the wire, and the LT provides equipment lik Bluetooth audio streaming for select phone, ambient lighting, Chevrolet MyLink with a 7-inch diagonal color touch-screen, projector-style headlamps and heated body-color outside rear view mirrors.

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See Chevrolet Malibu Models Here

chevrolet_malibu_1lt_sedan_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • L – $22,500
  • LS – $23,995
  • 1LT – $25,895

Destination charge: $875

The all-new 2016 Malibu is a world-beating car that will make a lot of people reconsider why they’re driving midsize sedans from Brand H and Brand T. Three well-equipped trims come in under the $28,000 barrier, and the 1LT trim offers a ton of goodies like heated power-adjustable mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, 17-inch alloy wheels, OnStar with 4G LTE and a mobile wifi hotspot for up to seven devices, ambient lighting, an eight way power driver’s seat and illuminated vanity mirrors.

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See Chevrolet Sonic Models Here

chevrolet_sonic_rs_automatic_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • Sedan LS Manual $15,220
  • Sedan LS Automatic $16,470
  • Sedan LT Manual – $17,030
  • Sedan LT Automatic – $18,420
  • Sedan LTZ Automatic – $20,665
  • Sedan RS Manual – $20,970
  • Sedan RS Automatic – $22,370
  • Hatchback LS Manual $15,820
  • Hatchback LS Automatic $17,070
  • Hatchback LT Manual – $17,630
  • Hatchback LT Automatic – $19,020
  • Hatchback LTZ Automatic – $21,220
  • Hatchback RS Manual – $20,970
  • Hatchback RS Automatic – $22,370

Destination charge: $875

You’ve got a bewildering fourteen trims under $28,000 with the Sonic sedan and hatchback, so the world is your oyster. The best-kept secret about the Sonic is — in the RS six-speed manual transmission trim especially — it’s really fun to drive, and shockingly comfortable even on long trips. Corvette Racing engineer John Buttermore worked on the suspension tuning, and it shows.

An all-new, hatchback-only 2017 Chevrolet Sonic is coming in the summer of 2016, with tons of advanced safety equipment and turbocharging, so you may just want to hold off a few months.

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See Chevrolet Spark Models Here

chevrolet_spark_2lt_automatic_hatchback_2016

Trims under $28k:

  • LS Manual $13,535
  • LS Automatic $14,635
  • 1LT Manual – $15,560
  • 1LT Automatic – $16,660
  • 2LT Manual – $17,060
  • 2LT Automatic – $18,160
  • EV 1LT – $25,995
  • EV 2LT – $26,386

Destination charge – $875

Chevrolet’s five-door city car is known elsewhere as the Daewoo Matiz. It’s now in its third generation and exists as one of the least expensive cars in America, with a starting price of $13,535. With $28k at your disposal, you’re probably going to want a more expensive car, but don’t discount the opportunity to get yourself into a Spark EV fully electric car. You can fully equip one even with the $750 fast charging station and be well under the $28k cap including the destination charge.

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See Chevrolet Trax Models Here

chevrolet_trax_ltz_fwd_crossover_2016

Trims under $28k:

  • LS FWD – $21,195
  • LT FWD – $23,540
  • LTZ FWD – $26,125
  • LS AWD – $22,695
  • LT AWD – $25,040
  • LTZ AWD – $27,625

Destination charge: $875

The Trax is Chevrolet’s entry into the booming compact crossover utility vehicle market. It’s got better headroom, more cargo room and the availability of all-wheel drive, so it’s a pretty appealing alternative to the Sonic-sized sedans that it’s based upon.

With $28k at your disposal, you have the choice of every trim, though you’ll be nudging up against the cap with the AWD LTZ. The mid-level LT AWD offers a surprising array of equipment like remote start, 16-inch alloy wheels and a 110V AC outlet to charge your electronics.

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See Chevrolet Camaro Models Here

chevrolet_camaro_1lt_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • 1LT Coupe – $25,700

Destination charge: $995

The Camaro’s range extends to track-specific editions that can challenge some of the world’s most powerful cars, but there’s still a version available for those wanting to spend less than $28K.

The 1LT fits our budget with room to spare. It comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 275 horsepower, and there’s a six-speed manual to help you put that power to the ground. Wheels are alloys with 18-inch tires. Inside is a seven-inch touchscreen with Chevrolet’s MyLink telematics system. So while it’s reasonably priced, the Camaro 1LT is well-equipped.

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CHRYSLER

See Chrysler 200 Models Here

chrysler_200c_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $21,995
  • Limited – $24,490
  • 200S – $25,690
  • 200C – $27,570

Destination charge: $995

Despite all the news about Chrysler’s disappointing sales of its mid-sized competitor, the 200 is a nice car with significant attention to detail inside.

You can technically get any 200 trim for less than $28,000, but destination charge will put you over that with the 200C. The 200S is the sportier of the 200 trims, anyway, with 18-inch Satin Carbon aluminum wheels, black cloth sport seats, and a sport-tuned suspension. You can throw almost $3,000 worth of options at it and still be under the $28k barrier.

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DODGE

See Dodge Dart Models Here

2016 Dodge Dart Blacktop

Trims under $28K:

  • SE – $16,995
  • SXT – $19,395
  • Aero – $21,095
  • GT – $22,095
  • Limited – $24,395

Destination charge: $995

You’ve got any Dodge Dart trim at your disposal with $28,000, but you’d have a hard time convincing us that the Dodge Dart GT wouldn’t be the only one to consider. It’s a hoot to drive with the six-speed manual, and you can select every single option possible and still be well under your $28,000 budget. Get one in Go Mango.

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See Dodge Journey Models Here

2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad

Trims under $28K:

  • SE FWD – $20,995
  • SE AWD – $26,595
  • SXT FWD – $24,895
  • Crossroad FWD – $26,295
  • Crossroad Plus – $27,395

Destination charge: $995

There’s a reason you see so many Dodge Journeys around: They work. They offer utility and all-wheel drive at a price that most people with a job can afford.

If you’re determined that you need AWD, you’re limited to the SE trim, but powertrain-wise, you’re buying exactly the same thing as the much more expensive R/T trim. Sticking with front-wheel drive and a good set of winter tires gets you a much nicer interior, with a step up to leather seating surfaces in the Crossroad Plus.

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See Dodge Grand Caravan Models Here

dodge_grand_caravan_1

Trims under $28K:

  • American Value Package – $22,095
  • SE – $24,595
  • SE Plus – $25,695
  • SXT – $27,795

Destination charge: $995

For many families, a minivan is a necessity. There aren’t many vehicles left that will haul more than five people, plus a week’s worth of luggage. Trouble is, many of them are priced out of range.

But the Grand Caravan still offers four trims under $28,000, which isn’t something you can say for many minivan manufacturers. Even the cheapest American Value package provides a ton of safety equipment and a 283hp V-6, but stepping up to the SE Plus trim gets you 17-Inch Satin Carbon aluminum wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Uconnect voice command, Bluetooth streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio and second row power windows.

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FIAT

See Fiat 500 Models Here

fiat_500_2016_hatchback_1

Trims under $28K:

  • Pop – $16,995
  • Easy – $17,745
  • Sport – $17,900
  • Lounge – $20,395
  • Turbo – $19,700
  • 1957 Edition – $21,295
  • Abarth – $22,575

Destination charge – $980

The 500 hatchback brings a boutique feel to the economy class.

Pricing starts under $18K with the plastic-hubacapped Pop, and the new-for-2016 Easy trim is one step above, with niceties such as aluminum wheels and a seven-inch infotainment screen with Alpine sound.

The 1957 edition strikes a retro note, and the Abarth is the sportiest 500, with a more powerful turbocharged engine and a raspy exhaust – it’s like the other 500s after a few shots of espresso.

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See Fiat 500C Models Here

2016 Fiat 500c Pop (left) with 1962 Fiat 500 (center) and 2016 Fiat 500c Lounge (right)

Trims under $28K:

  • Pop – $20,345
  • Lounge – $22,800
  • 1957 Edition – $24,700

Destination charge – $980

The Fiat 500 C offers all the spunk and sass as the 500, but it adds the bonus of a canvas roof that lowers and stacks behind the rear seat at the touch of a button.

Completely loaded with every option you can order, a fun-loving Fiat 500 C is well under the $28,000 price barrier.

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See Fiat 500L Models Here

2016 Fiat 500L Trekking

Trims under $28K:

  • Pop – $19,345
  • Easy – $20,695
  • Trekking – $21,695
  • Urbana – $23,095
  • Lounge – $24,695

Destination charge: $980

The Fiat 500L takes the fun of the Fiat 500 and builds it into five-door, multi-passenger vehicle like the 1960s-era Multipla that it’s inspired by. At the very top of the line, with the $4,000 Lounge Collection 6 — including a sunroof, Uconnect, GPS and a Beats audio system, you’re 425 bucks under the $28,000 limit.

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See Fiat 500X Models Here

fiat_500x_lounge_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Pop FWD – $20,000
  • Easy FWD – $22,610
  • Easy AWD – $24,510
  • Trekking FWD – $23,310
  • Trekking AWD – $25,210
  • Lounge FWD – $25,110
  • Lounge AWD – $27,110

Destination charge: $995

The Fiat 500X is essentially a more road-friendly, less off-road version of the Jeep Renegade, and with a $28,000 price limit, you have a lot of leeway to buy all by the top-of-the-line Trekking Plus trim. That puts you in as much as an all-wheel drive 500X Lounge, with the $2,050 Lounge Collection 2 package, featuring 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, ParkSense rear park assist and blind spot monitoring.

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FORD

See Ford Escape Models Here

ford_escape_se_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • S FWD – $23,100
  • SE FWD – $25,300
  • SE 4WD – $27,495

Destination charge: $895

The Ford Escape runs the middle of the compact-crossover market, with updated styling and a roomy interior.

Our $28K cap includes a four-wheel drive variant of the SE, and the base SE is front-wheel drive only. Add the $1,395 Package 201A to the top SE, and you’ll get Sync 3, as well as BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) and a Reverse Sensing System.

Alas, Ford restricts other safety-related features, like the $595 Adaptive Cruise Control with Pre-Collision Assist,  to the top Titanium trim, which starts at $29,100.

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See Ford C-MAX Hybrid Models Here

ford_c-max_sel_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Hybrid SE – $24,170
  • Hybrid SEL – $27,170

Destination charge: $875

With its tailored styling and engaging handling, Ford’s C-MAX gives the Prius a run for its money.

The C-MAX’s base pricing runs about parallel to the Prius’s first three trim levels. The SEL brings niceties like Ford’s improved Sync 3 infotainment system, leather seating and push-button start.

You’d jump over our $28K cap to the $31,770 Energi trim to get plug-in capability.

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See Ford Fiesta Models Here

ford_fiesta_titanium_sedan_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • S Sedan – $14,090
  • S Hatch – $14,390
  • SE Sedan – $15,320
  • SE Hatch – $15,620
  • Titanium Sedan – $18,040
  • Titanium Hatch – $18,340
  • ST – $20,970

Destination charge: $875

Fiestas can be had with a variety of personalities, and all can be had for less than our $28K cap.

All trims except the sporty ST can be had as a hatchback or sedan, with the former commanding a $300 premium over the latter. The least-expensive Fiesta S sedan checks in at just over $14K, and the $18,340 Titanium offers the option of Ford’s improved Sync 3 infotainment system.

Fiestas forgo safety items like blind-spot warnings or forward-collision automatic braking, but the ST is uncommonly fun to drive, with 197 turbocharged horses ready to get you into all kinds of trouble.

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See Ford Focus Models Here

ford_focus_st_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • S Sedan – $17,225
  • SE Sedan – $18,515
  • SE Hatch – $19,015
  • Titanium Sedan – $23,225
  • Titanium Hatch – $23,725
  • ST – $24,425

Destination charge: $875

The Ford Focus is a consistently strong seller, and our $28K cap includes all trim levels, which range from economical to deluxe to hard-core sport.

At just over $17K, the Focus S is one of the market’s most affordable compact sedans. and it includes a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, a backup camera and Ford’s MyKey control system.

The powerful ST holds down the Focus’s high end, and its 252-horsepower GTDI EcoBoost engine makes it a hoot to drive.

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See Ford Fusion Models Here

ford_fusion_se_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • S – $22,260
  • S Hybrid – $25,185
  • SE – $23,830
  • SE Hybrid – $25,990

Destination charge: $875

The Fusion was the first with Ford’s Aston Martin-themed grille, and it’s still a handsome entry into the mid-sized sedan class.

Our $28K cap keeps out the Titanium trim, but you can still get the SE Hybrid for its 42-mpg overall rating. All Fusions for 2016 get a redesigned center stack with more physical buttons, but proactive safety items like Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning are restricted to the Titanium.

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See Ford Mustang Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • V6 Fastback – $24,145
  • EcoBoost Fastback – $25,645

Destination charge: $900

Ford’s iconic Mustang comes in under $28K with two trim levels and two different engines.

There are no V8s in Mustangs at this price point, but the V6’s 300 horsepower and the EcoBoost four-cylinder’s 310 hp do not disappoint. The V6 is willing enough if you’re looking to spend as little as possible, and the EcoBoost’s ready response gives it a sparky feel.

For a racier look, the EcoBoost can be accented with a $695 black-painted roof.

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See Ford Transit Connect Models

ford_transit_connect_wagon_xl_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • Van XL – $22,675
  • Wagon XL – $25,300
  • Van XLT – $24,200
  • Wagon XLT – $24,825

Destination charge: $995

The Ford Transit Connect is Ford’s top-selling entry in the compact-van market, and for our $28K budget, you could have any Transit Connect trim, except for the Wagon Titanium.

Both the Van and Wagon are available in two wheelbases, which measure a compact 104.8 inches and a truck-like 120.6 inches. The rear can be a swing-up tailgate or two side-hinged doors. A 2.5-liter four is standard, and a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbo four adds $795 and nine more horsepower, though you’ll need premium gas to hit that number.

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See Ford F-150 Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • XL – $26,430

Destination charge: $1,195

Ford’s F-150 XL short box is one of the few full-sized pickups that made our $28K cut. Turns out that buying an XL trim is one of the few ways to get a new vehicle without power windows or locks.

Black plastic trim dominates this F-150’s facade, and the floor is covered with black vinyl. On the other hand, the XL has an ample V6 mated to six-speed automatic with a tow/haul mode, and there’s air conditioning and a full set of gauges, including with an outside temperature reading. Not bad for a truck that is otherwise all business.

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GMC

See GMC Canyon Models

gmc_canyon_2wd_crew_cab_short_box_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • SL 2WD Extended Cab – $20,955
  • 2WD Extended Cab – $23,150
  • 2WD Crew Cab, Short Box – $25,705
  • 2WD Crew Cab, Long Box – $27,225

Destination charge: $925

The Canyon is GMC’s entry in the suddenly active midsize pickup truck market. Four-wheel drive is going to be out of reach at the $28,000 mark, but you can get a 2WD Canyon in both Extended Cab and Crew Cab configurations.

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See GMC Terrain Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • S  FWD – $23,975
  • SLE-1 FWD – $27,925

Destination charge: $925

The Terrain keeps the lights on at GMC, providing hundreds of thousands of Americans with reliable, well-equipped transportation every year. In two months in 2015, GMC sold more than 10,000 Terrains. The $28,000 price cap is going to keep you out of an all-wheel drive Terrain, but the front-wheel drive trucks are particularly popular where snow doesn’t fall.

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HONDA

See Honda Accord Coupe Models

honda_accord_ex_coupe_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX-S – $23,875
  • LX-S with Honda Sensing – $25,725
  • EX – $26,000
  • EX with Honda Sensing – $27,850

Destination charge: $835

The Honda Accord Coupe is one of the most sneakily stylish cars on the road in the $28,000 and under bracket. For that kind of cash, you won’t get into the deceptively fast, incredibly fun EX-L V-6 with a six-speed manual, but you can experience the fun of a manual transmission in both the LX-S and EX trims, provided you’re not interested in the Honda Sensing collision avoidance technologies.

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See Honda Accord Sedan Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $22,205
  • LX with Honda Sensing – $24,005
  • Sport – $24,265
  • Sport with Honda Sensing – $26,065
  • EX – $25,580
  • EX with Honda Sensing – $27,380

Destination charge: $835

The 185hp inline four-cylinder in the Honda Accord Sedan provides outstanding fuel economy and plenty of power for the daily commute. With $28,000 in hand, you’re open to a wide range of trims, all the way up to the well-equipped EX, with Honda Sensing collision avoidance technology.

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See Honda Civic Coupe Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $19,050
  • LX-P – $20,850
  • EX-T – $22,300
  • EX-L – $23,425
  • Touring – $26,125

Destination charge: $835

If you’re interested in a Honda Civic Coupe, the field is wide open with $28,000 in hand. The only way you’ll secure a six-speed manual transmission is on the LX trim. All the rest of the Civic Coupe trims come with a continuously variable transmission as standard equipment. The Touring trim features Honda Sensing collision avoidance technology as standard equipment.

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See Honda Civic Sedan Models

honda_civic_touring_sedan_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $18,640
  • LX with Honda Sensing – $20,440
  • EX – $21,040
  • EX with Honda Sensing – $22,040
  • EX-T – $22,200
  • EX-T with Honda Sensing – $23,200
  • EX-L – $23,700
  • EX-L with Honda Sensing – $24,700
  • EX-L with Navigation – $24,700
  • Touring – $26,500

Destination charge: $835

Not quite as sporty as the Civic Coupe, but with a wider array of trims at your disposal, the Honda Civic Sedan can provide everything from economical commuter to near luxury car equipment for $28,000. Our choice would be the Touring with standard Honda Sensing collision avoidance technology and the 174hp turbocharged four cylinder.

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See Honda Civic Hybrid Mdoels

honda_civic_hybrid_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • Hybrid Sedan – $24,735
  • Hybrid Sedan with Navigation – $26,235
  • Hybrid Sedan with Leather – $25,935
  • Hybrid Sedan with Leather and Navigation – $27,435

Destination charge: $835

Starting well under $28,000 and still just a hair under that figure completely equipped, the Honda Civic Hybrid delivers 44 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway, extracting about all you can expect out of a gallon of gasoline in a car that doesn’t look like it came from the Jetsons.

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See Honda CR-V Models

honda_cr-v_ex_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX FWD – $23,745
  • LX AWD – $25,045
  • SE FWD – $24,545
  • SE AWD – $25,845
  • EX FWD – $25,995
  • EX AWD – $27,295

Destination charge: $900

Revamped for the 2015 model year, the CR-V is one of three entries in the crossover SUV market for Honda. The CR-V takes the middle position between the HR-V and the Pilot, providing comfortable, reliable transportation for five people plus luggage. $28,000 buys a CR-V to the mid-level EX trim, in either front-drive or all-wheel drive powertrains.

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See Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid Models

honda_cr-z_ex_cvt_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $20,295
  • EX – $22,140
  • EX-L – $24,440

Destination charge: $835

It’s easy to forget that Honda builds the CR-Z, but if you have the opportunity to drive one, you should. It’s a sporty hybrid, with the ability to provide excellent fuel mileage in city traffic, plus a bit of fun on the open road. It’s available with a manual transmission, which makes it the only hybrid built with anything other than a CVT.

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See Honda Fit Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $15,890
  • EX – $17,800
  • EX-L – $20,165
  • EX-L with Navigation – $21,165

Destination charge: $835

It’s diminutive on the outside, but inside, the Fit provides generous room for passengers and all their stuff, even if that stuff happens to include skis and mountain bikes. LX and EX trims are available with six-speed manual transmissions which are a lot more fun than the CVT, while still delivering hybrid-like fuel economy.

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See Honda HR-V Models

honda_hr-v_ex-l_nvai_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX FWD – $19,215
  • LX AWD – $21,315
  • EX FWD – $21,265
  • EX AWD – $23,365
  • EX-L Navi FWD – $24,690
  • EX-L Navi AWD – $25,990

Destination charge: $900

The HR-V slots below the CR-V in size. It also extends the utility of its basis — the Honda Fit — with all-wheel drive for sure-footed traction in bad weather.

Any HR-V is available for less than the $28,000 cap, and that applies to the all-wheel drive trims. Manual transmissions are available, but only in the front-wheel drive configurations.

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HYUNDAI

See Hyundai Elantra Models

hyundai_elantra_limited_2017_1

Trims under $28K:

  • SE – $17,150
  • Limited – $22,350

Destination charge: $835

Hyundai updated the Elantra for 2017, and it remains a fiercely competitive entry in the pressure-cooker compact market.

The base SE sedan’s is one of the least expensive in its class, and the Limited for about $5K more brings a bevy of desirable features, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 17-inch wheels, power driver’s seat, and more.

You can add active safety features like Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection, but you’d have to add the $1,900 Ultimate Package for Limited, which requires the $2,500 Tech Package for Limited, to get it. That final $27,585 price would still skirt our $28K ceiling, but it’s a shame the Elantra makes safety so spendy.

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See Hyundai Accent Models

hyundai_accent_sport_hatchback_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • SE Sedan – $14,745
  • SE Hatchback – $14,995
  • Sport Hatchback – $16,495

Destination charge: $835

As with the Ford Fiesta, the Hyundai Accent is offered as a hatchback and sedan, and the sedan is the least expensive entry in the lineup. Both bodystyles of the Accent SE can be had for less than $15K, and the Sport adds a little spice to the hatchback for a grand and a half more.

The Accent is rare in offering all its trims with a manual transmission, and many of the items on the Sport hatchback can be added to the SE sedan, like rear disc brakes and 16-inch alloy wheels.

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See Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Models

hyundai_santa_fe_sport_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Base FWD – $25,350

Destination charge: $895

Our $28K budget lets one trim sneak in from the Santa Fe lineup, the base five-passenger version. Adding $1,750 for all-wheel drive breaches the cap by a mere $10.

This front-wheel drive Santa Fe can be equipped with the $1,500 Popular Equipment Package, which includes Android Auto, Blue Link connectivity, power driver’s seat and roof rails, and the final price will still stay under $28K.

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See Hyundai Sonata Models

hyundai_sonata_se_sedan_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • SE – $21,750
  • Sport – $23,400
  • Eco – $23,725
  • Hybrid SE – $26,000
  • Limited – $27,350

Destination charge: $835

Plenty of variety awaits when you go shopping for a Sonata for less than $28K.

The cheapest SE boasts one of the lowest entry prices for a mid-sized sedan, and it’s well-equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto, Blue Link connectivity and a rear-view camera. There are two trims emphasizing fuel economy (Eco and Hybrid), while the Sport is a remarkably tight handler and the Limited feels appropriately premium.

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See Hyundai Tucson Models

hyundai_tucson_sport_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • SE FWD – $22,700
  • SE AWD – $24,100
  • Eco FWD – $24,150
  • Eco AWD – $25,500
  • Sport FWD – $26,150
  • Sport AWD – $27,450

Destination charge: $895

We haven’t seen more Tucsons on the roads around us partly because of a supply-side issue, as Hyundai was in the process of growing out its crossover production capacity. Now that a third plant has been brought online and a successful redesign has hit the road, there shouldn’t be much else holding the Tucson back.

Our $28K cap chops off the $29K Limited, but the Sport’s 19-inch wheels gives it much of the Limited’s visual spark, and the Sport includes active safety features like Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

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See Hyundai Veloster Models

hyundai_veloster_turbo_2016_3

Trims under $28K:

  • Base – $18,000
  • Turbo R-Spec – $21,600
  • Turbo – $22,600
  • Rally Edition – $23,950

Destination charge: $835

The Veloster is Hyundai’s enigmatic sport coupe, with a look that can’t be mistaken for much else. You could have any Veloster you wanted for our $28K cap.

All Velosters can be had with a manual transmission, and they’re well equipped – no Veloster wears a plastic hubcap. Base models start with a 132-horsepower four and 17-inch alloy wheels. Upper trims have 201 horses from a turbo four and 18-inchers on the ground. The top Rally Edition is particularly striking, with its matte-finished paint and RAYS-brand wheels.

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JEEP

See Jeep Cherokee Models

jeep_cherokee_altitude_fwd_2016

Trims available under $28k:

  • Sport FWD – $23,395
  • Latitude FWD – $25,295
  • Altitude FWD – $26,090
  • 75th Anniversary Edition FWD – $27,875
  • Sport 4×4 – $25,395
  • Latitude 4×4 – $27,295

Destination charge: $995

The Jeep Cherokee fits into the flooded CUV category because of its size, but what makes it unique is that it does actually have some modicum of off-road ability. You won’t get a Trailhawk with $28k, the lesser trims still have a lot to offer.

Front-wheel drive trims save two grand, but what’s the fun in that? If the Jeep brand appeals to you at all, you’ll want four-wheel drive in the Sport or Latitude trims. Steer clear of the 3.4-liter engine and you’ll be under the $28k cap, even if you select the $895 Safety/Convenience Group.

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See Jeep Compass Models

jeep_compass_75th_anniversary_fwd_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Sport FWD – $19,595
  • Sport 4×4 – $21,595
  • Sport SE FWD – $21,840
  • Sport SE 4×4 – $23,940
  • Latitude FWD – $23,895
  • Latitude 4×4 – $25,895
  • High Altitude FWD – $24,890
  • High Altitude 4×4 – $26,890
  • 75th Anniversary Edition FWD – $25,070
  • 75th Anniversary Edition 4×4 – $26,470

Destination charge: $995

The Compass and Patriot both exist as the entry level crossover utility vehicles in Jeep’s lineup. As such, you can buy any Compass you like for less than $28,000, including the destination charge. The 75th Anniversary Edition is new for 2016, and aside from a few items in $2,000 Power Value Group, it’s completely loaded.

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See Jeep Patriot Models

jeep_patriot_high_altitude_4x4

Trims under $28K:

  • Sport FWD – $17,595
  • Sport 4×4 – $19,595
  • Sport SE FWD – $19,740
  • Sport SE 4×4 – $21,840
  • Latitude FWD – $22,195
  • Latitude 4×4 – $25,495
  • 75th Anniversary Edition FWD – $24,345
  • 75th Anniversary Edition 4×4 – $25,845
  • High Altitude FWD – $24,775
  • High Altitude 4×4 – $26,540

Destination charge: $995

Closely related to the Jeep Compass is the boxier Patriot. Similarly, you can choose the most expensive Patriot there is, and it will still fall under the $28,000 barrier with room to add an option or two.

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See Jeep Renegade Models

jeep_renegade_trailhawk_4x4_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Sport FWD – $17,995
  • Sport 4×4 – $19,995
  • Latitude FWD – $21,395
  • Latitude 4×4 – $23,395
  • 75th Anniversary Edition FWD – $23,375
  • 75th Anniversary Edition 4×4 – $25,375
  • Limited FWD – $25,120
  • Limited 4×4 – $27,120
  • Dawn of Justice Edition 4×4 – $26,250
  • Trailhawk 4×4 – $26,745

Destination charge: $995

Jeep’s latest entry into the CUV space is closely related to the Fiat 500X, but it’s got the benefit of some real  off-road aspirations. You’re not going to cross the Rubicon in it, but you can certainly cover a lot more ground with the Trailhawk than you could with your average cute-ute, and with an MSRP well under $28k, you can throw in an option or to, as well.

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See Jeep Wrangler Models

jeep_wrangler_sport_s_4x4_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Sport – $23,895
  • Sport S – $26,795

Destination charge: $995

The undisputed king of two-door, off-road, soft-top SUVs, the Jeep Wrangler is also surprisingly affordable if you stay out of the higher trims and keep your head on the options list. $23,895 gets you into the base Wrangler with the exact same engine and transmission as the more expensive Wranglers, and who needs power windows, anyway? Think of it as a blank canvas for your modifications. Here’s a tip: invest in the hardtop at the time of purchase. At $995, you’ll never find it cheaper on the used market.

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KIA

See Kia Forte Models

kia_forte_ex_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $15,990
  • EX – $19,990

Destination charge: $850

The Kia Forte is a compact sedan with an uncommonly low entry price of less than $16K, and the better-equipped EX runs under $20K.

But don’t let the low prices fool you – the Forte feels like a quality car, with quality materials and excellent workmanship. High-end features like perimeter approach lighting and memory power seat are nice surprises on the option list, and it shouldn’t be long before Kia offers the Forte with the active safety features like forward-collision mitigation.

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See Kia Forte5 Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $18,090
  • EX – $20,390
  • SX – $20,990

Destination charge: $850

Following the trend of hatchbacks being a bit pricier than their sedan brethren, the you’d need about $2K more to get into the cheapest Forte5 LX than you would for the Forte LX sedan.

The Forte5’s hot ticket is the SX – it packs a 201-horsepower turbo engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. For those who remember the glory days of hot hatchbacks, this package looks to be a steal for less than $21K.

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See Kia Forte Koup Models

kia_forte_coup_sx_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • EX – $19,890
  • SX – $20,690

Destination charge: $850

The Forte Koup is hands-down one of the handsomest cars on the market, with balanced proportions and just enough surface tension. It’s as stylish as a coupe should be.

There’s no basic LX trim for the Koup, and the EX is $100 less than the EX sedan. That starts you with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and LED positioning lights. The SX gets you a 201-horsepower turbocharged engine and a standard six-speed manual transmission, which goes further to fill out the Koup’s coupe character.

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See Kia Optima Models

kia_optima_ex_sedan_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $21,990
  • LX 1.6T – $23,990
  • EX – $24,990
  • Hybrid – $25,995

Destination charge: $850

The Kia Optima tracks alongside the related Hyundai Sonata in providing a variety of formats in which to order your mid-sized sedan.

The LX holds the bottom of the market with one of the most affordable entry prices, and two trims – the LX 1.6T and Hybrid – help you squeeze the maximum mileage from your Optima.

Whichever Optima you’d choose would come wrapped in one of the more dramatic shapes in the mid-sized class.

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See Kia Rio Models

kia_rio_sx_sedan_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $14,165
  • EX – $17,755
  • SX – $20,755

Destination charge: $850

The Kia Rio appeals to budget buyers with a combination of extroverted styling and value pricing. It’s the smallest Kia, but its wheelbase and length are close to the measurements of a ’80s GM J-car (Chevy Cavalier, etc.), so there’s plenty of room in there for full-sized adults.

The top SX trim is the one to get if you want items like a power sunroof and LED positioning lights, and the SX-specific 17-inch wheels fill the fenders nicely.

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See Kia Rio5 Models

kia_rio5_sx_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX – $15,495
  • EX – $17,905
  • SX – $20,905

Destination charge: $850

Kia’s Rio5 hatchback is a likely choice for budget buyers – it checks in under $16K and offers value throughout its range.

The base LX has standard four-wheel disc brakes and a cargo cover – the latter is nice to have, especially considering that Honda makes you order one through the dealer, it’s not a factory option. The Rio5 follows the sedan Rio by restricting premium items like 17-inch wheels and a power sunroof to the top SX trim.

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See Kia Soul Models

kia_soul_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • Base – $15,800
  • + – $19,300
  • ! – $21,200

Destination charge: $850

The Kia Soul is easy to recommend; it’s versatile and well-built, and it ain’t bad to drive.

The Soul is also quite affordable; its sub-$16K entry price packs a lot of dollar value, with Bluetooth connectivity, four-wheel disc brakes and satellite radio. You’d step up to the + trim for fog lights, 17-inch wheels and heated outside mirrors, and the + would allow you to opt for the panoramic power sunroof and other premium items.

The ! trim earns its name partly by offering a full complement of LED lights both front and rear, for lighting that looks striking.

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See Kia Sportage Models

kia_sportage_ex_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LX FWD – $22,900
  • LX AWD – $24,490
  • EX FWD – $25,500
  • EX AWD – $27,000

Destination charge: $895

The Sportage was redone for 2017, and the updated version has styling that further sets it apart from other compact crossovers.

Entry prices remain relatively low, and for our $28K budget, you can go as high as the EX with all-wheel drive. This trim lacks the dramatic 19-inch wheels on the SX Turbo, but it comes well-equipped with push button start, driver’s window automatic up-and-down and leather seating.

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See Kia Sorento Models

kia_sorento_lx_crossover_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • L FWD – $25,100
  • LX FWD – $26,400

Destination charge: $895

The Sorento was freshened for 2016, and while our $28K budget limits us prevents us from choosing one with all-wheel drive, we do have two trims to choose from, L and LX.

Opting for either would be forgoing the features you could get at this price on a smaller compact crossover, but the Sorento L still has niceties like heated mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, and Bluetooth and satellite radio connectivity. The LX adds a USB 2.1 charger port, front seatback pockets and a rear camera.

Both the L and LX are limited to Kia’s 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, which produces a competitive 185 horsepower.

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MAZDA

See Mazda3 Models

mazda3_s_touring_4-door_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • i Sport 4-door – $17,845
  • i Sport 5-door – $18,545
  • i Touring 4-door – $20,045
  • i Touring 5-door – $20,745
  • s Touring 4-door- $24,795
  • s Touring 5-door – $25,495
  • i Grand Touring 4-door – $22,545
  • i Grand Touring 5-door – $23,245
  • s Grand Touring 4-door – $24,745
  • s Grand Touring 5-door – $25,445

Destination charge: $820

Bold statement: The Mazda3 is the single most fun-to-drive, naturally aspirated compact sedan available in America today. For $28,000, you can buy any trim you like. For our money, the s Grand Touring 5-Door with the six-speed manual transmission and 184hp four-cylinder is the hot ticket.

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See CX-3 Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • Sport FWD – $19,960
  • Sport AWD – $21,210
  • Touring FWD – $21,960
  • Touring AWD – $23,210
  • Grand Touring FWD – $24,990
  • Grand Touring AWD – $26,240

Destination charge: $880

Based as it is on the Mazda3, it should be no surprise than the CX-3 crossover is a lot more fun to drive than anything in a class typically notable for its lack of driving engagement. You have access to any trim in the CX-3’s roster with $28,000, so opt for the Grand Touring AWD and you’ll never be disappointed.

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See Mazda CX-5 Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • Sport FWD – $21,795
  • Sport AWD – $24,895
  • Touring FWD – $25,215
  • Touring AWD – $26,515

Destination charge: $795

The Mazda CX-5 provides room for up to five people, and decent fuel economy from the 184hp, non-turbocharged four-cylinder. You won’t be able to reach all the way up to the Grand Touring trim with a $28,000 budget, but the Touring AWD delivers with a navigation system, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and heated front seats.

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See MX-5 Miata Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • Sport – $24,915

Destination charge: $820

If you’re not worried about child seats and room for a Great Dane, there is no better car on earth than the MX-5 Miata. For our $28,000 budget, the MX-5 Miata Sport is your only trim choice. The sport-tuned suspension and the limited slip differential in the up-level Club is nice, but don’t be too concerned. The Sport is still a blast to drive.

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MINI

See MINI Cooper Clubman Models

mini_cooper_clubman_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • Base – $24,100
  • S – $27,650

Destination charge: $850

The Cooper Clubman continues with its split rear doors, a retro nod to MINIs of yore. The Clubman has the most expensive entry price of non-convertible MINIs, it runs $1,350 more than the four-door Countryman.

Our $28K price cap puts gives access to either the base or S Clubmans, with the S’s turbocharged four having a 55-horsepower advantage over the base Clubman’s turbo three-cylinder.

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See MINI Cooper Countryman Models

mini_cooper_s_countryman_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Base – $22,750
  • S – $26,100
  • S ALL4 – $27,850

Destination charge: $850

The Countryman is the MINI that most resembles a subcompact crossover, with its higher ride height and beefier styling.

As with most other MINIs, our $28K price cap allows for the choice of base or S trims, and the Countryman lets the all-wheel drive ALL4 trim squeak in. And as with other MINIs, the options can add up quickly – the only Countryman color MINI doesn’t charge more for is Light White.

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See MINI Cooper Hardtop Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • Base Hardtop – $20,700
  • S Hardtop – $24,100

Destination charge: $850

The Cooper Hardtop forms the basis of MINI’s other models, and it remains a subcompact with an outsized personality.

Part of the Cooper’s appeal is its vast capacity for customization, with control over accents like mirror covers and white turn signals instead of orange. But the base car comes well-equipped with rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, a toggle ignition switch – and there’s a Sport mode for a little extra spring in the Cooper’s step.

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See MINI Cooper 4-Door Hardtop Models

mini_cooper_s_4_door_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Base – $21,700
  • S – $25,100

Destination charge: $850

The MINI 4-door hardtop adds $1,000 to the 2-door’s price, so it’s $500 extra for each of those extra doors.

It’s one of three four-door MINIs, which would seem to stretch the concept of model proliferation to its limit, but the Cooper 4-door remains a most affordable way to get the MINI’s style with crossover-like practicality. In fact, there’s plenty of room below our $28K budget to add the pictured Lapisluxury Blue paint, which adds another $1,000 to this MINI’s price.

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See MINI Cooper Convertible Models

mini_cooper_convertible_2016_1

Trim levels under $28K:

  • Base – $25,960

Destination charge: $850

Other MINIs give you access to either base or more expensive S versions, but the pricier Convertible is held to the former, as its entry price is about $5K above that of the 2-door hardtop on which it is based.

As with the 2-door, the base engine is MINI’s 1.5-liter turbo engine with 134 horsepower, which is connected to a six-speed manual. The options list lets you customize your Convertible to your hearts content, including perhaps the pictured car’s $500 Caribbean Aqua paint.

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See MINI Cooper Paceman Models

mini_cooper_s_paceman_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • Base – $23,550
  • S – $26,900

Destination charge: $850

The Paceman is the two-door version of the crossover-ish Countryman, and so it’s unique in that market in offering something other than the typical four doors.

As with the Countryman, the Paceman has a modicum of standard equipment, but it can get expensive pretty quickly, starting with a $500 charge if you want one in a color other than white. The $28K cap also excludes the ALL4 all-wheel drive trim. But on the other hand, the Paceman is one of the more distinctive Cooper models, so you won’t see yourself coming and going in one.

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MITSUBISHI

See Mitsubishi Mirage Models

mitsubishi_mirage_gt_hatchback_2016_1

Trims under $28K (2017 prices):

Five-speed manual transmission:

  • ES – $12,995
  • SE – $14,795

CVT automatic transmission:

  • ES – $14,195
  • SE – $15,995
  • GT – $16,495

Destination charge: $835

Yes, the Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the cheapest cars in America, and has been open to ridicule accordingly. However, it’s also surprisingly well equipped — a lot more so than the Nissan Versa, for example — and provides new car peace of mind at a cheap used car price. Get the GT and the Rockford Fosgate audio option for the best experience and laugh at car payment that looks more like a bill for a data plan.

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See Mitsubishi I-MiEV Models

mitsubishi_i-mev_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • ES – $22,995

Destination charge: $850

Mitsubishi beat Tesla to the punch with one of the world’s first truly highway capable, mass-production electric cars. It’s cheap, basic, electric transportation that will carry you about 62 miles on a full charge, and deliver a 112 mile per gallon electric equivalent.

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See Mitsubishi Outlander Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • SE FWD – $23,995
  • SE S-AWC – $25,995
  • SEL FWD – $24,995
  • SEL S-AWC – $26,995

Destination charge: $895

The Outlander got a full makeover for the 2016 model year, and it’s a much nicer vehicle than you may have been led to believe. It’s the least expensive, seven-passenger crossover or SUV in America, and you can get into all-wheel drive and a decent level of equipment with the SEL S-AWC for under $28,000.

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See Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • ES 2.0 FWD – $19,595
  • ES 2.0 AWC – $22,195
  • ES 2.4 FWD – $21,295
  • ES 2.4 AWC – $22,695
  • SE 2.4 FWD – $22,495
  • SE 2.4 AWC – $23,895
  • SEL 2.4 FWD – $23,995
  • SEL 2.4 AWC – $25,395
  • GT 2.4 FWD – $25,995
  • GT 2.4 AWC – $27,395

Destination charge: $895

The Outlander Sport is smaller than the seven-passenger Outlander, with seating for five. With your $28,000 budget, you can select the GT 2.4 AWC and the only option available would be the $1,800 navigation package. For that kind of money, use Google Maps.

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See Mitsubishi Lancer Models

mitsubishi_lancer_gt_24_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • ES 2.0 FWD – $17,595
  • ES 2.4 AWC – $19,995
  • SE 2.4 AWC – $20,995
  • SEL 2.4 AWC – $21,995
  • GT 2.4 FWD – $22,495

Destination charge: $835

The Lancer is Mitsubishi’s entry in a crowded market of compact-to-midsize sedans dominated by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. For your money, you’re into a decent midsize car for around what you’d pay for Brand H or Brand T’s compact models. Run the table and opt for the GT 2.4 in the front-wheel drive configuration.

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NISSAN

See Nissan Altima Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • 2.5 – $22,500
  • 2.5 S – $22,900
  • 2.5 SR – $24,470
  • 2.5 SV – $25,460
  • 3.5 SR – $27,390

Destination charge: $835

2016 brings a freshly redesigned Nissan Altima, and for $28k, you can drive home in five of the six Altima trims. It even gets you into the 3.5-liter, 270hp Altima 3.5 SR, just one notch down from the Altima 3.5 SL. You’ll sacrifice leather, a sunroof, and the Bose audio system, but it still provides paddle shifters with a manual mode, and LED headlights with Signature LED Daytime Running Lights.

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See Nissan Frontier Models

nissan_frontier_crew_cab_desert_runner_2016

Trims under $28K:

Rear-wheel drive (4×2):

  • King Cab S – $18,290
  • Crew Cab S – $23,000
  • King Cab SV 4-cylinder – $22,180
  • King Cab SV V6 – $23,940
  • Crew Cab SV V6 – $24,960
  • Crew Cab SV V6 – $25,680 (long bed)
  • King Cab Desert Runner – $24,520
  • Crew Cab Desert Runner – $25,840

Four-wheel drive (4×4):

  • King Cab SV V6 – $26,640
  • Crew Cab S V6 – $26,750
  • Crew Cab SV V6 – $27,960

Destination charge: $900

While other manufacturers have been making noise with mid-sized pickups disguised as compact trucks, Nissan has soldiered on with the Frontier, the last remaining true compact pickup available in the united States. Unlike its counterparts from other truck builders, the Frontier is still an affordable truck that realizes its a “truck,” not a Camry with a bed. The King Cab SV 4×4 at $26,650 is a throwback to trucks of another era.

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See Nissan JUKE Models

nissan_juke_sl_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • S FWD – $20,250
  • S AWD – $22,100
  • SV FWD – $22,500
  • SV AWD – $24,150
  • SL FWD – $25,240
  • SL AWD – $26,940
  • NISMO FWD – $24,830
  • NISMO AWD – $27,230

Destination charge: $900

Like Austin, Texas, there’s a lot of passion around keeping the JUKE weird. It’s got distinctive looks that you won’t see in any other compact SUV in the class, and it’s also built in some performance in the NISMO trims, with bigger brakes, a throatier exhaust and genuine Recaro seats.

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See Nissan Quest Models

nissan_quest_s_2016_minivan

Trims under $28K:

  • S – $26,580

Destination charge: $900

Just one Nissan Quest limbos under the $28,000 barrier and it’s the S trim. Still, you get the world-class power of a 3.5-liter V-6, fold-flat second and third row seats, a pushbutton ignition, dual sliding rear doors and power outside mirrors.

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See Nissan NV200 Models

nissan_vv200_compact_cargo_gallery

Trims under $28K:

  • S – $20,870
  • SV – $21,760

Destination charge: $885

It’s the twin to Chevrolet’s City Express van, and it’s a nifty little rig if you’re a homeowner. We used one to haul a 1965 Vespa scooter around, and it was hands-down the easiest vehicle we’ve ever had to load that thing into, thanks to its low load floor.

Either of the two available trims gets you into a NV200 with plenty of room left for options like navigation, Bluetooth streaming, privacy glass and a rear sonar parking aid.

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See Nissan NV1500 Models

nissan_nv200_standard_roof_edition_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • S V6 – $26,740
  • SV V6 – $27,730

Destination charge: $1,095

The NV1500 is a massive, rolling billboard of a van that would be perfect if you were heading across country with a load of dirtbikes, bags of Redi-mix or an entire front yard’s worth of plantings. Six floor mounted D-rings in the floor hold your cargo secure, and another 51 reinforced cargo mounting points ensure that if you can’t tie it down in an NV1500, it must be a boa constrictor.

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See Nissan Rogue Models

nissan_rogue_sv_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

Front-wheel drive:

  • S FWD – $23,290
  • S AWD – $24,640
  • SV FWD – $24,470
  • SV AWD – $26,090

Destination charge: $900

The Nissan Rogue doesn’t get the credit it’s due. It was one of the earliest compact crossover SUVs, and it’s one of a small handful that offer the occasional space for a few passengers in the third row for an extra $940.

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See Nissan Rogue Select Models

nissan_rogue_select_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • S FWD – $20,150
  • S AWD – $21,500

Destination charge: $900

The Nissan Rogue Select is a de-contented, budget version of the previous-generation Rogue, with seating for a maximum of five. Available S trim in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations, it’s one of the least expensive ways to get into a compact utility vehicle.

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See Nissan Sentra Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • S – $16,780
  • FE+ S – $18,030
  • SV – $18,550
  • SR – $20,410
  • SL – $22,170

Destination charge: $835

Nissan offers the Sentra as what amounts to be a compact car, but thanks to its generous interior volume, it’s actually classified as a midsize car. For 2016, the Sentra gets an all-new front and rear appearance that gives it a closer family resemblance to its bigger Altima and Maxima stablemates.

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See Nissan Versa Models

The 2016 Versa Sedan utilizes Nissan's global lightweight V platform and is powered by a 1.6-liter HR16DE 4-cylinder engine rated at 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. The engine features a range of fuel efficiency enhancing technologies, including a dual injector system that allows a wider injection of fuel than a traditional single-injection system. The smaller nozzles deliver a finer spray to help achieve stable combustion.

Trims under $28K:

  • S – $11,990
  • S Plus – $14,040
  • SV – $15,580
  • SL – $17,140

Destination charge: $835

At just a hair under $12,000, the Versa is the least expensive car in America, with the manual windows and locks to prove it. Even in the entry level S trim, you’ll still have standard Bluetooth streaming and air conditioning.

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See Nissan Versa Note Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • S – $14,230
  • S Plus – $15,480
  • SV – $16,380
  • SR – $17,980
  • SL – $18,710

Destination charge: $835

It started life as the Nissan Versa Hatchback, but since, the Versa Note has gone on to become a better-equipped version of the Versa, with its own model name. Let your ordering pen get away from you, and you could equip a Versa Note loaded with 16-inch alloy wheels, a Z-inspired leather-wrapped wheel, and premium synthetic suede seat trim.

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RAM

See RAM Promaster City Models

ram_promaster_city_wagon_slt_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Tradesman Cargo Van – $23,445
  • Tradesman SLT Cargo Van – $25,070
  • Wagon – $24,445
  • Wagon SLT – $26,070

Destination charge: $995

Another of the terrific compact vans that have proven so useful over the last few years, the RAM ProMaster City earns its stripes. It hauls the mail with a 2.4-liter Tigershark Multiair four-cylinder and the only nine-speed transmission in the class, adding up to 29 miles per gallon on the highway.

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See RAM 1500 Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • Tradesman Regular Cab 4×2 6’4″ Box – $26,145

Destination charge: $1,195

You’ll work hard keeping a RAM 1500 under $28,000, so it’s fitting that your truck will end up working hard in return. The only trim available for that price is the rear-drive Tradesman, in regular cab configuration, with a 6-foot, four-inch box. Regardless, these entry-level trucks will get the job done with 305hp and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

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SMART

See Smart fortwo Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • Pure – $14,650
  • Passion – $16,140
  • Prime – $17,490
  • Proxy – $18,480

Destination charge: $750

The Smart fortwo got bigger for the 2016 model year, but don’t let that throw you; it’s still miniscule enough to squeeze sideways into a street parking spot. Here’s the secret of the Smart: It’s a blast to drive and once you’re on the move, its tiny size starts to disappear because it’s so well equipped.

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SCION

See Scion xB Models

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Trims available under $28K:

  • Base – $17,120
  • 686 Parklan Edition – $19,685

Destination charge: $795

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See Scion iA Models

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Trims available under $28K:

  • Base – $15,700

Destination charge: $795

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See Scion iM Models

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Trims available under $28K:

  • Base – $18,460

Destination charge: $795

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See Scion tC Models

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Trims available under $28K:

  • Base – $19,385
  • Release Series 10.0 – $24,340

Destination charge: $795

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See Scion FR-S Models

scion_fr-s_2016_1

Trims available under $28K:

  • Base – $25,305

Destination charge: $795

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SUBARU

See Subaru Impreza Models

subaru_impreza_20i_sport_limited_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • 2.0i 4-door – $18,295
  • 2.0i 5-door – $18,795
  • 2.0i Premium 4-door – $21,095
  • 2.0i Premium 5-door – $21,595
  • 2.0i Limited 4-door – $22,595
  • 2.0i Limited 5-door – $23,095

Destination charge: $795

The Impreza is set for a redesign for 2017, which will put it on Subaru’s new global car platform. Until then, the 2016 model offers standard all-wheel drive and a choice of a sedan or hatchback, for prices that are just a bit above comparable competitive compacts.

It’d be nice if Subaru offered its EyeSight active safety system on all Imprezas, but it’s reserved for the Limited and bundled into a $2,895 package that also brings a power moonroof and push-button start.

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See Subaru Forester Models

subaru_forester_25i_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • 2.5i – $22,395
  • 2.5i Premium – $25,295

Destination charge: $850

For 2016, the Forester continues on with its functional style. Its appeal is similar to that of the Jeep Wrangler, which also has gone through changes over the years but still has an identity that is unmistakable.

Subaru prefers that you spend a certain amount on its cars before you have access to its terrific EyeSight active safety option, and with the Forester, you’d start with the 2.5i Premium and then put down $1,295 for the package. Interestingly, you cannot order a Forester with EyeSight in the Crystal Black Silica paint shade.

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See Subaru Outback Models

subaru_outback_25i_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • 2.5i – $24,995
  • 2.5i Premium – $27,395

Destination charge: $850

Subaru’s venerable Outback is essentially a mid-sized wagon that has grown toward being a crossover. Compared to the Legacy on which it’s based, the Outback’s entry price is more than $3K higher.

As with other Subarus, the Outback’s base 2.5i trim excludes the EyeSight active safety option. EyeSight is available on the 2.5i Premium, and it’s bundled into a $1,695 package that also includes a power rear tailgate and Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

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See Subaru XV Crosstrek Models

subaru_xv_crosstrek_hybrid_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • 2.0i – $21,595
  • 2.0i Premium – $22,395
  • 2.0i Limited – $25,095
  • Hybrid – $26,395

Destination charge: $850

The XV Crosstrek is the antidote to the Forester’s rigid practicality; it blends the Impreza’s hatchback lines with aggressive accents. Our $28K ceiling keeps in the Hybrid trim for those wanting maximum MPG.

Subaru has the curious practice of bundling its active safety system EyeSight into packages with sometimes unrelated features, and on the Crosstrek, EyeSight is part of a $1,995 package that includes a seven-inch infotainment screen with Starlink telematics.

Note that EyeSight is not available on the XV Crosstrek Hybrid.

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See Subaru Legacy Models

subaru_legacy_25i_limited_2016_3

Trims under $28K:

  • 2.5i – $21,745
  • 2.5i Premium – $23,845
  • 2.5i Limited – $26,845

Destination charge: $795

The Legacy is Subaru’s entry into the competitive mid-sized sedan market, and it’s a top choice in many ways.

Like safety, where it racked up a rare Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, thanks in part to its EyeSight active safety system. To get EyeSight on a Legacy, you’d choose the 2.5i Premium trim and then specify the $1,195 package that also includes Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

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See Subaru WRX Models

subaru_wrx_2016_lapis_blue_pearl

Trims under $28K:

  • Base – $26,595

Destination charge: $795

Our $28K price cap gets the base WRX into the mix, and the field is richer for it – the WRX is lots of fun to drive, with its own characterful flavor.

Interestingly, Subaru’s EyeSight active safety system is relatively hard to get in the WRX – you’d have to choose the Limited trim and then add the $4,095 package that also includes navigation and Harmon Kardon sound, for a total price of $36,485.

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TOYOTA

see Toyota Camry Models

toyota_camry_xse_sedan_2016_1

Trims under $28K:

  • LE – $23,070
  • SE – $23,840
  • Special Edition – $25,715
  • XSE – $26,310
  • XLE – $26,310
  • Hybrid LE – $26,790
  • Hybrid SE – $27,995

Destination charge:

Few cars have as golden a reputation as the Toyota Camry; it’s widely accepted to be the go-to for reliable mid-sized transport. But the Camry is more than that: the latest redesign brought a structure that feels much tighter, and handling as a result borders on entertaining in the sporty XSE trim.

It’s nice that two trims of the Hybrid qualify for our $28K price cap, and the XLE presents as suitably upscale. It’s easy to dismiss the Camry as being too bland, but there’s plenty here for a variety of buyers to appreciate.

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See Toyota Corolla Models

toyota_corolla_le_sedan_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • L – $17,300
  • LE – $18,735
  • LE Plus – $19,135
  • LE Premium – $22,195
  • LE Eco – $19,135
  • LE Eco Plus – $19,835
  • LE Eco Premium – $22,895
  • S – $19,365
  • S Plus CVT – $20,065
  • S Plus 6MT – $21,665
  • S Premium – $23,125
  • S Special Edition – $20,635

Destination charge: $835

No more predictable images come to mind than the practical four-door that pops up with the Corolla; a long history of reliable service puts this compact sedan on just about every shopper’s list.

Distinguishing the Corolla further is its Town Car-like rear legroom measurement of 41.4 inches, which opens up room for taller teenagers or bulky car seats. Prices start low enough to rival comparable Hyundais and Fords, and the S Special Edition adds extra visual flair.

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See Toyota Prius Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • Two – $24,200
  • Two Eco – $24,700
  • Three – $26,250

Destination charge: $835

As the market’s pre-eminent hybrid, the Prius needs no introduction. What’s interesting is you can actually get quite a bit of Prius for less than $28K – the Three trim level qualifies with room to spare.

The Two is no slouch, with standard Bi-LED projector headlights, an active grille shutter and a backup camera. The Three adds navigation and premium audio, along with the availability of the $1,935 Advanced Technology Package, which includes the  “Toyota Safety Sense P” (TSS-P), an active safety package with a pre-collision system and lane departure warnings and the like.

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See Toyota Prius C Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • One – $19,560
  • Two – $20,360
  • Persona Series Special Edition – $21,355
  • Three – $21,785
  • Four – $24,495

Destination charge: $835

Going smaller within the Prius family yields the Prius c, which for $28K provides access to all its trims.

The One is notable in offering hybrid mileage for less than $20K, along with niceties like automatic climate control. The new Persona Series Special Edition adds unexpected fluorescent-green accents. Trims Three and Four offer availability of Toyota’s TSS-P active safety system in a $990 package.

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See Toyota Prius v Models

toyota_prius_v_two_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • Two – $26,675

Destination charge – $835

The Prius v continues its role as the de facto Prius wagon. Our $28K cap includes the Two trim, and the Three just misses by $60.

The Two comes with Entune connectivity, automatic climate control and a backup camera, so you could stop there and enjoy the space and efficiency the Prius v offers. But no version of the v is available with Toyota’s active safety system TSS-P. Maybe next year.

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See Toyota RAV4 Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • LE FWD – $24,350
  • LE AWD – $25,750
  • XLE FWD – $26,670
  • XLE AWD – $27,670

Destination charge: $885

Toyota’s RAV4 continues as a common choice for compact crossover buyers. Our $28K cap includes front- and all-wheel drive versions of the LE and XLE, so you have some room to move within this budget.

The move to an XLE brings alloy wheels, a 4.2-inch TFT information display, roof rails and a power liftgate. It also offers the availability of Toyota’s TSS-P active safety system – the XLE has it in its $2,460 Convenience Package, which is bundles with a cargo net tray.

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See Toyota Tacoma Models

toyota_tacoma_access_cab_4x2_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • 4×2 SR Access Cab 6AT LB – $23,300
  • 4×2 SR Double Cab 6AT – $24,130
  • 4×2 SR5 Access Cab 6AT – $25,385
  • 4×2 SR5 Access Cab V6 6AT Long Bed – $26,995
  • 4×2 SR5 Double Cab V6 6AT – $27,985
  • 4×4 SR Access Cab 5M LB – $24,825
  • 4×4 SR Access Cab 6A LB – $26,375

Destination charge: $900

Shopping for a Tacoma for less than $28K gives you a fair bit of variety, with two trim levels, two drive systems and two cab configurations available over six selections. The ceiling is hit when you try for a Double Cab in a 4×4 SR.

The SR5 brings niceties like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, tire pressure monitor with auto location and a 4.2-inch TFT information display. You’d need to specify the SR5 to have access to options like rear park assist and navigation, though both the SR and SR5 can be had with a limited-slip differential.

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See Toyota Yaris Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • 3-door L – $15,620
  • 3-door LE – $16,555
  • 5-door LE – $16,930
  • 5-door SE – $17,670

Destination charge: $825

The Yaris is Toyota’s most affordable car, but its entry price of over $15K leaves the bottom of the hatchback market to the $12,995 Mitsubishi Mirage.

Our $28K budget would leave a cool $10K left over from the top Yaris 5-door SE’s MSRP, and it trumps the LE with 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, sport upholstery fabric, rear disc brakes and a stiffer suspension.

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VOLKSWAGEN

See Volkswagen Beetle Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • 1.8T S – $19,795
  • 1.8T SE – $21,350
  • 1.8T SEL – $25,975
  • R-Line 2.0T SE – $25,995

Destination charge: $820

There are few cars that have a profile as recognizable as the Volkswagen Beetle. Successor to the New Beetle introduced in 1999, the Beetle is a well-equipped knockout of a car that turns the idea that compact cars are boring on its head. Even the R-Line comes in well under $28k, so don’t be shy.

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See Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Models

volkswagen_vw_beetle_convertible_18t_s_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • 1.8T S – $25,490
  • Denim – $25,995

Destination charge: $820

With the exception of the MX-5 Miata, there isn’t a car under $28,000 that signifies open-top motoring more than the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. If you’ve gone this far, select the Denim trim with a denim blue top, two-tone seating surfaces and those lovely Heritage Graphite wheels that resemble vintage hubcaps.

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See Volkswagen Golf Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • 1.8T TSI 2-door – $18,495
  • 1.8T S 2-door – $19,575
  • 1.8T S 4-door – $20,175
  • 1.8T S with Sunroof 4-door – $22,625
  • 1.8T SE – $25,225
  • 1.8T SEL – $27,425

Destination charge: $820

Despite its diesel woes, Volkswagen still builds a fine hatchback in the form of the Volkswagen Golf. It ranges anywhere from entry-level to surprisingly well-equipped. For the budget-minded, Volkswagen offers two two-door trims, and other four trims in four-door configuration.

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See Volkswagen Jetta Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • S – $17,680
  • S w/Technology – $18,675
  • SE – $18,995
  • SE w/Connectivity – $22,325
  • SEL – $24,465
  • SEL Premium – $27,325
  • 1.8T Sport – $20,895
  • GLI SE – $26,920

Destination charge: $820

You’ve got a lot of choices to make if you’re considering a Volkswagen Jetta. Under $28,000 there’s a wide range of cars at your disposal. The GLI SE brings the style and sport, with an available six-speed manual gearbox and a sport suspension.

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See Volkswagen Passat Models

volkswagen_vw_passat_se_2016

Trims under $28K:

  • S – $22,440
  • SE – $26,280

Destination charge: $820

The Passat delivers a lot of automobile in the sub-$28,000 category. Trims get more expensive quickly, but the $26,000 SE trim provides a sunroof, 17-inch wheels and a touchscreen media interface. The 1.8T turbocharged four has plenty of zip for a car this size, and the V-Tex seating surfaces are nearly bulletproof.

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See Volkswagen Tiguan Models

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Trims under $28K:

  • S FWD – $24,890
  • S with 4MOTION – $26,865

Destination charge: $865

Think of the Tiguan as a Golf with more interior volume and all-wheel drive. You’ll have to stay in the S trim level to stay under $28,000, but you’ve still got enough left over to order the oddly priced $1,103.60 roof-mounted cargo box.

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Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at BestRide.com.