Consumer Reports highlights 6 new cars under $18,000

Frugal cars under $18,000 are appealing possibilities for 2013.

With the right brand and a good auto loan, a new car might be in reach for you this year. A recent report by Consumer Reports highlighted six frugal and very attractive new cars. Though the bare bones models of these cars were between $13,600 and $15,745, the report focused on versions of these cars customers would be likely to find and buy in dealerships. The models Consumer Reports tested were all priced below $18,000. The six cars that made the cut are the Chevrolet Sonic LT with the 1.8L engine, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent GLS, Kia Rio EX, Mazda2 Touring and Scion xD.

Handling
The Chevrolet Sonic LT with the 1.8L engine has responsive handling and a smooth ride for its class, according to Consumer Reports. Both the Honda Fit and Hyundai Accent GLS are reported to be responsive and agile, though the rides could be smoother.

Fuel Economy
The Honda Fit and Hyundai Accent GLS do well for fuel economy. A Honda Fit attained 33 miles per gallon overall for Consumer Report's manual test and 30 mpg for the automatic. The Hyundai Accent GLS returned 31 mpg overall with automatic transmission, and the stick-shift hatchback was slightly better with 32 mpg. If you've decided on a manual, the Scion xD is a very strong contender to help you save money, as it gets 34 mpg, but the automatic only gets 29 mpg. Remember, the less you pay on gas, the more funds you'll have for your monthly car loan payment.

Reliability
Of the six, the Mazda2 Touring has above-average first-year reliability. The rest have earned average ratings. According to a Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey, Scion, Mazda and Honda are at the top of the list for reliable brands, and Chevrolet improved by 14 spots since last year. All the cars are secure investments for consumers, whether they're planning to pay cash or finance their vehicle.

Safety
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic LT with the 1.8L engine has a nearly perfect rating. The Hyundai Accent GLS and the Kia Rio are both above average. 

Comfort
For a small, frugal car, getting enough leg space can be a problem. The Honda Fit, however, has a spacious amount of interior room. While the driving position is a bit awkward on the Scion xD, the front and back are both roomy enough. The Mazda2 Touring also gives you enough space to sit comfortably in the backseat.

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