By on June 20, 2012

Kelley Blue Book, normally not the epitome of cool, nonetheless compiled its list of the ten coolest cars under $18,000. Here is the list:

Kelley’s Cool Cars Under $18,000

1 2013 Dodge Dart
2 2012 Hyundai Veloster
3 2012 FIAT 500
4 2012 Mazda MAZDA3
5 2012 Chevrolet Sonic
6 2012 Ford Fiesta
7 2012 Honda Fit
8 2012 Kia Soul
9 2012 Scion iQ
10 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

Except for the $18,000 price ceiling, the list is not hindered by any other disquieting criteria. Kelley could follow its gut and assign coolness as Kelley pleases. The result is well balanced. Each of the Detroit 3 has its cool car, so do the main foreign brands.

Also, you can be cool and green: More than half of this year’s 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 can give you 40 mpg or greater.

But come on, a Dodge Dart super cool? Gives you shivers …

But why take Kelley’s word for it? What is your coolest car for little cash?

Your coolest car under $18,000? free polls 
Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

29 Comments on “Kelley, Keep Your Cool. TTAC Elects Its Own Super-Cool Car...”

  • avatar

    I love the Dodge Dart, but, they really lost me by not making this car a RWD/ AWD car. A RWD Dart, tuned could compete with the BRZ/FRS.

    • 0 avatar

      Another case where, if the big automakers followed enthusiast advice, they’d soon be out of business. Fiat/Chrysler needs a family compact car that makes them money. If they lose sight of that they go under.

      I certainly hope more automakers build small RWD coupes, since Mazda and Toybaru have shown the way. I hope Chrysler builds one and names it the Hillman Cricket.

      • 0 avatar

        “I certainly hope more automakers build small RWD coupes…”

        These days the overwhelming majority of automakers won’t even try rolling the dice on a small FWD coupe/3 door hatch. It’s truly a sad state of affairs.

    • 0 avatar

      I doubt they can pull that off for less than 18g

    • 0 avatar

      That’s like saying the original Dart competed with the Triumph TR-series. Today’s Dart is no different in ideals than the Dart of old- a “compact” commuter by most, with the exception of some performance trims- the technology is just different (but just as contemporary as the old Darts)

      • 0 avatar

        God, not another one…

        “How do you like that new Chevrolet Sonic?”

        “Meh. They should have made it AWD/RWD with an LS7 and sold it for less than $12 grand.”


      • 0 avatar

        The original 1960 Dodge Dart was a tarted up full-size Plymouth, first nail in the coffin for the Plymouth brand. The 1963 Dart I think you meant was a slightly upmarket compact, like the Comet and Tempest. If the new Dart can recreate that image it could be a winner, otherwise its rental car hell. Coolness factor? Not much.

  • avatar

    $ 18,000 will get you a Jetta S – with the 115-hp four that Henry Ford would have considered passé and the ghastliest interior that has ever worn a VW badge. I don’t know how much coke they were snorting, but no one in a sane and sober state of mind would consider a base-model Jetta (“Belgium on wheels”, in the immortal words of Jeremy Clarkson) even remotely cool.

    And while we’re at it, why is the Ford Focus not on that list?

    • 0 avatar

      They already did their duty to Ford’s ad department by putting the Fiesta on there. They can’t upset the balance with two Fords when they aren’t going to put the Chevy Cruze on there. And if they put either/both of those, they couldn’t fit on one from each foreign make.

      Talk about weaksauce. This is just a list of cars under $18k that includes every major manufacturer. There’s no metric involved.

    • 0 avatar

      The Focus is definitely cooler than the Fiesta, IMO at least.

  • avatar

    I went with the Fiat only becuase of the Mazda’s idiot grin and my own personal Jihad against the VW brand.

  • avatar

    Chevy Sonic??????????

    HLT,WTF? (HLT means horrid little turd, you can guess the rest.)

  • avatar

    My first reaction was that it would be difficult to find a Dodge Dart in the real world under 18,000. Then I thought about it more, and the same could be said about most of these cars.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    Why are we limited to new cars? There is a laundry list of used cars that are VASTLY cooler than these turds. The Mazda 3 is the coolest of these but with a quick check of Autotrader I was able to find a 2009 Mazdaspeed 3 for $17500 with only 49K miles.

    I was also able to find several low mileage 2011 V6 Mustangs at that price point. 305HP is ALWAYS cool!

  • avatar

    I went with the Fiat. Out of all the cars on this list, simply seeing one in person puts a grin on my face that the other cars don’t manage.

    • 0 avatar

      Me, too…I finally test-drove the Abarth last week. Sure, there are faster, bigger, blah..blah, blah cars out there. But every time I see a 500, I just smile. And the slot-car nature of the Abarth just made it more so.
      As an aside, I had a new Fiesta SES as a rental last week…pleasantly surprised. Would have loved it to be a manual tranny, as 120 HP only goes so far. But the thing did great out in the real world driving environment. Very quiet at 75 (ish!) MPH, quick enough to merge into traffic and well-composed out on the road. I’m a sucker for small European hatchs (ok…I know. Both the 500 and Fiesta are Hecho en Mexico).

  • avatar

    Note to Kelleys, Edmunds, et al: It’s NOT Mazda MAZDA3…it’s just Mazda3. One Mazda, not two.

    None of these cars are particularly cool IMO, but I’ll go with the 500, with the 3 and Veloster not far behind.

  • avatar

    The Fiesta probably gets a boost (no pun intended) because everybody looks at it and thinks of Ken Block’s Gymkhana 4 video with his WRC Fiesta

  • avatar

    The only one I would consider out of these is Mazda3. Everything else is either blah or just plain silly. I do like the Fiat but only the Abarth version. The standard 98hp one is just way too slow to have any fun in.

    Of course in real life I would much rather spend $18K on a used WRX or something similar as it’s far more car for the money.

  • avatar

    I hit the “none of the above” option and voted for the lightest new car in that price range: the Mazda2.

  • avatar

    Mazda 3 is really the only decent car up there besides the missing Ford Focus. The Dart is unproven and the Hyundai is, well a Hyundai at leat reliability wise.

  • avatar

    Veloster for under $18K…good luck on that one.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    How bout calling it: This is the best my name tag wearing job and poor credit score will let me buy list?

  • avatar

    As an ’07 Fit owner, I love the car. As far as this list goes, I’d swap for a new Mazda3.

  • avatar

    $18k? You can buy a pretty nice C5 Corvette for that, and if you get it with a stick it’ll do high 20s on the highway.

    I’ve never understood the appeal of buying a brand-new really cheap car. If money’s tight, why not buy something at least 2-3 years old? For the same money you can get something a lot nicer that’ll last just as long, or if you really want a hair shirt, well, why not get it cheaper?

    I’m sorry, all the cars listed are just nasty. Nasty is not cool.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    I voted for the Mazda 3, however the list limits the universe to new cars.

    18K used…bet in 3 years that will get me a BRZ and today?
    Well how about a a used Mustang, a vette, a Z car, or a mini if you like cute…

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • dal20402: Car dealers also rely heavily on maintenance revenue from servicing ICE cars. EV cars require far less...
  • Inside Looking Out: It all started with Dr. Spock in 1950s and went increasingly crazier ever since. And add here...
  • 05lgt: It’s not like the ICE exhaust forces any costs on other people, right? Oh. Yeah. You are full of...
  • EBFlex: Right…… Because in todays world of fake news and misinformation, anything good that happens under the...
  • mcs: “until electric vehicles offer an advantage to IC,” They do. instant toque. They’re quieter...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber