Hatchback: 2012 Honda Fit
Gas mileage: 28 mpg city/35 mpg highway
Well-equipped with six air bags, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, stability control and a four-speaker audio system with CD player and iPod interface, the 2012 Honda Fit hatchback priced here is the base version and the most affordable car on this list.
You can pony up another $1,785 for the Sport trim to add bigger wheels, available Bluetooth connectivity, two more audio speakers and some other goodies your teenager thinks are must-haves. But the difference can buy more than a year's worth of gasoline.
It uses a 117-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder for its go. Included in the listed price is a five-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission.
Roomy, comfortable and fun to drive, Fit also earns high marks with its recommended rating by Consumer Reports.