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6 Great Used Subcompact Cars Under $15,000

Don’t be fooled by the name, subcompact cars probably aren’t as small as you think. As vehicles tend to grow with every new redesign, the subcompacts of today are on par with many the compact cars offered 10 or 15 years ago. Additionally, many come in convenient hatchback body styles, which allow for SUV-like practicality while still maintaining car-like efficiency. No matter how you look at it, subcompacts offer great value in today’s SUV-crazed car market. On top of that, you’ll likely be surprised by the content you can afford with a used subcompact, and features like sunroofs, Apple CarPlay and heated seats, are all on the table. Here we’ve outlined six of our favorite used subcompacts that you can pick up for around $15,000.

2014-2018 Honda Fit

2014-2018 Honda Fit

The Honda Fit is one of the best subcompact cars on the market. Not only is it practical, thanks to its convenient hatchback design, but the Fit also offers an engaging driving experience and a surprisingly nice interior. Power comes from an economical 1.5-liter 4-cylinder putting out 130 horsepower and mated to either a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a 6-speed manual for those wanting to row their own gears. The Fit returns good fuel economy, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates at 29 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. With a starting price of under $18,000, buyers can easily find a gently used Fit for under $15,000. There are currently just over 1,050 2014-2018 Honda Fits listed on Autotrader for $15,000 or less. Most come with the automatic CVT, but buyers interested in the 6-speed manual still have over 100 $15,000 third-generation Fits to choose from. If you’re looking for some creature comforts like a sunroof, and in later models, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, look for an EX or EX-L model. Find a Honda Fit for sale

2014-2018 Ford Fiesta Hatchback

2014-2018 Ford Fiesta Hatchback

While simple and a little dated, the Fiesta is a competent subcompact car with proven reliability and a few fun variants. It’s offered in both sedan and hatchback form, but we recommend the hatchback, as it offers more usable cargo space, not to mention the wide opening of the rear hatch which comes in handy when loading large items. Our favorite Fiesta is the sporty ST model, which gets a 180 hp turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with a smooth-shifting 6-speed manual transmission. The ST also comes with a body kit and unique wheels, a sport suspension and Recaro seats. Reviewers praise the ST for its spry handling and quick acceleration, and thanks to depreciation, it’s currently possible to pick up a gently used example for a song. There’s also an ST-Line trim, which offers all of the ST’s appearance bits, but without the performance credentials. Regardless of which trim level you land on, buyers browsing for a used Fiesta at the $15,000 mark should expect to find a relatively new hatchback model with low miles and a good array of optional extras like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which were offered on 2017-and-newer models. Right now on Autotrader there are over 1,000 used Fiesta hatchbacks listed for under $15,000. If you’re into the idea of a sporty car with a manual transmission, over 100 of these are the ST model. Find a Ford Fiesta Hatchback for sale

2017-2018 Kia Soul

2017-2018 Kia Soul

With its boxy proportions and in-your-face design, the Kia Soul is designed to stand out in a crowd of otherwise conservative small cars. Offered from 2014 through 2018, the second-generation Soul had a very low starting price of around $16,000, and thus it’s easy to find nicely equipped used examples for around $15,000. As the Soul was updated for 2017, we recommend focusing your search around 2017 and 2018 models. Worth mentioning are the Soul’s unconventional trim levels. While the base model is simply referred to as, well, Base, the middle and top trims are known as the “+,” or “Plus,” and “!,” or “Exclaim,” respectively. The Soul was offered with a few different 4-cylinder engines. The base model makes 130 hp, the “+” makes 161, and starting with the 2017 model year, the “!” came with a 1.6-liter turbo putting out a healthy 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, making for a spirited ride. While you won’t find many 2017-or-newer Soul “!” models for under $15,000 — there are currently only three listed — any Soul will offer good value, thanks largely to its spacious interior which offers cargo volume on par with that of many small SUVs. Right now on Autotrader, buyers have over 1,000 2017 and 2018 Souls to choose from. Find a Kia Soul for sale

2015-2018 Jeep Renegade

2015-2018 Jeep Renegade

The Renegade is a cross between a subcompact car and an SUV, and when spec’d in Trailhawk trim, offers a surprising degree of off-road capability. Built in Italy on a front-wheel drive (FWD) car platform shared with Fiat, the Renegade isn’t what you’d call a conventional Jeep. That said, Jeep has gone to great lengths to inject some classic off-road DNA into the Renegade, giving it fun features like round headlights, a contrasting black roof and utilitarian-looking taillights. There’s even an optional My Sky roof, which comes with removable panels to reveal dual sunroofs overhead, in a tribute to the open-air experience offered by the iconic Wrangler. Additionally, like the rest of the Jeep SUV lineup, the Renegade is offered in a fun Trailhawk trim, which comes with all-terrain tires, a slight suspension lift and a few off-road settings for its all-wheel drive (AWD) system, making it great for both city life and for tackling a mild off-road trail to get to a remote campsite. In this sense, the Renegade is one of the more unique subcompact vehicles on sale today, and buyers can currently find around 900 listed on Autotrader for under $15,000. Close to 300 offer AWD, while around 20 are the Trailhawk model. Find a Jeep Renegade for sale

2017-2019 Chevrolet Sonic Hatch

2017-2019 Chevrolet Sonic Hatch

While the Sonic is available in both sedan and hatchback form, perhaps predictably by now, we recommend the hatchback. In addition to its inherent practicality, Chevrolet has injected the Hatch with some fun performance traits not present on the sedan. These include a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission, along with sharp handling characteristics and a sporty body kit. Buyers looking for an affordable car with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will love the Sonic Hatch, as every 2017-and-newer model comes standard with a 7-in infotainment screen offering compatibility with both. To round things out, the Sonic Hatch comes with alloy wheels and can be had in a variety of expressive colors like Kinetic Blue Metallic, Orange Burst Metallic or a positively bright, highlighter yellow called “Shock.” The Sonic Hatch is a good value, and there are currently over 150 2017-or-newer examples listed on Autotrader for around $15,000 or less, all of which will come standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Find a Chevrolet Sonic Hatch for sale

2016-2018 Scion iA

2016-2018 Scion iA/Toyota Yaris iA

When it debuted for the 2016 model year, the iA was originally offered under Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion line of small cars. When Toyota discontinued Scion after 2016, the company opted to convert the iA into a Toyota, lumping it in with its own Yaris line where it became the “Yaris iA.” As if things weren’t already confusing enough, regardless of whether it wears a Scion or Toyota badge, underneath it all, the iA is really a Mazda product, and is sold elsewhere in the world as the Mazda2. While a bit convoluted, we view this as a good thing overall, as Mazda is known for offering great interiors with good materials and fit-and-finish throughout, and Mazda’s DNA is all over the inside of the iA. Offered only as a sedan, the iA uses a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making a humble 106 hp and paired with either a manual or automatic transmission, either of which comes with six gears. There are currently over 400 Scion and Toyota Yaris iAs to choose from on Autotrader for around $15,000 or less.  Find a Scion iA for sale or Find a Toyota Yaris iA for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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