Picking out a cool car while not breaking the bank can be a challenge. Kelley Blue Book looked at cars under $18,000 and selected the top 10 for 2014. While listing anything as “cool” is subjective, KBB’s choices for cool cars came down to being fun to drive and fun to own, followed by styling and technology.
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Engine: 155-horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 30 mpg city/41 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: A redesign for 2014 put the Mazda3 on top, thanks primarily to improved fuel economy and new technology features.
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Engine: 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: It fell from No. 1 on KBB’s list this year, but it is still a top contender for features, styling and sportiness in this price range.
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Engine: 130-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: Soul’s boxy design makes it practical for its size, and it’s very refined for the price.
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Honda Civic Coupe
Engine: 143-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 30 mpg city/39 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: The Civic is one of a few coupes in this price range. The base model includes a backup camera, text message integration, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
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Engine: 115-horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 24 mpg city/34 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: The Jetta is the most affordable European sedan available in the U.S. The turbocharged base engine is fun to drive, and the car has a roomy back seat.
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Engine: 101-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: Its eye-catching design stands out from the crowd, and it is loaded with features for that price.
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Engine: 160-horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: It has a sporty look, roomy back seat and a high-quality interior.
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Engine: 120-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Gas mileage: 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway
Why it’s cool: It has snazzy styling and offers top-notch suspension and steering.