Minicars offer big style on a tiny budget

A minicar for your mini budget

A minicar for your mini budget

Small, inexpensive cars no longer mean nondescript, economy cars, lacking any semblance of style. The relatively new “minicar” segment has been growing in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason.

These models are perfect for car shoppers who are looking for a car with a unique look on a small budget. For the most part, ownership costs for minicars are low since they are relatively inexpensive to insure and have great fuel economy, which keeps gas costs low.

This segment offers a wide array of minicars. Here are Bankrate’s favorite minicars. All models are 2013, except the Ford Fiesta, which is a 2014 model.

2014 Ford Fiesta S sedan

2014 Ford Fiesta S sedan ©Ford Motor Company

  • Starting price: $14,000

Available in the U.S. since the 2011 model year, Ford has redesigned the Fiesta for 2014. The Fiesta’s fuel-efficient 120-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine gets 29 miles per gallon in the city, 39 mpg in highway driving.

At the top end, Ford offers the high-performance Fiesta ST model. Already a hit in Europe, the Ford Fiesta ST features a 197-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission, a precision sport-tuned suspension and improved braking system.

Standard features on all Fiesta models include air conditioning, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, a 60/40-split rear seat, capless fuel filler (so hands don’t get dirty or smelly when removing the fuel cap to fill up), seven air bags, and traction and stability control.

Available features include push-button start, heated exterior mirrors, leather seating with heated front seats, rearview camera, colored ambient lighting and a revised version of the MyFord Touch system with a touch screen and enhanced voice control.

2013 Scion iQ

2013 Scion iQ

  • Starting price: $16,020

This four-seat minicar may be small in size, but it’s big on features. Introduced in the 2012 model year, the 2013 Scion iQ is powered by a 94-horsepower 1.3-liter engine, paired with an automatic transmission, that gets 36 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

Like all Scions, the iQ comes in just one model and most features are standard with only a handful of options such as a fog lights, leather-wrapped shift knob, an interior light kit and an audio system. The iQ’s long list of standard features includes air conditioning, keyless entry, tilt steering wheel with audio controls, power locks, mirrors and windows with one-touch up/down for driver and front passenger and 11 air bags as well as stability and traction control.

2013 Hyundai Accent Hatchback GS

2013 Hyundai Accent Hatchback GS

  • Starting price: $14,795

After a redesign for the 2012 model year, the 2013 Hyundai Accent Hatchback has a sporty look with plenty to offer buyers at a low starting price.

All versions of the Accent are powered by a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated at 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, regardless of whether the six-speed manual or automatic transmission is chosen.

The base model of the Accent Hatchback is the GS, which comes standard with such features as dual-power heated side mirrors, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, six-way adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40-split folding rear seat, a tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker audio system with satellite and MP3 radio capability and an iPod/USB auxiliary input jack.

The Hyundai Accent SE, which starts at $16,095, also comes standard with sport-tuned steering and steering-wheel-mounted cruise control and audio controls as well as Bluetooth hands-free technology.

2013 Toyota Prius c

2013 Toyota Prius c

  • Starting price: $19,080

The “c” in Prius c stands for city, and it is the smallest of the Priuses. Introduced in the 2012 model year as an expansion of the Prius lineup, the Toyota Prius c brought the Prius “family” to four models, which also includes the original Prius, the Prius v small wagon and the Prius Plug-in, which can travel up to 11 miles on battery power alone before seamlessly using the gas-hybrid engine.

All four minicars in the 2013 Toyota Prius c lineup are powered by an electric motor paired with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine to produce 99 horsepower and get an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway.

Standard features on all models include automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with controls for audio, hands-free calling, remote keyless entry and nine air bags as well as 60/40-split fold-down rear seats and cruise control on three of four c versions. A moonroof with sliding sunshade and alloy wheels also are optional on some c versions.

2013 Nissan Cube

2013 Nissan Cube

  • Starting price: $16,760

The boxy Nissan Cube made its entry into the market of minicars in the 2009 model year, and Nissan has made mild changes to this unusually styled car since it was first released.

For 2013, the most notable change is that Nissan now offers just two versions, the S and SL. All Nissan Cube minicars are powered by a 122-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 27 mpg city and 31 mpg highway when equipped with the continuously variable transmission.

Standard features include remote keyless entry, power outside mirrors, door locks and windows with driver’s one-touch auto up/down, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering column, a six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat, six air bags, four-way manual adjustable passenger seat, and a 60/40-split folding and reclining rear bench seat.

The SL model adds automatic temperature control, rear heating ducts under the front seat and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Options include a navigation system, rearview camera, fog lights and satellite radio capability.

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