Consumer Reports Best New Cars Under $30,000 - Subarus Included

Consumer Reports: Top performers that cost less than the average new car

Cars are becoming increasingly expensive to buy and own, with the average price for a new vehicle hovering around $36,000. The good news is that there are top-performing cars available for less than $30,000—the amount for the average new-car loan, according to Experian.

To assist bargain hunters, we have assembled the best new cars and SUVs under $30,000, based on their Overall Score, factoring road test performance, owner satisfaction, predicted reliability, and safety. Every model listed here meets the stringent requirements to be recommended by Consumer Reports. The very best model in each category is spotlighted, with others listed in alphabetical order.

In one case, Wagons, there is just a single model from a category that met these tough qualifications.

Best Sporty Car: Subaru BRZ

 

Developed with Toyota, Subaru's rear-wheeldrive sports car features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with a choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Handling is super-responsive, with cornering precision that makes the BRZ fun to drive. The car turns in promptly, with almost no body lean. The steering is quick and well-weighted. At its limits, the BRZ is slightly more forgiving than the similar Toyota 86 because the BRZ is less prone to sliding its tail during spirited driving. The ride is also a bit more jittery than in the 86. The cabin is relatively plain, with well-bolstered sport seats. Everything needed for enthusiastic driving is in easy reach, with a perfectly placed steering wheel, pedals, and shifter. The cabin is snug, but there is good space for the driver. But the ride and elevated noise can be taxing.

Best Wagon: Subaru Outback
 

An SUV alternative, the Outback is roomy and functional, and appeals to the practical-minded buyer. It rides very comfortably, with secure handling and standard AWD. The 2.5-liter fourcylinder returns 24 mpg overall and drives through a standard continuously variable transmission. A stronger and thirstier 3.6-liter six-cylinder transforms the car, making it quicker and quieter. The controls are easy-to-use, including the touch-screen infotainment system. The wagon's generous rear seat is spacious enough for three adults. The generous cargo area is comparable to an SUV's, with a lower loading height to boot. The optional EyeSight safety suite adds automatic emergency braking. For 2018 the Outback is less jumpy when accelerating from a stop, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are standard.

Best Subcompact SUV: Subaru Crosstrek

 

The Crosstrek is an appealing option for buyers who don't need the room of a compact SUV. It has better fuel economy, improved ride comfort, and reduced cabin noise compared with the previous generation. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission. This combination gets the job done, but it won't set your heart on fire. But its 29 mpg overall is quite frugal for an AWD vehicle. The Crosstrek has secure handling, though it isn't sporty to drive. The infotainment system is capable and user-friendly. Subaru's optional EyeSight driver-assist system includes automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning with lanekeeping assist. Other available safety features include blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

 

Best Compact SUV: Subaru Forester

 

 Hitting the sweet spot among small SUVs, the Forester delivers a spacious interior, impressive safety equipment and crashworthiness, and outstanding visibility in a right-sized, affordable package. Fuel economy is excellent at 26 mpg overall, especially given the standard AWD. The ride is supple, and handling is very secure. Engine noise is pronounced when merging or climbing hills, however. Controls are straightforward and easy to use. The infotainment and connectivity systems have finally been updated with an intuitive touch screen. Midtrim Foresters bring a lot of content for the money, but it's easy to crest $30,000 with option packages. A feisty turbo comes with XT trim but compromises the value equation. The optional EyeSight system includes forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

 


Categories: New Inventory
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