Just because a car is frugal, practical, and daresay cheap, should not disqualify it from being considered a future classic. As a matter of fact, many iconic cars are mass-produced models that have stayed on the road beyond their typical automotive shelf life. Below are a selection of economy cars with the potential to become classics in the years to come. All lacking impressive horsepower figures and equipped with 1.5L engines or less; there are other things going for these rides, whether it is through design, functionality, or even plain frugality. If anything else, all vehicles below can be equipped with a manual transmission — a feature desired by enthusiasts and shared by economy and sports cars alike.
The Honda CR-Z is a hybrid/compact 2-door sports coupe sold from 2010-2016. It is the third hybrid model produced by the Japanese brand, next to the Insight and Civic Hybrid. It was intended to be a successor to Honda’s CR-X produced from 1987-1991, which has earned a cult following of its own in recent years. Powered by a 1.5L VTEC engine supplemented with a 14 hp electric motor, the total output of the Honda CR-Z is 130 horsepower. Equipped with a manual transmission as standard, the CR-Z has a 0-60 time of 9.1 seconds. While that time isn’t particularly quick, it’s hard to argue with the CR-Z’s fuel economy, which returns 41/49 mpg city/highway. Take into consideration the light, communicable chassis as well as the sporty styling, and the CR-Z is a viable option for the environmentally friendly looking for something a little more sporty than the all-too-common Toyota Prius. Find a Honda CR-Z for sale
Amongst the bad news of 2020, Honda announcing the discontinuation of the Fit for the United States for 2021 was just another piece. Practical and efficient, the Honda Fit boasts 40 mpg on the highway and hauls up to 52.3 ft³ of cargo with the rear seats folded. Powered by a 1.5L four-cylinder engine producing 130 hp, it swaps speed for practicality in a nicely put together package. Despite being recently discontinued, new models can still be had from dealer lots, and a new-for-2020 refresh is available abroad, where it is known as the Honda Jazz. Find a Honda Fit for sale
Built from 1998-2019, the Nissan Cube made its way to the U.S. for its third generation in 2009. With funky, asymmetrical styling, the Nissan Cube was low-cost but quite roomy and efficient with tons of functionality. Typically, low-cost and style rarely go hand-in-hand, but surprisingly works quite well for the Cube. Although speed was not the Cube’s forte, its 58.1 ft³ payload capacity is impressive in its own right, and its 27/31 mpg fuel economy is better than most. Lasting for just five years in the U.S. until 2014, the Nissan Cube continued to be manufactured and sold until 2019 in Japan. Find a Nissan Cube for sale
In a bid to appeal to the younger car buying audience of the early 2000s, Toyota sold vehicles through the Scion sub-brand from 2003-2016. Centered around small, efficient and stylish automobiles, the Scion Xb was one of their standout models. Based around the toaster-on-wheels format seen on competitors Nissan Cube and Honda Element, the Scion Xb is known for its unique styling, and interior with its rear-seats folded, offers nearly 70 ft³ of cargo capacity. Another unique feature of the Scion Xb is the unorthodox speedometer and gauge cluster placement on the center of the dashboard. With nothing but dash material right behind the steering wheel, it is a certainly unique design that stands out from the rest. Find a Scion xB for sale
While Mazda still produces and sells the Mazda2 globally, we saw it in the United States for only four years from 2011-2014. Powered by a 1.5L four-cylinder engine producing just 100 horsepower, the Mazda2 is efficient, returning fuel economy of 29/35 mpg city/highway. Hailed at the time for its responsive driving dynamics and sub-$15k price tag, it was felled by competition from other 5-door hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, or upmarket Mini Cooper. Despite being sold for a short time as a hatchback, the sedan version continued on in the U.S., rebadged as the Scion iA, and later Toyota Yaris iA. Find a Mazda Mazda2 for sale