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15 new cars for less than $200 a month
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  • Hyundai Elantra -- Korean manufacturers have been the leaders in bargain-basement pricing, so they offer a wide range of cars that can be bought for $200 a month or less. Consider the Hyundai Elantra GLS, which is a compact-sized sedan that lists for $13,844. Thanks to a $1,500 rebate offer, an Elantra with a long list of standard features, from power windows to air conditioning, can be bought for $11,656.
  • Hyundai Accent-- Need something less expensive? Hyundai also has the small Accent, which, equipped with air conditioning lists for $12,039, can be bought for about $10,625 after a $1,000 rebate.
  • Kia Rio -- Because this car's list price is so low ($10,735), it's possible to add in automatic transmission, air conditioning and power windows and locks and still buy it for $11,627.
  • Kia Cinco Rio wagon -- This is the only station wagon that makes our list, and while it's not large enough to compete with a sport utility vehicle, it will carry a lot of stuff on weekend errands. With air conditioning and a manual transmission, expect to pay about $11,887 after a $1,000 rebate.
  • Kia Spectra -- Larger than the Rio, this sedan can be equipped with air conditioning and a five-speed manual transmission for $12,218 after $1,750 in rebates and incentives.
  • Nissan Sentra -- A good bargain should be available at a Nissan dealer on the Sentra, which lists for $14,280 with an automatic transmission. But with dealer discounts and the $2,500 cash back and rebates Nissan is offering can be bought for as little as $11,295. You can even step up to the S model Sentra, which carries a base sticker price of $15,480 but comes with air conditioning and other convenience features, for as little as $12,039 after rebates and incentives.

  • Pontiac Sunfire
    Click image for larger view
  • Pontiac Sunfire -- The Sunfire coupe may be the bargain of the year, provided you can find one on a dealer's lot. It has a sporty look, even if it's not the most refined. With special manufacturer rebates and employee deals, it's possible to get a manual transmission Sunfire with air conditioning for $10,792.
  • Saturn Ion -- Yes, you can even own a Saturn for $200 a month. A Saturn Ion 1 sedan, with automatic transmission, can be bought for $10,619 after rebates and the GM employee discount deal.
  • Toyota Echo -- If Saturn being on this list is a surprise, it may be even more of a surprise to find a Toyota for $200 a month. The Echo is Toyota's smallest sedan, and its styling is a little funky. But the price is right: With air conditioning and a manual transmission, it's possible to grab an Echo for $11,901. But these cars are not widely found on dealer lots, so it will take some detective work to find one. Toyota doesn't even list it on its Web site anymore.

Terry Jackson is the author of six automotive books and has been writing about cars for 25 years. He is the former editor-in-chief of AMI Auto World Magazine and NOPI Street Performance Compact. He has written for many newspapers and magazines including Automobile, Road & Track and AutoWeek. He races a vintage Mustang in SCCA competition and evaluates as many as 100 new cars each year.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Aug. 19, 2005
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