Before we get to this list of “best cheap cars”, I feel like you might be wondering about that headline. Why $22,515? I chose that number because the average price of a new car in 2021 has crept past $45,000 for the first time — $45,301, to be exact — and half of that is … well, you get the idea.
As for the list, I’ll try to answer it the same way you’d probably answer your friends if they asked you for help picking a new car: With a question of my own.
“What do you plan on using it for?”
It looks like the makers of three-wheelers are trying hard to get the attention of car and light-truck consumers.
Last month, at the Chicago Auto Show, Polaris had a couple of trikes on display. Immediately adjacent to the Slingshot display, Campagna was showing its T-Rex and newly introduced Harley-Davidson-powered VR13R. The Polaris starts at just under $20,000 and the T-Rex is about three times that price.
Interestingly, the New York International Auto Show, often chosen by high-priced car manufacturers for reveals, also featured two reverse trikes, but at the lower end of the price spectrum: the electric Arcimoto SRK (target price of $11,000) and the gasoline powered Elio (targeted at $6,800).
I guess I cover the reverse trike beat here at TTAC.
It started with a post about a Chinese death trap three-wheeler I’d seen advertised. In the comments to that post, one of our readers suggested looking into the Elio project. We’ve done that a few times since then, including an exclusive review of one of their prototypes. Because of our coverage of Elio Motors, a group of Elio deposit holders who have become disenchanted by continued production delays asked us to consider their charges. While it’s true that I’m in what may be a minority of automotive writers that don’t think Elio is a scam, I’m not naive. There are ample reasons for skepticism and we take the word truth in our title seriously, so Mark Stevenson and I looked into the critics’ complaints and we both decided they were adding nothing new to issues raised by Elio’s critics before.
However, I do keep tabs on their Facebook group, which is how I found out about Arcimoto, a Eugene, Oregon company that hopes to put their highway capable electric reverse trike in production by the end of next year with a starting price of $11,900.