10 Small Cars for 2024: Affordable & Reliable Picks - SUV VEHICLE

10 Small Cars for 2024: Affordable & Reliable Picks


Small affordable cars are becoming harder and harder to find. Every year, cars under $25,000 become rarer and rarer. There are still a few choices on the market for those who just need something to move them from A to B without any fuss, though.




Whether you’re happy with a cheerful hatchback or you like the added trunk space of a compact sedan, there are still a few solid options on the market that can give you some go for your cash. If you’re on a budget, though, you’re going to want to know just which of these new small cars is going to last you the longest without you having to shell out tons on maintenance.

We have collected data on every small new car for sale in 2024 and ranked them from least to most reliable. We break down their costs in terms of yearly maintenance and the amount that you’ll likely spend over the car’s entire lifetime. At the end of this list, you’ll be more than equipped to choose the best-value small car.

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In compiling this article, we have cross-referenced information about vehicle reliability, maintenance, and pricing from sources like J.D. Power, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, RepairPal, CarEdge, and Consumer Reports to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible. Please note that we have ranked the following models based on most reliable to least reliable. Unless specifically stated, reliability scores are derived from J.D. Powers reports.



10 2024 Nissan Sentra

Reliability Score: 42/100

2024 Nissan Sentra in blue posing on coastal road
Nissan Motor Corporation 

The Nissan Sentra is the second-cheapest car in the Nissan lineup and offers a ton of safety features for its price. The Sentra’s powertrain isn’t particularly powerful and isn’t going to give you the best piece of mind, but it is fuel efficient and the level of comfort on the interior is decently above average.

Reliability

Nissan has been struggling to build reliable cars for a while now and the Sentra is proof of that. Despite its refresh for the 2024 model year, Consumer Reports still gives it a 42 out of 100 for predicted reliability. It is still cheaper than the average compact sedan to maintain though, with CarEdge claiming that you’ll spend $1,655 less on maintenance in the first ten years than you would on the average sedan.


  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $491 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,441 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 1
  • Worst Sentra Year To Buy Used: 2013

9 2024 Nissan Versa

Reliability Score: 45/100

2024 Nissan Nissan Versa
Nissan

The Nissan Versa is the cheapest new car that you can buy in 2024 and offers a shockingly impressive number of features for its tiny price tag. While it may not be the most refined car on the market, its starting MSRP is only $16,390. If all you value is price and fuel efficiency, then it’s really hard to argue with this compact sedan.


Reliability

Despite its incredibly affordable price tag, it doesn’t do as well as its peers when it comes to reliability. Consumer Reports gives the Versa a 45 out of 100 for predicted reliability. It does, however, manage to keep its maintenance costs down, with CarEdge claiming that it’s $1,765 cheaper to maintain in its first ten years than the average sedan. It is also 5.07 percent less likely to need a repair during this time.

  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $456 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,331 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 1
  • Worst Versa Year To Buy Used: 2012

8 2024 Mazda 3

Reliability Score: 74/100

Gray 2024 Mazda 3
Mazda

The Mazda 3 is the most expensive car on this list starting at $24,170. However, the interior and the performance it offers will make you feel like it’s worth much more. It can be had in either sedan or hatchback form, with the latter being more striking and more expensive.


Reliability

The Mazda 3 is a cheap car to own and maintain. Over the first ten years of maintenance, you’re going to be paying, on average, $1,687 less than other popular sedans. There’s also only a 16.22 percent chance that you’ll need to take your Mazda 3 in for a repair in the first 10 years of ownership, which is much lower than average.

  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $433 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,409 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 0
  • Worst Mazda3 Year To Buy Used: 2004

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7 2024 Toyota Corolla

Reliability Score: 76/100

2024 Toyota Corolla Nightshade front driving
Toyota


Toyota’s Corolla has been around for generations and has always offered reliability and affordability in one single package. Starting at $22,050, the Corolla makes Toyota’s signature safety features and warranty available to the masses. This compact car can also be had as either a sedan or a hatchback.

Reliability

Toyotas are notorious for being some of the cheapest cars to maintain. While it’s not a particularly exciting car to drive, the fact that it’s $3,009 cheaper to maintain over ten years than other popular sedans makes a strong case for the compact. There’s also only an 11.89 percent chance that the Corolla will need a repair that costs more than $500 in its first ten years of ownership, according to CarEdge.

  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $362 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $4,087 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 0
  • Worst Corolla Year To Buy Used: 2009/2010

6 2024 Subaru Impreza

Reliability Score: 78/100

2024 Subaru Impreza in red Posing on mountain road
Subaru


If you’re looking for the cheapest sedan to offer all-wheel drive, then look no further than the Subaru Impreza. This nameplate has been around for generations and has garnered itself an amazing reputation. Available as either a hatchback or a compact sedan, the Impreza has a starting MSRP of $22,995.

Reliability

The current Impreza is still an incredibly accessible new car but its repair costs sit on the high side in the context of this list. It still manages to be $1,196 cheaper to maintain over the first ten years of ownership than the average sedan, according to CarEdge. Its chance of needing a major repair in this time is only slightly below average though.

  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $653 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,900 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 2
  • Worst Impreza Year To Buy Used: 2002


5 2024 Mitsubishi Mirage

Reliability Score: 80/100

2024 Mitsubishi Mirage in yellow Posing on city street
Mitsubishi 

For a long time, the Mitsubishi Mirage was the cheapest new car that you could buy, but it has since been dethroned by the Nissan Versa. While it may no longer be the cheapest, it is still the most fuel-efficient gas-powered car that you can buy today. It comes as either a hatchback or as the G4 sedan, and it starts at $16,695.

Reliability

The Mitsubishi Mirage is an incredibly simple car, stripped of almost anything that could be considered complicated. This is why it’s able to keep its maintenance costs down. It may not be the cheapest, but it is still $1,825 cheaper to maintain in its first 10 years than other popular sedans, according to CarEdge. There is also only a 15.09 percent that it will need a major repair in this time.


  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $457 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $4,939 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 0
  • Worst Mirage Year To Buy Used: 2014

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4 2024 Volkswagen Jetta

Reliability Score: 81/100

2024 Volkswagen Jetta in silver Posing on city street
Volkswagen

If you’re looking for a compact sedan with a manual transmission, then you’re not going to find one cheaper than the Volkswagen Jetta. Its brilliant fuel economy and its high build quality more than justify its $21,345 starting MSRP. It’s spacious and quiet on the inside and will get you around without any fuss.


Reliability

Volkswagen is a name that is historically synonymous with reliability. While they may no longer be on the top of the field, the Jetta still performs decently well. It is $1,474 cheaper than other popular sedans to maintain in its first ten years of ownership, according to CarEdge. It’s also 4.64 percent less likely to need a major repair in this time.

  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $609 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,622 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 0
  • Worst ES Year To Buy Used: 2009

3 2024 Hyundai Elantra

Reliability Score: 81/100

A Red 2024 Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai

The 2024 Elantra is possibly one of the most attractive-looking sedans on the market today. It may not offer supreme performance like its N sibling, but it comes with a bevy of safety features and tons of technology that will make it feel worth well above the price you paid. Its starting MSRP is $21,625, a bargain for a car that looks this good.


Reliability

Hyundai has been quietly but consistently improving their cars over the last decade or so and people are really starting to notice. The Elantra’s average annual maintenance costs are decently low, and you’ll pay, on average, $1,216 less on maintenance in your first ten years of ownership than the average sedan, according to CarEdge.

  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $452 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,880 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 0
  • Worst ES Year To Buy Used: 2013

2 2024 Honda Civic

Reliability Score: 82/100

Honda Civic Hatchback dynamic
Honda


Honda’s reliability is something that has become somewhat of a legend, with people joking that if you buy a Honda now you can gift it to your grandchildren and it’ll still run. The Civic is a staple of the Honda lineup and the newest generation is one of the finest compact sedans that you can buy, with a touch of everything you could need at an affordable price. The 2024 Civic has a starting MSRP of $23,950.

Reliability

The 2024 Honda Civic is one of the most reliable new cars you can buy and keeps itself affordable too, with below-average maintenance costs. CarEdge claims that you’ll spend $1,851 less on maintenance in the first ten years of owning your Civic than you would on other popular sedans. The Civic is also 5.93 percent less likely to need a repair in this time.

  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $368 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,245 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 0
  • Worst ES Year To Buy Used: 2006

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1 2024 Kia Forte

Reliability Score: 87/100

2022 Kia Forte in gray Posing on mountain road
Kia Media

With the best reliability rating by a large margin, the Kia Forte is an extremely attractive compact sedan. Kia and Hyundai seem to be in a battle to see who can produce the sharpest-looking compact sedan, and the Forte is evidence of that. Its starting MSRP of $19,990 is also a bargain for a car with as many standard features as the 2024 Forte has. It also wins the award for having the highest driving range of any gas-powered car.

Reliability

The Kia Forte sits among some of the most reliable new cars on the market. It also keeps its average maintenance costs down to accentuate its value proposition. According to CarEdge, the Forte is $1,291 cheaper to maintain in its first ten years than the average sedan. It is also 3.97 percent less likely to need a repair that costs $500 or more in this time.


  • Average Yearly Maintenance Cost: $451 (RepairPal)
  • Est. Maintenance Cost During The First 10 Years: $5,805 (CarEdge)
  • Total Recalls: 0
  • Worst ES Year To Buy Used: 2014



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