If you've got a $15,000 spending limit for your next new car purchase, don't worry. There are plenty of good cars available in this price bracket. Choose wisely and chances are you'll end up with a car that meets your day-to-day needs while also providing a comfortable, even enjoyable driving experience. Here are our top picks for 2005.
1. Chrysler PT Cruiser, $13,995.
Even after five years on the market, it still has one-of-a-kind looks and a roomy interior that can easily accommodate a family of four or five.
2. Ford Focus, $13,860.
Available as a two- or four-door hatchback, sedan or wagon, the Focus combines a comfy, user-friendly interior with a smooth ride and nimble handling.
3. Honda Civic, $13,675.
This may be the last year of the current generation, but the Civic remains the most refined economy car on the market. It leads the class in fuel economy as well.
4. Hyundai Elantra, $13,844.
Similar in personality to the Civic, the solidly built Elantra is a good bet for those who like getting a lot for a little. Just about everything you need comes standard.
5. Kia Spectra, $13,160.
Mechanically similar to the Elantra, the Spectra offers sportier styling and standard side curtain airbags. And like the Hyundai, it's available as a sedan or four-door hatchback (Spectra5).
6. Mazda 3, $14,225.
Economy cars aren't supposed to be fun, are they? Evidently, someone forgot to tell Mazda. This car is both entertaining to drive and seriously stylish inside and out.
7. Scion xA, $12,995.
Unapologetically cute on the outside, the xA is plenty roomy on the inside. It's also well equipped and assembled with care. Add in a fair amount of spunk, and the xA does indeed seem like a bargain.
8. Scion xB, $14,195.
Literally the edgiest Scion of them all, the xB resembles a small delivery truck. On the inside, there's more space than you ever thought possible in an economy car.
9. Suzuki Forenza wagon, $13,994.
Loaded with standard features and unexpected conveniences, the Forenza has all the ingredients of a pleasant commuter car and enough cargo space for weekend projects. (If you want a sportier look, try the mechanically identical Reno hatchback.)
10. Toyota Matrix, $14,670.
Essentially a Corolla wagon, the Matrix offers a sportier look, a durable cargo hold with numerous adjustable tie-down points and a backseat that can comfortably accommodate adults.