There’s no need to spend vast sums of money to get a safe new car. Even at less than $20,000, plenty of choices exist for buyers on a budget who still want a solidly built car. While drivers concerned about safety should also consider NHTSA crash test ratings, what follows is a list of the 10 least expensive Top Safety Picks for 2011 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
2011 Ford Fiesta – $13,995
The Ford Fiesta is offered as a sedan and five-door hatchback. Both models are certified as Top Safety Picks for 2011, meaning the cars get Good ratings in the four crash tests and offer stability control. The Fiesta is Ford’s boldly styled subcompact entry.
2011 Kia Soul – $13,995
In a tie with the Ford Fiesta, the Kia Soul five-door hatchback is one of the least expensive cars available that still manages to qualify as a Top Safety Pick for 2011. Spend enough money on a Soul and you can get speakers that light up and pulse to the music.
2011 Nissan Cube – $15,500
A direct competitor to the Kia Soul and Scion xB, both vehicles on this list, the Cube is a small five-door hatchback that targets a young audience. Along with the Versa sedan and hatchback, the Cube is one of the cheapest vehicles Nissan offers in the U.S.
2011 Kia Forte four-door – $15,690
The IIHS has deemed only the four-door Kia Forte sedan a Top Safety Pick for 2011; a compact coupe and five-door hatchback are also available. In the compact segment, the 2011 Kia Forte is one of the least expensive sedans available.
2011 Hyundai Elantra – $15,695
Hyundai’s Elantra sedan set the compact segment on fire when it arrived for the 2011 model year. While the Elantra has lots going for it, surely a Top Safety Pick designation isn’t hurting sales.
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer – $16,090
The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer has attitude. The compact sedan’s front grille is unmistakable. If you want a Lancer that’s a Top Safety Pick, stick with the front-wheel-drive models.
2011 Mazda3 – $16,595
The Mazda3 sedan and five-door hatchback remains one of the most fun-to-drive cars you can buy under $20,000.
2011 Honda Civic four-door – $16,575
The 2011 and 2012 Honda Civic four-door sedan are considered Top Safety Picks. For the 2011 model year, all Civic sedans qualify except for the performance-oriented Si model—something that’s been fixed for the 2012 Honda.
2011 Toyota Corolla – $16,660
For commuters who simply want a dependable and cheap-to-run small car, the Corolla is a good bet. Toyota’s Prius hybrid, which is priced in the mid-$20,000 range, is also a Top Safety Pick for 2011.
2011 Scion xB – $16,720
The Scion xB is the Toyota brand’s boxy five-door hatchback. Now in its second generation, the xB is a Top Safety Pick for 2011 like the Scion tC coupe. Would you consider driving any of the vehicles above or would you simply go for a bigger used car?