10 Cheap Cars

The Most Frugal Cars Americans Love

[An Auto Insider Special Report]

by Peter Levy

Phoenix may be known for its sweltering summers and some of the nation’s best Mexican food, and now it can add another superlative to that list: home to America’s cheapest cars.

That’s what Carjojo discovered when we examined sales of 2017’s ten cheapest new cars, as G.E. Miller laid out in his blog, 20 Something Finance, here (G.E.’s list is here on the right, too). We calculated total sales of those cars for one year, May 2016 to May 2017, in each of the twenty largest metro areas in the U.S.

Cheap Car Sales Sold In Each Region

Phoenix Likes Cheap Cars More Than Other Big Cities

Turns out, Phoenicians buy cheap cars at more than twice the rate of people in the average American big city. The ten cheap cars in our study accounted for 3.6% of all vehicles sold in the Phoenix area. This is not a huge number. However, those cheap cars make up only 1.7% of all vehicle sales in the twenty biggest metros combined.

Phoenix Is Not The Only Cheap City

Other than Phoenix, cities with car buyers that mind their wallets when they buy their vehicles are San Diego, Chicago, Tampa, and St. Louis, each of which outpaces the average big-city cheap-car sales rate by fifty percent or more.

Where Are Cheap Cars Falling Flat?

Look first to Motor City itself. The pace of cheap- car sales in Detroit was about one-third the national average (a scant .4% of all car sales). Other cities that reject penny-pinching rides are Boston, New York City, and Minneapolis. The ten cheap cars we looked at sell at about half the average big-city rate in each of those places.

Some places with high cheap-car sale rates — Phoenix, San Diego, Tampa — have residents with relatively low incomes, so that’s one explanation. The reverse is true, too. People in New York, Boston, and Minneapolis earn more and buy fewer cheap cars. And many of those high-income cities actually have pretty low car-ownership rates overall, likely because it costs so much to own a car there, so people can afford to spring for cars apparently invest more to buy one.

Peter Levy, Carjojo Founder and President..

We didn’t study other reasons why the sales rate would vary so widely between different cities, but the reasons could include the availability of used vehicles, the places manufacturers prefer to “send” their entry-level cars, the price of gasoline, and even the weather (the six cities with the poorest sales of cheap cars are cold-weather cities — and cheap cars don’t have all-wheel-drive).

Penny Pinchers Love The Nissan Versa

When it comes to penny-pinching, people across the country turn first to the Nissan Versa for their choice in cheap cars.

When it comes to penny-pinching, people across the country turn first to the Nissan Versa. It’s the top-selling car studied, accounting for twenty-six percent all cheap car sales in all twenty metros combined. (Check Carjojo for the lowest price in your area.)

Peter Levy, Carjojo Founder and President..

American new-car buyers aren’t enamored with cheap compact cars. They like SUVs and pick-ups that cost more. The Versa’s been a small success, attracting more cost-conscious buyers than some of the other vehicles whose main selling point is the price.
Cheap Car Sales Total By Region

Cars In The Study

Model MSRP**
Chevy Sonic $17,270
Toyota Yaris $16,865
Hyundai Accent $16,580
Kia Rio $16,245
Fiat 500 $15,990
Ford Fiesta $15,630
Smart Coupe $15,400
Mitsubishi Mirage $15,030
Chevy Spark $14,975
Nissan Versa $14,545

**MSRP as of January 2017

Total Sales In The Cities Studied (May 2016 - May 2017)

Metro TOTAL SALES – CHEAP CARS TOTAL SALES – ALL VEHICLES Percent of total vehicle sales that are cheap cars
Phoenix 6,328 177,398 3.6%
San Diego 3,025 90,387 3.3%
Chicago 6,201 221,784 2.8%
Tampa 3,835 147,156 2.6%
St. Louis 2,845 112,578 2.5%
Riverside 5,193 220,630 2.4%
Seattle 2,724 116,139 2.3%
Atlanta 4,149 186,365 2.2%
Los Angeles 10,312 470,825 2.2%
San Francisco 2,347 108,700 2.2%
Dallas 4,825 243,621 2.0%
Washington DC 4,639 263,164 1.8%
Houston 4,486 255,938 1.8%
Miami 2,820 201,836 1.4%
Denver 1,759 138,538 1.3%
Philadelphia 2,951 234,945 1.3%
Minneapolis 1,334 141,970 0.9%
New York 3,901 562,288 0.7%
Boston 1,038 185,263 0.6%
Detroit 1,106 273,192 0.4%
TOTAL 75,818 4,352,717 1.7%

Total Sales Of Cheap Cars In All Twenty Metros (May 2016 - May 2017):

Chevy Sonic and Spark 14956 19.7%
Fiat 500 7299 9.6%
Ford Fiesta 8084 10.7%
Hyundai Accent 8547 11.3%
Kia Rio 3642 4.8%
Mitsubishi Mirage 4623 6.1%
Nissan Versa 20743 27.4%
Smart Coupe 1325 1.7%
Toyota Yaris 6599 8.7%
TOTAL 75,818

About The Auto Insider Report

The Auto Insider Report is Carjojo’s monthly analysis and insight into the current state of the automotive industry. Each mini report takes a deeper look at a specific brand or related topic.

We analyze hundreds of millions of data points daily on nearly 100% of new cars on dealers’ lots — over 4 million vehicles (and growing) — across nearly all makes and models. This level of real-time market intelligence is unprecedented in our industry, and unique to Carjojo’s proprietary technology.  The aim of our report is to highlight key industry trends, including sales, inventory, bloat, and more, days or even weeks before any other report is made public.

If you have any questions or comments to our report, please feel free to contact us at hello@carjojo.com.

Thank you and enjoy.

-Carjojo Team


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