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Incredibly Fun Vehicles for $30K or Less

6 minute read

By Hayley Harrison

Key Takeaways

  • Cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers that are fun to drive are available for $30,000 or less.
  • Handling, power, appearance and infotainment systems are key considerations when shopping for a fun car.
  • Shopping online and in-person at the end of the month at dealerships outside of major cities can lead to significant savings.

If you love to picture yourself zipping down the highway in a convertible or traveling off the beaten path in a rugged SUV, price doesn’t have to prevent you from making your dream a reality. Plenty of fun cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers are available for $30,000 or less, and you can save even more by following some simple tips.

2023 Volkswagen Jetta

Climbing into the roomy cockpit of the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta feels like boarding a rocket ship. The VW Digital Cockpit Pro replaces the usual dials and gauges with a high-resolution digital display that maps your journey while performing all the other expected functions, such as tracking your speed and fuel.

Its infotainment system delivers multiple connectivity options, and you can upgrade to BeatsAudio speakers for an out-of-this-world audio experience. Since the starting price for the car is only $20,415, you can customize your vehicle with these and other fun extras you may have to forego in a more expensive vehicle without going over budget.

Source: Volkswagen

2023 Honda Civic Si

The 2023 Honda Civic Si is a highly affordable sports sedan, available for a low starting price of $28,100. Its manual transmission shifts quickly to meet your demands for acceleration, and the front-wheel drive gives you the grip you need to take those tight turns with confidence.

Despite its accessible price point, the Civic Si is packed with more features than many more expensive competitors. Features such as the 12-speaker Bose audio system, mesh honeycomb-lined dash, panoramic windshield and one-touch power moonroof are all standard for this model year.

Source: Honda

2023 Chevrolet Camaro

Since 1966, the Chevrolet Camaro has been synonymous with a fun, sporty driving experience, and the latest model year continues this tradition. Whether you choose the coupe or the convertible, you’ll get the powerful performance of a standard 2.0-liter Turbo engine, with 275 horsepower and 295 pounds per foot of torque.

This engine gives the 2023 Chevy Camaro the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 to 5.5 seconds. The infotainment system lets you connect in multiple ways and can be upgraded with a wireless charging station and a mobile hotspot for a little more than the starting price of $26,100.

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2023 Kia Forte GT Manual

With an unbelievably low starting price of $19,490, the 2023 Kia Forte GT Manual is a great option for anyone who wants to add some upgrades without spending a fortune to get a car built to their specifications. The 1.6-liter, 201-horsepower turbocharged engine with a sport-tuned exhaust system and multi-link rear suspension work together to satisfy your need for speed while still treating you to a smooth, comfortable ride.

Despite its fun performance, the compact car can appeal to your practical side as well with its ten year/100,000-mile limited warranty and recognition as the “Highest in Initial Quality Compact Car” by JD Power.

Source: Kia

2023 Jeep Renegade

If your idea of fun is exploring new spaces, the 2023 Jeep Renegade, starting at $29,745, may be the ideal vehicle for you. Despite its small status, the SUV offers plenty of room for those lengthy journeys into the great outdoors, and a spacious cargo area, along with cleverly positioned in-cabin storage areas, give every passenger a place to put their gear.

The turbocharged 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine has plenty of power for driving the highways or back roads. The all-wheel drive option ensures you’re ready for rugged conditions and allows the mini SUV to tow up to 2,000 pounds.

Source: Jeep

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

Available for a low starting price of $26,430, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE is proof that an affordable hatchback compact can have style to spare. The sharp, futuristic front and rear punctuate the vehicle’s otherwise sleek lines, giving the vehicle the appearance of a sports car of tomorrow. Dynamic Shift CVT enhances the performance of the 169-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, which is not as zippy as some competitors but able to give the model an impressive 35 mpg combined fuel efficiency.

The spacious hatchback works well as a fun family vehicle and protects your precious cargo with IIHS award-winning standard features such as forward collision warning, lane keeping assistance, automated emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Source: Toyota

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

With the 2023 edition yet to be announced, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a fun mini truck that you may be able to pick up for a deeply discounted price. However, even at the manufacturer’s suggested starting price of $24,440, this vehicle is a steal. Its 191-horsepower GDI-MPI 4-cylinder engine delivers ample power, and the steering system gives you plenty of agility.

Features such as a waterproof, lockable storage area in the bed and an impressive 5,000-pound towing capacity ensure the truck is ready for adventures, and the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Audio and Apple CarPlay lets you set the ride to your preferred soundtrack.

Source: Hyundai

2022 Fiat 500X

As of October 2022, Fiat is still being tight-lipped about the features of their 2023 model line, but you don’t need to wait for the big unveiling to get a fun vehicle from the Italian automaker. The 2022 Fiat 500X is sure to impress with its playful retro design and accessible starting price of $27,965.

For the base price, you get the power of a turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 177 horsepower and reliable, zippy handling made possible by all-wheel drive. Inside the crossover, you’ll find a luxurious cabin made of high-quality materials and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system you can upgrade to a Beats audio system.

Source: Fiat

2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata

When it passes by on the city streets or highway, you can easily mistake the 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata for a high-end sports car. Although it starts at $27,650, the convertible packs all the visual appeal of aspirational models, and it strives to rival their performance, with a SKYACTIV 16-valve four-cylinder engine rated at 181 horsepower.

Nearly perfect 50-50 weight distribution allows for highly responsive handling, enhanced by the easy-to-use, six-speed manual transmission. Don’t worry if you can’t drive a stick, Mazda also offers the model as an optional automatic.

Source: Mazda

2023 Ford Mustang

The 2023 Ford Mustang builds on the heritage of its sporty predecessors and remains affordable with its starting price of $27,770. With the latest version of the famed sports car that has been a top seller for more than 55 years, Ford offers multiple engine options to suit every need.

For the green-minded, the range even includes a high-performance 330-horsepower EcoBoost engine that gets up to 32 mpg on the highway. Although its speedy performance is tons of fun, the vehicle can easily function as an everyday car, thanks to its large cargo area and comfortable cockpit.

Source: Ford

2023 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door

The 2023 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door is all about enjoying the ride, and with its starting price of $28,600, you can afford to. For the 2023 edition of the vehicle first unveiled in 1969, Mini has added a ton of playful new details from tail lights that look like the UK’s Union Jack flag and unique diamond-textured grilles to an ombré-effect contrasting roof.

Ambient lighting gives the interior a cool futuristic glow, and the high-gloss, 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system has a highly intuitive design, so you can make calls, get directions and skip songs with ease.

Source: MINI

Tips for Getting Great Deals on Fun Vehicles

To score the best deal on any of the above vehicles, follow these tips:

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Hayley Harrison

Contributor

Hayley Harrison is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh, she changed gears and pursued a career in banking. In 2002, she began producing financial literacy articles, and eventually moved to writing full-time on a wide variety of subjects.

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