From the time you were old enough to think about driving, chances are you thought about driving a flashy and fast sports car. They don’t make posters of Kias and Hyundais, after all.
When you could finally buy your own wheels, though, it probably didn’t take long to realize that a sexy red Ferrari was not in the budget . . . and what you could afford wasn’t all that cool. And let’s face it; some of the more affordable cars on the market aren’t exactly textbook cool.
But there are some cars that have a bad reputation that’s not exactly deserved. Some “uncool” car manufacturers are producing budget-friendly, quality vehicles that offer a great ride. Consider some of these models the next time you’re car shopping:
Ford has a reputation for producing bland, basic transportation and for years, the Taurus competed with Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys in the four door sedan market – and its perceived lack of coolness and less than stellar reliability often meant it was far behind the Japanese makers. The Fusion changes all that though, coming in as a solid competitor in the family sedan market. The Fusion has a more powerful engine than its import competitors, and the standard engine actually gets better highway mileage than the hybrid Camry. And it looks good too, with a sleek design with high quality fit and finishes.
It used to be that owning a Hyundai was the sign that you hit on hard times – or you were in high school or college. Known for their low prices and low quality, a Hyundai was a car you drove when you just couldn’t afford anything else. That’s not the case anymore – but Hyundai still fails to get much respect. The Hyundai Genesis offers plenty of room, a smooth ride, and many of the same features as more expensive models in the same class – but for a fraction of the price.
Buicks may have a reputation of being your grandfather’s car, but the newer models offer a sportier ride with plenty of comfort and features. The LaCrosse offers some of the styling and features of European cars, but a much more palatable price tag.
It may seem impossible, but Kia vehicles get even less respect than Hyundai. In fact, Kia entered the U.S. market targeting young buyers who only had a few grand but wanted a new car. Kia has come a long way from the buzzy little coupes they were known for, and the Rondo is a prime example of that. For the same amount as you’d pay for a loaded Honda Civic, you can get a Rondo, which seats up to seven with an optional third row. It’s not the sexiest vehicle on the road, but if you need a safe vehicle with plenty of space, reliability, and versatility, this might be one to look at.
Another Kia to make many lists of underrated cars is the Kia Sedona – an affordable minivan. We know, we know – a cool minivan? When you have a big family, though, or need to transport lots of stuff, a minivan is a good choice. Options from Honda, Toyota and even Chrysler come with prices tags that top out over $40,000 though, making the family staple a bit on the pricy side. The Sedona offers all of the nifty features of its more expensive competitors plus a smooth ride and plenty of comfort, for a much lower price.
Not everyone needs a luxurious sedan or sport utility vehicle, or has the budget for a Honda or Toyota. That’s where the Nissan Versa comes in. A snappy little hatchback, the Versa is a basic, reliable vehicle that gets decent gas mileage and offers a smooth, quiet, comfortable ride, all for a fraction of the cost of its competitors.
Whether you need a SUV for transporting a large family and all of their various stuff, or a basic vehicle with decent gas mileage to get you back and forth to work, do some research and look beyond the obvious choices. There are plenty of decent, affordable vehicles on the market that might not set car enthusiasts’ hearts aflutter, but are actually hidden gems that you won’t regret driving. You can even easily find parts for any of these vehicles on sites like Partsgeek.com.
And hey, if your friends don’t want to ride in your “embarrassing” ride, just drop them off at the bus stop.
This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek.